Reviewed by MARTIN FRY (of ABC)
SCRITTI POLITTI: Faithless (Rough Trade)
The cover artwork is beautiful, packaging a beautiful song. The revamped, remodelled Scritti Politti deliver a slinky desert-island-shore, pineapple-sky soundtrack. The cream always rises to the top. A hop, a jump and a skip beat houses an ambitious sugar-sweet vocal arrangement that takes my breath away. Words like “righteous, testify and faith” do not a soul record make but this is studded with more soul than 78% of the trans-Atlantic garbage on offer this week. Be proud to own this record. Imperial leather.
ENDGAMES: We Feel Good (The Future’s Looking Fine) (Phonogram)
A debut recording of tremendous potential that might borrow from Chic’s “I Want Your Love” but maintains interest from start to finish. Endgames are devotees of the self-professed Enjoyment Club; I enjoyed the piano solo, I enjoyed the chorus, when Endgames get a mix that gives them more clarity they’ll enjoy chart success.
MARI WILSON: Baby Its True (The Compact Organisation)
The song that opens Mari Wilson’s action-packed stage show. A big budget extravaganza on a shoestring and the best record this week, second only to “Faithless”. Your visa into Dreamland, passport to Pleasure, ticket to Loveland, map of Nirvana etc. etc. etc. The song’s pedigree and Mari sounds sexy. She’s more than a beehive. I can’t voice Mari’s talents enough, but while we’re here let’s namecheck the cast of thousands that make it all possible —
THE CLASH: Know Your Rights (CBS)
Never ever thought I’d feel this way about The Clash. On the strength of this record they mean nothing to me. A consumer’s guide to hypocrisy and brutality with a jaunty backbeat, tin-pot rigid bass and drum, fear of melody and toy town terrorism. What’s up? They had the power to deliver chelsea boot in face. “It has been suggested in some quarters that this is not enough!” However Joe Strummer sounds in hot, throaty form. Maybe I expect too much from The Clash.
TONI BASIL: Nobody (Radialchoice)
You will by now be near familiar with Toni Basil via “Mickey”. This isn’t as infectious, in fact it’s pap down to the last molecule. Is the title self-descriptive? Is this the record that will make Toni a legend in her own lunchtime? I do not know. A Hit.
D TRAIN: Walk On By (Epic)
Too concerned with disco-theque pyrotechnics to do justice to a fabulous song. This doesn’t seem to matter.
THE MOB: No Doves Fly Here (Crass) An anti-war song, a vision of a post-nuclear future. No doves fly here; do you get the picture? Admirable statements, sure, but the disc deflates any ambitions The Mob might have had with some of the most leaden and sluggish music you can expect to hear and grandiose power chords. Music to tie-dye T-shirts to, wrapped up in a swell open-plan sleeve.
VICE SQUAD: Stand Strong E.P. (Riot City Records)
By my calculations, nine minutes and fifteen seconds of Vice Squad music on a 9-track EP that spells value for money but little else. Four well mannered, disciplined, well meaning songs in which Vice Squad point their accusing finger at violence and drug abuse. Admirable. But now my finger points at you. Like The Mob, it’s music that’s so dated it’s defunct; what might have been potent winds up humourless and sanitised.
BAD MANNERS: Got No Brains (Magnet)
Got no brains. Don’t believe it. Bad Manners pack as many tried and tested hooklines into one record as the best arch-intellectual. Straddled on a reggae backdrop that’s as big a yawn as the last Boomtown Rats disc, and peppered with horns, this looks very much like a hit. According to the begging letter that accompanied my copy it’s a “would-be-pseudo-not-so-intellectual record.” Fathom that out.
QUEEN: Body Language (EMI)
A non-erotic cabaret. Freddie Mercury, lead singer in Queen, says “Give Me Your Body” and I say give me a reason. Freddie makes further observations about a close friend’s physique. Queen do their darnedest to supply a near-nude backing track for Freddie’s stuff. The cover’s a little bit risque, involving a man, a woman and paint. The contents are conservative. Imagination do it 100 times better with sex appeal. I don’t recommend sex without love to anyone under 18 or otherwise; however I predict a hit of massive proportions.
THE SINATRAS: You Make Me Feel Like I’m Wearing New Clothes (Empire)
Tommy, Neville, Nick and Sparky have made a record and they want you to buy it. They are called the Sinatras. Frank himself makes an appearance on the cover for good measure. But would he approve of what goes on inside? The synths sound like Space Invaders but The Sinatras sound eager to please and know a thing or two about writing a song. You could do worse than buy this disc.
FAT LARRY’S BAND: Act Like You Know (W.M.O.T.)
7 out of 10. Initially I’d got high hopes, what with Larry and the gang decked out in such wacky garb on the cover. It won’t get beyond the dance floor voter. Acquits itself well, high on rhythm: low on song. Slim Pickens. Can I go home now please?
THE FALL: Look Now (Kamera)
Still stroppy after all these years. Now more than ever. My brother Jamie respects The Fall like no other group. On “Look Now” Mark Riley takes the microphone and duets with Mark I., Mr. M. Smith. It’s underproduced and undernourished. I can’t always hear Mark Smith’s testament to youth unless I stick my head close to the speaker. Rub-a-dub and humdrum by The Fall’s own personal standards. The B side, “I’m into C.B.”, provides a namecheck for this very mag and seems altogether perkier.
