Tikaram, Tinita – Good Tradition

Pleasing stuff from Ms Tikaram.

In my research for this article, I’ve found out that Ms Tikaram has had 9 entries in the UK Singles Chart.

This is somewhat surprising as I can only remember this one and its follow up Twist In My Sobriety. No matter, what do I know? Released w/e 30th July 1988 Good Tradition was her first single release and was taken from her first album Ancient Heart. It deservedly made it to number ten, but unfortunately no further. I don’t know when I bought it, but I do know that it cost me £1.79 from John Menzies!

Any road enough of my nonsense, here she is:

Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love

1980's music - a classic example, pictured yesterday.

I really loved this song.  It was a later 80’s release (1988) so unfortunately I didn’t write the date that I bought it on the sleeve.  Looking back on the Vamp, they were probably a bit naff, although they were one of the first bands that I saw, in the Mountford Hall, University of Liverpool, sometime in October / November 1988.

Lead-signer Wendy James was possessed of an almighty roar, which she used to good effect.  The rest of the band were, I guess just towed along in her slipstream.  I remember the gig well, one incident in particular still amuses me now.  At one point, our Wendy asked the audience (300 sweaty and hormonal 18, 19 or 20 year  lads), ‘who wants to see some tit?’  To which we all replied in the affirmative.  ‘Good, that’s what I though you’d say’ she replied and stepped aside to allow the drummer to come forward and take his top off.  Good on yer Wendy!

Anyway, the song was released w/e 25 June 1988 and rose to its highest position of 5 in the UK singles chart for the w/e 23 July.  It spent a couple of weeks there before easing itself gently off the scene.  A proper 80’s sound from a bona fide 80’s phenomenon.

Mel and Kim – That’s The Way It Is

As far as my street cred goes, I really really wish that I hadn’t bought any of Mel and Kim’s offerings. Not through any slight intended towards them you understand.

They were a pair of perfectly pretty young girls living the life of pop stars – albeit as puppets controlled by Stock Aitken and Waterman, but pop stars nonetheless. Their career was only a short one, with four singles and four entries into the top ten of the UK singles chart. This was the fourth such offering and the only one that I bought on 7″ – I bought the others on 12″!

This one was released in February 1988 after Mel had been diagnosed with spinal cancer. Indeed her illness was made public at the time of its release. It spent a total of 7 weeks in the UK singles chart, scoring its highest position of number 10 in the w/e 12 March. In truth, it’s probably the least well known of the girls’ offerings – I certainly can’t remember how it goes! Here’s a link to a youtube video anyway:

Oh, no I’ve just had a listen. It really is as bad as all the other SAW offerings. Really dated and stuck in the 80’s – that plastic sounding drum machine and synth. Ach!

Heart – Never / These Dreams

O… M… G.  I fell for this in a big way.  These Dreams, the B side, was my preferred of the two and the reason I bought it.

Originally released in 1986 These Dreams made number 1 in the Billboard US Hot 100, but had only managed number 62 in the UK singles chart.  Following the success of 1987’s Alone, it was re-released in 1988, together with Never – a song that had not previously been released in the UK.

This time, the Bernie Taupin and Martin Page penned power ballad made it to number 8 in the UK singles chart.  Unusually for me, I didn’t note the date that I had bought this single on the sleeve – most of my collection has my untidy scrawl somewhere, either directly on the sleeve or on a tatty sticker barely hanging on these days.

I think that I probably bought this as much for the fact that I loved Alone, rather than for the merits of These Dreams.  Some of my record buying choices were strange you see, although they were also probably pragmatic too – I missed out on one record by a band so I bought their follow up single… One to ponder there.

Anyway, Heart were a visual manifestation of a certain 80s music feeling.  Overblown, with the hair and the costumes, they were like Dynasty on vinyl.  I hated Dynasty, but loved Heart.  Is that a strange admission to make?

Fat Boys – The Twist (Yo, Twist)

It says on the front, “FAT BOYS the Twist…” So far so what. But then underneath, it adds, “…with stupid def vocals by CHUBBY CHECKER.” So I guess this is one way of being more original than just stating “Featuring…” Well, this is Chubby Checker that we are talking about.

Call me a killjoy, but I am always a little suspicious when I see records like this. You know, a) it’s a cover and b) they have felt a bit lacking in confidence in their ability to do the cover justice, so they have to get the original artist in just to give it some gravitas. Or is that being uber picky?

In fact scrub that, because I loved the previous single – and that was a cover which involved The Beach Boys.  Maybe that was what I thought I was buying when I shelled out for this.

