I’ve spent the last three months on a crash course – is there any other kind? – in fatherhood, and I’d love to report that Chicory Tip have served as guides and mentors in this process. But they haven’t – mostly because Peter Hewson’s chewy way with a lyric makes it quite hard to work out what their child-rearing advice would actually be. “Moolin, I was foolin, I was free from drive” – great lyric, especially “moolin”, a combination of mooching and rolling, perfectly capturing the free-and-easiness of the irresponsible pre-Dad lad. Also: wrong lyric. According to every source I’ve found it’s “Moulded I was folded I was free from draft” – an indictment of risk-free parenting. Who’d be a lyricist?
Hewson’s performance is terrific, anyway, helping to ground the track’s instrumental novelty in rock and stomp. He’s not what anyone remembers “Son Of My Father” for, though – it’s the Moroder involvement, and the chorus, and the moog, the moog, the moog. “Chicory Tip invented techno”, as one running joke puts it, but even if you can’t hear that strand of tomorrow in “Son”, you can locate signposts to many other routes synths in pop took. The solo nods to the contemporary Keith Emerson, knives-in-keyboards school. The mighty riff establishes a mini tradition of banging glam robot rock which has been picked up intermittently ever since (the Rah Band, Denim, Daft Punk). In the rub of Hewson against the buzz and shimmer of his backing, you see the origins of Phil Oakey’s ambivalent futurism. And in the spangly background flourishes that give the track colour, you can hear the joy in synthesised sound that motivated all these and almost everyone else.