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THE THE announce new studio album

THE THE announce new studio album

THE THE new album Ensoulment cover

THE THE, one of the most acclaimed and cherished bands of the last few decades, have announced details of a new studio album, Ensoulment.

Released on 6 September 2024, this 12-song LP will encompass characteristic topics ranging from love and sex, war and politics, life and death.

Written, demoed and mixed at Studio Cinéola in London, the base of THE THE’s main creative force, Matt Johnson, is joined by long-standing members James Eller (bass), DC Collard (keyboards), Earl Harvin (drums), and Barrie Cadogan (lead guitar), and  marks the return of co-producer and engineer Warne Livesey (Infected and Mind Bomb 1989).

Cognitive Dissident, released digitally on 17 May, is the first single from the album and was written by Matt Johnson and Barrie Cadogan. The single will also be available as a limited edition 7″ featuring a previously unreleased B-side on 7 June. Listen below:

Distinctive Style

Over the years, THE THE’s releases have developed a distinct aesthetic style, which in no small part owes to the artwork of Matt Johnson’s late brother Andrew (AKA artist Andy Dog).

Ensoulment proudly features some of Andrew’s previously unpublished works on the cover, in the exquisitely designed 32-page booklet for the vinyl and CD formats, as well as on the covers of all singles.

THE THE was formed by Johnson in 1979 and released just five studio albums of original songs – Soul Mining (1983), Infected (1986), Mind Bomb (1989), Dusk (1993) and NakedSelf (2000).

THE THE have also made diversions into cover albums, such as Hanky Panky; film soundtracks including Hyena, Tony, Muscle and Moonbug; art installations; various book publications, including biography Long Shadows, High Hopes: The Life and Times of Matt Johnson & THE THE; and a beautiful and moving 84-minute documentary, The Inertia Variations.

Johnson’s lengthy absence was partly explained in his 2017 multimedia project, The Inertia Variations, which took inspiration from British poet John Tottenham’s 2005 book of the same name – particularly the idea of “brooding, abstraction and evasion” getting in the way of the creative process – resulting in a feature-length documentary and the Radio Cinéola Trilogy triple album box set.

Love & Laughter

At the end of The Inertia Variations documentary, Johnson was filmed performing a new song live in his studio. We Can’t Stop What’s Coming is an elegy to his elder brother Andrew (AKA artist Andy Dog), who passed away in 2016. “It was not an easy song to write,” he says. “That was the first time I’d sung in many years. I enjoyed it but found it very emotional.”

The experience prompted Johnson to revive THE THE as a live band. Unfortunately, COVID delayed the release of the accompanying live film and album until 2021 – it also hampered work on Ensoulment. Instead THE THE released a series of 7” inch singles: We Can’t Stop What’s Coming was followed by I WANT 2 B U (2020) and $1 ONE VOTE! (2023).

Ensoulment contains echoes of THE THE’s multi-faceted musical past, however it is richly representative of the mercurial band’s here and now. Johnson is characteristically unafraid to tackle the emotional complexity inherent in the human condition – intimacy in an age of alienation; democracy in a post-truth age; empire and vassalage; and the inexorable rise of AI – yet the album is equally shot through with hope.

“It’s vital to be hopeful,” Johnson states. “And I hope people get out of the album what we put into it. It was created under very happy circumstances, with a great vibe amongst the band and all the people that worked on it. There was a lot of thought, a lot of work, a lot of love, a lot of laughter!”

Ensoulment Tracklisting

Cognitive Dissident
Some Days I Drink My Coffee By The Grave Of William Blake
Zen & The Art Of Dating
Kissing The Ring Of POTUS
Life After Life
I Want To Wake Up With You
Down By The Frozen River
Risin’ Above The Need
Linoleum Smooth To The Stockinged Foot
Where Do We Go When We Die?
I Hope You Remember (the things I can’t forget)
A Rainy Day In May

The album will be available in retail as limited CD Hardcover Mediabook, CD Jewelcase, Black 2LP Gatefold and limited Crystal Clear 2LP Gatefold. Further exclusive formats will be available in the official album store.

Ensoulment can be pre-ordered from 17 May. Click here

THE THE also recently announced another world tour. Commencing in September 2024 it is the band’s first since  2018.

The initial UK run is now sold out and an extra London show at Brixton Academy on 1 October has been added. For ticket information click here

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Classic Pop renews partnership with Bath Mind

Classic Pop renews partnership with Bath Mind

Classic Pop are delighted to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 by announcing our renewed support for Bath Mind, a local and independent mental health charity operating in Bath and North East Somerset.

Anthem, who publish Classic Pop, have a mission is “to help people lead happier healthier lives”, so we have always felt very closely aligned with issues related to mental health and wellbeing. We also value being able to support a charity close to our home town of Bath, which allows us to have a true impact on people in our local community.

We previously partnered with Bath Mind for four years between 2018 and 2022, donating over £34,055 total. These donations helped people in our local community to access an evening crisis line called Breathing Space, which operates 365 days a year and offers support for individuals at risk of a mental health crisis.

Classic Pop renews partnership with Bath Mind

Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week

Our renewed support of Bath Mind coincides with this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from the 13 to 19 May, and this year the theme is “movement”.

Find out more about Bath Mind on their website, or make a direct donation to support their important work.

 

 

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Starsailor – Where The Wild Things Grow Interview

Starsailor – Where The Wild Things Grow Interview

Starsailor 2024
Image © Andy Earl

James Walsh, singer for Warrington’s indie stalwarts Starsailor, reflects on the band’s career and takes us to a place Where The Wild Things Grow…

Starsailor made an epic return with the uplifting new album Where The Wild Things Grow on 22 March. Formed in and around Wigan at the start of the millennium, the indie stalwarts released four LPs, Love Is Here in 2001, Silence Is Easy (2003), On The Outside (2005) and All The Plans (2009), before going on hiatus.

“When we decided to split up, we were in quite a bad place,” admits chief songwriter and vocalist James Walsh. “It wasn’t that the relationships between band members were bad, we were all just a little bit jaded with the industry and felt like we were on a kind of downward trajectory. Well, not even heading downwards, just sort of treading water and not really getting anywhere. When that reality hit, it was quite demoralising.” 

Seven years on from fifth LP All This Life, the group – completed by bassist James Stelfox, Barry Westhead on keys and drummer Ben Byrne – are set for the next chapter of their story. “It would be very difficult for us to reach the heights of what we’ve done before,” says Walsh, “but if this album could characterise 2024, then that would be a great thing for us.” 

Tell us about the making of Where The Wild Things Grow and how you felt before regrouping in the studio. 

We worked for a couple of days with Rick McNamara of Embrace, who recorded our last album, and it felt like we were on to something. Once Townsend Music  heard the tracks they immediately jumped on board and that was a big motivational factor to turn this handful of demos into something more cohesive. I guess there’s always a nervousness before recording. I’d been sitting on these ideas and wondered what the rest of the band was going to think of them. Luckily, they found something in all of them that we could develop. It would be quite a blow if the rest of the band, or even one member, said they’re not really feeling it. 

What does Richard McNamara bring to the Starsailor table?

Richard’s first and foremost a great guitarist, so it’s amazing to have him there for the rockier moments on the album. He’s also a brilliant producer and it feels like he’s the fifth member of the band – very creative and open with our ideas, so it feels very collaborative. Rick wasn’t afraid to say if an idea wasn’t good enough. You might feel a bit affronted at first, but it definitely helped with the quality of the songs in the end. When you can be honest with each other and find a solution that suits everyone, the result is always better for it. 

During the band’s extended breaks, you released several solo albums. Did you ever consider going it alone full-time?

When I started writing and recording on my own there weren’t any plans to get the band back together. However, offers started coming in and it felt a bit stubborn for me to just dig my heels in and keep doing the solo thing. I think finding inspiration and creativity outside the band was a huge factor in being able to revisit Starsailor. It’s just more esoteric and about the four of us enjoying playing music together now. Don’t get me wrong, we’d love to have chart success, but it’s not as important as it was. 

2014’s solo outing, Turning Point, featured Suzanne Vega. What was she like to work with and how did that partnership come about? 

Suzanne ended up singing on the track Firing Line because my old agent, John Giddings, worked with her as well. He heard that I was a fan and was able to put me in touch, so I sent the song over and she very kindly returned a little verse of her singing and harmonies. Subsequently, when she was over in London, we did a bit of writing together. I’m not sure what’s happening with those songs, but there’s some ideas somewhere recorded on an old phone. Hopefully we’ll be able to resurrect them, but when you’re dealing with someone as talented as Suzanne Vega, who has such an unbelievable body of work, I wouldn’t want to put anything out that she wasn’t 100 per cent happy with. To work with her again would be amazing and I think I’ve grown as a songwriter since. 

Which artists informed your writing on Where The Wild Things Grow and are they the same as those who inspired you when you started out?

As I’ve matured, I’ve become more enthralled with classic songwriters like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and the Laurel Canyon set like Neil Young, Jackson Browne and James Taylor. Early on, Jeff Buckley was a massive influence, as was Britpop. I distinctly remember how everyone in my school was into dance music which I couldn’t connect with. Suddenly, with the popularity of bands like Oasis, there was this sea change. I felt like I had a head start because my older brother was a big fan of The Stone Roses and New Order, while my dad was into The Beatles and Crosby, Stills
& Nash. When it became the music of my peers, that ignited the passion, and it became something I could pursue. 

Image © Andy Earl

What are your recollections of that post-Britpop era?

It was pretty amazing and kinda frightening, too. When you achieve all these milestones early on, you’re encouraged to move on to the next one. You have this major label pressure and everyone had quite high expectations for us. But seeing the fanbase grow was incredible. We got to play at the festivals we’d always dreamed of, like Glastonbury or T In The Park, and travel around Europe. Jumping on a tour bus in one country and jumping off in another was an unforgettable experience. 

If you could revisit your younger self, what advice would you give? 

I think my biggest regret is being a bit insular and not collaborating enough. I wish we’d capitalised on that sense of community with the bands that were around us. It’s easy to say in hindsight because I was a different person with different ambitions, I wasn’t worried about what the 43-year-old me might think. 

Talking of collaborations, tell us about the Waiting Game duet with Louise?

We have a mutual friend who said that Louise was up for collaborating with people a bit outside of what she’d done before. Waiting Game is a Banks cover, so I guess my style of singing and guitar offered a different flavour. Louise has an amazing voice and her pop style brought something new to me as well. 

Love Is Here (2001)

If you could work with any other artist, who would it be? 

The obvious name that springs to mind is Paul McCartney. Even some of the songs that people deride like Mull Of Kintyre or The Frog Chorus are still amazing. I feel like something slightly more achievable and grounded, but still quite a lofty ambition, would be to work with Norah Jones. She has an incredible voice and I feel like if I could find a way for our vocals to work together, that could be really good. I sound a bit big-headed saying that, but at least I could try. 

What was the band’s experience like of working with Phil Spector on Starsailor’s second album?

Silence Is Easy was a bit of a reaction to Love Is Here and we wanted to show another side, which was more upbeat and positive. Our radio plugger was friends with Phil Spector’s daughter, who was a fan of our music, and she managed to convince her dad to get involved. I’d been listening to a lot of Dion and his Born To Be With You album. So, as soon as that opportunity arose, we immediately thought we had to give it a go. Phil Spector was an iconic producer, but since then things have obviously taken a darker turn, to put it mildly. It’s a difficult period to talk about, especially with what happened to that poor woman, but it’s still part of
our history.

Starsailor - Silence Is Easy
Silence Is Easy (2003)

You celebrated the 20-year anniversaries of Love Is Here and Silence Is Easy on tour. What kind of audience do you attract nowadays?

I think our audience is quite mixed now, but it’s predominantly people in their 40s reliving their student days. I really enjoy giving people an escape from their daily lives and then transporting them back to their youth. But we have noticed an increased number of people in their twenties. I was gonna say it’s older siblings passing down their music, but it’s more than likely to be mums and dads bringing their kids along. It’s great to see because we want to keep going and hopefully make music that inspires different age groups… 

It would be quite easy to fall into the nostalgia circuit, but you have this new album in the can and recently showcased Heavyweight live. How did it go down and which songs are you looking forward to playing?

We had Rick’s band, EEVAH, supporting us on a few dates of the Silence Is Easy Tour so he would get up and add some of the distorted guitar parts on Heavyweight. That really helped lift the song and it went down well. I’m excited to play stuff like After The Rain and Better Times which are some of the more anthemic moments on the album. People tend to latch on to those epic-sounding songs quicker. You always get people asking, ‘Why don’t you play Sunday Best or Jeremiah?’ It’s a tricky thing to balance because you do want to indulge that delicate side, it’s just finding the right moment. 

What are your hopes for the rest of the year?

Hopefully we’ll get booked for some festivals and we’re definitely up for a busy year of touring. I guess if the album catches light and people take it to their hearts, we’ll get to keep playing shows. If things don’t go as planned, we can do one or two little tours before we put Where The Wild Things Grow to bed and visit the nostalgia circuit… which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. 

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Top 20 hip-hop singles of the 80s

Top 20 hip-hop singles of the 80s

Top 20 Hip-Hop

Emerging straight outta the Bronx in the summer of 1973, hip-hop has come a long way since its humble beginnings, with the 80s being a particularly fertile period for the globe-conquering genre… here we pick out Top 20 hip-hop singles of the 80s

Given its current worldwide popularity, it’s hard to comprehend that hip-hop originated more than 50 years ago in the impoverished neighbourhoods of New York, where street parties were regularly held to boost the morale of the city’s African-American communities.

It wasn’t until the release of Rapper’s Delight in 1979 that hip-hop finally transcended the ghettos into the mainstream, and in the ensuing decade it became a global phenomenon, growing exponentially as sampling and beatbox technology evolved. From old-school rhyming through to hard-hitting social commentary, we return to this golden age of hip-hop, when rappers and turntablists alike were finally recognised as skilful and credible artists.
Words by Barry Page

Top 20 hip-hop

20 DJ JAZZY JEFF AND THE FRESH PRINCE – PARENTS JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND (1988)

Prior to telling us all about how his life got flipped-turned upside down in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, Will Smith made a name for himself as one half of a successful hip-hop duo. The semi-autobiographical Parents Just Don’t Understand earned them the inaugural award for Best Rap Performance at the Grammys in 1989, but they famously boycotted the ceremony after learning the segment wasn’t going to be televised. Smith told Entertainment Tonight it was a “slap in the face” for the hip-hop community, and Will certainly knows a thing or two about those…

19 REDHEAD KINGPIN AND THE F.B.I. – DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)

It was New Jack Swing pioneer Teddy Riley who suggested that red-headed MC David Guppy contribute a song to the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s then-latest joint, but as well-intentioned as its message was of making the right decisions in life, it was deemed unsuitable for the hard-hitting drama. The consolation, however, was a UK hit, plus praise for Guppy. “He’s one of those rappers whose words trip off the tongue with such casual ease, it makes the point he’s trying to put across sound utterly simple and totally and completely obvious,” enthused Smash Hits.

