Beastie Boys – (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)

1980's music. Just for a short while it was cool to steal VW badges from cars.

Well, what can be said about the Beastie Boys?  Not a lot that wasn’t said in the late eighties by the British tabloid press at any rate.  If they were to be believed then the mere presence of the Beastie Boys in Blighty would cause the very foundations of British Society to crumble into dust.  The fact that these very same people also wrote the same things about The Sex Pistols and countless other pop phenomena is of course utterly irrelevant.  Much like the Beastie Boys in fact, but the kids loved ’em so that irrelevance was ignored and the ‘threat’ to British Society magnified out of all proportion.

But what of Fight For Your Right?  It was released w/e 28 February 1987 – I was a spotty 17 year old at sixth form, jut the target audience for the Beastie Boys.  It grew slowly, entering the UK Singles Chart at 36 and progressing steadily to its peak at number 11 in the w/e 28 March.  Fight For Your Right was the first single by the group and was taken from their debut album, Licensed To Ill and was backed by Time To Get Ill.  It was classic generation gap stuff, with lyrics bemoaning the fact that Mom insists you go to school, or that Dad says you can’t smoke whilst himself smoking two pack(ets) a day.  You know the drill.

I bought it on 6th April – a Monday, no doubt it offered some respite to difficulties I was experiencing in one A Level class or another.  To be brutally, and somewhat disappointingly, frank with you I never experienced any of the sentiments expressed in the song.  Yes I had the odd run in with me Dad, but apart from his forcing us to listen to Jim Reeves in the car whenever we went out anywhere there were never any seismic rifts.

Anyway, back to the Beastie Boys.  If you don’t like them, or think that you might not like them, look away now…  For the rest of you, here’s a little taster:

Jellybean (feat Steven Dante) – The Real Thing

1980's music. Jellybean feat. Staven Dante

John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez is perhaps most famous for being Madonna’s re-mixer (and for a short time, her boyfriend) in the early 80’s.  He is credited with having worked on her 1983 self titled debut album, including the singles Everybody, Borderline and Lucky Star.  He was also the producer for Holiday. But anyway, that’s enough about his knob-twiddling for others, what about his own singles?

Well admittedly, there was probably a wee bit of knob-twiddling on his own work, however, in this respect it was knob-twiddling in a making his own noise kind of way (that’s enough knob-twiddling, Ed.)  He used guest artists to provide vocals – in a way that probably first became the in thing in the late 80’s.  The Real Thing was guested on by Steven Dante, a British Singer / Songwriter who himself had a list of credits primarily for working with others.

I haven’t noted when I bought this single, but it was released in w/e 26th September 1987 so I’d imagine it wasn’t long after.  It was a smoulderer, never quite catching fire, on the UK Singles Chart, entering at number 51 before rising to number 13 where it spent 3 of its total of ten weeks.  Here’s a look at the video for you (it’s an extended version of the song, so sit tight):

Jellybean (feat Elisa Fiorillo) – Who Found Who

1980's music. John Jellybean Benitez feat. Elisa Fiorello

The follow up to Jellybean’s 2nd single, Who Found Who featured the vocals of Elisa Fiorillo, an American singer.  It actually followed hot on the heels of The Real Thing, entering the UK Singles Chart in the w/e 28th November 1987.  It rose to number 10 in its fourth week on the chart before sliding, gracefully down the chart. Like The Real Thing, Who Found Who also spent 10 weeks in the chart and was taken from the Jellybean’s album, Just Visiting The Planet.

Here’s a blimp at the video for you:

Mental As Anything – Live It Up

A bit of 80s pop fluff, pictured yesterday. NB Paul Hogan is 87 in this picture.

“Hey girl you with the sad face…” and so it goes on. This is perfect eighties pop fluff. I loved it because it was from Crocodile Dundee, the hilarious Paul Hogan vehicle which brought the Aussie superstar to world attention. As a song it’s perhaps a little one dimensional, but like I said it’s pop music and it’s like supposed to be one dimensional.

I bought it on 25 February 1987 – 3 weeks into its 13 week run in the UK singles chart. The song’s highest position was number 3, which was achieved in the w/e 7 March. A quick look up of Mental As Anything reveals that this was the only single which charted in the UK singles chart – a story repeated all over the world, apart from Australia and New Zealand. If you loved the song, then perhaps you might like the video of it that I have found on YouTube:

Jesus And Mary Chain (The) – April Skies

1980's music - some disturbing imagery from The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Imagine. You’re seventeen; you’re at sixth-form college and struggling to make new friends.

You hear this song on the radio. It’s dark and it’s edgy. The guitar parts take you to a different place. You really get the groove.

It appears on the juke-box in the common room, you take to playing it; trouble is, no-one else likes it and they all tell you so. On the one hand you could storm out of the common room and return with a machine gun and mow ‘em all down, or you could leave quietly and vow never to return, destined to wander aimlessly between record shops and bakeries every break and lunch-time for the remaining year and a bit of purgatory at sixth-form.

This song was released in the w/e 2 May 1987 and rose to the heights of number 8 a week later before disappearing off the chart radar after just 6 weeks. I bought it on 27 June 1987 because I could. Of all the records in my collection I think that I love this one the most because of how it spoke to me in those dark days.

