Pet Shop Boys – Yes etc

When they get things right, they get things very right, and when Pet Shop Boys released Yes, a decade ago this week, they were slap bang in the middle of one of those periods. Ironically, the fans were a little unsure of Yes, initially finding the overproduced and happy sound of Love etc a bit hard to handle, but the acceptance of Outstanding Contribution at the BRIT Awards just a few weeks before this album’s release proves to me that they were at the top of their game. And Yes, by the way, is brilliant.

What nobody could dispute was that This used to be the future is up there among their finer works – so good, in fact, that it’s tempting to wonder why it wasn’t included on disc 1 of Yes. Instead, it launches the second disc with some deep and dark electronic sounds. After a very lengthy introduction, Neil Tennant turns up with a brilliantly uplifting vocal, singing half of a verse before a strangely familiar voice turns up. Is that Chris Lowe? It is! Great to hear him taking part in a duet! Then Tennant delivers the chorus, and then another familiar voice – it’s Phil Oakey, of all people! It doesn’t need anything else – clearly this is going to be a great track.

I do understand, actually, why this wasn’t on Yes – it’s a slightly silly sidestep, which sees Tennant and Lowe collaborating with one of their heroes and really just having fun. The fact that it’s brilliant isn’t really the point – a lot of Pet Shop Boys‘ most cunningly hidden b-sides are among their best tracks (Always, I’m looking at you), and in a way that’s always been part of their charm. But I do wonder where this fits – maybe in a parallel universe Electronic didn’t drift off into the awful rock of Twisted Tenderness, and instead became the synth supergroup who released things like This Used to Be the Future. I can dream.

Which isn’t a bad idea, actually – the rest of Yes etc is made up of broad dub versions of album tracks, starting appropriately with the Magical Dub of More than a dream. This is one of the best tracks on the main album, although you don’t really get a lot of that here. In a way the trouble with dub mixes is that you really need to know the original pretty well already. So this is great, but it is a little lacking in context if you listen to it on its own.

Strangely, that isn’t true of The Stars and the Sun Dub of Pandemonium, which is immediately brilliant. It pretty much only includes that one lyric (“the stars and the sun”) and yet somehow reflects the original track more than adequately – it’s less experimental, which you somewhat expect of a dub version, but entirely brilliant.

As with the originals, these are, for the most part, excellent versions – apparently Pet Shop Boys were channelling The Human League‘s interesting Love and Dancing remix album here, but I think they go beyond it slightly – while that one has more big hits on it, that’s also its downfall somewhat, coming across at times like more of an extended medley than a remix album.

Next here comes the Left of Love Dub of The way it used to be, which falls somewhere between the preceding two in terms of how easily accessible the track is. If you know how great the original song is, though, it’s easy to love this dub. Which is the point really – you wouldn’t own this remix if you didn’t own the album already, so that’s fine.

I think I’m unusual in not entirely loving All Over the World – somehow it never quite works for me – the classical and electronic elements seem shoehorned together, and the vocal doesn’t quite fit either. The poorly named This is a Dub version is faithful in this regard, anyway – it’s fine, but doesn’t quite work as a remix for me.

When a dub version works well, it reminds you why you love the original track, without giving you too many clues. Vulnerable is my favourite track on Yes, and the Public Eye Dub does exactly this for me – it’s representative of the original without being the original. It still contains all the lovelier instrumental elements, such as the guitar twirls and huge synth backing, but it pulls them apart, extends them, and is just generally great.

The promo singles from this album include a number of dub versions of Love etc, which is more likely than not where the idea for the Yes etc bonus disc came from in the first place. The Beautiful Dub is probably the best of these, retaining the huge bouncy synths of the original, with just surges of vocal every few beats. It’s got everything – there’s even a retro eighties breakdown in the middle. Beautiful is an appropriate name.

So Yes etc is entirely unnecessary – it’s nowhere near as interesting as even the worse of the Disco albums, but if you appreciate the original versions, it’s also entirely great. Don’t you wish everybody would package their albums with a bonus disc of dub versions? No, me neither, but you can’t deny that it’s an interesting idea.

I thought you might struggle to find this now, since it’s a limited edition and there’s a much newer version of Yes that doesn’t include it, but it seems Yes etc may still be available, if you poke around.

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Ivor Novello Awards – The 1980s

After drifting off the rails somewhat in the 1970s, the Ivor Novello Awards started to go back to being about songwriting in the 1980s. Although they still seemed a little more obsessed with Bucks Fizz and Cliff Richard than is really healthy.

Ivor Novello Awards 1980

Grosvenor House, London, hosted the 25th Ivor Novello Award ceremony.

