Saturday, 30 June 2012

Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth

This classic 1982 hit was released in September 1982 and has to be one of the most successful one-hit wonders ever.  Musical Youth really were a boy band and were aged 11-15 when this song was released.  Could it happen even now that a group of black children could release an album, never mind be picked up by a label and have a 4 million selling song?  Amazing, and a real sign of the times as there was so much great reggae and reggae inspired music around at that time, from The Specials, Madness, UB 40 of course, so really, the perfect time!  Apart from Madness, all of the others were Midlands bands, which was the centre point for this type of sound back then here in the UK.

The boys were all from Duddleston Manor School in Birmingham and formed as a band in 1979. 

An appearance on the John Peel show led to them being signed by MCA.  Pass The Dutchie was their second single and the first off their first album with MCA called The Youth Of Today.  The song entered the Uk charts at number 26, and then hit number 1 the following week.  When it was released in the USA it eventually reached number 10 but hit number 1 in another 5 countries.  4 million in sales is amazing for a first hit!

The song is actually a cover version of Pass The Koutchie by The Mighty Diamonds, from the same year.  I think there has been a certain amount of debate about what the lyrics mean on the Musical Youth version, but the Might Diamonds version is about cannabis and a koutchie is a cannabis pipe.  Not surprisingly, the drug references were removed from the Musical Youth cover, such as the line "how does it feel when you got no food" being inserted instead of "how does it feel when you got no herb".  Even with the references removed, I would be amazed if this could happen now, with our lovely PC brigade!

The video was directed by Don Letts and was filmed across the water from the Houses of Parliament in London.  They were the first black artists to appear on MTV, some months ahead of Michael Jackson!  Amazing!

In March this year they were in court (the surviving members) over a royalties battle.  They lost, and it seems they may have been duped somewhat as minors when they signed deals in the 80's.  The case related to the use of the song in the movie "The Wedding Singer". Sad, I hope they get some money.

Finally, here is the original version by The Mighty Diamonds.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Rambo: First Blood

 Don't push it...or I'll give you a war you won't believe. Let it go!

 The first of the Rambo movies was released in October 1982 and starred Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennahy and Richard Crenna).  I really think you need to set this movie completely aside from what followed in the series.  Not that the subsequent movies were not entertaining, but they were pretty gory and fiercely pro-American.  Whereas, this original movie is pretty anti what the state of life was for Vietnam vets in the USA in the early 80's and is the only movie to have the action all in the USA.

The film was adapted from the novel by David Morrell, from 1972, so the issues in this movie must have been very appropriate at that time especially.  The screenplay was all over hollywood for years, with the movie only gaining any traction when Stallone was on board.  Having said that, almost every main man of that era was offered the role and turned it down, mainly on the grounds of violence.  Having said this, unlike the book, Rambo does not actually kill anyone, though he does injure them.

The movie was directed by Ted Kotcheff.  The production team included the super team of Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar, who would go on to do Total Recall, Cliffhanger (also starring Stallone) and Basic Instint amongst many others.

The basic plot of the movie is simple, but powerful.  A troubled veteran is abused by an uncaring local sheriff (Teasle)) who wants him nowhere near his town and tries to force him out.  When Rambo pushes back, the sheriff arrests him.  Rambo is again assaulted in the police station and then escapes using his clearly deadly training to the local forest.  Despite the efforts of Rambo's old commander (Trautman) to persuade him to give himself up, Rambo goes deep undercover and, when hunted down by Teasle and his men, he systematically takes out all of the local forces using his survival skills and goes after Teasle.  Rambo is eventually arrested.

What I love about the movie is the way that you build up deep sympathy with Rambo's character and the powerful story of what war and the deadly training people go through can do to people when they are released into society.

Here is a great fan movie I came across, where a guy revisits the original locations (Hope, British Columbia) and Sly Stallone talks about the movie.

Great action sequences of course and Stallone in this movie starts a trend in subsequent movies of the main character hunting down someone on his own side or in authority who has wronged him as well as the character fighting what we would think of as the real enemy.  One thing that I read that was odd was a scene that they tried out on test audiences, where Rambo takes his own life.  They decided (correctly in my view) that this would run counter to the sympathy they had built up for the character and opted for the more hopeful ending.

The music from the movie was by the brilliant Jerry Goldsmith.