SHAKIN’ STEVENS: Shirley (Epic)
I’m told on good authority that Shakey’s taste in clothes is matched by my own. Nothing too sartorial on view on the cover artwork but on wax the Shakin’ One delivers the goods, aided by honky-tonk pianos and jangly guitars. Perky. Shakin’ Stevens sounds like he enjoys making records and that sets him apart from 95% of the other acts on display today.
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS: Talk Back (Chrysalis)Continue »
The opening duplicates Duran Duran’s “Girls On Film”, the rest features feigned anger and pretend energy, also a horn section that makes The Fingers sound like a second generation Jam or third generation Haircut 100, whichever way you want to look at it. The line that goes “shut your face and listen” sounds so unconvincing. This is the first record in this week’s selection that I want to turn into an ashtray.
STEVIE NICKS: Edge Of 17 (WEA)
A pleasant surprise. Stevie squeezes enough drama out of a mediocre song to secure a hit record somewhere in the world. And, for your information, “Edge of 17" was the only record offered to me without a picture cover. Instead, I get a paper sleeve which says “7" single”, and that is clearly stating the obvious.
LAURIE ANDERSON: Big Science (Warner Brothers)
Intoxicating, cool and clear. Starts with a wolf man Diamond Dog shriek. No doubt you remember “O Superman”; on this Laurie decides to flesh things out with Hiawatha drums and keyboards. Like a matter-of-fact Joni Mitchell without instruments. Skeletal and surprising, and worth every penny.
ST. WINIFRED’S SCHOOL CHOIR: Welcome John Paul (E141)
“The official record to celebrate Pope John Paul II’s British visit. 1982.” This is religion. If he hears it he may want to go home Romeward smartish, without even buying Duty Frees. This sort of thing used to win “Opportunity Knocks”. St. Winifred’s School Choir are probably recording the follow-up, “Welcome Child Of Charles and Diana”, right this very minute. Audience research says a chart certainty.
CANDI STATON: Suspicious Minds (Sugarhill)
A powerful voice wasted on a crumby song. Pointless and sad. She deserves better than this.
TIGHT FIT: Fantasy Island (Jive)
Diluted Abba but undoubtedly a hit. But let the nation decide. If Steve stands inbetween Julie and Denise, and if Julie and Denise rub themselves against Steve, it should be no problem. My fantasy is to play piano like Anne Dudley did on “Poison Arrow” and she plays on this, impeccably. The song goes around and around and beats you into submission. I am now whistling it.
BRANDI WELLS: What Goes Around And Around (W.M.O.T.)
Shoot the lyricist, applaud the singer. A marvellous record. Sounds like Donna Summer in slow motion. Brandi Wells makes it sound easy. She also makes a dumber-than-dumb lyric (involving profundities such as “what goes up must come down”) sound profound. Pound for pound a pearl.
DEPECHE MODE: The Meaning Of Love (Mute)
Elegant. When Vince Clarke left, it seemed Depeche Mode would be without a melody maker but “See You” proved otherwise. This confirms that. It’s watertight and nearly perfect, as damn near perfect as a record can be. I too have pondered upon the meaning of love. Have you? David Gahan’s in an academic mood on this one and yet still can’t find a solution. Brilliant disc, what else is there to say except truly scrumptious.
CARMEL: Storm (Red Flame)
This girl can sing. Not your regular hit parade fodder by any stretch of the imagination, much as I’d like it to be. But worth your attention. The A-side’s minimalist to the point of minus; so too the B-side, where Carmel’s tough and tender tonsils get a hold of the Anne Peebles song “I Can’t Stand The Rain”. Killing me softly with her song. Carmel sounds like she means business. A rare talent and a great record.
KID CREOLE AND THE COCONUTS: I’m A Wonderful Thing (Ze)
The Kid’s suffered the slings and arrows of big newspaper wig-out. Forget all the ballyhoo about him being the next Bob Dylan in a zoot suit and enjoy a great record. August Darnell sounds in confident form, parts of it are reminiscent of “Jack In The Box” by Raydio (correct me if I’m wrong, I’m no expert). He even lets you into the intimacies of his address book but only gets as far as A. Shame. Continue »
HAZEL O’CONNOR: That’s Life (Albion)
That’s Life. Too right Hazel, one minute you’re the belle of the ball and the next… A melodramatic, bittersweet ballad. Even production from the near-legendary Tony Visconti fails to ignite what is basically a pretty dull song. Hook line and sinker. I don’t really know what I’m meant to do with this record.
BUGGLES: On TV (Carrera)
From the man they called Trevor Horn. In which a barnstormin’ stop-start syncopation de-Buggles the myth of television and all it’s cracked up to be. Some call it techno-pop. It boasts the biggest snare drum sound known to mankind and is crisp and crystal clear. Recorded August 1981 and quite probably a blueprint for the production techniques that surface on records he has made with Dollar, Philip Japp and a group called ABC. Be-jewelled with clarinet. Just remember the verb to buggle.