Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Limahl - Only For Love (EMI)

Bearing Kajagoogoo's past efforts in mind, I honestly expected to loathe Limahl's debut solo single. And now that I've heard it I'm compelled to issue this warning - it's good! Simple, perfectly produced pop, you can really dance to this one and it's streets ahead of anything the Kajjers have brought out. Music and words by Limahl - he's not just a pretty face either. And with Carol Kenyon of Heaven 17 fame on backing vocals, need I say more? (Debbi Voller, No 1, October 29, 1983)

This makes "Big Apple" sound like an H2O reject. For all of Beggsie's talk of 'sophistication', Limahl has just kept his mouth shut and got on with the job in hand, producing a strong stylish debut. Just one thing, why's it called "Only For Love" when he persists in singing 'own letter fora leuuv'? (Peter Martin, Smash Hits, October 27, 1983)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Voice Of The Beehive - Just A City (Food/London)

This crew - two Californian girls and three British blokes - actually manage to capture the true adventurous spirit of the '60s and blend it with the spangling guitars and dense choruses of prime period Cocteau Twins. The song itself sways and swirls attractively enough BUT! flip over the 12 inch and they get stuck right into - corky o'rorky! - a biting pop version of rock dinosaurs Led Zeppelin's elderly reggae spoof "D'Yer Maker" (Jamaica - geddit?)!! The result, played (relatively) straight, turns into a completely bur-rrrilliant teenage "don't go" love song and would be a HUGE hit, so utterly utterly catchy is it. 'B'-side of the century (at least) and almost Single Of The Fortnight... (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 8, 1987)

Tracie Young - Invitation (Respond)

Although the excellent "I Can't Leave You Alone" was the hit that undoubtedly should have been, but never was, Tracie Young eagerly continues in her quest to prove that her pleasing voice and pretty face are a determined match for even Paul Weller's shadow. "Invitation" is a tender and touching (Anna Martin, No 1, October 26, 1985)

Tracie continues in much the same vein, with a song that's pleasant but ultimately ineffectual. Good to see the young woman putting her own pen to paper, and Camelle Hinds' vocal additions give a classy feel to a record destined for the wrong end of the top 60. (Andy Strickland, Record Mirror, October 12, 1985)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Men At Work - Down Under (Epic)

Superbly crafted reworking of The Boomtown Rats' "House On Fire" rhythm topped off with hippy flutes and sung by an Australian so indebted to Sting he even nicks his fake Jamaican accent. Comes complete with a neat little storyline, custom-made for a video, that affectionately lampoons the homeland and indulges in all manner of tortuous rhymes ("language" and "sandwich" being one of the better ones). It's great. (Ian Birch, Smash Hits, January 6, 1983)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dire Straits - Money For Nothing (Phonogram)

The first half minute of this sounds nothing like Dire Straits, being full of bubbling synthesisers and falsetto vocals. Then Mark Knopfler gets going and it's back to the normal soporific stuff as he sings a truly tragic tale of rock stars who get "money for nothing and chicks for free". Is there anything more boring than pop stars writing about the endless trials and tribulations of being a pop star? (Yes actually. The whole country going bananas about Bruce Springsteen - Ed) (Chris Heath, Smash Hits, June 19, 1985)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Armoury Show - Castles In Spain (Parlophone)

Having already extolled the virtues of the band's new LP, any further words of praise are icing on the cake. Possibly the strongest track on the album and I can't see any reason why this racy little stomper shouldn't be top 20 by, oh, next week? (Nancy Culp, Record Mirror, October 26, 1985)

Originally released back in July '84, it's been bunged out again in the hope that it'll be a hit this time round. In an unfortunate piece of timing, however, it's up against new singles by Simple Minds and Echo And The Bunnymen, and as it's so wildly derivative of both, "Castles In Spain" may not fare much better now. Still, if you like sweeping guitars and emotive vocals (courtesy of ex-Skidsman Richard Jobson) you'll like this. (Karen Swayne, No 1, October 19, 1985)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bucks Fizz - Keep Each Other Warm (Polydor)