  • The Best Song Musically and Lyrically: The Logical Song, performed by Supertramp, written by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson. Also nominated: Bright Eyes, performed by Art Garfunkel, written by Mike BattWe Don’t Talk Anymore, performed by Cliff Richard, written by Alan Tarney
  • The Best Pop Song: I Don’t Like Mondays, performed by The Boomtown Rats, written by Bob Geldof. Also nominated: Video Killed the Radio Star, performed by Buggles, written by Bruce Woolley, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes; Off the Wall, performed by Michael Jackson, written by Rodney Temperton
  • The Best Theme from a Radio or Television Production: Nunc Dimittis, written by Geoffrey Burgon. Also nominated: Secret Army, written by Robert FarnonShoestring, written by George Fenton
  • The Best Film Song, Theme or Score: Caravans, written by Mike Batt. Also nominated: Music Machine, written by Leslie Hurdle and Frank RicottiYanks, written by Richard Rodney Bennett
  • The Outstanding British Lyric: I Don’t Like Mondays. Also nominated: He Was Beautiful, performed by Iris Williams, written by Cleo LaineBright Eyes
  • The Best Instrumental or Popular Orchestral Work: War of the Worlds, written by Jeff Wayne and Gary Osborne. Also nominated: The Valley of Swords, written by Mike BattAfrican Sanctus, written by David Fanshawe
  • The International Hit of the Year: We Don’t Talk Anymore, performed by Cliff Richard, written by Alan Tarney. Also nominated: Too Much Heaven, performed by Bee Gees, written by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice GibbI Don’t Like Mondays
  • The Most Performed Work: Bright Eyes. Also nominated: We Don’t Talk Anymore; Cavatina, performed by John Williams, written by Stanley Myers
  • The Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Bright Eyes. Also nominated: I Don’t Like MondaysAnother Brick in the Wall (Part 2), performed by Pink Floyd, written by Roger Waters
  • The Best British Musical: Songbook, written by Monty Norman and Julian More. Also nominated: A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine, written by Dick Vosburgh and Frank Lazarus
  • Award for Outstanding Services to British Music: Robert Mayer
  • Songwriter of the Year: Ben Findon
  • Special Award for International Achievement: Paul McCartney
  • Special Award for Lifetime Achievement: Edgar Yipsel Harburg and Jimmy Kennedy

Ivor Novello Awards 1981

The 26th Ivor Novello Awards were held at Grosvenor House, London.

  • The Best Song Musically and Lyrically: Woman in Love, performed by Barbara Streisand, written by Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb. Also nominated: Babooshka, written by Kate BushTogether We Are Beautiful, performed by Fern Kinney, written by Ken LerayYour Ears Should be Burning Now, performed by Marti Webb, written by Tony Macaulay and Don Black
  • The Best Pop Song: Stop the Cavalry, written by Jona Lewie. Also nominated: Don’t Stand So Close to Me, performed by The Police, written by StingWhat You’re Proposing, performed by Status Quo, written by Francis Rossi and Bernard Frost
  • The Best Theme from a Television or Radio Production: I Could Be So Good for You, written by Gerard Kenny and Patricia Waterman. Also nominated: Fox, written by George FentonJuliet Bravo, written by J.S. Bach and arranged by Derek Goom
  • The Best Film Song, Theme or Score: Xanadu, written by Jeff Lynne. Also nominated: Flash, written by Brian MaySilver Dream Machine, written by David Essex
  • The Outstanding British Lyric: Take That Look Off Your Face, performed by Marti Webb, written by Don Black. Also nominated: Stop the Cavalry, written by Jona LewieWoman in Love, performed by Barbara Streisand, written by Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb
  • The International Hit of the Year: Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2). Also nominated: Woman in LoveAnother One Bites the Dust, performed by Queen, written by John Deacon
  • The Most Performed Work: Together We Are Beautiful. Also nominated: January, February, performed by Barbara Dickson, written by Alan TarneyI’m In The Mood for Dancing, performed by The Nolan Sisters, written by Ben Findon, Michael Myers and Robert Puzey
  • The Best Selling ‘A’ Side: There’s No One Quite Like Grandma, performed by St. Winifred’s School Choir, written by Gordon Lorenz. Also nominated: Woman in LoveDon’t Stand So Close to Me
  • Award for Outstanding Services to British Music: William Walton
  • Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music: John Lennon
  • Songwriter of the Year: Ben Findon

Ivor Novello Awards 1982

The 27th Ivor Novello Awards were held at Grosvenor House, London.

  • The Best Song Musically and Lyrically: Memory, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, T.S. Eliot and Trevor Nunn. Also nominated: Woman, written by John LennonThe Land of Make Believe, performed by Bucks Fizz, written by Andy Hill and Pete Sinfield
  • The Best Pop Song: Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, performed by The Police, written by Sting. Also nominated: Don’t You Want Me, performed by The Human League, written by Phil Oakey, Adrian Wright and Jo Callis; Wired for Sound, performed by Cliff Richard, written by Alan Tarney and BA Robertson
  • The Best Theme from a Television or Radio Production: Brideshead Revisited, written by Geoffrey Burgon. Also nominated: Flame Trees of Thika, written by Ken Howard and Alan BlaikleyShillingbury Tales, written by Ed Welch
  • The Best Film Theme or Song: The French Lieutenant’s Woman, written by Carl Davis. Also nominated: Without Your Love, written by Billy Nicholls; For Your Eyes Only, written by Bill Conti and Mick Leeson
  • The Outstanding British Lyric: Woman. Also nominated: The One That You Love, performed by Air Supply, written by Graham Russell; When He Shines, performed by Sheena Easton, written by Florrie Palmer and Dominic Bugatti
  • The Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Stand and Deliver, performed by Adam and the Ants, written by Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni. Also nominated: Vienna, performed by Ultravox, written by Billy Currie, Chris Cross, Warren Cann and Midge UreDon’t You Want Me
  • The International Hit of the Year: In the Air Tonight, written by Phil Collins. Also nominated: (Just Like) Starting Over, written by John Lennon; Woman in Love; Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
  • The Most Performed Work: You Drive Me Crazy, performed by Shakin’ Stevens, written by Ronnie Harwood. Also nominated: Woman
  • Award for Outstanding Services to British Music: Lennox Berkeley
  • The Best British Musical: Cats, written by: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn
  • Songwriters of the Year: Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni
  • Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Kenney Jones, Keith Moon and Pete Townshend

Ivor Novello Awards 1983

The 28th Ivor Novello Awards were held at Grosvenor House, London.

