Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? – Year 4 – the Number Threes.

Right then. You can either have thoughtful and well-researched analysis of the next five songs, but wait an extra day for the post to appear – or else you can have an ultra-quick off-the-top-of-my-head scribble on each one, and have the post appear today.

The latter it’s to be then. Will the Number Threes please present themselves.

1966: You Were On My Mind – Crispian St Peters.
1976: I Love To Love – Tina Charles.
1986: Eloise – The Damned.
1996: I Got 5 On It – Luniz.
2006: Boys Will Be Boys – The Ordinary Boys.
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.

Of these five, the fluffy pop-disco of Tina Charles inevitably has the strongest nostalgic emotional pull. Not only did I enjoy it at the time, but a slightly naff late 1980s remix (with added stuttering vocal samples and extra WOO!-ing) was one of the staples of my dancefloor, back in my DJ-ing days. (Guilty Pleasures? We were doing Guilty Pleasures back while you were still feeling guilty about them.)

However, I did ask you to be objective. So, not wanting to be hypocritical, today’s five points will be going to Crispian St Peters. Like the Cilla Black song, this is another “builder” – which continues building after the MP3 medley cuts off – but unlike Cilla, there’s still a degree of restraint here. Great tune, great execution, and it shows the likes of the Mindbenders up good and proper.

I keep forgetting about original punk rockers The Damned‘s run of hits from 1985 to 1987, when they were at their most consistently commercially successful. Perhaps that’s because I had long since fallen out of love with them, and couldn’t connect the watered down poppier approach of the new line-up with the demented full-on glories of the old. “Eloise” – by far and away their biggest hit – is a cover of a 1968 hit by Barry Ryan, which is regrettably unknown to me. The mot juste is “episodic” – and there’s nowt wrong with “episodic”. However, I still can’t get beyond that mid-1980s production job, which has afflicted all of the 1986 hits we have listened to so far, to a greater or lesser extent. The Damned and weedy synths? Does not compute.

I think the Luniz might just be rapping about DRUGZ, hyurk hyurk. Yes, I rather think that they are. Hip-hop’s best known spliff-heads Cypress Hill are referenced in the lyric, which immediately sets up unfortunate comparisons: Cypress Hill did this sort of thing so much better, before they went all stadium rock and lost the plot. Still, at least this isn’t as bad as Afroman’s frightful ode to the weed, “Because I Got High”, and I quite like the drawled, fuggy menace of it all .

So, what’s your position on ska-revival-revivalism, as catapulted back into the charts on the back of the lead singer’s credibility-jettisoning appearance on Celebrity Big Brother? I saw the Ordinary Boys perform this live a couple of years ago, with Preston’s lead vocals replaced by a surprise guest appearance from the DJ/comedian Phil Jupitus, and I remember thinking: blimey, best lead vocals we’ve had all night. It’s OK, but it’s slight. Trouble is: they’re reviving “Baggy Trousers” period Madness, and I never did care much for “Baggy Trousers”.

My votes: Crispian St Peters – 5 points. Tina Charles – 4 points. Ordinary Boys – 3 points. Luniz – 2 points. The Damned – 1 point.

Over to you. Will Tina Charles keep the 1970s soaring ever further into the lead, or will Crispian St Peters lead a rear-guard action for the 1960s? Could The Ordinary Boys give the 2000s a much-needed shot in the arm? Are you finally ready to embrace hip-hop? And will you judge The Damned’s cover as harshly as you judged The Overlanders?

Running totals so far – Number 3s.
1966: You Were On My Mind – Crispian St Peters. (106)

  • Didn’t know this one before. Nice understated singing; nice tambourine; and then AN ORGAN comes in. Goosebumps all over. (Koen)
  • Reminds me of the Everlys and I think it benefits from being something I haven’t heard before. (Adrian)
  • Top tune. Obviously ripping off the Everly’s but what the hell. (Andy)
  • Everly Brothers harmonies with a touch of Roy Orbison, but it’s all about the build-up. (Will)
  • superbly crafted and sung (Hedgie)
  • I like this version better than Ian and Sylvia’s. That’s blasphemy in Canada. (asta)
  • Melodramatic without falling into silliness. (betty)
  • That chugging guitar line: do we think that The Cars and Mink DeVille were listening? (mike)
  • I’m unshaken by this laid-back tambourine basher (diamond geezer)
  • Same old same old predictable 66 formulaic. (Gert)

1976: I Love To Love – Tina Charles. (104)

  • Refreshingly sparse production in this disco classic. (Adrian)
  • I didn’t want to put this top, but I can’t keep still to it. (diamond geezer)
  • Didn’t like this paean to sexual abstinence when it came out, but again, it’s better than I remembered. (Chris Black)
  • Classic! Nuff said! Although she was featured heavily on a Radio4 show this week about those TOTP LPs. She was one of the regular session singers apparently. (Andy)
  • I remember being very irritated by the extensive airplay this received at the time; it’s beaten me into submission now. A classic. (Hedgie)
  • “A fiery ball of energy” they would’ve probably called her at the time. British disco was always a bit second best, really. (betty)
  • Oh god, I can just see the clothes they all wore to dance to this. Quite liked it on first listen, but by third I was digging my nails into my hands. (z)
  • Yuck. Yucky yucking yuckity yuck. Oh, and with extra “bleargh” thrown in for good measure. This is utterly repulsive. (David)
  • Go away you squealing midget. (Stereoboard)
  • Does she also love to dance, though? See that could lead somewhere. (Cliff)

