Here’s a fact: my cousin Josh is cooler than your cousins. He’s cooler than you.
OK, although those statements are most likely true, I don’t have evidence to back them up. (For all I know, our audience is really cool.) This one, however, we know is true: my cousin Josh is cooler than me.
Let’s compare our current musical careers. This month, I sang karaoke at The Red Lion in Cedar Rapids. I performed Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science.” Two of my friends danced behind me as if they were robots. We were a big hit, I think.
This was around the same time that my cousin Josh and his band, Gentlemen Rogues, were in the midst of their first UK tour. On May 2, they played the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Yes, THAT Cavern Club. My cousin Josh played drums where John & Paul & George & Ringo (& Pete) performed hundreds of times.
My side of the ledger: I sang karaoke in the same space as some guy who played a mean harmonica during his sing-alongs.
(Which, by the way, isn’t that cheating, bringing your own instrument to karaoke? Open Mic Night, sure. Karaoke? GTFO. I wanted to call bullshit, but I also didn’t want a nasty confrontation to prevent me from being allowed to later sing “A Boy Named Sue,” so I held my tongue.)
So yes, my cousin Josh is cool. And there was a time in 1987 when he made me cooler, giving me Memorex tapes full of good music at a time when I was listening to a good deal of not-so-good music. The era preceding this moment is known as BMCJMMC (Before My Cousin Josh Made Me Cooler).
I wrote about this once before. In the days of BMCJMMC, I was into Wham! Nowhere to go but up, I suppose.
Anyway, thinking about my cousin Josh and thinking about the UK…
(Quick sidebar: Queens Park Rangers are 90 minutes away from returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking! Yesterday’s cracker of a match saw Rangers deal with Wigan Athletic, 2-1 in extra time, at Loftus Road in the second leg of their Playoff Semi-Final. A brace from striker Charlie Austin put the Latics to the sword. Now it’s on to Wembley to face Derby County; it always had to be Steve McLaren’s squad standing between the Super Hoops and Premier League promotion ecstasy. NOTE: most of this terminology I’ve lifted straight from UK newspaper articles and my Football Manager computer game.)
So yeah, I was thinking about Josh and the UK, and it made me wonder: what other British artists did I like in the BMCJMMC era that make me cringe now?
I still love Duran Duran. I’ve already made an example of Wham!
Howard Jones? Nah, I never bought any of his stuff…
How about the Outfield?
There was a point in my life when “Your Love” was pretty much the greatest song ever. By the time this song came out, I had my own boom box/ghetto blaster/insert lame name for boxy cassette player, and the Play Deep album found itself in constant play. Of course, seeing as I hardly ever listened to any other song (I honestly don’t know that I ever flipped the cassette to Side Two), I probably should have just bought the 45 RPM of “Your Love” and thrown the song on a blank tape, along with Paul Young and Julian Lennon and Jan Hammer (fuck yeah, Miami Vice) and whatever else I was listening to that year. But whatever. It was worth the full album price to have that song at the ready at all times.
The song actually came in handy when I transferred to Iowa State and needed to make friends all over again. One night, some guy was blaring the song from his dorm room, so I wandered in, as OBVIOUSLY this is where the party is. In a matter of seconds, I took a seat and started air-drumming the shit out of the song. (In particular, the part with a bunch of sweet fills and what not.) By the time I was air-drumming into the chorus, I had new best friends. (Amazingly, I wasn’t able to convert the moment into a girlfriend situation.)
Anyway, that was AMCJMMC. In my days of youth, I taped the video one night, likely during the WTBS show Night Tracks. (Unfortunate kids who didn’t grow up with MTV thought Night Tracks was incredible.) If you are unfamiliar with the cinematic vision for this song, I have embedded the video below.
Naturally, talking points come to the forefront after reviewing this video…
I can’t believe the headless bass guitar never really caught on. Must have been ahead of its time. (Nearly 30 years later, it’s still apparently ahead of its time.)
Some of the players are really into looking all ’80s. Which makes sense, since this was released in the mid-’80s. The blond big-hair dudes seem to recognize the look of the era, especially the guitarist who goes for a stroll to get a closer look at the painter girl’s masterpiece. The others just kind of look like normal joes (although the blind keyboard guy, who apparently wasn’t really in the band, is a nice touch). So NOT ’80s, non-blond dudes. Although the singer’s attempt at ’80s hair is very ’80s, just not cool ’80s, which isn’t all that cool, but…well, you get it.
I always liked “The Girl.” (Not sure why I put that in quotes.) She was cute, for sure. Not a knockout, I suppose. Nor was she doing cartwheels on car hoods or whatever it was that Tawny Kitaen used to do in those Whitesnake videos. But she was pretty, and she basically smiled politely at the nerds in the Outfield before leaving the warehouse with her painting, presumably to find cooler dudes to hang with (like, say, Van Halen or Prince or Motley Crue).
She ended up playing one of the girls on Just the Ten of Us. She recently did an interview about the “Your Love” video. I still like “The Girl.”
Perhaps the greatest takeaway after going down Memory Lane is that not everything I listened to in the BMCJMMC era was cringeworthy, even if said band was flirting with one-hit wonder territory. (“Since You’ve Been Gone” was a modest hit, and “Say It Isn’t So” was actually a decent song, too. But that’s about it.) Look past the “One Night in Bangkok” purchase, ignore the Billy Ocean “Loverboy” 45, pretend I didn’t fool myself into thinking that Eddie Murphy “Party All the Time” song was cool. There were moments where good taste entered the equation. After all, I loved the Purple Rain singles, and I thought Van Halen was great. And for one near-chart-topping moment, I was able to see the legitimate pop power of the Outfield.
Only one thing left for me to do: work out my “Your Love” routine for the next karaoke night.