512. ‘Save Your Love’, by Renée & Renato

Festive chart-toppers tend to come in three varieties: actual Christmas songs (Slade, Mud, Boney M…), bona-fide classics (Bo Rap, Pink Floyd, ‘Don’t You Want Me’…) and novelty dross (Little Jimmy Osmond, ‘Lily the Pink’, and St. Winifred’s School Choir…) Take a guess, then: what variety of hit 1982’s Christmas number one was…?

Save Your Love, by Renée & Renato (their 1st and only #1)

4 weeks, 12th December 1982 – 9th January 1983

Yes, the British public’s capacity for sending crap to #1 for Christmas knows no bounds. Of the three varieties, ‘novelty dross’ reigns supreme. A middle-aged Italian, and a pretty blonde (though the Renée in the video below and the Renée whose voice you hear were apparently not the same person…) Save your love, My darleeeeng… Strings and trembling guitars complete the ‘Valentine’s in a Bella Italia’ vibe.

Songs like this are never worth the effort of holding up to any sort of examination. You can see what they were going for: Christmas, romance, one for the oldies… Except, it’s so cheap and tacky it’s almost unbearable. Back a decade ago, people put some love into their novelty hits. There was a charm, for me at least, to ‘My Ding-A-Ling’ and ‘Ernie’. But ‘Shaddap You Face’ and the St. Winny’s kids, and now this, are almost aggressive in their cheapness. They know they’re shit, and they’re going to batter you into submission.

Sample rhyming couplet: I can’t wait to hold and kiss you, Don’t you know how much I’ve missed you… If they’d gone for a slightly higher-quality production, and spent more than three minutes on the lyrics, I might actually enjoy this. Maybe. Slightly… It’s got a ‘This Is My Song’, or ‘It’s Now or Never’, Venetian gondolier vibes to it, .

Actually, I can half-imagine Elvis belting this out in Vegas, if he’d still been around in 1982. Renato is, sadly, not Elvis. Technically, he can sing. He sounds like a constipated boar, but he the notes are all in the right place. Renée can hold a tune, in a bland kind of way. Who were they? I did hope that this was some kind of ‘Allo Allo!’ spin-off… Except, Rene was a man in that show. (Although, in a spooky coincidence, ‘Allo Allo!’s pilot aired while ‘Save Your Love’ was on top of the charts…)

This record’s ‘cheapness’ can perhaps be excused by the fact that it was written, produced and released all by a man and wife duo (Johnny and Sue Edwards, not Renée and Renato). It is therefore the first truly ‘indie’ chart-topper which, as someone who lived through the height of indie-snobbery in the ‘90s and ‘00s, I find hilarious. Like I said, I want to enjoy this one, want to embrace the ridiculousness of it… but I can’t. It’s just too much.

Renato Pagliari was genuinely Italian, and had waited tables in a Birmingham trattoria before fame came calling. I say ‘fame’, the follow-up to this made #48 and that was that. Rumour, has it that he was the singer of the famous ‘Just One Cornetto’ jingle, though his son denies it. He was also a big Aston Villa fan, and was invited to perform ‘Nessun Dorma’ to the team at half-time, following a poor first-half showing. Sources are quiet on whether the team played any better afterwards… He passed away in 2009.

Meanwhile, Renée (not her real name) had quit the duo before this record even became a hit. She came back for a few years, but retired from the business before the decade was out. One last thing before I go: the grandiose ending to this song is so familiar, but I just can’t place it. It’s driving me mad trying to think what song it copies… Do let me know if you hear it. Anyway, just like that, we make 1983…

511. ‘Beat Surrender’, by The Jam

On with the next thirty. And to start, The Jam return for one final chart-topper.

Beat Surrender, by The Jam (their 4th and final #1)

2 weeks, 28th November – 12th December 1982

In my last post on them – ‘Town Called Malice’ / ‘Precious’ – Paul Weller and his bandmates had made some sonic advancements. Away from punk; into soul, funk and Motown. ‘Beat Surrender’ is more of the same. It’s intro, for a start, is the love-child of ‘I Will Survive’s piano flutter, and ‘Dancing Queen’s glissando.

