Monday, August 21, 2017

Red Box - Heart Of The Sun (WEA)

This lot last graced the chart with the jolly "For America" - a tune with a great video and an irresistible hook that everyone was humming in spite of themselves. Before that they pioneered pop music for the deaf (!?) with a video for the single "Lean On Me" which included a person in the corner of the screen signing the lyrics to the song. Looks like they've just run out of good ideas. (Pat Thomas, No 1, January 31, 1987)

Talk about finding the formula and milking it dry. Do Red Box know the meaning of the word variety? It's the same as the previous saccharine-laden objects of inanity, destined to be bought by thousands with no taste. (Nancy Culp, Record Mirror, January 31, 1987)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dollar - Give Me Back My Heart (WEA)

Slush. Well sung slush and, with the much-in-demand Trevor Horn at the controls, beautifully-produced slush. But slush nonetheless. Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but nowhere near as interesting as "Mirror Mirror". (Dave Rimmer, Smash Hits, April 1, 1982)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bucks Fizz - My Camera Never Lies (RCA)

Don't this lot ever have any new ideas? Same old oompah-oompah rhythm, clean wholesome vocals and utterly pathetic lyrics: 'My camera never lies any more/Because there's nothing worth lying for'. Too right, so here's the truth: sorry Fizz fans, this is horrible. (Dave Rimmer, Smash Hits, April 1, 1982)

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)

The best Australians stay at home and make great films. The second best come to London and become witty media people. The worst Australians bow to the buck and become second rate West coast rock bands. I rest my case. (Jim Reid, Record Mirror, January 8, 1983)

Palais Schaumburg - Hockey (Phonogram)

With a little help from Dieter Meier of Yello, German avant-gardists Palais Schaumburg play the mad professors on this delightfully dotty song. There's a cute boy/girl duet, some jazzy touches and a great deal of off-centre charm. (Lynn Hanna, No 1, August 20, 1983)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Altered Images - See Those Eyes (Epic)

As usual David Band's cover is almost worth £1.20 on its own - and it needs to be, as the record is a disappointment. Rushent's production, Clare's candy-floss vocals and a competent performance from the band can't disguise the thinness of the song. No doubt it will make the Top 20 but Altered Images should do better than that. Now if the title had the word 'happy' in it... (Tim De Lisle, Smash Hits, March 18, 1982)

Thompson Twins - Love On Your Side (Arista)

Try as they will, The Thompsons can't quite fit through the golden door, Like "Lies", this is all intelligence and no flair. The chorus shows an indecent desire to be in the charts, the verses betray a desperate desire to remain witty and aloof. Full marks for hard work but where's the flair? (Mark Cooper, Record Mirror, January 22, 1983)

Gang Of Four - Is It Love (EMI)

There's only two left of the original gang of post-punk revolutionaries. And a smoother, tingling dance sound has replaced their taut, roughed-up funk-rock. This explores the love maze with an intensity that makes most of this week's singles sound pale. Ethereal girls' vocals are set against a reluctant admission that's all the more affecting. Although The Gang Of Four are famous for their theorising and political awareness, they hit at the heart. (Lynn Hanna, No 1, August 20, 1983)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jona Lewie - I Think I'll Get My Hair Cut (Stiff)

Love it. Another one of the man's wonderful demented shuffles with ultra-catchy piano bits and hooks where you least expect them. Jona's still having trouble with the opposite sex but this time he decides the barnet's to blame. Relax and enjoy. (Red Starr, Smash Hits, February 11, 1982)

Visage - The Damned Don't Cry (Polydor)

Another stylish cover and a very stylish song. It does the various musicians credit that although it's a part-time interest for most of them, Visage have a sound of their own and are quite distinct from Ultravox or Magazine. If you liked "Fade To Grey" you'll enjoy this, though it's not quite as catchy. (Tim De Lisle, Smash Hits, March 18, 1982)

Friends Again - Sunkissed (Phonogram)

Very pleasant indeed as John Peel would say. Friends Again (Scots lads) opt for a different class of pop music to the norm. Theirs is based on sultry vocal arrangements, Doobies styled acoustic guitars and a killer tune with a sting in the tail. More stylish than fashionable, it deserves a wide hearing. "Sunkissed" is produced by Bob Sargeant too so it sounds immaculate. (Max Bell, No 1, August 13, 1983)

