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?

Alarm (The) – Absolute Reality

1980's music from North Wales's finest.

I was a big, big fan of The Alarm. Many people unkindly called them the poor man’s U2 but I thought they were great. Fronted by Mike Peters along with Dave Sharp (guitars), Eddie Macdonald (bass) and Nigel Twist on drums. They were Anglo-Welsh in origin and this was reflected in their music.

Absolute Reality, written by Macdonald and Peters, entered the UK Singles Chart in the w/e 2nd March 1985 and found its was into my record collection on 16th March. It reached its high point of number 35 in the w/e 23rd March. It was backed by a live version of Blaze of Glory. Absolute Reality was the first single taken from the album Strength.

Here, have a look:

Beautiful South (The) – You Keep It All In

1980's music. Irony, or should that be sarcasm, ahoy!

Just creeping in as an 80’s single, You Keep It All in was released in October 1989 and was the band’s second single after the delicious Song For Whoever.  Its highest chart position was number 8 and it spent a total of 8 weeks in the chart, 3 of then in the top 10.  It was backed by the curiously titled, I Love You (But You’re Boring).  In a sure sign that I was growing up, this is one of the few records upon which I didn’t scrawl my name and the date that I bought it!

You Keep It All In and the b-side were taken from the group’s debut album Welcome To The Beautiful South.  The style of The Beautiful South was a curious mixture of sweet melodies underpinning some quite vicious sentiments – as can perhaps be understood by the album’s front cover, a woman with a gun in her mouth and a man sparking up a cigarette.  Woolworths, for example, refused to stock the album because of the artwork, so an alternative was created.

You Keep It All In itself is, I reckon, a lament about violence by men.  It conjures various images, e.g. of a scared girl sleeping alone with the light on as she can hear her dad ‘getting ready to fight’.  Who with though?  With his wife, or is he going out to commit some crime of violence?  Very ambiguous, very clever.

If you’ve forgotten the penguin in the video, here it is to remind you.

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:

Blow, Kurtis – If I Ruled The World

I loved this song. Why it didn’t get any higher than number 24 in the UK singles chart is a mystery to me. Ever the one for a bargain, I picked this up on 19th April 1986 from the bargain bin (at Woolies) for 75p because it had left the chart. It was released in the w/e 18th January of that year and made reasonable progress in its first four weeks, but couldn’t kick on to make to the higher spot, which it deserved. It was backed by a dub version and was taken from Blow’s 5th album, 1985’s America. It was also featured in the movie Krush Groove.

Here’s a version of the video:

Flying Pickets (The) – Only You

I’ve written about this elsewhere on Iheart80s, so please forgive me if I repeat myself. If you remember it was written by Vince Clarke, formerly of Depeche Mode, but at the time starring with Alison Moyet as Yazoo. They had taken the song into the UK Singles Chart in 1982 making a very creditable number 2. In 83, The Flying Pickets a group of actors convinced that the charts were ready for an a cappella act. So Brian Hibbard, David Brett, Rick Lloyd, Gareth Williams, Ken Gregson and ‘Red Stripe’ got together to record the song. Released in the w/e 26th November 1983 it was an almost instant hit – appearing on Wogan didn’t do it any harm. Within 3 weeks it was number 1, where it stayed until January 1984.

I received my copy as a Christmas present and played it to death such was its appeal to me. It was backed by a track called Disco Down, written by Rick Lloyd. Very soon after it left the charts, flying pickets were in the news for the wrong reasons as the Miner’s Strike began. The group scored another top ten ht with a cover of Van McCoy’s When You’re Young And In Love, but their third and final assault on the charts, with the Eurythmics’ Who’s That Girl, was ultimately fruitless.