  • The Best Song Musically and Lyrically: Have You Ever Been in Love, written by Andy Hill, Pete Sinfield and John Danter. Also nominated: Now Those Days Are Gone, performed by Bucks Fizz, written by Andy Hill and Nichola Martin; Heartbreaker, performed by Bee Gees, written by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb
  • The Best Pop Song: Our House, performed by Madness, written by Carl Smyth and Chris Foreman. Also nominated: I Don’t Wanna Dance, written by Eddy Grant; Come On Eileen, performed by Dexys Midnight Runners, written by Kevin Rowland, Kevin Adams and James Paterson
  • The Best Theme from a Television or Radio Production: Theme From Harry’s Game, composed by Paul Brennan. Also nominated: Omnibus, composed by George Fenton; Smiley’s People, composed by Patrick Gowers
  • The Best Film Theme or Song: For All Mankind, composed by Ravi Shankar and George Fenton. Also nominated: Time and Tide, composed by Alan Price; Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)
  • The Outstanding British Lyric: Private Investigations, performed by Dire Straits, written by Mark Knopfler. Also nominated: The Dreaming, written by Kate Bush; Have You Ever Been in Love
  • The Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Come On Eileen. Also nominated: Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, performed by Culture Club, written by Boy George, Michael Craig, John Moss and Roy Hay; Ebony and Ivory, written by Paul McCartney and performed with Stevie Wonder
  • The International Hit of the Year: Ebony and Ivory. Also nominated: Heartbreaker; Don’t You Want Me
  • The Most Performed Work: Golden Brown, performed by The Stranglers, written by Jean J. Burnell, Hugh Cornwell, Jet Black and David Greenfield. Also nominated: Oh Julie, written by Shakin’ Stevens; Love Plus One, performed by Haircut 100, written by Nick Heyward
  • The Best British Musical: Windy City, written by: Tony Macaulay and Dick Vosburgh
  • Lifetime Achievement in British Music: Vivian Ellis
  • Songwriter of the Year: Andy Hill
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford
  • Special Award for 25 Years In The Music Business: Brian Bennett, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch

Ivor Novello Awards 1984

The 29th Ivor Novello Awards were held at Grosvenor House, London.

  • The Best Song Musically and Lyrically: Every Breath You Take, performed by The Police, written by Sting. Also nominated: Pipes of Peace, written by Paul McCartney; True, performed by Spandau Ballet, written by Gary Kemp
  • The Best Pop Song: Karma Chameleon, performed by Culture Club, written by Boy George, John Moss, Michael Craig, Roy Hay and Phil Pickett. Also nominated: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), performed by Eurythmics, written by Annie Lennox and Dave StewartThriller, performed by Michael Jackson, written by Rod Temperton
  • The Best Rock Song: Let’s Dance, written by David Bowie. Also nominated: Every Breath You TakeOwner of a Lonely Heart, performed by Yes, written by Trevor Rabin, Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Trevor Horn
  • The Best Theme from a TV or Radio Production: That’s Livin’ Alright, composed by David Mackay and Ken Ashby. Also nominated: The Late Late Breakfast Show, composed by Gary Kemp; Partners in Crime, composed by Joseph Horovitz
  • The Best Film Theme or Song: Going Home, written by Mark Knopfler. Also nominated: Walking in the Air, written by Howard BlakeAll Time High, written by Tim Rice and John Barry
  • The Best British Musical: Blood Brothers, written by Willie Russell. Also nominated: Poppy, written by Pete Nichols and Monty NormanMr Cinders, written by Clifford Grey, Greatrex Newman, Leo Robin, Vivian Ellis and Richard Myers
  • The Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Karma Chameleon. Also nominated: Only You, performed by Yazoo, written by Vince Clarke; Let’s Dance, written by David Bowie
  • The Most Performed Work: Every Breath You Take. Also nominated: Karma ChameleonMoonlight Shadow, written by Mike Oldfield
  • The International Hit of the Year: Let’s Dance, written by David Bowie. Also nominated: Every Breath You TakeKarma Chameleon
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Songwriters of the Year: Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: Andy Brown, Peter Kircher, Alan Lancaster, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi

Ivor Novello Awards 1985

The 30th Ivor Novello Awards were held at Grosvenor House, London.