Doesn't have the bite or exuberance of Aztec Camera whose shadow this walks in. It's all here, the lightly strummed acoustic guitar, the rattlesnake percussive effects, the doo-doo-de-doo chorus. It just isn't very interesting. (Johnny Black, Smash Hits, August 18, 1983)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fad Gadget - Saturday Night Special (Mute)

Behind the painted face and the long nose lurks a man with a message or two to get across, and it would spoil the drama of hearing the record to tell you what it's about; put it on the shopping list and try it out. (Charlie Gillett, Smash Hits, February 4, 1982)

UB40 - Red Red Wine (DEP International)

Very neatly reggaed version of a heartbender by Neil Diamond from the days when he was a songwriter. Spine-shivering synthesiser plays sparing little lines that help drive it along. Deserves to be a hit. (Johnny Black, Smash Hits, August 18, 1983)

UB40 have always struck me as being a modern equivalent of Eddy Grant's Equals. They specialise in airy pop reggae that can scintillate you live and lull you into a false sense of security on record. This is very clever, lashings of memorable harmonies and a lilting tune. It's the acceptable face of schmaltz - but then Neil Diamond, who wrote it, knows a thing or two about the wiles of the public taste button. Could even be a hit if UB40 split up soon (just joshing, lads). (Max Bell, No 1, August 13, 1983)

Joe Jackson - Cosmopolitan (A&M)

Joe's Night And Day was one of the revelations of last year, a pure distillation of black and white sophistication. This, the theme from the up-and-coming Mike's Murder movie, continues to explore Joe's fascination with wee small hours pop jazz. Jackson makes the most of his vocal strengths and leaves plenty of space for his fine group to toughen up the rhythm. Bound to break through in America again where Joe is now a celebrity. (Max Bell, No 1, August 13, 1983)

Much as I admire Joe's technique, craftsmanship and piano playing, I rarely like his records. Somehow they seem smugly cynical and this is no exception, with his voice too mid-Atlantic and the arrangement too contrived for success. (Johnny Black, Smash Hits, August 18, 1983)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

China Crisis - African And White (Inevitable)

While you're at the shop checking out the Chas Jankel, ask to hear this one too; it has a lot of nice instrumental ideas, and only the slightly doomy vocals stop it from being really good. (Charlie Gillett, Smash Hits, February 4, 1982)

Prince - If I Was Your Girlfriend (WEA/Paisley Park)

People call Boy George a "gender bender", but Prince confuses the sexes in a far more clever and subtle way. Consider: he's definitely a man, and most of his lyrics are steamy odes about how much he fancies women, yet he looks and sounds incredibly feminine and loads of blokes think he's extremely sexy. And now, to tangle the subject still further, here he is with a song about how he'd like to be his girlfriend's girlfriend, so he could help her get dressed and be privy to her innermost secrets. Which is probably a very erotic idea to the boyfriends of this world, but will leave most girls heaving a sigh of relief that, when they're squeezing their blackheads and moaning about men in the ladies' loos, their "loved" ones cannot be there to witness them. Confusing, non? (Vici MacDonald, Smash Hits, June 3, 1987)

Like it! Got a few tapes of his at home actually. Some people say that a lot of his stuff is too similar but I like that basic feel to all his songs. When you listen to the words they don't seem to go a lot of the time. Not that I'm saying he's mad or anything, he's just very creative and takes a bit of tuning into. I've never seen him live but I'm hoping to go to Wembley. Na, I'm not going to wear anything peach or black! I'll be wearing pink, dear! Don't put that bit in will you... (Neidet Salih, No 1, June 20, 1987)

JoBoxers - Johnny Friendly (RCA)

Film-buffs will know Johnny Friendly as the corrupt union boss in On The Waterfront, a dockland movie close to the Boxers' hearts. Unfortunately their tribute to Mr. Friendly doesn't quite come off. It tells a story alright and Dig has a great time delivering some of Marlon Brando's lines but it isn't half the song that "Just Got Lucky" was. I'll say no more - nasty things happen to people who badmouth Johnny .. . (Sunie, No 1, August 6, 1983)