1986: Eloise – The Damned. (96)

  • The only one I knew before listening. This song is far from typical Damned, the words are neither here nor there, but it has to win by a mile because of the amazing soundworld it inhabits and the energy it projects. (Gert)
  • Didn’t think I’d ever heard a song by The Damned but, like so many of the songs in WDITFP, this stirs memories. And is pretty good. (Will)
  • I prefer the original, but this is pretty good. I prefer this over-the-topness over the Jim Steinman kind, any day. (Koen)
  • They could shut down Broadway with this. (asta)
  • Ha, ha. ’tis funny to see the Damned came to this. I still remember them from when they couldn’t play two songs without fighting. (NiC)
  • rip-roaring, but I’d have preferred something original (diamond geezer)
  • 5 points: purely because it introduced me to their far superior back catalogue. (Gordon)
  • Eloise isn’t as good as their cover of Alone Again Or from around the same time, or their Naz Nomad thingy (which must have had something to do with all those 60s covers), but it’s still better than the other offerings. (dem)
  • My Mum bought the original! I think Barry Ryan’s version was better though. (Chris Black)
  • 3 points: grudgingly. I hated the Damned at this time. ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, ‘Black Album’ and ‘Strawberries’ being top albums… this was the sans Captain period. If you get a chance to catch the Damned on tour these days I’d heartily reccommend it! But be prepared to pogo and sweat muchly! (Andy)
  • It sounds like they’re performing this with too straight a face. Should be even more over the top. The weedy 80s production doesn’t help, true. (jeff w)
  • Very perfunctory performance, as if the record company had forced them to record it so they could get a hit. Not a patch on the very wonderful, all-bar-the-kitchen-sink original.
  • I was surprised just how bad this is. (Ben)

2006: Boys Will Be Boys – The Ordinary Boys. (80)

  • The only one of the five that I own, so no surprise that I’m putting it top. I’d take this over Madness any day. Top tune. (Will)
  • could have been a hit in any of these decades (diamond geezer)
  • Loved the song first time around (ie. last year!) Love Preston. Not too sure about his taste in women. (Chig)
  • Now I do like a bit of Ska so this makes me smile. I liked this before Preston went all tabloid; it’s a shame that it took that for them to get any sales. (David)
  • Highly derriverative maybe and almost certainly their high point but still a worthy one hit wonder I fink…. he’s such a loverly boy isn’t he? (NiC)
  • Reasonable attempt to capture the spirit of Ska, and annoyingly catchy. (Gordon)
  • First 5 seconds is great, then it’s sub-Madness all the way. But they could do better in future … (Chris Black)
  • Didn’t like Madness then, and I’m not going to start now. (Stereoboard)
  • I’ve been rooting for 2006, but it’s not going to happen with acts like this. I’m so glad they haven’t crossed the pond. (asta)
  • 2 points: In no way influenced by my intense dislike of Preston. I don’t really want a white-indie-boys-playing-ska revival, thanks all the same. (betty)

1996: I Got 5 On It – Luniz. (64)

  • Yeah, yeah, it’s a weed song. But forget that and treasure the delicate yet spooky John Carpenteresque backing track and the finely judged balance of sung chorus and rhymed verses. One of the very best rap/R&B singles of the 90s. (jeff w)
  • One of the best poppy/hip hop songs of that era. Is it really that old? (betty)
  • That BASSLINE! Don’t know where they stole it from, but it’s great. The track never really goes anywhere of course, but that’s kind of the point. (Koen)
  • Everything else I’ve heard by Luniz is terrible but I really like the ghostly groove on this and it only narrowly didn’t get the 5 points. (David)
  • The vocals aren’t much, but the backing does a lot to redeem this in my eyes. (Adrian)
  • I’ve got Two on it – although admittedly a very high Two (diamond geezer)
  • One of the very few singles I actually own myself. Not that I like it, but I guess I did at the time. (Simon C)
  • Catchy chorus, the rest is swill. (asta)
  • This is what my partner often says apropos three legged donkeys. It’s noise. I suppose it must have been quite bleedinedge for it’s time because that sort of stuff’s still pounding out of Housing Association flats round these parts…Unlistenable. (Gert)
  • Oh, 1996, why do you forsake me so? (Will)
Decade scores so far.
1 (1) The 1970s (27) — but the seven point gap has shrunk to four.
2 (2=) The 1980s (23) — Miss Ross nudges the 1980s ahead.
3 (2=) The 1960s (22) — down to third, but still in the running.
4 (4) The 1990s (18) — the 1990s have only once (with the Bluetones) placed higher than third.
5 (5) The 2000s (15) — Chris Brown proved disasterous. Can the Ordinary Boys save them?

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