22
Apr 08

SLIK – “Forever And Ever”

FT + Popular76 comments • 3,525 views

#384, 14th February 1976

Midge Ure is one of those pop figures who joins a bunch of dots, perhaps to a greater degree than his observed talent might suggest. From this boy band to New Pop to the charity records boom, via a tangential role (and almost much more than that, if he’s to be believed) in the Pistols story – he’s been around. That’s all to come: here and now he’s in Slik, chasing the last of the rollerbux with this preposterous and almost fantastic record. While some mid-70s boybeat looks forward to Westlife sluggishness, the flagrant gothy grandiosity of “Forever And Ever” nudges at more enjoyable futures: the Max Martin Backstreet Boys at their most epic, maybe? At the very least Ure himself remembered how effective a wash of sound and a muffled drumbeat could be in setting a mood.

That’s the story in the verses: the jump from there to the scarves-above-yer-heads pop on the chorus is a connection as odd as Midge ever made, and rousing though it is in a by-the-book way, you can’t help but feel a little bit deflated. I’m not sure pop technology had advanced enough to give “Forever And Ever” the monstrous refrain its intro demands, but this chummy compromise is a shift too far. Even so, there’s plenty to enjoy here and as cynical bandwagon-chasers go this is one of the classics. I particularly like the bogus outrage in Ure’s delivery when he asks how his girl could possibly have doubted his sincerity. You half expect Slik to come back in yelling “SUCKER!” a half-second after the song ends.

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Comments

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  1. 51
    Matthew H on 24 Apr 2008 #

    My initial kneejerk would be against Rowley and his GP cult – simply because I never feel “guilty” about liking any manner of pop no matter how naff it might appear to my peer group.

    But, really, the idea’s sound. It is about peer group, peer pressure. One’s expected to feel guilty about veering from the proscribed path, so you might as well give it a name and accept that the name’s a bit of fun.

  2. 52
    DJ Punctum on 24 Apr 2008 #

    Isn’t the appropriation of the term “guilty” an admission of subservience to the herd, the final denial of any scrap of individualism in the individual? Isn’t it the equivalent of Christ knows how many former “radical” musicians or artists or politicians now parade themselves, in the manner of a Stalin show trial, to beg for penance for their alleged previous misdeeds to be spared the butcher hook?

    Furthermore, who exactly mapped out and constructed this “proscribed path”? Who defined its route and parameters? Why do children of the seventies – not quite Thatcher’s children, but not that far removed – feel the need to whitewash (with the emphasis, I notice in general, on the “white”) a past which they know they experienced? Who exactly “pressured” them?

    The things now “accepted” as Guilty Pleasures were the bread and butter of my schooldays; virtually everyone in my year or above or below it was into post-Gabriel Genesis or Rush or ELO or Supertramp and I frequently (i.e. daily) suffered the beneficent stamp on the head: YOU ARE ABNORMAL. HENCE: YOU ARE INFERIOR.

    The Guilty Pleasures “phenomenon” is the equivalent of those same smug people coming back a lifetime later, sticking their tongues out and going NYAH NYAH I TOLD YOU WE’D WIN. And I resent that. I resent my history, my experience, being denied or nullified in the presumed interest of proposed demographic unity of thought where “opinion” is reduced to an expression of the tenor of the majority and is thus worthless.

    I don’t want a processed, subtext-suffocating “bit of fun.” I want the truth.

  3. 53
    Tom on 24 Apr 2008 #

    My problem with the term isn’t that it’s exploring the idea of peer pressure: of course peer pressure has a massive role in shaping and controlling most people’s tastes – sometimes acquiesced to, sometimes pushed back on.

    My argument vis a vis assumed shared experience is simply that the selection of stuff that gets put in the GP category – melodic 70s pop by and large – is such a thin slice of music, and reinforces the idea that the guilt is always felt by people liking ‘uncool’ music instead of ‘cool’ music. (While also reinforcing the idea that we all know which is which.)

