Thursday, September 4, 2014


Much as I loathe Queen, sorry if that shocks, by the same token I 'king loved this lot, shortlived as their flame flickered. Early mid 80's British music was a variety of genres seeking a focus: punk (or should that be post-punk) rubbing shoulders with new-wave, the 2-tone ska boom, various waves of British heavy metal, the ever-present and evanescent dinosaurs re-emerging with hair-cuts, o, allsorts, with no clearly identifiable focus. For a moment I really thought the cockatoo haircuts and spray-painted docs may have cut that mustard. And for a while they did.

Coventry, UK, is/was the home of the Midlands car industry, long dormant now, a multi-racial enclave crammed into ugly post-war housing, most of anything older having been blitzed to smithereeens in the war. With little to trumpet beyond it's cathedral, it had been the hotbed of the above mentioned 2 Tone movement, that had brought together the disaffected afro-caribbean population with their white counterparts, in marked contrast to the "skinheads" of 2 decades earlier, which had plied the latter against the former, and that was similarly strong in cities like Coventry. For a moment Coventry was famous for the Specials, the Selecter and many more. (Here's a history lesson ) Paul King was a member of one such band, the Reluctant Stereotypes, their name a nod to an earlier song by the Specials. They were not particularly successful, but garnished a couple of hits.

That all changed with a new line-up and a couple of name changes, in no small part thanks to their colourful image and energetic dynamic. Paul King, and hence the name, was spectacularly photogenic and the combination of MTV and the adulation of teenage girls propelled them swiftly into the charts. Here's their 1984 break through moment, which I fondly recall, being shown on, of course, Top of the Pops. Now, not a teenage girl myself, either then or now, I found this poly-rhythmic melange sufficiently exciting to jump their bandwagon. (Funnily enough, in the intervening years, much as I still love the song, I can't understand how the video youth dance routine didn't put me off, being gallingly gauche.)

12 inches! Buy it! 2nd hand vinyl import only!

The 1st LP produced several singles, all with extended 12 inch  mixes to add to the overall sales, the ploy of many to enhance their exposures. Some of the other songs were, frustratingly, a little clumsy and clunky, so hopes were probably not high for their sophomore, following a year later, in 1985. I have to say I found this an infinitely preferable piece with way more melody, as demonstrated by this TV clip of my favourite song, still a staple on mixtape CDs I make. (And doesn't he, dontcha think, have a look of Boy George, wondering if George O'Dowd was too a fan?)

And that was that. One solo record and the music was over. A career as "veejay" beckoned, age taking a toll on his appearance between the earlier songs, here and here . Never mind, feet of clay etc etc. Wonder what he's up to now?

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