18 JUNGLE BROTHERS – I’LL HOUSE YOU (1988)

Part of an upbeat hip-hop collective known as the Native Tongues that also featured De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers first turned heads in the UK with this impromptu classic, which had come together after their sound engineer randomly asked if they fancied cutting a house record. Utilising a remix of Can You Party that labelmate and esteemed house music producer Todd Terry had recorded under the Royal House alias, the trio quickly devised a hook and set of lyrics, the end result being this groundbreaking fusion of hip-hop and house that still wows club crowds today.

17 FUNKY 4 + 1 – THAT’S THE JOINT (1980)

Funky 4 + 1 were not only the first hip-hop outfit to include a female MC, they were the first such act to appear on national television, introduced on Saturday Night Live by one Debbie Harry, who’d famously namechecked both Grandmaster Flash and Fab Five Freddy on Blondie’s huge crossover hit, Rapture. Featuring exemplary backing from Sugar Hill Records’ house band – including an interpolation of minor disco hit Rescue Me – the oft-sampled That’s The Joint proved highly influential, with Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels singling out Sha-Rock’s vocal reverb technique for particular praise.

16 TONE LOC – WILD THING (1989)

The man born Anthony Terrell Smith acquired his unique gravelly voice as a teenager after a shot of brandy scorched his infected throat. Wild Thing was the first of two huge transatlantic hits, but the version the Los Angeles-based rapper and future film star originally presented his label with was far racier than the one that became an MTV staple, and fledgling songwriter Marvin Young – aka Young MC – was brought in to, ahem, tone it down. The intermittent tom-tom break and other elements of the track were sampled from Van Halen’s 1978 single, Jamie’s Cryin’.

15 YOUNG MC – BUST A MOVE (1989)

Signed to the Delicious Vinyl label whilst studying economics at the University of California, Young MC initially tasted success as the co-writer of the Tone Loc hits Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina. Upon resuming his own recording career, the clean-cut rapper scored a huge Billboard hit with third single Bust A Move, which later won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance. Built around a funky lick by Seattle rockers Ballin’ Jack, the track featured Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, who was paid just $200 for his work on the million-seller.

14 LL COOL J – ROCK THE BELLS (1985)

After adopting the stage name of LL Cool J – short for Ladies Love Cool James – James Todd Smith cut one of the very first records for the fledgling Def Jam label in 1984 with I Need A Beat, but it was on Rock The Bells, released the following year, that the teenaged Long Islander really announced his arrival. Featuring a blistering opening salvo (“LL Cool J is hard as hell/ Battle anybody, I don’t care who you tell/ I excel, they all fail”), the landmark track not only exhibited a precocious command of the mic, it also invited his contemporaries to raise their game.

13 DE LA SOUL – ME MYSELF AND I (1989)

An inventive record brimming with ingenious samples and memorable skits, De La Soul’s classic debut LP 3 Feet High And Rising brought some welcome contrast into a hip-hop community where gangsta rap was becoming increasingly prevalent. Built around an infectious Funkadelic sample, Me Myself And I was a late addition to the adventurous album, crafted to appease label brass who were concerned it lacked a hit. It not only gave the Long Island trio their commercial breakthrough, it served as a celebration of their individualism, and a riposte to the critics who’d branded them gimmicky hippies.

Top 20 hip-hop - Beastie Boys

12 BEASTIE BOYS – FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT (1986)

Reportedly written in about five minutes, Fight For Your Right was intended as a parody of frat boy culture, but after making it big on both sides of the Atlantic it soon became a good-time anthem for the very youngsters the Beasties were poking fun at, leading the trio to disown their biggest hit. Fans keen to emulate Mike D’s look in the promotional video began stealing Volkswagen badges from Beetles and Golfs up and down the land, prompting the German car manufacturer to offer them for free to anyone who wrote in.

11  N.W.A – EXPRESS YOURSELF (1989)

Often criticised for its misogyny and glorification of violence, in its rawest form gangsta rap painted an authentic picture of the ganglands of the United States. The radio-friendly Express Yourself gave N.W.A their first UK hit, a Trojan horse of a release that included two of their greatest tracks on the associated 12”. The incendiary Straight Outta Compton pulled no punches in its depiction of downtown LA, leading to widespread radio censorship, while Fuck Tha Police, a fearless commentary on police brutality and racial profiling, incurred the wrath of the FBI.  

Top 20 hip-hop - Kurtis Blow

10 KURTIS BLOW – THE BREAKS (1980)

A tribute to a culture he was once part of, Kurtis Blow’s classic second single was dedicated to the street dancers of Harlem and the Bronx, but through its clever wordplay there were other connotations. “The Breaks was a song for the breakers,” Blow later explained to Songfacts, “but then you had the other implied meaning of brakes on a bus or a car, good breaks or bad breaks in one’s life.” The single sold more than half a million copies, while its charismatic call-and-response delivery also made it a huge hit in the clubs as well as on the live circuit.

09 SUGARHILL GANG – RAPPER’S DELIGHT (1979)

Rapper’s Delight makes it into our countdown as it was still in the charts at the turn of the decade, and it would be criminal to ignore such a culturally-important track, one that was partly responsible for taking hip-hop into the mainstream, and whose opening lines are now iconic. However, at the time of Rapper’s Delights release the seminal single had some detractors, notably Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers who were incensed by its interpolation of Chic’s 1979 hit Good Times, and an out of court settlement resulted in a writing credit for the disgruntled duo.

08 DOUG E FRESH & THE GET FRESH CREW – THE SHOW (1985)

The practice of beatboxing was partly born out of financial necessity due to the expense of drum machines such as the Roland TR-808, but it soon became a phenomenon, thanks to skilled practitioners including Doug E. Fresh. Both The Show – which was notable not only for its utilisation of the Inspector Gadget theme tune, but for upsetting the Beatles’ publishers over its playful pilfering of Michelle – and its much-sampled B-side La Di Da Di showcased his considerable skills, but future Def Jam star Slick Rick also earned plaudits for his comedic storytelling.

07 ROB BASE AND DJ E-Z ROCK – IT TAKES TWO (1988)

“It takes two to make a thing go right,” and in this case it was Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, who created what many critics have hailed as the greatest hip-hop track ever made. The future floorfiller leant heavily on Lyn Collins’ James Brown-produced funk hit Think (About It), sampling its meaty drum break and soon-to-be-ubiquitous “Woo! Yeah!” vocal. Coupled with lyrics that oozed with positive energy, the end result was hip-hop gold. “It’s a club banger,” a modest Rob Base told The Boombox in 2012. “You throw it on in a party, everybody dances.”

06  GRANDMASTER  & MELLE MEL – WHITE LINES (DON’T DON’T DO IT) (1983)

With Grandmaster Flash then estranged from the Furious Five, this classic anti-drugs anthem was essentially a solo outing for Melle Mel, who masterfully delivered a cautionary tale of the adverse effects of cocaine. It was the last significant hit for the legendary Sugar Hill label who filed for bankruptcy soon afterwards, due in part to impending litigation over the track’s unauthorised recreation of the stunning bassline and other elements from Cavern by Liquid Liquid. A decade later, both Flash and Melle guested on a credible version by Duran Duran.

Top 20 hip-hop - 5 Eric B & Rakim

05 ERIC B. & RAKIM – PAID IN FULL (1987)

The title track from the Long Islanders’ second album deservedly earned praise for its ice-cool delivery and redemptive storytelling – which drew on Rakim’s tale of being a  “stick-up kid” – but it was a remix by Coldcut that took the track to a whole new level. A veritable journey into sound, the plunderphonics pioneers’ ‘Seven Minutes Of Madness’ mix retained the track’s much-utilised drum break, but also wove in a number of unusual elements, most prominently a vocal sample from Ofra Haza’s Im Nin’alu, which soon after become a hit in its own right. 

04 SALT-N-PEPA – PUSH IT (1987)

Incredibly, Push It started life as a throwaway B-side, with former call centre employees Cheryl James (Salt) and Sandra Denton (Pepa) claiming its poppy synth hook dented their street credibility. But a remixed version of the blood-pumping track became a worldwide hit for one the greatest ever girl groups, and paved the way for other female emcees to enter the mainstream. In the UK, it was only denied top spot by Glenn Medeiros’ cloying cover of Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You, while across the pond it earned a Top 20 placing and Grammy nomination. 

03 RUN-DMC – WALK THIS WAY (1986)

Sensing Run-DMC’s third studio LP Raising Hell lacked a hit, producer Rick Rubin suggested they work on a new version of Walk This Way with its originators Aerosmith. But although the trio were familiar with its hip-hop-friendly beat, they weren’t initially sold on the idea. For the 70s rock act, though, whose own career was on the decline, the chance to ride on Run-DMC’s commercial coattails was gratefully seized. The result was a huge crossover hit, its success partly driven by an ingenious promotional video that symbolised the barriers of rock and rap being pulled down.

02 PUBLIC ENEMY – FIGHT THE POWER (1989)

Focusing on the racial tension and violence in a Brooklyn neighbourhood, Do The Right Thing was one of the best movies of 1989, and in theme song Fight The Power it not only had an effective leitmotif, it had a veritable anthem for the ages, whose message of empowerment would far transcend the inner cities of New York. To complement Chuck D’s powerful tirade, production team the Bomb Squad created a sonic mosaic of epic proportions, weaving in numerous samples and beats from their considerable soul and funk library. Not a second is wasted. 

Top 20 hip-hop - no1 GRANDMASTER FLASH & THE FURIOUS FIVE - THE MESSAGE

o1 GRANDMASTER FLASH & THE FURIOUS FIVE – THE MESSAGE (1982)

Classic old-school cuts such as Rapper’s Delight and The Breaks certainly put hip-hop on the cultural map during its formative years, but arguably no record had as big an impact as The Message did in 1982, influencing everyone from Chuck D to Phil Collins. With its gritty lyrics focusing on authentic social issues – including drug addiction, gang violence, financial hardship, homelessness and unemployment – the record painted a pretty bleak picture of contemporary life for African-Americans growing up in the poverty-stricken suburbs of New York.

But the game-changing single most associated with Grandmaster Flash actually included little involvement from the legendary turntablist. An embryonic version of the track had been penned in 1980 by Sugar Hill employee Duke Bootee, who’d initially been inspired by the transit strikes in New York that year, and label boss Sylvia Robinson felt its vivid depiction of ghetto life was a great fit for the group.

Flash felt it strayed too far from their good-time party ideals, but Furious Five rapper Melle Mel was eventually persuaded to step up to the mic, trading verses with Bootee to great effect. Punctuated by a memorable synth motif partly inspired by Tom Tom Club’s Genius Of Love, the end result was a landmark in hip-hop history, whose startling wordplay continues to resonate and inspire. 

Classic Pop looks back at the rise, fall and rebirth of a magical era with
The story of disco music

 

 

 

 

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The Killers’ Mr Brightside becomes biggest single never to reach No.1 in the UK

The Killers’ Mr Brightside becomes biggest single never to reach No.1 in the UK

 

The Killers Mr Brightside cover art

It started out with a kiss… now The Killers’ Mr Brightside is third biggest song of all time in the UK

The Killers’ Mr Brightside has overtaken Oasis’ Wonderwall to become the UK’s biggest single of all time not to reach No.1.

According to the Official Charts Company, Mr Brightside’s combined UK sales and streams of 5.57 million (including 1.066m sales and 530,340,000 streams), has made the modern synth-pop anthem the third biggest song of all time in the UK.

Initially released via the Lizard King label in 2003, the Las Vegas outfit’s debut had a limited run of 500 CDs and failed to dent the chart. However, when The Killers’ second single, Somebody Told Me, charted at No.28 in March 2004, Mr Brightside was reissued and subsequently peaked at No.10.

Now, having spent a total of 408 weeks in the UK Top 100, Mr Brightside is the longest-running Top 100 hit in Official Chart history.

Destiny is calling me…

Lifted from the band’s debut studio album, Hot Fuss (2004), the song tells the true story of frontman Brandon Flowers’ jealousy when he discovered his girlfriend cheating on him.

Now a guaranteed dancefloor filler at wedding parties and indie discos across the UK, the Karaoke favourite has garnered multigenerational appeal.

Martin Talbot, Chief Executive, Official Charts said: “The success of Mr Brightside is a triumph of extraordinary longevity, it is a song which has lived with so many of us throughout the recent decades of our lives – and, for some, an entire lifetime.”

Reacting to the news, The Killers told the Official Charts, “Thank you so much to all our fans for making Mr Brightside the third biggest song of all time in the UK, and the biggest ever not to have reached No.1; not yet at least!

Mr Brightside has been completely embraced by the British public and we can’t wait to celebrate with you all on the road. Thank you for supporting us. See you soon!”

Rebel Diamonds Tour

The Killers return to the UK and Ireland  for their Rebel Diamonds Tour this summer. They will be performing 16 arena shows in June and July with support from Travis.

12 June 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
14 June 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
15 June 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
18 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
19 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
21 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
22 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
25 June OVO Hydro, Glasgow, UK
26 June OVO Hydro, Glasgow, UK
27 June OVO Hydro, Glasgow, UK
4 July O2 Arena, London, UK
5 July O2 Arena, London, UK
7 July O2 Arena, London, UK
8 July O2 Arena, London, UK
10 July O2 Arena, London, UK
11 July O2 Arena, London, UK

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The post The Killers’ Mr Brightside becomes biggest single never to reach No.1 in the UK appeared first on Classic Pop Magazine.

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Travis ‘Raze The Bar’ with Chris Martin and Brandon Flowers

Travis ‘Raze The Bar’ with Chris Martin and Brandon Flowers

Travis stand before a white back drop
Image © Steve Gullick

Coldplay and The Killers singers help Travis Raze The Bar on new single

Travis follow the March release of Gaslight, the lead track from new album L.A. Times, with Raze The Bar featuring additional vocals from Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Brandon Flowers of The Killers.

A bittersweet story about the closure of Black & White Bar, a much-loved New York haunt for the band, Raze The Bar utilises Fran’s masterful songwriting to tell of a fictional last night in the Greenwich Village bar.

Speaking about the track, Fran Healy says: “There was a great bar in New York City. It didn’t have a name but everyone called it Black and White on account of the black and white striped awning that hung over the entrance. They had poetry nights, great DJs, open mic nights.