    But actually the guilt (which is just ‘conflictedness about ones own taste’) can work in all sorts of directions – the other way round, or “indie” people liking “pop” or vice versa, or white people liking ‘black’ music, or whatever. The ‘guilty pleasures’ idea is a weak version of that, reducing everything to a kind of I-heart-the-70s “what WERE we thinking?” or “they don’t make em like that anymore” response.*

    I don’t know exactly how someone is feeling when they say Slik is a ‘guilty pleasure’, but I think it’s kind of similar to how I feel about, say, “Airbag” by Radiohead or “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2: I’m kind of embarrassed by liking something by this band cos I think what they do is a bit lame, but this is a terrific record. But the idea of Radiohead as a ‘guilty pleasure’ doesn’t seem to make sense within the framework of guilty pleasures as used by Rowley, Radio 1, etc. And that seems to me a weakness in the framework, because it takes the reasons for the conflictedness as a given rather than opening up ways to explore them.

    Incidentally though we both don’t like “GP” as an idea, Marcello and I don’t agree at all as to why!

    *something I like about Popular is the way the serious intellectual responses to apparently flimsy pop, and the personal memories, and the bits of trivia and god-do-you-remember stuff can all mix up together in the comments boxes and bounce off each other. So I don’t think these are BAD responses, just that they shouldn’t muscle other kinds of response out.

  4. 54
    Matthew H on 24 Apr 2008 #

    The “proscribed path” is mapped by the stunted drones who seek the least resistance.

    My feeling is, I see no need to get het up about it – hence I don’t worry about the title. I mean, the supposed “cool” set in this model are the real losers, because they’re the ones panicking about looking “right”.

    Then again, I don’t get het up because I didn’t really live through the era Rowley plunders, so have nothing to protect. I like your speech though.

  5. 55
    Matthew H on 24 Apr 2008 #

    No.54 there was of course to DJ Punctum, and the last sentence is sincere!

  6. 56
    Alan Connor on 24 Apr 2008 #

    I’m startled that this is the first “track that I hadn’t known before Popular” since Frank Ifield’s Confessin’ – I was around four years old, but had later devoured Ultravox (and liked Ure cuz he fed the world innit), during whose time I’d read about Slik – but had misfiled them in the same brainplace as Visage and never got around to hearing (even in large-scale music acquisition in the 1990s, the single never appeared in second hand shops and I’m sure I’m not alone in never having seen the video on TV – maybe it was in a missed TOTP2 with some wiseacre remarks by St*v* Wr*ght?).

    Re: Guilty Pleasures, this is the sound of my mind boggling at the very idea.

  7. 57
    Alan Connor on 24 Apr 2008 #

    Also, re: true Guilty Pleasures, Sean and I had a list for the ACME blog of music you might really feel guilty about: Skrewdriver; Peter Wyngarde’s “Rape”; Prussian Blue etc etc. Must republish.

  8. 58
    Mark M on 24 Apr 2008 #

    I’m broadly with Tom here. There is plenty of music that people have an ambivalent (personal) relationship to. There is also music that people are ashamed to admit to liking, although I’ve never cared much about that, and certainly don’t now. The idea of Guilty Pleasures (as opposed to secret pleasures or pleasures you couldn’t possibly explain to anyone else in terms they would understand or stuff that is crap according to your aesthetic but rocks anyway) seeks to squash that into an easily marketable package. Rowley has explained by saying he got sick of seeing the same Clash albums in everybodies’ record collections and thought there was something they were hiding. This just makes me think that he was hanging out with a staggeringly small close-minded bunch to begin with – hence the false liberation of guilty pleasures. On the Gilbert thread somebody talked about music denied to people by the Official Rock Canon. But most people – as opposed to readers of music magazines – never bought into the canon anyway.

  9. 59
    rosie on 24 Apr 2008 #

    Sean Rowley’s project has but flickered across my consciousness, I must say. Maybe it’s my age. But I know what it means and I don’t take it too seriously.

    I know as well as anybody what peer pressure can do. It happened in the sixties too and it happened a lot to me. Rosie’s got a funny accent (Wirral, in Hertfordshire). Slap. Rosie enjoys Latin. Twist. Rosie doesn’t support Arsenal. Spit. Rosie likes Motown. What a hoot! Rosie hangs out in funny places like the Mid-Herts Musicians Club and the Barn Theatre. Well, what do you expect.

