Be Near Me – ABC


ABC

Year: 1985
Artist: ABC
Other Hits: When Smokey Sings, Vanity Kills, The Look of love
Album: How to be a Zillionaire

As per Wikipedia, before the English band ABC, there was Vice Versa and one Martin Fry who was back in the late 70’s interviewing the band for a fanzine Modern Drugs,  Vice Versa asked him to join as synthesizer player, and he accepted, and shortly afterwards the band evolved into ABC, with Martin Fry taking over on vocals. When the group changed its name to ABC they then changed its sound to a polished type of pop music called New Romantic that at that time led them to be categorized with bands like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, and The Human League.

I still have recollection of myself watching them on video. Admiring the suit wearing vocalist and stunned by the band’s fondness of cartoon image of themselves thus, seeing it in their video and vinyl albums. But what I remember most was having a classmate named ‘Venir’ and my friends, bombarding her with the chorus of their song “Venir (Be Near) Me, Veniiir…”

I wish I can say more about the band, I just found out they are still active check out their website http://www.abcmartinfry.com/ABC.html.

I kept asking myself ‘what’s with the name?’ and found this quote and it answered my question. Straight from the main man himself— “I wanted a name that would put us first in the phone directory, or second if you count ABBA.“ – Martin Fry

Suedehead – Morrissey


Morrissey

Year: 1988
Artist: Morrissey
Hit Songs: The More You Ignored Me, The Closer I Get, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, 
Every day is like Sunday, Panic, This Charming Man, How Soon is Now.
Album: Viva Hate

One of the artist in my bucket list I want to see perform live is Steven Patrick Morrissey (born 22 May 1959). He is the lyricist and vocalist of the alternative rock band The Smiths, an English group  formed in Manchester in 1982. Following the demise of the Smiths in 1998 he released the Viva Hate album that includes the track Suedehead and this single charted higher than any of the singles released by his former band, reaching number five in the UK Singles Chart, and remains one of Morrissey’s most well-known songs.

If you came across the movie The Craft (1996) or heard theme song of the television series Charmed then you have stumbled upon his work (How Soon is Now), better yet, If you are not hiding under a rock in 1994 you cannot miss “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” played in the airwaves. But Morrissey was big when I was growing up, bigger than that of a movie soundtrack that you cannot help but be drawn to his record releases. His distinct voice and those mundane lyrics that you could not possibly fathomed in your whole life can add value to the refrain of  his hits but it actually made sense when he sings it,  made me  think that this once depressed teenager had it all figured out.

A big fan of James Dean he wrote the book, James Dean Is Not Dead when he was 21 and the video clip for this Morrissey single features the singer walking in the streets of Fairmount, Indiana, the boyhood city of James Dean. In the video are also featured the school where James Dean studied and the Park Cemetery where the actor is currently buried.

As per Johnny Marr, former The Smiths member and Morrissey song writing partner “So much has been made of that first meeting with Morrissey, but I suppose that looking back at it, it must have been the attraction of opposites. Like, he is a very tidy person and very organised and that was a bit of a shock to me, plus I had never seen so many books in the one room. I had certainly never met anyone like him and it still intrigues me why he was interested in JM (James Dean).” (Melody Maker, 1985)

Suedeheads were a subculture that grew out from the original 1960s skinhead movement. The lyrics of the Morrissey song are unrelated to that topic.  Although sharing many similarities to 1960s skinheads, suedeheads grew their hair longer and dressed in a more formal manner. Although working class, like the skinheads who preceded them, some suedeheads worked in white collar jobs. The female equivalent of a suedehead was a sort.

“Age shouldn’t affect you. It’s just like the size of your shoes – they don’t determine how you live your life! You’re either marvellous or you’re boring, regardless of your age.” –  Morrissey

 

Tears Run Rings – Marc Almond


Marc Almond

Year: 1988
Artist: Marc Almond
Hit Song: Bitter Sweet
Album: Stars We Are

I have high respect for singers who just don’t sing but also write and conceive melody for their songs as well, for me that’s pure talent. Having a great voice is a dime a dozen but for performers who achieved multiplatinum status for formulating their own sound is a real class act.

Peter Mark Sinclair Almond or Marc Almond, shot to fame as the other half of the synth duo Soft Cell and produced the UK #1 hit ‘Tainted Love’. For band with high commercial success there’s always this pattern for the most talented individual to go astray and test the waters so in 1983 he went solo and delivered his best songs ever- Tears Run Ring and Bitter Sweet.

