Hi. My nom de blog is bishbosh and I *heart* chart pop. There, I said it. I love it. Not all of it, of course. That way madness lies (and we’ll come on to them later, hur hur). But probably more than is considered healthy in a man of my age.
This being the case, I thought I would celebrate my shame (pah!) by launching a new weekly(ish) column in which I attempt to seduce you, my more discerning music-loving friends, into savouring the dirty delights of pure pop. I realise this may take some doing, so let’s take it slowly: just one track a week. For critical reappraisal, if you will. Or even if you won’t.
Our opening number comes from the catalogue of a man who once sagely informed us that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. (While Michael Douglas did a piss-poor impersonation of Indiana Jones.) But let’s not let that trouble us. We’re going back, way back, back to before our intrepid hero (no, not Michael Douglas) exhorted us to get out of his dreams, get into his car. Back to before he resourcefully turned his European queen Caribbean for the, er, European market… Back, in fact, to 1977 (thank you, wikipedia).
I first heard this track in the mid-80s as the B-side of one of those Golden Oldie re-release 7″s. I had bought it for the A-side, the Four Tops-esque (no, really) groover, “Love Really Hurts Without You”, much-loved of commercial-radio DJs the UK over. However, it was the flipside that came to really captivate me. I remember setting the needle on the record: “This is rubbish,” my teenage self thought: the tempo plodding, the opening chords low-key and nothingy, the backing vocals uninspired… and then the lead vocal barrels in – and you’re thrown headlong into the paranoia-wracked mind of a man on the run. “No no no”, he pants, barely able to breathe, let alone sing, “You took my heart and turned me on and now the danger sign is on…”
Yeah, it looks corny on the page; yeah, the metaphor is a little shonky – mixed even – but has there been another record, before or since, that has so exquisitely captured the mindset of your typical commitment-phobic male? And with such sheer adrenalised excitement?! I don’t think so. From that unpromising start, the song builds and builds, spiralling thrillingly out of control as the protagonist realises what he has let himself in for…
I genuinely consider this to be a great, great record – and one that, owing to musical misdemeanours committed latterly by its maker, has been unjustly overlooked by the arbiters of musical taste. Laydeez ‘n’ gennulmen, without further ado (there’s been far too much of that already), I give you Billy Ocean and “Red Light Spells Danger”.
Bet you can’t wait for next week…