Saturday, 30 June 2007

With their broken backs and their Pac A Macs saying that's the way it goes

My parents recently chanced upon copies of the 1984 & 1985 Smash Hits Yearbooks (£2 the pair - a snip!) at a car boot sale, and, correctly surmising that these books would be right up my strasse, so to speak, bought them for me.

And what a marvellous find they were. The '84 book is especially enjoyable: from Boy George's mock-pugnacious pose on the front cover (he makes fists like a girl!), to the behind-closed-doors features (one of JoBoxers was living in a squat, even while they were enjoying chart success; and Bananarama all shared a poky eleventh floor council flat in London, despite having been pop stars for two years), there really was something for everyone in this publication. Well, something for everyone with an interest in the mid-80s UK pop scene, at least.

My favourite feature of all - there are so many! - undoubtedly has to be the Fifteen For Eighty-Four feature, in which writers from ver Hits predicted the up-and-coming bands and artists who they thought would make major breakthroughs in the coming year. Most notable among these at-the-time unknowns were Prince and Madonna - who ended up having reasonable enough sorts of careers, I suppose!

At the other end of the spectrum there were a few predictions that didn't quite come off - hands up who remembers Physique, Virginia Astley, or Naked Eyes, for example? Me neither. And then there was Seona Dancing, a dumper-bound synth-pop duo notable now only for the identity of their lead singer - one Ricky Gervais.

In fairness to the Hits, though, most of their predictions turned out to be remarkably prescient. As well as Prince and Madge, other Fifteen For Eighty-Four bands who ended up carving out successful careers in the industry included: Everything But The Girl, The Waterboys, Billy Bragg, The Alarm, and today's featured combo, Aztec Camera.

The history of Aztec Camera has been well documented many times - Roddy Frame's remarkable achievement in writing one of the decade's best albums, High Land, Hard Rain, while still at school, before going on to enjoy sporadic success in the rest of the decade - so I won't dwell on that too much here. But if you've never heard the album in its entirety you're really missing out on something special, and I'd recommend that you snap up a copy as soon as poss. In the meantime, here's a couple of my favourite tracks to tide you over - The Boy Wonders and Down The Dip.

Aztec Camera - The Boy Wonders mp3 (available for seven days)

Aztec Camera - Down The Dip mp3 (also available for seven days)

Buy Aztec Camera stuff here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind that I've borrowed the Smashit 1984 graphic from your blog...