“If you played a show at Irving Plaza or Webster Hall, chances are you ended up at Black and White till the wee small hours. One of the owners, Johnny T, looked after so many artists and bands over the years. If that bar could talk, what a story it would tell.

“During the pandemic, their landlord refused to negotiate a reduced rent and they had to close. So, in the middle of the night, they turned up with a truck and removed every single trace and fixture of the bar. Then they white washed the whole space so it could never be repeated.

Raze The Bar is a song about a fictional last night in the bar. Johnny is in there, Jack, Richard and Johnny’s brother and bar co-owner Chris. The cameos were almost an afterthought! I just called Chris Martin in a bit of a panic because I couldn’t figure out what the track sequence should be. When Chris heard it, he was like, ‘That song is the best thing you’ve ever written!’ And because he and Brandon Flowers both live quite near…”

Watch the lyric video below:

Arena Tour Dates w/ The Killers

Travis will join Flowers and The Killers across their 16-date UK and Ireland arena tour through June and July, with more UK live activity to be announced soon.

12 June 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
14 June 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
15 June 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
18 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
19 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
21 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
22 June Co-op Live Arena, Manchester, UK
25 June OVO Hydro, Glasgow, UK
26 June OVO Hydro, Glasgow, UK
27 June OVO Hydro, Glasgow, UK
4 July O2 Arena, London, UK
5 July O2 Arena, London, UK
7 July O2 Arena, London, UK
8 July O2 Arena, London, UK
10 July O2 Arena, London, UK
11 July O2 Arena, London, UK

In other The Killers related news, Mr Brightside has overtaken Oasis’ Wonderwall to become the UK’s Official biggest single of all time yet to reach No.1. With combined UK sales and streams of 5.57 million (including 1.066m sales and 530,340,000 streams), the synth-laden anthem is the third biggest song of all time in the UK.

Travis’ L.A. Times is released digitally, on CD and vinyl from 12 July. The album is also available as a limited deluxe 2CD package which includes a stripped-back version of the L.A. Times album. HMV and indie stores have a limited-edition green marble vinyl and the band’s official store has exclusive limited yellow vinyl and merch bundles. Pre-Order here

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The post Travis ‘Raze The Bar’ with Chris Martin and Brandon Flowers appeared first on Classic Pop Magazine.

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The story of disco music

The story of disco music

Disco music

Classic Pop looks back at the rise, fall and rebirth of a magical era in popular culture: The story of disco music… 

During the summer of 1979 disco dominated the airwaves. Nightclub dancefloors around the world were awash with pretty young things, busting moves in the sharpest of satin suits and polyester. Everything that glittered was gold… and wrapped in lamé.

However, not everyone was digging this new boogie wonderland… on 12 July 1979 a baying mob, fired up by disgruntled radio DJ Steve Dahl, descended on Comiskey Park baseball stadium in Chicago.

Thousands of long-haired white males wearing ‘Disco Sucks’ t-shirts, stormed the pitch to frisbee records, by the likes of Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer and the Village People, on to a growing funeral pyre.

As smoke billowed across the pitch, Dahl’s Disco Demolition Night had tapped into an ugly undercurrent of racism, sexism and homophobia… an uncontrollable outpouring of fear and loathing. What had disco done to provoke such ire? 

The story of disco music -D.I.S.C.O.

Feel-Good Music

Wasn’t disco the most inoffensive, shamelessly feel-good music trend ever? Surely it was all sequins, platform shoes, mirror balls and medallions?

Wasn’t it lovable, with romantic numbers like Barry White’s You’re The First, My Last, My Everything; glittery dance numbers like Baccara’s Yes Sir, I Can Boogie; and irresistible singalongs like Ottawan’s D.I.S.C.O? 

Celebrating the freedom of gay people, women, African-Americans and Latinos, disco had become a ubiquitous style loved by everyone from grandmas to their grandchildren; an advertising jingle used to sell everything from burgers to airlines; and a bandwagon jumped upon by everyone from Dolly Parton to the cast of Sesame Street.

But when it started, at the beginning of the 70s, it was an underground rebellion that grew alongside the civil rights movement, gay pride and women’s lib.

Its clubs were melting pots of black and white, gay and straight coming together for the first time in a hedonistic orgy of sex, drugs and dancing that the hippies of the 1960s could only dream about.

Dancing In The City

The story of disco began on Valentine’s Day 1970 at 647 Broadway in New York, where David Mancuso, an antique dealer and hi-fi enthusiast, hosted his first “Love Saves The Day” invitation-only dance party in the 2,000 square-foot loft where he lived. His bedroom was on a platform above the DJ booth.

Because The Loft, as it became known, didn’t serve alcohol or food, Mancuso didn’t need a cabaret licence for the weekly gatherings that became the hang-out of choice for a gay community that suddenly had a place where men could dance together without being hassled by the police in an era when you could get arrested for cross-dressing in public.

Other underground venues followed, using the same private house party business model, including the Gallery in Manhattan; the Flamingo at 599 Broadway; 12 West/The Riverclub, a huge amphitheatre in a former warehouse in Greenwich Village; and the Paradise Garage [also known as the ‘Gay-rage’] a former parking garage.

It wasn’t the first time patrons had danced to records instead of bands. The term discotheque originated in occupied France during World War II, where jazz clubs played records to sidestep a Nazi ban on live music.

But in New York in the early-70s, the clubs that became home to disco had a different culture to most nightclubs of the time, where people went primarily to drink and socialise, and dancing was something to take or leave. 

Party Time

Mancuso used his knowledge of hi-fi to install an exceptional quality sound system in The Loft, and the clubs that followed all competed to outdo each other for sound and lighting to create an immersive experience for losing yourself in a world of music and dancing.

12 West, for example, had a state-of-the-art sound system designed by Graebar Productions that included two large corner loaded horns, four coffin speakers with mid-range arrays pointed at the dancefloor and a tweeter array above it. 

The Infinity, a former envelope factory at 653 Broadway, was the first disco to be lit by neon, including a glowing penis on the black-painted wall of its block-long dancefloor.

It had so many mirrors and mirror balls reflecting each other that the place really did appear to stretch into infinity in every direction.

Later, when disco hit its peak in the late-70s, Xenon boasted a 16-channel sound system said to be the most expensive ever installed in a New York club, and a $100,000 ‘Mothership’ lighting rig that descended from the ceiling to just above the heads of the dancers, like the spaceship in the then recently released sci-fi flick Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

Hey Mr DJ Put A Record On

As well as top notch sound, the emerging discotheque scene put DJs at the centre of club life. Jockeys like Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles didn’t just spin random records, they played them in a continuous swathe that took the audience on a journey.

They could also pick up on the mood of patrons, quickly switching to a track that would enhance what was happening on the dancefloor, in a kind of dance between dancer and DJ. 

Club-goers also shaped the burgeoning disco scene. They dressed outrageously – many early discos were also drag clubs, or full of leather-clad ‘Leathermen’.

They came armed with tambourines and maracas, clapped and screamed. The best dancers were an unpaid part of the entertainment. The crowd would form a circle to applaud their splits and Russian leaps.

But as much as the disco scene was led by clubs, sound systems, DJs and a disenfranchised audience looking for a non-stop party to escape to, it needed a style of music to call its own.

The Disco Sound

The records played in the first house parties at The Loft ranged from the funk of James Brown to the Motown sound of The Temptations plus Latin jazz – there has always been music to dance to.

Gradually, though, a distinctive new style of disco music began to emerge, tailored to the scene that had arisen.

As former typist and hairdresser and later I Will Survive star Gloria Gaynor put it: “The discotheques that were popping up were going to need music specifically for dancing – so I decided that I was going to supply them.”

The classic disco sound can be defined by a prominent drum machine beat, funky bassline and itchy ‘chicken scratch’ rhythm, played tautly and close to the neck of an electric guitar.

Sumptuous string arrangements, generally high vocals and a jangle of hi-hat cymbals add a theatricality befitting the glittering environments and colourfully dressed patrons of the discos themselves, as do dramatic piano glissandi that tend to come sweeping out of nowhere.

Upbeat lyrics almost exclusively about love, empowerment or disco dancing complete a heady mix.

Soul Train

The roots of disco can be heard in the dance rhythms, punchy vocals and jingly hi-hat of Motown records in the 60s, and the smoother, string-laden Philadelphia Sound that began to challenge Detroit as the dominant force in soul music on the cusp of the 60s and 70s.

A lot of the inspiration for disco can be attributed to MFSB, the house band at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, which played on one of the first hits with a recognisable disco sound: Love Train by vocal harmony group The O’Jays.

MFSB stood for Mother Father Sister Brother, if you want the clean version, or Mother-Fucking Sons of Bitches if you want to know how hot they played.

Either way, Love Train had most of what you could want from a disco song, including its call for unity and inclusion – “People all over the world, join hands” – that was central to New York’s club ethos. It came out in 1972 and topped the US charts early the following year.

Rock The Boat

Other contenders for disco’s first big hit include Rock The Boat by the Hues Corporation and the orchestral instrumental Love’s Theme by Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra.

Arguably the record that really nailed down the sound of disco, though, was Rock Your Baby by George McCrae, which became a worldwide chart-topper in the summer of 1974. 

The song was written by Harry Wayne Casey – the ‘KC’ from KC and the Sunshine Band – and his bandmate Richard Finch.

They cut the backing track as a Sunshine Band record at TK Records in Miami but Casey couldn’t manage the song’s high notes. McCrae happened to be on hand to stand in and went on to sell 11 million copies. 

As well as McCrae’s sky-high “Ah-AHHs” and calls for his “Woooo-man” to “hold me in your arms and rock your baby,” the record was one of the first to feature a drum machine.

According to TK Records founder Henry Stone: “The Philly sound was a little bit on the sophisticated side. The Miami sound was more of a rhythm, groove, beat sound. Rock Your Baby was the first real disco record that launched the disco era.”

Get Down Tonight

KC and the Sunshine Band weren’t left on the sidelines by McCrae’s success. With Casey on vocals and keyboards, the group went on to enjoy a string of disco hits, including Get Down Tonight, (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty, and That’s The Way (I Like It).

As the white leader of a large band of predominantly black musicians and backing singers, Casey epitomised disco’s multiculturalism. 

Gloria Gaynor, meanwhile, became the music’s first female diva with an album especially made for the dance clubs.

Produced by Jay Ellis, Meco Monardo, Tony Bongiovi and Harold Wheeler – collectively known as the Disco Corporation of America – the first side of her 1974 long-player Never Can Say Goodbye comprised just three songs, Honey Bee, the title track and Reach Out, I’ll Be There, run together into a continuous 19-minute swathe of music, characterised by a thumping beat, swirling strings and Gaynor’s soaring vocals.

It was an industry first and Gaynor, who had been singing in clubs since the mid-60s, was initially unsure about the extended format, observing that there were large stretches of music when she wasn’t singing. The producers told her: “You better learn to disco dance, then!” 

You can't tell The story of disco music without Gloria Gaynor

You Sexy Things

The risk paid off when the disc took the dancefloors by storm and DJs played the whole 19 minutes. The extracted single, a cover of the Jackson 5’s Never Can Say Goodbye, was the first song to top the Disco Action chart when it was introduced by music trade paper Billboard to chronicle the emerging New York scene.

It also made the Top 10 of the US pop charts and took Gaynor around the world, hitting No.3 in Canada and No.2 in the UK.

Another long and ground-breaking recording was Donna Summer’s debut single, Love To Love You Baby.

Originally from Boston, Summer was an unknown in her home country and was working in Germany as a model when she teamed up with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte to build Love To Love You Baby around a title that she had suggested. 

Moroder sent a demo to Casablanca Records boss Neil Bogart in New York, who suggested an extended version for the discos. The result was a 16-minute sexual fiesta, with Summer delivering When Harry Met Sally-style orgasmic moans throughout. 

Asked by hot-under-the-collar reporters whether she touched herself during the recording, Summer said: “Yes, well, actually I had my hand on my knee.” 

Even more striking was Summer’s hypnotic I Feel Love on which Moroder and Bellotte replaced disco’s usual string arrangement with the pulsing electronic sound of a Moog synthesizer.

The story of disco music - Donna Summer

Sound Of The Future

When pioneering producer Brian Eno heard the track, he told David Bowie: “I have heard the sound of the future.” 

So inspiring was I Feel Love, it gave rise to the sub-genre Hi-NRG (high energy) and the futuristic synth-based Italo disco and space disco that flourished in European clubs in the 80s after disco’s demise in the States.

In the meantime, Europeans were putting their own spin on the glitter ball. British-based Jamaican Carl Douglas had one of the first big disco hits with Kung Fu Fighting – a one hit wonder, but what a hit, with 11 million records sold.

Another Jamaica-born Brit, Errol Brown, sang Hot Chocolate’s evergreen You Sexy Thing in 1975, while the male/female UK duo Marshall Hain had a one-off smash with the sultry Dancing In The City in 1978.

Swedish super troopers ABBA, meanwhile, scored their only US No.1 when they turned to disco with Dancing Queen.

Dancing Queens ABBA and The story of disco music

The Mmainstream

Although disco was brightening charts around the world, the club scene itself remained fairly underground until the mid-70s. That all changed with the 1977 release of Saturday Night Fever which starred John Travolta as a hardware store worker by day who transforms into a disco-dancing god at night. 

The straight white world portrayed in the film didn’t bear much resemblance to the disco scene up to that point, but it was just what the music needed to get a mainstream audience strutting its stuff on any dancefloor within reach.

That and a stunning soundtrack dominated by the Bee Gees. The English brothers Barry, Andy and Maurice Gibb had been making music since the late-50s as a skiffle band called Rattlesnake. As the Bee Gees, they first hit the big time in the mid-to-late-60s with ballads such as Words.

By 1974, however, changing tastes had reduced them to a cabaret act at venues like the Batley Variety Club in Yorkshire. Relocating to Miami, they regained their mojo with the disco-style Jive Talkin’. Although the song took them back to No.1, it merely primed the pump for the music they unleashed on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

The story of disco music - Saturday Night Fever the OST

I Like The Way You Move

Deploying Barry Gibb’s falsetto for the first time, Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever became instant disco classics. The Fever… soundtrack staked out the top of the charts around the globe for weeks on end (18 weeks in the UK and 24 in the US). 

As disco went mainstream, Studio 54, a former television studio on New York’s 54th Street, became the place to be seen… if you could get in. Celebrities like Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra and Andy Warhol were waved in by the bouncers and Michael Jackson could be seen in a corner talking to Woody Allen.

Among the many turned away on New Year’s Eve 1977, were Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, even though they were famous for a string of hits and had arranged to meet Grace Jones inside.

Mightily miffed, they headed to Nile’s apartment and wrote a song with the shouted hook, “Fuck off!” With a subtle edit to “Freak out!” it became one of their biggest hits, Le Freak.

