22
Apr 08

SLIK – “Forever And Ever”

FT + Popular76 comments • 4,109 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. 1
    DJ Punctum on 22 Apr 2008 #

    Yippee, I was definitely looking forward to this one coming up!

    Strange with some number ones how in retrospect you can clearly see the future coming up, if not quite taking shape, such that they end up seeming out of place in their own time. Slik were already popular in Scotland; they’d had a couple of local hits with “The Boogiest Band In Town” and, ahem, “The Kid’s A Punk” but essentially they acted as a substitute vehicle for Bill Martin and Phil Coulter after the Rollers had dispensed with their services – not that the band themselves were particularly happy with this state of affairs, but it did help get them about.

    “Forever And Ever,” however, though a Martin/Coulter composition from start to finish, is a strange beast indeed, standing somewhere between the Yardbirds’ “Still I’m Sad” with its sombre Gregorian chants and tolling bells and…well, listening to Ure’s delivery of the “ashes to ashes” lyric, it’s already pretty clear where he’s heading (or wants to head), such that you can audibly hear the band getting frustrated as they mechanically rev up into the scarf-waving post-Rollers chorus.

    Even stranger was their follow-up, “Requiem,” which trod much the same stylistic path but was arguably darker (“Oh what a WRECK!/This is our REQ-uiem!”), so much so that it stopped at #24 and for Slik that, essentially, was that before they morphed into would-be punk band PVC2 (great single: “Put You In The Picture”). But, as I say, it’s bizarre looking back at “Forever And Ever” and Midge with full knowledge of his subsequent work and being aware that, even here, something different was stirring (and a word too for drummer Kenny Hyslop, later of Simple Minds and of unremembered except by me – and actually quite brilliant – early indie-dance fusioneers Set The Tone).

  2. 2
    Tom on 22 Apr 2008 #

    There aren’t many more records to come which I had never heard before starting Popular – this was one of them! (I think because I was a huge Ultravox fan at age 11 and admired their GREAT SERIOUSNESS and was horrified to learn that Midge had been in some kind of frivolous band in OLDEN TIMES rather than having been born into this world fully formed as the great futurist thinker who wrote “New Europeans”)

  3. 3
    rosie on 22 Apr 2008 #

    Here’s another one I don’t remember from the time. Now I’ve got a copy there’s something familar about it but I couldn’t have told you who it was or pinned a year on it unless I knew from Popular.

    It gets off to a cracking start though. From the creaky Gothic opening, no doubt with a white-gloved old retainer seated at the organ console in some dusty, cobwebby, crypt, and the bells, morphing into something like a Sweet revival (am I alone in being reminded of the opening of Block Buster?) and from there modulating to, well, a well-crafted but unexceptional pop chorus.

    Ah well, it was nice while it lasted, before it fell apart. But it’s nice to know that better things were ahead for that nice Mr Ure.

  4. 4
    LondonLee on 22 Apr 2008 #

    My sisters favourite band for that nanosecond of time between her dumping The Rollers on the trash heap of youth and hearing The Clash for the first time. It’s a lot better than I remember it being but that could be rose-tinted nostalgia kicking in, all the Gothic chanting does sound a bit like “Vienna” now.

    I think their clothes were more important than their music (not hard I know) – short hair and straight trousers were revolutionary in 1976.

  5. 5
    DJ Punctum on 22 Apr 2008 #

    Not sure about the baseball shirt look, though.

  6. 6
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 22 Apr 2008 #

    straight hair and short trousers = STORM THE BARRICADES NOW

  7. 7
    CarsmileSteve on 22 Apr 2008 #

    I do tend to confuse this with another 1976 number one that i wouldn’t want to mention just yet, although i can’t really imagine Midge in a giant kaftan…

  8. 8
    Waldo on 22 Apr 2008 #

    In reality, the first of two number ones in 1976 bearing this title (Down, Bun!). And Midge Ure, of course. Johnnie W had it spot on when he described this effort as a “slowed down Bay City Rollers number”. I agreed and I don’t think it would have remained in my memory had it not gone to the top, although the Gothic chanting was a nice touch.

    It would have been logical had Slik followed this up with something equally as ordinary, but no. They came up with “Requiem”, a tremendous offering, although it only peaked at 24. I don’t think teenyboppers could ever deal with quality.

  9. 9
    Tom on 22 Apr 2008 #

    Depending on the pace of Popular (and tactical issues) there may indeed be a Popular/Europop 2008 CROSSOVER SPECIAL on the way.

