[12] Hipsway, ‘The Honeythief’

Hipsway

Ah, the soul boys of the 80s. Even the NME, in 1985, was ranking What’s Going On as the best album of all time, before they decided old albums didn’t mean shit unless they directly influenced The Stone Roses. This edict has topped the commandments for 20 years and counting. Anyway, the soul boys of the 80s. Hipsway, sporting towering piles of Brylcreem, were formed by ex-Altered Image and future Texan Johnny McElhone but were all about gorgeous, pouting singer Skin. Well, Skin and – on ‘The Honeythief’ – a Chic riff that could carry a song alone. The 12” extended mix which, unusually for an 80s version, doesn’t rely (exclusively) on an elongated drum fill to pad it out, shows the riff in all its clipped glory and can be frugged to below.

Junior liked “the tune and the singing”, which has to be a ringing, riffing endorsement. But it wasn’t all gravy – the word “honeythief” sparked gales of laughter. Not so cool now, Skin.

Sleek, big cat:

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[6] The Stone Roses, ‘Love Spreads’

We tried a new experiment this morning – well, we were pushed for time and it would’ve been a pity to mess up this tune-a-weekday thing we’ve got going on – and listened to the song on the bus to nursery, like teenage rapscallions playing tinny bassline house on the backseat. Don’t worry; we were at the front, listening through sound-isolating earphones at a responsible volume. Junior showed fierce concentration all the way through the lengthy John Squire Led Zep-a-thon, breaking off only to declare that her arms ached from holding the earpieces in place. Afterwards she said that she liked the song and it had “lots of guitars”.

I think Squire would have been pleased with the assessment. That’s why he kept the band holed up in Wales for four years, wasn’t it? To lay down “lots of guitars”.

Anticipation had reached Chinese Democracy levels by the time this surfaced in November 1994, and it was only ever going to be an anticlimax. It’s a pretty solid rocker with a bit of swagger, but last time we’d seen The Stone Roses they looked as if they might Change The World with large jeans and half-inched James Brown beats. This plodded in comparison. Still, with a sense of relief at any kind of output, I loved it for a few months, and Paddy and I particularly enjoyed making Neil and Kate sing “The Messiah is my sister” over and over in the backseat as we drove up to Edinburgh that New Year’s Eve.

[6] The Charlatans, ‘North Country Boy’

Junior was laughing again with this one. Coincidentally, I was singing. She rocked from side to side, like a chubby metronome, and was at one with The Charlatans’ good-time bluster. It’s a joyous record, sung with a smile on its lips. Their run of great singles was coming to an end, but it had been a cracking few years.

With this single, their Dylan passion was made flesh. The title’s a riff on ‘Girl From The North Country’, the sleeve’s a pastiche of Nashville Skyline’s, even Tim Burgess’s phrasing is the culmination of years of botched impressions.

Burgess has always been one for a bit of hero worship, from the Stone Roses through Dylan to, in recent years, Curtis Mayfield. He’s not gone as far as breaking his spine, though. Charlatan.

[1] The Stone Roses, ‘Fools Gold 9.53’

The Stone Roses

The last couple of minutes of ‘I Am The Resurrection’ gave us a clue, ‘Fools Gold’ rammed it home with wah-wah to spare. British rock had found the funk, and we tripped over our unfeasible trousers to show that we’d had it all along. The beat is still aggressive enough to startle Junior into involuntary bouncing, and she’s right into it in seconds. A bit of rock, a bit of groove, mix them together and it’s a nine-month-old’s nirvana.

Heaven knows what Ian Brown’s on about, mind. Something about his mate shopping at Mr Pyrite. Soz. It didn’t matter, it was all about the Funky Drummer and John Squire putting his guitar to good, economical use – possibly for the last time. Everyone was waiting for this single – me, I bought it on the day it came out, in Replay in Bristol. I was there on a university open day, clearly more concerned about red hot new tunes than whether the Classics department was the place for me.

1990 went rock-dance crossover crazy, but nothing had this record’s brass balls, and Northside never blew The Late Show’s sound system. Fookin’ amateurs. The Stone Roses, of course, hoovered up Colombia’s gross national product and went on to release records that actually sounded like expanding paunches.

‘Fools Gold’ is still lithe.

[12] Madonna, ‘Like A Prayer’

Madonna

She’s snogging a BLACK CRIMINAL JESUS. Shocking, I’m sure, but Madge didn’t need to whip up a storm here. Her power pop peak sold itself. It came out of nowhere too: the Who’s That Girl film and soundtrack had underperformed, the singles were shoddy and sales had diminished; the You Can Dance remix album had met a public rapt with indifference. Blonde Ambition to Blonde Ambivalence.

So, she went brunette and found some songs. The Chameleoness of Pop.

Junior’s a brunette already, but she’ll never be a successful chameleon until she discovers colours that aren’t pink. The song was a hit – she smiled and bounced as she put her pink-sleeved arm into her pink anorak.

I remember buying the album along with Soul II Soul’s Club Classics Vol. One and The Stone Roses’ debut, a solid burst of purchasing in Virgin Milton Keynes. Then, of course, I took it home and sniffed Madonna’s patchouli-scented crotch.

I forgot to upload the mp3. Ah, you know how it goes.