Chic - The story of disco music

Disco Demolition

If disco began the 70s as a hideout for an oppressed gay community, then it’s apt that the decade ended with gay culture going mainstream via the Village People.

The group’s moustachioed line-up of gay fantasy figures – a cowboy, cop, construction worker and leatherman – almost parodied the audience in the clubs where disco originated.

But their all-pervasive hits Y.M.C.A. and In The Navy had the straightest of straights singing along. Even the navy loved them.

Radio station after station across America switched from rock to disco, in the process fuelling a growing resentment against the endless party.

Steve Dahl, the 24-year-old DJ who led the ‘disco sucks’ campaign was one of the jocks who lost his job when his station made the switch.

“At that time, disco was the only thing that would get you on the radio,” said Maurice White, founder of Earth Wind and Fire, when the r’n’b group joined the fray with Boogie Wonderland.

Punks enter The story of disco music

Union City Blue

Deborah Harry was unapologetic when new wave rockers Blondie took the disco route with Heart Of Glass, but admitted: “Some of our friends from other rock bands were very put off that we did this disco song. They wanted us to be run out of town.”

As the disco bubble blew up to near-bursting point, the club scene looked like Rome before the fall: awash with cocaine and promiscuity.

AIDS had yet to be identified, but within a couple of years the free love party was going to end very badly and take many of the scene’s most colourful characters.

Something had to give, and when Dahl blew up the disco records at Comiskey Park in the summer of 1979, it really was as if the whole scene exploded and vanished in a single puff of smoke.

Million-selling stars disappeared from the airwaves almost overnight as the mood turned and US radio stations strove to woo back disco-ed out listeners with promises of ‘Bee Gees-free Weekends.’

End Of An Era?

When Studio 54 was raided and its owners jailed for tax evasion and drugs possession, it symbolised the party’s end.

Just as the disco decade began in early 1970, so a new era began almost on the dot of 1980 when The Sugarhill Gang crashed into the charts with Rapper’s Delight in the winter of 1979 and early 1980, ushering in the age of hip-hop. 

A year later, the launch of MTV switched America on to British synth-pop and New Romantic bands like Duran Duran. John Travolta’s switch from disco to rock’n’roll in Grease even prompted a rockabilly revival.

People still went to clubs to dance, but record companies rebranded their releases from disco to ‘dance music’ or ‘house.’ The music ditched its chintzy strings and camp theatricality for a harder electronic edge. 

The Paradise Garage, once the epicentre of disco, led the change and gave its name to a new type of dance music: garage. Gloria Gaynor briefly resurfaced in the new era with the defiant I Am What I Am, but few others tarred with the disco brush were able to make the transition. Even the Bee Gees were never the same again. 

The story of disco music - Daft Punk in the 21st century

Can’t Stop The Beat

In recent years, however, several artists have looked back fondly on the disco era, taking inspiration from NY’s legendary club scene.

The early 00s, French duo Daft Punk led a nu-disco revival with . In 2013, they teamed up with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams for the extremely disco chart-topper Get Lucky.

While Madonna donned a Saturday Night Fever-style leotard in the video for Hung Up from her 2005 Confessions On A Dance Floor album, which paid homage to the sounds of the Bee Gees and Giorgio Moroder.

2016’s sunny Justin Timberlake smash Can’t Stop The Feeling, meanwhile, wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a disco 45 years ago.

As for the original mirror ball classics, Love Train, Rock The Boat and many others had lost none of their feel-good freshness when they formed the soundtrack to Matt Damon’s acclaimed sci-fi blockbuster The Martian.

And what could have been a more rousing end credits number for that movie than a song that has become a hymn to disco’s own durability, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.  

Douglas McPherson

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Duran Duran reissue iconic albums

Duran Duran reissue iconic albums

Duran Duran reissue iconic albums

Duran Duran to reissue iconic first five studio albums

Long out of print and long overdue, Duran Duran, Rio, Seven And The Ragged Tiger, Notorious, and Big Thing, will be reissued in the original 1LP and 1CD format for the first time since their initial release.

Both LP and CD will feature the latest album remasters, with vinyl editions cut at Abbey Road Studios. The album artworks have been closely restored to the original sleeve designs, overseen by Malcolm Garrett, the visionary designer behind the band’s first three albums.

Duran Duran’s first five albums – 1981’s Duran Duran, 1982’s Rio, 1983’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger, 1986’s Notorious, and 1988’s Big Thing – have defined the sound and style of generations.

Acclaimed singles like Hungry Like The Wolf, Rio, Girls On Film and Save A Prayer consistently dominated singles charts around the world on their release, and continue to soundtrack the lives of millions of fans.

Cultural Icons

The music and magic within these five records propelled the band to the very front of the global music scene, establishing Duran Duran’s status as cultural icons and one of the most influential groups of all time.

Now, 16 studio albums deep into their recording career, and counting, Duran Duran are still performing many of these songs in packed arenas all over the world.

The five albums, which between them graced over 20 Top 10 album charts around the world, provide a rich cross section of Duran Duran’s formative years.

Their self-titled debut’s era-defining boldness completely solidified the signature sound of Duran Duran, while simultaneously soundtracking turn of the decade angst, and introducing a new British pop order. As opener Girls On Film presented the first use of “found sound” in music with its instantly recognisable camera motor drive clicks, and the apocalyptic shock of Planet Earth took hold, Duran Duran’s innovation was signalling what British pop music would do next.

Duran Duran

Side A
1. Girls on Film
2. Planet Earth
3. Anyone Out There
4. To the Shore
5. Careless Memories
Side B
1. Night Boat
2. Sound of Thunder
3. Friends of Mine
4. Tel Aviv

The year between Duran Duran’s release and the dawn of the Rio era was shaped by huge artistic growth. The album elevated the band to global status and produced a trio of Top 10 hits in Save A Prayer, Rio and Hungry Like The Wolf. The latter two of which birthed some of the first-ever music videos that fans all over the world would fall in love with as MTV launched them into heavy rotation, also helping the band reach super-stardom in the US and beyond.

Reissue 2 Rio

Rio

Side A
1. Rio
2. My Own Way
3. Lonely in Your Nightmare
4. Hungry Like the Wolf
5. Hold Back the Rain
Side B
1. New Religion
2. Last Chance on the Stairway
3. Save a Prayer
4. The Chauffeur

Rio’s achievements set the stage for Seven And The Ragged Tiger, Duran Duran’s first UK No.1 album. Truly global in its scope – recorded between studios in France, Australia and the Caribbean – the album paved the way for the Sing Blue Silver Tour, their biggest live outing yet, and saw the band’s debut No.1 single in the US with The Reflex.

Reissue 3 Seven And The Ragged Tiger

Seven And The Ragged Tiger

Side A
1. The Reflex
2. New Moon on Monday
3. (I’m Looking For) Cracks in the Pavement
4. I Take the Dice
5. Of Crime and Passion
Side B
1. Union of the Snake
2. Shadows on Your Side
3. Tiger Tiger
4. The Seventh Stranger

After their success working with Nile Rodgers to re-imagine The Reflex, and produce The Wild Boys in the same year, Duran Duran turned to him to produce their next LP, Notorious. The band’s first outing as a three piece, together they created a definitive Duran Duran album that captured the experimental spirit at the core of the band.

Reissue 4 Notorious

Notorious

Side A
1. Notorious
2. American Science
3. Skin Trade
4. A Matter of Feeling
5. Hold Me
Side B
1. Vertigo (Do the Demolition)
2. So Misled
3. Meet El Presidente
4. Winter Marches On
5. Proposition

Never a group to sit still creatively, Duran Duran expanded to a nine-piece complete with horn section and backing singers for the accompanying tour to the Big Thing album, presenting Duran Duran’s most exploratory work to date at that time.

Reissue 5 Big Thing

Big Thing

Side A
1. Big Thing
2. I Don’t Want Your Love
3. All She Wants Is
4. Too Late Marlene
5. Drug (It’s Just a State of Mind)
Side B
1. Do You Believe in Shame?
2. Palomino
3. Interlude One
4. Land
5. Flute Interlude
6. The Edge of America
7. Lake Shore Driving

The news of the reissues arrives as Duran Duran look ahead to a big summer of live activity, including an exclusive UK festival headline performance at Latitude Festival on 28 July.

This major festival booking will follow sold-out arena tours across the UK and North America through 2023, the latest in a series of landmark achievements including Duran Duran’s 10th UK Top 5 album release Danse Macabre, and their 2022 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Duran Duran will reissue these iconic albums via Warner Music from 19 July. To pre-order click here

For more check out our 40 of the best Duran Duran songs – year by year

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Introducing The Miki Berenyi Trio

Introducing The Miki Berenyi Trio

the Miki Berenyi Trio
Image © Vincent Arbelet

The Miki Berenyi Trio release first official single

The Miki Berenyi Trio, fronted by Miki Berenyi, best known as the lead singer of shoegaze icons and Britpop darlings Lush, have released their first official single Vertigo.

The track comes as the collective prepare for an upcoming U.S. headline tour with support from Lol Tolhurst x Budgie.

Completed by Miki’s Piroshka collaborators Kevin ‘Moose’ McKillop on guitar and Oliver Cherer on bass, the single’s performance video is filmed by French director Sébastien Faits-Divers in the Consortium Museum (Contemporary Art Centre) in Dijon. Watch below:

Vertigo has been part of the band’s live set for over a year and is one of the first songs they wrote together. Miki notes, “Vertigo is about anxiety and the efforts to talk myself down from the precipice – the usual cheerful stuff.” Of the recording process, she adds, “It’s a challenge to not have a drummer, and to use more programming, but the essence of the music is still guitars and melody – as it always has been, particularly in mine and Moose’s bands.”

In addition to the upcoming US tour, the Miki Berenyi Trio have announced a series of UK shows including a London headline date at The Lexington.

UK Dates

09 August – Where Else, Margate
10 August – At The Edge of The Sea Festival, Brighton
31 August – St Stephens Church, Ipswich
04 September – The Lexington, London
05 September – Heartbreakers, Southampton
07 September – The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
08 September – Risers Fest, Horwich
20 September – The Piper, Saint Leonards-on-sea
19 October – Town Festival, Halifax

When the global pandemic made touring impossible, Miki spent the lockdown months writing her memoir, Fingers Crossed, released in 2022 to widespread acclaim.

To provide some musical accompaniment for a string of book events and signings, The Miki Berenyi Trio was formed.

For more information click here

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Eurovision Song Contest 2024

Eurovision Song Contest 2024

Classic Pop’s essential guide to The Eurovision Song Contest 2024

Following Sweden’s victory at last year’s celebration of music in Liverpool, The Eurovision Song Contest 2024 heads to Malmö for the 68th edition on Saturday 11 May.

This will be the seventh time Sweden have hosted the contest and it will be presented by comedian Petra Mede with actress Malin Åkerman.

Last year’s event, hosted by the BBC in Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine, united audiences across the world and reached 162 million people over its three live shows.

The winning song, Tattoo, performed by Loreen took the prize with 583 points. In second place was Finland with 526, and third was Israel on 362. Loreen is only the second performer to win the Eurovision Song Contest twice, following her victory in 2012 with Euphoria.

Global Event

This year, fans from over 80 countries have travelled to Malmö to watch at least one of the nine ticketed Eurovision Song Contest shows. Leading the charge in international ticket sales is the UK. However, the enthusiasm extends far beyond European borders, with fans from the USA, Asia, and Australia joining the festivities.

In the UK the final will be broadcast live by the BBC and will also be streamed into cinemas across the UK.

Twenty-six countries will compete in the final. Joining Sweden and “the Big Five” (Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain) after the two semi-finals are:

Semi Final One: Serbia, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Finland, Cyprus, Croatia, Ireland and Luxembourg.

Semi Final Two: Armenia, Austria, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.

Olly Alexander

Representing the UK is the multi-award winning artist Olly Alexander. Olly, one of the world’s most exciting modern pop stars, rose to prominence as the lead singer of  Years & Years.

At the Eurovision Song Contest he will be performing the song Dizzy. It will be the first release under his own name after the dissolution of Years & Years. Talking with the BBC, Olly said: “I wrote the song last summer with Danny L Harle… We were inspired by a lot of music we love from the 80s like Erasure, Adamski and of course Pet Shop Boys.”

The singer, actor and fashion icon has scored two No.1 UK albums, 10 UK Top 40 singles and was recently awarded the BRIT Billion Award (for 6.5 billion global streams).

It’s A Sin

Olly received widespread acclaim for his performance in the Channel 4 drama series It’s A Sin (2021). The singer also covered the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin with Elton John for his The Lockdown Sessions album and the pair gave a memorable performance at the 2021 Brit Awards.

Olly had previously collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys on their 2019 single Dreamland. Talking with Gay Times, the singer said: “It was a dream come true to create something with two of my heroes, and spending time with Chris and Neil was an absolute joy. I had to pinch myself repeatedly!”

He also collaborated with Kylie Minogue in 2021 on A Second To Midnight. The track was the lead single from Kylie’s reissue album Disco: Guest List Edition. It also appeared on the deluxe version of Years & Years’ third studio album Night Call.

Five British acts have claimed the Euro trophy since the contest began in 1956: Sandie Shaw (Puppet On A String, 1967), Lulu (Boom Bang-a-Bang, 1969), Brotherhood Of Man (Save Your Kisses For Me, 1976), Bucks Fizz (Making Your Mind Up, 1981) and Katrina & The Waves (Love Shine A Light, 1997).

The Favourites

Reigning champs Sweden will be represented by Marcus & Martinus, occasionally known as M&M, who will be performing the song Unforgettable. The duo won Masked Singer Sverige in 2022 and took their entry to No.1 on the Sverigetopplistan chart.

Bookmakers have made Croatia the current favourite to win the contest. They will be represented by Baby Lasagna who performs his song Rim Tim Tagi Dim. He is aiming to land his country their first ever Eurovision crown.

Croatia’s closest rival is Switzerland’s Nemo with The Code. Switzerland’s last win came in 1988 courtesy of Céline Dion. The chasing pack of favourites is made up of 2022 winners Ukraine and 2021 victors Italy. They will be represented by Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil who perform Teresa & Maria, and Angelina Mango with La noia.

The Contest will be broadcast live across the BBC on Saturday 11 May, from 8pm. Click here

Want to read more? Here we list our Top 20 Eurovision Song Contest winners

 

 

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Extra dates added to Will Young tour

Extra dates added to Will Young tour

Will Young Tour Dates
Image © Jamie Noise

An intimate evening of stories and song promised as extra dates are added to Will Young tour

Due to overwhelming demand, Will Young is adding more shows to his Light It Up Live 2024 Tour in Falmouth, Gateshead, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and a third London date.

