A regular feature in which our writers and photographers share their favourite tracks. This week we launch the first of our special themed selections, with our pick of tunes from those glorious days of the 1980s…
Madonna – ‘Over and Over’ (chosen by Jennifer Gannon)
There are a myriad of perfect pop confections that Jellybean and co concocted for the divine Miss M in the ’80s, every one of them a bouncy mix of the sexy and the preposterous that transformed many a young mind over the years and various other parts of their anatomies too. ‘Over and Over’ may not be up there with the best, in fact, it possibly wouldn’t be any folks most memorable but for this ridiculous girl it has become a personal mantra.
Beginning on the fateful day as a six year old I did a disastrous tumble on the way to the chipper and instead of having a cry and hobbling home to Mammy dearest, as would have been the usual routine, instead I lay close to the cracks in the concrete and for the first time thought out the phrase that has become a lifeline to me in many a vexing situation from then on: ‘WHAT WOULD MADONNA DO?’
Well, being the tough, snarling, bottle blonde crucifix dangling, ire enhancing firecracker that she was, there was no way she’d let a shiny pair of Clarks and an uneven pavement defeat her. So as I pulled myself and my grazed knees up, I took literal solace from my favourite track from the Like A Virgin album ( there were only two words I understood in that title neither began with ‘V’…) and got up again… to get chips… I doubt that was the exact message Madge wanted to expound but it did it for me and has continued to do so no matter what crappy situation life launches at me and for that I owe her a few from the bottom of the bag.
Prefab Sprout – ‘The King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll (chosen by Hilary A White)
I hear Sprout. They’re all around me. Either I’m being stalked by the ghost of Paddy McAloon (and he’s not even dead) or the radio DJs of Ireland are lately undergoing a love-in with this extravagant and cocky 1988 pop masterpiece. In cruel and unusual circumstances, I twiddle that dial on the wireless and somewhere between the white noise I detect a cheesy synth stab or McAloon’s barmy lyrics (“Hot dog / Jumping frog / Albuquerque”) seeping forth to happily contaminate my day. If Silly Season was an actual time in the calendar year, this would be its soundtrack.
Talk Talk – ‘Inheritance’ (Chosen by Simon Roche)
When I first heard this standout song on a free chillout CD with Q magazine 11 years ago it was the only Talk Talk song in my collection, and it criminally remained so until quite recently. Having spent the last few years delving into every corner of what I now believe to be the greatest band of the ’80s, returning to ‘Inheritance’ in its own right still sucks me right back in. Perhaps the most delicate song ever written it deserves a close listen at the highest fidelity possible. The album it’s from, Spirit Of Eden, reputedly changed music industry contracts forever, so far it was from the more commercial pop that was expected by their label EMI after the chart success of ‘It’s My Life’ and ‘Life’s What You Make It’. Lucky for us too. Timeless and intense, the whole album should go straight in your bag for that trip to the desert island you were no doubt planning.
Bobby Brown – ‘On Our Own’ (chosen by Ian Keegan)
A track that whenever I hear it, never ceases to spin me back to the days of a five year old boy and his lust for a proton pack and his very own Ghostbusters uniform. ‘On Our Own’ was a Billboard number 2 and UK number 4 in the summer of 1989 and it was also the main track used for the classic ’80s movie, Ghostbusters 2. In the original music video, which was filmed in May 1989, a whole host of celebrities of the time can be found appearing as cameo roles. Faces like Jane Curtin, Malcolm Forbes, Iman, Sally Kirkland, Rick Moranis, Joey and Marky Ramone of the Ramones, Christopher Reeve, Lori Singer and Donald Trump, can all be found throughout the video.
George Michael – ‘Careless Whisper’ (chosen by Lisa Hughes)
When it comes to my love of ’80s music, my mam must shoulder some of the blame. From an early age I was treated to the finer things in life; how to wear too many bracelets ala Madonna in ‘Get Into the Groove’, how not to wear illegally tight shorts like Axl and that the best Greek export would always, always be George Michael. What’s not to love about ’80s George? He had hair so coiffed it rivalled Diana’s, sold millions of records and penned some of the best lyrics of love of the decade like “I’m never gonna dance again, guilty feet have got no rhythm.” I’ll dance with you, George. Anytime. Now, if only life had ‘Careless Whisper’-style sax solos, then we’d be sorted.
The Stranglers – ‘Golden Brown’ (chosen by Dara Higgins)
Cher Loyd is number one and the kids riot. Popular culture is further diminished by the callous science of the hit record. Everyone is told that they should like this chaff week after week on soulless, vampirical tv. We’re told that she, and all the others in a long line of vacuous, mono-celled, shiny fleshed imbeciles plucked from well deserved obscurity, are “stars”. We’re given a package, so scrubbed that the sheen has gone. We can’t see ourselves reflected in this over-produced, auto-tuned, overloud excreta. We can’t see ourselves because humans did not make this music. Smug, asexual cash-registers-for-mouths shit-bots did.
It was very different in the ’80s. There was no information superhighway. There was Supertramp and Steve Heighway, and that’s about it. Real music had no choice but to attempt the treacherous terrain of the “traditional route” in order to get their product (we used to call them songs) out there. You know: practice, write songs, do gigs, get signed, record music. Record good music, or bad, depending on your oeuvre. Get it on the radio and cross your fingers. Back in the ’80s, anything was possible, and ‘Golden Brown’ is my go to track to remind me that real songs, and real humans, could and can connect with the charts. A paean to heroin and/or sex performed by reprobates, not unfamiliar with the odd riot themselves, on an obsolete instrument, the harpsichord, and without a discernable chorus got to number 2! (Real ’80s fans know that number 2 was always a lot cooler than number 1. Number 1 is for Rod Stewart, number 2 is for the Pistols.) ‘Golden Brown’, with its louche and dishevelled video, an effortless cool a legion of marketing gonks couldn’t replicate, is full of hubris, grubbiness, resignation, Hugh Cornwall’s wonderfully monotonous drawl invokes the so-so highs and rapturous lows of being a human. It’s pretty much everything the modern, text message and shit-bot decided charts isn’t.
Toto – ‘Africa’ (chosen by Loreana Rushe)
This is my favourite song OF ALL TIME. I don’t think I need to say much else after that.
The Police – ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ (chosen by John Joe Worrall)
During the 2009/2010 La Liga season Pep Guardiola decided that Messi, Xavi, Iniesta et al needed that extra push to win. That extra 5% which separates winners from Unicef-approved, losers. It wasn’t Lucozade Sport either. It was, eh… ‘Viva la Vida’ by Coldplay, with the song played in the dressing room before each and every game. This week Cesc Fabregas signed for the club and got his own introduction to their MOR leanings. His unveiling to the press was accompanied by a video montage of Fabregas highlights soundtracked by ‘Every Breath You Take’. One can only imagine this prompted Arsene Wenger to pop on ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’, but it sent me back to the gorgeously tense first minute of ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’. So good you have to forgive the rather Police-by-numbers three minutes that follow.
John Waite – ‘Missing You’ (Chosen by Elaine Buckley)
I know very little about John Waite. In fact, I really know nothing about him – all I really know is that I ADORE this song. 1984’s ‘Missing You’ is an angsty ’80s power-ballad of the highest order, with a suitably cheesy music video to accompany it. Tina Turner later went on to cover ‘Missing You’, due to the fact that it was the song that had ended the reign of ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ at the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100… But really, it’s not a patch on the original (sorry Tina).