Times Of Our Lives: 1983 – Pills And Soap


The Imposter. Elvis Costello’s pseudonym certainly captured the music industry at the time, perfectly. There was more mascara and foundation on a Thursday night on Top of the Pops than you would see in Cinderella Rockerfellas at the weekend.

As for the powder…

But we do tend to get a bit precious about pop music, don’t we. At its worst – and it is at its worst most of the time – it’s a travesty. Beyond comprehension as to why people buy it, they do in their droves. Well, not so much now but they did at the time.

Even then, the backdrop was falling record sales; I can’t think of a year in my lifetime when sales have been on the up but there you go.

The key criticism of pop is the manufactured nature. I think the 80s was a great time for music generally. The indie scene spawned some great bands and some perfect labels. Rough Trade was the ‘daddy’; any label which released Alternative Ulster was always a winner in my eyes and then the Smiths only brilliant record – the self-titled debut LP – even if Meat Is Murder is half-decent.

But Rough Trade weren’t on their own. Factory and Mute mixed with 4AD but it went wrong when Stock, Aitken and Waterman were able to get their PWL label included in the indie charts. It’s not that they weren’t an independent label – they were by every definition bar quite an important one – but they were unashamedly about cracking the top five every release.

Investing in artists was solely about getting the next hit. There wasn’t a headline of PWL acts who funded original and innovative acts; this was all about money and making lots of it which, forgive the preciousness, was the antithesis of indie labels.

Yes, they were businessmen who wanted to make money but there was more to it than being a ‘hit factory’; it was about giving artists a platform. Maybe it wasn’t and indie labels were the biggest music industry con-trick of all. It was all about making money after all. That’s too much cynicism, surely?

I’m not going to the cynical nature of my later years over-rule my youth. There were quite a few groups I’d have included here but sadly they aren’t on Spotify. The biggest omission is Red Guitars, and here are their 1983 releases:

I could think of more, I am very sure but anyway, here’s this week’s playlist.

Times Of Our Lives: 1983 – Pills And Soap

If the playlist doesn’t show up below or work properly, click here to open in your browser.

The Prisoners Revenge of the Cybermen
The Long Ryders 10/05/60
The Times I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape
Echo & the Bunnymen Heads Will Roll
Aztec Camera Oblivious
New Order Blue Monday
The The Uncertain Smile
The Cure Let’s Go To Bed
Altered Images Don’t Talk to Me About Love
The Truth Confusion (Hits Us Everytime)
XTC Love On A Farmboy’s Wages
The Higsons Run Me Down
The Style Council Long Hot Summer
Elvis Costello & The Attractions Every Day I Write The Book
the redskins Lean On Me
Jo Boxers Just Got Lucky
The Prisoners Hurricane
Time UK The Cabaret
Big Country Inwards
U2 Two Hearts Beat As One
Tears For Fears Mad World
Quando Quango Love Tempo
Let’s Active Every Word Means No
Talking Heads Burning Down The House
R.E.M. Radio Free Europe
Echo & the Bunnymen Never Stop – Discotheque
New Order Age Of Consent
Billy Bragg A New England
Fun Boy Three The More I See (The Less I Believe)
The Fall Kicker Conspiracy
Elvis Costello & The Attractions Pills & Soap
The The The Sinking Feeling
The Smiths This Charming Man
The Long Ryders And She Rides
R.E.M. Catapult
Carmel Bad Day
The Style Council Money-Go-Round (Parts 1 & 2)
Public Image Ltd. This Is Not A Love Song
The Stranglers It’s A Small World
Heaven 17 Temptation
The Glove Like An Animal
Fun Boy Three The Farmyard Connection
Bruce Foxton It Makes Me Wonder
The Alarm (IRS) The Stand
Big Country Lost Patrol
King Kurt Destination Zulu Land
Sugarhill All Stars Malcolm X – No Sell Out
Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel White Lines (Don’t Do It)
The Three Johns Men Like Monkeys
The Maisonettes Heartache Avenue
The Fall The Man Whose Head Expanded
Cabaret Voltaire Just Fascination
Talking Heads This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
Pylon Crazy
The Three O’Clock Stupid Einstein
The Stranglers The European Female (In Celebration Of)
Marc and The Mambas Torment
R.E.M. Laughing
The Long Ryders Join My Gang
Aztec Camera Walk Out To Winter
The Higsons Push Out The Boat
The Alarm Sixty Eight Guns
Big Country Angle Park
The Farmer’s Boys T.O.S.D
New Order Confusion



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