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You can’t sing, you can’t dance, you look awful…you’ll go a long way! (Childhood memories of early ’80s pop).

18 Oct

The early 1980s were an odd time for pop music. There’s a common train of thought that it normally chugs its way through the station marked “Craptown”. But, I have to argue, it isn’t all true. Now, before I continue, I have to say nothing with regard to music winds me up more than ‘80s revisionists. What was embarrassing and without worth in 1981 is going to be pretty much the same thirty years later, perhaps more so. Then again, some things have a kind of period charm (as they often do), like Toyah’s haircuts and dress sense, for example. Alright, so you’re not with me on that one, but you get the idea.

Now, there was some very innovative stuff going on in the post-punk era, no doubt about that. However, that’s not to say a lot of commercial pop music in the early ‘80s was bloody awful; synthetic, irony free and badly written. Oddly these are some of the reasons why some of it is actually quite good, almost deserving respect due to its brash sense of the audacious. Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” couldn’t be anymore crap if it called itself “Kids in Milton Keynes”, but somehow it works. But some producers knew how to take cheese and add it to a really good omelette, so to speak. Giorgio Moroder springs to mind straight away. When he produced Blondie’s “Call me” he had a good group and a good song to work with, so perhaps he was usually just lucky. It’s also telling that there was something of a ‘60s revival in the early ‘80s, as well as this era being the aftermath of Punk. So what you got, quite often, was a bizarre combination of classic pop sensibility, to get clichéd, with often shockingly inappropriate and experimental electronics. Continue reading

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The forgotten pop of Susan Fassbender

2 Mar

The rubbish dump of pop’s past is littered with almost countless lost artistes, forgotten careers and one hit wonders. There are as many fascinating stories to be found behind these perceived failures as there is behind the great chart successes. One such story that came to my attention recently is the tale of Susan Fassbender,  who I believe warrants a second look and listen if only because for British TV viewers of a certain age, she’ll be remembered for several appearances on Chegger’s Plays Pop and The Multi-coloured Swap Shop. That at least gives some of us a nostalgic glow, but the sad irony is that despite this association with an innocent childhood past, a little digging reveals that Fassbender’s life later took a darker path.

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