Oh, but hang on again. The Fat Boys actually had four UK singles chart releases and the two on which they collaborated both went to number 2 and the others managed 63 and 46 only.  Go figure.

I think that this was perhaps one of those purchases that was influenced by my brother.  But then that’s not really fair to him.  It’s not like he held a shotgun to me head and forced me to buy it.  Hmm…

Christians (The) – Harvest for the World

You must remember these guys.  The fact was that they were three brothers with the family name Christian and a fourth member called Priestman – he also had the middle name Christian too, just for good measure.

This was their sixth single and was released on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee a group of British Charities, including the Red Cross and Save the Children Fund.  Apart from another charity single, Ferry Cross the Mersey, which reached number 1 in the UK singles chart, this was the band’s best performing single.  It reached number 8 in the chart in October 1988.

Of course you will probably know that Harvest for the World was written by and originally a hit for the Isley Brothers.  The b-side on The Christians version was another cover – this time it was Bob Marley’s Small Axe receiving the treatment.

Hollies (The) – He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother

What?  The Hollies, an eighties phenomenon?

Well, erm, no actually.  However, this was used to promote Miller Lite beer in the late eighties so the record label (EMI) decided to use it as a selling point for a Hollies greatest hits compilation.

As it was, the track was (re)released in September 1988 to great effect as the song went all the way to the top of the UK singles chart beating the original highest chart placing of number 3 way back in 1969.

I didn’t note when I bought the single, but my copy does still have its original John Menzies price sticker – £1.79.  There’s value for you.

Womack & Womack – Teardrops

I just loved the easy vibe of this tune right from the very first time that I heard it.  However, it was not the usual sort of tune that I would have gone for.  At first glance, this may have been because I went off to university in October.

However, I note that this was a late summer tune, released in August 1988.  If I bought it straight away then I was still a country lad with limited tastes.  However, if I had bought it from the bargain bin after I had gone away then, well… do you need me to spell it out?

Anyway, the track charted soon after release and peaked at number three in September, spending two weeks in that position.  Overall it spent eight weeks in the top ten, with a total of seventeen weeks in the UK singles chart.

Bragg, Billy / Wet Wet Wet – She’s Leaving Home / With A LittleHelp From My Friends

This was one of a fair few charity records that I bought. Live Aid in 1985 had a lot to answer for.

Billy Bragg was probably a little inaccessible for me before this was released, whilst Wet Wet Wet was not the sort of group that a hip and happening cool cat like myself should have been buying. Har har har… I bought Sinitta!

Add all that to the fact that this single was released in order to support one of “that bleeding bloody Esther bleeding bloody effing bloody Rantzen bloody woman”‘s favourite charities in the shape of Childline (nothing against Childline you understand) then the only comment possible is WTF?!

But I did, so I’m faithfully recording the fact here.  The disc was a double A side pairing of Lennon and McCartney offerings (offerings!) She’s Leaving Home by Bragg and With A Little Help From My Friends recorded by the Wets.

Released in May 1988 it entered the UK singles chart at number five before hitting the top of the chart where it stayed for four weeks before sliding away to find its place in the bargain bins of Woolworth’s, John Menzies and such like.

Ultimately though, what’s not to like?  Them two scousers were arguably the greatest pair of songwriters of the twentieth century (unarguably in the top three) and both Bragg and the boys frae Glasgae certainly knew their own trade.  Maybe, despite all the bluster, I did know what I was doing when I made this purchase.

UB40 With Chrissie Hynde – Breakfast In Bed

I think that as usual, I was a little late in getting into one of the seminal bands of the eighties, at least in terms of getting some of their vinyl into my collection.

Of course UB40 are famous for an awful lot more than just this collaboration with the Pretenders’ frontwoman / mouthpiece, Chrissie Hynde.  However, this is what I have, so this is what I’m writing about.

Now there’s nothing actually wrong with this as a pop record, it’s just that it is soooooooooo bloody tame when compared with classics like One in Ten or Red Red Wine.  It’s not even rough and ready round the edges when compared with the truly great Pretenders tracks.  And never mind all that, it’s another one that me Mum liked it too!

In actual fact, Breakfast In Bed was the second collaboration between UB40 and Ms Hynde.  In 1985, they covered the old Sonny and Cher classic, I Got You Babe.  That made it to number one in the UK charts, whereas this track made it to number 6.  Released in June 1988, it spent five weeks in the top ten out of its eleven week stay in the UK singles chart.