RELAX! IT’S alright. Defiantly confounding the lacklustre quality of today’s pop parade pranksters it gives me great pleasure to announce that this week there are actually some vinyl artefacts worth exchanging your pretty green for. Not many, mind —
So, standing respectfully to attention and clutching my hat to my heart, I can recommend, in a loud, clear voice the latest boss waxing (copyright G Crowley) from THE SPECIAL AKA. ‘Nelson Mandela’ (2 Tone) is an upful concoction of loping Afro-Caribbean joy allied to a lyric you just can’t ignore. Jerry Dammers has answered the anti-politics brigade in the finest possible manner by presenting the crucial subject of the essential corruption inherent in all (well, at least 99%) white South Africans in a form that the radio buffoons might (let’s hope) accept. Mandela’s imprisonment is a crime, pure ‘n simple. ‘Nelson Mandela’ is a pro law and order song. A pro-justice song. Buy it.
There’s nothing to quite match that peerless assemblage so let’s set our sights a little lower and just hope for some plain respectable pop. PROPAGANDA seem capable of supplying some of that, and their ‘Dr Mabuse’, part two in Zang Tumb Tuum’s chart attack possesses pretension and trash melody in just the right proportions. Stealing shamelessly from the expressionist film makers from Lang to Cocteau, Propaganda have mixed up their swag with a typically thorny, Horny production. It goes crash! and bang! in all the right places, a girly chorus (I bet they’d hate to be called a ‘girly chorus’) rescuing ‘Dr Mabuse’ just when The Art begins to get a bit dense. The chart won’t suffer by playing host to this Teutonic tonic.
On a much quieter level ‘Excerpts from the Suburbia Suite’ by THE SOUND BARRIER (Compact) may not be the stuff that dreams (or hit singles) are made of, but as a piece of unadorned instrumental message its effect on the ears is suitably subtle. Tot Taylor, in his guise of record magnate Teddy Johns, has given his nostalgia full rein and come up with a product that vastly supercedes his clumsy big beat attempts with Mari Wilson. Taylor is as light-fingered as our German Propagandists, his target being, however, the filmic scenarios of Dave Brubeck and Jimmy Smith and he convincingly dumps on the inferior copyist mentality that Mr Paul Weller bases his (inexplicable) chart consistency on.
More back-dated reverence arrives in the shape of ‘The Smiling Hour’ by KALIMA from crazy madcap Mancunians Factory. It sounds like Animal Nightlife which is No Bad Thing and in the light of the astonishing success of Swans Way could well insinuate itself into the nation’s consciousness in a manner that the Nightlifers sadly failed in achieving. It’s cool. It’s heated. Tinkling keys and oozing sax plus a lot of voices make this one a tip for the top. (I must point out, though, that to counter the class of the Kalima disc Factory have also inflicted upon us a very terrible version of ‘Telstar’ by AD INFINITUM. It may have a pretty sleeve but that is no reason whatsoever to remove it from a record shop).
THE BLUEBELLS have always occupied a space of reserved fondness in this ole heart of mine and ‘I’m Falling’ (London) does nothing to alter this situation. Bobby’s been listening to Roddy, and it shows. ‘I’m Falling’ possesses all the ingredients that spell Hit but that’s been said of virtually every Bluebells release thus far. Buy the record and change their luck.
The final vital vinyl is MADONNA’s newie… or perhaps that should read oldie —
’WILL Do Better’ applies to Roy WHITE and Steve TORCH. Talented lads they are, to be sure, and a dab hand at knocking out minor entertainments (including the best Scott Walker impersonation for ages). Their failing is that they’ve been lumbered with a particularly offensive image, looking like a couple of Quentin Crisp houseboys on the cheesy fold-out sleeve. A pity, because ‘Bury My Heart’ (RCA) possesses all the usual White & Torch ingredients —
Alas, old hippy JULIAN COPE appears to have enjoyed all the hits he’s going to get. I can’t really understand why this passing distraction is called ‘The Greatness And Perfection Of Love’
(Mercury) cos Jules is quite clearly singing ‘the greatest imperfection is love.
Doesn’t matter though, cos the song’s still lousy. Just like BILLY BREMNER’s. ‘Shatterproof’ (Arista) is indubitantly the worst Elvis Costello number since ‘Party Party’ and coming from the man who gave the world the heavenly ‘Loud Music In Cars’ a downright crying shame. Billy ought to release his vocal version of ‘Heart’ from the one and only Rockpile LP… now that would be a record!
Descending into the depths of record company dungeons we start to dredge up the real stinkers of this week’s plastic attack. MARSHALL CRENSHAW has written some corkers. ‘Our Town’ (WEA) is not one of them. JERMAINE STEWART says ‘The Word Is Out’ but I really don’t think that nicking The Art Of Noise’s megalithic beat box theories will rescue a no-no tune. And WIDE BOY AWAKE’s godawful collage of Hispanic vocalese and Afro-electro gamely described as ‘Billy Hyena’ (RCA) almost made me cry —
ALTON EDWARDS ‘Everybody’s Watching’ (Streetwave), SENSES ‘If You Can Count’ (West End) and ‘Hello’ from LIONEL RICHIE (Motown) aren’t vile, just boring. If Alton E is the UK’s Michael Jackson there really is no hope for us. Senses look gorgeous —