Bucks Fizz have never been the same since the dual tragedy of the coach crash and the Great Jay Aston Affair. "Keep Each Other Warm" is their best effort yet with the new line-up, but set beside the sheer genius of, say. "Land Of Make Believe'', it doesn't really cut the cake. Watch out for its inevitable appearance on TV in a few weeks time as an ad for how you should always come home to a real fire. (Barry McIlheney, Smash Hits, November 5, 1986)

The first of the Crimble cuddle-ups.. .Oxen will moo, babes will gurgle and as the Star Of David settles over yonder TOTP studio Bucks Fizz will find themselves back amongst the yule with a very welcome hit. Just one Xmas caution.. it might be better for Shelley for cover up her legs just a little more as nasty Mr Frost comes a-biting round the ankle chains. One ballad alone is not really enough to keep you warm, you know. 3/5 (Paul Simper, No 1, November 8, 1986)

Pet Shop Boys - Opportunities (EMI)

I really don't understand what all the fuss is about with this track, with its clank and bustle up front instead of a tune and its dubious invitations to commit some unspecified crime. Nor why, with the altogether wonderful "Why Don't We Live Together?" a natural pop hit, the record company should choose to release this battle-scarred warhorse again. Average stuff but still an awful lot better than some things I could mention. (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 7, 1986)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

XTC - Love On A Farmboy's Wages (Virgin)

Ringing acoustic guitar heralds another XTC classic. Unashamedly rural in feel with a folksy chorus and a melody that is strong but totally unpredictable, "Farmboy" is the soundtrack to a golden autumn. The B-side of the twelve-inch version features three live tracks including "Burning with Optimism's Flame", one of their finest songs. (Martin Townsend, No 1, September 24, 1983)

I'm quite a fan of this band actually. I loved "Making Plans For Nigel", "Generals And Majors" and "Wonderland". I think this is great but it doesn't seem to fit the current pop climate. Maybe that's in its favour...  (Lenny Henry, Smash Hits, September 29, 1983)

Yazoo - Nobody's Diary (Mute)

One of the true great voices since Neanderthal man discovered that crooning was more effective than a bash over the head, though not as much fun. Alf packs a punch that sends you reeling for the respirator and the bottle of Dr Collis-Brownes. More restrained than some of the stuff that's gone before, this song is a sneaker and grabber that goes for the jugular. (Simon Tebbutt, Record Mirror, May 14, 1983)

You don't need me to tell you what the new Yazoo single sounds like. It sounds like all the rest, and yet, it doesn't! Somehow they keep coming up with enough hit variations on their theme. Can't fail. (Debbi Voller, No 1, May 14, 1983)

A sad love-gone-sour song written by Alf. Strong on emotion and weak on melody but the combination of ringing synths and bluesy singing is still a winner. (Neil Tennant, Smash Hits, May 12, 1983)

Billy Idol - Flesh For Fantasy (Chrysalis)

Billy's passionate devotion to 'rawkanroll' normally leaves me cold, but here the buzz-saw guitars, meaty drumming and snarled vocals all combine to produce a powerfully driving record with about 19 times more energy than anything else released this week. The tune's pretty good too, which isn't surprising seeing as it's lifted almost wholesale from Simple Minds' brilliant "Up On The Catwalk". (Vici MacDonald, Smash Hits, September 27, 1984)

Billy is the Idol of America's young nouveau punx. They pogo in droves to his full-throated rebel yell. But we Brits lost interest in that years ago. We preferred "Eyes Without A Face". The sighs without the pace. Wised-up, our Gen X-ile repeats the formula - prowling a steamy hotel room as the bass throbs through the floor and the guitar throws odd shapes against the wall. William, this is really something... (Martin Townsend, No 1, September 29, 1984)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ultravox - We Came To Dance (Chrysalis)

Ultravox write some OK tunes, but invariably team them up with the most pompous words in the world. Here, Midge intones the usual meaningless blather in his mournful tones. Doesn't he ever feel like singing something normal, about getting up, feeding the cat, hanging out with Mick Karn and so on? (Sunie, No 1, May 21, 1983)

