The early 1980’s was seeing a change in British music. The punk days were over and suddenly image, performance and video were the order of the day. No-one took this on board more than Adam and the Ants, who in a series of singles from 1980 to 1982 began an assault of the UK charts with catchy songs and carefully crafted videos. Image for the group was all important to their success.
Having started out in 1977 as a punk group and with continuous line up changes, in 1980 the group had a change in direction.
The video had an appearance of actress Amanda Donohoe, Adam Ant’s girlfriend of the time. The follow-up single’s video “Prince Charming” featured popular British Actress Diana Dorswho in her younger days was described as a British version of Marilyn Munroe.
The cover front and back sum up the image and the songs content. “I’m a dandy highwayman who you’re too scared to mention. I spend my cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention …” say the lyrics. Written by Adam Ant with Marco Pirroni, who had a huge part in this success. It was the bands first of two #1 singles in a total of 7 top ten UK charted records. It stood at the top of the UK charts for 5 weeks and went on to sell 1.03 million copies in UK alone and resulted in a long chart run in Germany when peaking at #8. It even made the US Dance chart reaching #38. When the Ants disbanded in 1982, Pirroni continued to write with Adam for his solo career including the #1 UK and Australian hit “Goody Two Shoes”.
When I started to write this blog it was with the intent on covering my vinyl singles and albums I had bought during the 70’s and 80’s. I have many CD’s and downloads but lately with a revival of vinyl I’ve been to the odd Record Fair and shops that specialise in selling used vinyl.
I took a trip down to London in early 2015 and ventured into a store called Flashback Records at 50 Essex Road, N1. A collectors dream, floor to ceiling vinyl with every genre you could image of used records. I came across this for £1 and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy.
Otis Redding was born Dawson, Georgia in 1941, and died in a plane crash aged only 26 just around the time his music had just began being appreciated not just by record buyers but by fellow artists, writers and producers. His style of soul and blues began to have a crossover pop audience, and this single was recorded November/December 1967 just days before his death. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay was released in January 1968 and became a posthumous #1 hit on both the US Billboard Rhythm and Blues Chart and the Hot 100 pop Chart. It peaked at #3 in the UK staying on the top 50 for 15 weeks. Although Otis released many singles in the UK this was his only solo top ten entry. He did have a couple of top 40 hits with Carla Thomas.
On the dock is often said to be about Otis himself where the lyrics talk about moving from his home base of Georgia to the Californian coast at San Francisco and his experience of writing. Producer Steve Cropper collaborated on the lyrics just on a few lines that Otis gave him. It was certified in the US with a Gold disc for sales over 1 million. The song also hit the top twenty is some european countries such as The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Norway where it reached #2.
The B-side track My Sweet Lorene is pure Blues/Soul written with Isaac Hayes and Alvertis Isbell, the story of a plea for Lorene to come home and the longing for the lost past relationship.
I took a chance on this single. A blind buy in The Diskery, Birmingham in 2014. I choose it just from the artist name. I’d been watching a TV documentary on BBC4 about 70’s disco and her name came up. Success came in the US disco charts with tracks that were hits by other artists from Europe or the US.
When I played it for the first time the track sounded very familiar, akin to some of the music in the disco movie “Thank God Its Friday”.
I looked on the internet to find out more and was surprised by what I found out. Midnight Love Affair became a massive dance floor filler in late summer of 1976 and reached #1 in the US Billboard Dance charts. It was written by E. Levitt, P. Groscolas and M. Jourdan, Arranged and Conducted by John Davis, Produced by Ed O’Loughlin.
Two years earlier in November 1974 Carol released a cover version of the pop crossover track “Doctors Orders” which became an US Pop #11 Dance #2 hit with top ten success throughout Europe and #1 in Canada. Doctors Orders was originally released by British female vocalist Sunny who had a UK #7 hit in spring of 1974.
Carol Douglaswas born in New York, USA in 1948 and her mother was a Jazz performer. Her cousin was legendary soul singer Sam Cooke. As a teenager she sang in a trio cutting a single for the RCA Victor label. She married in mid 1960’s and even had a small stint on broadway. In the early 1970’s she started touring/singing again and eventually got a contract at Midland International Records which launched her chart career. She covered several well-known songs of the time including Abba’s “Dancing Queen” and her only UK top 75 entry (#66) the Bee Gees’ “Night Fever”.
