Imagine yourself flung through a space time vortex, emerging you know not when, lost sometime between the Big Bang and the Last Judgment. You can’t yet see, but you can hear. There’s something coming through the ether, a sound. Three seconds is all you need.
“Bugger,” you think, “I’m stuck in the 1980s”.
That bash-bash ambient drum sound. That slightly try-hard electric guitar. The jaunty keyboard line. No mistaking it. That was pop, from about 1983 to 1986. That was “the sound”. On Planet Vinyl, we try to listen with open ears. Oddly enough, this is hardest when the music is most familiar. I was there in the eighties, you see, and it is hard to dissociate the music from a lot of other baggage. Year 10 maths, scratchy polyester school shirts, big hair, shoulder pads …
But put that aside. As with any approach to music, synth-pop can be done well in its own terms, and Peter Wolf, one-time flamboyant front man for the J. Geils Band, did that. The sample above came from “Lights Out”, which was a hit for him in 1984. The B-side to that single is a reggae-tinged number, “Poor Girl’s Heart”. In case we forgot it was the eighties it starts like this:
I would like it more if it was fully reggae and hold the synth, but it is of its time and works okay. It belongs in the long tradition of pop songs in which the singer warns the listener against mistreating a lovely girl who is, in any case, too good for you, you heartless jerk.
Which, thinking about it, was how I felt about a few blokes back in 1984.
- Artist: Peter Wolf
- Single Title: Lights Out
- Track: Side B “Poor Girl’s Heart”
- Format: 7”, 45 rpm
- Label: EMI America, B-8208
- Manufactured in: USA
- Year: 1984
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