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|
|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|
|Time UK||The Cabaret|
|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|
|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|
|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)|
|The Three O’Clock||Stupid Einstein|
|The Stranglers||The European Female (In Celebration Of)|
|Marc and The Mambas||Torment|
|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|