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:

Nail, Jimmy – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

1980's music. Top Geordie crooner!

What gave this apparently large, course Geordie bloke the right to have a god voice, I am still yet to fathom.  However, he did.  I loved this song when it was released, w/e 27th April 1985 so I went out and bought it on 7th June.  However, I must admit that whenever it comes up on whichever 80’s compilation I’m listening to nowadays I do skip to the next track (I prefer 1992’s raucous sing-along Ain’t No Doubt).

The song is, as we all know, Miles Gregory’s composition and was a big seventies hit for Rose Royce – number 2 in 1978.  Jimmy’s version made it to number 3 in the UK Singles Chart and spent a total of 11 weeks in the chart.  The art work shows a brooding Jimmy in sepia tones as he walks in the park lamenting his lost love.  The b-side is the self penned Night for Day, can’t remember that I ever turned it over and played that side, but I might have, just once or twice.

Any road up, why don’t you take a moment to have a listen to the track:

XTC – Senses Working Overtime

1980’s music. Swindish(?) pop stars? Oh Yes.

What’s that you say? Pop stars from Swindon? No chance! Really… are they?

Well yes, they are… and as well as being pop stars they were right clever with the old wordplay, I mean XTC, ecstasy.

Good on em! (NB this was I believe before the time that the drug ecstasy (MDMA) was widely known in the UK).

The group’s success was an early 80’s phenomenon, with songs like Making Plans For Nigel and Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me) flirting with the top 10, but never quite making it.

Senses Working Overtime was a hit in early 1982, making it into the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart after its release in the w/e 23rd January. I didn’t buy it at the time, preferring instead to wait until 21st March 1987 when I must’ve ordered it from Oldies Unlimited, my preferred choice for ex-chart singles.

I loved the lyrics, seemingly innocent, but on closer inspection there is some anti-war sentiment in there – ‘…there’s fodder for the cannons and the guilty ones can all sleep safely…’

Vapors (The) – Turning Japanese

1980's music. The Vapors - soon vapourised!

Ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner… and so it starts with a guitar solo imitating a traditional Japanese lute type instrument.  This was very early eighties stuff, entering the UK singles chart in the w/e 9 February 1980 and bought for me (and my brother) on 16 April (Goodness I was fastidious, even at that age – writing the date on).  Anyway, you know the saying, ‘if I do nothing else in my life I’ll be happy’?  Well that sentiment must surely apply to this song.  It heralded the arrival of an exciting new group and for a short moment, they were about to go global and… and… pfft!  They fizzled out, like a dying balloon.

It took about a month after it first charted to properly arrive on the scene, spending 5 weeks in the top ten, with its highest position number 3.  I think that we must have persuaded Mum to buy this for us over the Easter Holiday, judging by the date that I noted.  It then drifted away into the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and the band did too.  If you listen to the lyrics it’s not difficult to get a vibe about some sort of self-relief.  But that’s as an adult listening, for us kids it was a great sound pure and simple.  Until it became scratched, the b-side, a live rendition of Here Comes The Judge was something of a treat too.

Here’s a look-see at a performance of the song for you to enjoy:

Stranglers (The) – Skin Deep

The Stranglers - Skin Deep, a real 7" single, pictured yesterday.

My usual agent (aka My Mum) bought this one for me on Friday 19 October 1984 just about a couple of weeks into its 7 week stay in the UK singles chart.

I’d like to think that I gave it that boost it needed to get to its highest chart position of 15 which it achieved at the end of its 3rd week. I remember the 19 October 1984 well as I was taking part in a sponsored walk to raise school funds… in school time!  Whoo and indeed hoo!

On supposes that due to their large number of seventies hits The Stranglers may not be considered as bona fide 1980’s stars. Singles like Peaches and No More Heroes were both top ten hits in 1977, right at the high point of the punk era.

Having said that, Golden Brown, their biggest hit, made number 2 in the UK singles chart in 1982 – just shows the danger of pigeon holing. Of course this was what the punk fraternity seemed to do with The Stranglers, they were often derided by them due to the relatively polished nature of their work.

