Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hollywood Beyond - What's The Colour Of Money? (WEA)

If you can imagine a troupe of rampaging Apache Indians whooping, yelping and doing an Irish Reel then you'll roughly have the feel of this. It's infinitely hummable, quite irresistible and even has very nice cover. (Lola Borg, Smash Hits, July 2, 1986)

Perky, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mix of pop styles, culminating in some very positive HM chording. Tumbled along by some cute military style drumming, this is cynical and clever - clever enough to win plenty of airplay. (Jim Reid, Record Mirror, June 28, 1986)

Doctor And The Medics - Spirit In The Sky (IRS)

Spirited and vibrant in mood and appearance - just like the Medics really - this colourfully animated sound gives you all you could possibly want or expect from a single (plus a free full-colour fold-out picture bag no less!). Soulful, haunting backing vocals quiver in joyous unison as the Norman Greenbaum classic is covered with sheer complimentary aplomb by the good doctor. To betaken twice daily - at least. 5/5 (Anna Martin, No 1, May 10, 1986)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Fink Brothers - Mutants In Mega-City One (Zarjazz)

A fantasy piece based on the 2000 A.D. comic (see page 16) which finds Suggs and Carl from Madness being very indulgent. Not being au fait with 'the story so far', I find it all a bit confusing - amidst lots of chaotic funkiness we meet about 137 characters in 3 minutes. Nevertheless I can't stop singing the bit which goes 'When mutants are waiting on every corner/ Remember to call for Judge Dredd', much to the amusement of my friends. (Chris Heath, Smash Hits, January 31, 1985)

The strange world of The Fink Brothers is dominated by Judge Dredd. He's the enemy who, along with the other norms, won't allow mutants like The Brothers into Mega-City One. They're so upset they've written a song about it. Confused? You won't be if you're a fan of the comic strip in 2000AD. You might be if you're a Madness fan though, because in amongst the garbled funk are Suggs and Carl as you've never heard them before. This is a truly weird record, which you'd do well to learn to love.. . mutes can do very nasty things to norms. (Karen Swayne, No 1, February 2, 1985)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Killing Joke - Love Like Blood (EG)

At last! After five years making exactly the same record - deafening drums and guitar, a tuneless vocal - Killing Joke have actually written a song. It's not a very good one, and unfortunately the swish production does let us confirm for the first time what a load of twaddle their lyrics are. Nevertheless, it's a start. (Chris Heath, Smash Hits, January 31, 1985)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Blue Nile - Stay (Virgin)

The Blue Nile are a band I know absolutely nothing about but I'll be listening out for them in the future. I think this is probably their debut single and it sounds as if it's been influenced by Talking Heads. An hypnotic bassline drives the verse into a catchy chorus. Good single. (Dave Gahan, Smash Hits, April 26, 1984)

A very pretty first release by some young Scottish chaps who, if their plain white record cover is anything to go by, aren't giving away too much about themselves. This is refreshing and perfectly sensible, since the music speaks for itself, It's gentle, not too busy and topped off with a vocal borrowed from an American singer-songwriter - the sensitive '70s kind. No, I like it, honest! Discovery of the week. (Sunie, No 1, April 21, 1984)

Dolly Parton - Here You Come Again (RCA)

There's a line in this that goes 'better than a body has a right to be', and folding out the full colour poster sleeve you get a good demonstration. It really is a wonderful song, you can't really like it but you do. There's a couple of Barry Manilow songs that are such good songs in terms of structure and melody, and this is one of them. I'd buy it for the poster meself, it's got class. We were trying to get her to cover one of our songs, we wanted her to do a country version of "Karma", but whether she'll get round to it I don't know. It'd be great. (Roy Hay [Culture Club], Record Mirror, March 17, 1984)

A timely re-release of this hit from '77, as Dolly popped up on TV only last Saturday in the excellent 9 To 5. There's something remarkably attractive about Dolly's confident Tennessee voice and this is as good a time to get to know it as any. (Paul Simper, No 1, March 17, 1984)

Monday, June 19, 2017

King - Love & Pride (CBS)

