Palmer, Robert – Riptide

My record collection is, as I have mentioned more than once, quite the eclectic mix. This track represents a decision (which may have been conscious) to be a little more cool.

Let’s face it, Robert Palmer was the epitome of cool. Bowie apart, I think that there was no rock star quite as cool in the 80s.

After the hit singles that Palmer had with the Power Station, this was the second single from his 1985 Album of the same name. The first, Discipline of Love, released in late 1985, had pretty much bombed, reaching only number 95 in the UK singles chart.

This one didn’t really fare much better, making only number 85 in the chart on its release in 1986. My copy is a gatefold double issue with Palmer’s 1980 single Johnny and Mary. I probably would have bought this for the Johnny and Mary as it was quite well known.

Riptide was originally written by Gus Kahn / Walter Donaldson, one of the most prolific composer / lyricist duos from New York’s Tin Pan Alley.

The song describes the singer’s angst at having to make a choice between two loves. One love (the old?), it seems, is steady and devoted. The other (the new?) is offering something altogether more exciting. To mix the metaphors, perhaps the singer fears that the grass might not be greener on the other side?

Following on from Riptide, of course we had the huge smash that was Addicted to Love, followed by Hyperactive and I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.

Pretenders (The) – Hymn To Her

The follow up track to Don’t Get Me Wrong, Hymn to Her was written by Chrissie Hynde’s high school friend Meg Keene.

Released in late 1986, it made the UK singles chart top 10, getting to number 8 in January 1987. Plain and simple, it’s a ballad and a paean to womanhood. Of course this sixteen year old didn’t really hear the lyrics as such, it was more the melody that hooked me.

On another point, as mentioned above, this was the second release from the album, Get Close. My record buying habits meant that I didn’t buy buy that many albums.

I’m not 100% sure what an album would have cost back then, but having bought two singles from it, perhaps it might have been more economical to have just bought the album?! But then that’s the whole point of singles. They represent an instant hit, if you pardon the pun. You hear it on the radio and think, “Oh, I like that!” You pop off into town and buy it. Much like today’s record consuming world, but including a bus journey and a physical item purchased at the end of it. Sounds plausible?

Postscript… My copy is a “Limited Edition Gatefold” [including a free single]. The free single being 1983’s 2000 Miles. As it was Christmas time when I made this purchase, it might just have been 2000 Miles that was the real selling point for me.

Rolling Stones (The) – Harlem Shuffle

Not a band that you would most readily associate with the 80s, the Stones were of course much more of a 60s and 70s phenomenon.

This was a cover of the self-written Bob and Earl track. Originally released in 1963, it had failed to make the UK singles chart. However, it did reach number 7 when it was re-released in 1969.

The Stones’ version was the first single from their 1986 album Dirty Work. Featuring Bobbie Womack, Tom Waits, Don Covay, and Patti Scialfa on backing vocals, the Stones took it to number 13 in the UK singles chart.

The video, mixing live action with animation, was directed by Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi. Kricfalusi of course is most famous for The Ren & Stimpy Show.

It’s not classic Stones by any stretch, but this 16 year old loved it – my discovery of classic Stones was still three years in the future so this tided me over nicely… not that I knew I needed tiding over.

Shaw, Sandie – Frederick

I think that I must have helped myself to this one out of the bargain bucket, probably at Woolies.

Suffice to say, it’s a great version of Patti Smith’s track. Unfortunately, it didn’t trouble the UK singles chart.

Following on from her stellar 60s successes, Frederick was the third in a line of 80s singles by Shaw which had been written by others.

The first was a cover of the Smiths’ Hand In Glove. Morrissey and Marr had requested several times that she sing a song, I Don’t Owe You Anything, that they had written especially for her. She resisted for a long time until Geoff Travis, founder of Rough Trade Records convinced her to sing it.

In a session at Matrix Studios in London, three songs were recorded and Hand In Glove was chosen as the A side, with I Don’t Owe You Anything as the B side. Hand In Glove reached number 27 in the UK singles chart.

The second single was a cover of the Lloyd Cole and the Commotions track, Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? It again made the UK singles chart, but only the distant number 68.

Hornsby, Bruce and the Range – The Way It Is

Bruce Hornsby and the Range - The Way It Is frontCutting edge pop music? Regurgitated AOR? A pleasing tune?

Yes, yes, yes, all of the above. Remember, there are only two types of music, good music and the other kind. If you like it, listen, sing along, get up and dance. You know the drill.

In the case of the sixteen year old me of course, there was no option but to go out and buy it. Which, on 5th September 1986 is exactly what I did. I doubt that I did it after double maths in the afternoon given that I did have to rush for the bus, so it’s more likely that I bought it at lunchtime.

The track was quite a diatribe against the situation in 1980s America. Given that Hornsby was and is a progressive Democrat, it is hardly likely that he was happy about the situation in the US with Reagan as President.

Analysis of the three verses reveals that the first refers directly to people waiting inline for their welfare checks (cheques). A man, wearing a silk suit, walks past and insinuates that those stood inline are not trying hard enough to find work. The second verse goes on to refer to race – then as now, never mind in the sixties, a hot topic in US internal politics.

Finally, the third verse delivers the punch line – reiterating that yes there was a change in 19864 with the passing of the Civil Rights Act, but more is required to see true equality, both in terms of color (colour) and in terms of the redistribution of wealth.

Bruce Hornsby and the Range - The Way It Is backThe song made it to number one in the US, Canada and the Netherlands. In the UK it made number 15. As always, I do like to think that I did my bit – buying it in the week before it reached its highest position.

