Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Forgotten # 1's: UK Edition (The 1980's)

Break out your acid washed jeans and your New Coke, it's time for the 80's!!! In England, the decade was littered with classics just as our hit parade was. Unfortunately, most of these never made much headway here in the colonies. Let's give them the second chance they deserve today, in a post that welcomes in the video age with ALL ORIGINAL MUSIC VIDEOS OF THE FEATURED SONGS!!!!!!! Thank you youtube for not treating the 80's hits like you do the recorded works of a certain Robert Zimmerman (Constantly up and down on its fair use denying pages).....but I digress with mumbling and moaning....ONTO THE HITS!!!!!

1.) Two Tribes - Frankie Goes To Hollywood (June 16, 1984)

This was the longest running chart topper of the decade in the UK, holding down the competition for nine weeks. In the US, it rose disappointingly to number 43, ending Frankie's invasion of the States and relegating them to one-hit-wonder status. Welcome To The Pleasuredome is one of the most underrated albums of all time stateside and this Cold War stomper is one of its best tracks.

2.) Belfast Child - Simple Minds (February 25, 1989)

You will not find a more haunting song in this project than Simple Minds "true" classic (Sorry, "Don't You..."). Based on the melody of the Irish traditional ballad "She Moved Through The Fair", it captures the pain and violence of Northern Ireland better than any work of art I've ever encountered. Fittingly of the blind eye we turned on the turmoil until President Clinton, this song never came close to entering the US charts.

PS the B-Side was a stunning cover of Peter Gabriel's Biko.....This band should have had longevity!

3.) Ashes To Ashes - David Bowie (August 23, 1980)

There are film sequels that can't hold a candle to The Thin White Duke's second part of the Major Tom saga. This started a chart run for Bowie that included three more number ones before decade's end, while also signalling the pop direction he would morph his sound to. Plus, come on, you gotta love that Pierrot costume he rocks in the iconic video!

4.) I Know Him So Well - Elaine Paige & Barbara Dixon ( February 9, 1985)

Chess is the musical theatre equivalent of a classic cult film like Rocky Horror Show or Howard The Duck.  Written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of Abba and Sir Tim Rice of Webber/John collaborations, it tells the story of a cold war chess tournament and the lives that mirror the struggle of the game. "One Night In Bangkok" was the big hit from the concept album here in the states, but back across the pond this duet by the two grand dames of The West End skyrocketed to the top of the pops, becoming the best selling duet by a female duo in the UK of all time. Yes, it has 80's production written all over it, but this song is gorgeous, and shows just how rich the music of Abba was in melody and craft.

PS A hilarious cover went to number 11 this year in England as a Comic Relief benefit single

5.) Prince Charming - Adam & The Ants (September 19, 1981)

New wave was more than MTV fodder in the UK: it was a legitimate movement. No one summed up its re-thinking of rock and roll for the video age better than the early hits of Mssrs. Adam and his Ants. This track has a Kinks-like glow to it, bridging the gap perfectly between the past and the day-glo future. If more videos like this were made today, Viacom would devote a lot less of their money to Snooki and her crew of stereotypes.

Adam Ant - Prince Charming by jpdc11

6.) Perfect - Fairground Attraction (May 14, 1988)

Winner of the 1989 Brit Award for best song, this song goes to show the UK had a plethora of one hit wonders themselves that never translated to American sales. Quite a shame really, since America would catch on to this easy going folk-pop style in the wake of grunge's demise.

7.) A Different Corner - George Michael (April 19, 1986)

They don't make ballads like this anymore. Gone are the slick trappings of studio gloss and pomposity. The listener is left with, after "Careless Whisper"'s coming out party, the emergence of a singular talent that would rock pop's world. Rising to number seven in the US, this chart topper presaged the dominance Michael would have on the late 80's music world. It's also good to remember that he wrote, arranged, performed and produced it all on his own. BEST FORGOTTEN NUMBER ONE OF THE DECADE!!!!!

8.) The Land Of Make Believe - Bucks Fizz (January 16, 1982)

You give me a song with lyrics by the guy who wrote epic tales for King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer and I guarantee I will place him on a list. This subversive attack of Thatcherian politics is so sugar-coated you can miss the meaning entirely, but that just makes Bucks Fizz the UK 's answer to Randy Newman and the inspiration for, I can't back that up. Just enjoy!!

Bucks Fizz Land of Make Believe 1981 by Discodandan

9.) You Win Again - The Bee Gees (October 17, 1987)

It seems it took the US a little longer to forgive brothers Gibb for their disco sins. Making it only to number 75 in the states, this track showed once again that the UK makes fans for life, not the fair weather variety we seem to breed here. Listen to that drum track and tell me this couldn't have been huge if DJ's stateside had given it a chance.

10.) Is There Something I Should Know? - Duran Duran (March 26, 1983)

My second favorite Duran Duran song after "The Reflex" gave The Beatles of new wave their first UK number one and a number four placing in the US. The video, directed by Russell Mulcahy of Highlander fame is one of my favorites of all time. I used to get so excited when Martha Quinn would say it was coming up next. The boys are still going strong thanks to a return to form new disc and an otherworldy concert film directed by David Lynch, only available on youtube. If you have the time, watch that brilliance as soon as you finish this post!

Next time, Britpop rears its head; and Oasis, Blur and Prodigy stop by to say hey. Believe me, the UK charts eclipses ours in this decade tenfold. See ya then!

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