This lot were once briefly touted by the inkier side of the pop press as the next new something or other. They don't look or sound like it on the strength of this single. Judging by the cover, their image is based on Wayne from Auf Wiedersehen Pet, and the music's more or less like Fashion's - modern and anonymous. (Sunie, No 1, April 21, 1984)

I don't know much about this band but I find the tune very instant. After a few plays I flip over to find that the B-side has a rough edge the A-side doesn't. I'm afraid "Don't Stop" turns me on and "Love & Pride" doesn't. (Dave Gahan, Smash Hits, April 26, 1984)

Two People - Rescue Me (Polydor)

Wet, dreamy pop didn't exactly catch on last year, as The Lotus Eaters will testify. Perhaps it brings out that spiteful streak in all of us that despises anything so blatantly soft. That said, this is a gem. It sets out to be nothing more than an admirably crafted, lovingly performed pop song. And succeeds. There's hope for the dreamers yet. Single of the week. (Paul Bursche, No 1, February 16, 1985)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Simply Red - Money's Too Tight To Mention (Elektra)

A cover version of a rather obscure but hipper-than-hip song by the Valentine Brothers that first surfaced a couple of summers ago. Simply Red couldn't have chosen a better showcase for their obvious talents - social-comment lyrics attacked by really excellent soul vocals, making a record that's understated but powerful, and impossible to resist. Fitting loosely into the Working Week/ Sade school of new jazz/soul, Simply Red are definitely a name to watch out for. Joint Single Of The Fortnight. (Maureen Rice, Smash Hits, June 5, 1985)

The much discussed Simply Red (i.e. much discussed in three London hostelries), a combo of indistinct heritage and no discernable talent have possibly made the greatest initial career blunder ever. Did no-one tell these poor wide eyed terrors that freshly scrubbed little white boy pop groups just do not attempt covers of mighty black dance discs - especially not those of the frightful might of the Valentine Brothers' "Money's Too Tight To Mention"? Apparently not. (Graham K Smith, Record Mirror, June 15, 1985)

Simply Red, who were no doubt signed to Elektra for a princely sum, debut here with a cover of the Valentine Brothers song about being borassic! (Look it up!) Strange that. As white soul goes this is plain fare. If Kane Gang and Bronski Beat make you splash the cash then step right on up. A fool and his money? It's alright really but some of that advance wouldn't go amiss lads, money being in such short supply. Oops, wasn't supposed to mention that. (Max Bell, No 1, June 22, 1985)

The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian (CBS)

Actually we reviewed this single in the last issue of Smash Hits and it got a bit of a "thumbs down". However, an error of monstrous proportions had taken place. The reviewer was listening to the wrong side of the record which isn't very good at all and so rightfully received a drubbing. The A side is really much, much better. Brilliant in fact. Probably the best song that The Bangles have ever done. It's a sublimely addictive piece of nonsense verse that jumps about all over the shop with this sort of imitation Middle Eastern melody. One takes "Walk Like An Egyptian" to be a reference to the ancient heiroglyphics on the pyramids in which blokes are pictured with their heads and hands at funny angles. Honorary Second Single Of The Fortnight. (William Shaw, Smash Hits, September 24, 1986)

Let's look at the cover of this one. Poor old Susanna still hasn't found a blouse and the others (whatever their names are) haven't found a comb/decent dress designer/shower (delete where applicable). For me the Bangles are the non-event of the century and this record smacks of gimmickry. Which came first, the record or the marketing campaign? 2/5 (Pat Thomas, No 1, September 6, 1986)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Freeez - Pop Goes My Love (Beggars Banquet)

After the exhilarating "IOU" this is at first something of a disappointment. Pop has gone their music, their groove and their special effects. But once you've got over this sharp turn about the record reveals a lovely melody - stealing smartly from the Human League's Dare LP. Thinking back to this band's one-hit-wonder status with "Southern Freeez", a couple of years ago, they must have been having kittens about a follow-up to "IOU" but with 'Pop' Freeez should snuggle back (nicely) into the charts. (Paul Simper, No 1, October 1, 1983)

