Orange Juice’s early Postcard records are rightly held in reverence but their later work gets a little overlooked as a result. Personally my favourite album of theirs is Texas Fever and I remember there being a bit of Dylan-going-electric purist snobbery about them signing to a big label and sounding more polished — like they could keep doing that kind of amateurish jangly indie forever. “Polished” is a relative term of course, their records always sounded a bit off-kilter no matter how many new chords and grooves they learned.
One time I saw them live Edwyn Collins jokingly introduced “Rip It Up” as “our one-hit wonder” and their final single “Lean Period” from 1984 wasn’t a hit either like 99% of their others, but it’s a bouncy and catchy number that should have done better even if it maybe isn’t one of their greatest. I still like it a lot though, a typically snarky Collins love song (and maybe even a sly commentary on his own critical reputation) here given a nice dubby remix by Dennis Bovell in this 12″ version which isn’t easily available anywhere far as I can tell.
The SOS Band were one of the acts (along with Alexander O’Neal) that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis honed their production chops on before hitting the really big time with Janet Jackson. This was their first hit and you can already hear that signature drum machine sound (a Roland TR-808) which pretty much defined 80s dance music.
An absolute classic record, and extra marks for the guy playing a Keytar. Don’t see enough of those these days.
Not many bands have had a better year than the one Frankie Goes To Hollywood enjoyed in 1984. That year they became the first group since Gerry & the Pacemakers to have their first three singles all get to Number One, and at one point they occupied the top two charts spots — the first time that had been done since another little band from Liverpool called The Beatles. For a brief shining moment they were as big as the Fab Four and as thrillingly scandalous as the Sex Pistols. Even their t-shirts were a phenomenon.
But their story would be more perfect if they’d split up or all died in a car crash at the end of that year, because they had to go and spoil the ride by putting out an album that didn’t live up to the hype (how could it?), and they suddenly seemed like just another ordinary fallible pop group and not the fabulously provocative performance art piece they seemed in 1984. I guess the writing was on the wall when their fourth single was a dreadful flop that only got to number two in the chart. Still, it was great while it lasted.
Haven’t had anything from the lovely Clare and the boys in a while. This is from their final album Bite where they tried to sound more grown-up and sophisticated with wonderful results. Despite being easily their best album it sold less than the previous two and the band broke up. Such a shame, but I suppose it’s better to go out on a high note.
This 1980 single is the only Psychedelic Furs record I ever bought. They were a good band, but in a crowded field of a million Bowie/Roxy-influenced post-punk acts I didn’t think there wasn’t anything that special to make me spend my Saturday job wages on them. But I obviously did like this enough.
“Mr. Jones” is from their second album Talk Talk Talk but this single version was given a bolder, brighter production which I prefer to the rawer album original. It’s less punky and shorter, but the beat has more punch to it. It didn’t make a dent in the charts so it’s one of the many “Am I the only one who bought this?” records I have.
I’ve been listening to Sandie Shaw’s 1988 album Hello Angel for the first time in years and it’s way better than you’d expect for the comeback attempt of a faded 60s pop singer. Sandie’s own songs are great and her collaborations with The Smiths got the headlines, but I think the stand-out track is her cover of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s “About You” (with a slightly changed title).
I didn’t pay much attention to The Mary Chain back then so I’d never heard the original before, it’s good but I prefer Sandie’s grander and more emotional version.