Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cross my palm with golden oldies

A train of thought today led me to think "I'm pretty sure I own a pack of tarot cards, somewhere. Perhaps I should find them and read my fortune for the year ahead, and write about the results in my blog. And even if I don't find them, I'm sure to find something blogworthy while I'm looking through all my old stuff..."

Well, I never realised I own such a lot of rubbish. Really, I need to throw some things away. The most entertaining things I turned up in the box of junk that sits next to my bed were a couple of old music cassettes - Kid Jensen's Favourite Chart Breakers and The California Raisins Sing The Hit Songs. There was a time, when I first got a walkman back in the late eighties, when the California Raisins tape formed the entirety of my music collection. I can't remember where it came from, presumably it was a present since I can't imagine going into a shop and thinking "Wow, I really must buy a California Raisins tape!" But you never know. I was a very strange child.

Kid Jensen's Chart Breakers, on the other hand, definitely came free with a Rubik's Magic puzzle (or possibly the puzzle came free with the tape - the pair of them together cost around 50p, anyway), bought in the Wise Owl drug store (and general junk shop) in Boston, at some point after spring 1987, which is when the eight hits in question were breaking the charts. Since I know you won't be able to live without knowing what Kid Jensen's particular favourites were at this point, here's the running order:

Pepsi & Shirlie - "Heartache" (entered chart Jan. 1987, highest chart position 2)
Johnny Hates Jazz - "Shattered Dreams" (entered chart Apr. 1987, highest chart position 5)
Fine Young Cannibals - "Ever Fallen In Love" (entered chart Mar. 1987, highest chart position 9)
Boy George - "Everything I Own" (entered chart Mar. 1987, highest chart position 1)
Five Star - "The Slightest Touch" (entered chart Apr. 1987, highest chart position 4)
Blow Monkeys - "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way" (entered chart Jan. 1987, highest chart position 5)
Living In A Box - "Living In A Box" (entered chart Mar. 1987, highest chart position 5)
Mel & Kim - "Respectable" (entered chart Feb. 1987, highest chart position 1)

Those descriptions are all you get on the inlay, there's no commentary from the Kid explaining why they're his favourite chart breakers, or anything like that. All eight songs, in fact, are rather good ones. I was thinking I could have a laugh about some song being considered anybody's favourite, but they're all quite nice, you can listen and sing along to them. So I thought I'd look up the singers on the internet and see what they're doing now.

According to this Wham fan site, which is the first one you get when you type 'Pepsi and Shirlie' into Google but hasn't been updated since 2001, Pepsi sings backing vocals for Geri Halliwell, and Shirlie is married to Martin Kemp out of Spandau Ballet and "London's smash soap opera The Eastenders". And apparently Pepsi and Shirlie's dancing was a crucial part of Wham's success. If you say so.

According to this Johnny Hates Jazz site, "there is no current news regarding the groups activities or any solo-projects that I am aware of." Good to know.

This VH1 website says that Fine Young Cannibals Dave Cox and David Steele continue to work together under various names, without adding any more detail, "while Roland Gift's hoped-for film career never quite took off."

Boy George is still vaguely in the public eye, I think - the ultimate homepage dedicated to him says that he'll be in Genoa Italy for the new year's eve. Whether he's performing there or just holidaying isn't clear.

The first result on Google for 'Five Star' is Five Star Professional Ranges, which is far more entertaining to me than knowing what they're doing now. However, I remembered that one of them was called Delroy, looked him up and it seems he's got an IMDb page. All the cool people have them nowadays.

The Blow Monkeys have apparently reformed recently, although a cursory internet search reveals absolutely nothing about them except websites mentioning their couple of singles in the eighties. I'm sorry, people, but if the first page of a google search for your name doesn't give me a fan site with news updates, you're not going to hold my attention. Their lead singer was called Doctor Robert, though, which is a very cool name.

The lead singer of Living In A Box, Richard Darbyshire has his own website that says he's giving one-to-one songwriting lessons in West London "in a bid to help younger artists to reach their goals". How nice of him. Marcus Vere, wonderfully, writes songs for the "Here comes a..." series of children's DVDs. Drummer Anthony Critchlow might be a sculptural lighting designer, or an associate in the litigation department of Bell, Rosenborg & Hughes LLP, or else he hasn't done anything in the last twenty years worthy of a mention on the internet.

Mel & Kim, whose hit "Respectable" was my favourite of Kid Jensen's favourites, I can probably write about without looking them up. One of them died young and I think the other was on Big Brother or something. Let's see... Kim Appleby's clearly still alive, so it must have been her. She has a website that says she's released a new song but doesn't mention Big Brother, so perhaps she wasn't on it after all. I still loved "Respectable", though.

David "Kid" Jensen is still a DJ on some obscure radio station, I think.


SamT said...

2007 update;

From 6 August David Jensen presented the weekday Breakfast Show and a Saturday morning on local Gold AM/Digital stations as well as the afternoon show on digital only station theJazz. That’s 43 hours a week he’s on air!

WOW!! lol

In 2002, Gift released a self-titled solo album, featuring the single It's Only Money. As of 2007, Gift is currently in a studio, recording a follow up album.

Anonymous said...

Boy George is a big-time DJ these days, working in all the cool nightclubs

Geoff said...

You should get a job as a private investigator.

Nick said...

I brought one of those rubix things as a kid and played that tape countless times, brought back fond memories and thanks to iTunes and a couple of other sites I now have them all on my pod. Thanks for the listing.

mark said...

I think it was a rubix olympic rings puzzle - broke it in the 1st 5 minutes... thank god I got the tape

Blokeh said...

It did indeed come with the Rubiks Olympic Ring Thing With All Wires And Stuff. I know this because I got one for Christmas, likely 1987. I remember playing this tape TO DEATH when I was a kid.

Tonight I inadvertantly discovered an 80s music video site, and one of the first ones I saw was "The Blow Monkeys". One listen and I knew I had to track down the rest of the songs. A quick google brought me here, and you have just brought Christmas 1987 back to life for me.

I wish I could reach through the internet and thank you personally, but until that day arrives, know that you've helped this 33 year old relive some of the most precious times of his otherwise shitty childhood.