To someone who wore out at least three pairs of pumps dancing to "IOU" this summer, this comes as a bit of a let down. Arthur Baker's usual production job can't make a great record out of a weak song, but it still manages to get the feet popping. (Andy Strickland, Record Mirror, October 1, 1983)

Josh Yarlog takes over: "Katanga, my friends! This is a single in need of a song. All these bloomin' sound effects. Kubindi, it's turned my head into swamp mush."  (Lenny Henry, Smash Hits, September 29, 1983)

INXS - The One Thing (Mercury)

Listening to this makes you realise how few new groups have any simple old fashioned energy. This is not the greatest song in the world but INXS go for it as if it were their one and only chance of making a record, selling it with enormous zest and lots of concise instrumental fills (there's even a guitar riff in there, but I wouldn't spread it about). "The One Thing" doesn't really sound like anyone else at all, which is recommendation enough these days. Single Of The Fortnight. (David Hepworth, Smash Hits, September 15, 1983)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Cindy & The Saffrons - Terry (RCA)

If Terry were still alive, perhaps he could rev up the old bike and run down those responsible for this faithful remake of Twinkle's moment of glory. Nearly 20 years later and they still manage to leave out any irony. (Mark Cooper, Record Mirror, April 16, 1983)

You'll know this '60s classic; it's all about a guy called Terry who drives off in a huff on his motorbike and snuffs it, then hangs around the gates of heaven for the girl that put him there in the first place. Cindy herself is better known as Joanne Whalley, and has done much on TV, stage and screen. Sung in true '60s style, but I wonder if this song is just too familiar to storm the charts. (Debbi Voller, No 1, May 14, 1983)

Human League - The Lebanon (Virgin)

Long time no hear, and it's a pretty heavy subject. A rousing chorus and a snappy guitar riff (that reminds me somewhat of the Banshees) go together to make a big hit. (Dave Gahan, Smash Hits, April 26, 1984)

Heavier than the League's last couple of singles. Jo Callis rediscovers his guitar and adds a U2/Public Image riff to the normal synth and deep throat backing. It's a grower, but politics and pop don't mix, so I'm told. (Andy Strickland, Record Mirror, April 28, 1984)

It's hardly fair that The Human League should be criticised for making their records so slowly, since no one gave them a time limit in the first place. On the other hand. . . AND ABOUT TIME TOO!! 1984's Human League has a harder (as in rock) sound and it's mirrored by their lyrics. "I must be dreaming/It can't be true," says Phil Oakey of the Lebanese war, and he could just as easily be talking about the Libyan siege in London. This isn't too jolly, and some might say The Human League should keep their noses out of politics. I bet Phil's got an answer for that one too. (Paul Simper, No 1, April 28, 1984)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Big Self - Ghost Shirts (Reekus)

Starts off like Joy Division, has the pumping, big noise of a ZTT release . . . and still doesn't work. "Ghost Shirts" is about someone who's had it up to here with his girlfriend and now her insults just go straight through him. A good idea, but the song gets lost in its own smugness. (Paul Bursche, No 1, March 24, 1984)

The Bolshoi - A Way (Beggars Banquet)

In these days of increasing musical mimicry it's pleasing to see a young band attempting to do their own thing, Marquee regulars The Bolshoi are one such a group. Admittedly there's a sprinkling of Simple Minds, U2 and a host of influences fighting to get out, but they don't override what the Bolshoi are trying to get across. An interesting hotchpotch of ideas, but hardly Top Fifty fodder. But with experience and application, who knows? (Dave Ling, No 1, April 26, 1986)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Go Hole - Flight Of Angels (Big Pop)

Manic pop frenzy with more than a hint of early Beatles and just a twist of Manchester's seminal Distractions. It's nice to hear London boys sounding so cheerful, though Lord knows what they've got to smile about, I mean have you seen the price of houses? They have the exuberance and melody of the Housemartins, but replace the sixth form humour with a touch more conviction and emotion. The name's a bit puzzling. I'm sure it's rude, but then again it could be my cynicism creeping in again. (Kevin Murphy, Record Mirror, September 19, 1987)

