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1987 – Pump Up the Volume

February 22nd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

Another year and still the music was a bit naff, but with some signs of  life and items of interest to point out while waiting eagerly for the 90’s to arrive.

So the album charts were still full of now-that’s-whatI-call-compilations but there were some welcome releases: Faith by George Michael, Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac, The Cirus by Erasure, the Joshua Tree by U2, Introduce Yourself by Faith No More, Diesel and Dust by Midnight Oil, Hearsay by Alexander O’Neal, Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses, and at long last a new Pink Floyd album, albeit without Roger Waters.

The singles charts made TOTP a chore rather than a pleasure most weeks, but there were some great songs in there too, and I am now grown-up enough to not be ashamed to like: FLM and Respectable by Mel & Kim, Jack Your Body by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, Whitney Houston’s magnificent I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Criticize and Fake by Alexander O’Neal, Diamonds by Herb Alpert (though as fas as I am concdrened it is a Janet Jackson song), and Head to Toe by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. I had all of those as 12″ singles, except Whitney, because I had the album. The Pet Shop Boys had a string of hit singles to keep us amused, and Geusch Patti released Étienne which was a huge hit across Europe and ignored here.

Around this point I had a some new paths to discovering new music. Firstly I was travelling abroad a bit and listening to local radio stations, but more importantly we made some new friends. One of these new friends was Bernie who my wife met at college.

Bernie lived with her boyfriend right next to Waterloo East station so I would often pop in on my way back from work as I had to go from Waterloo to Waterloo East. Bernie introduced me to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Faith No More, Metallica, Fields of the Nephilim and similar music that I might not have heard until much later. I think she bought me the Pink Floyd album for Christmas 1986, or maybe I bought it for her. It was a long time ago. Most importantly she introduced me to Van Morrison’s Moondance album, which I had not been familiar with before. She was a few years older than me, still is actually, and had some great records in her collection.

A quick word about Alexander O’Neal. On my trips to Europe I liked to make the most of my time rather than just do hotel-work-dinner-hotel and I would sometimes fill the time by going clubbing. At a club on the Rembrandsplein in Amsterdam I heard a song that I really, really liked. They showed the video as well, but I didn’t catch who it was. On my return to home I wanted to buy that song, so it was off to Our Price in Lewisham and the uncharted water of upstairs.

I had never been upstairs before. Downstairs was chart music, rock, and general mainstream music. Upstairs it was dance and rap music and all the dance and rap I liked was in the downstairs bit anyway. So this was South London in 1987 and I went upstairs to where everybody was an aspiring DJ and black, except me. There was me trying not to stand out too much while explaining to the staff that I wanted a record but couldn’t remember who it was by or what it was called, but I did remember that it started with a ping pong ball sound. I may have even tried to hum the tune. They eventually realised that I wanted Fake, which I probably could have got downstairs anyway without providing so much entertainment to the cognoscenti upstairs.

Fake is just a brilliant song, as is Criticize. One thing everybody should do is check out the Alexander O’Neal concert at the Hammersmith Apollo on Youtube, especially from the 50-minute point where he does extended versions of both songs. (also available on Spotify) Really, treat yourself to watching him do “the Minneapolis thing”, it is a remarkable show and a tight, funky band behind him. Criticize is a song I would want to do if I had a band, especially if it was a punk, blues-rock or metal band. I think the song would still work.

Diamonds, Fake and We Care a Lot by Faith No More were serious contenders for my 1987 song, but in the end I went with Pump Up The Volume by M/A/R/R/S. This song opened the door for the explosion of British house music over the next few years and was a pointer to the acid house scene. Guaranteed to get any club or party going, it was, and remains one of the best dance singles ever.Go listen to it now and tell me I am wrong – I dare you.

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