Danny Wilson - Davy (Virgin)

Danny Wilson is in fact three men, and here they are proclaiming their love for a fourth man. Well, that's Dundee for you. Actually this is really very good indeed, a fine thoughtful pop song in which "Danny" wishes his beloved pal all the best for his adventure down to London and promises not to laugh at him in the street if it all goes horribly wrong (as these things tend to do). Quite poignant in fact, with a nice understated backing. (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 8, 1987)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

UB40 - Watchdogs (DEP International)

Whatever the magic formula is for turning out good records which all sound remarkably similar without ever becoming boring or unduly repetitive, UB40 have definitely found it. This is another slab of big, bold, brassy reggae whose cheerful, chattering style belie some sharply sneering lyrics about the moral guardians of the nation. And, er, that's about it! (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 8, 1987)

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Rainmakers - Downstream (Mercury)

More weird tales from rural mid-America - this time taking a raft down the Mississippi River with dead author Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn etc), meeting characters like v. ancient rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry and deceased president Harry Truman, and exchanging words of "wisdom" with them. Pleasingly no-nonsense modern rock 'n' roll that gets it just about right and splendid guitar-playing that makes you wonder why people ever bother with a synthesiser. (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 8, 1987)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Strasse - A Stairway To You (RCA)

Produced by the mighty Midge Ure, this is very rock 'n' roll despite the synth snaps and pretty boy veneer. It's also very modern despite being a rock song - which is just saying the same the thing backwards, but it fills a gap when you can't think of anything else. (Simon Tebbutt, Record Mirror, May 14, 1983)

Anne Clark - Hope Road (10)

It pays to be conscientious, pop tarts. Hidden away amidst all the good, bad and just plain average records which crowd the Singles Box every fortnight, there is always one unexpected gem which stands high above the crowd. And this is it! Over a simple but effective backing track of vaguely melodic electronic "oohs" and "aahs" (sort of Laurie Anderson meets OMD), Anne Clark recites her sorry tale of how she met this nice, interesting guy at a party, was invited to dinner in a faraway town and turned up only to find, despite following instructions, that the address he gave her - Hope Road - just doesn't exist. Wail! A metaphor too, methinks, for politicians and, erm, the world around us. A few neatly cutting observations get slipped in too before Anne ends sadly with a warning to beware of unaccountably nice people because "there's no place called Hope Road". Sniff. A hit? Almost certainly not, but for making a record that dares to be different, that works on its own terms and doesn't try to sound like anybody else or as if it would sell its granny to be a hit - just this once, Anne Clark - come on down! - yours is Single Of The Fortnight. (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 8, 1987)

Almost a very good little record this, as poor little Annie gets the run-around from a party acquaintance and decides to have nothing more to do with men. The sparse musical setting has a wonderfully hypnotic effect, but there are one or two outrageous bits of scanning and the odd struggle to match rhymes. In the end one has to conclude that Anne Clark gets a bit het up about not very much or all, if being given a bogus address at a party is the worst thing that happens to her, she obviously doesn't go to the parties that I do. (Andy Strickland, Record Mirror, May 9, 1987)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Karen O'Connor - Girl In The Uniform' (Legacy)

Karen's voice has a touch of Debbie Harry about it, and that can't be a bad thing. It's one heavy record; drums pounding, sirens roaring and all! One to listen out for. (Debbi Voller, No 1, May 14, 1983)

Passe, cheri, passe. Here's Karen tarting up last year's fantasy fetish when everyone in the know is dressing up in souwesters and storm hats and filling their wellies with jellied eels. Karen will be doing a song about it next year. (Simon Tebbutt, Record Mirror, May 14, 1983)

Phil Collins - Why Can't It Wait 'Till Morning (Virgin)

Tut tut, Phil - not another track from the album? Hardly worth buying, was it? Anyway, this is soft and sloppy like a badly set blancmange and should smack of tasteful elegance and cocktails on the patio, but is really just music to brighten up those dreary coffee mornings with 'er from Number 14. (Simon Tebbutt, Record Mirror, May 14, 1983)