A tug-boat roars in and that can only mean one thing ... the Tetley Teafolk are down on the waterfront. Dig tells the sad tale of Johnny - "he ain't a man to love" - over a funked-up alley cat backing. Not as infectious as "Lucky" but just as catchy in a harder sense. Looks like three in a row. (Peter Martin, Smash Hits, August 4, 1983)

After two barnstorming singles the Bowery Boys/Tetley Tea folk change the boxerbeat to a swing. But the swing is so leaden that they'll lose this round on a technical knock out. (Mike Gardner, Record Mirror, August 6, 1983)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bow Wow Wow - Go Wild In The Country (RCA)

The theme tune for the band's latest "leisure concept". No more skates and technology: it's all romping in pastures, hunting, fishing and generally making A Very Loud Noise. Not wearing a lot of clothes, either. This won't sell as it's just too cluttered to sound convincing on the radio. Shame. (Mark Ellen, Smash Hits, January 21, 1982)

Depeche Mode - A Question Of Time (Mute)

The follow up to 'A Question Of Lust' - they don't half ask a lot of questions these boys! Anyway I have it on good authority that the lads were a bit upset that the last single didn't do too well. This is a much livelier outing which should get them the much coveted airplay they didn't get with the last one. It's not as good as 'Lust' but then you can dance to it and that's the most important thing - isn't it? 3/5 (Pat Thomas, No 1, August 16, 1986)

Spruced up, meatier mix of old track. Not quite as alluring as 'A Question Of Lust' but the rabid, sequenced throb is better programmed for radio land. Good sorts that they are, Depeche Mode will run and run while Martin Gore grows weirder and weirder by the milli-second. (Lesley O'Toole, Record Mirror, August 16, 1986)

Madness - Wings Of A Dove (Stiff)

The one we've all been waiting for, yes? The new improved Maddy Boys soar off on a delightful tangent, crossing over their Camden Town roots to accommodate Afro horns, a Pentecostal church choir and some delirious Trini steel drums. They said this was going to be uplifting and it is - religious even. How the Born Again Soul Boys have prospered. Good old Madness, they'll be socking it to the Yanks when this is number one at home. (Max Bell, No 1, August 13, 1983)

With their loony ranks swollen by a steel band and a gospel choir, the "chasps" (as they call themselves on the sleeve) charge along regardless and a good time is had by all. Bags of jollity and, no matter what they throw into the mix, the end result is always distinctively Madness. Can't help but like it. Best Of The Bunch though it's definitely not one of their most memorable songs. (Johnny Black, Smash Hits, August 18, 1983)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Giorgio Moroder With Philip Oakey - Together In Electric Dreams (Virgin)

Philip Oakey is perhaps better known as the voice of the Human League whilst Giorgio Moroder is the maestro behind film scores such as Midnight Express and producer of the likes of Donna Summer. The resulting combination is not the titanic musical equivalent of King Kong vs Godzilla but rather, methinks, the chance to get in on the Electric Dreams Hollywood film bonanza. Sadly, what could have been a thriller in Manilla sounds rather like a low down in show town. (Pedro, Record Mirror, September 15, 1984)

The title track from one of the best films I've seen all year, Electric Dreams. Giorgio supplies the dazzling synthwork and Human Leaguer Phil(ip) Oakey lends his voice to a surprisingly catchy song. There's even a guitar solo in the middle, which adds a touch of variation and originality. You can dance or headbang - take your pick. (Dave Ling, No 1, September 15, 1984)

XTC - Senses Working Overtime (Virgin)

When will the world put a comforting arm around XTC? They've certainly kept their part of the bargain by dealing out cartloads of invigorating music. This is no exception: a great, metallic sound full of lean energy and Andy Partridge's barking vocals. (Ian Birch, Smash Hits, January 7, 1982)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Level 42 - The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (Polydor)

Oh God, not more summery disco records. The Radio One roadshow has got a lot to answer for. Level 42 have a suitably laid-back vocal swaying in and out of a warm jumpy synth rhythm. Fairly pleasant. Roll on winter. (Peter Martin, Smash Hits, August 4, 1983)