  • Best Contemporary Song: Two Tribes, performed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, written by Holly Johnson, Peter Gill and Mark O’Toole. Also nominated: I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, written by Nik Kershaw; Relax, performed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, written by Holly Johnson, Peter Gill and Mark O’Toole
  • Best Song Musically and Lyrically: Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), written by Phil Collins. Also nominated: Careless Whisper, performed by Wham!, written by George Michael and Andrew RidgeleyI Should have Known Better, written by Jim Diamond and Graham Lyle
  • Best Theme from a TV or Radio Production: Jewel in the Crown, written by George Fenton. Also nominated: Another Six English Towns, written by Jim Parker; Kennedy, written by Richard Hartley
  • Best Film Theme or Song: We All Stand Together, written by Paul McCartney. Also nominated: Champions, written by Carl Davis; Company of Wolves, written by George Fenton
  • Best British Musical: The Hired Man, words and music by Howard Goodall. Also nominated: Starlight Express, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe; The Boyfriend, written by Sandy Wilson
  • Most Performed Work: Careless Whisper. Also nominated: Two Tribes; I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • The Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Do They Know It’s Christmas?, performed by Band Aid, written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure
  • International Hit of the Year: The Reflex, performed by Duran Duran, written by Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes. Also nominated: Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run), written by Billie Ocean and Keith Diamond; Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, performed by Wham!, written by George Michael
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Michael Tippett
  • Songwriter of the Year: George Michael
  • The Jimmy Kennedy Award: Tommie Connor
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Patrick Moraz and Ray Thomas

Ivor Novello Awards 1986

The 31st Ivor Novello Awards were held at Grosvenor House, London.

  • Best Contemporary Song: We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome), performed by Tina Turner, written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten. Also nominated: 19, written by Paul Hardcastle, Mike Oldfield, Bill Couturie and Jonas McCord; Money for Nothing, performed by Dire Straits, written by Mark Knopfler and Sting; Running Up That Hill, written by Kate Bush
  • Best Song Musically and Lyrically: Nikita, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Also nominated: I Want To Know What Love Is, performed by Foreigner, written by Mick Jones; Everybody Wants to Rule the World, performed by Tears for Fears, written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris HughesI Know Him So Well, performed by Elaine Page, written by Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson
  • The Best Theme from a Television or Radio Production: Edge of Darkness, written by Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen. Also nominated: The Last Place on Earth, written by Trevor Jones; Eastenders, written by Leslie Osborne and Simon May
  • The Best Film Theme or Song: We Don’t Need Another Hero, written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten. Also nominated: Hit That Perfect Beat, written by John Foster, Steve Bronski and Larry SteinbachekA View to a Kill, written by Duran Duran and John Barry
  • The Best British Musical: Me and My Girl, written by Reginald Armitage and Douglas Furber. Also nominated: Lennon, written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon; Mutiny, written by David Essex and Richard Crane
  • Most Performed Work: Easy Lover, written by: Phillip Bailey, Phil Collins and Nathan East
  • Best Selling ‘A’ Side: I Know Him So Well. Also nominated: 19; Easy Lover
  • International Hit of the Year: 19. Also nominated: Shout, performed by Tears for Fears, written by Roland Orzabal and Ian Stanley; A View to a Kill, written by Duran Duran and John Barry
  • The Jimmy Kennedy Award: Lionel Bart
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Malcolm Arnold
  • Songwriter of the Year: Roland Orzabal
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: Elton John

Ivor Novello Awards 1987

The 1987 Ivor Novello Awards took place on 15th April at Grosvenor House, London.

  • Best Contemporary Song: It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back), performed by Eurythmics, written by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. Also nominated: West End Girls, performed by Pet Shop Boys, written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe; Sledgehammer, written by Peter Gabriel
  • Best Song Musically and Lyrically: Don’t Give Up, written by Peter Gabriel. Also nominated: All I Ask of You, written by Charles Hart, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe; The Miracle of Love, performed by Eurythmics, written by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart
  • Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Every Loser Wins, written by Simon May, Stewart James and Bradley James. Also nominated: Chain Reaction, written by Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb; Living Doll, written by Lionel Bart
  • Best Theme from a Television or Radio Production: The Monocled Mutineer, written by George Fenton. Also nominated: Theme from Lost Empires, written by Derek Hilton; Time After Time, written by Rod Argent and Robert Howes
  • Most Performed Work: Chain Reaction, performed by Diana Ross, written by: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb
  • International Hit of the Year: West End Girls. Also nominated: Nikita, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin; The Edge of Heaven, performed by Wham!, written by George Michael
  • Best Film Theme or Song: Sweet Freedom, written by Rod Temperton. Also nominated: A Kind of Magic, written by Roger Taylor; In Too Deep, written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford
  • The Best British Musical: The Phantom of the Opera, written by Charles Hart, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe. Also nominated: Chess, written by Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson; Charlie Girl, written by David Heneker and John Taylor
  • The Jimmy Kennedy Award: Hugh Charles
  • Songwriters of the Year: Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Yehudi Menuhin
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor

Ivor Novello Awards 1988

The 1988 Ivor Novello Awards took place on 7th April at Grosvenor House, London.

  • Best Contemporary Song: You Win Again, performed by Bee Gees, written by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb. Also nominated: Never Gonna Give You Up, performed by Rick Astley, written by Stock Aitken Waterman (Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman); What Have I Done to Deserve This?, performed by Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield, written by Chris Lowe, Neil Tennant and Allee Willis
  • Best Song Musically and Lyrically: (Something Inside) So Strong, written by Labi Siffre. Also nominated: I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), performed by Aretha Franklin and George Michael, written by Simon Climie and Dennis Morgan; Throwing It All Away, written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Michael Rutherford
  • Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Never Gonna Give You Up. Also nominated: You Win Again; China in Your Hand, performed by T’Pau, written by Carol Decker and Ronald Rogers
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: David Heneker
  • Best Theme from a Television or Radio Production: Fortunes of War, written by Richard Holmes. Also nominated: Neighbours, written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent; My Family and Other Animals, written by Daryl Runswick
  • Most Performed Work: Never Gonna Give You Up. Also nominated: Respectable, performed by Mel and Kim, written by Stock Aitken Waterman; Living in a Box, performed by Living in a Box, written by Marcus Vere and Steve Pigott
  • International Hit of the Year: Never Gonna Give You Up, written by Stock Aitken Waterman. Also nominated: It’s a Sin, performed by Pet Shop Boys, written by Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant; I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)
  • Best Film Score Theme or Song: Cry Freedom, written by George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa. Also nominated: The Living Daylights, written by John Barry and Pal Waaktaar; Theme from Castaway, written by Stanley Myers
  • The Jimmy Kennedy Award: Norman Newell
  • Songwriters of the Year: Matt Aitken, Mike Stock and Peter Waterman
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb

Ivor Novello Awards 1989

The 1989 Ivor Novello Awards were held on 4th April at Grosvenor House, London.

  • Best Contemporary Song: Love Changes (Everything), written by Simon Climie, Dennis Morgan and Rob Fisher. Also nominated: A Little Respect, performed by Erasure, written by Andy Bell and Vince Clarke; Father Figure, written by George Michael
  • Best Song Musically and Lyrically: They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo), written by Sting. Also nominated: Perfect, performed by Fairground Attraction, written by Mark Nevin; Mary’s Prayer, performed by Danny Wilson, written by Gary Clark
  • Best Selling ‘A’ Side: Mistletoe & Wine, performed by Cliff Richard, written by Leslie Stewart, Jeremy Paul and Keith Strachan. Also nominated: Especially for You, performed by Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, written by Stock Aitken Waterman; I Should Be So Lucky, performed by Kylie Minogue, written by Stock Aitken Waterman
  • Most Performed Work: I Should Be So Lucky. Also nominated: Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car, written by Billy Ocean and Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange; Love Changes (Everything)
  • Best Theme from a TV or Radio Production: Testament, written by Nigel Hess. Also nominated: The Long March, written by Christopher Gunning; Young Musician of the Year, written by Edward Gregson
  • Best Film Theme or Song: Two Hearts, written by Phil Collins and Lamont Dozier. Also nominated: A Fish Called Wanda, written by Trevor Jones and  John Du Prez; Childhood Days, written by Barry Gibb and Maurice Gibb
  • International Hit of the Year: Faith, written by George Michael. Also nominated: I Should Be So Lucky; Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: Mark Knopfler and John Illsley
  • Songwriters of the Year: George Michael and Matt Aitken, Mike Stock and Peter Waterman (presented jointly)
  • The Jimmy Kennedy Award: Leslie Bricusse
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Paul McCartney
  • Lifetime Achievement: Cliff Richard

Further Reading

Pocket guide to The Human League albums

The Human League have an enviable back catalogue of nine studio albums, but the release status of each is confusing. Having just seen an excellent reissue of Secrets, now is a good time to review the situation. In this article, we will explore the current release status of each and suggest some suitable next steps.

The Golden Hour of the Future (compilation)

Originally released in 2002 and reissued in 2008 and 2009, all versions of this seem to have become fairly rare again, so this exceptional collection of early rarities is definitely in need of another reissue.

Reproduction

The debut album was originally released in 1979, and finally saw a CD release ten years later, with an incredible eight bonus tracks shoved on the end. It’s a fairly comprehensive collection of tracks from the era, and is widely available thanks to a remastered 2003 reissue. The original LP is also widely available, having been reissued on 180g vinyl in 2016.

There seems to have just been one track that didn’t make it onto the CD, but nothing too world changing: The Path of Least Resistance (Original Album Version)

Travelogue

As with the first album, this excellent release from 1980 was reissued on CD in 1988 and then remastered in 2003, and the LP was reissued on 180g vinyl in 2016. This is exactly how The Human League‘s back catalogue should be treated.

Again, there are a handful of rarities that didn’t make it onto the CD: Marianne (Alternative Version); Only After Dark (Single Version); and Toyota City (Long Version).

Dare / Love and Dancing

The outstanding Dare (1981) seems to have presented a few challenges for people who were trying to revisit The Human League‘s back catalogue, as the reissues are a bit of a mess. My favourite is probably the 2002 remaster that packages it with Love and Dancing and comes in book packaging, but having both releases on a single CD is a slightly odd decision. The double-disc box set from 2012 adds a host of bonus tracks, but inexplicably skips Love and Dancing and goes with Fascination! instead.

For me, therefore, a definitive reissue should include the original album as the first disc, plus b-sides Hard Times and Non-Stop. The second disc would include Love and Dancing in its entirety, followed by some or all of: The Sound of the Crowd (7″ Mix, Instrumental 7″ Mix, 12″ Mix, and Instrumental 12″ Mix), Love Action (I Believe in Love) (7″ Mix), Hard Times/Love Action (I Believe in Love) (12″ Mixes and Instrumentals), Non-Stop/Open Your Heart (Instrumentals), Do or Die (Dub), Don’t You Want Me (Extended Dance Mix and Alternative Version). Of these, only The Sound of the Crowd (Instrumental 7″ Mix) and Do or Die (Dub) are missing from recent reissues, but the track orders were all a bit messed up.

Fascination!