I actually like his voice but this track doesn't come close to anything on Face Value. By the way, the art director who created the 'amazing' cliched photo on the cover needs shooting. (Gary Kemp, Smash Hits, May 26, 1983)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Alison Moyet - Is This Love? (CBS)

Alison Moyet's been biding her time lately in L.A. (man), recording new material but really this is nothing to bring you or her out in a sweat. "Is This Love?" is tunesome alright but hardly enough for her to wrap her tonsils around. This woman is worthy of far greater things than this. (Ro Newton, Smash Hits, November 19, 1986)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Geoff Deane And The Valley Girls - Navy Lark (WEA)

Six months after leaving Modern Romance, GD teams up with two lasses for a frolicsome skip along the deck complete with trilling pipes, cymbals and seagulls. Guaranteed to melt the ice at parties, so beware gatecrashers hornpiping up your garden path. (Kimberley Leston, Smash Hits, March 31, 1983)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Paul Simon - The Boy In The Bubble (WEA)

A strange one this. Paul Simon sings about lasers in the jungle, babies with baboons' hearts, and magical medicine over a fuzzy accordion melody. One can only presume that either he's flipped his lid or he's trying to convey some deep and meaningful message about technology or something. Anyway, this is nowhere near as endearingly quirky as "You Can Call Me Al" and it'll need a pretty snappy video to liven it up, that's for sure. (Ro Newton, Smash Hits, November 19, 1986)

Ultravox - All Fall Down (Chrysalis)

Ultravox's music has always verged on the pompous, and when they move into Celtic territory (previous explorers including Dexy's, Big Country and The Pogues) the result is as overblown as you might expect. Midge croons impassionedly over a slow, military-style snare beat, but the resulting product [also featuring The Chieftains] has remarkably little spirit. Suitable background music for a Selina Scott special on the Scottish highlands, but little else. (Karen Swayne, No 1, November 15, 1986)

Whatever happened to the "Ultra" bit? Probably got lost around the same time as Midge Ure decided he was fed up with being a pop star and wanted to be a serious human being instead, just like David Dimbleby or Sir Bob Geldof. This is always a big mistake and poor wee Midge has to sing lines like "Look in the mirror and what do you see, an American, Russian, a soldier or me", and make them sound important, but naturally it doesn't work and just sounds ridiculous instead. It's obviously meant to be a major comment on the stupidity of war, which is all very well and good, and can best be compared with, er, Rolf Harris' "Two Little Boys". (Barry McIlheney, Smash Hits, November 5, 1986)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Red Box - Saskatchewan (WEA)

If I said this was absolutely saturated in wimpy sentimentality and sounded like a cross between Simon & Garfunkel and Julian Lennon, you'd know "Saskatchewan" was 'deeply sensitive' and rather boring, right? Wrong. Though I've no idea why they're singing about a Canadian town (something to do with North American Indians, I suspect), this has a lovely tune and may well be a hit. (Chris Heath, Smash Hits, January 31, 1985)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bryan Ferry - Don't Stop The Dance (EG)

Legend has it that the word "languid" was put in dictionaries all over the world purely in anticipation of the coming of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry. Disappointing though the Boys And Girls LP was, the previous single "Slave To Love" and this one stand out. Welcome rocky islands in a quicksand swamp. (Paul Bursche, No 1, August 24, 1985)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hey! Elastica - Suck A Little Honey (Virgin)

Terrible focus-on-girl's-mouth sleeve. Starts exactly like something I can't place and which is undoubtedly less gauche than this racy, clever-clever pop that leaves me cold. (Kimberley Leston, Smash Hits, March 31, 1983)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Erasure - It Doesn't Have To Be (Mute)

"Sometimes" finally put Vince Clarke back on the map he fell off when Yazoo split, mainly because it sounded like Yazoo! So long as Andy Bell sings, and sounds uncannily like Alison Moyet, as in "It Doesn't Have To Be", the problem will remain. On the other hand, this song is a grand Erasure offering, and as long at it's this good, Erasure aren't going to be rubbed out in a hurry! (John Aizlewood, No 1, February 28, 1987)

