TAILOR-MADE three-button side-vent sharkskin ‘Mod Revival’ anthem with added Cheggers Plays Pop friendliness for those blokes who wore long green coats to school to do that neck-jerking staring-eyed ‘dance’ to. Ambitious lyrical conceit had something to do with being the anthropomorphic embodient of the concept of ‘beat’, how this made one in ‘demond’, and using your rhythmic capabilities to entertain martians, cause complete mental collapse in teenage girls, convince mariners to commit acquatic suicide, and raise the dead – all of it sung about with a Phil Daniels Meets Grange Hill – They Early Years vocal braggadocio that suggested the above were somehow considered very much a Good Thing. The Look didn’t stick around much longer, unlike this single itself, which concluded with one of those ‘permanent grooves’ which went on and on repeating ‘BEAT! BEAT! BEAT! BEAT!’ to increasing amounts of surface noise.
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They say there’ll be no singles by prog rock bands this Christmas? Try telling that to pop’s premier firecely-guarded-persian-carpet-mounted bass guitarist, who took time out from conceptualising impenetrable album-length instrumental suites about that iguana that fought Captain Kirk or something to craft a three minute ode to Remembering The Real Meaning Of Christmas, in cahoots with his ‘please don’t use our names’ bandmates Lake and Palmer, and somewhat incongruously, colour-coded fa-la-la-ing TV variety show favourites The Kings Singers. Quite what he’s actually going on about is roughly as decipherable as the average ELP concept album concept, hardly surprising as the lyrics were written in cahoots with King Crimson’s Pete Sinfield (lest we forget, the man who gave the world “CAT’S FOOT! IRON CLAW! NEUROSURGEONS SCREAM FOR MORE AT PARANOIA’S POISON DOOR… 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN!!”) but it apparently has something to do with rumbling Santa as a false-bearded ‘phoney’ and asking us all to remember the Nativity instead of our ace presents. And yes, its catchy singalong nature is still tempered by ELP’s trademark ransacking of the ‘classics’, in this case a hefty instrumental quotation from the Troika section of Lieutenant Kije, fondly remembered by Cream Era viewers for its appearance in Music Time’s puppet adaptation of said ballet, complete with oily ‘Chancellor’ being hilariously booted down the stairs. Sadly, however, Greg forsook the use of puppet footage for the video, in favour of grainy film of him being all ‘progressive’ in the Holy Land.
“Ha ha ha… roll the tape!”. Over-fringed Indiepop Christmas Fun as Pete, Bob and Sarah celebrate a year of minor success with retro-futuristic pop songs laced with proto-Cream reference points by teaming up with the beleagured Charlatans frontman, hardly likely to want to celebrate a year of dwindling record sales, band members being arrested for accidentally taking part in armed robberies, and Andrew Collins being mean about him in Select. The result? A sparkling ode to ‘getting groovy after halloween’, full of upbeat Christmassy sentiments quite at odds with the titular implication of Jesus-style ‘combined present’ woe, and complete with video-bound excursion into Quality Street/BBC Globe ‘Victorian = Christmas’ iconographic inexplicableness (and we’ve not even got started on the huge quantity of not-particularly-Yuletide-worthy cats lurking around the sleeve of the ostenible ‘Xmas 93 EP’, in other words a listenable-ish Billy Fury cover and a couple of ponderous instrumentals). Within months, The Charlatans were back where they belonged and that pesky ‘indie’ was getting nearer and nearer to the top ten.
LIKE THIS? TRY THIS: 'THE WASSAILING SONG' BY BLUR, 'CHRISTMAS IN SUBURBIA' BY MARTIN NEWELL
ITV LUNCHTIME-ALIKE pop-soul-psych hybrid expertly bridging the gap between Glam Rock and whatever the big pop thing before Glam Rock was. All turn-of-the-decade eyes were on slinkily-large-belted and glittery-eyeshadowed lead singer Polly Browne – even despite the distracting ridiculousness of The Bloke One’s hairstyle – and despite sinking without trace not soon afterwards with only a handful of minor follow-up hits to their modishly Wiccan-tinted name, the enduring appeal of this ode to vandalising trees in the name of love and ‘doing things’ in cottages ensures they remain one of the best remembered pop acts of the entire decade; not least by Dave Lee Travis and Adrian Juste, who were forever cueing up this platter as an official start to a tear-wiping Bank Holiday personal odyssey into the popular beat depths of ‘the seventies’. And no, despite what you may have been assured by that bloke who’s always by the photocopier at work, Polly Browne did not later develop an allergy to ‘modern’ and have to live in a Travolta-esque plastic bubble.
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HAPLESS mirror-shaded Gallic ‘soft-synth’ rumination on the difficulty of expressing emotion through the medium of, well, ‘words’. They don’t come easy, apparently. Seemingly taken a lot more seriously on the continent – witness his track-long miming on a white Stratocaster despite there being barely any guitar to speak of, and his positioning in front of a psychedelic backdrop (doubtless the result of someone, as Europeans are wont to do, declaring that it sounded ‘just like The Beatles’) – but embraced over here (via exposure on a short-lived Top Of The Pops ‘Euro’ slot) for endearing hopelessness to near-chart-topping extremes, memorably dubbed ‘The Multi-Talented FR David’ by John Peel, and equally memorably given nought out of ten in a Smash Hits album review. Follow up single, Music (which, it should be noted, he had already claimed did come easy to him), predictably flopped, but we will never forget.
LIKE THIS? TRY THIS: 'LA DOLCE VITA' BY RYAN PARIS, 'BROTHER LOUIE' BY MODERN TALKING