My 80’s Non-Stop Oldies

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Recently, I was part of a discussion about radio stations playing 80’s music (quelle surprise!). The conversation soon got round to Sara Cox’s “Sounds of The 80s” show, which airs on Radio 2 every Saturday evening. I was reminded of the show’s launch, back in October 2013.

Ahead of the show’s debut, I was asked to prepare a playlist of my favourite Eighties’ tracks, to be played on Steve Wright’s show, during the Non-Stop Oldies feature, the day before Sara’s first show. I was to choose at least 15 tracks, although less than half of the songs would be played in the half hour time slot – oh, the pressure!

Days of deliberation resulted in a playlist I loved, and which I felt best encompassed my favourite decade – a delicate mix of pop, excess, camp and class! On the day of the show, I eagerly awaited to hear which of my tracks had been chosen. I wasn’t disappointed. It was fantastic to hear some of my favourite 80’s music being played again on national radio. A couple of tracks were omitted, which I would have liked to have heard: The Kane Gang’s “Closest Thing To Heaven” and Big Sound Authority’s “This House”, but I still enjoyed the selection. For anyone who missed it first time round, I have finally managed to upload a recording I made of the broadcast:

Apologies for the abrupt beginning and ending – my editing skills remain firmly in the Eighties, taping off the radio with my cassette recorder!

My 80’s Non-Stop Oldies:

Party Fears Two – Associates

War Baby – Tom Robinson

Come Dancing – The Kinks

My Favourite Waste of Time – Owen Paul

New England – Kirsty MacColl

Calling Your Name – Marilyn

The Bitterest Pill – The Jam

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Sunny’s Sad Story

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Many songs in the Eighties carried a message or told a story, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious or fitting to the music. Nik Kershaw’s “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was about the threat of nuclear war, although you could be forgiven for not making a connection between the subject matter and its synth pop accompaniment. In some cases, the meaning of a song’s lyrics has only become apparent years later. As I was only 9 years old when The Vapors released “Turning Japanese” in 1980, it was at least a decade before I came to realise the alleged story behind the song!

The Seventies saw a lyrical dearth, which only ended with the advent of Punk, but the Sixties set the bar for storytelling lyrics. That is one of the reasons I love listening to Radio 2’s “Sounds of the Sixties” show, on a Saturday morning.

Last week, as Brian Matthew introduced the track “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, he relayed the sad tale of how the song had come to be written. Harold “Hal” Hebb, Bobby’s older brother by six years, had been murdered in a mugging 48 hours prior to writing it, the song being an outpouring of Bobby’s grief.

Listening to the song, knowing the circumstances in which it had been created, was like hearing a brand new song, both in the lyrics and in the emotion of the vocal. What do you think?

PopMaster and Paul Young

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One of the simple pleasures in my life is listening to Popmaster on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show. Having listened to the quiz for a few years, I woke up one Thursday morning last year and thought I would give it a go. I have heard stories of listeners trying for years to get on the show, so you can imagine my surprise when my call was answered first time. Even more amazing was answering the qualifying questions correctly, then receiving a call shortly afterwards, to say that I would be contestant number two!

I was fortunate that the questions fell right for me and, with 27 points, I beat my opponent. Next, I had to face the dreaded “3 in 10”. As anyone who has ever listened to Popmaster knows, naming three hit singles, by a particular artist, in ten seconds is no mean feat. Often, the first two roll off the tongue, but the elusive thir60430_10200443890851413_1250397547_nd title remains unspoken. Luckily, I had to name three hit singles by Paul Young. A fan of his since “Wherever I Lay My Hat” charted in 1983, I named that track, “Love Of The Common People” and my favourite song of his, “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down”. The digital radio was mine!

This post gives me the opportunity to share the montage of photos I took a when Paul Young played at an Eighties’ weekend in 2010, set to my favourite (and winning!) track:

Party Fears 2 – Associates

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Last October, as a forerunner to the launch of Sara Cox’s “Sounds of the 80s” show on Radio 2 the following day, my choice of Eighties’ tracks were used on Steve Wright’s “Non-Stop Oldies”. Featuring the inimitable voice of Billy Mackenzie, this was my opening track…