The Ward Brothers - Why Do You Run (Siren)

A fifth rate bastard son of Bruce Springsteen's "Downbound Train", this song tries to give a passionate impression and fails miserably. (James Grant [Love And Money], Record Mirror, April 25, 1987)

Secession - The Magician (Siren)

The lyrics on this are a bit silly and the chorus has a Kate Bush section, but other than that, it's OK. (James Grant [Love And Money], Record Mirror, April 25, 1987)

Julian Lennon - Midnight Smoke (Virgin)

I don't think Julian Lennon is all that bad. Mind you, I don't think he's all that good, either. This time, he and his friends are round a campfire getting into a real serious vibe and scaring the sheep shitless. (James Grant [Love And Money], Record Mirror, April 25, 1987)

Julian Lennon - Time Will Teach Us All (EMI)

This is really boring. The best bit is when Stevie Wonder comes in on backing vocals right near the end but then it finishes. I haven't seen the musical Time, but if this is the sort of stuff what's in it, I don't think I'll be going. (Samantha Fox, Smash Hits, July 16, 1986)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Freeze Frame - Today, Tomorrow (RCA)

Hmmm. Just been doing a bit of totting up here only to arrive at the frightening discovery that if you count all the people who have been in Liverpool bands you arrive at a figure not far off the population of China. Freeze Frame continue on from China Crisis, Lotus Eaters, etc. But though this is a sweet little song, past experience shows the public reluctant to latch on to nice, melodic rock like this. Ask the Lotus Eaters or Pale Fountains. Full marks, though, for use of a comma in the title. (Paul Bursche, No 1, August 24, 1985)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Red Box - Lean On Me (WEA)

A catchy little number that won't set the world on fire but should leave it smouldering nicely round the edges. Not as interesting as their previous singles 'Chenko' or 'Saskatchewan' perhaps, but 'Lean On Me' should ensure them a healthier chart placing. (Paul Bursche, No 1, August 24, 1985)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dream Academy - Love Parade (WEA)

By 'eck, about time too! After becoming instant media personalities after the success of their last platter and actually managing to be seen at more parties than Paul Simper it's refreshing to see Dream Academy actually out and about earning their crusts again. And it s a corker. Lots of heavy breathing from Kate while Nick gets on with the job in hand. Very Prefab Sprout this, but with a firmer commercial touch. Luscious. (Paul Bursche, No 1, August 24, 1985)

Pet Shop Boys - Suburbia (Parlophone)

A bit of a glum song with Neil Tennant singing about how miserable it is to live in what he calls a
'suburban hell'. I must confess that I find all this stuff about 'broken glass' and 'bus shelters' a tiny bit boring, lyrically speaking, but it's got a lovely mournful one-finger piano tune which isn't half bad at all. And it has dogs barking on it. (William Shaw, Smash Hits, September 24, 1986)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Debbie Harry - Free To Fall (Chrysalis)

Debbie Harry always means a missed heartbeat and a place in the Top Ten to the more discerning record buyer. "Free To Fall" is mellow and deeply attractive; nice sorrowful tune, cooing backing vocals, and the bit at the end where it gets all choral. The prettiest 40(ish!)-year-old this side of Jan Leeming and maturing with great grace and dignity. This is better than almost anything Blondie ever did. (John Aizlewood, No 1, February 28, 1987)

Culture Club - Church Of The Poison Mind (Virgin)

An astute, ear-pricking harmonica intro, George doing his best Stevie Wonder impression and a backing singer [Helen Terry] whose voice you can feel in the pit of your stomach make for a solid chunk of soul that you may not even recognise as being Culture Club. Don't be put off. There's enough modern trimmings here to separate it from the recent swarm of Tamla Motown soundalikes - not least a good tune. For best results, dance and sing at the same time. (Kimberley Leston, Smash Hits, March 31, 1983)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Big Supreme - Please Yourself (Polydor)