I’m not even sure there’s a guitar involved here. Certainly not a lead guitar. There’s a piano, and lots of horns. It’s slick and glossy. But that’s not to suggest that The Jam have lost their edge. It’s still a great pop song, with a great hook: Come on boy, Come on girl, Succumb to the beat surrender…

And like most Jam songs, it’s lyrically dense. The title is a play on ‘Sweet Surrender’ and the idea of beating a retreat, which makes sense when you realise that this was The Jam’s final release, their farewell single. Weller intended it as a call to their fans, to young, up and coming bands: Seize the young determination, Show the fakers you ain’t foolin’…

The band also drop some pearls of wisdom from their time as one of the country’s biggest acts: Bullshit is bullshit, It just goes by different names… A line that I think – unless I’m forgetting something obvious – delivers our first example of swearing in a #1 single. Lonnie Donegan, The Stones, Billy Connolly have all flirted with it, but didn’t go all the way. It took five hundred and eleven chart-toppers, though, which is impressive. Safe to say this won’t be the last…

I do admire the way that The Jam didn’t stand still, never seemed to recycle a sound or a style, in their five years of success. Here we have a great moment, when the soulful riffs of the first two verses drops down to a galloping disco bassline. It’s a risk, for a rock act, you could alienate your fans by daring to try new things (gasp!). But it didn’t seem to hurt The Jam. ‘Beat Surrender’ entered at #1 – making them the second act to do this three times (after Slade). Of course, announcing that this record was to be their final ever release probably didn’t hurt its chances, and ensured a fair bit of demand…

 Though I’d say that it hasn’t remained in the collective memory as much as their three previous number ones. It’s a good one – none of their chart-toppers are anything less than a seven-out-of-ten – but perhaps its success wasn’t just for musical reasons. Anyway, after this Paul Weller formed The Style Council, with whom he continued his chart-success (though they never made it to #1) and then found himself cast as the cool uncle of British rock in the 1990s (‘The Modfather’), enjoying a hugely popular solo career that shows no signs of ending: his latest release topped the album charts just last year. Bruce Foxton, the bassist, formed ‘From the Jam’ in the mid-2000s, and Paul Weller has guested on some of his tracks, though he seems pretty set against a full-on reformation.

Advertisements

510. ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance’, by Eddy Grant

The final part of our autumn of reggae comes from Eddy Grant. It’s a cute, catchy tune. But, alas, Eddy does not want to dance to it…

I Don’t Wanna Dance, by Eddy Grant (his 1st and only solo #1)

3 weeks, 7th – 28th November 1982

This record has a likeable homemade feel to it. So homemade, in fact, that I had to double-check that I wasn’t listening to a cheap, karaoke version instead of the original. Once upon a time, not so long ago, the sound of synths in a chart-topper was genuinely exciting. Now they more often tend towards cheap and tacky.

‘I Don’t Wanna Dance’ is a break-up song. But it is such a perky break-up song that you don’t really notice. Eddy is tired of his girl’s flirty ways, and has had enough. I don’t wanna dance, Dance with you baby no more… He’ll remain a gentleman, though. I’ll never do something to hurt you, Though the feeling is bad…

My favourite bit is the unexpectedly scuzzy guitar solo. It’s a really raw moment in what is a pretty safe, reggae-pop number. And in the video he cuts a very Slash-esque figure, plucking it out on a floating raft. Don’t wanna dance, Don’t wanna dance… he chants for the fade-out. It’s an undemanding number, a bit slow and repetitive, but enjoyable enough.

Of the three reggae hits in a row, I’d rate the first one – ‘Pass the Dutchie’ – as my favourite, and this second. ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ was by far the most culturally significant, and best remembered, but it just didn’t grab me. Though I may be getting ahead of myself – I should save all this retrospection for the upcoming recap.