Although never properly released as an album in the UK, the 1983 Fascination! mini-album appeared on the tail end of the 2012 reissue of Dare alongside some bonus tracks. Logically, it should really be reordered and treated properly. The original album includes six tracks: (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Extended Version); Mirror ManHard TimesI Love You Too Much (Martin Rushent Version); You Remind Me of Gold; and (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Improvisation). Bonus tracks should include: Mirror Man (Extended Version); You Remind Me of Gold (Instrumental Remix); (Keep Feeling) Fascination (7″ Mix); Total Panic; and I Love You Too Much (Dub Version). All of which have been released somewhere already.

Hysteria

The 1984 follow-up to Dare saw a bizarrely rare remastered US CD reissue in 2005 with two b-sides and three extended versions which resurfaced in Japan in 2017, but otherwise vanished instantly without a trace, and hasn’t seen an LP release since 1984. All the foundations are there, and it’s definitely in need of a bit of love.

Several tracks did not make it onto this reissue: The Lebanon (Instrumental); Thirteen (7″ Version); The Sign (Extended Re-mix). The following have also appeared on other releases: The Lebanon (7″ Version); and Louise (DJ Edit). So nothing too major.

Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder

One of the best treated of all of The Human League‘s releases and side releases, Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder‘s 1985 side project saw a comprehensive 2003 remastered reissue with seven bonus tracks in the UK, and more recently, a limited US reissue in 2012 with three bonus tracks. Both are now relatively rare now, and could probably do with another outing at some point, ideally accompanied by an LP reissue as well.

Crash

As with Hysteria, the 1986 American album, while far from great, is also rather unloved. It was reissued in the US in 2005 with three extended versions, and then reissued again in Japan in 2017. While comprehensive enough, it omits a number of potential alternative versions, and could definitely do with a worldwide release and an LP reissue.

Several tracks did not make it onto this reissue: Human (Instrumental and Acapella); I Need Your Loving (Instrumental, Acapella, and Dub); Love is All That Matters (Instrumental and Acapella); and Are You Ever Coming Back? (Edit). The following have also appeared on other releases: Human (7″ Version); and I Need Your Loving (DJ Edit); and Love is All That Matters (7″ Version). So nothing too major here either.

Romantic?

Arguably The Human League‘s nadir, the original 1990 release of this album also suffers from appalling mastering, and hasn’t seen a reissue outside of Japan since. Tracks from the singles, including edits and William Orbit‘s remix of Heart Like a Wheel, have appeared on other releases in recent years, but there’s still plenty of scope for bonus tracks, including the dub mix of A Doorway and a suite of remixes of Soundtrack to a Generation. With a bit of curation, it would probably be a good single CD release (or even a passable double) with an accompanying LP.

Several tracks should be included on a future reissue: A Doorway (Dub); and Soundtrack to a Generation (Instrumental, William Orbit Mix, Pan Belgian Mix, Pan Belgian Dub, 808 Mix Instrumental, Dave Dodd’s Mix, and Acapella). The following have already appeared on other releases: Heart Like a Wheel (Extended Mix and William Orbit Mix); and Soundtrack to a Generation (Edit).

Octopus

Between 1993 and 1996 was probably The Human League‘s most prolific period, with a fantastic album in early 1995, plus six single releases, each containing huge numbers of remixes. I could live without the remixes of Don’t You Want Me, which were commissioned for a single to promote the reissued Greatest Hits album, but Stay with Me Tonight and the tracks from the rare YMO versus The Human League single definitely deserve to be packaged with the album somehow. It’s long overdue a double CD and LP reissue, not having seen any sort of release since 1995.

A huge number of tracks could be considered for a future reissue. Following the logic of the Secrets reissue, the first disc should definitely include: Behind the Mask; Kimi Ni Mune Kyun; The Bus to Crookes; and Stay with Me Tonight. The second disc should include a selection of: Kimi Ni Mune Kyun (Extended Version), Tell Me When (7″ Edit, Utah Saints Mix 1, Mix 1 Edit, and Mix 2, Red Jerry Remix, Strictly Blind Dub, Overworld Mix and Edit); One Man in My Heart (T.O.E.C. Radio Edit, Extended, Unplugged, Nasty Sue Mix, and Nasty Sue Radio Edit); These Are the Days (Sonic Radiation Mix, Ba Ba Mix and Symphonic Mix, Overworld Mix, and Man with No Name Vocal and Instrumental); Filling Up with Heaven (Neil McLellan Vocal Mix and Club Mix, Hardfloor Remix and Vocal Remix, and ULA Remix); John Cleese; Is He Funny? (ULA Remix, Self Preservation Society House Mix, and Valentines Bonus Beats); Don’t You Want Me (Red Jerry 7″, 12″, and Dub Mix, and Snap! 7″ and 12″ Remix); and Stay with Me Tonight (Space Kittens Vocal Mix and Future Dub, and The Biff & Memphis Remix and Dub).

Secrets

The exceptional 2001 comeback saw an unexpected three-sided white vinyl release for Record Store Day 2018, which was followed by a brilliantly comprehensive double CD release which is still widely available. All that remains is to make the vinyl more widely available again.

I think there are just a couple of tracks that didn’t make it onto this release: All I Ever Wanted (Tobi Neumann Remix) and Love Me Madly? (Toy Mix and Zenn Eternal Countdown Edit).

Remixes 2003-2008

The decade between Secrets and Credo was far from quiet, with a whole suite of remixes released on The Very Best Of, followed by a large selection of reworkings of The Things That Dreams Are Made Of. Some of them are extremely good, so it would be nice to see them properly released at some point, but for now, this shouldn’t be a high priority.

