Sunday, 11 September 2016

The greatest song ever was at number 1 forty years ago!

We've been at craft and cake this afternoon. It was a small crowd. Hilary, Sam, Julie, Nathan and Tina. I had a go at crafting. I was trying to make felted balls out of wool. It wasn't entirely successful. They all ended up looking like little muppets with great big cracks in them which looked like silly mouths and then my hands went into cramps from the repetition of rolling balls of wet soapy yarn for minutes on end...

It was good to see the team. Everyone else was knitting and Julie had made scones and the most delicious polenta lemon drizzle cake. On the way to Catford we listened to a CD of music by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, which was quite a nostalgia-fest for a child of the 80s like me. The songs don't half all sound the same though! I remember thinking that at the time. They all start with a little blast of drum machine, have almost relentless fake strings in them, and a little break down in the middle where the lead vocal is sampled "n n n n Nineteen style." Harmonically, they're actually always quite complicated. Verses and choruses are regularly in different keys, and the chords are often quite jazz influenced. In the late 80s, the top ten countdown always had three or four "Hit Factory" songs in it. Jason, Kylie, Rick Astley, Mel and Kim... then even Donna Summer and Cliff Richard got in on the act, singing identikit hits with their endless remixes.

As a result of listening to this album, I've discovered a song which I've become a little obsessed by. It's from the later part of the SAW period; the time when they were using external writers and working with groups like Steps. The song in question is really rather atmospheric in a sort of dark, vibey 1990s clubland kind of way. It's called Pray and it's sung by a former model called Tina Cousins. It ought to be awful but there's a wonderful break-down chorus towards the end of the song which has block, dense harmonies. Very Abbaesque. Brother Edward would love it!

Here's a question. What does "Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)" actually mean?

We decided to have a pizza night tonight. Pizza and X Factor. A winning combination.

Here's a cool fact: Exactly 40 years ago today, ABBA was at number one with Dancing Queen. That makes me feel a) happy b) old. Watching ABBA on Top of the Pops singing Dancing Queen is my earliest childhood memory!

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