Freddie And The Dreamers. Sly And The Family Stone. Dion And The Belmonts. Reparata & The Delrons, Booker T & The MGs. There used to be a time when a pop group had a caste system, when one member of the band was regarded as being of more importance than the other. These days are gone. Partly because pop bands themselves are pretty much extinct and partly because it’s deemed insensitive to elevate the contribution of one member over another. The eighties was the last stand of the And The bands.
“Stand And Deliver,” Adam And The Ants
Perhaps the Ants most confident record. No longer the bitter loser or the outsider with a chip on his shoulder, “Stand And deliver” saw Adam Ant as his homeland’s biggest pop star and he used his vast platform to stick two amused fingers up at the old, ugly, smelly state of rock music, those who followed it, played it, consumed it and wrote about it. He was rewarded with a single that soared straight in at number one, a rarity in those days.
“Happy House,” Siouxsie & The Banshees
There was a feeling the Banshees had blown it with their second album, Join Hands. It seemed like the work of a band bereft of ideas. “Happy House” debuted to low expectations but turned out be the start of an amazing run of singles that proved Siouxsie’s Voice of Doom was as it;s most effective when fronting a band that soared rather than lumbered.
“Rescue,” Echo And The Bunnymen
Major label debuts of bands who’d intrigued in the indie incarnations could be disappointing. Not the case with “Rescue”, the first post-Zoo Echo release. Still ominous, still enigmatic but now with a sound as big as their ambitions.
“Forest Fire,” Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
The rare case of an Englishman moving to Glasgow to find fame and fortune. Lloyd Cole’s killer combination of smugness, pretension and instant success made him an easy figure to loathe and plenty teenage Glaswegians were more than equal to the challenge. “Forest Fire” shut us up. “Total Control” by The Motels is one of my favorite example of a song that’s all tension and no release. This song exerts a similar grip but lets the listener exhale with the long guitar workout at the finish line.
“Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick,” Ian Dury And The Blockheads
Let’s take a second to deal with the notion that this song by an aging Cockney polio victim with it’s free jazz breakdown at the mid-point was not only a number one record but was never off the radio, played at every school disco and teenage party and was not his only hit. Different times.
“Do Anything You Wanna Do,” Eddie & The Hot Rods
Like Dr. Feelgood, Eddie & The Hot Rods, were stuck in the divide between pub rock and punk. They tried to bridge the culture gap by changing their name to Rods and releasing this, their best ever record. It was hailed as a classic summer single. They triumphantly reverted back to their original name and never released another song anywhere near as good or successful. This clip comes from Marc Bolan’s old, after-school TV show.
“Call Me Every Night,” Jane Aire And The Belvederes
In Mad World:The Book, we tell the story of how Akron’s The Waitresses were a record first and then a band. The same thing happened with Jane Aire And The Belvederes who were formed to take advantage of the British media’s post-Devo interest in all things form Akron. Stiff Records put out an Akron compilation album featuring the song “Yankee Wheels” and a conglomeration of local musicians working under the name Jane Aire And The Belvederes. The singer and the guy who wrote the songs moved to London, started a real band, featuring Jon Moss on drums, and took a shot at becoming an actual pop group. They made a few records, unnoticed by most but loved by Teenage Me.
“Driving,” Pearl Harbor & The Explosions
Here’s a crazy coincidence. “Driving” was also recorded by Jane Aire And The Belvederes. Two female-fronted And The bands doing the same song at approximately the same period of time. Even more amazing, it was a hit for neither.
“The Lonely Spy,” Lori & The Chameleons
Yes, the great lost new wave record by our own Lori Majewski. JK! (Her song, “I Love Shelf! has yet to be retrieved from the archives) L&TC were another semi-imaginary combo invented by Zoo Records, Bill Drummond of the KLF wrote and produced this, inspired by the wistful voice of a girl he apparently discovered on her way to class at a Liverpool art school.
“The Captain Of Your Ship,” Bette Bright & The Illuminations
Not the first appearance in this feature of wife of Suggs and Liverpool legend Bette Bright, but a fitting way to close as a female-fronted And The band from the eighties, covers a classic from a female fronted And The band from the sixties!