This is the best I've heard. And I'm not saying that because I know Barry Flynn... I really like this. I thought the last single was a definite cert, but "The Smile And The Kiss" was the best. Actually, I've got some demos of his somewhere. If this is a hit I'll have to dig them out and flog them! (Owen Paul, No 1, March 28, 1987)

A supremely bold record. It begins with some ominous piano, which sounds like someone's just DIED. Then, BAM You're hit with a punch drunk Martin Fry going for a Motown-y form of on-beat dance insistence. With lots of chunky boss. and some 'parting the Red Sea' choral bits, it's all very body-building and the best Big Supreme single so for. Which only just excuses the vile stripey blazers worn by Barry and the girls on the sleeve. (Roger Morton, Record Mirror, March 7, 1987)

Hey! Meet The Big Supreme, who - PRESTO! - are all set to be pop stars! "Please Yourself" is a monstrous sound, a remarkable mixture of Pete Burns, Julian Cope and Pete Wylie. They also look rather fetching and are obviously destined for much greater things. Gulp. (Barry McIlheney, Smash Hits, March 11, 1987)

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Watching The Wildlife (ZTT)

Here's an odd claim to lay at the feet of big, brash, bulging Frankie - their new single is a grower. Not a slap-bang-mind-that-axe-m'dear-disco stormer; a grower, as in rather excellent string arrangement, muted chorus and unusual hooks. Whether the great British pound in your pocket will decide to leap generously across the counter is another matter considering the muted reception 'Warriors' received. Still, here's hoping. (Paul Simper, No 1, March 7, 1987)

The fact that you're supposed to get a CONDOM with the cassette version of this could lead to irksome speculation about the title. So let's just say that giving away prophylactics is a GOOD IDEA, and if this piece of swinging, brassy, orchestral bombast wasn't all swollen up like an inflated Durex, it might have been too. (Roger Morton, Record Mirror, March 7, 1987)

Let's Talk About (Safe) Sex: Not only was the single one of the first to be released on cassette (Cassetted) but it also came with a free condom. Not sure how many twelve-year-olds bought that.

Sheila E - Hold Me (WEA/Paisley Park)

Extremely laidback for Prince's prime timbale rattler, this elegant ballad should slip Sheila E. from the sidelines and have her ruffling gimpy Whitney's perm out of place. It might also signal the end of the Janet Jackson/Jam & Lewis stranglehold on the dance charts. What an exciting world we live in. Please also turn, if you will, to the brilliant B-side The World Is High' - this spring's dead cert floor-filler. (Paul Simper, No 1, March 7, 1987)

Madonna - La Isla Bonita (Sire)

I've heard this a million times already. I like her and her music's always entertaining. I don't think she's made a bad record, but sometimes you have to be inspired by music and not just entertained. I quite like her records but if there were two record shops across the road and one of them was playing this, I'd go in the other one! I like it but it's not her best. (Owen Paul, No 1, March 28, 1987)

Presumably the last (but not least) single from the True Blue album, 'La Isla Bonita' is as close to Abba as Madonna can get without learning a second language. Swaying palms and balmy harmonies. But would she share her desert island idyll with Oliver Reed and a jug of orange? (Paul Simper, No 1, March 7, 1987)

Black - Wonderful Life (Ugly Man)

Guaranteed to make grown girls whimper and hard-nosed boys blubber. A beeeautiful, balmy antidote to today's 99 per cent inconsequential output. A smooth coating of non-drip vocal gloss glides over a melody which seduces you with its eyes shut. Lyrically, a mass of contradictions which fool no one, matey! Simplicity and perfection itself (sigh). On a par with Marks and Sparks' cheesecake. (Lesley O'Toole, Record Mirror, August 16, 1986)

A rather pretty ballad from a Liverpool lad once involved with Wylie's Wah!. With a typically studious Northern vocal - so you know he means it - this is the indie equivalent of "A Different Corner". Stick to George. 3/5 (Paul Simper, No 1, August 30, 1986)

The Bathers - Fancy Dress (Go! Discs)