Timbuk 3 - The Future's So Bright I've Gotta Wear Shades (IRS)

Don't let the title, which is a bit of a mouthful, put you off. This is brilliant, clever and downright catchy. This husband and wife team from Texas prove that not all American musicians are sheep. Pat MacDonald and Barbara K go their own way and the result is the funniest, most positive and original debut in ages. Makes you feel good just thinking about playing it. The perfect antidote to a dismal couple of weeks. (Pat Thomas, No 1, January 31, 1987)

Horrible old hippies with a whacky little number that I find infuriatingly catchy. (Nancy Culp, Record Mirror, January 31, 1987)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hugh Cornwell - Facts And Figures (Virgin)

A Strangler alone with a song from the film soundtrack of When The Wind Blows. A simple almost childlike little tune which, were it not for a mean bit of boogie piano by that foul mouthed ogre of children's telly, Jools Holland, wouldn't be out of place on Play School. It purports to question the way that facts and figures are bandied about by both sides in the nuclear debate. While I have no qualms with the motives or the integrity of the artists involved, these sort of songs which attack familiar issues without offering anything in the way of an answer really get on my wick. Expect some great intellect like Gary Davies to play it and then say something uninspiring like 'A message we should all pay attention to'. No thanks. (Pat Thomas, No 1, January 31, 1987)

JoBoxers - Jealous Love/She's Got Sex (RCA)

"She's Got Sex" is a seedy tale of the JoBoxers' ideal woman. The usual foot stompin' has been replaced by a snappy toe tappin' beat and it's easily their worst single yet. (Peter Martin, Smash Hits, October 27, 1983)

This group said right from the beginning that they'd be bringing out singles that were completely different from each other, and this double A-side proves they weren't joking. What you - the record buying public - will make of 'Jealous Love', could go either way. It's a thumping good ballad with Dig's voice at its finest, but no way can they be trying to be commercial. 'She's Got Sex' is about a girl who wants 'it' all the time, but doubtless the BBC will play none of 'that' on their precious airwaves! (Debbi Voller, No 1, October 29, 1983)

Their Braces are getting frayed and their boots are just beginning to leak. JoBoxers slide off the waterfront as the charts become increasingly apathetic. A slowie with a powerful chorus but I just can't help feeling that Billy Joel could have done this revamp a lot better. (Robin Smith, Record Mirror, October 29, 1983)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rose Of Avalanche - Too Many Castles In The Sky (Fire)

They do say that, on a murky night in Leeds the ghosts of the '70s prowl and you can hear squealing guitars, a low-slung, sleazy beat and a ghostly singer a-sneerin'. They're right! Eat your hearts out, The Cult - this is how it's done. (Ian Cranna, Smash Hits, May 7, 1986)

The Blow Monkeys - It Doesn't Have To Be This Way (RCA)

Dr Robert can barely be forgiven for desecrating the memory of "Brief Encounter" on father week's The Tube, and can be forgiven even less for soiling my ears with this Kid Creole-meets-the-Style Council-and-produces-the-aural-equivalent-of-rubber-coated-marshmallows. Go boil your brains, young man, and come back when you've stopped trying to be either Marc Bolan or a venerable Sixties soul legend (preferably deceased). (Nancy Culp, Record Mirror, January 31, 1987)

Very reminiscent of "Digging Your Scene" - and this is not a bad thing. The irrepressible and slightly weird Dr Robert has once again come up with the goods. Jaunty, jangly, jazzy and more besides. Slowly this group is carving a niche for itself. I reckon we best get used to them as they intend to be around for a while. (Pat Thomas, No 1, January 31, 1987)

Note: Prophetic words from Pat. Thirty years later, The Monkeys are still going strong.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

New Order - State Of The Nation (Factory)

A double A-side, presumably to appease those who'd given up on New Order releasing another record. 'State' and 'Shame' are actually different versions of the same song with 'Shame' by far the more dramatic of the two. Guitars growl, pianos shriek and all the while a muted synthesised dance beat rumbles on. Not the most dynamic thing they've ever done but at least it doesn't sound like Jam & Lewis. (Paul Simper, No 1, September 20, 1986)

