[16] Livin’ Joy, ‘Dreamer’

Riffing on a theme, the Fender Plastic was out again despite me telling Junior I was pretty sure there’s no guitar on this record. But hey, she’s into fusion, man. She did take time out to ask me who was singing, and I admitted I didn’t know the nice lady’s name. “The band’s called Livin’ Joy, though.” She nodded sagely.

The “band”, as it were/was, were just a couple of Italian DJs in the fine tradition of Black Box, Starlight and all that. Italo House had moved on by this point from thumped piano hooks to something that sounded like disturbed windchimes – a motif in the fine tradition of Erasure’s peerless ‘Drama!’ – and was now ringing the death knell of dance music. ‘Dreamer’, however, is thrilling, ecstatic, beautifully structured.

As for the demise of mainstream dance, I blame Faithless. Or my age. One of the two.

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[14] Blondie, ‘Sunday Girl’

Light as air, carefree and – what? – hard to get? Junior’s mum pointed out that Junior and Juniorer are both Sunday Girls (“You were born on a Sunday, J” “I was very born on a Sunday”) but perhaps not in the way Debbie Harry is hinting. We all love the song, know the words – even the French ones on this Best Of version – and Junior sways in front of her sister, hips in time to the gossamer rhythms.

Blondie were bang into their flow by this point, succeeding ABBA as the singles band du jour, knocking the classics out at a rate to make Paul Weller jealous; not that he was far behind. I’m always seduced by a band that respects the single, that can put so much care in for so sustained a period. You know the suspects: Wham!, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Girls Aloud… hmmm. I feel like I’m coming out.

I shared a bed with Debbie Harry last year. Well, she draped herself across it, while I perched at the end, asking questions she’d answered a thousand times before. In all the excitement, my tape recorder broke, but she let me have an extra five minutes once I’d taught myself shorthand. Lovely. Anyway, that’s one for the After Dinner circuit.

[2] Yazoo, ‘Only You’

More humanity in machines. Even Alf’s nasal, masculine drone finds some emotion, tripping over itself in the later lines, cracking and interrupting itself. It’s a great performance; she finds more rhythm in her tone as the song goes on and Vince ups the tempo as all the feeling comes pouring out. Gives Junior’s old dad a bit of, erm, hayfever.

The girl herself raises her arms in the air and sways them from side to side. This is a reaction I haven’t seen, more typical of Rod Stewart fan during ‘Sailing’ or a Foreigner fan during, well, anything. Junior’s calling ‘Only You’ a soft rock ballad. Hmm. Swap the synths for power chords, and what have you got?

Right. Depeche Mode, Yazoo, the Assembly, Erasure, countless productions/remixes: where’s Vince’s Outstanding Contribution Brit? Sign my petition now.

[7] Erasure, ‘Drama!’

Erasure

We had The Beatles in 65/66, ABBA in 76/77 and Blondie in 79/80. Top singles bands captured at the very peak of their powers. Erasure were showing this kind of form at the back end of the 80s, unable to stem the flow of startlingly good pop songs. ‘Drama!’ doesn’t even have a CHORUS, not really, but it’s no-sweat Top 10 gold dust.

And I’m nothing if not a sucker for sparkly pop music with killer hooks, squelchy noises, shouts of “GUILTY!” at various pitches and legions of battling synths – always have been. Junior’s going to go this way too, if I have to frogmarch her. She looked pretty sanguine about the whole thing, anyway, her arms propelling her ceilingwards on Vince Clarke’s 303 skyrocket.

Ol’ Vince, eh? 80s pop’s ubiquitous eminence grise. His dread hand will appear twice more in this chart, actual and implied. Oooooo.