Level 42 goes increasingly spare every time somebody says they make anonymous records, so now they've enlisted the services of Earth, Wind And Fire at the production desk. The result is surprisingly not the funky equivalent of the Royal Philharmonic in your front room but a catchy little number marred only by the 42s' dry vocals. (Paul Simper, No 1, July 23, 1983)

Cliff Richard - Never Say Die (EMI)

Cliff gets funky shock! Here he suffers a setback, picks himself up, gets down on the disco floor and delivers a quick sermon on surviving. Cliff's such a trooper that this doesn't sound half as strange as it should. But then when you look like that at his age perhaps you can be said to know your subject. (Lynn Hanna, No 1, August 20, 1983)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Care - My Boyish Days (Drink To Me) (Arista)

Care are a combination of the talents of Paul Simpson (once of The Wild Swans) and Ian Broudie (formerly of the Original Mirrors and producer of Echo and The Bunnymen). Their name comes a little too close to The Cure for comfort and is perhaps a trifle precious. Mind you, calling a duo Tears For Fears seems to have worked and I suppose that 'Care' will do. This ditty tinkles along prettily but doesn't give the voice or the lyrics the assurance they deserve. Promising but too close to forgettable. (Mark Cooper, No 1, July 16, 1983)

The Liverpool mafia strikes again. Ex-Original Mirror person and Bunnymen and Wah! producer Ian Broudie knocks out a sultry number that goes down nicely with the lazy, hazy days of summer and a cool glass of Pimms No 1. (Mike Gardner, Record Mirror, July 16, 1983)

Good grief, is there anyone from Liverpool who's not in a band these days? Formed by ex-Wild Swan and Teardrop Explodes founder-member Paul Simpson and ex-Original Mirror Ian Broudie, they ought to have come up with a better name than Care. Mind you, it's as vapid and forgettable as this record. Disappointing. (Deborah Steels, Smash Hits, July 21, 1983)

Wham! - Club Tropicana (Innervision)

This time we see the bad boys avoiding their oppressive parents by saving up their social security and swanning off to Ibiza (oh, really). This is the 4th track taken off Fantastic and it's a heap of meaningless summer drivel. The boys have obviously got a bad case of sunstroke. (Peter Martin, Smash Hits, August 4, 1983)

Andrew 'Shorts' Ridgeley is convinced this will be their first No.1. Personally I'd have put more money on "Nothing Looks The Same In The Light" but this is likeable enough and, most importantly, a marked change from the Bad Guns Rap trilogy. (Paul Simper, No 1, July 23, 1983)

Perhaps it's because I'm a pale, skinny weakling that I detest Wham so much as they flex their muscles and flash those dazzling smiles, while I'm in the shade covering myself in Camomile lotion. Their stuff moves my penguin-like feet not an inch. Now, perhaps if I sent off for that Bullworker... (Robin Smith, Record Mirror, July 23, 1983)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Everything But The Girl - When All's Well (Blanco Y Negro)

Disappointingly, this smacks of 'playing safe'. When Tracey and Ben can write such perfect feeling songs as "Bittersweet", why release an insubstantial and lifeless song like this? It smacks of panic by someone - a vague attempt to emulate "Each And Everyone"'s success by putting out a song as close to it as possible but with none of its free-flowing jazzy life. EBTG have new songs far better than this and hopefully we'll be seeing them soon. (Eleanor Levy, Record Mirror, March 16, 1985)

I think Tracey Thorn sounds very similar to Siouxsie Sioux on this. It's more powerful than their usual style but still a very thoughtful record and could be the song to give them their breakthrough. (Marshall O'Leary, Smash Hits, March 14, 1985)

Apparently Ben Watt is a big Glenda Jackson fan which explains why there's a picture of her on this single sleeve. In case you were wondering, film fans, the shot is taken from The Triple Echo. A film in which Glenda's bedmate is an AWOL soldier who hides in her cottage masquerading as her sister whenever anyone comes by - an idea which backfires when Oliver Reed takes a fancy to him. Good film taste aside, this record has little going for it. Unlike 'Each And Every One' and Tracey's work with Paul Weller and Working Week, it's simply unremarkable. When all's well hopefully they'll release something else . . . (Adrian Tierney-Jones, No 1, March 9, 1985)

The Cars - Drive (WEA)

