The Go-Go’s live way back in 1980 still looking a bit punky. Love the girls in the audience too.
Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn have been the First Couple of Indie for as long as there has been such a thing as Indie, and a lot of us have become adults along with them. The thing I like about these two photos is that you don’t have to have had a successful music career (or still be with your college girlfriend/boyfriend) to relate to the story they tell.
I was a student just a couple of years later than they were and looked the same as they do on the left: the second-hand clothes, the cheap haircut, the white socks. Living in cold rooms and eating tinned food, drinking litre bottles of cheap cider at parties, evenings in the pub putting the world to rights while sinking pints and filling ashtrays. You’re awkward and unsure of yourself, but the freedom of living away from home for the first time widens your horizons and you start to become the person you’re going to be when you grow up.
Then you leave college and take those first steps into the big wide world. If you’re lucky you get a job and have some money in the bank (or an overdraft and credit card bills if you’re me). Your clothes and haircuts get better, you appreciate good food and stop looking like you live on a diet of cold baked beans and roll-ups. Increasing experience and responsibility over the years means you’re no longer a callow amateur but a professional and an adult.
The photos are also a good illustration of the musical trip Ben and Tracey have taken, from fragile acoustic Indiepop to sophisticated electronic club music — the clothes got better there too.
Download: Night and Day – Everything But The Girl (mp3)
Download: Before Today (Chicane Remix) – Everything But The Girl (mp3)
The pop charts in the post-punk era was not only a golden age for the 45 but also for record company marketing gimmicks. Singles came in coloured vinyl, picture discs, wrapped in newspapers, with double grooves, and multiple sleeves and stamps.
They didn’t always work though, even for established bands like The Skids. In 1980 their third album The Absolute Game made the Top Ten of the album charts but all the singles from it tanked despite being given a gimmicky promo push by Virgin Records. The first single “Circus Games” was wrapped in a poster of the band but only got to #32, while “A Woman In Winter” which stalled 10 places lower came with an 11-page comic called Pirate Gold which starred the band in a ripping yarn about lost treasure.
It’s not exactly Stan Lee and Jack Kirby but still a clever idea and a sign of just how creatively healthy and competitive the pop scene was at the time. Those were the days when a noisy post-punk band like The Skids could appear on the cover of Smash Hits and I guess the comics and glossy posters were an attempt to sell the band to that crowd instead serious young men in overcoats.
It’s not as if these were bad records either, “Circus Games” was stonkingly catchy and “A Woman In Winter” was glorious, uplifting stuff with guitar work by Stuart Adamson that sounds like a rehearsal for Big Country. Should have been an Xmas hit. I bought it with the comic but would still have done if it came in a gravy-stained brown paper bag. Maybe Virgin should have asked Richard Jobson to make his lyrics more coherent instead.
Download: A Woman In Winter – The Skids (mp3)
I tried to finish off some new posts for this week but realized I’m not quite ready to let go of David Bowie just yet. He’s pretty much all I’ve been listening to and thinking about this past week and the earth still feels a little off it’s axis to me.
I don’t have much of anything in the way of Bowie rarities but this one isn’t too common on compilations and whatnot. The original version of “Cat People” produced by Giorgio Moroder in its longer, 6:40-minute form on the movie soundtrack.
Download: Cat People (Putting Out Fire) – David Bowie (mp3)
Picture quality isn’t that great but this is a real treat otherwise. The Style Council “performing” their first single in a crappy Dutch hotel room with the lovely Tracie Young. Nice to see Paul Weller not being a grumpy git too.
This is another of those lost records I strongly suspect I was one of the only people to buy. It’s a wonderful, gorgeous track I only heard by chance back in 1985 because a DJ friend of mine was part of local (and very short-lived) pirate station called Radio Fulham and he played it on the air one Saturday night when I was getting ready to go out. I never would have heard it if I didn’t feel obliged to listen to my mate’s radio show but that one listen was enough for me to go out and buy the 12″ right away. Well, a couple of days later anyway. I think I was in the bath at the time, no doubt sprucing myself up for another night of failure with the opposite sex.
I knew nothing about First Love for years, but now I know they were a female quartet from Chicago who released several singles and an album, none of which were hits. This one really should have been though: It’s a soaring, shimmering ballad with an electronic-soul sound similar to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ productions for the SOS Band, which isn’t too surprising as it was written and produced by their keyboard player Jason Bryant.
Real lost gem this, hope you like it.
Download: Things Are Not The Same (Without You) – First Love (mp3)
My wife looks a bit like Pat Benatar. Dresses like her to take the kids to school too.
This must be one of the most “Eighties” videos ever made.