Feargal Sharkey - Listen To Your Father (Zarjazz)

As Madness' own pop matures into a deeper, at times mournful, reflection on folk and their funny ways, so the first release on their own label spins an altogether different story. A Carl Smythe tune, "Listen To Your Father" is the 4-4 stomp of early Madness without the winning melody and hook lines. Sharkey's voice isn't well served by the brassy jolting action. The Ulsterman deserves a more restrained treatment than this methinks. (Jim Reid, Record Mirror, October 6, 1984)

Although written by Madness, this song wasn't really considered suitable for the boys to record. So Feargal has the honour of singing it for the first ever release on Madness' own label. It's not a brilliant song but its sheer stomping, foot-tapping brightness almost guarantees Fergy a hit. (Paul Bursche, No 1, October 6, 1984)

Note: Madness were obviously fans of cult UK comic 2000 A.D. Not only did they name their label after a made up word (roughly equivalent to 'awesome') from the comic but they also released a side single in 1985 under the name Fink Brothers celebrating 2000 A.D. law legend Judge Dredd, called "Mutants In Mega City One".

Saturday, June 10, 2017

R.E.M. - Don't Go Back To Rockville (IRS)

American pop is enjoying something of a renaissance at present with bands like R.E.M. and Jason & The Scorchers. 'Rockville' is anytown USA, a dismal, homely place to be until the local neighbourhood garage band come along and blow it up. Michael Stipe's dreamy country twang carries the day without persuading me that R.E.M. are about to break down any British prejudices and storm our charts. (Max Bell, No 1, June 16, 1984)

David Bowie - When The Wind Blows (Virgin)

Taken from the forthcoming film soundtrack of When The Wind Blows (which also features Hugh Cornwell, Paul Hardcastle, Genesis and Squeeze) Bowie's vocal performance is at his usual high peak. Why he should suddenly get the urge to sing on every available soundtrack remains a bit of a mystery to me though. But then again, this is pleasant enough, although not exactly what you might call potential chart material. Be interesting to see how it fares. (Anna Martin, No 1, November 1, 1986)

"Bowie" has become very accessible over the past few years, hasn't he? It seems that nowadays he'll do a duo with any doddery old pop star or write a soundtrack for or "star" in more or less any old film that comes along. I wonder if people still see him as a "style guru" and search through his lyrics for hidden meanings? Probably not. But having said that, "When The Wind Blows", from the soundtrack of an excellent animated film about a nuclear war which is based on the book of the same name, is rather grand and has a nice "classical" feel to it. Well! (Simon Hills, Smash Hits, October 22, 1986)

I-Level - In The River (Virgin)

Lithe, funky pop from an outfit who are well overdue for a taste of the charts. Smart and sophisticated, it's also a damn sight more listenable than a lot of the stuff that's littering up the dance floor these days. You certainly couldn't break-dance to it. But then what kind of a person wants to spend their life spinning on their back? Quick, the next single - I feel a Joan Collins joke coming on... (Sunie, No 1, June 9, 1984)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It (Capitol)

Well, it looks as if the Tina Turner revival was a flash in a well preserved pan. At a complete loss for a follow-up to "Let's Stay Together" she first tried a dreadful Beatles cover, and now here's a piece of limp reggae pop. The next move may well be an attempt to jump on the breakers bandwagon - careful Tina, a fracture could prove troublesome at your age. Perhaps you'd better apply to The Smiths for your next new lease of life. (Sunie, No 1, June 9, 1984)

She still looks fantastic (he sighs). Don't like it, I'm afraid. It reminds me of Marianne Faithfull. It's like an out-take from her Dangerous Acquaintances LP. I'm disappointed. Where's the raunchola this week? (John Taylor, Smash Hits, June 21, 1984)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New Order - Thieves Like Us (Factory)