To celebrate his forthcoming new album Light It Up, Will is embarking on his most intimate tour yet – taking shape as an up close and personal evening of acoustic performances of all his hits and new songs, stories and conversation.

The 50-plus-date UK tour will kick off in September through to December. About the tour, Young said: “I’m very excited to be going to a lot of places I haven’t been. I wanted to go to smaller venues so I could properly get around the country rather than just playing the big cities.”

Light It Up Live 2024 Tour

Many of the shows have already sold out. However, listed below are dates with tickets available:

8 Sep – Opera House, York
10 Sep – Spa Theatre, Bridlington
11 Sep – King’s Hall, Ilkley
28 Sep – Gaiety Theatre, Ayr
29 Sep – Eden Court, Inverness
12 Oct – Spa Theatre, Scarborough
17 Oct – City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds
19 Oct – Arts Centre, Aberystwyth
7 Nov – Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple
21 Nov – Princess Pavilion, Falmouth NEW DATE
25 Nov – Cadogan Hall, London NEW DATE
29 Nov – Sage 2, Gateshead NEW DATE
1 Dec – RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester NEW DATE
2 Dec – St George’s, Bristol NEW DATE
4 Dec – Glee Club, Cardiff NEW DATE

Tickets for the six new shows will go on sale 7 May at 10am BST. Click here

The forthcoming album Light It Up – out on 9 August via BMG – is Will Young’s return to “joyous pop” and sees the singer-songwriter team up with new collaborators, pHD, the Scandinavian pop production/writing duo who has worked with Little Mix.

He also reunites with Andy Cato of Groove Armada and long-term writing partners Jim and Mima Elliot (who worked on Will’s defining album, Echoes). Pre-order Light It Up here

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Top 20 No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s

Top 20 No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s

The 80s didn’t stop in 1989, oh no. In the world of music, the last few decades have leaned heavily on that classic decade. Classic Pop looks at the Top 20 No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s.

Top 10 80s no.1s

As LadBaby’s sausage roll-themed retooling of Starship’s We Built This City proved a few Christmasses ago, the act of reviving a Top 40 hit from the 1980s can still lead to chart-topping success. In fact, over the past 30 years, more than 30 UK No.1s have borrowed heavily from the decade, whether via a subtle or, more likely, a blatant sample, a straightforward or radical cover version, or simply a re-release of the original.

Ignoring the tracks whose inspirations reached pole position first time around (eg Puff Daddy’s interpolation of The Police’s Every Breath You Take on I’ll Be Missing You, or Gabrielle Aplin’s rendition of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power Of Love), here’s our countdown of the 90s, 00s and 10s Top 20 No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s…

20 The Black Eyed Peas: The Time (Dirty Bit)
(interpolation of Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes’ (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, No.6, 1987)

It’s easy to forget that will.i.am and co. were once regarded as an alt-hip-hop outfit in the vein of A Tribe Called Quest. The Time (Dirty Bit) sticks rigidly to The Black Eyed Peas’ super-commercial formula – bleepy synths, clubby beats and enough AutoTune to make Daft Punk sound organic, all topped off with a lazy sample of the Dirty Dancing number. Unlike Jennifer Grey’s Baby, this definitely deserved to be put in the corner.

19 Dizzee Rascal and James Corden: Shout
(interpolation of Tears for Fears’ Shout, No.4, 1984)

Dizzee Rascal was hailed as the voice of his generation with Mercury Prize-winning 2003 debut album Boy In Da Corner. And yet within seven years the grime pioneer was fronting a Simon Cowell-backed Tears For Fears cover with one half of Horne & Corden. Shout, of course, was England’s unofficial 2010 World Cup song. But neither Dizzee’s dodgy rhymes nor Corden’s bellowing could inspire the Three Lions to anything more than a humiliating early exit.

18 KWS – Please Don’t Go
(originally recorded by KC & the Sunshine Band, No.3, 1979)

KWS’s house-pop reworking of KC & The Sunshine Band’s lovelorn ballad just about qualifies here – the original reached its peak position in only the second chart week of 1980. The group were hastily assembled to cover Please Don’t Go following a UK rights issue with German act Double You’s similar idea. And then there’s the rumour that it was recorded with an ulterior motive – to persuade Des Walker to stay at the trio’s beloved Nottingham Forest.

17 A1: Take On Me
(originally recorded by a-ha, No.2, 1985)

Contrary to what the casual music-buying public would probably believe, a-ha’s sole UK No.1 appeared courtesy of The Sun Always Shines On TV, not one of the 1980s’ quintessential hits. Originally reaching No.2, Take On Me did eventually go one better at the turn of the millennium thanks to an altogether more traditional boyband renowned more for their curtains than their cheekbones. A1’s cover version was accompanied by a Matrix-meets-Tron video, which at the time was deemed cutting-edge.

16 Geri Halliwell: It’s Raining Men
(originally recorded by The Weather Girls, No.2, 1983)

It seems fair to say that Geri Halliwell doesn’t possess the powerhouse tones of Martha Wash and Izora-Rhodes Armstead. But what she lacks in vocal ability, she makes up for in sheer enthusiasm on this spirited take on The Weather Girls’ classic. Recorded for the Bridget Jones’s Diary soundtrack in 2001, Halliwell gives it her all on her fourth successive and final UK No.1, with its Flashdance-inspired promo only adding to the sense of pure unadulterated camp.

15 DJ Sammy and Yanou featuring Do: Heaven
(originally recorded by Bryan Adams, No.38, 1985)

DJ Sammy would later give Don Henley’s Boys Of Summer a similar trance-lite reworking but it was another AOR veteran that inspired his only UK chart-topper. A No.1 hit in the States, Bryan AdamsHeaven was all but ignored across the pond. However, the diminutive Spaniard’s cover was practically unavoidable in the autumn of 2002, with a stripped-back Candlelight Mix also catering for those who preferred Magic FM to the Ministry Of Sound.

14 LL Cool J: Ain’t Nobody
(interpolation of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody, No.8, 1984)

There have been no less than six hit covers of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s funk classic, ranging from Liberty X’s clever mash-up with The Human League’s Being Boiled to Felix Jaehn’s insipid tropical house makeover. This unexpected chart-topper from one of hip-hop’s elder statesmen sits somewhere in-between. The coquettish call and response is a neat addition, but even LL himself sounds slightly bored with its pedestrian pop-rap production.

13 Eminem: Like Toy Soldiers
(sample of Martika’s Toy Soldiers, No.5, 1989)

From Labi Siffre (My Name Is) to Dido (Stan), Marshall Mathers’ sampling habits have always been a little more diverse, and indeed a little more unfashionable, than your average motormouthed rapper. Once again sitting at odds with his enfant terrible reputation, the third single from 2005’s Encore gave the anthemic power balladry of Martika’s US No.1 Toy Soldiers an unlikely new lease of life. The pitch-shifted sample sure isn’t subtle, but then Eminem is always at his most palatable when he plays it straight. 

12 The Bluebells: Young at Heart
(originally reached No.8, 1984)

Almost unrecognisable from the Motown-tinged original that appeared on Bananarama’s 1983 debut album, The Bluebells’ Young At Heart has more in common with Dexys Midnight Runners than the brilliantly nonchalant girl group. The fiddle-driven folk reworking gave the Scottish outfit their first UK Top 10 hit in 1984. But it went on to occupy pole position for the whole of April nine years later when it soundtracked that memorable ‘Just Divorced’ ad for the Volkswagen Golf.

11 Room 5: Make Luv
(sample of Oliver Cheatham’s Get Down Saturday Night, No.38, 1983)

A geeky guy throwing some shapes in a deodorant commercial was the unlikely catalyst for Oliver Cheatham’s rise to noughties chart-topper. Italian DJ Room 5’s chic reworking of the Detroiter’s sole UK hit, Get Down Saturday Night, got a captive audience pretty much every other ad break in 2003 thanks to its use in a Lynx promo. And Cheatham certainly appreciated the career boost. Not only did he re-record his vocals, he collaborated with Room 5 on his follow-up, too.

10 LMC vs. U2: Take Me To The Clouds Above
(mash-up of Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know, No.5, 1986 and U2’s With or Without You, No.4, 1987)

You get two bona fide 80s gems for the price of one with this floor-filling mash-up from 2004. Well, parts of them anyway. Firstly, there’s the utterly joyous opening two lines from Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know, and secondly, there’s the shimmering guitar hook from arguably U2’s career-best single With Or Without You. The whole thing hangs together surprisingly well.

9 Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull: On The Floor
(sample of Kaoma’s Lambada, No.4, 1989)

Jenny from the Block had briefly tiptoed onto the dancefloor with second single Waiting For Tonight. But she stomped all over it with both Louboutins in 2011 when she revived the brief Brazilian phenomenon known as the Lambada. The first and best of three party-starting collaborations with rent-a-rapper Pitbull, On The Floor borrowed the melody from Kaoma’s one-hit wonder, which itself cribbed from an early 80s Bolivian ballad.

8 Eric Prydz: Call On Me
(sample of Steve Winwood’s Valerie, No.19, 1987)

Transforming Steve Winwood’s Valerie into an unlikely club anthem, Eric Prydz paved the way for a whole wave of faceless one-hit wonders in 2004. Indeed, pretty soon everyone from Hall & Oates to Boy Meets Girl were getting a similar treatment by opportunist hitmakers who quickly realised that slapping a four-to-the-floor beat on an 80s soft rock hit was a surefire bet. Call On Me enjoyed a briefly-interrupted five-week run atop the UK charts but is perhaps still best known for that gyrating FHM-friendly video.

7 The Tamperer feat. Maya: Feel It
(sample of The Jacksons’ Can You Feel It, No.6, 1981)

The Tamperer were one of the few acts to climb to No.1 in the late 1990s, taking six weeks to reach the summit. You have to wonder what took the British public so long. From The Wizard Of Oz-inspired poser (“What’s she gonna look like with a chimney on her?”) to the triumphant sampling of The Jacksons to Maya’s vampish vocals, everything about Feel It screams instant earworm. The Material Girl-sampling, brilliantly-titled If You Buy This Record (Your Life Will Be Better) nearly repeated the trick, too.

6 Michael Andrews and Gary Jules: Mad World
(originally recorded by Tears for Fears, No.3, 1982)

Like the original, this stripped-back cover of Mad World took the slow-moving route to success. Tears for Fears’ breakthrough was initially recorded as a B-side to Pale Shelter before getting a release in its own right. And although Gary Jules and Michael Andrews’ solemn take on the song appeared on the Donnie Darko soundtrack in 2002, they had to wait until December 2003 to pip The Darkness in one of the most hotly-contested Xmas chart battles for years.

No.5 in our No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s

5 Roger Sanchez: Another Chance
(sample of Toto’s I Won’t Hold You Back, No.37,
1983)

It’s unlikely that many 00s clubbers would have recognised the vocal hook sampled on Roger Sanchez’s wistful house anthem. Another Chance borrowed from yacht rock stalwarts Toto but it was their forgotten No.37 minor hit I Won’t Hold You Back that imbued the track with an overwhelming sense of melancholy. Its striking promo, which saw a young woman looking for love carrying a giant red heart across New York, also perfectly accompanied Steve Lukather’s yearning tones.

No.4 in our No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s

4 The Clash: Should I Stay Or Should I Go
(originally reached No.17, 1982)

There’s a certain irony to one of rock music’s most fervent anti-capitalist bands owing their only UK No.1 to a TV commercial for the world’s biggest jeans company. The third of seven chart-toppers to emerge from a Levi’s campaign, the 1991 re-release of Should I Stay Or Should I Go may have sat at odds with The Clash’s punk principles but nine years on, its stop-start riff, tempo-shifting beats and, of course, Mick Jones’ snarling vocals, still sounded as gloriously anarchic as ever.

No.3 in our No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s

3 Rui Da Silva: Touch Me
(sample of Spandau Ballet’s Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On), No.3, 1981)

A year after Aurora gave Duran Duran’s Ordinary World a subtle dance-pop makeover, Rui da Silva did something similar for their New Romantic rivals. But instead of going for the more predictable Gold or True, the Portuguese DJ opted for Spandau Ballet’s underrated first Top Three hit Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On). Driven by Gary Kemp’s spiralling guitar riff and the longing smoky tones of Cass Fox, Touch Me is more post-party comedown than party starter.

No.2 of our No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s

2 Beats International: Dub Be Good To Me
(cover of The SOS Band’s Just Be Good to Me, No.13, 1984)

Amazingly, Jam & Lewis have never scored a UK chart-topper as producers, with a trio of No.2s for their muse Janet Jackson the closest they’ve come. They did, however, inadvertently achieve the feat as songwriters when Norman Cook got his hands on The SOS Band’s signature tune Just Be Good To Me. Beats International threw in everything from Ennio Morricone to The Clash, transforming the sassy funk of the original into an intriguing pop collage befitting of the phrase “jam hot”.

No.1 of our No.1s that owed a debt to the 80s

1 George Michael: Fastlove
(sample of Patrice Rushen’s Forget Me Nots, No.8, 1982)

A decent Top 10 hit in 1982, Patrice Rushen’s post-disco favourite ended up inspiring two separate No.1s more than a decade later. Will Smith would borrow its melodic refrain for his globe-conquering theme to mismatched buddy sci-fi Men In Black in 1997. But The Fresh Prince was beaten to the punch a year earlier by a man whose vocal talents could also be described as out of this world.

A much more uplifting affair than sombre predecessor Jesus To A Child, and indeed much of parent album Older, Fastlove sees George Michael extol the virtues of the one-night stand against a backdrop of slinky beats, subtle sax hooks and the kind of G-funk synths that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dr Dre record.

Unlike Smith’s hip-pop effort, in which he essentially just raps over the existing track, Michael doesn’t allow the sample to dominate proceedings either, only dropping in Forget Me Nots’ cooing chorus during the infectious middle-eight.

Michael never bettered this track commercially following its 1996 release – it was his last UK No.1 and remarkably his last ever entry on the US Hot 100 – and you could argue that he never bettered it creatively, too.

If you enjoyed this article check out our Top 20 cover versions of the 80s

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Shania Twain announces summer tour 2024 special edition vinyl

Shania Twain announces summer tour 2024 special edition vinyl

Shania Twain Summer Tour 2024

Let’s go girls… Shania Twain celebrates summer shows with limited edition release

Shania Twain has announced that she will be releasing a special limited edition LP to celebrate her UK and Ireland tour this summer.

Featuring a number of best-selling hits, Greatest Hits Summer Tour Edition 2024, will include newly remastered versions of multi-platinum tracks such as Man! I Feel Like A Woman!, That Don’t Impress Me Much, and You’re Still The One’ as well as the single Giddy Up! from her recent UK No.1 album, Queen Of Me.