It’s a catchy wee tune is Skin Deep, with an interesting sentiment too – beware people who may not be exactly what they seem on the surface. Good advice for the post-punk generation methinks.

Squeeze – Last Time Forever

1980's music Squeeze with Last Time Forever. Spot the sellotape!

If any band following in the tradition of The Beatles and The Kinks did storytelling better than Madness it was Squeeze.

However, unlike the Nutty Boys, singles chart success seemed hard for them to find.  They scored a couple of number 2 hits at the end of the seventies with Cool For Cats and Up The Junction, but their only other top ten single was 1981’s country flavoured Labelled With Love – a number 4 hit.  However, what the Great British singles buying population was missing out on was the jealously guarded secret of their album buying counterparts.

Songs like those mentioned sit alongside Take Me I’m Yours, Slap And Tickle, Another Nail In My Heart, Is That Love and so on and so forth on albums like Squeeze, Cool For Cats, Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.  As far as Last Time Forever goes, I bought it on 20th July 1985 jut after it had finished its 5 week run in the UK singles chart with number 45 its top position.  It’s a typical Squeeze song, a great melody underpinning a dark story about a woman murdered by her jealous husband / lover / boyfriend.  The b-side is even more interesting, consisting of 5 individual tracks by the then members of the band, Jools Holland, Gilson Lavis, Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook and Keith Wilkinson.

Simple Minds – Don’t You (Forget About Me)

1980's music. Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me)

Never let it be said that Simple Minds were not big hitters in the eighties.  They were huge.  I loved this song immediately – in fact it was probably this which first alerted me to Simple Minds.  I loved it so much that I had bought it within a week of its UK release (26th April 1985 vs 20th April 1985).  It rose very quickly to the band’s then highest UK singles chart position of number 7 in only its 3rd week in the chart.

1980's music - Simple Minds contribute to film soundtrack.

It’s probably well known that the single was written for the film The Breakfast Club – the 1985 film starring Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez, indeed their US releases coincided with each other.  Despite its huge success (number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100) and a total of 24 weeks in the UK chart, the band are, allegedly, not overly keen on being reminded of it.  Maybe this is because it was so big, that they felt it may detract from their other work.  It truly is one of the songs of the decade – perhaps even with iconic status.

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Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking

1980's music Simple Minds - Alive and Kicking. Top record sleeve.

I think that possibly, this is an even better track than Don’t You.  Released hot on the heels of that earlier single in the w/e 12th October 1985, I bought it on 9th November.  It matched its predecessor’s performance in the chart by reaching number 7.  This was a good effort, given that Don’t You was itself still bumping around in the lower reaches of the chart itself at the time.  In 1992 when BSkyB invented football Alive and Kicking was used by them in their advertising, and it was re-released as a double a-side with 1981’s Love Song and made number 6 in the UK singles chart.

The record sleeve is a great design, highlighting the design creed ‘less is more’.  I think it’s brilliant.  The single was the first of four released to promote the band’s seventh studio album, Once Upon A Time.  The other singles from the album were All The Things She Said, Sanctify Yourself and Ghost Dancing.

U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Oh I remember being SO grown up when I bought this. Although they weren’t quite so enormous just yet, this track and the album it came from (The Unforgettable Fire) helped to propel the group to iconic status.

It was their biggest UK singles chart hit to date, making number 3 after it had been released in the w/e 15 September 1984. I bought it on 20 October that year as it gracefully slid down from the higher reaches of the chart.

U2 – Pride. My first taste of political rock.
It is well documented about whom Pride was written. The picture of him on the back of the record sleeve is a bit of a giveaway too. However, what is more interesting to me is the full stop that the song represents in the end of the early part of the band’s career.

An older cousin of mine who was keen on their early albums was a bit disappointed with The Unforgettable Fire when I lent it to her – she thought that all the tracks would be like Pride and the earlier albums. It isn’t!

U2 Pride – it’s all about this man.

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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.