Live at the Dome

I’m not quite clear why this 2005 CD exists, apart from just to repackage the 2004 DVD, which itself suffers in terms of sound quality in a couple of places. Not worth reissuing.

Credo

The most recent album is unlikely to see a reissue any time soon, but the original release from 2011 is still widely available on CD, with a rarer double vinyl release also floating around.

A future bonus disc would ideally include some of the many remixes that appeared on the singles: Night People (Single Version, Cerrone Club Remix, Mylo Remix, Emperor Machine Extended Vocal, Villa Remix); Never Let Me Go (Radio Edit, Italoconnection Remix Radio Edit and Remix, Aeroplane Remix Radio Edit, Remix Edit, and Remix, and DJ Pierre’s Afro Acid Mix); Sky (Fusty Delights Remix Edit and Remix, Plastic Plates Remix, The Hacker Remix, Martin Brodin Remix, and Marsheaux Remix Edit and Remix); and Egomaniac (Radio Edit and Instrumental). The single edits of Night People and Sky already appeared on the Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group collection.

Next Steps

It seems the most urgent thing to do is to release a double CD version of Octopus, followed by a remastered version of Romantic? with extra tracks. Then the existing reissues of Hysteria and Crash should see a wider release.

The Human League – The Golden Hour of the Future

OK, ready, let’s do it. Celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of its release this week and also approximately the fortieth anniversary of its recording is the compilation of early recordings by The Human LeagueThe Golden Hour of the Future.

It opens with the brilliant single-that-never-was, Dance Like a Star, which sounds exactly as it should – The Human League Mk 1, as they are popularly called, the early lineup, featuring Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh alongside vocalist Phil Oakey, always seemed to be making eccentric pop which was a little rough around the edges. This is exactly that – and it might not quite be release quality, but you can still hear the sheer brilliance that’s still to come.

This compilation was curated by über-fan Richard X when he was pretty much at the height of his fame, and pulls together twenty tracks altogether, a mixture of early material by The Human League, their predecessor group The Future, and one solo track from Phil Oakey.

The second track is from The Future, entitled Looking for the Black Haired Girls, and is a fun experimental semi-instrumental track, and that is then followed by the pleasantly melodic and beatsy 4JG from The Human League. It ends, slightly unpredictably, with a child singing Baa Baa Black Sheep.

Most of the earlier tracks are from The Future though, often very experimental, slightly noisy pieces, hinting perhaps at vocalist Adi Newton‘s later industrial work with Clock DVABlack Clocks is pleasant, but definitely more odd than anything, while Cairo takes a lot of inspiration from the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and sounds every bit as fantastic.

As The Human League showed us long ago on those first two albums, they had always been fascinated with advertising, and so Dominion Advertisement should come as little surprise. It serves as a brief interlude before Dada Dada Duchamp Vortex, a very pleasant drifting piece which along for nearly six minutes before passing over to Daz.

You might find yourself drifting with the music, as Future Religion mixes into Disco Disaster. There’s more than enough variety here to satisfy a full career compilation, but there’s also a huge amount of material. Even among that, a few tracks really stand out – Interface is brilliant, as is Phil Oakey‘s solo work The Circus of Dr. Lao, and then there’s a fun instrumental cover of Reach Out (I’ll Be There) in case things need livening up.

There are some more experimental moments with New Pink FloydOnce Upon a Time in the WestOverkill Disaster Crash, and Year of the Jet Packs, a series which are all good, but only the last one really shines. Pulse Lovers is great too, and then we’re pretty much at the end already, with the short King of Kings, and then, after a lot of odd groaning and screaming, the extremely long Last Man on Earth.

Of course, the thing with Last Man on Earth is that it does, to some extent, help explain what on earth Phil Oakey was going on about on Circus of DeathThe Human League‘s first b-side, released just a year or so after most of these demos would have been recorded. This is definitely history in the making.

What’s surprising is just how good this is as an album. I’ve always loved The Human League Mk 1, but their sound on their albums is always a little raw and uncontrolled, and I suppose I expected their early demos to be even more manic. But they’re not particularly, and I’m very glad this compilation appeared to help add more context to those early years.

The CD has fallen out of print again, but you can still find The Golden Hour of the Future through your favourite digital retailers.

The Human League – Crash

This week sees the thirtieth anniversary of The Human League‘s 1986 comeback album Crash. This was the album which saw them reject their Yorkshire routes, travelling instead to Minneapolis to work with smash hit producers Jam & Lewis. The results were, as you might expect, largely dreadful. At least, that’s how I remember them.

The album opens with Money, which is one of the less bad songs on here, although it sees Phil Oakey stretching his vocal range way beyond what he’s comfortable with. But this is, as it turns out, one of the less bad moments on here – Swang, once you’ve accepted the completely meaningless title, is absolutely awful. The general rule seems to be that the League-penned tracks are the less bad ones here, and Swang is provided by one of Jam & Lewis‘s regular collaborators, someone called David Eiland.

The exceptions, of course, disprove the rule, as the best track on here is the only one anyone remembers, the brilliant Human. If you only need one reason for this album to exist, this is it. Despite the fact that they didn’t have a hand in writing it, it’s everything The Human League should be – iconic for its era, and a very good pop song.

