It’s easy to look back on the social mores of previous decades and cringe or laugh. Sometimes it’s also neccessary. There were probably good – and funny and poignant and poptastic – songs to be written about immigrants’ mixed feelings for their new lives and former homes: it doesn’t seem to me like political correctness gone mad to suggest that two white session musicians may not have been the best candidates to write one, especially not when you factor in Max West’s turn as Tobias Wilcock, “Coconut Airways”, “are we cool brother?”, “Mary Jane” and so on.
Of course it was all ‘just a bit of fun’. It’s unfair to suggest Typically Tropical should have written anything more socially conscious: they weren’t aiming to, and judging by the deftness of touch on show here that’s a good thing. But it’s also unfair to suggest anyone now should feel much other than vague embarassment or discomfort when they encounter this. I have an immense soft spot for holiday novelties – the idea of singles as souvenirs is a strong and charming one, and really (as we’ll discover in a future entry) “Barbados” is a rousing bit of nonsense wrapped in a gruesomely ill-judged framing device. You could certainly make a case that Radio 1 should have known better than to promote it. This, though, is from the period when the station had only recently established itself as guardian of the nation’s Summer Fun, and it seems to have taken a strictly majoritarian view of what that Fun consisted of.