  10. 10
    Billy Smart on 22 Apr 2008 #

    I always forget this one immediately after I’ve stopped listening to it. It would make a much greater impression on me if it was either less slow or more weird.

  11. 11
    rosie on 22 Apr 2008 #

    They’re both exactly the same length too (according to my playlist here) Midge and the bunny, I mean.

    By the way, I hadn’t realised intil a few weeks ago that Midge had beaten his future collaboratot to number one.

  12. 12
    vinylscot on 22 Apr 2008 #

    The artists formerly known as “Salvation” if memory serves me correctly.

    They were wildly popular up here even before “The Boogiest Band In Town” became a local “Radio Clyde” chart hit. (I have to disagree with DJ Punctum here – I’m pretty sure “The Kids A Punk” was the follow up to “Requiem”, and not an earlier single – the second single having been “Don’t Take Your Love Away”)

    A very well-crafted piece of bubble-gum pop with a bit more to it, and a wee bit more “grown-up” than anything (original) the Rollers ever put out, as if Martin and Coulter were telling the Rollers – “This is where you could have gone”. Definitely a “guilty pleasure” of the time.

    I’m also glad to see some positive comments on “Requiem” which, although markedly similar, was a far better song, but didn’t really make much impression on the charts.

    I don’t think the baseball uniforms helped either.

    Also, if we’re going to be picky, was there not only one No1 with this title, as the other one was always listed in the charts as the record’s title, rather than the title of it’s lead song?

  13. 13
    DJ Punctum on 22 Apr 2008 #

    Hmm, I think you’re right about “The Kid’s A Punk” coming after “Requiem” – as memory serves, this may have been the tipping block for Midge in particular, having to sing about this non-existent bloke who looks like James Dean and rhymes with scene.

    Incidentally, I’ll have to say it somewhere so might as well say it here: I ABHOR the notion of “g**lty pl**s*r*s”…

    (is “Electric Avenue” the only hit single which uses the verb “abhor” in its lyric?)

  14. 14
    Tom on 22 Apr 2008 #

    I am very very dubious of the notion of guilty pleasures too but I think it’s a debate that’s still got legs in it rather than one for the FAQ!

    (I’d prefer a stronger use for the phrase personally, one talking about records which you like despite some uncomfortable or downright wrong element to them.)

  15. 15
    Alan on 22 Apr 2008 #

    man alive i love this song! i’ve never really known this was slik though. thank’s youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_mkV0gKISo

  16. 16
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 22 Apr 2008 #

    i love when alan sez “man alive” (also it’s an anagram: “alan e. vim”)

  17. 17
    LondonLee on 22 Apr 2008 #

    So did “The Kid’s A Punk” come out before or after “Anarchy In The UK”? – the internets have been unable to clear this question up for me.

    If they were bandwagon jumping (at least lyrically) they got on board pretty bloody fast.

    I prefer to call them “innocent pleasures”

  18. 18
    Waldo on 22 Apr 2008 #

    And talking of “Man Alive”, that was one tv prog which had a belting signature tune. Ditto “Weekend World”, fronted by the uber-scary Ber-Wyan Walden. Sundays were great: WW, “Uni Challenge” and then “The Big Match”, all dotted around the weekly roast.

  19. 19
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 22 Apr 2008 #

    man alive is sibelius’s “karelia suite” isn’t it? (maybe that was world in action)

  20. 20
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 22 Apr 2008 #

    nope it was “this week”

  21. 21
    rosie on 22 Apr 2008 #

    Not unless Sibelius wrote an extra movement scored for harmonica, it’s not, but yes, the Man Alive music is pretty memorable.

    I’m pretty damned sure that the Karelia Suite, or at least the third movement, was the signature to something but then I get very confuzzled by Karelia (and lots of other Sibelius) because Mr Crozier my Junior School headteacher was evidently very fond of him and included him regularly in the improving music that was played before morning assembly. (This was the same Mr Crozier I have alluded to before, but a long time ago, who stood before us in about 1964 and said of that morning’s piece (not Sibelius, I think) that “this music will live forever. Who will remember the Beatles in thirty years?”

    Keith Emerson did a fair Karelia with The Nice.

  22. 22
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 22 Apr 2008 #

    i am fond of sibelius also — i had a big jigsaw of europe when i was little and for finland there was lots of fir-trees and JS’s huge bald frowning face hurrah

    google tells me it was in fact the themetune to “this week” — tho i haven’t a clue what this was, i assume a new or current affairs prog

    “who will remember slik in 30 years? BLIMEY!”