The phenomenal success of "Blue Monday" is a hard act to follow, New Order have yet to beat the challenge they set themselves. "Confusion" was saved by the brilliant Arthur Baker production but on "Thieves Like Us" New Order get behind the controls and the result is rather lifeless. The song is a grower in a meandering kind of way, but the tuneless vocals of Bernard Albrecht reduce the affair to a flat disco dirge. (Karen Swayne, No 1, April 14, 1984)

This one's a grower for sure! I've played it a few times and it gets better every spin. Produced by New Order but co-written with Arthur Baker, I personally prefer the band's production. Great melody which sticks in your brain. (Dave Gahan, Smash Hits, April 26, 1984) 

I like this a lot. It reminds me a bit of Lou Reed and it's a lot different from their last few singles. I prefer it to their disco stuff which they don't do very well, it's very good and it's still got that indie feel about it. (Bobby Bluebell, Record Mirror, April 21, 1984)

Immaculate Fools - Never Give Less Than Everything (A&M)

It's very David Bowie, very, who was it?... I've got brain death here ... "Heartbeat" ... ah, The Psychedelic Furs! I like the song, I like the idea of never giving less than everything and I like the cover. The Immaculate Fools haven't had a big hit yet have they? They really deserve to with this, but it probably won't be the way things run. I love this, it gets better as it goes on. Easily the best single. (Johnny Logan, No 1, May 30, 1987)

Freur - Runaway (CBS)

The boys with the silly rune for a name have an immaculately produced single but no real song to hang it on. It's just a riff padded out with none of the flair of their "Doot Doot" hit. (Mike Gardner, Record Mirror, September 3, 1983)

So they've finally abandoned the profoundly dumb ploy of being The Band With A Squiggle Instead Of A Name. Now maybe a few people will listen to their music instead of dismissing them out of hand (as I previously did). They're not a bad group in a mannered kind of way and this has a strong folksy kind of tune. But their haircuts are an offence against decent folk everywhere. (David Hepworth, Smash Hits, September 15, 1983)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chris Sievey - Camouflage (EMI)

Mr Sievey was responsible for the greatest single title of the last five years, namely "I'm In Love With The Girl From The Manchester Virgin Megastore Check-Out Desk". Now the old trickster is resorting to records that play computer games on video screens. Unfortunately he spent so much money on the game that he had to record the single in his garden shack. One for lovers of new technology everywhere. Now where did I put that electric bookmarker. . .? (Mark Cooper, No 1, June 11, 1983)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) (Arista)

I don't like the photograph on the cover. She's very beautiful, but so over made up. I don't like this song at all, it takes a real dive after the intro and it's even worse than Pepsi and Shirlie. It's so predictable I can sing the chorus before she gets to it, her A&R man should be taken out and strung up. Whitney's got a great voice, but it's so wasted on this kind of thing. The most disappointing single of the week. The worst actual song. (Johnny Logan, No 1, May 30, 1987)

No surprises here as the Great Whitney Houston announces her return from a long lay-off with her usual brilliant singing and a tune that is less immediately gripping than "How Will I Know" but which gets better with every play. Welcome back, ma'am! (Barry McIlheney, Smash Hits, May 20, 1987)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Club Nouveau - Jealousy (WEA)

Nothing at all like the smash "Lean On Me" but, funnily enough, very similar to a hit from last year, "Rumours", by the Timex Social Club. Which - zings! - is not too surprising when you learn that Jay King, the man behind Club Nouveau, was formerly the man behind Timex Social Club... The squabbling between the two camps appears to be carried on in "Jealousy" which sounds like a bit of a dig from Mr King at his old partners and all of this will no doubt become even more public when this follows "Lean On Me" into the flingaway charts. Gentlemen p-lease! (Barry McIlheney, Smash Hits, May 20, 1987)

An obviously American single, it sounds like a hit from the start. I love that Sly and Robbie single,it's got such an atmosphere although it took me two or three times to get into it. Club Nouveau aren't in the same class though. I'm sure they sampled exactly the same drums off the last one and stuck it in here. I can see this being big in the discotheques. I like going to the clubs myself especially if
there's Robert Palmer, Go West, or anything with a bit of meat playing. (Johnny Logan, No 1, May 30, 1987)

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)
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