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1983 – Let’s Dance

February 18th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

Not a brilliant year musically, but a big improvement on 1982. Metal continued to get more attention, synthesizers were getting everywhere, over-production was becoming the norm, and British jazz/funk/pop was getting ready to take over the decade. Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes all brought out new albums so us 70’s survivors had something to cling on to.Apart from the obvious ones, there were some great singles released in 1983: Rockit by Herbie Hancock, Electric Avenue by Eddie Grant, Shipbuiding by Robert Wyatt, Pills & Soap by the Imposter, and Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes. It may not be fashionable now, or indeed ever, but I have a soft spot for the Thomson Twins and they released three excellent singles in 1983, the unspellable Eurythmics made a big splash with Sweet Dreams Are Made of This and Yes had a rare hit single with Owner of a Lonely Heart (or as Rick Wakeman insists on calling it Owner of a Horse and Cart)

A few bands that would later become huge released debut albums in 1983 although some didn’t do much at the time – Pulp, Metallica, REM, Bananarama, Madonna, Pantera and Marillion. I didn’t buy any of those. What I did buy was Duck Rock by Malcolm Maclaren, the self-titled Genesis album, Can’t Slow Down by Lionel Ritchie, Let’s Dance by Bowie, You & Me Both by Yazoo, Construction Time Again by Depeche Mode, and not a whole lot else of note (No Parlez by Paul Young is a given. Everybody bought that).  I must have been cathing up with back catalogue or something, or saving up for the summer holiday in Yugoslavia.

It really was a good year for synthesizers though. Apart from the Depeche Mode and Yazoo albums and singles, there was OMD with Dazzle Ships, Yello with You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess, Kraftwerk releasing the surprise single Tour de France, and, of course, New Order with the world-conquering Blue Monday. Bucking the trend were the Flying Pickets who took the syth classic Only You, released an a cappella version of it and went to the top of the charts with it.

There were lots of bad things happening in 1983 – Reagan’s SDI proposals, Thatcher’s landslide election victory, the growing fear of nuclear war, which wasn’t helped when cruise missles arrived at Greenham Common, IRA bombs going off all over the place, and Northern Ireland itself was still a disaster. It seemed like every other weekend I off on some march or demo or something, whether it was the march for jobs, a CND rally or something else. Along the way I got to see some decent bands at the end of marches as well, including Clint Eastwood and General Saint so every mushroom cloud has a silver lining. I also saw the Flying Pickets a few times because they could perform at rallies that didn’t have a licence for live performance – apparently there was a loophole for unaccompanied singing.

Blue Monday would be a good track to sum up the year, and I was tempted, but I decided to go for Let’s Dance. You just can’t hear it without obeying the command. Just the other day I heard it played on the radio and the DJ was commenting on everybody in the studio did just that. Everything about it is superb: the funky bassline, Nile Roger’s choppy guitar, the stabbing horns, the solid thumping drumbeat and the sprinkling of percussion, all topped off with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar solo at the end. What this song did was make you forget about all the bad things going on for a few minutes and for that we have to thank David Bowie and Nile Rogers.

 

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