Alright, they weren’t all that dark, but come on; I’ve got to big it up somehow, give it some dramatic edge.  And kids do go off the rails big time when faced with the circumstances that I was.

I reckon that it was the fact that although I really wanted to blame all and sundry for me feeling like shit, I did realise that deep down it was up to me to change it, and if I didn’t want to, well… I just had to get on with it.

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s the track (please excuse the quality):

Cure (The) – Just Like Heaven

1980's music gold.

Maybe, just maybe The Cure weren’t a singles band?  I mean, this one released in October 1987 was another peach of a single, yet it only made number 29 in the UK singles chart, staying for just 5 weeks.  Were they bothered?  Probably not.

Anyway, enough about the ins and outs of chart positions.  Fact is, this was a peach of a single.  Melodically it’s very upbeat, as usual, and initially so lyrically too.  But then Smithy wakes from his dream to realise that his girl is gone – taken and drowned by the raging sea.  Well that’s how I read it – and I don’t mean ‘read’ in the prosaic sense of scanning the words with my eyes and trying to make sense of ’em that way.  The single is perhaps best known as the one that finally broke The Cure into the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.  It was the third of four singles taken from 1987’s album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.

Houston, Whitney – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)

There are many different thoughts going through my head as I write about this single.  I bought it in May 1987, so I was 17 and at sixth form college, therefore I guess that buying this single was a throwback to being a few years younger.  It’s not a serious song in the way that Saving All My Love was.  This is proper throwaway pop; fluffy nonsense by any other name.  I guess that I’m trying to make a distinction here, between something that was a stellar piece of work and this, a less heavyweight offering.  To take the argument further, I suppose that I am trying to justify this 45 its place in amongst the other stuff in my collection and more importantly, to vindicate myself in buying it.

I bought it on 29 May 1987 just after it had entered the UK singles chart at number 10.  The following week it was number two before spending a fortnight at number one.  It then went on to spend a further 4 weeks in the top ten. I Wanna Dance was the third best selling single in the UK singles chart for  1987.  The fat that only Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up and Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now sold more copies in the year perhaps serves to illustrate the direction in which the UK singles chart, and perhaps UK pop music, was trending.  The final nail in the coffin for any pretensions of coolness for this song was my Dad’s decision to (ask me to) buy the parent album, Whitney, from which the single was taken.  Thus the first rule of Pop Music – Don’t Mix The Generations – was flouted.

Hammer, Jan – Crockett’s Theme

The impact of Miami Vice on us poor Brits, suffering in the cold (and that’s in July), cannot be underestimated.  It was the epitome of cool, urban sophistication and this single, Crockett’s Theme was my chance to grab a piece of it.  At the time we had no video so buying the series on video was out of the question (never mind the fact that I didn’t have the money for such a purchase) – the single was the next best thing.  Released in September 1987, this single made it to the top ten of the UK singles chart within 3 weeks and then spent 6 weeks in the top ten, peaking at number 2.  It spent a total of 12 weeks in the UK singles chart.

The track itself is a slow, evocative number – a contrast to the drive of the series theme, also written by Hammer.  This of course was also a single, which peaked in the UK singles chart at number 5 in 1985.  I didn’t buy that, but I suspect that my brother did.  Perhaps I’ll have to get round to his and… ahem, liberate it.

Fine Young Cannibals – Ever Fallen in Love

Recorded in 1986 as part of the soundtrack to the Jonathan Demme movie, Something Wild, 1987’s cover of the utterly stupendous Ever Fallen in Love, from the pen of Buzzcock’s Pete Shelley, was a top ten hit for FYC.  After buying the band’s first two singles, I had missed out on buying Suspicious Minds and Funny How Love Is.  The single was released in the March, I went out and bought it on 18 April 1987 as it hit its top position of number nine.

It’s a slowed down version of the original classic, and although it (obviously) suffers by comparison it’s still a great piece of work.  The video features Roland Gift as a projectionist during the screening of Something Wild.  Messrs Cox and Steele also appear, sharing popcorn, in the cinema audience.

D’Arby, Terence Trent – If You let Me Stay

Much like Adam Ant in the early 80s, TTD burned with a fierce incandescence towards the end of the decade.

If his success was longer lived than Adam, it wasn’t that much longer lived. If You let Me Stay was his debut UK hit, spending 4 weeks in the top ten. I bought it on 24 April 1987, a Friday – and ranks as one of my more successful forays into town at lunchtime from sixth form.

It’s a song to go alongside Kenny Rogers’ Ruby in terms of its message. Our hero’s girlfriend / wife is all for leaving him, her bags are packed and this is a final desperate plea for her to stay. Why, is not quit clear, but it sounds like there are numerous indiscretions and perhaps most seriously of all, he hasn’t told her nearly enough that he loves her.  Or meant it.

If You let Me Stay comes from TTD’s first album, Introducing the Hardline According to… which was a massive massive hit in the UK.  It sold over 1.5million copies (including mine) and was certified 5x Platinum.  As a sign of my growing maturity(!?), I didn’t buy anymore TTD singles – I had the album and with Wishing Well, Sign Your Name and my particular favourite, Dance Little Sister thereon, there was no need for another purchase!  My Philips personal cassette player certainly gave my copy some terrific hammer.

Video follows (caution, contains Gary Davies):