The relevence of the hit parade began to dim a bit in my mid to late teens. Partly due to the increase in pocket money and a paper round meaning I could now afford more albums; and partly becuase I was getting into ‘proper’ music: Bruce Springsteen, U2, Simple Minds, and the mighty Dire Straits. But pop put up a fight. As we shall see…
Dead Or Alive ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’
My mate Ben was well into Dead Or Alive, even before they began having hits. His parents were fairly well off, and lived in an extremely large house. We used to play croquet in his garden. Only now, though, do I realise how rich his parents must’ve been. Like, I guess, a lot of people, my concept of cost when I was younger was non-existent. If I go on holiday now, I pay for myself and myself alone. When my family went on holiday, my mum and dad were paying for four people and two or three dogs to go on holiday. That must cost a fortune. Ditto buying, decorating and furnishing a house and keeping it running.
Aaaanyway, this was the first massive hit produced by Stock Aitken and Waterman. There’d been a couple of top ten hits before (Divine and Hazell Dean, if I remember correctly), but this was the one where the template clicked with the public, and became the springboard for a fairly solid domination of the charts for the next five or so years. Amazing, really, that they managed to turn people who really looked quite normal (Sonia, Big Fun, Reynolds Girls, Rick Astley) into pop stars. And, it’s often overlooked, made some fucking superb records as well as the stinkers people tend to focus on. This record was, and still is, superb.
Sister Sledge ‘Frankie’
I can’t for the life of me think why it is that I bought this record. It’s so very sickly sweet. What was I, a fourteen year old boy, doing buying this record? I have no idea.
David Bowie & Mick Jagger ‘Dancing In The Street’
I guess I was swept up in the whole Live Aid thing when I bought this piece of shit. This is the sort of record that happens when you get two massive egos together in a room with mirrors on the table as well as the walls.
Wham! ‘The Edge of Heaven’
I still think it’s a bit of a shame that ‘Last Christmas’ was released at the same time as the Band Aid record. Wham!’s song was by far the superior of the two, but, of course, it didn’t have a chance of getting beyond number two. Their next record, ‘I’m Your Man,’ was a number one in ’85, but I wasn’t really a fan of that. And this one; well, not really a huge fan either. I suppose I bought it simply because it was their last single.
The Communards ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’
A bloke that sings all high like a girl, and a girl that sings all low down like a boy. Crazy.
The Housemartins ‘Caravan of Love’
The first of three number ones featuring Norman Cook that I’ve bought. The Housemartins were quite important in my musical development. I’d not really got into indie music; The Smiths were a band I’d bought the odd single by, but they never affected me that much until the Strangeways, Here We Come album which opened the gates for me, and I went back and explored their earlier stuff. But, The Housemartins were a nice poppy introduction to that type of music. This wasn’t one of their best songs, I don’t think, but it’s obvious why it was their biggest hit.
M/A/R/R/S ‘Pump Up The Volume’
There’s something fun about this collaboration between two 4AD bands and a couple of DJs taking over from Rick Astley at number one, and being followed by the Bee Gees. And it was an introduction for me to the delights of housey music, something that became fairly dominant in my listening a few years later.
The Timelords ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’
The Timelords, as we all know, were The KLF in disguise. Should you like the ideas behind The KLF, may I suggest Bill Drummond’s excellent books, 45 and How To Be An Artist. Both are lovely pieces of work, and the latter forever found a place in my heart as it spends a few lines talking about the beauty of the Lincolnshire skies, one of the main things I miss about my home.
Bought simply because that’s what I did when U2 released records back then. And, being a fan, I liked Rattle and Hum. These days, though, aside from ‘All I Want Is You,’ there’s no song on that album that I ever really need to hear again.
The first year since I begun buying music that I didn’t buy a chart-topper. By this time, though, I was beginning the best couple of years of my life at art college and buying Happy Mondays records. There were a few good number ones by Kylie Minogue, Soul II Soul, and Black Box; but mainly it was a toss year at the top. Three number ones by Jive Bunny, a couple of turgid charity singalongs, and some Jason Donovan, too.
Kylie Minogue ‘Tears On My Pillow’
Aaaaah, Kylie. There are few things in life as joyous as Kylie’s Stock Aitken and Waterman years. This wasn’t the best song of that era (‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’ and ‘Better The Devil You Know’ are the best, I’d say). I’ve had a crush on Kylie now for nearly twenty years. I really do think it’s about time she reciprocated, it’s only fair. She could invite me to live with her in Sydney. I could give her some tips on her dance routines, she could help me do some Minipops. It’d be wonderful.
Beats International ‘Dub Be Good To Me’
I’d become a DJ by this point in my life. A friend and I blagged a job at Ritzy nightclub in Lincoln, doing a rival student night to the main one in town, at a club called Vienna. Like the shop Woolworth, nobody ever called it Vienna, it was Vienna’s. Anyway, we did a few of these Ritzy nights, and it was a disaster. By our third or fourth night, we just closed early as there were so few people there. Luckily for us, though, the DJ at Vienna’s was leaving a couple of weeks later. So fresh from defeat at Ritzy, we lucked into the vacant slot at Vienna’s. Which was a lot of fun, exceedingly successful, and it meant I no longer had to work in the warehouse at a supermarket. I don’t think we played this record much, though.
EnglandNewOrder ‘World in Motion’
But, we did play this one a lot. When England played Belgium in the World Cup, Leigh (my co-DJ) and I really wanted to watch the game, but we had to play records instead. The match was on the big bank of TVs in the club, though, so for the first hour, we decided to play nothing but instrumental tracks, so we could listen to the commentary at the same time. Thankfully, most of the people who’d come to the club were interested in the game too. And when David Platt scored in the last minute of extra time, the place went barmy. Cue ‘World in Motion’ and one of the best nights we ever did at Vienna’s.
Vanilla Ice ‘Ice Ice Baby’
Word to your mother.
The KLF ‘3AM Eternal’
A great song with many versions. My favourite being the ‘3AM Eternal (Blue Danube Orbital)’ one. Around this time there was virtually no night of the week when I didn’t listen to their Chill Out album, and I think we can all read between the lines there, eh?
The Clash ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’
Never a fan. This song’s okay, though. I can just about handle ‘Rock The Casbah’ too. The rest – pah! rubbish!
U2 ‘The Fly’
I was very much losing interest in U2 by this time. Even though Achtung Baby was a good album, my taste in music had moved on, and U2 were a casualty. Nowadays, though, I enjoy that album quite a lot.
End of part three. Last night I went to see The Twilight Singers live. They did a version of the Bruce Springsteen song, ‘I’m On Fire’ which was a treat, and Mark Lanegan was singing with them too. How’s about that for value for money? Anyway, tomorrow is the fourth and final part of this number one stuff, 1992 to 2006.