It’s Standard Issue’s first birthday so to celebrate, among other things, we’re joining up two of our favourite columns to produce a 7 Wonders/Rated or Dated mashup. You’re welcome.
Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
I never know if the first single you ever bought is the first single you had money for or the first time you felt compelled to own a record/cassingle/CD/download/futuristicmusicfart that just appears in your head when you want it.
My first record player was my parents’ old wooden one which I got when they treated themselves to a silver swish one to pop in the dining room, where there was maximum dancing space for Super Trouper and the like. The record player was old and a bit knackered and I still can’t listen to Diana Ross’s Chain Reaction without automatically adding in the jumps and skips it suffered on my machine.
The first record I bought was Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, the first of many Wham! records I owned (and sweatbands and a nightie which was really just a big T-shirt and also only George, no Andrew. That must have been an awkward discussion). It was from Woolworths and I never played the B side. I can’t see the point of B sides. I also hate album tracks, live music and love a Best Of. Why on earth are you allowing me to tell you about music?
“All the stuff about it being cold outside and warm in bed made total sense because I hated getting out of bed for school during the winter too.”
When I listen to it now, it still makes me happy. It never stopped. It’s a classic cheer me up song so it’s on my iPod and Magic FM, probably every 20 minutes. It’s also on our old CD ghetto blaster via a very old 80s-tastic type CD. I often pop it on when cleaning the cat litter trays. That’s testament to how boppy it is, that I can still dance while shovelling turds into a bin bag.
Listening to it again just now, it occurred to me how my nine-year-old brain processed some of the lyrics. I’m pretty sure I thought it was about yo-yos in some way or another because I’d never heard the word Go-Go before. Also all the stuff about it being cold outside and warm in bed made total sense because I hated getting out of bed for school during the winter too.
It’s easy to forget that anthem of students past, present and future, The One and Only, is now 24 years old, so old in fact that my eight-year-old self bought it on VINYL.
I loved Chesney and I’m not at all surprised now, having listened to his seminal works again. It’s got something for everyone, unless you’re someone who likes a properly good singing voice and lyrics that fully make sense. So, by everyone, I mean people who like funny revving motor-guitar intros, a Starship-inspired guitar riff and solo, which OK, wouldn’t have given Slash a run for his money, but is still good enough for me to question whether Ches’ was really playing it.
So it’s really all on the guitar. The guitar and the timelessly empowering lyrics (once you get past the ones that make no sense), which in many ways, I like to think inspired me to become the heinously contrary child I was. That’s right, Chesney, DAMN THE GODDAMN MAN!
The first single I ever bought was on cassette, from the Woolworths in Ilkeston, and was Doop, by Doop. Google tells me that this must have happened in 1994, which is surprisingly late.
I was already buying CD albums by that point, since I was the proud owner of Hormonally Yours by Shakespeare’s Sister. If we liked a single, we’d just tape it off the Radio 1 chart show. But for some reason, I didn’t want the Radio 1 chart show recording of Doop by Doop. I remember thinking it was just a really cheery dancey song, and wanting to listen to it over and over again.
On relistening now… Oh God. I still like it. I still think it’s really fun and silly. Since Electroswing became a Thing a couple of years back, culminating in the Birdseye Potato Waffles Advert Travesty that was our latest Eurovision attempt, it feels weirdly current, but has the gaudy neon blood of resolutely cheerful mid-90s Europop coursing through it. The video’s wonderfully cheap looking and demented too, and couldn’t be more 90s late-night Channel 4 if it had Terry Christian waddling through it. 10/10, would doop again.
Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
At the time, it sounded pretty groovy: a driving riff, a heartfelt vocal and a grunt from Graham Bonnet in the middle that’s a cross between despair and frustrated desire. But then again, I was 13 and knew no better.
Listening to it with my grownup post-feminist ears, it’s pretty revolting. She’s left him, for reasons unspecified – although the whining and the grunting is a clue – and he’s understandably upset. But does he examine his own behaviour and endeavour to do better in order to win her back? No. He blames her. She’s cast a spell, the witch, and she needs to break it. Fuck her needs, his happiness is all that matters. Definitely dated.
Chef – Chocolate Salty Balls
The year was 1998. The format was cassette. I was 13 and buying my first single – Chocolate Salty Balls by Chef from South Park. Listening to it at home on my ghetto blaster, I felt rebellious, anarchic, mature. Because nothing says ‘mature’ like a Barry White-style song called Chocolate Salty Balls.
It’s about a confection but the innuendo was constant and wonderful. “Baby! You just burnt my balls!” cries Isaac Hayes as Chef at the song’s denouement. This was sophisticated comedy, superb music and I was a hero among my friends.
