Archives » 1980s

Live It Up 33: (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang

I wasn’t one for dance music (and we’ll forget the outrageous but intentional misspelling in the song’s title for the moment) but the title of this has become very to the point this month.

As has the lyric. Just replace “Reagan’s” with “Trump is” and “Generals tell him what to do” with “white supremacists tell him what to do”.

This is Heaven 17 in a live performance from a few years ago of their 1981 hit.

Heaven 17: (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang

Live It Up 32: You Spin Me Round (Like A Record): RIP Pete Burns

The obituary of flamboyant front man of Dead or Alive, Pete Burns, appeared on the same page of the Guardian as that of Bobby Vee.

1980s music wasn’t generally to my taste, especially the output overseen by Stock, Aitken and Waterman under whom Burns’s band Dead or Alive had their biggest hit but Burns himself was certainly distinctive. He apparently claimed that Boy George modelled himself on him.

Burns’s career as a pop star was relatively brief and he later became more famous for being Pete Burns and less than an ideal advert for plastic surgery.

Dead or Alive: You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

Peter Jozzeppi Burns, 5/8/1959-23/10/2016. So it goes.

Live It Up 31: Heart of Lothian

I think singer and lyric writer Fish, a lifelong Hibby (or Hibee, delete according to taste,) came to regret using the phrase heart of Lothian in this song as it was prone to misinterpretation.

The single included at its start Windswept Thumb, the conclusion to the Bitter Suite sequence which immediately preceded Heart of Lothian on the LP Misplaced Childhood.

I believe this is the official video. Check out those 80s hairstyles!

Marillion: Heart of Lothian

Live It Up 30: Dear Prudence

A reference to Siouxsie and the Banshees in Andrew Greig’s In Another Light (review to come) reminded me of the band’s treatment of this Beatles’ song.

Siouxsie and the Banshees: Dear Prudence

Reelin’ In the Years 120: Blake’s 7 Theme

For Gareth Thomas, the titular star of late 1970s and early 80s SF BBC TV series Blake’s 7; even if he did once profess not to like SF as a genre and claimed he’d never watched an episode.

Gareth Daniel Thomas: 12/2/1945 – 13/4/2016. So it goes.

Live It Up 29: A New England

There are nice jangly guitars on this Billy Bragg song purveyed into a hit by Kirsty MacColl in 1984.

Kirsty MacColl: A New England

Live It Up 28: Letter From America

The Proclaimers’ first statement to the world; an unlikely hit considering it’s a protest song about both the Highland clearances and industrial decline in late twentieth century central Scotland.

The original track was produced by Gerry Rafferty whose unmistakable stamp is all over the instrumental coda.

The good lady rather likes this video starring the 2 little Colins – or the Wee Proclaimers as she calls them:-

This is the lads themselves appearing on the Dutch TV show TopPop whose producers seem to have taken the song’s title a bit too literally.

The Proclaimers: Letter From America

Terry Wogan

I can just about remember when Terry Wogan wasn’t a fixture of British public life but that memory was fading. In recent years he had himself receded a little from the public eye, retiring from his braekfast show and from commentating on the Eurovision Song Contest but he still popped up with an intermittent weekly radio show on Radio 2 and the annual Children in Need telethons (all in a good cause certainly but usually so laced with embarassing performances that I found it difficult to watch so I hadn’t done so for years.)

Despite his failure to appear on last year’s Children in Need in November due to illness – a warning sign as it turned out – it was still a shock to wake up to the news today that he had died.

I also noticed there were retrospective clip shows from his thrice-weekly 80s chat show on in the afternoon in the run-up to Christmas 2015. Maybe there was a hint there too.

I wasn’t one of his listeners in the 60s – or indeed in the 70s – but in later life I found his breakfast radio show congenial listening in the short interval between being woken by the alarm clock and actually getting out of bed. Perhaps it took reaching a certain age to appreciate his charms.

He always seemd perfectly genial – a great trick to pull off in the early morning – but by all accounts this was simply him; there was apparently no difference between his public and private persona.

The world feels diminished by his death. I fervently hope it doesn’t turn out he had feet of clay (as others of his vintage had) but if all that has been said of him is true there may be no need to fear.

Michael Terence “Terry” Wogan; 3/8/1938 – 31/1/2016. So it goes.

Live It Up 27: Nothing Has Been Proved

The second of Dusty’s collaborations with the Pet Shop Boys (after What Have I Done to Deserve This?) but this one doesn’t really feature them except as writers and producers. On the face of it a song about the Profumo affair would perhaps have been an unlikely hit except it of course appeared over the end credits of the film Scandal.

Dusty Springfield: Nothing Has Been Proved

Bowie

The one name suffices. In modern times you could not be referring to anyone else.

There was (sadly that tense is now appropriate) only one Bowie: David.

For many the iconic moment of their lives was Bowie placing a carefree, languid, unthinking arm round Mick Ronson’s neck on that Top of the Pops appearance while promoting Starman and thereby validating sexualities beyond that of the straight and cis.

Bowie’s first brush with the charts came with Space Oddity in 1969, regarded at the time as a bit of a novelty record, though it wasn’t his last song to tangle with SF imagery.

He hit his stride with the Hunky Dory album in 1971 – on which nearly every track is a belter – though no hits were to come from that source till Life on Mars? was released as a single in 1973. This was of course after the breakthrough, the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972 and that hit with Starman. I would argue that Hunky Dory is the greater achievement. From Ziggy onwards Bowie seemed to be commercialising his talent. The string of hits that followed on from the Ziggy album, through his Aladdin Sane persona, up to Diamond Dogs perhaps bore that out.

He lost me with Young Americans, though. I’ve never been into that sort of music. There were stonkers still to come of course, when he’d changed his style a few more times, Heroes, Ashes to Ashes, Let’s Dance, China Girl, but it is the early stuff I’ll remember him for.

This is The Bewlay Brothers, from Hunky Dory of course.

David Bowie: The Bewlay Brothers

“Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown. (Oh, by jingo.)
So hold on to nothing and he won’t let you down.”

David Bowie: After All (from The Man Who Sold the World)

“I borrowed your time and I’m sorry I called.”

David, we’re not sorry you called.

David Robert Jones (“David Bowie”) 8/1/1947 – 10/1/2016. So it goes.

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