The Cars are the kind of aging rockers that Americans love so much. "Drive" is the kind of bland, faceless ballad that Paul Gambaccini plays every Saturday afternoon. The combination of the two gives the word dirge a whole new lease of life. "Who's gonna drive you home tonight?" they ask. I think I'd take me chance on the night bus. (Karen Swayne, No 1, September 22, 1984)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Thompson Twins - You Take Me Up (Arista)

This has more hooks than your average angling club, but the melody doesn't really cut it. The rhythm sounds like the sort of song the slaves would have sung in the old days on the American railroads - and that's what Tom intends as he tells us how his girl makes him forget about his mundane lifestyle and job I understand, Tom. Being rich must be such a pain. (Paul Bursche, No 1, March 24, 1984)

There's something fantastically annoying about Thompson Twins' records. They always
sound as if they should have been left in the oven a few minutes longer. The songs never quite set; the production's of ten underdone; the vocals are half baked. This is no exception despite a jaunty harmonica that gives the number a decidedly folksy feel. None of what I've said, of course, will stop it being a monster hit. (Ian Birch, Smash Hits, March 29, 1984)

The Power Station - Some Like It Hot (Parlophone)

A very strong first record from The Power Station, including Smash Hits readers' most fanciable man, John Taylor. It has a recognisable chorus and a rousing guitar solo from Andy Taylor– and I especially like the twangy acoustic guitar in the background. A hit. (Marshall O'Leary, Smash Hits, March 14, 1985)

If you live in a cave, hard luck. It must be cold. It must also mean you'll think The Power Station are just Another Group. You'll not know that some Duran chaps, a brace of Chics and super-cool crooner Robert Palmer have undertaken a musical project. With 'Some Like It Hot', they seem more intent on showing us that The Power Station will not be like Duran Duran, as opposed to producing anything memorable. Despite Palmer singing his socks off and a muscular rhythmic workout courtesy of John Taylor and Tony Thompson, it's little more than some of pop's sophisticates jamming. (Adrian Tierney-Jones, No 1, March 9, 1985)

Via Vagabond - Hip Today (Albion)

Via Vagabond are Nick Plytas, ex-Roogolator pianist, and friends. They concoct a jokey '50s beat brew which is light, breezy and very sarcastic. The title says it all. Whether they fall foul of the same faults they criticise in others is another matter which need not concern us here. (Lynn Hanna, No 1, August 20, 1983)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

James - Hymn From A Village (Factory)

James, currently A Group To Watch, come from Manchester and are guests of The Smiths on their nationwide tour. Morrissey has taste. "Hymn From A Village" has a simple and magical charm which comes from the fragile but determined guitar-playing, lively drumming and singer Tommy Booth's strained but human voice. Like The Smiths' early singles it's the very essence of pop, free from technological excess and cosmetic overkill. Devour it. (Adrian Tierney-Jones, No 1, March 9, 1985)

All the bands coming through at the moment seem to be of a certain mould. BEAUTY is the thing to be possessed of and if you haven't got it, fake it, and bugger the sound you're making - that can be faked too. That's why James are so refreshing. So non-visual it hurts and makes it excessively difficult to find one of those easy nouns we journalists like attaching to the front of groups' names. You know, 'funksters', 'popsters', 'long macsters'. The comparisons with Joy Division are glaringly obvious but they have a less doomy, more open hearted feel and (ouch) energy. (Eleanor Levy, Record Mirror, March 16, 1985)

Martin Ansell - The Eighth Wonder (Island)

Martin Ansell's "I'll Be In The Jungle" was one of my top ten singles for '83. Now the ex-Tom Robinson and Captain Sensible guitarist proves himself still, unerringly, on target. "Eighth Wonder" is fresher than a sandwich in a pyramid and catchy enough to get the sphinx up and bopping. Joint single of the week. (Martin Townsend, No 1, February 23, 1985)

Orange Juice - Felicity/In A Nutshell (Postcard/Polydor)

Well, it's better than their last, unhappy effort "Love (L.O.V.E.)", but Edwyn should really look to his vocals. They let down the songs, the playing and the production, and that's not right. (Ian Birch, Smash Hits, January 7, 1982)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax (ZTT)