  23. 23
    crag on 22 Apr 2008 #

    I happened to be listening to the Man Alive theme this weekend-Spooky!

    Speaking of Spooky this has to be one of the oddest tracks discussed for ages(granted, I’m Not In Love and Bo Rhap are probably stranger but their weirdness has been dimmed somewhat by familiarity). With its heartbeat rhythm, gregorian doo-wop backing and dead-eyed lead vocal(complete w/ Scottish accent!)it sounds less like a deliberate attempt at improving and building on the Rollers style and more like a sarcasatic and disrespectful pastiche of it, with Martin and Coulter gleefully warping and distorting the “Bye Bye Baby” template as far as possible, almost cynically seeing how far they can stretch it without robbing the track of commercial appeal and disillusioning their target teenybopper audience. The queezy, almost gratingly catchy chorus is like a zombie ancestor of earlier Martin/Coulter tracks like the infuriatingly infectious “Puppet on A String” and “Congratulations” while the gothic, almost psych feel of the verses links back to Presley’s brilliant, none-more-eerie “My Boy, another of their compositions.

    Before today I don’t think I’ve heard “Forever and Ever” more than half a dozen times, probably explained by it’s experimental feel causing an absence from the playlists of golden oldie radio stations(even Scottish ones!)who’ll happilly pump out Rollers hits which don’t even come close to being as enjoyable or interesting.

    I find it almost impossible to imagine a manufactured boyband today releasing such a wonderfully out-there track as their debut single and, even more sadly, I can’t help thinking that if they did it wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the charts…

  24. 24
    Billy Smart on 22 Apr 2008 #

    ‘Man Alive’ theme by The Tony Hatch Sound. I’ve got it on the LP ‘Favourite BBC TV Themes’.

  25. 25
    intothefireuk on 22 Apr 2008 #

    I loved ‘Requiem’, even bought it, didn’t mind this either though I think we are all agreed that the ‘rollers’ chorus is somewhat at odds with the gloomy verses. I remember seeing Slik playing live in concert on (I think) Saturday morning TV. I was mightily impressed with the young Mr Ure’s on stage guitar heroics. With the exception of the hit singles the set didn’t seem to be a million miles away from the power pop later purveyed by said Ure’s Rich Kids. Sometime later I’d re-aquaint myself with Ure via the mighty U-vox but that’s for the future.

  26. 26
    fivelongdays on 22 Apr 2008 #

    When I was younger, and didn’t know my Glorious Whig Pop History, I had it in my head that “Forever and Ever” by Slik was actually “There’s a kind of hush” by the Carpenters – yes, I know, big error (quality song, though!).

    Then I actually heard “Forever and Ever” by Slik, and crikey, it’s great. I particularly like the way the gothic verse rubs, sandpaperlike, with the big, anthemic, poppy chorus. Brilliant, Schitzophonic, song. Nine, at least, IMHO.

  27. 27
    DJ Punctum on 23 Apr 2008 #

    The Weekend World theme tune was, of course, “Nantucket Sleighride” by Mountain. Always conjures up the smell of roast beef in the kitchen, even now.

    This Week was an intermittently long-running Thames current affairs series, half an hour on Thursdays, and the most infamous episode was the “Death On The Rock” one in ’87.

    I can’t imagine the Westlifes or their various clones of today being allowed anywhere near something like “Forever And Ever” – these days, if you want mainstream pop success, you have to walk the walk, fit in, obey, sit up straight at the back of the bus.

    Good call on “My Boy” – a big UK hit for Elvis in ’74, but I prefer the unadulterated yet touching cheese of Richard Harris’ version.

  28. 28
    Mark G on 23 Apr 2008 #

    Slik were already popular in Scotland; they’d had a couple of local hits with “The Boogiest Band In Town” and, ahem, “The Kid’s A Punk” but essentially

    WHOA!

    this can’t be right. Certainly, Midge was embarrassed by “punk” which was given to him to do by Martin/Coulter. The record/song is fine, but bad timing meant this was issued just as the real punk was happening.

  29. 29
    DJ Punctum on 23 Apr 2008 #

    On thorough checking (i.e. I rang my mum) “The Kid’s A Punk” was indeed a later and probably the last Slik single in late ’76, so apologies for that uncharacteristic John Arne Riise slip.

  30. 30
    Mark G on 23 Apr 2008 #

    .. and “The Boog” also.

    So, what were those ‘early’ hits in Scotland?

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