619. ‘First Time’, by Robin Beck

We began 1988 with some girl-led light-rock from Belinda Carlisle, and we round it off (well, almost) with something similar from Robin Beck.

First Time, by Robin Beck (her 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, from 13th November – 4th December 1988

I have to admit, the moment where the guitars rev and lock in to a chuggin’ riff is musical catnip to me. There is no better sound in pop music than when tight guitars kicks in. (Not that the guitars here are anything beyond run of the mill; it’s just been so absent from the top of the charts recently.) The solo is great too, played in soaring fashion by a Slash-a-like.

Problem is, the rest of the song doesn’t know what it is. The production elsewhere is soft and glossy – it begins and ends like a Disney theme – and the verses float by anonymously. Had they gone full-out rock, then this could have been one of the decade’s great power ballads. At the same time, had they gone guitar-less, this would have been one of the decade’s drippiest (in a decade with stiff competition in that department…)

As it is, this is a perfectly ‘okay’ soft rock tune. The ascending chorus: And it’s taken control, Of my body and mind, It began when I heard ‘I love you’… For the very first time! would be a great one for belting out drunk (I can’t hear it without imagining someone murdering it at karaoke). The fact that the only version of ‘First Time’ available on Spotify is from an album called ‘Music for a Girls Night Out’ says it all.

The video for this one is, and I apologise for dragging this phrase out yet again, peak-eighties. Soft-focus, slow motion, black and white, long shadows, white sofas, Ms Beck’s gigantic hair … All boxes checked. I was thinking its success might have been movie related, but it was yet another #1 from an advert, following on from ‘Stand by Me’ and ‘He Ain’t Heavy…’. It was in a Coca-Cola advert, no less, meaning it becomes the second chart-topper to advertise the world’s favourite soft drink (replacing For the very first time… with Coca-Cola is it…in the advert). Perhaps controversially, I’d take this over The New Seekers teaching the world to sing…

For someone of my age, ‘First Time’ will forever exist – for better or worse – in the dance version by Sunblock that made #9 in 2006 (and on which Robin Beck was credited) And if the original video is peak-eighties, then the Sunblock video is pure mid-00s. That was Beck’s first chart appearance since the follow up to ‘First Time’ had made #84. She still records and tours, and seems to have remained fairly popular in Germany and Scandinavia.


15 thoughts on “619. ‘First Time’, by Robin Beck

  1. As soft-rock ballads go, the one is definitely OK by me. Robin Beck’s not quite Pat Benatar, but near enough. Definitely an improvement on The New Seekers. (Guilty secret, but The (Original) Seekers are still very much an icon from my childhood days, alongside the ever-lovable Val Doonican. There’s my credibility shot to pieces in 10 seconds, oh dear…)

    • Yes, I remember you arguing the Seekers’ case before… To be honest, I think I was a bit harsh on them. I’ve come to like ‘The Carnival Is Over’ a bit more, especially since discovering Nick Cave’s cover version.

  2. I see it now – roughly in the same territory as Heart and the Wilson sisters though not quite there. It’s interesting (well, slightly) that another American female vocalist (no spoilers) in the soft rock/power ballad genre also had a massive No. 1 single in the UK almost two years later, this time from a film not an ad, and remained a one-hit wonder – unless you count a minor Top 50 entry in 1987 for her and her band.

  3. I never heard this one. “The production elsewhere is soft and glossy – it begins and ends like a Disney theme.”
    You said it so I didn’t have to lol. This one doesn’t blow my hair back…not a bad cringe song by any means…just not my thing.

  4. I agree about the comment lite-Heart. Its a coke jingle. I could never get over that annoying advert to gind some appreciation of this Rock By Numbers. I went to see Heart, wouldnt pay to hear this! Also prefer The New Seekers and adore The Seekers too. Frankly i prefer the Bobby Goldsboro hit coke jingle Hello Summertime to this. And that wasnt a classic either… 🙂

  5. Pingback: Recap: #601 – #630 | The UK Number Ones Blog

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