- 23 May 01
Dermot Stokes' 1982
The fast fading year produced few new trends – it has all the appearances of a time of consolidation rather than great innovation. Maybe we’re easing towards a new burst of energy a couple of years from now, who knows. But there was no shortage of good singles around, and one could conceivably argue that it was a more significant year for singles than albums.
The major breakthrough, if that’s the right name, came from Kevin Rowland And Dexy’s Midnight Runners, whose tinker chic and celtic soul was a warm and welcome antidote to the overdressed synth bands. ‘Come On Eileen’ and ‘Let’s Get This Straight From The Start’ both stand out as classics.
As for The Human League, who are still caught by the Jam Traffic, 1982 ends with some frustration, and perhaps a sense that there’s an awful lot of musicians out there who have them sussed. That apart the other major trends were in cover versions of vaguely dance-oriented music from the 1960’s and early ’70s, like Shirley Ellis’ ‘Clapping Song’ and ‘Iko Iko’. In many cases these were cobbled together with another trend, for pretty all-girl groups (or something like that), like The Belle Stars.
Bananarama may end up as the one group from the rend to survive, although their leaden chorality denies it. It’s hard not to see their success as related to their winsome looks. Ironically The Specials, their part-mentors, with one of The Bodysnatchers, not The Belle Stars, produced one of the most harrowing records of the year, ‘The Boiler’. A great anti-rape, anti-violence record. And while the two above-mentioned groups may have some claim to credibility, there were some right wojous offerings that came in their wake. The Castaways, Toto Coelo … names to conjure with.
There was also the return of the Classic Song. The Big Ballad, and although he’s not exactly in the mainstream of fashion, Elton John’s ‘Blue Eyes’ has to stand out as the classic classic. Great.
The year also produced some great rapping records, like Kurtis Blow’s recent ‘Tough’, Grandmaster Flash’s surprise Top ten hit ‘The Message’ and, yes, Alexei Sayle’s “Ullo John, Got A New Motor?”
Kid Creole made the big breakthrough with a string of hits, but The Undertones still failed to make a return to their former commercial success, despite the quality of a record like ‘The Love Parade’.
On the home front it was an active and encouraging year. The desperately needed studio mastery still seems as elusive as ever, and the crippling burdens of duty and VAT are heavier than ever, given the hard times we’re in. But Stockton’s Wing, The Blades, Brush, Tokyo Olympics, The Rhythm Kings, The Shade, Audo Da Fe, Silent Running, Some Kind Of Wonderful, Big Self, The Outfit, The Outcasts, The Prunes, and others all released fine stuff that made an essential point: that the recording process is an essential part of the business of playing music, and that there should, if anything, be even greater activity from now on.
But of course the big achievement by an Irish band (and a Gaelic speaking one at that) was Clannad’s top live hit in Britain with ‘Harry’s Game’, which proved that nothing succeeds like a good sound. The lessons handed out there, and by the other great ‘Irish’ success of the year, Dexy’s, are still being assimilated.
Elsewhere æ let’s see, The Musical Youth explosion, great singles by Robert Palmer, XTC X2, ABC, Sandie Shaw (the BEF ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’), Yazoo x 2, the great Madness, Elvis Costello, Pulsallama, The Wolves, The Beat, The Jam, Kate Bush (‘The Dreaming’), Phil Ramocon’s ‘The Trip’, and Culture Club’s two hits, neither of which I really liked, but both of which were huge, just to keep the head in order.
- 12 Aug 22