    Being a teenager is terrifying. I empathise with Marcello in his feelings of being out on his own, and I applaud his guts for being true to himself. I still feel the pressure from time to time. As part of another project I recently sent a CD mix to an unknown recipient. I thought I’d put some pretty edgy stuff in there, but mellowed it with some Manhattan Transfer, some Peggy Lee, some Peter Skellern (who I always name when pressed to identify a guilty pleasure). My recipient liked the edgy stuff, though he drew the line at a bit of Beefheart, but his reaction to the mellower stuff was quite aggressive. Of Manny Tranny (against whom I won’t hear a word) he says Aaaargh! Make it stop! Peggy Lee, he said, made him violent. And for about five minutes I felt like hiding under a stone. But I learned one big life lesson from my dad, bless him. He didn’t give a hoot.

    Sometimes, in here, I feel that not being an Accredited Pop Pundit makes me a lesser person in the eyes of others. I try not to let it get to me, but just occasionally I fail…

    Alan @ 57: Good article, you say eloquently what I have been struggling with.

  10. 60
    Matthew H on 24 Apr 2008 #

    I think everyone here broadly agrees about the GP concept; it’s the level of reaction that differs.

    Is everyone else an Accredited Pop Pundit? I’m a really amateur one…

  11. 61
    Billy Smart on 24 Apr 2008 #

    And the things that I bought the first compilation for – ‘Oh Lori’, ‘Pinball’, ‘Say You Don’t Mind’, ‘Dancing in the City’, etc – admittedly, I was too young to be a pop consumer at the time, but surely these are all obscurities by now? A real album of guilty pleasures would be full of ‘Whispering Grass’, ‘The Streak’ and ‘Grandad’, things that are generally still well-remembered, and usually with derision.

  12. 62
    DJ Punctum on 24 Apr 2008 #

    I’d LOVE to see someone compile an album of that – if we’re going to have this sort of thing then I think we ought really to go to the extremes and not just settle for the fairly meh stuff that has been “rehabilitated.”

    (and just to clear up the ELO side of things, “10538 Overture” and “Mr Blue Sky” are two of my favourite singles by anybody; it’s the “repositioning” of them as a kind of derriere-garde that I object to)

    Interestingly a LOT of the tracks on the first GP comp (including “Oh Lori” which is fab but NOT the anti-Pistols) came out on A&M as a standard budget-priced thing called Labelled With Love a year or two earlier…no argument about the quality of any of these records but “Pinball” as a guilty pleasure? 1974 – the agony of Nick Drake urbanised and turned only slightly pop? Isn’t this to an extent debasing both song and artist by equating them with tosh like “Afternoon Delight”?

    (Plus it sounds better in the context of the excellent ZigZag compilation album which came out on Cherry Red around the same time)

    And “Say You Don’t Mind” HAS to be heard in its original context as the closing track on Blunstone’s One Year album which is readily available for about a fiver.

    Peter Skellern! Always to me a hugely underrated talent; find a decent compilation, go beyond the admittedly fantastic “You’re A Lady” and it’s the Randy Newman of Bury. Better still, harass Universal to reissue his brilliant Hard Times album from ’76.

    My whole fear is that punters are going to come up and think “well, this was the seventies” and not feel inspired to delve any further or deeper – so that groups like Slik get forgotten about or never remembered in the first place. And the aesthetic Berlin Wall continues; witness Stuart Maconie on a recent weekend show fading Aznavour’s “She” after less than a minute and apologising to his listeners.

    Alan – excellent and well argued piece.

    That Peter Wyngarde album and especially THAT track…the missing link between Telly Savalas and Throbbing Gristle…

  13. 63
    Alan on 24 Apr 2008 #

    sod all this GP talk, the big news is “Larry Marder is back at work on Beanworld” oh em gee!

  14. 64
    fivelongdays on 24 Apr 2008 #

    Some cogent points about the whole GP thing.

    My view is that Peer Pressure is EXACTLY the reason for the whole concept. Although there is the qualifying moments of hypocricy from the peers.

