Day 92: ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’ by Dead or Alive

Here’s some trivia for you, pop pickers. This was the first Number 1 record produced by the (in)famous trio of Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
Pete Burns had been around the music scene for a while, one of several outrageous personalities who roamed the streets of Liverpool in the Punk era. His band had notched up a couple of hits before this really took off and virtually kickstarted the whole Hi-NRG scene in the UK.
This song holds fond memories for me, too. It was the first time I ever danced (apart from at university), and it was with a gorgeous dark-haired and dark-eyed girl I fancied at the time. It was during the DJ set between bands at a gig in a long-closed pub in Penderyn. Everyone else was so shocked that they just stood around and watched. That was as far as it ever went between us, and I haven’t seen her for nearly thirty years. That’s a story for a different blog entirely.
Pete Burns – vocals; Steve Coy – drums; Tim Lever – keyboards, sax; Mike Percy – bass

Day 91: ‘Into the Groove’ by Madonna

This one holds fond memories for me. I was staying with my cousin Mary and her husband Les in Acton, West London, during the summer break from university in 1985. Desperately Seeking Susan was on general release, and ads for the film were all over the place. Les and I decided to check the movie out, mainly because the female stars looked pretty tasty on the poster. The film isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but this song always reminds me of that fun time.

Day 90: ‘Godstar’ by Psychic TV & The Angels of Light

Psychic TV merit a second entry here, because this is totally different in style and approach from Day 50.
I don’t know why I didn’t see this particular edition of The Tube, which might have been their only TV appearance until the infamous Dispatches episode a couple of years later. This tribute to Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones actually dented the UK charts, and marks an interesting stage in the band’s varied history.

Day 89: ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ by The Police

My brother was a big Police fan, so I was used to hearing their songs. I didn’t fully appreciate the subject matter of this song when it first came out. It’s only in hindsight that I realised what a daring and controversial topic was under discussion.
Sting had been a teacher himself, and you have to wonder how much of the song is drawn from real life. When my cousin Adam was doing his teacher training a few years ago, his first day of classroom experience was with a group of female pupils in their mid-teens. At the end of one lesson, one of the girls handed him a piece of paper. Adam was horrified to discover it was her phone number. When he told me about it, I cautioned him to join a union straight away, just in case he found himself at the centre of unsavoury allegations in future. Life imitates art, doesn’t it?
Sting – bass,vocals; Andy Summers – guitar; Stewart Copeland – drums

Day 88: ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by Stanley Jordan

When I was about sixteen I started learning the guitar. A lot of my friends played (some of them were very proficient), and I felt a bit left out. I never got very far with it, and haven’t played for years. Even then, the sort of music I was moving towards had left conventional instruments (like guitars) behind.
I still appreciated a good player, though. This extraordinary performance by the American jazz man Stanley Jordan, on Channel 4’s The Tube, blew my mind. He was only in his mid-twenties at the time – a few years older than us – and I don’t think any of us could believe it. The phone lines in Aberdare were red hot with people ringing each other and saying ‘Did you just see that guy?’ It’s amazing stuff.

Day 86: ‘Ashes to Ashes’ by David Bowie

I’d already written quite a long introduction to this. Then Mr Bowie passed away suddenly, and everything I’d drafted became irrelevant among the reams of press coverage and megabytes of internet tributes.
Suffice it to say that this was the point in my life when David Bowie ceased to be just a name I’d heard from time to time, and became someone whose music was exciting, innovative, mysterious and utterly wonderful.
The video is extraordinary too, featuring the late Steve Strange (see Day 33) and some of the other Blitz Kids. The aftershocks of Punk were still rippling through youth culture, and whenever tectonic plates were moving, Mr Bowie was ahead of the curve.
This song represents a milestone in my musical education, and who better to teach you than one of the masters of British rock music? May you rest in peace, sir!
David Bowie – vocals, keyboards; Chuck Hammer – Roland GR500 guitar synth; Carlos Alomar – guitar; Andy Clark – synth; Roy Bittan – piano; George Murray – bass; Dennis Davis – drums

Day 85: ‘Ignore the Machine’ by Alien Sex Fiend

Here’s another one which is great fun. Alien Sex Fiend were one of the original Gothic Punk bands, back in the heyday of the Batcave club in London. I never went there, although I was in the right place at the right time. Who knows – I could have met my perfect girl there and never bothered to come back to Wales again. Parallel universes are great things, aren’t they?
Whereas most of the other Goth bands relied on fairly standard instrumentation, Alien Sex Fiend used synths, tape loops and treated instruments to carve out their distinctive sound. Combined with theatrical live shows, they were closer to the likes of Hawkwind or Gong than to their fellow Batcavers. This was their first single, and I think it’s one of the best records to have come out of the whole Goth scene.
Incidentally, the second episode of Torchwood (‘Day One’, written by Chris Chibnall) revolved around the hunt for an alien sex fiend roaming the streets of Cardiff, disguised as a teenage girl. Mere coincidence!
Nik Wade (Nik Fiend); Christine Wade (Mrs Fiend); David James (Yaxi Highrizer); Johnny Freshwater (Johnny Ha-Ha)

Day 84: ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson

This is a throwback to my A levels, the period when I and a lot of my friends turned eighteen.
At the time it was something of a tradition to have one’s birthday party in Aberaman (now Aberdare) Rugby Club, on the edge of the town centre. A DJ would be hired for the evening, and as music videos were starting to come of age as well, some of the records would be accompanied by the videos, projected onto a big screen. This was one of them.
The ‘Thriller’ video had been very controversial when it was released. In the UK, Channel 4 showed it late at night because of its horrific content. It quickly assumed cult status, and became a regular fixture of the Rugby Club nights. Somewhat ironically, it shot itself in the foot. It’s a great dance record, but instead of grooving on down to it, everyone stood around and watched the video. It’s the only time I’ve ever bothered with anything involving zombies. It’s great fun, though.

Day 83: ‘Rapture’ by Blondie

Blondie were one of the handful of US bands I did enjoy listening to in the late 1970s and early 80s. They always seemed to have something interesting to offer, unlike so many of the American acts who just reworked old forms and never tried to push the envelope.
This isn’t the most representative track I could have chosen, but it still sounds great. It’s a neat blend of disco groove and punky attitude, with a nod to the new form of music (Hip-hop) which was coming out of New York at the time. (That form of music is inescapable today, and the art of melody writing seems to be under threat of extinction.) However, Blondie successfully hybridised Hip-hop with pop, and this is the result. It was the first record featuring rapping to reach Number 1 in the US charts, and paved the way for much that came later. Incidentally, it wasn’t until someone on the TV pointed it out a couple of years ago that I realised the title was a pun on ‘rap’. Clever, eh?
Deborah Harry – vocals; Clem Burke – drums; Jimmy Destri – electric keyboards; Nigel Harrison – bass; Frank Infante – guitar; Chris Stein – guitar, tympani; Tom Scott – sax