The sound of leather boys at pleasure, Frankie's debut single takes the boystown style out of safe hands and into a hard and dangerous night. Despite the title, the boys huff and puff like crazy, making their particular disco sound like a factory. A dark and dubious record that pumps up more steam than a posse of pistons. Let it whip, Frankie. (Mark Cooper, No 1, November 5, 1983)

Naughty lyrics that will shock the powers that be at BBC. Which is a shame as this Trevor Horn-produced powerhouse dance record screams out to be heard. In the sterile, germ free world of disco this is one contagious disease which should be caught. (Mark Steels, Smash Hits, November 10, 1983)

Hoodoo Gurus - Good Times (Chrysalis)

Aren't the Aussies doing well this year? Castlemaine XXXX, Foster's, Pat Cash, and Craig Johnston have all become household names, while musically the continent seems to have come out of the doldrums with the likes of Mental As Anything, the wonderful Go-Betweens and the longer-established Hoodoo Gurus. This, the umpteenth single from the Gurus, features The Bangles on (brilliant) backing vocals and (brilliant) instruments. A cheery affair, with a dynamic melody, "Good Times" is, of course, brilliant. (Fiona Looney, No 1, August 1, 1987)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Associates - Club Country (Beggars Banquet)

Like thousands of others, I remained oblivious to the charms of the Associates until "Party Fears Two". This will no doubt float into the charts in the wake of that song, but it's a less appealing number: dry and a trifle dreary with Mr MacKenzie in relatively restrained form. (Dave Rimmer, Smash Hits, May 13, 1982)

Talking Heads - Life During Wartime (Live) (Sire)

A quicker, thicker, less slick version of the outstanding track from Fear Of Music, recorded during the 1980-81 world tour which the Heads did as a nine-piece, dance-enhanced out-and-out funk band. I narrowly prefer the original but that's on the B-side, so no complaints. (Tim De Lisle, Smash Hits, March 18, 1982)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Captain Sensible - Come On Down (A&M)

In which our hero risks life and limb and dares attack those great British National Heroes, the TV quizmasters. A nation swoons and shouts 'shame' at the Captain who with a punk-like thrash pours scorn on those TV show Hitlers who offer 'a year's supply of Spam ' or a 'fluffy kangaroo' for witless participants. For his next record, the Captain will expose the evil men who make cats tap-dance in concrete booties. (Adrian Tierney-Jones, No 1, November 16, 1985)

"Win a holiday for two/or a fluffy kangaroo/Genuine vinyl three piece suite/ It will make your life complete. . ." Yes, Sensible is having a sneer at The Price Is Right and similar gruesome game shows, but he's so jolly and chirpy and inoffensive about it all that Derek Batey, Leslie Crowther and all those other masters of audience humiliation are left without a stain on their characters. In a couple of years, the "very lovely" Maggie Moone will probably be singing this jaunty cockney trot-along to the contestants on Name That Tune. (Tom Hibbert, Smash Hits, November 6, 1985)

Doctor And The Medics - Happy But Twisted (Illegal)

Me, I like a good groove and XTC recently made a fab psychedelic pisstake EP under the umbrella of Dukes Of The Stratosphere. But this EP from the Medics is a psychedelic insult. Their image is all paisley and Sergeant Pepper but the music lacks the colour and sparkle. 'Scuse me while I take off my little round sunglasses and reach for the ear plugs. (Debbi Voller, No 1, July 6, 1985)

Edwyn Collins - Don't Shilly Shally (Elevation)

Five years ago this man's not-very-ugly face adorned the cover of Smash Hits, since when he's gradually floundered into undeserved obscurity. Nevertheless, he's been very influential: the naive pop songs of his early '80s group Orange Juice Inspired practically single-handedly the thousands of jangly, shambling, anorak-bedecked indie groups so beloved of Janice Long (a somewhat dubious honour, Some would say). This is his first single for two years and, weirdly, it's produced by the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie; this works, even though Edwyn's raw, twangy, guitar-laden rock 'n' roll is about as far removed from the Cocteaus' swirlesque gloom as you can get. Sadly, the record probably won't get beyond night-time radio, although anything which manages to be so drivingly humalong and include the immortal lines "Put this record on again and turn the volume up to ten" quite clearly deserves to be a hit. Pity about the abysmally designed Cover, though ... (Vici MacDonald, Smash Hits, August 12, 1987)

