SotD81 - Playing Catch Up part 2

neon colours - woman with spiky hair and neon framed spectacles

Inspired by our series of articles looking back at music released 30 years ago, Jimmy Hunter takes a step further back in time to give us some more Songs of the Day from 40 years back, SotD81...

I kind of like this way of serving you retro choooons. I can babble on a bit [Yeah, but not too much, eh!! – Ed] and then you can pick the records you want to listen to. Though I would urge you to listen to them all. Because if you don’t then you’ll miss out on some cracking music.

First up is a record I always remember from the ice rink. My pal and me would go ice skating on Saturday nights (it was very popular) and sometimes they had a double d-ICE-sco… geddit?? [No, get on with it – Ed]. I remember thinking at the time that it was remarkable for those old people to still be so popular 😊 It is, though, a great record.

And here we go with the New Romantics, and I think this is belter for their first hit. There are so many film clips now of the pre-famous Duran Duran boys’ live appearances and they stand up really well. As they proved, they were more than just looks and poses. In early 1981 though, this was one of the first of the New Romantic mob to achieve such huge and almost instant success. I approve. [I bet they’re SO glad – Ed].

Now we come to the first of 2 absolute belters as far as I’m concerned. I do believe that Simple Minds were at their absolute best from around 1980 – 1984/5 and there are 3 singles in particular that I would highlight – The American being one of them. Many people, initially myself included, thought this was an anti-American song but it’s not. It’s actually about The Nassau Club in Princeton, USA. [the live version is below, but you can also listen to the Extended version here - Ed]

I know I said I’d be brief but there were a number of singles from Siouxsie and The Banshees around this time that I regard as some of their best work, and here is one of them. Spellbound. And yes, I am, and have been ever since I first heard it. The particular sound was down one Scottish guitarist with a CV (and credibility) a mile long: John McGeoch. McGeoch died at a young age (48, in 2004) which led to this tribute from the Queen of Punk herself:

"John McGeoch was my favourite guitarist of all time. He was into sound in an almost abstract way. I loved the fact that I could say, 'I want this to sound like a horse falling off a cliff', and he would know exactly what I meant. He was easily, without a shadow of a doubt, the most creative guitarist the Banshees ever had"

Next up is a superb rework of the old Lamont/Dozier classic, Going Back To My Roots. I’ve always been a big fan of Odyssey and this in the summer of ’81 was an absolute belter on the dance floors of Tenerife (I know, cos I was there) [How interesting – Ed]

I tend to think this initial offering from Depeche Mode gets overlooked a little too often – it’s not surprising given the band’s prolific output in the following 20 years but let’s take this as it is – a fantastic example of new wave electro pop (and when the teenage me saw all that leather and hips on the boys in the band, well I was a big fan!!).

Third World is a group that seemed to be around for about 5 minutes and then disappeared, but oh contraire, mes enfants. No, the band is still growing strong but since its formation in 1973 has rarely bothered the charts. This is a good single, please give it a listen.

And now back to a familiar and well-loved genre – 2 tone. This record spent a few weeks atop the UK charts in the summer of ’81 and deservedly so. Ghost Town sells what it says on the tin – it’s a reflection of Britain in the grip of a recession caused by toxic government policies. The writing and lyrics were prompted by a very fractious ‘80/’81 tour where the band witnessed a country in despair. In an interview in 2002, band leader Jerry Dammers was quoted thus:

“You travelled from town to town and what was happening was terrible. In Liverpool, all the shops were shuttered up, everything was closing down ... We could actually see it by touring around. You could see that frustration and anger in the audience. In Glasgow, there were these little old ladies on the streets selling all their household goods, their cups and saucers. It was unbelievable. It was clear that something was very, very wrong."

Now those of you who may have entered my little world before will know my passion for electronica and, well, it don’t get much better than Kraftwerk. Introduced to the UK via this single, The Model assailed the charts with ease and moved us forward a bit because it brought this type of music to the record buying public, not just the connoisseurs. [again, there's a live version (in German!) below but you can find the Extended remix here - Ed]

I do hope you enjoy this selection.

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