Adam & The Ants – Stand & Deliver

What’s to be said about Adam & The Ants? Not much here, because I’ve said it all here.

However, this song was such a monster hit, and really captured what this man was all about so it’s here on a page of its own. First, a confession, I didn’t actually buy it when it was out (it was one of those songs that we taped off the radio) but I did make the investment at a later date, from Oldies Unlimited or similar.  Unfortunately therefore, my copy comes complete only with the standard black CBS issue sleeve with a hole in the middle to show the bright orange label.

Written by Adam and Marco this tremendous song crashed straight into the UK charts at number one, w/e 9th May 1981. It stayed at the top spot for a total of 5 weeks before being trumped by Smokey Robinson’s Being With You on 13th June.

In total, it spent 15 weeks in the UK Top 40 – a sure sign of a top notch piece of pop music. It was taken from the album, Prince Charming.  It was one of three singles taken from the album and in my opinion, the best.  The other two were Prince Charming and Ant Rap.

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Being eleven, I perhaps didn’t understand the ins and outs of the sentiments of the song, but knowing now that Adam had a ‘somewhat strained’ relationship with Malcolm McLaren stuff like, ‘the devil take your stereo and record collection / the way you look you’ll qualify for next year’s old age pension’ can only have one target, surely?

Specials (The) – Ghost Town

OK, I have a confession to make.  I didn’t actually buy this single.  I robbed it off my brother, but then I feel vindicated on that score as the tide was very much in the other direction wrt vinyl (and later on videos).  What’s more, I don’t think that he bought this one either – I think he may have swapped it for something with one of his mates.

Anyway, I’ve calmed down now… whatever the ins and outs of how he / I came upon this item, there is but one fact pertaining. That is, if ever a piece of throwaway pop music resonated more loudly with the youth of any country and any generation then I am a monkey’s uncle.

Released in June 1981, against the backdrop of riots in inner city areas such as Brixton, Toxteth, Chapeltown and Handsworth, the song entered the charts at number 26 before hitting the top spot on 11 July and remaining there for 3 weeks.

The song’s writer, keyboardist Jerry Dammers had been struck with the idea for the song in the autumn of 1980 as the band travelled through the streets of Glasgow.  He was moved by the sight of elderly women selling their possessions on the streets.  I think that it is the simplicity of the song which goes a long way to explain its impact.  The haunting intro and the insistent rising drum beat up to the point where Terry Hall’s vocal comes in are just perfect.

Men at Work – Down Under

At last! The track we’d all been waiting for!

A non Rolf Harris* track about Australia! And, let’s face it, one which got to number 1 in the UK singles chart!

As I was only eleven at the time of its release I didn’t buy it then, instead I waited for eight years or so until I was at university and bought it from a second hand seller in the Student Union. Mine is the Brazilian print of the single, released on CBS records and although on 7″ it’s actually played at 33 1/3 rpm. Now there’s a thing.

When released the song and its video became a massive hit for the nascent MTV. The song tells the story of an Australian man travelling the globe, interacting with people wanting to find out about his homeland.

Slang terms are thrown in aplenty, like fried-out Kombi – an over-heated Volkswagen van or head full of zombie – from zombie grass, a very strong batch of marijuana and my favourite where beer does flow and men chunder – chunder, to vomit. I’m guessing a much-loved Aussie pass-time, presumably because they can’t take their ale! Or something.

Of course in more recent years the track has probably become bogged down with the old Kookaburra copyright lawsuit. Written in 1932, by a lady called Marion Sinclair, Kookaburra was a children’s classic in Australia.

It was so much of a classic that nobody noticed the similarities between the two songs until 2008 when it was first suggested on an Australian TV show that part of Kookaburra had been plagiarised. Marion Sinclair hadn’t made the connection in her lifetime, but now all of a sudden, copyright owners Larrakin Music wanted their share.

In the event, Larrakin won the court case, but instead of 40, 50 60% they were awarded 5% backdated to 2002. Still a cool AUS$100,000 mind.

* we didn’t know then, what we know now…