This lot are from the same stable as The Housemartins and Billy Bragg. Singer Chris Thomson used to be in the Scottish band Friends Again who I used to really, really like, but success always eluded them for some reason. This is great, but what's interesting is that the rest of Friends Again are now Love And Money so the race is on to see who can chart first. Love the moody guitar. (Gary Crowley, No 1, April 25, 1987)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Black - Hey Presto (Eternal)

Now this is much more like it. Lots of genuine attack on a good song with a bit of depth but one which loses its way and lacks the killer chorus which brings a hit. Extra points for a good bit of dramatic piano. (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 24, 1984)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Shakin' Stevens - Blue Christmas (Epic)

Time to don armour plated vest and crash helmet in anticipation of all those Shaky fans threatening death and misfortunes after we make heartfelt, considered comments about old chubby chops. As always, the only wonderful thing about a Shaky record is the cosmetic job on the single sleeve. (Robin Smith, Record Mirror, December 11, 1982)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gingerbread - Christmas Time (RCA)

Another nice song about joining hands and peace on earth - sentiments which will all be forgotten well before the decorations come down. (Captain Sensible, No 1, December 21, 1985)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wham! - Last Christmas (Epic)

And the public gets what the public wants . . . The mega-duo celebrate a mega-golden year with another mega-hit - no doubt about that. Well, it is Christmas and George finds himself in the clutches of a young-love crisis while Andrew looks on sympathetically and the Whamettes swoon. For all musicologists out there note the close similarity to Peaches & Herb's cream-curdling duet, "Reunited". (Lesley White, Smash Hits, December 6, 1984)

Predictable schmaltzy seasonal love story from Pinky and Perky. This must be the tenth song in the last six months to have lifted the chord structure of Peaches And Herb's "Reunited". Obviously a hit, but I'd rather listen to the Queen's speech myself. (Andy Strickland, Record Mirror, December 8, 1984)

Laudable B-Sides: Now considered something of a Christmas staple, "Last Christmas" was originally released as a double A side single, with "Everything She Wants" on the flip. After Christmas, Epic simply put the same single in a new sleeve and reversed the order, causing "Everything She Wants" to become the next big hit for the group. Incidentally, the much more obscure extended mix of "Last Christmas" was known as the "Pudding Mix".

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale Of New York (Stiff)

Just the very thing, you might think, to slap on if you're feeling tired, emotional and melancholy of a Christmas Eve is a slab of Shane MacGowan groaning charmingly off-key, lonely and drowning (literally, probably) in has sorrows as he props his weary body over his winnings on the horses. But not quite. Up pops Kirsty MacColl (whose dad wrote "Dirty Old Town" for the Pogues), along with a pile of accordions and what not and together they enter into a spirited duel, with Kirsty chucking insults such as "You scumbag/You maggot/You cheap lousy faggot." Quite magnificent. (Lola Borg, Smash Hits, December 2, 1987)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Pretenders - 2000 Miles (WEA)

The first Christmas song of 1983 is a beautiful but sad affair - and is really a mourning for those Pretenders no longer with us. Superb, gentle guitar work and Chrissie's haunting voice add up to a song that should outlast the Xmas rush. Great, but again, mainly sad. (Paul Bursche, No 1, November 19, 1983)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - The Power Of Love (ZTT)

Led Zeppelin do a ballad! Gosh, these boys are versatile. I've tried to see some redeeming feature in this - as you might expect, it's Trevor Horn's lush production. Otherwise the thing's a fairly major disappointment. Seventies' kitsch seems to be the Flavour Of The Month, but a pomp rock revival I can live without. (Sunie, No 1, November 24, 1984)

A stronger-than-brandy, big ballady monster. A lot of heart, all over the place. Strings sweep, fools weep. 'Make love your goal', pleads Holly, going over the big top and outta sight. The B-side carries the Lads' Xmessage - beep beep! - in which they get pissed, take the piss out of themselves, and make a few suggestions (about getting the most out of the festive season). O come, all ye ... (Mark Cordery, Record Mirror, November 24, 1984)

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