Music 'Something That You Said', the new single by The Bangles was released today. The local HMV had few copies at 2pm - whether this was because they were selling out or just didn't get many copies wasn't clear. I would urge you all to go and purchase because it's actually very, very good. Rather than repeating past glories, they've actually managed to take the band's sound and extrapolate it to a more contemporary feel. The harmonies are still there, and Susanna Hoffs' voice still has the power to melt. For some bizarre reason they aren't on the cover, because they could still stop traffic. Also charming are the choice of B-sides, 'Getting Out of Hand' a Beatlesesque piece which was originally the flip side of their first single, and an acoustic version of possibly their most recognizable single, 'Eternal Flame' from 2000 (which sounds like the final song in a film where the band members have finally buried their differences). Anyway, to celebrate this minor miracle, I'm presenting five random reasons why The Bangles were always my favourite girl group.

(1) 'Going Down To Liverpool'

The lyric spoke for itself 'We're going down to Liverpool and do nothing, all the days of our lives'. Callers to local radio stations were furious, and I'm sure I saw the mayor being interviewed on the local news talking about all the things their were to do in the city ('Our great football tradition, theatreland, music…') But when I heard this at the age of ten I don't think I was in a position to disagree. There really wasn't much for me to do in Liverpool, especially during school holidays which were mostly spent in the backgarden. This is the song which captured perfectly my childhood.

(2) The video for 'Going Down To Liverpool'

Sorry, the official video. The unofficial video I saw on Saturday Superstore featured the girls at various locations throughout the city (and the Mersey Ferry) miming and dancing. The official video was a somewhat stranger affair. A car drives through a seemingly endless tunnel and at the end the band gets out and dances in the entrance. I suppose we can fantasise that Susanna and friends were actually in the Mersey tunnel having spent a lugubrious night sampling the nightlife of Runcorn or Widnes. As the thing starts you suddenly get the feeling something is awry. You know the driver from somewhere. Hey - he looks a bit like Leonard Nimoy. My god, it is Leonard Nimoy. Eyebrows arched, grittily staring at the road. Nimoy's own pop career is legendary, 'The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins' a classic. His subsequent appearances on 'The Simpsons' marking him out as someone who doesn't take himself too seriously. But this was slap bang in the middle of his sober phase. When he blamed Spock for ruining a promising career, not all that long after writing 'I Am Not Spock'. In his steely eyes you can see the pain and frustration, a look which says 'At least its not a beer commercial.' He does get his moment though, as he turns the music off (a moment stolen for the Madonna / Ali G opus). But his demeanour says but one thing. So its come to this then has it?

(3) 'Hazy Shade of Winter’ / ‘Be With You’

For some reason, despite having broken up for the first time a year before, ‘The Bangles’ turned up twice in my University career. ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ was a cover version of the Simon & Garfunkel track created for the soundtrack of the film ‘Less Than Zero’, eventually turning up on the best of collection, at the end of their first career. You will have noticed that I’m not huge fan of long drawn out songs. If a musician can’t tell the story in under three and a half minutes, they may have too much to say for themselves. This is three minutes, which made it the perfect soundtrack for the opening of my one and only film documentary ‘Leeds’ made whilst I was a student their as part of my course. It was apt at the time – the northern town can be bitterly cold most of the year – and had a nice swirly wooshing section in the middle which fitted in well with the 360 degree pan of the university campus I’d filmed.

‘Be With You’, about one person’s obsession with the idea of a lover as far as I can gather. At the time it sounded interesting an profound enough that when I was asked to appear at a lunch time Poetry reading, as well as my own dogerall, Gerard Manley Hopkins and John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ there it was sounding just like Shakespeare. Ok actually not, but this was another reason for liking ‘The Bangles’ – so many of their tracks have a habit of fitting my mood or something I’m trying to do.

(4) 'Eternal Flame’

I often wonder if the girls – women – whatever know about the profound effect this one track on the people of Liverpool at a particular time. On the evening of the Hillsborough football disaster, both of the local radio stations dumped their programming to offer a mix of information, news and calmer music. In the midst of it, ‘Eternal Flame’ was the one song which stood out, it’s lyrics offering a different resonance and meaning in those hours. It was at number one the following week as many people used it as a focus for their grief (I think it was even played at the memorial service) and still is for some. Which is why the cloth eared version released by scouse girl group ‘Atomic Kitten’ was wrong in many respects.

(5) ‘The Allnighter’

Once Susanna Hoffs had left the band (leading to the original split) they way was clear for some experimentation, hence the shift into film. It’s a pity that the project she decided upon to forge a film career was this opus which made even the Dawson’s Creek beach party episode look like a good move. The plot (courtesy of The Internet Movie Database): “Molly, Val and Gina are graduating college, but on their final night, frustrations are aired. Molly is still looking for real love and Val is beginning to doubt if that is what she's found. Gina is too busy videotaping everything to really notice. When the final party at Pacifica College kicks off, things don't go exactly as planned.” It sounds spiritually like ‘Mysic Pizza’. It’s actually close to porn. Only written and directed by her MOTHER! It is probably worth seeing if you’ve watched every other film ever made, if only to see what Joan Cusack was doing a year before ‘Working Girl’ and why Dedee Pfeiffer isn’t as famous as her sister.

[My long term reader will notice that was the ninth and final mention of a certain Liverpudlian girl group. See you girls.]

No comments:

Post a comment