[16] The Jam, ‘That’s Entertainment’

The Jam

By now firmly settled in the pantheon of Britain’s great sub-/urban chroniclers – a line stretching from Ray Davies through Tilbrook, Le Bon, Ryder and Doherty (in his Arcadian dreams), right down to Lily Allen – Paul Weller was knocking out the sure-eyed classics with spittled ease. ‘That’s Entertainment’ makes you feel awfully jolly about your lot as you watch the telly and think about your holidays, as it pisses down with rain on a boring Wednesday, as you decide – Jesus – let’s get right out of Dodge. Controlled aggression slips its moorings and soon a ditty turns into an anthem.

Junior strums her imaginary acoustic, bearing a look of fierce Wellerian concentration. She tells me that she doesn’t like it, but that’s difficult to believe and soon she breaks into a smile: “I was only joking!” Just like our Paul? Some chance.

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[18] Duran Duran, ‘Girls On Film’

Duran Duran

You could hear this coming a mile off: must have been Simon Le Bon’s room-clearing tones, or John Taylor’s sinuous bass, or Nick Rhodes’ brassy synth stabs – or the glaring fact I’ve mentioned them twice in as many posts.

Andy Taylor’s guitar is very new-wave choppy, but the setting is pure New Romantic, quintessential ‘80s. While they may be callow youths straight outta Birmingham, nothing’s going to stop Duran Duran imagining themselves swamped with cash and supermodels – they’ve seen the future and it’s all “See ya later, impossibly unattainable glamorous lady”. And, by golly, that’s exactly what the future was.

It’s a bit gauche, what with Le Bon’s trademark nonsense – “The diving man’s coming up for air ‘cos the crowd all love pulling dolly by the hair” – and the schoolboy’s holy grail that is the Night Version video, but ‘Girls On Film’ is bold, punchy and fuelled by staying power. The world was being tastefully arranged on a plate for this band, and it was time, perhaps, for their own “gear” vocab like some Fab teen faves before them. Junior is here to oblige: she smartly declares the song “faiaiayson”, “wacks” and “coloration” while sporting an expression that dares me to tell her she’s coining new adjectives. Well, she is – and maybe they’re apt.

[13] Roots Manuva, ‘Witness (1 Hope)’

And at unlucky number 13 we have the UK hip-hop industry. “Britain’s best rapper” – yes, sorry to break it to you, Dizzee Rascal, Lady Sovereign, Derek B, Daz Sampson, Simon Le Bon, Robbie Williams etc, but he just is – was born Rodney Smith; not as silly a name as his US equivalents Calvin and Tracy (here’s looking at you, Snoop and Ice-T), but certainly a moniker designed to undercut any gangsta pretensions. Luckily, Rodders is above all that, preferring hard-nosed social commentary, homegrown grooves, and salt of the earth shout-outs to “ten pints of bitter” and “cheese on toast”.

Junior and I do the giant stomp to the sinister beats, eerie harp samples and menacing yet tinny synths that sound like the march of the Federation soldiers in Blake’s 7. ‘Witness (1 Hope)’ is a chunky, phat-farming bounce.

The fact it reached No.45 on the singles chart shows how UK hip-hop bangs its head off a brick wall. The fact it took the sticky paw of novelty popsmith Calvin Harris to usher Dizzee Rascal to No.1 shows how UK hip-hop holds its hands up in surrender.

[19] Duran Duran, ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’

Duran Duran were, of course, the most exciting thing to happen to popular music ever. I was nine, this was the sort of thing I believed. How cool was their massive hair? Their pastel suits? Their headbands? Their location shoots? Their impenetrable lyrics that were more nonsensical than the ones I actually thought Le Bon was singing? This single is magnificent, 1982’s chart a harsh mistress.

Has time been kind?  Will today’s kids “get” Duran Duran? Junior stood up in her playpen from the first note and bopped at the bars. A top five reaction.

God, those LYRICS.