    An example from my personal experience: In the Metal scene in about 2000/2001ish, Limp Bizkit were the most shunned, disdained and generally loathed band there was. Yet every rock club’s floor would get packed by “Take a look around” and “Rollin'”

    I’m sure there are other examples…

  15. 65
    crag on 24 Apr 2008 #

    The whole GP thang seemed a bit of a backwards step to me. The great thing about the 90’s(when i was in my 20’s and my radar for popular music and musical trends was at its most active) was there was an opening of the floodgates in terms of what was seen as “acceptable” or “cool” to listen to- you could easily appreciate hits by, say,Oasis, Portishead and the Spice Girls equally and dance at clubs to everything from Led Zep to Public Enemy to Kim Wilde without worrying about peer pressure or worrying how it suited your selfmade “image”. The musical tribalism that existed in the preceeding decades was gone and there was a liberating sense of “anything goes”.

    With the MP3 revolution at the end of the decade this became for a while even more the case – practically all popular music became available to own at the click of a mouse and (at first,anyway) for absolutely free and, as a result restrictive concepts of “cool” were out-eclecticism was in.

    What the GP boom did was change this level playing field and reinforced the notions of what the “correct” music to listen to was-

    As a result,by the time the concept of GP had arrived it was already redundant.Young people who had discovered, for example, ELO, and enjoyed their music simply because they thought it was GOOD music were suddenly being told that ELO were terribly ‘unhip’to listen to, but that they could still listen to them providing they did so through a veil of sniggering irony(admittedly this notion was present in the 90’s too but never to such a patronising or blatant degree) and treated it all like a big joke.I (and many,many others) had already acquired a large amount of music by artists deemed to fit in the GP bracket, enjoyed it hugely and felt no need whatsoever to have them ‘validated’. We had already done this ourselves on OUR OWN TERMS. GP helped bring back the idea of having to second-guess what music was ‘suitable’ for a person according to their class, age, race etc and as such stifled for many the democracization of musical appreciation that had became around in the period previously.

    As for my theory of what a GP is- a record that you know,according to your own values and critical opinion, is terrible, truly musically without any redeeming merit and yet for some inexplicable reason you can’t help loving it. It certainly is NOT loving a track you think is amazing, moving, exciting etc but which the critcal media consenseus has decided is a “bad” record. As Jerry Dammers once put it “theres no such thing as good or bad music”.If you think its good then it IS good. Its not called having a ‘Guilty Pleasure’- its called having your own taste.

  16. 66
    crag on 25 Apr 2008 #

    Oops-ignore the 3rd paragraph in the above post-meant to edit it out but forgot!

  17. 67
    crag on 25 Apr 2008 #

    heres how #65 should have went-sorry!

    The whole GP thang seemed a bit of a backwards step to me. The great thing about the 90’s(when i was in my 20’s and my radar for popular music and musical trends was at its most active) was there was an opening of the floodgates in terms of what was seen as “acceptable” or “cool” to listen to- you could easily appreciate hits by, say,Oasis, Portishead and the Spice Girls equally and dance at clubs to everything from Led Zep to Public Enemy to Kim Wilde without worrying about peer pressure or worrying how it suited your selfmade “image”. The musical tribalism that existed in the preceeding decades was gone and there was a liberating sense of “anything goes”.

    With the MP3 revolution at the end of the decade this became for a while even more the case – practically all popular music became available to own at the click of a mouse and (at first,anyway) for absolutely free and, as a result restrictive concepts of “cool” were out-eclecticism was in.

    As a result,by the time the concept of GP had arrived it was already redundant.Young people who had discovered, for example, ELO, and enjoyed their music simply because they thought it was GOOD music were suddenly being told that ELO were terribly ‘unhip’to listen to, but that they could still listen to them providing they did so through a veil of sniggering irony(admittedly this notion was present in the 90’s too but never to such a patronising or blatant degree) and treated it all like a big joke.I (and many,many others) had already acquired a large amount of music by artists deemed to fit in the GP bracket, enjoyed it hugely and felt no need whatsoever to have them ‘validated’. We had already done this ourselves on OUR OWN TERMS. GP helped bring back the idea of having to second-guess what music was ’suitable’ for a person according to their class, age, race etc and as such stifled for many the democracization of musical appreciation that had became around in the period previously.

    As for my theory of what a GP really is- a record that you know,according to your own values and critical opinion, is terrible, truly musically without any redeeming merit and yet for some inexplicable reason you can’t help loving it. It certainly is NOT loving a track you think is amazing, moving, exciting etc but which the critcal media consenseus has decided is a “bad” record. As Jerry Dammers once put it “theres no such thing as good or bad music”.If you think its good then it IS good. Its not called having a ‘Guilty Pleasure’- its called having your own taste.