But as with Phil Oakey probably should have learnt from his earlier collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, one good single doesn’t necessarily mean the resulting album will be up to much. In this case, there’s probably a book in the story of the recording of Crash, as Oakey seems to have struggled with the lack of creative control after a few months in the studio, and pulled out, leaving the producers to finish everything off while The Human League went home and started haemmoraging members.

In that context, it’s almost surprising that it works at all. As it turns out, Jam is tolerable, and Are You Ever Coming Back? is actually reasonably good. Admittedly there’s nothing on here that’s really up to the standard of, say, Dare or even Hysteria, and bad though it is, it doesn’t seem to be quite as bad as I remembered.

There were clearly some errors of judgement here though. Human might have turned out to be a surprise success, but it should have been obvious that second single I Need Your Loving was truly dreadful. It flopped, and, though it may be surrounded by uninspiring songs on the album, it still stands out as awful.

Part of the problem is that Jam & Lewis‘s jaunty production is really starting to wear by this point. Party is far from great – in particular, the lyrics seem to have been written in about ten minutes flat – but with a more traditional UK production, it might have been a little more tolerable. Or maybe not.

Love on the Run would definitely benefit from some more appropriate production (and ideally fewer snare drums) and it might be pretty good. The Real Thing probably isn’t as easily fixed – it just seems to drone on forever. It’s probably fair to say that it could be better.

Closing the album is Love is All That Matters, the third single – actually it was released to promote the group’s first Greatest Hits album a couple of years later. The introduction is pretty promising – it’s got that enormous 1980s epic beginning that other people were doing very well. The song works reasonably well too – The Human League may not be the ideal vessel to deliver it, but it’s tolerably good.

Which might be, as it turns out, a decent description for the whole album. There’s a lot wrong with it – you can almost feel the tension from the recording studio while you listen – and it definitely doesn’t do The Human League justice. But as a snapshot of what music sounded like in 1986, it isn’t all bad.

The 2005 remastered CD never actually seems to be available, so your only chance of owning this really lies with the original release, still widely available.

The Human League – Secrets

The British music newspaper Melody Maker once ran an entertaining piece about how The Human League have to stage a comeback every time there’s a World Cup – and it held true, ignoring a few minor delays, until their total failure to reappear in 1998. As time passes, their triumphant returns seem to get further apart, but at least 2001’s Secrets was very much worth the wait.

It’s fifteen years old this week, which means that more time has passed between its release and the present day than passed between Don’t You Want Me and the previous comeback, Tell Me When in 1995. A difficult thought to convey in words, but a somewhat worrying one.

By 2001, The Human League were pillars of the establishment, but not everyone had quite figured that out yet. So Secrets saw them, perhaps for the last time, trying to do something contemporary but that harked back to their earlier days in truly wonderful form. It opens with the brilliant single All I Ever Wanted, which is every bit as good as any of their previous hits, just not quite as successful.

Between the potential hits are a series of short instrumentals, which are very firmly rooted in the Yorkshire of the late 1970s. The first, Nervous, is warm, soft, and cuddly, and leads us into the somewhat disconcerting Love Me Madly?, which in the absence of an actual second single was released by fans with a series of remixes a couple of years after the album appeared.

A delightful synth line introduces my favourite track on here, the adorable Shameless. As with everything on here, it’s a sweet pop song with a very strong analogue leaning. Phil Oakey‘s synth geek leanings seem to have shaped The Human League more and more in their latter years, if this is anything to go by. Then we get another instrumental, 122.3BPM.

I’m not hugely excited by Never Give Your Heart. It’s still pretty good, but the vocals are perhaps a little bit too uncomfortable or monotonic. But, before long, another instrumental Ran turns up to guide us through to the brilliant The Snake.

If you don’t know the area, Snake Pass is the high road from Sheffield to Manchester, via the Upper Derwent Reservoirs and Glossop. The song largely just describes the landmarks along the route, often in slightly daft fashion, but somehow it feels rather spiritual, and we’re appropriately guided to the next track by another local landmark in instrumental form, Ringinglow.

Liar (you’re a liar – you just can’t help repeating it) is another great pop song, and since we’re alternating between songs and instrumentals by this stage, Lament is a great instrumental to go with it. By this point in the album, the stage is firmly set.

Then there’s the more downtempo Reflections, which you can’t help but feel is probably a very meaningful piece for Phil Oakey, dealing with “demons of the mind”. Either way, it’s an unusually vulnerable song for the pop trio.

The instrumental Brute carries us to the “brutally” cheerful Sin City, another fantastic pop song. Honestly if this album had come out in 1981, pretty much any of the vocal tracks could have been singles – it just showed how far we had come by 2001 that only one of them was.

After the final instrumental Release, the album’s coda comes in the form of You’ll Be Sorry, an utterly brilliant and entirely expected pop piece. This is firm proof, were it ever needed, of The Human League‘s brilliance, and honestly if there had been any justice, Secrets really should have topped the charts. But there isn’t, and history has forgotten about the moment the northern pop geniuses tried to recapture our hearts. Even if they had firmly missed the World Cup.

Famously the record company folded shortly after the release of Secrets, so brand new copies are hard to come by, but you’ll find second hand copies all over the place.

Greatest Hits – Vol. 7

As we worm our way gently into 2016, it’s time to highlight a few reviews from this blog that you might well have missed.

See also, Volume 6, Volume 5, and you can probably find the rest for yourself with a quick search…