Thursday, December 08, 2016

28 years later

howdy pop pickers

alas, no. if you saw the headline of this blog and had taken it as a sign that a follow up to 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later was all on the way, alas no, not so far as i know, look you see. it's more that we, or if you like i, am in possession of something 28 years after it was first made available.

behold, then, as we look at the cover and go into some of the pages of this.......

oh yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen. that right there is the much celebrated 30 November - 13 December 1988 edition of the most audacious magazine that was, and sometimes is, Smash Hits. i was, as perhaps seems to be forever my fate, going through some of my boxes and stumbled across it.

Kylie and Jason, or to give them their true order of importance in my world Jason Donovan and that other one, graced the cover in promotion of their much vaunted duet, Especially For You.

it was a single that was widely tipped to be the 1988 Christmas number one, something that was important at the time. runaway favourite was Bros doing Silent Night. both of these, alas, lost to the third favourite (odds of 5-1) Cliff Richard, whose Mistletoe & Wine proved to be an irresistible purchase for those looking for a last minute Christmas gift for Mum, Gran, Auntie, Sister, etc.

what were the other contenders for the Christmas number one spot? several, there were several. here are some of the contenders, reviewed by popular Smash Hits writer Alex Kadis.

of the contenders, i think i, and the whole of England, disgraced our nation by not making Dame Edna Everage number one. releasing a U2 single as a potential Christmas number one was a bold move, presumably that got shoved out by a record executive as it had the word 'Angel' in the title. and nope, no idea why the Prince recording of Kiss got an 88 re-release; possibly to do with the Tom Jones / Art Of Noise version around the time.
if you click on the above image it will, i think, go all the more larger, so that you may read the reviews from a time when singles - and music - mattered. today, of course, in the words off of JJ off of The Stranglers, we've somehow made it all as relevant as wallpaper, which is a shame.

pressing on all of the images should as point of fact make them larger, which will be jolly handy should you want a look at a poster of pop band Brother Beyond. in Commodore 64 mode.

what bands was i into in 1988? hard to tell. certainly not Brother Beyond, as smart as Nathan off of them was. no, i think i was still very much hating bands at this stage. loving music, but hating bands. Frankie Goes To Hollywood had split up in 1987, and i don't think i'd recovered. i still don't think i have. i like to think that my approach from then on was to love only those who had been, made music, then gone already, so their departure could hurt no more.

 if you're looking for some sort of "interactive" element to this blog, feel free to save, print out and do this crossword. i would have every confidence that HMV, or whoever, will honour the prize and send you them ten smart video tapes if you get all the answers right. clues, not answers.

that's actually a very decent prize on offer, so it is, to be sure. back then a music video cost £9.99 usually, even if it was all of 30 minutes long. so that's a £99.90 prize, and Royal Mail, having absolutely no competition and no threat to them (however would people communicate other than letters?) would probably have charged the same to deliver them. well, charged the same to suggest they would deliver them and then maybe it would have gone missing, for postal theft was rampant back then, probably.

letters and the fine art of writing to people will feature again here on this very blog post shortly. but right now i know what you want. what you want is to see Jason Donovan and that other one in Commodore 64 mode, and here they are. 

that's a great picture, so it is, even though focus seems to be on Kylie. what's the actual interview with them like? not very insightful. it's all about their music, growing up in Australia, their career in Neighbours, living in England, etc. barely a mention, if any, of important stuff like how Jason Donovan used shampoo what had lemon in it to wash his hair.

there are plenty of other interviews in the same edition. for a start there's one with Rick Astley who, 28 years later, is enjoying something of a revival of his music and not just because of some sort of internet prank related to his first hit single. also there's an interview with Ronnie Rodgers off of T'Pau, him off of Bomb The Bass, Tiffany and some more.

earlier on we had a bit of a gander at how Smash Hits reviewed the vibes. they also, from time to time, reviewed that which you could play the vibes on, as well as devices that you could also buy but not in any meaningful way play vibes on.......

some smart stags there, for i was back then - and still am - prone to referring to machines what play the vibes as stags. not sure where i got it from precisely, but i think i once heard someone off of Bad News refer to a stereo as a stag and decided that this was very cool.

yes, that's right - devices in the 1980s were made for one purpose, and one purpose only. if one bought a personal music device, or if you like walkman, boom box or ghetto blaster, today, they would expect it to also be a phone, an internet thing, a navigation system, a book, etc.

now then, time to get a bit controversial. some of you might well have heard rumours - myths, perhaps - that once there was one called Hithouse, and that he released a single called Jack To The Sound Of The Underground. other than doing a Google thing and finding this, there is no way that the people of today would be able to know if this was true. i can tell you that it is, and here's the picture of him in Commodore 64 mode to prove it.