Tracklisting

Side A
1 Forever And For Always (Pop Red Edit)
2 I’m Gonna Getcha Good (Red Single Edit)
3 Up! (Red Version)
4 Man! I Feel Like A Woman
5 That Don’t Impress Me Much (Dance Mix)
6 From This Moment On (Pop On-Tour Version)

Side B
1 Honey, I’m Home
2 You’re Still The One (Remixed/Remastered 2004)
3 Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) (Country Album Version)
4 Any Man Of Mine
5 Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? (Radio Edit)
6 Giddy Up!

With Shania’s 1997 single Honey I’m Home opening Side B and featuring on the LP’s artwork, Shania says, “Honey I’m Home seemed fitting for this album cover. I love being in the UK so much and this huge run of festivals feels like a homecoming for me – what an honour and a joy!”

The vinyl release of Greatest Hits Summer Tour Edition 2024 on 28 June comes just days ahead of Shania’s highly anticipated performance on the iconic Glastonbury Pyramid Stage in the ‘Legends’ slot.

Her tour also includes stops in Cork, Belfast, Dublin, Stirling, Lytham St Annes and Chepstow, which marks Shania’s first performance in Wales. Supporting Shania on these shows is renowned singer-songwriter Rag’N’Bone Man.

Shania will then bring her tour to an epic close in London for BST Hyde Park with support coming from highly acclaimed Irish icons The Corrs plus more names to be announced.

UK & Ireland Dates

25 June Musgrave Park, Cork
27 June Belsonic, Belfast
28 June Malahide Castle, Dublin
30 June Glastonbury Festival
2 July Stirling Summer Sessions, Stirling
4 July Lytham Festival, Lytham St Annes
5 July Chepstow Summer Sessions, Chepstow
7 July BST Hyde Park, London

The lineup for American Express presents BST Hyde Park 2024 is set to be truly spectacular, with headliners: Andrea Bocelli (5 July), Robbie Williams (6 July), Shania Twain (7 July), Stevie Nicks (12 July), Kylie (13 July), and Stray Kids (14 July). For more on BST 2024 click here

Greatest Hits Summer Tour Edition 2024 will be available on super limited edition 1LP vinyl on 28 June and is available to pre-order here

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Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

Top 20 B-Sides of the 80s
Top 20 B-Sides of the 80s

We remember some of the best B-sides of the 80s… By Barry Page

It’s easy to forget in today’s era of streaming and downloading just what a treasure trove of additional material the flipsides of vinyl singles offered in the creatively fertile 80s.

If you were unlucky, your favourite 45 would include either an instrumental, a live track, or, worse still, a previously released album cut, but for every dud there was a veritable gem. The humble B-side offered many acts the opportunity to experiment in the studio and present themselves in a different light, while others treated it as an art form, delivering exemplary non-album material in the tradition of their musical heroes.

No.20 in our Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

20 BLONDIE – SUSIE AND JEFFREY

On their eclectic fifth studio album, Autoamerican, Blondie embraced a number of musical genres – even hip-hop. A cover of The Paragons’ The Tide Is High found them in more familiar territory, but its unusual B-side was inspired by a bizarre incident at their recording studio. “All of a sudden we were called outside because these kids had driven their Audi through the wall,” guitarist Chris Stein told Boulevards magazine. “They weren’t hurt, though, and
the cops didn’t take them away, so we talked with them.”

19 FLEETWOOD MAC – YOU AND I, PART 1

Fleetwood Mac returned in 1987 with the hit-packed Tango In The Night, an album noticeably low on input from a troubled Stevie Nicks. Fortunately, Christine McVie was on hand to chip in with the memorable hits Little Lies and Everywhere, but it was Lindsey Buckingham who did much of the heavy lifting, applying the experience he’d acquired during the band’s hiatus – see 1984’s DW Suite, a tribute to McVie’s ex, Dennis Wilson – on tracks such as the two-parted You And I, the first part of which was sadly wasted on the B-side of Big Love.

18 THE HUMAN LEAGUE
YOU REMIND ME OF GOLD

The success of 1982’s Motown-influenced Mirror Man seemed to indicate that Sheffield’s finest were going to have no trouble following up their chart-topping Dare album. Equally promising was its squelchy B-side, You Remind Me Of Gold, which hearkened back to the group’s experimental origins, whilst still retaining the aura of modernity provided by their visionary producer, Martin Rushent. But, following his work on the equally lustrous (Keep Feeling) Fascination single, Rushent quit working with the Human League.

17 GARY NUMAN – NOISE NOISE

Following the mixed reaction to his experimental Dance album in 1981, Gary Numan came back fighting the following year with the hit-filled I, Assassin. On the B-side of Music For Chameleons was the gritty, proto-industrial Noise Noise, which included a breathy vocal from one Thereza Bazar, who’d just enjoyed a run of hits with Dollar. Criminally cut from the album, the track enjoyed a fresh lease of life in concert the following decade as the synth-pop pioneer reconnected with his fanbase after a run of below-par albums.

16 ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN – DO IT CLEAN

Keen to keep the momentum going following the positive reaction to their debut album, Crocodiles, Echo And The Bunnymen rush-released standalone single The Puppet in September 1980, but it failed to chart and was later disowned by its creators. However, its thrilling B-side – replete with oblique drug references – was a post-punk classic and a favourite with both the band and their fans. “It was the song that took me down a certain road as a performer,” remembered Ian McCulloch. “I learnt to be a frontman on that song.”

No.15 in our Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

15 THE SPECIALS
FRIDAY NIGHT, SATURDAY MORNING

One of the greatest singles of the decade, The SpecialsGhost Town painted a gloomy picture of Thatcher’s Britain in the early 80s. Interestingly, the value-for-money 2 Tone 7″ included not one, but two B-sides. Lynval Golding’s hard-hitting Why? was a plea for racial equality inspired by his brutal attack by National Front thugs, while Terry Hall’s typically downbeat Friday Night, Saturday Morning vividly – and comically – described a mundane night out at Coventry’s then-premier nightspot, the Locarno.

14 ABBA – CASSANDRA

By the time it came to recording the follow-up to The Visitors, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson had not only both remarried, they’d also been distracted by a potential collaboration with Tim Rice. Although their enthusiasm for a new ABBA album would soon dissipate, there was still enough material in the can to use on a new compilation and single B-sides. On the flip of The Day Before You Came was Cassandra. Though less experimental than the epic A-side, the lyrics – steeped in Greek mythology – confirmed the pairs evolution as songwriters. 

13 JAPAN – EUROPEAN SON

In terms of both their electronic sound and their image, Japan were certainly well ahead of the musical curve in 1979. Keen to leave their glam rock roots behind, they’d agreed to work with Giorgio Moroder, whose recent work with Donna Summer they’d admired. But when Moroder turned European Son down as a potential title track for the band’s third studio LP, David Sylvian et al recorded it with Simon Napier-Bell instead and released it as the B-side to their non-album single, the sweet cover of Smokey Robinson’s I Second That Emotion. 

12 PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION – 17 DAYS

Testament to his prolificacy, Prince stockpiled a number of additional tracks throughout the 80s, some of which were either distributed to other acts or used as B-sides. Arguably the best of these was 17 Days, the flip of 1984’s globe-conquering hit, When Doves Cry in the United States. Featuring an irresistible “Let the rain come down” refrain and a more conventional structure than the experimental A-side, the track had originally been conceived in 1983 during a warehouse jam with his backing band, The Revolution.

11 ADAM AND THE ANTS – BEAT MY GUEST

This spiky number was recorded in 1980 and later included on the reverse of the chart-topping Stand And Deliver, but it was actually one of Adam And The Ants’ oldest songs, even predating the material on debut album Dirk Wears White Sox. It was also the first track that the former punk outfit performed publicly (at the ICA in London in May 1977). Adam Ant – who’d actually been in a band called The B-Sides – later released the B-Side Babies compilation, which boasted Beat My Guest and a plethora of other quality non-album tracks.

No.10 in our Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

10 THE STONE ROSES – STANDING HERE

The Stone Roses found their perfect producer in John Leckie. Recognising the quality of the material on offer, he applied the same focus to every track, whether it was a potential hit single, album keeper or B-side. One of the band’s greatest songs, Standing Here – the flipside of She Bangs The Drums – begins with a burst of Hendrix-inspired jangly pop, before Reni’s shuffling beat signals the beginning of an astonishing coda, with John Squire’s dreamy guitar work perfectly complementing Ian Brown’s tender vocals. 

9 KATE BUSH – UNDER THE IVY

After recovering, both mentally and physically, from the making of her previous studio album, The Dreaming, Kate Bush returned in 1985 with Hounds Of Love, a part-conceptual masterpiece frontloaded with hit singles. Whilst much of the opus demonstrated Bush’s increasing prowess with new technology, the beautiful ballad Under The Ivy – somewhat wasted on the reverse side of comeback hit Running Up That Hill – was a far more stripped-back affair, boasting an elegantly simple piano and vocal arrangement.

8 YAZOO – SITUATION

Following his surprise exit from Depeche Mode in 1981, Vince Clarke teamed up with singer Alison Moyet to form Yazoo, immediately striking gold with debut single Only You. On its B-side was Situation, a short, but equally rousing track that marked one of the duo’s rare songwriting collaborations. They were reportedly incensed when their US label favoured it over the A-side, but a dynamic François Kevorkian remix rewarded them with a surprise dancefloor smash. 

7 DURAN DURAN – SECRET OKTOBER

Despite their recent successes, tensions were running high in the Duran Duran camp in 1983 with John Taylor and Andy Taylor becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the band’s musical output. So it was left to frontman Simon Le Bon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes to step up to the plate when Duran were asked to produce a B-side for Union Of The Snake at short notice. The result was the impressive ballad Secret Oktober, which foreshadowed the pair’s work in side project Arcadia two years later. 

6 PET SHOP BOYS – PANINARO

Originally included on the flip of the Suburbia single, this Europop classic was inspired by a promo trip to Italy where the Pet Shop Boys discovered a youth subculture known as Paninaro, known for their love of fast food, designer brands and dance-pop. It was also notable for a rare vocal from Chris Lowe, plus an amusing sample from an Entertainment Tonight interview in which the keyboardist drolly revealed his likes and dislikes. In 1995, whilst promoting Alternative, the prolific duo released an updated version of the track.

No.5 in our Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

5 ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK
THE AVENUE

Following the failure of 1983’s Dazzle Ships album, OMD decided they needed to jettison their “boring bank clerk” image. One of the new tracks road-tested on a short tour of the UK that year was a slow, atmospheric number titled The Avenue, whose moody aesthetic was derived from a sample of a moving train from the 1979 sci-fi movie Stalker. Redolent of the band’s earlier work, the track was left off the hit-packed Junk Culture LP and placed on the 12″ B-side of the Caribbean-flavoured Locomotion. 

No.4 in our Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

4 THE JAM – TALES FROM THE RIVERBANK

Ostensibly inspired by Paul Weller’s reading of Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel The Wind In The Willows, this slice of dreamy psychedelia found The Jam’s frontman reminiscing about the pastoral environs of his childhood home. Appended with customary lyrical bite, it was one of the band’s greatest songs, but inexplicably wasted on the B-side of 1981’s Absolute Beginners. “It never got the attention it deserved,” drummer Rick Buckler told Uncut. “And because it’s never been played too much, it’s still got its edge.”

No.3 in our Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

3 DEPECHE MODE – BUT NOT TONIGHT

Depeche Mode returned to chart action in 1986 with Stripped, a song that was representative of a darker, more industrial sound. On the reverse was the catchy But Not Tonight, a song of Martin Gore’s that was promoted as the A-side in the United States, where it bombed. Later covered by Jimmy Somerville, the fan favourite has grown in stature over the years, with The Guardian voting it one of the band’s best 10 songs. Reined in to just piano and Gore’s affecting vocal, it was also dusted off during the Delta Machine tour.

No.2 in our Top 20 B-sides of the 80s

2 THE SMITHS
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LET ME GET WHAT I WANT

The Smiths were responsible for some of the greatest singles of the 80s, many of which included classic B-sides. William, It Was Really Nothing, released in September 1984, was enjoyable enough, but it was easily eclipsed by the two 12″ tracks. How Soon Is Now? was a veritable masterpiece and single-in-waiting, while Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want was a plaintive plea for a better life, set to Johnny Marr’s stunning arrangement. 

Our No.1 80s B-sides

1 NEW ORDER – 1963 

New Order’s singles compilation Substance was one of the best releases of the 80s. Aside from re-recordings of Temptation and Confusion, it also included two new tracks that had been laid down during a tense 10-day session in 1987. Overseeing the recordings was producer Stephen Hague, whose apparent brief had been to come up with a transatlantic hit for the band.

Very much a hands-on producer, Hague heavily involved himself in both the songwriting and recording, minimising the contributions of both Peter Hook and Stephen Morris in the process. As for the lyrics, sozzled singer Bernard Sumner was reportedly imprisoned in the band’s rented flat until they were completed.

“All he had for company was some mouldy cheese and daytime TV,” Hook recalled in his entertaining autobiography, Substance. “Amazingly, when we returned that evening he had managed, probably out of sheer boredom, to nearly finish the lyrical ideas for both tracks.”

For the lyrics of 1963, Sumner put his own theoretical spin on JFK’s assassination, but the track ultimately played second fiddle to the classic True Faith. However, testament to its quality, 1963 was eventually released as a single in 1995, remixed by Confusion producer Arthur Baker.

 

Read More: Here we rank the Top 40 New Order songs

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Top 20 80s house hits

Top 20 80s house hits

80s house hits

Our countdown of the best house hits of the 80s…

House music may have been initially dismissed as a cult concern by the nation’s one-time ultimate tastemaker Radio 1, but within a few short years the subgenre had spawned multiple No.1 hits, influencing everyone from Stock Aitken Waterman to The Style Council and essentially kickstarted a cultural movement that still resonates three decades on. Narrowing down the biggest bangers to emerge from the early era of glowsticks, tie-dyed T-shirts and massive yellow smiley faces was therefore quite the challenge.

Limiting our selection to only UK Top 20 hits (hence the lack of godfathers Frankie Knuckles, Jungle Brothers, Mr Fingers etc), we’ve included only one track per artist (so no Superfly Guy or People Hold On) and avoided anything which strayed too far into pure pop (see Mel & Kim’s Respectable, Yazz’s The Only Way Is Up), here’s our countdown. Can anyone say Acieeed?