[9] Duran Duran, ‘The Reflex’

While Frankie and Wham! were carving up the UK, Duran Duran were perfumed, whacked-out, be-mulleted Kings of the World. Cash and supermodels dripping off them like sweat from Le Bon’s podgy face. Total UK chart domination seemed to elude them, this being only their second and last No.1 single, but of course they provoked scenes of hysteria not seen since you-know-who.

I was one of those quieter, male Duranies. Bought this single on poster bag 7”, admired by the boys on the lift home from school. It was only when you hit 13 that Duran Duran became hopelessly naff. I stayed bewilderingly faithful, achingly cool though I was, until they slipped off my radar ten years ago.

The best bit of this song is obviously Andy Taylor’s processed burps in the middle section. It’s the only part that makes sense in the lyrical sea of nonsense. They tried to convince us that Taylor was saying “yeah”, but where’s the fun in that?

Junior is an aficionado of the belch, a burping connoisseur. None were forthcoming this morning as she’d obstinately foregone breakfast, so she contented herself with leaning forwards over the side of the inflatable, trying to give her parents the fear. The only time she paid attention was when the “ta la la la”s came in at the start. The moment Le Bon opened his mouth, she dived for cover.

That’s your lot, Duranies. God knows what happened to ‘Wild Boys’.

[18] Wham!, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’

A sunny blast of springtime euphoria or annoying drivel from a couple of over-coiffed chancers in Choose Life t-shirts? It’s a quandary that has vexed musicologists for decades. Wham!’s first No.1 reminds me of the days when my parents’ old RAF colleagues used to visit with their children, and my big sister would choreograph a routine for the kids to perform.

I wonder whether Junior will be the winningly bossy older sister. She could do worse. God knows I needed a kick up the backside from time to time, even if it meant doing cringing George Michael impressions. I’ll be forever in big sis’s debt for giving me the opportunity to mime as Simon Le Bon while my younger sister danced on the sand.

From the first “jitterbug”, Junior was firmly on the side of springtime euphoria. She bounced up and down and whacked the sides of the inflatable, and grinned like a life chooser. The record’s an insubstantial piece of fluff but it has a kinetic drive that will never allow you to stay still, with or without your sister’s coercion.

[13] Duran Duran, ‘Skin Trade’

Like a typical Duranie of the period, Junior was indifferent to this. There was a brief slapping of the thighs at the start, yet attention soon turned to the socks. So, what made the fans desert in their droves? I don’t think it’s a bad record even now, but it was the first to miss the Top 10 in years. Maybe it’s because it had an almost intelligible lyric.

Arcadia and the Power Station diluted the fanbase and the preceding single ‘Notorious’ scraped to No.7 on comeback power alone. A-ha had nicked the girls and the CD age had come and populated the chart’s upper reaches with the more ‘serious’ artists. The biggest bands in the country were now Dire Straits and U2. Duran Duran’s fabled mix of the Sex Pistols and Chic – without the Sex Pistols and the disco joy – wasn’t cutting the ice.

So, Simon, we’ve explained the reason for this strange behaviour. Perhaps you shouldn’t have allowed all those Taylors to jump ship, and then replaced them with AMERICANS.

Band Aid/Band Aid 20, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

As a globally conscious 12-year-old, I spent my hard-won cash on the single like millions of others. I was struck by how much one of the Ethiopian children on the cover looked like Bob Geldof. Yesterday morning, Junior was subjected to the original and the recent remake – she was lucky that I couldn’t find the awful Stock Aitken Waterman version, or I would’ve carried out my threat to play one a day ‘til Christmas.

I’m one of the few who admits to liking the 1984 song. I’m one of the even fewer who can see value in 2004’s edition. I like Thom Yorke’s piano. The Darkness guitars are dreadful, though, and it goes on way too long. Also, don’t we get proper heavyweight pop stars any more? There’s hardly anyone on the later record to compete in terms of fame, glamour, ego and interest with the likes of Simon Le Bon, George Michael, Boy George, even Sting. I bet Status Quo weren’t plying Will Young and Jamelia with Class A drugs.

Junior can’t see what any of the fuss is about. She manages to laugh near the Dizzee Rascal bit, and I can see her wondering who Glenn Gregory is. Or was.