Jack To The Sound Of The Underground was better known to me and many others as the theme tune off of the (brilliant) radio series The Mary Whitehouse Experience. boss tune, it was. and yes, sadly, Hithouse, or rather DJ Peter Slaghuis who was the man behind the music, died in a car crash in the early 90s.

now then. earlier i promised that we would return to the subject of letters as perhaps the only viable means of keeping in touch with people who didn't live on the streets where you live. and it was wonderful. i loved writing letters, i still do love writing letters and i miss them some. but, you know, who has time any more, and with so many other means available no one hardly does it.

back when we did all write letters, though, it was a boss way to meet and make new friends, in particular those that had the same interests as you. pen pals, they were called, and Smash Hits obliged if not acted as a conduit in this respect by publishing the (first) name and (full) address of those who wished to hear from others that digged the vibes what they digged, man.

but of course in these paranoid, cautious, worried and in some instances dangerous times there is absolutely no way at all that a magazine would publish the names and addresses of anyone, even if they volunteered them. and even if they did, they would certainly not do it for those of an age that were reading Smash Hits.

in respect of the above, i've had a wonderful idea, but with the mood of the day being what it is i do not know if i dare. i'm thinking of randomly picking 6 of the people on that advert and sending them a note along with a copy of the page. to me it would be an innocent bit of fun, seeing if it still got to the person 28 years later and give them something hopefully happy to remember. the way things are going, though, i suppose it would be dismissed as "creepy", "stalker", "freaky", etc. what a sad way we have allowed the world to go.

i will give the matter some thought. input and comments appreciated. perhaps you have stumbled on this and half suspect your name and address features - if so leave a message!

in moving on, then, the biggest band or musical act of 1988? tough call. Jason, Kylie and all of them other Stock, Aitken and Waterman acts did the business in the charts. Guns N Roses really took off that year, a year after Appetite For Destruction was released. Brother Beyond, as shown above, too. if we are truthful, however, it's hard to disagree with Bros being seen as the biggest.

yes, indeed, that is an advert for you to buy - at a not unreasonable price considering the branding and the technology - a Bros watch. i reckon the above is where Apple got their "completely original and no one has ever marketed a watch before" idea for their "smart watch" from. you know, the one that no one is buying.

what was my feelings on Bros? they set a whole new standard for what was possible with gel and hairspray. also, their heads always looked so shiny and polished on record covers. other than that they were all right, man. they did their thing, entertaining the pop audience of the day and making millions happy. i've got one of their singles here somewhere, I Owe You Nothing i think. has a smart yellow cover, as i recall, and a boss "acid house" remix of the song.

Bros are making a comeback of sorts next year. well, 66% of the original line up. not sure what happened to the other one, Craig Logan i seem to think his name was. whatever he is doing instead, hope it's all cool, man.

more of an "interactive" element here? sure, why not. here's one of them wordsearch puzzle things. by the looks of it this is most of the hit songs off of 1988 that you have to find.

indeed i do have the answers referred to above but no i am not going to publish them. where would the fun in that be? happy hunting!

one thing that struck me flicking through this edition of Smash Hits was how loaded with stuff to read it was. today, of course, what magazines still exist tend to be flimsy things dominated by adverts, and we all just skim read stuff off of the internet. hey ho.

fans of Smash Hits will be aware that i have thus far missed a regular feature of the magazine - the publication of lyrics for the top songs of the day. here we go, then - here's the lyrics to Success off of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, a record produced by messers Stock, Aitken and Waterman as i recall.

yeah, i couldn't bring myself to edit it down. those adverts next to the lyrics are smart, especially that cassette belt. i would have looked awesome walking around with one of them on. well, more awesome i guess.

there's so much smart stuff in the edition that i could just shove the whole thing on here - yes, it probably would be more interesting that my writing around it, but anyway. to finish off, then, here's a look at a "shoved in the back" incidental interview with U2, no less.

i would imagine, especially for those born or who grew up after 1988, that it's quite difficult for some to comprehend a time when U2 were most decidedly not the biggest, most well known or if you like most mocked and hated band in the world. back in 1988, they were really just another group. big in America, for sure, and The Joshua Tree was growing in stature, but not a household name. if you went back four years to 1984, when the Band Aid record was made at that point Bono was the least famous person on it.

yeah, i know, some of you will have read the above and said "oh, i wish it had stayed that way", etc. well, cool, dig what you dig. i happen to quite like them.

and phew, that's that. today is as good a day as any to remember how, once, music was something more than an incidental, background, wallpaper like thing that just kicked around or got "licensed" for games and adverts. no, there's probably no going back to those days - perhaps all the greatest songs to exist really have been written, maybe the excitement has all drained away. but it is nice to look back once in a while and remember.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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