I did wonder if this was the follow-up to ‘Electric Avenue’ – the Eddy Grant solo hit that pretty much everybody knows – and perhaps rode the wave of that record’s success to top spot. But no, ‘Electric Avenue’ was actually this disc’s follow-up, making #2 in early 1983. And we mustn’t forget that Grant has been at #1 once before. Well over fourteen years earlier, in 1968, he and his band The Equals topped the charts with ‘Baby Come Back’, one of the very, very first #1s with a hint of reggae.

You could link this hit – and the gap between group and solo #1s – to Smokey Robinson, who also waited over a decade before his very own chart-topper away from his group. Eddy Grant continues to record and perform, and released his most recent album in 2017. It was titled ‘Plaisance’, after his hometown, in Guyana. Which is nice. Up next, that recap.

Advertisements

509. ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’, by Culture Club

Part two of a three-part reggae autumn, and here’s one of the eighties’ most iconic figures…

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, by Culture Club (their 1st of two #1s)

3 weeks, 17th October – 7th November 1982

When I think of the 1980s, as someone who didn’t live through it (OK, I lived through almost half of it, but you know what I mean) certain images spring to mind. Huge mobile phones, Thatcher’s hair, Maradona’s hand… And that’s before we get to pop music. Madonna’s blonde curls, Michael Jackson moonwalking, ‘Frankie Says Relax’.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the eighties has begun, thanks to a glimpse of Boy George’s long hair and beautifully sculpted eyebrows. Again. The ‘80s keep beginning. I said the same thing when we met Adam Ant, and Shakin’ Stevens, and Human League. The ‘sixties’ had a very definitive start-point: the sudden wave of Merseybeat #1s in 1963. The ‘seventies’ meanwhile actually began sometime in mid-1969, with that string of apocalyptic chart-toppers. Stretch your mind back to the fifties and it was Bill Haley who kicked all that off. The eighties, though, has been harder to pin down.

We’re here to talk about music, though, not iconography. Musically, this record isn’t announcing a new dawn. It’s nice, very gentle, reggae. The intro meanders, and the rest of the song never really picks up the pace. My attention, I’ll be honest, starts to wander. Boy George sings it beautifully, which is probably what made this song stand out at the time. That, and the fact that he looks like a girl.

Sorry, that’s obviously not a very ‘2022’ kind of thing to say. But we’re talking about forty years ago, when appearing on Top of the Pops looking like that was to become an instant national sensation. He makes Ziggy Stardust era Bowie look like Dirty Harry. The music wouldn’t have had to be anything special, it was always going to be playing a clear second fiddle. The video backs this up, with George being thrown out of a nightclub, then a swimming pool, then standing trial for simply being himself. Do you really want to hurt me, Do you really want to make me cry…? The jury of black people in blackface is presumably a comment on people acting how society demands, rather than on being true to themselves. (Completely irrelevant side note: that makes two #1s in a row with a music video featuring the artists on trial.)

I do wish I liked this more. It’s a genuine moment at the top of the charts, but I can’t really get into it. The best bit is the middle-eight, when the emotions peak: If it’s love you want from me, Then take it away… But that’s followed by an empty space where some kind of solo should be. There’s just some bass noodling, some light drumming, and an echo. It reminds me of The Police’s ‘Walking on the Moon’, which I found similarly dull.

‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ was a huge breakthrough for Culture Club. Their only previous chart hit had made #100. Following this, for two years, every single they released would make #4 or higher. Maybe my take on this record is clouded by the fact that I know their monster hit is yet to come… In a year’s time they’ll score one of the biggest chart-toppers of the decade. Maybe that’s when the eighties will officially begin? Or maybe – more likely – I won’t know when the ‘eighties’ began until it’s all over, and I can look back.

Advertisements

508. ‘Pass the Dutchie’, by Musical Youth

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that when it comes to the UK singles chart you are never too far away from a country, or a reggae, hit. These two genres seem to withstand the vagaries of taste, and trend, to pop up time and time again.

