Tighter than a tight thing, Tom Petty sings ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ off his 1979 album Damn The Torpedoes. R.I.P. you heartbreaker.
Good morning! Released in March 1980, ‘Going Underground’ was the first UK chart-topping single by The Jam. Such was the buzz about the band, it went straight to number one as part of a double A-side with ‘Dreams of Children’. Still, it came as a surprise to the band. They were caught on the hop in the US and had to cancel their tour immediately, flying back on concorde to do their promo work in Blighty. The song was released as a single, but not as part of the band’s six studio albums.
‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’ was the second single off The Police’s fifth, final and most successful album Synchronicity. Written by Sting, it was never going to be one of Andy Summers’s favourite tracks, but he still got to play around with his trademark effects, even when playing second fiddle.
While synth pop continued to eat up the charts both sides of the pond, something very different was happening in Athens, Georgia. 1983 saw R.E.M. release their debut album Murmur, revealing a sound that didn’t sound half as transient as daytime radio play. The heady mix of West Coast pop, Michael Stipe’s new wave vocals and Peter Buck’s jangly guitar signal the signs of greatness to come. ‘Talk About The Passion’ my friends, talk about the passion.
Before he had started to love the sound of breaking glass, songwriter Nick Lowe had already metamorphosised into the Jesus Of Cool. Suddenly happy to quote Kurt Vonnegut, the pub rock veteran releases a stellar first single on Stiff Records. Now that is the transition of a man unleashed. And so it goes…
Decent festive songs are scarce, but then Christmas sounds were better in the 1980s. The riff may be military-grade cheese, but the rest is pure New Wave Yuletide.
I will be doing my own wrapping up on Boxing Day with a listen back at the year. That review will be beginning of a holiday hiatus; I’m taking some time out until January. Until then, Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
‘Blue Monday’ is widely regarded as a key bridge between synthesized disco and house music scene that would take the dance floors by storm by the end of the decade. According to Bernard Sumner, the track is a derivative of Klein + M.B.O.’s ‘Dirty Talk’, Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), ‘Donna Summer’ ‘Our Love’ and Kraftwerk’s ‘Uranium’. Whatever the source of inspiration, this was alternative dance 101. Bernard Sumner’s machine-like vocals were the icing on the cake.
‘Annie Get Your Gun’ was last single that Squeeze released prior their break up in 1982. Despite its quality, It was never released on a studio album, but followed the single releases off their relatively unsuccessful fifth studio album Sweets from a Stranger. Success is a fickle thing, but Glenn Tilbrook’s song-writing ability is unquestionable.
In the same year, The Teardrop Explodes released their album Kilimanjaro – not that I would have known at the time. However, the following January, Julian Cope and gang released ‘Reward’ as a single and its sound was able to bridge the gap between post-punk and the pop charts.
It’s not ‘Down Under’, but that’s a good thing right, because this is ‘Overkill’. “I can’t get to sleep/I think about the implications,” Colin Hay laments. “I worry over situations/I know will be all right/Perhaps it’s just imagination.” Genius songwriting; it featured on Men At Work’s 1983 album Cargo.
The word “squelch” always has me thinking of the Roland TB-303. Before it became the mainstay of house music, 1982’s introduction of the TB-303 was originally designed as a computerised bass. Here Edwyn Collins and pals use it as it was originally intended on Orange Juice’s new wave classic title track off Rip It Up – all helped by some choppy Nile Rodgers-style guitar. But as good as it is, thankfully the Transistor Bass 303’s use would be bastardised to service many a dance floor.
Despite the heady creativity of their first four long players, it was their fifth (1983’s Speaking In Tongues), and more specifically its single ‘Burning Down The House’, that became Talking Heads’ commercial breakthrough. The closing track ‘This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)’ was the gem of the album. Listening to it now, the song sounds very Tom Tom Club. At the time, it was the closest thing to a love song in David Byrne’s catalogue.