Orange Juice were a good old band and it's good to see Edwyn Collins finally back in action. This is yet another song with a strong '60s influence (I've got the '60s coming out of my ears this week!) with Beatlesque harmonies on the chorus. Ace! (Debbi Voller, No 1, July 25, 1987)

Dave: It's certainly a bigger pop noise than he's ever produced before but it's the same old diction and everything I love.
Simon: Wonderful! Strange choice of producer (Robin 'Cochteau' Guthrie) but it works. Great guitar sound but I'm not so keen on the sleeve, Edwin. You come and produce our next single and we'll do your next sleeve. (The Chesterfields, Record Mirror, August 1, 1987)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fad Gadget - I Discover Love (Mute)

This group have been consistently fantastic, but nobody seems exactly over aware of them. Wake up you lot and listen to something decent. Frank Tovey is a mild-mannered man in real life, but transforms into an evil voice on record, and a performer well-known for doing obscene acts on stage. There, now you're interested! (Debbi Voller, No 1, September 10, 1983)

Annabel Lamb - Riders On The Storm (A&M)

It takes some nerve to try to tackle The Doors' classic tale of murderous isolation, but Annabel Lamb manages to do the song justice. Ray Manzarek, The Doors' original keyboard player, helps out to give the song its authentic melody. The Lamb girl singer, who looks like a replicant, can't be far away from success anymore. Memorably chilling. (Max Bell, No 1, August 13, 1983)

Surprisingly, the metronomic dancebeat actually enhances this neatly understated, perfectly '80s update of a Doors classic. Much better than I would have expected, it apparently features Doors' keyboardist Ray Manzarek who has subtly altered his original contribution to suit this version. (Johnny Black, Smash Hits, August 18, 1983)

Samantha Fox - I Surrender (To The Spirit Of The Night) (Jive)

T: Apart from the bloke they shoved in at the end to do harmonies this is actually quite good. Can I keep it?
A: Sounds like a hit to me. Very good, her voice seems to have improved a lot recently. She could become quite famous, and if she does, I might let her be my friend.
J: She's starting to sound like Kim Wilde, isn't she? This is really good. If they'd put some medley guitars in with the backing I think it would be brilliant. (All About Eve, Record Mirror, July 18, 1987)

Sam Fox's achievement, if you can call it anything so grand, is to have become the first Brit to crack the formula for producing totally drossy Euro synth pop. This is about on a par with a Europe record i.e. it's nauseating and utterly daft. A gormless charmless sound from a big galoot. Will it be a hit? Do bears poop in the woods? (Max Bell, No 1, July 18, 1987)

Sam Fox has got this pop lark off to a fine art. However brainless the press may attempt to portray her, there's no denying she knows a good tune when she hears one. This, like all her other songs, sounds instantly familiar after the first spin and actually turns out to be a loosely disguised version of the 1978 disco classic "Let's All Chant" by the Michael Zager Band. Still, it's been Sam Fox-ed up with thundering drums, growling guitar solos and plenty of woh-oh-ohs. "I Surrender" sounds like a huge hit and just goes to prove that nothing, short of a nuclear war, is going to stop her now. (Ro Newton, Smash Hits, July 29, 1987)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Dead Or Alive - It's Been Hours Now (Black Eyes)

With his long, straggly multi-coloured hair, thick eye make-up and flowing clothes, Pete Burns, the lead singer of this Liverpool five-piece, has always looked a bit silly to me - like a would-be Steve Strange type who didn't quite make it. It came as some surprise, then, to find this tale of a gloomy sexual encounter eerily effective and genuinely disturbing. Two of the other songs on this four-track EP don't do much, but the fourth, another version of "Hours", is even more spine-chilling than the main one. Recommended. (Dave Rimmer, Smash Hits, April 1, 1982)

The Blue Nile - Tinsel Town In The Rain (Linn Records)

This is quite an achievement for only their second single, it's quite nice. There's nothing that jumps out at you but I love the strings, more bands should use them. I don't know if it'll be a hit because I'm lousy at picking them. I think they'll develop into quite a big band. (Andy Taylor [Duran Duran], Record Mirror, July 14, 1984)