Pass the Dutchie, by Musical Youth (their 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, 26th September – 17th October 1982

And you’ll be relieved (at least, I am) to find out that this next #1 is of a reggae persuasion, rather than a country one. The intro is exuberant: a young voice announcing that This generation, Rules the nation! Attention duly grabbed, we slip into a gentle rhythm. Pass the dutchie pon de left-hand side…

First things first: what’s a dutchie? It’s a Jamaican cooking pot, which makes sense given the song’s refrain: How does it feel when you’ve got no food…? (And which probably seemed quite relevant given unemployment rates in the early ‘80s…) Except, one of the songs on which this is based is called ‘Pass the Kouchie’, and a kouchie is a cannabis pipe. So, what we actually have here is a bunch of kids hitting #1 with a thinly-veiled ode to the pleasures of the herb! Except all drug references are now food references.

This is a really fun record. You can imagine Musical Youth as the children of Dave and Ansil Collins, or the younger brothers of Althea and Donna. They were British-Jamaicans from Birmingham, aged between eleven and fifteen when this record made top spot. I was fully prepared for this to be a cheese-fest – ‘Musical Youth’ conjures up images of an after-school theatre club – but it’s pretty authentic. Yes, it’s on the poppier side of reggae, but there’s an grittiness to it that shines through.

The star of the show is the band’s youngest member: Kelvin Grant was only ten when he recorded that memorable opening line, and his subsequent tongue-twisting raps. (Legitimate question: Is he rapping? Or is he scatting? Or is there another reggae-specific term for what he’s doing? If he is rapping, then I’d say we have our first rap chart-topper!)

Musical Youth didn’t last too long beyond their sole chart-topper. They had one further Top 10 hit, but they packed a lot into their short time together. They worked with Donna Summer, won a Grammy (‘Pass the Dutchie’ also made the Billboard Top 10) and were the first black act to be played on MTV, which seems amazing given that MTV had been around for over a year before this record came out…

Sadly, the members haven’t had the happiest of lives since their early fame. Legal troubles broke the band up, and bassist Patrick Waite ended up in prison before dying aged just twenty-four. Musical Youth are now a duo, but they have continued to record and perform. More happily for fans of the genre, we are hitting a bit of a reggae groove at the top of the charts. More to follow…

Advertisements

507. ‘Eye of the Tiger’, by Survivor

We’re meeting some of the decade’s big hitters now (pun fully intended). ‘Fame’, to ‘Eileen’, to this. And it’s another iconic intro. Synths growing, and growing, while a guitar goes chuckachuckachucka… It’s almost disco… Then Bam! Bam bam bam! The chords smash as hard as Rocky Balboa’s punches.

Eye of the Tiger, by Survivor (their 1st and only #1)

4 weeks, 29th August – 26th September 1982

I love it when the beat drops, and we settle into a groove. The bass riff is great (it’s heavily-influenced by ‘Another One Bites the Dust’). Right here, twenty-seven seconds in, this could be one of the best chart-toppers ever. Except, from this point on it’s all a bit of an anti-climax. It’s a record that shows its hand too early; and the remaining three and a half minutes are a bit of a plod.

Having not listened to this song properly in years, I was fully expecting to be won over by its poodle-rocking silliness. Big hair, power chords, even the title is ridiculous. But the vocals are too earnest. The lyrics are cheesy, and not good cheese. Cheap triangles of Dairylea cheese. It’s missing something, or maybe it’s just been ruined by its prominence in pop culture. It’s been used too many times with tongues in cheek. Hell, it’s been used too many times without tongues in cheek. (Plus, the band didn’t even that big hair…)

It’s polished. It’s glossy. But that’s not really the problem. Most pop music released in the 1980s was glossy and polished. It’s also got a great hook: away from the intro, the best bit is clearly the He’s watching us all with the eye….. Of the tiger line. But. But but but. ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is, I’m sorry, rock music for people who don’t like rock music. All the ingredients are there, but it never builds to anything. It plays it too safe. It’s just verse, chorus, verse, chorus… fade. There’s no solo! Where’s the solo? You’ve got that iconic riff, and no solo? So wrong.

