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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Looking at an old copy of Smash Hits


I just came upon this edition of Smash Hits from 1990. Flicking through it I'm reminded of how difficult it is to keep any kind of perspective on pop, simultaneously the most ephemeral and also the most enduring branch of show business. The cover stars are Elton John and Adamski. Elton was doing one of his periodic blood transfusions in which he sidled up to whoever was the hot new thing and made a record with them. He's done it with George Michael, Eminem, Lady Gaga and probably lots of people, like Adamski, who could walk past you in the street today without being recognised. The intro to the feature feels the need to explain who Elton is. "He's been around for twenty years," it thralls. Well, since then he's been around another twenty, as has Kylie, who's the centrespread. As has Robert Smith who reviews the singles and Morrissey, Pet Shop Boys and George Michael, who all have full-page ads in the issue. There are a few, such as Twenty Four Seven, who were never heard of again, but then I'd probably find that one of them has been writing huge hits for some chartbuster of today. The back cover poster of MC Hammer looks a bit comical as does the New Kids On The Block poster special. But even the featured acts who don't have smash hits any more, such as Sean Ryder and A-ha, still loom large and could probably kick up a little dust if they put a new record out. Jason Donovan is still a big enough name to be starring in a West End musical. Whitney Houston, also featured, has been the centre of a storm quite recently, which proves that her name still means something long after her actual music has run its course. What's that line from Sunset Boulevard? "I'm still a big star. It was just the pictures got small."

11 comments:

Robyn said...

Out of curiosity, I googled Twenty 4 Seven. I didn't find what they group members are up to now, but was tickled to note that they featured a rapper with the almost improbably brilliant name Tony Dawson-Harrison.

yorkio said...

Out of similar sense of curiosity, I just googled Tony Dawson Harrison and discovered that he hasn't gone back to driving a minicab but is actually a big name in Europop, working under the name Captain Hollywood Project.
In a Seven Degrees of Reg Dwight moment, his wikipedia page also mentions that he's performed and/or toured with Elton John. (As well as "the original Culture Beat".)

David Hepworth said...

This dovetails neatly into the related observation that *nobody* goes back to driving a cab anymore. Some carry on perfectly good musical careers out of the spotlight. Most keep on labouring fruitlessly.

backwards7 said...

I had a private bet with myself regarding how many times 'Killer' - the song Adamski recorded with Seal - would appear on his greatest hits album. I reckoned on at least four different versions, but in fact it only appears twice, bookending 15 additional songs that I never even knew existed.

According to his Wikipedia entry Adamski has relocated to Europe where he continues to work in the music industry.

I think I liked pop better when there was every possibility of the lead singer from 'Coast to Coast' turning up at your house, years after his single hit, to install your fitted kitchen.

Booze said...

I think we're getting towards the point where the bloke fitting your kitchen could very well have sung the song that you've just downloaded from an mp3 blog & be dancing around your living room to.

For the kind of music I like, that's fine. And although someone who has a good grasp of carpentry AND can belt out a good tune as well obviously deserves more respect than a soppy clotheshorse, I wouldn't like to lose the Lady Gagas.

I wouldn't want her fitting my kitchen though. She'd have a nightmare getting under my sink with that telephone on her bonce.

Gerontius said...

How long before those CVs include, as final music industry appearance, the line "Appeared on the Never Mind the Buzzcocks identity parade"

Matthew Rudd said...

This issue did, I believe, mildly admonish Elton John during his interview for swearing too much. Robert Smith's singles reviews were not unexpectedly cynical, although he refused to give Jason Donovan's new song a slagging because "he likes us".

Simon said...

Is it still a semi-legal requirement for every school fete and boot sale to have a copy of Dr Adamski's Musical Pharmacy for sale somewhere? Seemed to be obligatory last time I looked (along with a well-thumbed copy of Jaws).

londonlee said...

I know which page was the most well-thumbed too.

bob reams said...

I remember Geldof pointing out what was good about Smash Hits was that they printed the lyrics.This was useful in solving some arguments in school.Can you remember what was the motivation or background to what turned out to be a good idea?

rob said...

I'm idly wondering if there's any possibility of printing old issues of magazines cheaply and selling them as subscriptions?

It would be a fun gift, "I'm subbing you to a months worth of Smash Hits - July 1985"

Probably cost too much / too little demand mind you.