In many ways the song is a twin to The Valentine Brothers’ Money’s Too Tight To Mention, which was of covered to great effect by Simply Red. Without referring to the race issue, Money’s Too Tight is perhaps a less subtle attack on the Monetarist policies followed by Reagan in the US and of course Thatcher here in the UK.

Bush, Kate – Experiment IV

The impact of Kate Bush on this lad cannot be underestimated.

Not that I bought any of her other singles in the late seventies or eighties, like.  She was just part of the fabric of pop music in the period and would no doubt have featured on the multitude of compilation tapes that we made off the radio.

Remember kids, Home Taping Is (Was) Killing Music, unless you happened to be of a certain age and lacking the wherewithal to go out and buy the music that these people were trying so hard to protect.

As for this track, it is by no means one of Kate’s best.  I can’t say that I can actually remember what it sounds like.  No, the big selling point for me on this one was the B side.  A new vocal of la Bush’s truly stupendous debut track, Wuthering Heights.  That’s what did it for me.

I know for a fact that I went out and bought this track on 17 December 1986 – I have a little sticker on the back of the sleeve with my name and the date.  This was just a few days after my seventeenth birthday, so no doubt the purchase was funded by birthday pennies.

In actual fact, Experiment IV performed very poorly in the UK single chart, entering on 8 November, rising to the position known as number twenty three and then disappearing from sight after just four weeks.  By that account then, I must have rescued this from the bargain bin on that dark and damp Wednesday in December.

Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian

OMG these girls were more than enough to leave this 16 year old in one heck of a lather.  If their Prince penned debut had been all that the girls had delivered then I would have been one happy bunny.  But they also came up with this little beauty, written by Liam Sternberg.

Released in the late summer of 1986, I was first struck by a misheard lyric with this one.  Part way through there’s a line about ‘all the cops in the doughnut shop…’  I didn’t hear the word ‘cops’, instead I heard, well, you can possibly imagine what I though I had heard, and perhaps you don’t want to!

But enough of such baloney, what of the song’s performance on the UK singles chart?  And when did I buy it?  Well, to answer the first of my rhetorical questions, after it’s release in late summer 1986, it rose steadily if unspectacularly to the dizzying heights of number 3 in the chart on 15 November.  I gave it a boost when I bought my copy on 16 October as it made its leap from number 20 into the top ten where it enjoyed a six week residency.  In total the song spent 19 weeks in the singles chart and was a huge worldwide hit.

Bangles – Manic Monday

I was turned on to the Bangles immediately with this single. Not everybody knows, but most people (surely) do but this was written by Prince under the pseudonym Christopher.

The song tells the story of a woman who has been (rudely a)woken at six o’clock on Monday morning, the first day of the week, after enjoying a restful weekend.  Critics have panned the rhyming of ‘Sunday’ with ‘My I-don’t-have-to-run-day’, one stating that it was painful.  However, that’s to take things out of context as the rhyme is taken from a passage which contains several rhymes for the word ‘day’.

It’s just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
‘Cause that’s my funday
My I don’t have to runday
It’s just another manic Monday

And in any case, it’s a bloody pop song so wtf?

After its release in early 1986 it quickly entered the UK singles chart at number 43 on the week ending 15 February. Four weeks later I put my hand in my pocket and gave my hard earned to Mum to go an buy it for me on 14 March.  In doing so, we must have given it that little extra nudge (although not quite enough of a nudge) as it made its highest position of number 2.  It was prevented from getting to number one by Diana Ross’s Chain Reaction.  Boo and indeed hiss!

Richard, Cliff and the Young Ones feat. Hank Marvin – Living Doll

Written by Lionel Bart, this was originally a UK singles chart smash hit for Cliff Richard and The Drifters (later to become the Shadows) way back in 1959.

Of course this was Cliff with a group of anarchic comedians, so give up any notions of a smooth performance from the great man – he isn’t really given a chance!

The single was a vehicle of the BBC’s Comic Relief charity which had been launched the previous year.  As I had been newly alerted to the plight of people less fortunate than myself by the whole Live Aid thing the previous year and I loved the Young Ones, there was no way that I wasn’t going to buy into this.

Accordingly, on 22 March 1986 during a shopping trip I paid my money to obtain my 7″ copy.  There was a 12″ version knocking about too, but at this stage in my record buying career I was a little wary of splashing the extra cash for another seventy-five square inches of vinyl.

The B-side is an Elton, Mayer and Young Ones penned bit of nonsense by the name of All the Little Flowers Are Happy which is a 6 minute slice of what I believe rehearsals for the Young Ones TV must have been like.

“Well I would Michael… but unfortunately Neil’s only got one head.”  Priceless!

Lewis, Huey (& The News) – Hip To Be Square

On my particular side of the Atlantic, Huey Lewis and The News could hardly be said to be tremendously successful.

Theirs was an honest enough example of AOR but, one supposes, not ideally suited to British tastes.

This was their sixth UK singles chart release and to put it bluntly it bombed, reaching only number 41 in January 1987 after its release in time for Christmas 1986.  I bought it on 17 December 1986.  Of course in the US, HLATN were enormous with no less than twelve top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including three number one hits (this track reached number 3).

I had been introduced to the band through their association with Back to The Future via the double A-side The Power of Love / Do You Believe In Love, which I had bought earlier in 86.  I missed out on the next two tracks, but I did buy Stuck With You which made it to number 12 in the late summer of 86.