This comes from the band's new album Walk Across The Rooftops, but there's no doubt that as an album track it's sophisticated, subtle and slightly melancholy. Sadly, though, it's also a single which makes it boring, predictable and slightly weak. It's hard for The Blue Nile to top their wonderful single "I Love This Life" and they certainly won't do it with this. If anything, it's very reminiscent of early '70s Steely Dan which, in 1984, is nothing to be proud of. (Muriel Gray, Smash Hits, July 19, 1984)

Jane Aire - I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten (Stiff)

When Martin Fry delivered his singles reviews the other week, I said to him, "Mark my words, young Fry, afore this year is out we shall have a Dusty Springfield revival on our hands." And at that instant the earth shook and a great darkness did come over Carnaby Street and a mighty voice did speak: "Funny you should say that. Here's the new Jane Aire single; a pretty wretched, ham-fisted rendering of Dusty's finest hour, full-to-bursting of modern bonks and thunks and entirely lacking in the required sensitivity." (David Hepworth, Smash Hits, May 27, 1982)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

China Crisis - King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up) (Virgin)

These boys just keep turning out good tracks. This is a good lively tune with a real nice beat. You may think I'm biased towards Liverpool bands and you'd be right. However, all bias apart, this one really is worth 'getting into' (and I told our Rich, "African And White" was a one-off!) (Simon O'Brien, Smash Hits, May 22, 1985)

China Crisis are now the state of art in easy listening. The harder roots of early singles like "African And White" have withered away and left the band to develop pure, weightless melodies around Gary Daly's soft vocals. Crisis – what crisis? Unfortunately for a band that now stands or falls on its tunes, there are few good ones on the new LP and "King In A Catholic Style" is not one of them. It bounces along merrily enough on Walter Becker's airy production. But there are none of those essential shivers up the spine. (Martin Townsend, No 1, May 25, 1985)

An incessant and badgering ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong refrain keeps this going for longer than it deserves.  China Crisis are still too wordy for their own good but some considerable points scored in scooping Walter Becker as producer. (Dylan Jones, Record Mirror, May 25, 1985)

Red Box - Chenko (WEA)

A-Ha meet the Old Spice ad, and Red Box reap the rewards. Pronounced 'Tenka-io', which no doubt is something very deep and meaningful in some dodgy language, this slice of atmospheric musing finds the band at their best yet, with the duo rustling up an undoubted chart hit that deserves its place far more so than the appalling dross that Red Box have produced so far. With Chenko, opening up the Red Box is no longer the distasteful experience that it once was. (Fiona Looney, No 1, August 1, 1987)

I'm a complete pushover for anything with a bit of pseudo-Russian chanting so this gets off to a flying start and continues in the same majestically spooky flavour all the way through helped by loads of moody piano and the trembly, delicate vocals. I haven't heard anything quite so loin-stirring since Boney M's "Rasputin" - and a higher compliment than that could not be paid. (Lola Borg, Smash Hits, July 1, 1987)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Nick Kamen - Each Time You Break My Heart (WEA)

Beautiful boy from launderette ad in hit record shock! Yes. luscious, pouting Nick Kamen, he of designer jeans and boxer shorts fame, teams up with Her Royal Highness Madonna in an alliance that will undoubtedly see the Harlow heart-throb up there at the top alongside his even more famous mentor. "I know how it feels to be the talk of the town," purrs young Nick and I give it about three weeks before this confident prediction becomes all too true. Somehow the weekly wash will never seem the same again. (Barry McIlheney, Smash Hits, November 5, 1986)

Ooops, con we see a chink in the armour? First Maddy gets persuaded by hubby to leap before she looks into the duck doo-doo of Shanghai Surprise and now she's gone and penned (ho ho) a very ordinary little song to get everyone's favourite laundromat loiterer, Nick Kamen, on his way. Not all the sultry looks in the world can disguise the fact that "Each Time" is a third rate "True Blue" or "Shoo Bee Doo". Slower, more sugary, but sadly no sweeter. Still I'm sure we'll all enjoy the video. (Paul Simper, No 1, November 8, 1986)

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