  18. 68
    Roadhog on 26 Apr 2008 #

    Aren’t the only people who would even understand the concept of Guilty Pleasures just the tiny proportion of people (obviously including most of us on here) who take music thuis seriously. The average person in the street just likes what they like with no interest in or even knowledge of what some self-appointed arbiter of “taste” says its ok to like. I take my own tastes in pop music as seriously as the next person but far more embarrassing than any person who gets their rocks off to James Blunt or whoever else is the subject of tastemakes ridicule is the 30 or 40 something that still has the mind of a juvenile and thinks that it matters what music someone else likes…

  19. 69
    Roadhog on 26 Apr 2008 #

    i’ve now read the “Get Down” posts.Couldn’t agree more than with the poster who ridiculed this Rowley bloke and his friends with “the same old Clash albums in thir collections” the amazing thing is that Sean Rowley fails to see that all this phenomenon shows is that he and his coterie haven’t got a clue about just how ridiculous most people would think the blinkered attitude of him and his other fanboys is.
    I also noticed someone mentioned that they didn’t like the Orb because of Pink Floyd tendencies. Well surely their music wasn’t really for people who had the slightest interest in tedious rockisms as wether Pink Floyd were ok to like. Of course it was Pink Floyd influeced The Orb originally coalesced in the chillout room at Spectrum where “Echoes” by Pink Floyd was one of the biggest tracks.And the Orb were meant for clubbers to chillout not for tired rock Hipsters to get earnest about.
    That was an amazing thing about the acid house/rave scene back then as we didnt just not subscribe to tired NME/rock media ideas about what it was ok to like but ignored or for many didnt know about them in the first place (with many of the ravers never having come from a rock background anyway).Hence if you heard any rock at all it would very likely be such G***** P******* as Fleetwood Mac “Big Love”, Chris Rea “Josephine”, or Jethro Tull “Living in the Past” to name a few I remember hearing on the dance circa 1987-90.

  20. 70
    Ken on 8 May 2008 #

    My God, this is an awful song. Have I downloaded the wrong mp3 or something here? This is such a plodding nothing of a tune, there is NOTHING here that could possibly register as far as I’m concerned. I really and truly do not understand what the hell you guys are talking about. There’s not even a fucking hook.

  21. 71
    Ken on 8 May 2008 #

    I mean, seriously, what makes this any different from its surrounding hits? Minus the first few seconds, how is this any distinguishable at all from the Bay City Rollers crap? I simply do not understand it. This would get an automatic 2 from me.

  22. 72
    DJ Punctum on 8 May 2008 #

    Is this Kenny Hyslop by any chance?

  23. 73
    Brooksie on 9 Feb 2010 #

    @Ken # 70: “There’s not even a fucking hook.”

    You clearly aren’t listening. Like it or not; it’s rammed with hooks. And the organ intro as well as the dirge-like monkish singing gives it an odd unique sound.

  24. 74
    wichita lineman on 1 Jan 2011 #

    Has anyone pointed out how much the intro/first verse sounds like Vienna? Hardly surprising of course, but it only occurred to 30 years after it should’ve done.

  25. 75
    flahr on 5 Mar 2011 #

    fivelongdays @26 OTM: probably fits into the theory of racket but can’t be bothered expostulating on that atm so instead note verses are self-evidently awesome because of the chanting and choruses are self-evidently awesome because the sax means you can call them Wizzard and ergo the whole thing is VERY AWESOME 8

    if this sounds like the bay city rollers perhaps i ought to listen to something by the bay city rollers

  26. 76
    Inanimate Carbon God on 17 Jan 2015 #

    Pleasantly surprised by this one. The dark, theatrical verses point a path to 80s goth rock and the Cure/Depeche Mode/Bands Who Were Very Good And A Bit Dark But We Not Goths Lots. And the chorus, though it’s from a parallel, potentially saccharine universe, reminds me much less of the Bay City Rollers than The Great Pretender and other 50s doo-wop classics. A strange but beautiful combination. I’ll give it a 7.

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