Sunday, January 30, 2005

I came across this the other day. Sad? funny? bizarre...actually most of these people I don't really give a toss about (this isn't about to drift off into one of those "what happens after the fame things" is what it is and enjoy it while it least Pauly can say he had a US Airplay number one, which is more than pretty much everybody else on the planet and there is no point getting bitter and twisted when its gone) but I really did feel for poor old Martin Fry and ABC. Not only did the poor bugger almost snuff it from cancer (diagnosed as terminal I think) from which he made a recovery, he also was one of the flagbearers for a pop revolution, and along the way produced at least half a dozen of the greatest singles of the eighties. Now they will come and have supper and "talk through the old days" bought a tear, it really did. Not only that, he's bringing Glenn Gregory, from the almost as esteemed Heaven 17 (had a drink at the Wag Club once with GG I did)...fuck oh dear... Those poor maligned 1980s. The decade has been trashed and abused and generally ostracized. With good reason too...the decade was not kind to fashion, to mainstream cinema (with the odd exception, and independent cinema thrived of course..). It was the decade of the bloody legwarmer, Don Johnson and Peking Man... Musically it was both an irredeemable disaster and a goldmine. I don't need to extoll the virtues of the decade's house, soul, funk or the Jamaican work of Gussie Clarke or Sly & Robbie and a swag of others, but the world would've undoubtedly have been a richer place if Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Cindi Lauper, Jon Bon Jovi etc had taken different career paths and never made a record. Sadly for the whole decade white American pop / rock was pretty much the aforementioned irredeemable disaster.

But the ABC thing above drove me to put on the 12" of "How To Be A Millionaire" and from thence into an eighties brit-pop thing for an hour or two. It was a particularly strong (and innovative) time for the great British pop single. We all know about New Order....their singles, one after another were the shit and they still are, but there are dozens. ABC...the obvious ones of course, but also "Be Near Me","The Night They murdered Love", "Millionaire", "Smokey", and Martin Fry's masterpiece "Get Real" by ex-Frankie Goes to Hollywood dancer, Paul Rutherfood; Heaven 17's "Fascist Groove Thang" and "Lets all Make a Bomb" (best in its album mix); ex Buzzcock Pete Shelley's "Homosapien" (check the dub); Wham's 12" of "Everything She Wants" (with "Last Christmas" on the flip...hate it or love it, it is still a beautifully crafted piece of work); the series of Scritti singles that started with "Sweetest Girl"; "Roadblock"; the first few Pet Shop Boys records; Elvis Costello, Smiths, Style Council, Culture Club (yes indeed..."Church of the Poison Mind" is genius); The Cure..I could go on but no one really wants me to..but you get the gist.. American white pop on the other hand was a wasteland outside NYC and maybe Ohio & San Fran, and pretty much still's really not hard to work out why....firstly punk didn't happen stateside as it happened everywhere else in the world (they had a go at it in the late eighties but you can't leap on a revolution ten years after it finished..they've yet to catch up..and the bands that grunge produced were just younger dirtier versions of those they were trying to replace) so the bloat simply hadn't been Britain Bon Jovi were just a big selling irrelevance, in Ohio they were still cutting edge. The other thing is the racial divide. In Britain's inner cities young people mix more racially...they live, work, play and romance together far more than they do across the Atlantic. A phrase such as "the biggest black owned business" has no relevance....go to a club in Hackney..look at the crowd.......racial pride is one thing, but separtism is another... Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a treatise on race relations or anything of that ilk, rather an aside about some overlooked tracks...nothing too profound I opened the mailbox on Monday last to find a package from BBE in the UK..lots of bits of pieces. There is nothing better than opening the mail to find a whole bunch of new music..especially when its actually good (got a great deep techy mix CD from Tom Ward this week too that hasn't left my car yet...). Amongst the bits and pieces was the "Kings of Disco" double cd from Joey Negro & Dimitri. I have to be honest I'd walk a country mile in a 30 degree heat to avoid having to hear a new record by either of these guys in 2005 but their taste on these sorts of things really is impeccable. Joey in particular has massive respect from me, not only for the fact that he recorded for Nu Groove, and for the stuff he released on his mighty Republic label, but for also for the Disco Spectrum series he so carefully crafted with Sean P. I've looked at this album in Real Groovy a couple of times and though "I really need to own that" but couldn't quite make it fit the credit card that week....and I did need it, not least for the mythical "I've Been Searching", very rare Walter Gibbons remix, by Arts & Crafts, that I've read slavishly about but not heard..and now I own it..on a comp at least Well happy.... Finally..this story in the NYT states the obvious but puts it rather well and is at least vaguely optimistic unlike the UK terminal doom & gloom fluff in the last few months...electronic music is alive and well and, if not thriving, is fine thank you


Peter said...

cool, BBE stuff - did you get the new Pete Rock Surviving Elements cd? heard much good things about it.

Richard said...

You may know that I run Retro Hit Radio in Manukau. What a shock to see that a list of your particulars already appear on my playlist. "Be Near Me","The Night You Murdered Love" (even the 8min 12"), "Millionaire", "Smokey", and Martin Fry's masterpiece "Get Real" by Paul Rutherfood; Heaven 17's "Fascist Groove Thang" and "Lets all Make a Bomb" (yes, the album mix); ex Buzzcock Pete Shelley's "Homosapien" (check the dub - if you will let me); Wham's 12" of "Everything She Wants"; the series of Scritti singles that started with "Sweetest Girl"; "Roadblock"; the first few Pet Shop Boys records; Elvis Costello, Smiths, Style Council, Culture Club (yes indeed..."Church of the Poison Mind" is genius); The Cure..I could go on but no one really wants me to.." I'd love it if you would!
You know I regard your brain power very highly and a great source of many songs forgotten, and that "These Wilding Ways" CD you gave me two years ago gets airtime!. Cheers Simon.