Here are the boys, doing their thing:

Faltermeyer, Harold – Axel F

1980's music - axel f NOT by that f... frog

OK, let’s get this straight.  This song bears no relation in anyway shape or form to that f**king awful frog thing which peddled its wares in the first decade of the new millennium.  Released by MCA Records of 72-74 Brewer St, London W1R 3PH in the w/e 23rd March 1985 this was the theme tune to the latest smash hit by Eddie Murphy, Beverley Hills Cop.  Of course, the song’s title is taken from the lead character, foul mouthed Detroit cop on holiday in LA, Axel Foley.  Shrek’s mate Donkey apart, this is Murphy’s tour de force.  Nothing else that he has done quite matches up to it.

Anyway, this ain’t no film review, so here goes: the track wasn’t initially a hit, having spent a few weeks in the lower reaches of the chart before disappearing only to come back with a vengeance.  It was during this second spell in the chart that it made its highest chart position of number 2, and that I bought it – on 28th June 1985.  To my mind, it forms a twin to Crockett’s Theme by Jan Hammer – that one was bought by my brother so between us we had both bases covered.

Just for you(!) here is a version of the video fromYouTube:

Cameo – Word Up

My brother, who has been on Ken Bruce’s (well Mark Goodyear’s) Pop Quiz cited me as one of his musical influences. Well in that case then, I must nod to him in this regard.

Word Up was one of my purchases (16 October 1986) which was probably more of his taste than my own. It entered the UK singles chart in the w/e 30 August 1986 and quickly rose to number 3. This was by far the group’s biggest UK single – nothing else that they released in the UK made it further than number 11.

HOWEVER, it’s not bad is it? Who can forget the big red cod piece as featured on Top Of The Pops? Who can forget the thumping bass that was integral to the tune if not the tune in its own right?

No, Word Up was a top tune, a real eighties classic and it sits nicely with the other eclectic selections in my record boxes. If you don’t believe me, or you’d like a reminder, here they are on YouTube:

Cure (The) – In Between Days

If any group or band epitomises the 80’s more than The Cure then bring them to me now.  I just don’t think that such a thing exists.  Yet when you look at their UK singles chart performance, their highest ever chart position was only number 5 for 1989’s Lullaby, taken from the album Disintegration.

Stuff from the high altar of 1980's music.

But enough of that, let’s get back to In Between Days.  The first single from the 1985 album The Head On The Door, it was released in July 1985 and entered the UK singles chart in the w/e 27 July.  I bought it on 1 August as it slowly made its way to its highest position of 15.  FIFTEEN!?  That just shows what utter peasants the UK record buying public could be at times – but having said that, at the time this was released we had Live Aid with all the spin off benefits that it produced.  We also had huge number one hits from Sister Sledge (Frankie), The Eurythmics (There Must Be An Angel), Madonna (Into The Groove).

Musically, it’s classic Cure.  Upbeat in tempo, but decidedly downbeat as far as the lyrics go.  As some lifting synth melodies augment the thumping bass and guitar sections Smithy sings about fear and ageing and loss.  For example, the two verses start with respectively, ‘yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die’ and ‘yesterday I got so scared, I shivered like a child’.  I guess there’s more than a little mischief going on with chief mischief maker Smith actually having a whale of a time.

Just check out all of that hair in the video. Don’t try guessing at the band’s hairspray bill. I don’t think that there are enough number on the calculator.

Cure (The) – Close To Me

If In Between Days highest chart position was a travesty, then what about this one? Released in the w/e 21 September 1985, hot on the heels of its predecessor, it managed only number 24 in the UK singles chart. I faithfully did my bit, buying it on 18 October, but it was to no avail.

Cut this open and it says 1980's music, like a stick o' Blackpool rock.

In terms of dark themes this goes even further than In Between Days. To start with, there’s less of an attempt to jolly the melody along – the hand-claps at the start really do set the tempo for the entire piece, although there are a couple of uplifting solos from wind instruments. And the lyrics, in which Smithy sings about wishing that the day would end; that the night could be close to him and hoping that seeing his head on the door was a dream, are even more gloomy. That said, it really is a great song, another which really does have 1980’s music stamped all over it.