She lived for a time in Paris, France after her record company became defunct, recorded for Next Plateau in the US and Carrere Records in Europe.
The B-side to this is “Crime Don’t Pay” which moves at a fast pace. Backed with a strong string orchestra with lots of guitar and drums.
I never get tired listening to any of the tracks. Without doubt in my top five records of all time. A mixture of punk elements, rock, pop and their first move into a synth disco song. 12 tracks produced solely by Australian Mike Chapman, known as a writer and producer with NickyChinn and at the forefront of British pop with a distinctive sound called Chinnichap in the 1970’s.
This was Blondie‘s third album release and from gigging in the punk clubs of New York, 1978 saw them with 2 top ten singles and a top ten album in the UK and when Parallel Lines hit the shops,
it took them on an almighty global pop experience. The album opens with what was the albums 2nd single release “Hanging on the telephone” which peaked at #5 on a 12 week run on the UK single chart, and top 20 in 3 European territories. “One Way Or Another” written by Debbie Harry and Nigel Harrison, rasps it way along as if in a hurry. Track 3, which was the lead single from the album is “PictureThis” a piece of rock / pop about what appears to be lost love which reached #12 for an 11 week run on the UK chart. It also made the top 20 in Ireland and Sweden. “Fade Away And Radiate” is one of my favourite tracks. It’s a slower rock ballad, with a reggae beat ending. Guitar on this was played by Robert Fripp, husband of British Punk Rock singer and actress Toyah Willcox.“Pretty Baby” is an uplifting pop song, and includes a spoken word passage by Debbie Harry , with the other band members vocals over the top. Side A finishes with
“I know But I Don’tKnow” written by Frank Infante and sees the use of the bass and drums which are clearly heard.
Side B starts with “11:59” written by Jimmy Destri. The lyrics evoke a dark place and time. “Will Anything Happen” total commercial punk rock at its best. Moving on to “Sunday Girl” written by Chris Stein was the 4th and final single release from the album, a big pop hit across the world reaching #1 in the UK for 3 weeks in a 13 week chart run, at the time a second #1 in a row. I have a 12 inch version with the B-side duplicated by being sung completely in French.
“Heart of Glass” is the track that gave Blondie their first taste of US chart success, ironically with a synth pop song, peaking at #1. It also made number one in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, several European territories and for the first time the UK with 4 weeks at the top in its 15 weeks on the chart. The album version contains the word “ass” in one line when
part repeating it from earlier in the song, which was edited in the UK single version thus passing the unhappy BBC Radio censors. “I’m Gonna Love You Too”, is a Buddy Holly cover version. “Just Go Away” closes the record another rock/pop song.
The British public took Debbie Harry (Vocals), Chris Stein (Guitars), Nigel Harrison (Bass Guitar), Frank Infante (Guitar), Jimmy Destri (Keyboards) and Clem Burke (Drums) to their hearts.
The album was recorded in New York and mixed in Kentucky, and the cover art attributed to Edo. As of 2008 sales worldwide have reached 20 million copies and recently I saw a brand new vinyl pressing on sale in my home town.
The reason why I consider my vinyl collection to be eclectic is because I’m not snobbish about its content. Why should I restrict myself to Alternate Rock or Electronica to roll with a crowd. Often some music lovers look down on manufactured pop which is actually nonsense because whatever is produced has a market for someone to listen to it, otherwise it wouldn’t be successful. Bucks Fizzwere put together to represent the United Kingdom for the1981 Eurovision Song Contestand they won with “Making your mind up”.The group comprised of Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Bobby Gubby. Cheryl was a singer who was part of a group called Coco who sang at the same contest in 1978. Jay was 19 at the time and her brother was in a group called Prima Donna who sang at the 1980 contest. Mike already had sung in groups without success and recorded the original demo of “making your mind up” with singer Nichola Martin and it was decided to look for singers to join Mike and build a group around him. Bobby Gubby or Bobby G as he is known
auditioned and when singer Stephen Fischer became unavailable Bobby was asked to join instead. Stephen Fischer went on as a part of the duo Bardo for the 1982 contest. With ten top 40 hits including three number ones and 3 top 20 albums in the UK, the release of “I Hear Talk” their 4th album saw a more harder edged sound. A crash of their tour bus leaving all of the group seriously injured and with Mike in a coma, suddenly turned their fortunes. Consequently this album only reached #66 for a 2 week run on the chartand is probably some of their best work.Jay left the group in 1985 to be replaced by Shelley Preston and the fifth and final studio album limped to #89 for one week in the UK.
