Few people could argue against 1984 being one of history’s finest years for pop music. Above all else, the mighty Frankie Goes To Hollywood came and gave pop a hefty kick up the arse with a combination of great tunes and greater controversy. They were the first band since the 60s to score three #1 hits in a row, but each one – ‘Relax’, ‘Two Tribes’ and ‘The Power of Love’ were deserving of their success. Each one sounds as good as ever and in the case of ‘Two Tribes’, there’s still a real edginess you’d think would be long gone.
Looking back, it’s easy to see that 1983 was a massive year. It represents the point where a few of its stars were making huge steps to being the decade’s megastars. Five years into his career, Prince had finally succeeded in gaining worldwide success with his ‘1999’ album (a double platter of much filthiness); with their ‘War’ album, U2 made the leap from successful rock band to being an act with much bigger potential and Madonna showed early signs of being more exciting than your average pop performer.
Love it or hate it, Record Store Day has become an important fixture on the music-related calendar. From humble beginnings with a few bits and bobs to entice people into independent record shops, it’s now become a huge business tool, giving major labels an excuse to reissue all kinds of stuff. While it now seems more about a money making venture than to highlight small business, there’s still some cool stuff to be found. Never more so than for the 2020 event, where there are a truckload of artificially created rarities that look like lovely items for the keener fan.
A Swedish performer currently residing in Berlin, Emma Elisabeth makes adult-oriented radio friendly pop. The resultant sound should appeal to those who enjoy Lissie, or perhaps the more wistful side of Stevie Nicks.
Old House Playground come to you from a dark corner of Manchester (via Greece) bringing folk tales of heartbreak, dark premonition and woe. With a heavy mix of blues, rockabilly and dark twang, Their debut EP, ‘The Great Escape’, comes across as a hybrid of Tindersticks, Nick Cave and Tito & Tarantula, delivered with the sophistication of Chris Isaak (more specifically his classic ‘Baby Did a Bad Thing’). Frontman Tryfon Lazos combines and twists such influences into his own style throughout the four featured tracks, leaving behind a release that’s nothing short of wonderful.