It’s too earnest. That’s the problem. Earnestness in rock music never appeals to me. File it alongside other motivational classics, such as ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ and ‘You’re the Voice’, that I’d happily never hear again. Maybe it’s an American thing… We’ve just had ‘Fame’ (I’m gonna live forever…) and now this (Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past, You must fight just to keep them alive…) While in between a bloke in ill-fitting dungarees from Wolverhampton sang an Irish jig about getting into a girl’s pants.

For me, this song exists solely on a ‘Best Rock Album in the World’ CD that got heavy rotation in our family car way back when. I’ve never seen a Rocky film, and it definitely doesn’t feature in any of my regular playlists these days. It’s a childhood memory, and not even that fond a memory… I didn’t particularly like it even as a kid. (I do have a huge soft-spot for 80s hair-metal, though.) Sadly, ‘Eye of the Tiger’s success won’t herald many other hard-rock chart-toppers, and Survivor themselves wouldn’t have another hit until ‘Burning Heart’, from ‘Rocky IV’. Sadly for them, they weren’t invited back for ‘Rocky V’, and that was that as far as their UK chart career went.

Advertisements

505. ‘Fame’, by Irene Cara

Disco beats and hard rock guitars meet in our next number one, one that is both a nod back to the late-seventies and a glance forward to the rest of the 1980s…

Fame, by Irene Cara (her 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, 11th July – 1st August 1982

First the retro bit: a gloriously funky and filthy disco riff. This is a song that sounds like it was recorded at the peak of the genre: part ‘Hot Stuff’ and part ‘Tragedy’. It already, in this respect, sounds a little dated. No, not dated – that sounds negative – nostalgic. Irene Cara also sounds every inch the disco diva, especially belting out lines like: You ain’t seen the best of me yet, Give me time I’ll make you forget the rest…

But when the guitars kick in, turning the synthy disco bits into soaring rock, suddenly you’re hearing all the power ballads and hair metal twiddling still to come in this decade. Irene Cara is also in on this: there’s has a rocky edge to her voice too. Listen to the way she draws out the got what it takes… line. Premonitions of Bonnie Tyler, Jennifer Rush, and other shoulder-padded eighties power-divas.

Fame! I’m gonna live forever… This could be an obnoxious-sounding song, all about how amazingly famous the singer is going to be. The soundtrack to every annoying drama-school wannabe. But it doesn’t come across that way. There’s enough grit to it, Cara selling it completely. Why the hell can’t she live forever?? I was ready to be underwhelmed by this record, for it to be a dated, cheesy film tune, but it’s not. My advice: go for the 12” mix – five minutes with lots more of the gnarly guitars. (And yes, I did just say ‘gnarly’.)

Part of the reason why this sounds a little retro is the fact that the movie ‘Fame’ – in which Irene Cara stars – was released in 1980. It took a tie-in TV series for the record to smash in the UK two years later. Cara had been a Broadway star for several years, but this was her first single. She is probably even better remembered for her other giant soundtrack hit: ‘Flashdance… What a Feeling’ (more song titles should use an ellipsis…) that would make #2, and #1 in the US, in a year’s time. For what it’s worth, I prefer ‘Fame’.

Sadly, though, Cara’s fame has not really lived forever. She is still active – she formed a band called Hot Caramel (presumably because Hot Chocolate was already taken) in 1999 – but has had few British hits outside her two biggies. Except, having performed two of the 1980’s biggest and best-remembered film tunes, who needs more hits? Why is being a one or two hit wonder a bad thing, when your two hits are classics? Come on, Irene – take it away!…. (that may or may not have been a hint as to our next #1…)

Advertisements

504. ‘Happy Talk’, by Captain Sensible

In which ‘South Pacific’ meets punk rock meets kids party singalong…

Happy Talk, by Captain Sensible (his 1st and only #1)

2 weeks, 27th June – 11th July 1982

This is a record you can’t properly imagine until you’ve heard it. If that opening sentence left you stumped, then just go ahead and press play before reading my attempts to describe it… I know, right? It’s woozy, a bit trippy, very end-of-the-pier rinky-dink. And to be honest, I quite like it.

