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1981 – Spellbound

February 17th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

Although I enjoyed the 80’s at the time, I don’t enjoy looking back on them as much as the 70’s. Maybe I should make more of an effort. As far as music was concerned, there was a lot of good stuff, even if a lot of it was quite superficial and 1981 was no exception.

I said that most of the 80’s stales appeared in 1980 and all that was missing was Depeche Mode, but I should have added Phil Collins as a solo artist. Both put out albums in 1981, and Duran Duran appeared on the scene, along with the Thomson Twins, Kim Wilde, Level 42, Tom Tom Club, Heaven 17, and Soft Cell.

There was quite a buzz about Depeche Mode, as they were our local band and put Basildon on the map. I didn’t know them but a lot of my friends who were in bands knew them. When Dreaming of Me was relesed as a single we all went out and got it. It didn’t sell anywhere near as much outside Basildon, but the follow-up, New Life did get on TOTP in June and nearly got into the top ten. When the band turned up in the pub we were drinking in the week after that first TOTP we all wanted to know what it was like, how do you cope with miming and so on. At the end of the year I saw them play at Southend technical college’s canteen for the Christmas party. The entertainments people had tried to book Bucks Fizz at first but for the amount it cost to book Depeche Mode playing a full set live, Bucks Fizz would only mime to two songs and so DM got the gig. I also saw them at a ‘futurist night’ at the night club in Basildon, although they were the only futurist act on the bill. The support band were a rockabilly band.

Highlights of the musical year for me were, the Depeche Mode album Speak & Spell, and the extended version of Shout on the B side of the 12″ single of New Life, the Cure getting into their stride with Charlotte Sometimes, the four 12″ singles from Spandau Ballet, Public Image Ltd. and the terrific drum sounds on The Flowers of Romance (apparently inspired by the 3rd Peter Gabriel album!), The Completion Backwards Principle by the Tubes, The Spizzles album and singles, Toyah’s album Anthem and the singles, Joe Jackson’s Jumping Jive, Abacab by Genesis (obviously), OMD’s Architecture and Morality, Bow Wow Wow’s brilliantly named See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!, Two Bad DJ by Clint Eastwood & General Saint, and the Human League’s Dare. Oh and Ghost Town by the Specials, which really captured the mood of the time perfectly.

The low point would have to be the start of the craze for medley songs. It really started with Stars on 45 in 1981, grew from there and ended up with bloody Jive Bunny.

This was about the time that I started going to more concerts because it was the year that I moved to London. When college finished I moved up to do some temp work with ICL but got taken on permanently and ended up working there for about 12 years. Going to see a show in town was a lot easier when you could get home by tube or night bus rather than worrying about the last train from Fenchurch Street to Essex! I saw the Tubes at Hammersmith Odeon, Bow Wow Wow at the Lyceum, and I think that Toyah at the Rainbow was also in 1981. I never kept a diary so details of everything a bit sketchy.

The income from having a job at last also helped support my record-buying habit, and at this time I was still living in my Dad’s spare room so had access to those parts of his record collection that I was actually interested in. At this point I was still going back to Essex most weekends to hang out with friends from there. my London friends were mostly work colleagues who were OK for socialising after work and playing darts and pool with, but they weren’t interested in music especially.

Siouxsie & the Banshees album Ju-ju was another of those albums that I actually bought on the day of release, I’m still very fond of it and have put the track Spellbound on the playlist to represent 1981 just because it is a brilliant track. I love Budgie’s drum sound on this, and the rest of the album. The prominence of the drums make the album feel a bit like it is really a Creatures album with guitars added on. As far as I am concerned it is Siouxsie’s best album.

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