Friday, December 23, 2011

My 1980's Music - Singles N to Z

OK, a bit of an admission here. I know it says N to Z but unfortunately, I didn't buy any ZZ Top records, although perhaps I should have. Neither did I buy any of Yazoo's fine offerings. No, I stopped at XTC! I only bought one of theirs too - Senses Working Overtime. I was even late with this, waiting until 21st March 1987, when in fact it had already been up as far as number 10 in the UK Singles Chart in early 1982 - only five years previously then. XTC were great as a matter of fact. Just the very fact that they were popstars from Swindon should be enough to take anyone's breath away. They were perhaps a little too beloved of the critics to have had any major smashes, as evidenced by the fact that only this single made it to the top ten. However, Making Plans For Nigel and Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me) are top tunes.
Running backwards through the alphabet towards N, we come to The Stranglers and Skin Deep. Now I remember very well where I was when I bought this - out in the wilds of Shropshire, doing a sponsored walk for school. Nowhere near any record shops then. No, I was fortunate in that my Mum would take my hard earned paper-money and spend it for me (according to my instructions) when she went into town on a Friday afternoon. So on Friday 19th October 1984, this is what she bought me. Due to their large number of seventies hits, perhaps The Stranglers are not 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. Of course The Stranglers were oft derided by the punk fraternity due to the relatively polished nature of their work. But as well as being polished they also had longevity, so Skin Deep was actually their 21st entry into the UK Singles Chart. It peaked at number 15 and spent a total of 7 weeks on the chart. I loved it for the tune obviously, but its sentiment too was appealing to me - beware people who may not be exactly what they seem on the surface. Good advice for the post-punk generation.
Sticking with the letter 'S' we have Feargal Sharkey. Much more short lived than The Stranglers, The Undertones were a late seventies / early eighties thing with their hits, Teenage Kicks, Here Comes The Summer and My Perfect Cousin. At the time that they were in the charts our Feargal was most definitely an angry young man. By the time of A Good Heart (bought by me on 2nd November 1985) he was a reformed character - almost a New Romantic; almost but not quite. This one was famously written by Maria McKee for her relationship with Tom Petty's keyboard player Benmont Tench. It was a huge smash in the UK, spending two weeks at number one in November 1985 and a total of 16 weeks in the UK Singles Chart in total. It seemed to resonate with me; I was always the dreamer and mad keen about one girl in particular, without ever telling her. I was certainly looking, but making no attempts to make contact! The delicious agony of youth's unrequited love! The follow up, You Little Thief made it to number 5 and was the other bookend to the McKee / Tench relationship, being written by him about her.
So that's it. Just a quick tour of my collection of 7" records. If you've been interested in reading about my record collection, there's a large section devoted to 1980's music at my website iheart80s.
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