Happy talkin’, Talkin’ happy talk, Talk about things you’d like to do… I’ve never seen ‘South Pacific’, and so wasn’t sure how faithful this cover was. But it is pretty similar to the original showtune, with the brass and strings replaced by very ‘of their time’ synths. It reminds me, a little, of Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin’s wild take on ‘It’s My Party’: another classic tune done up for the early eighties. Only less unhinged.

Well, slightly less unhinged. In the video, and on Top of the Pops, Captain Sensible, dressed as half pimp-half pirate, gives the impression that he is well under the influence of something a bit stronger than coffee. There’s a dancing parrot, too, and a backing girl-group called the Dolly Mixtures. You’ve got to have a dream, If you don’t have a dream, How you gonna have a dream come true?

That there is a hook I can get behind. I’m not one for motivational messages in songs, but this one can’t be argued with. No dreams = no dreams coming true. Simple. Cue the organs. It’s one of the more unexpected themes of 1981-82: chart-toppers that sound like fairground rides. ‘Ghost Town’, ‘House of Fun’, now this. Was it intentional? Or is it just that they were using cheap synths? It also calls to mind Adam Ant’s use of music hall brass from ‘Goody Two Shoes’.

Captain Sensible’s day job was as a member of The Damned (the first British punk act to release a single back in 1976) and this record featured on his first solo album. The giant shift in sound from punk to this might be explained by the fact he had become a pacifist vegetarian the year before. The punk-est moment comes when the Captain leaves a big old pause in the Golly baby I’m a lucky cu…….ss… line that has you wondering if he’s about to drop a giant ‘c’-bomb in this family-friendly single (Although you could also argue that him recording an old showtune in this novelty style is already as punk as it gets…)

I’ve said it many times before: at least make your songs interesting. This one certainly is. A harmless singalong for the kids and their grannies, that actually subverts by just existing. Captain Sensible wouldn’t have many other hits, while The Damned have reformed and disbanded several times over the years. He has also formed his own political party (the ‘Blah!’ Party), and – much more impressively – recorded the theme song for nineties snooker/quiz show ‘Big Break’.

Advertisements

503. ‘I’ve Never Been to Me’, by Charlene

Slowing things down considerably, after the e-numbers overdose of Madness and Adam Ant, Charlene has some life advice, some pearls of wisdom, some preaching to do…

I’ve Never Been to Me, by Charlene (her 1st and only #1)

1 week, 20th – 27th June 1982

Hey lady, she intros, You lady, Cursin’ at your life… She’s a discontented mother, this lady, and a regimented wife. It’s a bit of a harsh opening verse. Alright, Charlene, take it down a notch! Meanwhile the music is very easy listening, the softest of country lilts.

Who the ‘lady’ is is never specified. Whether she wants Charlene’s advice is neither here nor there. She’s getting it. This is a sanctimonious, humble-brag of a song. Charlene lists all the things she’s done – guzzling champagne on yachts, gambling in Monte Carlo, making love in the sun – before trying to pretend that it wasn’t all that fun. I’ve been to paradise, But I’ve never been to me… (honest!)

Some of the rhymes are true clankers: Oh I’ve been to Nice, And the isles of Greece… I’ve been undressed by kings, And I’ve seen some things, That a women should never see… At this point I’m rating this record as ‘iffy’ at best, ‘pretty crap’ at worst. Until Charlene starts talking, that is, sending this song into the realms of the truly awful.