“For me it always comes down to what is a good song and I’m very old fashioned in the way that I like to make songs that have something classic about them whether you can play them with an orchestra or an electro synthesizer or an acoustic guitar.”- Marc Almond

More To Lose – Seona Dancing


Seona Dancing (left: Ricky Gervais)

Year: 1983
Artist: Seona Dancing
Hit Song: Bitter Heart
Album:  Seona Dancing

New wave is synonymous with the song ‘More to Lose’ by Seona Dancing. My friends and I are in awed of this song. You’re never ‘in’ if you haven’t heard the tune and memorized the poetic lyrics. Its piano intro in ostinato became the soundtrack of countless high school dances. Who would have thought that the man behind this 80′s hit has seven BAFTA Awards, four British Comedy Awards, three Golden Globes, 2 Emmys, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. Apart from this, has three sell-out stand-up comedy tours and written the best-selling Flanimals book series. I have seen most of his film- Stardust, Night at the Museum and Ghost Town, in which he assumes the leading role. He also played the main character in The Office as David Brent. Ricky Dene Gervais, born 25 June 1961 is an English comedian, author, actor, director, producer, screenwriter and former pop musician.

In his final year in 1983 as a student at UCL, Gervais and his friend Bill Macrae formed a pop duo, Seona Dancing named after a friend and fellow student Seona Myerscough. They were signed by record label London Records, which released two of their singles—”More to Lose” and “Bitter Heart”.

Pure – Lightning Seeds


Lightning Seed's Ian Broudie

 
Year: 1989
Artist: Lightning Seeds
Hit Song: All I Want
Album: Cloudcuckooland

I started listening and appreciating new wave at 85’, I was still in primary school that time. So even before local radio station or other media streams picked up and commercialized the genre, I was already hooked on it. Back then “New Wave was the new Pop”, alternative became mainstream back then thanks to movies like ‘Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Some kind of Wonderful etc.

I heard this song in the mid 90’s; the station I came across featured their blast from the past hits. I remember asking myself “how come I missed this one?” no good music escapes my ear, especially not this type…poetic lyrics, catchy tunes, Brit vocals…definitely new wave! Then I found out, it was released in 89’. You see, sound has to travel before people start appreciating and this is the pre internet era so you have to wait years to hear new sound especially if you live in some corner parts of the globe. Also, its release of 89’ was actually the start of the new wave decline. People started listening to rap, disco tunes, and yes, Rick Astley.

The common denominator with Lightning Seeds and the Beatles were they both from Liverpool, England. So what’s up with people from this place writing good lyrics and cool tunes? What are they eating? What’s in their mashed potato? Such music geniuses!  Formed by Ian Broudie  the vocals slash guitar slash producer and who single-handedly gave birth to this lush  song – ‘Pure’. According to allmusic.com, he first emerged as a member of Big in Japan a product of the same Liverpudlian post-punk scene that gave rise to Echo & the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, and Icicle Works. in 1982 Broudie teamed with Wild Swans vocalist Paul Simpson under the name Care; the duo released a series of shimmering singles that pointed in the direction Broudie followed in the Lightning Seeds.

What more can I say? This guy is a freaking music genius…hands down!

Never You Done That – General Public


General Public

Year: 1985
Artist: General Public
Hit Song: Tenderness
Album: All The Rage

General Public headed by Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling was a quasi-“supergroup” of the UK punk/ska/mod scene where their second single “Tenderness” was a Top 40 hit in the US. Just recently I heard this song in an Adam Sandler movie mashed up with Rihanna’s Umbrella. It was also featured in the movies Weird Science, Clueless, and Sixteen Candles.

“Never you done that” was equally catchy as their hit song but this single never find commercial success whatsoever I just happened to catch this song back in the 80’s when my brother accidentally played it.  General Public split after a few years but since 2004, Dave Wakeling has toured the U.S. as The English Beat, and he often performs General Public tracks in his set list with a full backing band.

Happy Birthday – Altered Images


Altered Images

Year: 1981  / Album: Happy Birthday / Other Songs: I could be Happy, See Those Eyes

Birthdays are symbols of another year gone by, since your last birthday the earth has completed one journey around the sun, there have been more than 50,000 earthquakes throughout the world. You will have had about 1,460 dreams; world population has grown by around 76,570,430, and in the time it takes you to read this another five babies will have been born.

Happy Birthday’ was the most recognized song in the English Language and was translated in more than 18 languages. It’s nice to know that there are other melodies for this traditional tune to celebrate the anniversary of someone’s birth and it’s a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock and it’s called new wave.

All these time I thought this song was sung by the Brit rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees if you are not familiar with the group try listening to Hong Kong Garden and you will get the similarity. I first came to know the song in the 80’s while watching John Huge’s ‘Sixteen Candles’, a coming-of-age film starring Molly Ringwald. The group responsible for this track were an early 1980s Scottish New Wave / post-punk band named Altered Images. Led by Clare Grogan on vocals and 4 more ex-school friends, they sent a demo tape to Siouxsie and the Banshees who eventually gave them the break in the recording scene. According to Wikipedia “Happy Birthday was the band’s third single and their biggest hit. The song reached number 2 in the UK (for three weeks) in October 1981, catapulting the band to fame. They quickly became established as one of the biggest new wave acts around”

It’s was such a timely coincidence that I have chosen this song to be a topic to kick-off my blog. Robert Southe was on the spot when he uttered this quote “Live as long as you may, the first twenty years are the longest half of your life”  so, this is what this blog about… the first twenty years of music that once moved me…music that once, washes away from the soul the dust of my everyday life…