Seventeen years is a long time in comedy, in music and in the life of Sooz. How have Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls aged in the almost two decades since they were taken out of the oven? Well, it’s obvious, it’s not big and it’s not clever. But it’s still damn funny, that bassline is rockin’ and Isaac Hayes sounds like golden syrup being poured on to satin sheets. This novelty former UK Number 1 (really!) is a big fat chocolate salty RATED. Well done to me for having such impeccable taste when purchasing my first ever single.
Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
The first record I could ever call my own was by The Beatles – and it was definitely mine as it said “Lisbeth” in crayon across the front of Paul McCartney’s face. I’d already decided Paul seemed like a decent man I could probably marry when I was finally a bit older than six, and so I’d best get to know his job better.
But I never think records paid for by your parents as presents count. Ideally, your ‘first record’ should not only be acquired with your own cash, it should also be purchased to be played on your own stereo. Not the one in a wooden cabinet in the lounge covered in ornaments from Crest China.
“To say the song is dated would be foolish – girls the world over will relate to fighting with parents, questions over relationships and unprotected sex for all time.”
So, the first 7″ single I bought for myself, for my own record deck, was Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach. This felt right: it was definitely a rebellion song, and first records should be that. Whatever she was up to, her “Papa” wasn’t pleased about it. She was even telling him off! I’d never say “don’t preach” to my parents without expecting some major fall out, even if I was posh enough to call either one of them papa. I was pretty convinced telling them not to be bores was the naughty bit, not the massive pregnancy.
There was further confusion as I wasn’t actually sure if the “baby” she was insisting on keeping was her boyfriend, which seemed oddly twee as Madonna was clearly old enough to be my mum. She could possibly mean a child, I considered, but there’s no bump in those tight three-quarter length 80s trousers, so I completely ruled that out as a stupid idea. SIM‘s Sarah Millican also thought Madge was saying she was “in Troubleby”, a place a bit like Wetherby, so this was a song that definitely posed more questions for young minds than it answered.
To say the song is dated would be foolish – girls the world over will relate to fighting with parents, questions over relationships and unprotected sex for all time. My 7″ isn’t dated either as everyone’s back into vinyl. The only thing here that’s dated is me: I’m back thinking Paul McCartney seems like a decent man and listening to a record player in a wooden cabinet.
David Bowie – Fashion
One of my staple pastimes in 80s Liverpool was going to Silver Blades Ice Rink in Kensington. Kensington, Liverpool did not quite live up to its namesake in Landan. Knackered and neglected for years, Kensington was a shit-hole.
My older brother and I would skate here most Saturdays. I was pretty confident (for a six-year-old) while he would wibble around terrified, with his tongue pressing into his cheek like he was feeling for a mouth ulcer.
There were three brilliant things about Silver Blades. 1. Chips. 2. Skating. 3. Music.
There is a fourth thing, but in retrospect it’s not that brilliant… Displayed behind filthy finger-streaked glass, en route to the boot despatch were a pair of old brown leather skates. Adolf Hitler’s, no less. I’m not joking. We would look at them in awe. The little fountain penned note beside them proudly informing us that he wore these at this very ice-rink when he studied art in our fine city. Nobody ever questioned how strange this was.
The ice-rink music was always booming. My memory insists that the first song was always Beat It by Michael Jackson, whatever time we arrived. The first DONGS of that song would rumble through my little chest and I’d try and skate along and do the dance moves. My memory also insists that I looked cool doing this.
The song I most associate with this freezing pastime was Fashion by David Bowie. I got money for my holy communion so my Mum took me to Woolworths in Belle Vale Shopping centre to spend my holy casholy. Naturally, I treated myself to a few fallen aniseed balls on the way to the singles counter.
The sleeve to the Fashion single was a portrait shot of Bowie surrounded by little sections of his face. Adam Ant, Suggs and Gary Numan had taken up my top three crushes but Bowie was definitely a number four contender (until I saw his Ziggy Stardust phase and he was relegated completely off my list). My brother pointed out his eyes to me. He told me he could only see brown out of one eye and blue out of the other. We used to dress up in my mum’s clothes and dance around the living room pretending to be the “Goon Squad (beep beep)”.
The B side was Scream Like A Baby. I always imagined a huge frightened daffodil when he sang “…if you should fall, into my arms and tremble like a flower.”
This, my friends, was the first single I ever bought. Six years later, Silver Blades would close down and I would go to my first gig to see Europe.
Thirty-five years later and Fashion remains my favourite song. The Final Countdown? Hmm, not so much. Sorry, Joey Tempest!
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