I won’t quote the spoken word section verbatim. The gist is: paradise is actually soothing your screaming baby and arguing with your husband. Paradise is duty. Paradise is definitely not champagne and casinos. Who wrote this? It sounds as if it were commissioned by a mega-church, in order to promote Christian values through the radio-waves. I’m sure you can claim that the song is an argument for taking pleasure in the small things, in accepting happiness wherever you can find it, but I’m not having it. For a start, as Charlene lists all her escapades, she does not sound like she regrets any of it. No way has she cried for the unborn children that might have made me complete. She was too busy shagging her way around the south of France… Whoever the ‘lady’ in the song is, I hope she told Chaz to piss off after she’d finished her sermon.

Of course, ‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ was a giant hit around the world, because people will always gobble this sort of nonsense up. Though it took a while for the song to take off. Originally released in 1977, it took a DJ in Tampa to start its second wind. Charlene was in semi-retirement, and took some convincing to come back and promote the song. And imagine my surprise when I discovered that this was a Motown release! The label that sent The Supremes and The Four Tops, and ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ to the top of the charts is also responsible for this… It was the label’s first big hit featuring a white female vocalist.

‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ has been recorded in Czech and German, Cantonese, Korean and several times in Japanese. It has also been re-claimed as a camp classic in the decades that have followed, beloved of drag queens and cabaret shows. It’s a silver lining, I suppose, that not everyone is taking this song seriously. But it’s still a terrible record. Next please!

Advertisements

502. ‘Goody Two Shoes’, by Adam Ant

In which Adam breaks away from the Ants, and goes solo with a chilled-out, lo-fi, slow-burn debut…

Goody Two Shoes, by Adam Ant (his 1st and only solo #1)

2 weeks, 6th – 20th June 1982

Or not. ‘Goody Two Shoes’ is even more frenetic than either of his band’s chart-toppers. It’s a bit of throwback – twanging rockabilly mixed with a jiving big-band brass section – and it’s all kept galloping along by a relentlessly simple drum beat that Does. Not. Let. Up. Once.

Like ‘Prince Charming’ it is a repetitive song that you need to be in the mood for. Goody two goody two goody goody two shoes… I can see why this might get on some people’s nerves. But if you are in the mood for Adam’s hyperactive musical mind, then this is a great pop single, and the perfect song on which to launch a solo career. We don’t follow fashion, That would be a joke…

People repeat to Adam (in the video it’s a crowd of journalists) the song’s iconic hook: Don’t drink, Don’t smoke, What do you do…? He doesn’t give the press what they want! He doesn’t conform! Is he up to something…!? This might be the first chart-topping example of a ‘haters gonna hate’ hit, the art form so beloved of Taylor Swift. No-one’s gonna tell me, Who to eat with, Sleep with…

What does he do, then? In the lyrics, the answer is an ambiguous: Must be something inside… In the video it’s a little less subtle: he takes the sexiest journalist to bed and shows her just what he does do. Phwoar! It is a bit repetitive, but it’s short, and pacy, and doesn’t outstay its welcome. Of Ant’s three number ones in just over a year, I’d sandwich this nearer to ‘Stand and Deliver!’ (the best) than ‘Prince Charming’ (the worst).

For this record he kept a guitarist and the drummer from his earlier band, letting the other members go due to a ‘lack of enthusiasm’. Sadly this didn’t launch Adam Ant to a long-lasting solo career. He’d have two more Top 10s and two more albums before moving into acting later in the decade (shout out here for my favourite of his solo singles, the characteristically bonkers ‘Apollo 9’). There have been a few comeback albums, alongside some mental health issues. He still writes and performs, and has a tour ready to go when covid allows.

I may not have truly loved any of his chart-toppers, but I am glad that Adam Ant has had his moment at the top of the UK charts. A year in which he was undeniably the biggest pop star in the country. He’s a true British eccentric, always interesting, with a great sense for the theatricality of pop. Line this up alongside the preceding #1, Madness’s ‘House of Fun’, and it has made for a technicoloured, hyperactive double at the top of the charts.

Advertisements