Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Doot Doot"

Back in 1983 we had pretty much fully digested the corpse of punk rock and had more or less put to bed the real, proper, experimental first flush of the New Romantics. It felt like music was at a loss for direction.

To put things into perspective, punk rock as a genre really started when the Sex Pistols played their first gig in November 1975; the Clash released "Should I Stay or Should I Go"in 1982. Pretty much everything "punk" happened in between those dates. "New Wave" came very quickly on the heels of punk, a more acceptable label for bands who were just that little bit more together, consumer-friendly or ambitious.

By 1983 though, punk and new wave had both been overtaken by the New Romantics, who kicked off around 1979 and had their commercial heyday from about 1981 to 1985. Tubeway Army's "Are Friends Electric?" was the first New Romantic hit, quickly followed by the likes of Visage, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran. Before long, any of the novelty we might have associated with eyeliner, lipgloss or unabashed indulgence had gone and New Romantics had become more or less mainstream.

Later of course would come the guitar backlash of Britpop, but for a brief while in the early to mid 1980s we really didn't have a great deal of direction.

I remember 1983 principally for the Tears for Fears debut album "The Hurting", which I found confusing and entrancing in equal measure, and for the final descent of Roger Waters and Pink Floyd into the abyss of middle-class irrelevance with "The Final Cut" (though much of that album is close to my heart for strange, unaccountable reasons).

And I remember 1983 for this little treasure. I think I may have heard it first on the same West London pirate station that had first introduced me to The Normal's "Warm Leatherette" and industrial music. I had no idea who Freur were, and I had no idea why they'd think to title a song "Doot Doot". I loved the gentle rhythmic intro, the fantastic orchestra of synthesizers and the wondrous overlaid vocals. And I still do.

But best of all, I discovered not long ago that in 1987 Freur became Underworld, who gave the world the terrific Born Slippy in 1996 as well as the utterly mesmerising music for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. It makes perfect, logical sense that a whimsical song that so ensnared me in 1983 should be the grandfather of the music that gripped me so tightly in 2012.

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