I'll probably tire of it fairly quickly, but I enjoy this. It fuses something that is very nearly Prefab Sprout with two other influences from the singles charts of the late 80s and early 90s...I haven't quite focussed on what those are yet. The lyric is clever...just a little.
"Just Lust" was the B-side to the Buzzcocks' highest-charting single, the Pete Shelley punk-pop classic "Ever Fallen in Love?," eventually reaching number 12 on the U.K. singles chart in September of 1978. The mysterious co-author " Dial" is, in fact, a pseudonym for the band's early manager, Richard Boon, who also shared songwriting credits on "What Ever Happened?," the B-side to the Buzzcocks' infamously banned first single "Orgasm Addict." However, the effect of his involvement in not apparent here, as the music is classic Buzzcocks — masters of the punk-fueled power pop nugget. The rhythm is springy, the track's nervous tension as wired as the melody is infectious. Punchy verses with quick-hit vocals are alternated with short dreamy sections of woozy flanged guitar and chopped up-tempo shifts, the band expertly maneuvering in tight spaces. Shelley follows the twists and turns with clipped phrases followed by drawn-out melodies in sync with the compact arrangement: "Your dream to possess/It hurts/It's so unjust/Just lust, just lust/If nothing mattered less/Then I wouldn't make a fuss/Just lust, just lust/I was slow to catch on and that just makes it worse/If passion is a fashion then emotion is just a curse." Though the track was also included on the Buzzcocks' second album, Love Bites, the group had yet to make an impact in the United States. Thankfully, this little gem was not left to languish in obscurity as it was included in the influential collected singles package Singles Going Steady, compiled as the band's introduction to American audiences and released in the states in 1979.
”Something Better Change” was released in July of 1977 as the first single from The Stranglers upcoming second album No More Heroes which would appear in mid September. Along with the albums title track, ”Something Better Change” would signal a move in a more overtly pop direction that was only hinted at on the group’s first album and would manage to peak at #9 on the U.K. singles chart. This is not to say that The Stranglers abandon their reputation as caustic agitators as No More Heroes was littered with politically contentious tracks such as ”I Feel Like A Wog”, ”Bring On The Nubiles” and ”Bitching”, but the song’s infectious guitar riff and winning melody suggests a tenuous party rock atmosphere. It’s left to singer J.J. Burnel’s particularly gruff vocal performance to keep thing in the punk zone as he alternates between a gnarly throated delivery and a melodic toned timbre. Pumping organ and a buoyant mid-tempo rhythmic romp keep the energy high as he confronts the status quo with a tirade against stifling apathy, flaunting the punk new order with the taunting second verse, “Don’t you like the way I dance? / Does it bug you? / Don’t you like the cut of my clothes? / Don’t you like the way I seem to enjoy it? / Stick my finger right up your nose!” The bridge becomes a jubilant anthem where Burnel voices a punk battle cry to a flurry of organ runs and a growling bass line, “Something’s happening and it’s happening right now / You’re too blind to see it / Something’s happening and it’s happening right now / Ain’t got time to wait”. The chorus is a simple statement, Burnel demanding “Something better change!” with support from the boys in the band who join in for a group shout. Ironically, the arrangement also shows signs of classic rock moves, including a stinging guitar solo and an old school build up of the chorus late in the track.
from No More Heroes (A&M 4659), available on CD (EMI)
That the Church's initial breakthrough song would yet become a millstone around its neck might not have been clear at the time, but one understands pretty easily why the band was anxious to escape its shadow after subsequent efforts clearly showed the tune as the building block it was. But "The Unguarded Moment" isn't a disaster at all - indeed, for a young band to come up with such a great effort early on and get some airplay and attention for it was as clear a sign as any that something really special could yet result. Marty Willson-Piper's flat out lovely introductory guitar and the sinewy blend of his and Peter Koppes' instrument on the main melody sets the tone, while the stripped down verses and quiet rhythm changes throughout give a great taste of the band's incipient ambitions and tweaking of an established formula. Steve Kilbey's quietly rueful but still clear and strong lead vocal adds a nice air of calm melancholia, while coming up with some fun lyrical images here and there ("Tell those friends with cameras for eyes…").
from Of Skins And Heart (Arista ARCD-8563), available on CD (EMI)
The lead single from one of the Church's all time highs, the dark, powerful Priest Aura, "Ripple" was much like the album it came from - lengthy, with an emphasis on artistic impact rather than radio-friendly ease, charged with a feeling of impending, unnerving threat. The initial guitar chime and Steve Kilbey's singing may provide a familiar feeling for long-time listeners, but the edge of spite and conflict in the words carries through in the performance - Kilbey's not so much blending into the mix as suddenly slicing through it. The full arrangement almost has a touch of film noir threat to it, but not as much as the amazing chorus. Starting with a soft, almost sighed overdubbed vocal part like a mysterious signal, it literally does ripple up in the mix, sneaking up on the listener instead of turning into any kind of a singalong. It's the same approach as with "Under the Milky Way," but the air here is less elegant melancholia and more unsettling electric charge, extra guitar feedback carving arcs through the arrangement, instrumental breaks providing only short, temporary relief.
from Priest=Aura (Arista 18683-2), available on CD (EMI)