[19] Van Morrison, ‘Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)’

Van Morrison

It’d be difficult to talk about this without mentioning Dexys Midnight Runners. So let’s make this about Dexys Midnight Runners. Their version of ‘Jackie Wilson Said’ was the first single I ever bought, and hence a landmark in the History of Pop. As a callow child, I didn’t get the joke of the Jocky Wilson photo on Top Of The Pops, and also failed to knowingly snigger at Kevin Rowland singing, “real you see” instead of “Reet Petite”. And besides, maybe Jackie Wilson did once say it was “real, you see” or “real”, you see. We’ll never actually know.

What we can say with confidence is Kev says he doesn’t need “no tea” in his cup, while Van doesn’t need coffee. From this, we can extrapolate that it takes a whole lot less to get Kev “wired up”, but I guess we knew that anyway. The DMR version is a tight affair – no surprise with that crazily drilled band – while Morrison and co take it headlong and ramshackle. I’ve a sentimental attachment to the DMR take, obviously, but Van is out on a limb, giving it that extra lick of flame.

Junior flung herself around the room with celtic abandon from first “dup” to last. When I asked her for a more considered view afterwards, her mouth was too full of Rice Krispies to offer a clear assessment. It could’ve been “real you see” or “Reet Petite”.

[4] Hercules And Love Affair, ‘Blind’

Hercules And Love Affair

Antony Hegarty’s a rum old cove – you think you have him pigeonholed as a massively melodramatic torch singer, the type that can ruin a good couple of tracks on a Björk album simply with his wailing presence, and then he goes and fronts up on a stunning disco track as if it were, to him, the most natural thing in the world.

Of course, ‘Blind’ is more than disco; it’s deep, deep house too, throbbing with delicious beats and perky muted horns. Hercules And Love Affair is the brainchild of mythologically-minded DJ/producer Andy Butler, but here it’s very much the Hegarty show – the lead Johnson lifting the song from the solid to the sublime.

This sort of thing is catnip to Junior who hasn’t even had her Rice Krispies yet, but is flinging herself around with gay abandon, sporting a set of penguin-shaped deely boppers. Deely boppers. You remember. You’ve seen Kate Thornton getting giddy about them on I Love 1982.

[1] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

For all my efforts, Junior doesn’t quite have the weight of cultural history on her small shoulders, so true innovation won’t astonish her just yet. To her, ‘Get Ur Freak On’ has a slinky groove that makes those unburdened shoulders shimmy, but – as far as artistic impact goes – it faces tough competition from the Rice Krispies.

So, what makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip-hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?


[14] Sophie Ellis-Bextor, ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’

Polite reaction for a polite girl; Junior shimmied her shoulders briefly before refocusing attention on her Rice Krispies. At the end of the track she turned around and asked, “Did you like that song, Mummy?” – and Mummy admitted that she did. In all, a rigorous assessment befitting our faintly schoolmarmy disco diva.

After the misfire of theaudience, Soph was fortunate to meet 12-foot DJ Spiller who helped her find her niche immediately. It’s beyond question that Janet Ellis’s willowy, prim and stunning daughter was born to be a dance-pop queen of some stature – all icy style and no weighty substance – and ‘Groovejet’ sealed the deal. That she attempted to go all Swing Out Sister with solo debut proper ‘Take Me Home’ was a damp squib of a miscalculation, but ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’ was swift to claw back the ground.

It’s an odd single – on the face of it, it’s bloody ridiculous, but if you squint just a little and swallow the haughty “real Posh Spice” shtick whole, then you can pretend it’s a glossy sliver of genius. We’re concentrating hard.