20 RAZE – JACK THE GROOVE (No.20, 1986)

Kickstarting the trend of referencing ‘jack’ or ‘house’ in practically every dance hit, US outfit Raze’s debut single was only the second time the genre had penetrated the UK Top 20. However, by the time it finished its chart run, Bruno Brookes was introducing a new blend of repetitive vocal loops, arpeggiated synths and 808 beats every Sunday. Jack The Groove sounds rather basic to 2019 ears, but it helped pave the way for all the more interesting twists and turns that the scene would take. 

19 JACK‘N’CHILL – THE JACK THAT HOUSE BUILT  (No.6, 1987)

Not to be confused with Tracie’s 1983 hit The House That Jack Built, this cleverly-titled club classic was the first entirely instrumental house track to grace the UK Top 10. It was the brainchild of Surrey University graduates Vlad Naslas and Ed Stratton, the latter of whom would later found one of the world’s first major music sampling libraries. And The Jack That House Built is a prime example of how to assemble a dizzying array of beats, basslines and daytime quiz show sound effects into a bona fide floorfiller. 

18 SIMON HARRIS – BASS
(HOW LOW CAN YOU GO) (No.12, 1988)

Chuck D’s bark of “Bass” on the a cappella version of Public Enemy’s Bring The Noise is reportedly one of the most sampled seconds in music history. And it’s Simon Harris who’s credited with lifting it first. In fact, Bass (How Low Can You Go) was apparently finished within an hour of Bring The Noise’s world premiere on Tim Westwood’s Capital Radio show. And Harris’ quick thinking sure paid off – the track also made it to No.3 on the Billboard Dance chart. 

17 ROYAL HOUSE  – CAN YOU PARTY  (No.14, 1988)

Todd Terry would later work his magic remixing Everything But The Girl and the unfashionable The Corrs but there was little middle of the road about his first taste of UK chart success. Recorded under the guise of Royal House, Can You Party is a full-on club banger, complete with hype man chants (courtesy of The Jackson 5), wailing sirens and euphoric diva vocals. And its inspired sample of fellow house maestro Marshall Jefferson’s Move Your Body gave a certain Belgian act further up our list a few ideas, too.  

16 HITHOUSE – JACK TO THE SOUND
OF THE UNDERGROUND  (No.14, 1988)

Long before the rise of superstar DJs Tiësto and Armin van Buuren and the techno, techno, techno, techno of 2 Unlimited, the Netherlands’ dance scene was first put on the map by Hithouse, aka the late Peter Slaghuis. The Dutchman’s sole UK hit is notable for the Kelly Charles sample that would later be utilised by The Prodigy and Oxide & Neutrino and gained a new lease of life in the early 90s as the theme to sketch show The Mary Whitehouse Experience.

15 BEATMASTERS FEATURING THE COOKIE CREW
– ROK DA HOUSE (No.5, 1988)

Hailed as the cooler alternative to SAW’s Hit Factory, production trio Beatmasters helped to revive the chart fortunes of PP Arnold, launch the career of Betty Boo and extend Yazz’s brief stint as Britain’s biggest female pop act. But their most significant contribution to the late 80s chart landscape appeared courtesy of Rok Da House, a pioneering blend of hip-hop and house featuring the sassy and street tough flow of South London duo Cookie Crew.

Read more: 90s dance – the essential playlist

14 COLDCUT – DOCTORIN’ THE HOUSE (No.6, 1988)

Shortly before transforming Otis Clay’s soul obscurity The Only Way Is Up into a Hi-NRG chart-topper, Coldcut first teamed up with Yazz and her Plastic Population on this sampling free-for-all. Howdy Doody’s catchphrase, Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock and the Justice League Of America theme are just a handful of the curios that Matt Black and Jonathan More threw in. Sure, Doctorin’ The House sounds like a kid playing with a new toy, but it’s as enjoyable to hear as it undoubtedly was to create. 

13 D-MOB – WE CALL IT ACIEEED (No.3, 1988)

The late London scenester Gary Haisman once insisted that, contrary to popular opinion, his high-pitched cries of ‘”acieeed” weren’t in any way, shape or form advocating the use of illegal drugs. But nevertheless, the kneejerk BBC of the 1980s still banned D-Mob’s breakthrough hit for his distinctive vocal contribution. Unsurprisingly, the controversy helped propel the borderline novelty song to No.3 behind the equally elated Bobby McFerrin and the presumed-to-be-squeaky-clean Whitney. 

12 FARLEY ‘JACKMASTER’ FUN & JESSIE SAUNDERS
– LOVE CAN’T TURN AROUND (No.10, 1986)

The genesis of the house music crossover. Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley may have been the first to mould Isaac Hayes’ disco favourite I Can’t Turn Around into a Chicago house anthem. But it was Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk who took the idea and ran with it, changing its lyrical narrative from everlasting love to heartbreak, adding an infectious vocal hook and allowing guest vocalist Darryl Pandy to showcase his flamboyance in all its glory.

11 808 STATE – PACIFIC STATE  (No.10, 1989)

Founding member Graham Massey once claimed that there were 42 different versions of 808 State’s debut hit knocking about. But it was the three minute 53 seconds edit known as Pacific 707 that took the Mancunian outfit from the Haçienda dancefloor all the way to the UK Top 10, via a little help from unlikely champion Gary Davies. Blending the acid house scene’s signature 303 squelches with birdsong and warm synths, Pacific State is the meeting point between illegal warehouse and meditation spa.

10 STEVE ‘SILK’ HURLEY – JACK YOUR BODY (No.1, 1987)

Having been beaten to the punch by one of his own ideas, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley then went nine chart positions better to score the UK’s first house music No.1. There’s not much to Jack Your Body. In fact, hastily assembled from footage of pre-war dancing clips and rudimentary animation, its makeshift video is arguably more memorable than Hurley’s minimal and mechanical take on the Chicago sound. But despite appearing to arrive from nowhere, few other chart-toppers have made a longer-lasting impact.

9 LIL LOUIS – FRENCH KISS (No.2, 1989)

Aka the one with all the orgasmic moans. Chicago producer Lil Louis steamed up the airwaves in 1989 with an erotically-charged house anthem which had every parent on the school run covering their kids’ ears. Alongside the highly sexual vocals that would put most adult film stars to shame, French Kiss also slows down to a complete standstill before kicking back into overdrive. It’s hard to imagine such obvious filth getting daytime play now but you have to admire its sheer audacity. 

8 INNER CITY – GOOD LIFE  (No.4, 1988)

One of the few house acts to translate their club success to the album charts, Inner City peaked at No.3 in the UK with their debut LP, Paradise, largely thanks to this feelgood ode to, well, the good life. Founder Kevin Saunderson had made his name as a Detroit techno pioneer with the Belleville Three, but here he eschews such industrial futurism for a blend of sweeping strings, colourful synths and the cooing melodies of Chicago vocalist Paris Grey. House music has never sounded so joyously optimistic. 

7 KRUSH – HOUSE ARREST (No.3, 1987)

One-hit wonders Krush’s lineup featured the future co-founder of seminal IDM label Warp Records and one half of electronic pop oddballs Moloko. But there’s little evidence of such leftfield fare in the breezy house anthem which made their names. Shrewd samples of Richard Pryor and Grandmaster Melle Mel add to the sense of fun. But it’s the carefree, featherlight tones of Ruth Joy, a refreshing change from the genre’s preferred bombastic style, that makes this surprise No.3 hit truly stand out from the crowd.

6 BOMB THE BASS – BEAT DIS (No.2, 1988)

“This is a journey into sound,” declares Geoffrey Sumner, the plummy-voiced post-war actor who unexpectedly became a turntable favourite in the late 80s. And he wasn’t wrong. Bomb The Bass (aka Tim Simenon)’s debut hit was another glorious whirlwind of random samples which ranged from the sublime (James Brown, Prince) to the surreal (Thunderbirds, Jayne Mansfield) and somehow made a beeping alarm clock the coolest sound around. Only Kylie’s I Should Be So Lucky could keep it from hitting No.1.

5 A GUY CALLED GERALD – VOODOO RAY (No.12, 1989)

Recorded in secret while he was still a member of 808 State, the first solo venture from Gerald Simpson was something of a happy accident. The acid house classic would have been called Voodoo Rage had Simpson’s primitive hardware contained enough memory to sample a line from a Derek And Clive sketch in its entirety. Instead, a figure named Voodoo Ray was repeatedly summoned amidst a wave of swirling synths and mantra-style vocals that seemed designed to send listeners into a trance.

4 TECHNOTRONIC FEATURING NELLY
– PUMP UP THE JAM  (No.2, 1989)

Ironically, it took a Belgian production team to make the American mainstream aware of a sound that had originated in their own country several years previously. It’s not hard to see why Technotronic managed to achieve the breakthrough. With its bouncy synths, pulsing hip-house beats and brassy sung-spoke vocals – performed by Ya Kid K, not the fashion model that lip-syncs in the video – Pump Up The Jam remains one of the most hook-laden anthems in house music history.

3 M|A|R|R|S – PUMP UP THE VOLUME (No.1, 1987)

Talent-poaching accusations, tracklist disputes, a slightly hypocritical injunction filed by Pete Waterman… The fractious creative process behind Pump Up The Volume – named after a line from Eric B & Rakim’s I Know You Got Soul – is almost as intriguing as the sample-heavy gamechanger itself. Thankfully, all the behind-the-scenes drama proved to be worthwhile. The one-off collaboration between 4AD signings AR Kane and Colourbox followed in Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley’s chart-topping footsteps. 

2 BLACK BOX – RIDE ON TIME  (No.1, 1989)

The six-week chart-topper that introduced the world to the uplifting piano-led sound of Italo house. Black Box weren’t the first act to borrow from Loleatta Holloway’s Love Sensation – in fact, Samantha Fox had done so just 12 months previously – but they were the first to truly fulfil its dancefloor potential. Ride On Time doesn’t relent from the moment Holloway’s (or Heather Small’s, but definitely not miming model Katrin’s) tour de force vocals kick in. The result is a powerhouse club classic. 

1 S’EXPRESS – THEME FROM S’EXPRESS (No.1, 1988)

There ain’t no party like a S’Express party. Whereas the majority of house music hitmakers seemed to be faceless entities quite content to hide behind their keyboards and computers, Mark Moore’s collective were a gloriously colourful prospect who seemed to fully embrace the concept of being  1980s pop stars. In fact, Moore once told The Guardian that the group of “terrible showoffs” were assembled purely for their Top Of The Pops-friendly appeal.

Being a member of S’Express therefore always looked like a whole lotta fun and it’s a sense of joy that was effortlessly captured in their sound, an ecstatic blend of acid house, funk and 70s disco – hence its accompanying promo’s array of flares, Afro wigs and lava lamps.

Thrill Ride

Of course, that booming brass hook and those persistent synth squiggles, borrowed from and quickly tossed aside in Rose Royce’s Is It Love You’re After, immediately catch your attention. But Moore manages to hold it for a further three-and-a-half minutes by delving deep into his record collection and lobbing everything from Salsa orchestra violinist Alfredo de la Fé to synth-pop duo Yazoo into the unashamedly kitschy mix.

Theme From S’Express might not be the coolest of house hits, but then it’s not designed to be. It’s simply a pure thrill ride whose sole intention is to get everyone dropping their ghetto blasters and busting out a few moves. “Enjoy this trip,” urges the booming voice of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry ahead of all the organised chaos. Moore’s inspired collage of lost hits, obscurities and dialogue samples, not to mention his motley crew of performers, made it virtually impossible not to.

Listen to more Classic 80s House here

Read more: The Bristol sound

 

 

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Pet Shop Boys – Nonetheless album review

Pet Shop Boys – Nonetheless album review

Pet Shop Boys Nonetheless album review

Pet Shop Boys – Nonetheless (Parlophone)

Neil Tennant is in the form of his life as the synth-pop legends celebrate going back home with one of their most diverse albums to date

Returning to their original label of Parlophone 12 years after Elysium looked like being the final album on their natural home, Pet Shop Boys mark the occasion with their most stately work since that polarising record.

Neil Tennant promised CP last year that “The strings are back”, which is in truth a worrying sign for those fans who found Elysium and Release just a little too sombre. That their new producer James Ford’s work with The Last Shadow Puppets, of all bands, was the reason PSB approached him – rather than, say, having Kylie, Jessie Ware or Depeche Mode on his CV – equally appears a head-scratcher.

Yet, if Nonetheless isn’t quite in the same class as Behaviour (and frankly, what is?), it certainly shares the spirt of their 1990  masterpiece. Rather than the “We’re serious artists” mood of 2002’s Release, here the strings and brass are largely there to bring extra joy.

Neil Tennant has rarely celebrated love so openly in his lyrics than Feel or The Secret Of Happiness, ballads which head further into the stars thanks to their opulent arrangements. For anyone who has Between Two Islands as their favourite PSB B-side, its Balearic bliss is back on The Secret Of Happiness.

The Joys Of Pop

The extravagance peaks on A New Bohemia, one of Tennant/Lowe’s richest and most dramatic songs, yet maintaining a truth and beauty thanks to Neil’s plaintive vocals at its core. Indeed, one of Nonetheless’ many joys is how beautiful Tennant’s voice is. He may joke that crying on the dancefloor is his comfort zone in the I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing mood of Why Am I Dancing?, yet Neil’s voice has never been so consistently emotional as it is across these 10 songs.

While Tennant’s gravitas dominates, Nonetheless isn’t especially earnest, as it’s still in thrall to the joys of pop: house banger Bullet For Narcissus is this album’s So Hard and the chunky Dancing Star could have bounced straight in from Side Two of Please. OK, that means we have to endure the weirdly garish The Schlager Hit Parade, which is basically what Pet Shop Boys haters think Pet Shop Boys always sound like, but one bit of eurotrash can’t disrupt an otherwise perfectly judged album.

Nonetheless is the most varied PSB LP since Fundamental, almost an instant Best Of for how many other Pets songs it brings to mind. It deserves to capitalise on any wayward fans returned to the fold since the endless post-Covid hits tour. And, given how good Neil Tennant’s vocals are here, it seems like Pet Shop Boys might just be getting started all over again.

4/5

Classic Pop Presents: Pet Shop Boys Volume 2!

Want more PSB? Order Classic Pop Presents: Pet Shop Boys Volume 2 here

Read More: Complete Guide To Pet Shop Boys albums

 

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The Brand New Heavies tour Brother Sister album

The Brand New Heavies tour Brother Sister album

Andrew Levy, Angela Ricci and Simon Bartholomew of the Brand New Heavies tour their Brother Sister album this year
The Brand New Heavies: Andrew Levy, Angela Ricci and Simon Bartholomew

The Brand New Heavies celebrate 30 years of Brother Sister with UK tour

Released in 1994, The Brand New Heavies’ third album, Brother Sister, changed everything for the band. Propelled by the classic singles Dream On Dreamer, Midnight At The Oasis and Back To Love, the record achieved huge success and cemented their position as the pioneers of Acid Jazz.

