[16] Pet Shop Boys, ‘Where The Streets Have No Name (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)’

Pet Shop Boys

I used to put this on the jukebox in the hall bar at university, just to antagonise the rockists. The Jimi Hendrix lookalike and his Led Zep pals would become particularly vexed, often because it tended to interrupt their ‘American Pie’ loop.

This record’s a thumb of the nose – it couldn’t be anything else with the merging of the Andy Williams camp classic – but there’s affection too. The Pet Shop Boys’ aural soundscapes (wow) are wide enough to do justice to the sweep of the song, and it’s all big and dramatic like Bono thinks he is. I’m sure they’re not JUST taking the piss. Ok, I’m not sure. It’s great, though; I hadn’t heard it for years until this morning, and I still love it.

I’ve banged on about this before, but it’s interesting (well, sorta) that the PSBs and Prince should own the ’80s but then lose the plot at about the same time as each other. Can’t think of any proper good PSBs singles after this – honourable mention, however, to the bit where it goes mad at the end of ‘Go West’.

Junior was rather smitten with this, the Hi-NRG beats bringing forth the cockateel moves. I’ve really brainwashed the poor kid. She’ll be writing her own version of ‘Being Boring’ in about 30 years:

“I came across a cache of digital photos,
And countless blog entries from my dull old father;
He played me records and voiced my opinions,
And Girls Aloud got him all in a lather,
In my 20-noughties…”

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[16] U2, ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’

The high chair was today’s listening platform. Junior did her side to side move, as if she’s trying to dodge you on the basketball court, and was as enthused with the stadium rock power as ever.

‘New Year’s Day’ was the first U2 single I heard, and I hated them. I liked this song and ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ but hated them again in time for the next year’s arrogant, show-stopping Live Aid performance. Bono’s antics at Live Aid made me cringe. My mum was in hospital waiting to give birth to my brother, and my nonplussed dad let me sit in front of the TV all day. I remember him being rather taken with Madonna, able to identify her whenever she appeared on Top Of The Pops after that. Quite a feat when you consider that he usually thought that all pop stars were Cliff Richard.

He even let me sleep on the sofa that night so I could catch the Philadelphia concert, and particularly Duran Duran. I knew I wouldn’t make it so I set my alarm clock, but – portending my adult future – I slept right through it. I was gutted. Still haven’t seen Duran Duran’s bit. Was it any good?

Back to 1984. ‘Pride’ is one of those huge, undeniable records that will have you nodding your head, hate it or love it. Junior and I got into it, air drums on the tray, but we’ve probably heard it enough now.

[1] U2, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’

I was given my first CD player for my birthday that year and had to choose one CD. A friend suggested I replace my favourite album. The Joshua Tree had been out for three months, ample time for me to decide – briefly – that it was the greatest record ever released, so that was the one. How fickle our young selves are.

I forgot about it for a few years, when chest-beating stadium behemoths were painted as the devil incarnate, but have come back to it a bit now, and it’s not too harsh a shock to see this song at the top of the pile. U2’s plodding and patchy recent efforts, and the “will this do?” likes of Coldplay’s vapid X&Y are giving impassioned, crowd-pleasing rock a bad name again, though, and the superior quality of The Joshua Tree is shown in stark relief.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, and not really my favourite stuff these days. Some songs break through. I like the yearning and insistent chords, and the way it builds, shown to more obvious effect on Rattle & Hum’s gospelified version. The Chimes’ fantastic soul cover a few years later takes it even further, bringing out the potential Bono hoped it had.

Of course, it could just be a load of cod-religious, bombastic, empty posturing. Hey, that’s why we love them, right? Junior tried to get with the questing theme by working out how to sit up unaided. Didn’t quite manage it, but she put on a decent performance. Acting baby.