Side one kicks off with the title track which was actually the 3rd single lifted from the album reaching #34 in a 6 week run on the UK top 75. Lead vocals were shared between Bobby and Cheryl. There is a brass section and the track was recorded in Zurich. “Indebted to you” has the familiar Bucks Fizz drum sound but an electric guitar solo and during chorus sections the girls vocals complement the guys almost in a echo response. The lead is taken by Cheryl on the softer pop sound of “Tears on the ballroom floor”. The mood changes again for “Cold War” which has lots of harmony in the chorus sections and another guitar solo.
The last track is the 2nd single released from the album which made only #42 for a 5 week run on the UK chart. “Golden Days” is a finely crafted pop song written by Terry Britten and Sue Shifrin which lyrically tells the story about the golden days of a former popular actress and her demise. All members produce some of their strongest vocals on this song.
Side two starts with the lead single from the album “Talking in your sleep”. This made #15 in a 9 week run on the top 75. Recorded in Zurich and a cover version, originally a very big hit in Europe by “The Romantics” It’s surprisingly very similar to the original in sound. This was an attempt to appear more mature and rockier. “Breaking me up” carries on in the same vain with a good mixture and use of all the groups vocals with Bobby giving a very forceful delivery in his lead role. “January’s gone” changes the pace.
A delicate ballad sung by Mike and again some very good harmonising. “She cries” is written by Nik Kershaw and produced by Pip Williams known for his work with Kiki Dee.The album closes with “Thief in thenight” with the lead taken by Jay. The vocal delivery is almost “punk” in style and there is so much going on with drums, percussion and keyboards.
Many acts of the sixties and seventies were family affairs. This group of siblings “The Pointer Sisters”expanded from a duo to quartet between 1969 and 1973 comprised of June, Bonnie, Anita and Ruth Pointer. Bonnie left to pursue a solo career in 1978. After having hits in the US it was as a trio during the early 1980’s that the group found worldwide success with their mostly uptempo soul/rhythm and blues. This classic Richard Perry produced single was my first introduction to the Sisters. The song was written by John Bettis and Michael James Bruce Clark. The lyrics have a sexual undertone of a woman indicating what is wanted from her man and that their time together will be all night. The lead vocal is sung by Anita.
In Belgium and the Netherlands this was a top 40 hit. It had a lengthy run on the New Zealand charts peaking at #6 and got to #5 in Australia. In the US this was a huge hit reaching #2 on the Billboard top 100.
The single was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1982. Over the years they have had 9 nominations and won 3 times.
The B side is the funky “Holdin’ Out For Love.”
They were signed to Producer Richard Perry’s label Planet Records distributed by Warner Brothers, later sold to RCA Records which was the label for their 1985 hit “Dare Me”. When leaving RCA they released material on the Motown label during the 1990’s.
The line up today is ever changing featuring a combination of daughters and grand daughters. June officially left the group in 2004 but sadly passed away in 2006 from cancer.
A small amount of my collection during the late 70’s contains some coloured vinyl singles. One such single is Prime Time by The Tubes. This is taken from their fourth album “Remote Control” described as a concept album exploring the influence of television. This track peaked at #34 on UK chart in its sixth week of a 10 week run. In their native USA this single did not chart.
Band Members of The Tubesat the time of recording;
Fee Waybill – vocals
Bill Spooner – guitar, vocals
Michael Cotten – synthesizer
Prairie Prince – drums
Roger Steen – guitar, vocals
Re Styles – vocals
Vince Welnick – keyboards
Rick Anderson – bass
Produced and Engineered by Todd Rundgrena Pennsylvania, USA, multi instrumental musician, writer and vocalist. He worked on albums for such artists as Daryl Hall and John Oates, Meatloaf,Badfinger and the New York Dolls.
Originally they were formed from two bands in Pheonix and Scotsdale Arizona, USA who then moved to San Francisco, California in 1969.
Their break through was in 1975 with a self titled album having signed to Herb Alpert’s record label A & M records. 1979 when this single was released they were coming to the end of their time at A&M and went onto to record for Capitol Records.
Live performances have been the main drive of the band and are known for very creative full production numbers which include other performers and artists. Often they allude to Mainstream and B-Movies, television and pop culture and therefore very costly gigs to put on. Much of the music covers an array of genres.