Still sounding as fresh and timeless as it did back then, the group featuring original members Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew with the vocalist Angela Ricci, will perform Brother Sister in full alongside other hits and fan favourites from their storied history with a complete live band across the UK.

The band says: “We can’t believe that Brother Sister is going to be 30 years young! What better way to celebrate than coming to see us play the album in its entirety as well as all our hits.”

Brother Sister 30 Tour

1 November – Sheffield, The Foundry
8 November – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
9 November – Coventry, HMV Empire
16 November – Newcastle, Boiler Shop
22 November – Brighton, Dome
23 November – Cardiff, Tramshed
30 November – Frome, Cheese & Grain
20 December – Birmingham, Town Hall

The Brand New Heavies Brother Sister 30 Tour

Since debuting in 1990, The Brand New Heavies have translated their love of sophisticated 70s funk grooves into an ever evolving sound that has ignited dancefloors. Their huge success with Brother Sister continued with the follow-up Shelter, which  featured further hits in the shape of Sometimes, You Are The Universe and their take on You’ve Got A Friend. Their legacy has continued to grow with consistently strong albums ever since, including 2019’s TBNH which featured their first recordings with Angela Ricci.

Last year,  The Brand New Heavies entered a new era of rediscovery with the release of Never Stop… The Best Of. They also embarked upon the sold-out Never Stop… The Greatest Hits Tour, for which they were accompanied by the London Concert Orchestra.

Brother Sister 30 Tour tickets go on sale at 10am on 3 May, click here

Want to read more? Check out our Brand New Heavies Interview

 

 

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50 years of Squeeze – Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook interview

50 years of Squeeze – Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook interview

The Band Squeeze
Image © Danny Clifford

Squeeze celebrate 50 years with a live tour and not one, but two new albums

Here we meet songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook to hear about life in one of pop’s most English of bands…

Few bands live long enough to salute their 50th anniversary, and at various points in Squeeze’s life, it looked like they’d be among those that wouldn’t make that milestone. After all, since forming in 1974 they’ve split twice, in 1982 and 1999, with its core members – Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook – barely speaking to each other in the years between.

But there’s something about these two titans of English pop that keeps them in each other’s orbit. Rolling Stone wrote in 1981 that “the British New Wave has finally found its own John Lennon and Paul McCartney” and that comparison has hung around the songwriting team of Difford and Tilbrook ever since. But whereas the Lennon/McCartney partnership burned out in 1970, never to be reignited, Chris and Glenn are still writing songs together in 2024, half a century after a 16-year-old Tilbrook answered an advert in a tobacconist’s window for a band into “The Kinks, Lou Reed and Glenn Miller”.

“It was an unusual set of influences,” Tilbrook tells us as we catch up with him, nearly 50 years on from his first meeting with soon-to-be bandmate Chris Difford. “But then I remember loving Glenn Miller’s song I’ve Got A Girl In Kalamazoo.” He starts to sing: “‘Don’t wanna boast/ But I know she’s the toast/ Of Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo-zoo-zoo…!’ It was the quirkiness [of the advert] that appealed to me.”

 

Cool For Cats (1979)

Pop Evergreens

Much has been made over the years of the tensions in the Difford-Tilbrook buddyship, but as the pair chat to Classic Pop via Zoom from their respective pads, it’s clear that whatever problems they have had in the past, their relationship these days is largely friction-free. After all, they’ve managed to keep this iteration of Squeeze together for 17 years and counting, ever since reforming for a second time in 2007 and they’re now the only members left from the line-up that gave us such pop evergreens as Up The Junction, Cool For Cats and Labelled With Love. So when we say that Squeeze are marking their 50th anniversary in 2024, it’s actually the songwriting marriage of Christopher Henry Difford and Glenn Martin Tilbrook that we’re really paying tribute to.

“We just liked each other,” Tilbrook tells us, remembering that first meeting with the 19-year-old Difford outside a Blackheath pub in April 1974. “He was the first other person I’d met who wrote songs. From the off, we were both keen to do some stuff together.”

Argybargy (1980)

On The Write Track

Over those first months they penned somewhere around 50 songs, many of which have never seen the light of day. However, they both remember the first track that they wrote together.

“It was called Hotel Woman” Tilbrook recalls with a smile. “We’ve never really gone back to it. But it was a good indication of what we could do. It had all the elements of our songwriting and what could be good about it. Of those other songs, we’ve raided the bank from time to time. Last Time Forever, from Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, certainly was an old tune with a new lyric. It’s useful to have unused songs. I’m working on a song now with Chris, and there’s a little section of it that was really hard to get, and I had tucked away a memory of something I did 40 years ago so I’ve nabbed it and it fits perfectly.”

Difford & Tilbrook album cover
Difford & Tilbrook (1984)

Take Me I’m Yours

It’s a testament to Chris and Glenn’s productivity at the time that they could have over 50 songs in the bag and be able to cast most of them aside when it came to making up their first recordings. Squeeze’s first EP, Packet Of Three, arrived in 1977, with the following year bringing their eponymous debut album. Though, as the band would find out, the tracks for their first LP would come under fierce scrutiny from the man their manager Miles Copeland had hired to produce. Enter avant-garde noisenik John Cale. “Growing up as a Velvet Underground fan,” offers Difford, “it was quite an exciting moment, to find out that John Cale is going to produce your first EP. It was an extraordinary thing.”

“He definitely brought a lot to the table in terms of bringing a more aggressive edge to what we did,” adds Tilbrook. “And we liked that. But when we went on to do the album, his focus was on getting us away from what we did, so we weren’t going to be playing pop songs. In fact, he threw out all our songs, and we rewrote everything in the studio, tailored to what he wanted. I think it’s a really interesting album, but it doesn’t really sound like Squeeze to me.”

Bona Fide Chart Stars

With A&M panicked at the lack of potential 45s, two songs were added, with the more obviously commercial Take Me I’m Yours and Bang Bang both produced by the band themselves. While Bang Bang stiffed, Take Me I’m Yours would catapult Squeeze into the Top 20 and, on 6 April 1978, to Top Of The Pops, fulfilling a long-held dream.

“I remember a Rolls-Royce coming to pick me up to take me to the TV studio,” Difford recalls of the band’s first flush of fame. “Then some years later getting an invoice through A&M for it and suddenly realising not everything was free. That was a difficult lesson to learn. But it was brilliant at the time. I remember going into A&M and they had a massive warehouse at the back of King’s Road and you’d just leave constantly with arms full of albums.”

“It was everything we wanted as a band,” adds Tilbrook about their sudden transition from suburban pop wannabes to bona fide chart stars. “I always felt we were a pop band and with that confidence and arrogance, it just felt that was where we should be.”

Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti cover
Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (1985)

Feeling The Squeeze

Four albums followed, each one – for the most part – charting higher than the last, until 1982 when it was announced that Squeeze would be disbanding. By that point, they’d lost several members, including original keyboardist Jools Holland as well as his replacement Paul Carrack, while, in Difford’s words, his and Tilbrook’s relationship was suffering “from fatigue” due to the band’s constant touring. “There was no one to tell us to just take a holiday,” Glenn shrugs.

When most bands break up, their former members often do their best to avoid each other in the bitter aftermath. Chris and Glenn, on the other hand, reteamed without the rest of Squeeze for an album simply titled Difford & Tilbrook (“The order of the names was alphabetical,” laughs Chris, “we didn’t toss coins.”). But despite being made by the songwriting heart of the band, Difford is adamant that the release was not a de facto Squeeze album.

“We wanted to do something different,” Chris reflects on the No.47-charting LP. “When you listen to the songs on that album they don’t sound like Squeeze particularly. It would be interesting to hear what Squeeze would have done with those songs, but I think it was sufficiently different enough for it not to be Squeeze.”

Second Coming

Squeeze finally reformed – with Jools Holland back on the Joanna – in 1985 (“It was almost like somebody had drawn the curtains and suddenly light came back in,” Difford smiles), returning with the album Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti. But though the late 80s and 90s would produce some of Squeeze’s finest 45s (Hourglass, Footprints, Some Fantastic Place among them), they never quite reclaimed their commercial footing, with only 1987’s Babylon And On LP hitting UK Top 20.

“The dynamic really had changed,” says Tilbrook about Squeeze’s second coming. “But what happened to us as a band is like with Babylon And On, we got increasingly conservative. It was great being back together, but it was soon to crumble into dust.”

Though they initially regrouped with the 70s line-up of the band, Squeeze would go through a multitude of personnel changes in the 80s and 90s. In fact, Squeeze have had so many members over the decades that they’ve got their own Wikipedia page. 

Image © Danny Clifford

The Circus Leaves Town

Do Difford or Tilbrook have any idea how many different people are listed as one-time members of Squeeze?

“Ah, it’s a good pub quiz question this one,” laughs Difford. “I’d say 22?”

“47?” suggests Tilbrook.

The answer, we point out, is 31, that’s including Chris and Glenn themselves.

“You win, Chris, you’re closest!” concedes Tilbrook, with a chuckle.

So why the high turnover of members, we ask. Is it something that Squeeze have used to their advantage over the years?

“I suppose you’re always searching for something,” ponders Glenn. “Like an ability to take in more contemporary influences. And that’s what we have now in the band. Any band worth its salt always takes notice of what’s going on now and doesn’t just think of then. Then is gone, it’s done and dusted. Now is what feeds into what we’re doing and is what makes us interesting.”

Despite the changes in line-up, however, the 90s weren’t a happy time for Squeeze. Increasing record label interference was, in Tilbrook’s words, “like a circus”. “We were jumping through hoops to try to please the people who thought they knew how we should sound, but you end up pleasing no one,” he grumbles.

Taking Time Out

With tensions in the band once again frayed, Squeeze called it a day for a second time in 1999, with Difford telling a shocked Tilbrook that he wanted out.

“Chris was definitely up for foraging in other meadows,” remembers Glenn, “And he felt that we’d run out of steam. So that decided that for me. But in fact, it was the best thing that could have happened. I’m so glad that we did split then. I felt like we both learned a lot in the time we were away from each other.

“I learned about the difference between success and hunger and what I wanted to do with my life was this and if that means you end up playing in a pub to six people – as sometimes I did – then I’m okay with that. And since then it’s been like a superpower, because that makes you invincible to the demands of commercial success.

“In my mind that has freed us up to be much more experimental, and then we become more interesting. And that wouldn’t have happened without splitting up.”

Cradle to the Grave cover art
Cradle To The Grave (2015)

50th Anniversary Celebrations…

Whereas before the hiatus lasted just three years, this time it was eight years that Squeeze were out of action, and during that time these old comrades, who’d known each other since they were teenagers, didn’t speak a word to each other, with Difford saying that he watched his former bandmate’s solo career “from over a hedge”, even sneaking into one of Tilbrook’s shows incognito.

It was the death of Difford’s brother (“he was just the biggest Squeeze fan,” he says) in the mid-noughties that led to Chris and Glenn hooking up with a view of reviving the Squeeze project. Over lunch, they discussed terms and “with exit doors open”, they officially reformed in 2007 for a series of live gigs, with an album, Spot The Difference, arriving in 2010. There have been a further two LPs since then (2015’s Cradle To The Grave and 2017’s The Knowledge) and there’s another planned for this year’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The Knowledge (2017)

A busy year

“We’ve got an incredibly busy year,” says Chris. “Around the corner, we’ve got a tour that’s selling extremely well and we’ve got two records we’re going to be working on.”

Hold up there, two records…?

“Yeah, we’re gonna have a new Squeeze album, which Glenn and I have been working on, and then there’s a record that we wrote in 1974 that we’ve never re-recorded or released. So we’re going to give that a good listen and have a go at those songs, too.”

However, for the new new album, Chris says that he and Glenn and the rest of the current Squeeze line-up will be entering the studio this month and, despite finding it difficult to get started (“it’s all about trying to turn on the tap,” he laughs), Tilbrook is confident now they’ve got an album every bit as vital and infectious as anything from their commercial heyday.

The Cool Cats

“I feel like we’re in full flow now,” he beams. “The stuff that we’re writing, I think it’s incredible. I don’t know if we’re going to do another record after this, so I want this to be the best record we’ve ever done. I mean, why do one if it’s not going to be the best you can possibly do?”

Exactly this. While there are other bands formed in 1974 that are still chugging along, happy with simply pumping out the old stuff, their songwriting muscles long since gym-fit, Squeeze will be entering their half century celebrations with a fresh batch of songs to perform. Proof, if need be, that Squeeze are, 50 years on, still the coolest cats in town. 

Squeeze’s 50th anniversary tour runs from 4 October to 22 November. For full dates and tickets, click here

Want to read more about Squeeze? Here Chris and Glenn tell us the stories behind the songs

 

 

The post 50 years of Squeeze – Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook interview appeared first on Classic Pop Magazine.

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Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Grand Final live in cinemas

Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Grand Final live in cinemas

Eurovision Song Contest 2024

Coming to the big screen – Watch the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Grand Final live in cinemas

On Saturday 11 May, for one night only, cinemas up and down the UK will come together to screen the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final.

The final will be broadcast live from BBC One and streamed into cinemas across the UK, allowing fans to come together and be ‘united by music’ sharing in the incredible experience of celebrating the biggest, brightest, boldest music party of the year on the big screen.

Sweden are hosting Eurovision this year in Malmö, following their victory at the 2023 contest with the song Tattoo performed by Loreen. The country has also staged the competition in Malmö in 1992 and 2013, in Stockholm in 1975, 2000 and 2016, and in Gothenburg in 1985.

The Ultimate Viewing Party

Presented on the big screen and in 5.1 surround sound, the screenings of the Eurovision – Grand Final Live encourages sing-a-longs with all of the 26 acts that will make up this year’s final.

Fans can bring their usual Eurovision parties from the front room to the cinema, with fancy dress encouraged.

John Travers of CinemaLive, distributors of the event in cinemas said: “We’re delighted to be working with the BBC to bring Eurovision’s Grand Final live into cinemas across the UK for the second year in a row. We want audiences to enjoy themselves, come along in groups, get your fancy dress on, and come together to enjoy this incredible occasion on the big screen!”

For participating cinemas and to book tickets click here

Want to read more? Here we list our Top 20 Eurovision Song Contest winners

 

The post Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Grand Final live in cinemas appeared first on Classic Pop Magazine.

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Kim Wilde – Album By Album

Kim Wilde – Album By Album

From new wave  anthems to synth-driven  gems and pure pop, the Middlesex-born singer boasts a wildly eclectic back catalogue. Here we present our Kim Wilde – Album By Album Guide:…

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The post Kim Wilde – Album By Album appeared first on Classic Pop Magazine.

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