 If you have been at all put off by the Rambo series, I would heartily recommend this movie, which still has a lot of credibility and was voted one of Empire Magazines Top 500 movies of all time.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Falklands Conflict Ends 14 June 1982

It's a different type of blog post today, which marks the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict ending.  I have considered whether it is even appropriate to do a blog post at all as conflicts like this evoke strong emotions and this particular one still does today. And, after all, 907 people died.  I can't refer to this as a war as many people do as firstly we were not "at war" with Argentina for a few weeks in 1982, but we were in dispute over a remote set of Islands near Argentina.

In the end, I decided that it would be crazy to do a blog all about 1982 and ignore completely a major event like this.  I am sure many non-UK readers won't be that aware of this conflict or even aware at all if they are young.  If you want to read about it, in General, here is the Wikipedia article.

No videos today, just a few images.  Normal service in the next blog post.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran

The song that inspired the name of this blog!

This brilliant single by Duran Duran was released in May 1982 and was the third single off the Rio album of the same year.  The previous two singles, "My own way" and "the chauffeur" were released in 1981 actually, before the album was recorded and were stop-gap singles to keep up the momentum of the first album.

I'll cover the whole Rio album later on, but I would like to make a general comment about this single in particular and more generally the album.  It had an energy about it that is not easy to explain, it just jumped at you out of the speakers in 1982 as a completely fresh sound.  I don't think the band have been hotter than they were then and so in line with the exciting era they were heralding. It certainly opened up the door to the USA for the band. OK, opinion over!

This single is also pretty unusual in that it was written and recorded on one day, with various band members coming into the basement studio of EMI's London headquarters. Great days work!


Dark in the city night is a wire
Steam in the subway earth is afire
Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo
Woman you want me give me a sign
And catch my breathing even closer behind
Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo

In touch with the ground

I'm on the hunt down I'm after you
Smell like I sound I'm lost in a crowd.
And I'm hungry like the wolf.
Straddle the line in discord and rhyme
I'm on the hunt down I'm after you.
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And I'm hungry like the wolf

The lyrics were inspired by Little red Riding Hood and, as you can see from the title of this blog, contain some brilliant verses.  Just another little note, the laugh at the beginning and the screams at the fade out were recorded by Nick Rhodes girlfriend at the time live in the studio.

The song was actually re-recorded a few months later for the Rio album, with mostly the vocals being re-recorded.

The song became really popular in the USA in particular after MTV started showing their video.  remember, this was THE era for hot music videos.  The video was produced, as Planet Earth had been by Russell Mulcahy. Russell has produced a lot of video's for the band including the great "Rio", "The Reflex" and "Wild Boys" video's, none of them small productions!  Of course Russell also hit it REALLY big in 1986 with the Highlander movie, which I think many people would say had an air of the pop video about it at times!

The video was filmed in Sri Lanka and had an Indiana Jones feel to it.

Worth checking out this hilarious commercial with Bruce Campbell too, for Old Spice. Lounge style!

Finally, here is a brilliant cover of this classic hit by After How.  Great job girls and  long live 1982!!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Model by Kraftwerk (Das Model)

This classic track from the German band Kraftwerk hit the top spot in the UK charts in 1982, but was recorded and originally released in 1978 with German lyrics of course on the album Man Machine and as a single in Germany in 1978 before being included in the UK (with English lyrics) as a B side to Computer Love in  July 1981.  It was was re-released in the UK in December 1981 by EMI with The Model as the A side, apparently against the bands wishes.  Wonder what they think now every year when the big royalty cheque arrives!  I wonder how many other songs have taken that long to hit it big?

The lyrics are not complex or hard to understand.  Pretty damning view on the life and morals of models!  Actually, I recently saw a better analysis in the Men In Black 3 - all models are aliens!

She's a model and she's looking good
I'd like to take her home that's understood
She plays hard to get, she smiles from time to time
It only takes a camera to change her mind

She's going out tonight, loves drinking just champagne
And she has been checking nearly all the men
She's playing her game and you can hear them say
She is looking good, for beauty we will pay

She's posing for consumer products now and then
For every camera she gives the best she can
I saw her on the cover of a magazine
Now she's a big success, I want to meet her again

Kraftwerk (this means Power Station in English) had been around since 1970 and were early pioneers of electronic music. They often used home-developed vocoders or computers for the vocals. The band was extremely influential and their sound can be heard in early Human League, Joy Division, New Order and OMD albums. The band are extremely secretive and rarely give interviews.

Here is another great version, with the German lyrics, from German TV in 1980.

And it would not be a surprise for me to include a cover too!  Wel. sort of.  This is a brilliant mashup of The Model and I'm Too Sexy by Right Said Fred!