22
Jul 08

BROTHERHOOD OF MAN – “Figaro”

FT + Popular67 comments • 3,270 views

#418, 11th February 1978

When pop’s weather changes, sometimes it’s the mediocre songs that tell you – left beached, suddenly seeming not just below-par but a bit ridiculous. Some records are the sound of a game being up. The hoofy hornsome jauntiness of “Figaro” wouldn’t have sounded good whenever it was released, but not so long before it would at least have fitted in better, just another bad mid-70s pop side, and why expect more? But in the context of 1978 it sounds risible in its complete paucity of ambition (those bastard horns especially). I like this a lot less than the much-despised “Angelo”: a pastiche that runs out of steam beats this horrid evocation of the holiday hustle. “Figaro” – well, “Figaro”‘s brass section – is like being woken at dawn, with a hangover, from an itchy bed by a Butlins Redcoat and made to party till your feet bleed. A single too far for the Brotherhood and their whole aesthetic.

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Comments

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  1. 51
    Tom on 27 Jul 2008 #

    re. #48 and modern ABBA-a-likes: aside from a five-piece who are under Bunny Embargo, there’s of course Sweden’s own A-Teens, who vastly improved on their inglorious covers act beginnings with some excellent pop singles (“Upside Down”) and I believe Scooch followed the 2M2F formula – a modern day Brotherhood of Man, except for coming last in Eurovision not first.

  2. 52
    Billy Smart on 27 Jul 2008 #

    Best ever post-ABBA 2M 2F pop group: Propaganda!

  3. 53
    intothefireuk on 27 Jul 2008 #

    It’s February, it’s 1978, you are listening to the no.1 single – is it ‘Native New Yorker’, ‘Mr Blue Sky’, ‘Lovely Day’, ‘Jamming’, ‘Wishing On A Star’, ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’, ‘Loves Unkind’ or even ‘Stayin Alive’ ?? Eh ?? No it’s this, intro sounds like ‘it’s a knockout’, God awful mid fecking winter holiday hit. I fear there will never be an ABBA style re-appraisal for the BoM.

  4. 55
    DJ Punctum on 28 Jul 2008 #

    #53: not to mention, a bit further down the chart, “What Do I Get?” and “Shot By Both Sides”…

  5. 56
    Lena on 28 Jul 2008 #

    I’m finding it hard to write about the one song on the charts at this time that I love so much that when it comes on the radio even now I yelp and run and turn it up!

    In short, “The Groove Line” by Heatwave (didn’t even make the top 10, alas) is like a vast door opening. The cymbals; the Kraftwerk-like wuh-wuh-wuh noise that comes from God knows where (I can’t figure out what instrument it is, must be a synth but which one?); minimalistic guitar; bass that seems bigger and richer than it has any right to be. All this and harmonies and rhythms and an amiable groove and I cannot help but think one Mr. Jones heard this and he couldn’t resist wanting to dance…and after dancing make a very important phone call. I swear I can hear ABC and Human League in this song as well, though maybe that’s because they are equally irresistable for me…

  6. 57
    DJ Punctum on 28 Jul 2008 #

    Yes, “The Groove Line” is a work of art as far as I’m concerned, especially its long, elegant and oddly elegiac fadeout…curiously, I don’t think Rod Temperton ever had a UK number one single as a songwriter (though am certain he must have done) but plenty of time and opportunity for proper assessment of that later on…

  7. 58
    Waldo on 30 Jul 2008 #

    # 47 wichita lineman – Marcello’s right. Not this one.

    And another vote for “The Groove Line”.

  8. 59
    Mark G on 30 Jul 2008 #

    Wanted by The Dooleys

    Funny, my memory had it they continued to have hits with this new formation, but one hit by the bloke again, one minor hit I can’t recall but suspect was a girlduo one, then it was all over…

  9. 60
    DJ Punctum on 30 Jul 2008 #

    “The Chosen Few” and “Love Patrol” in that order.

  10. 61
    Mark G on 30 Jul 2008 #

    “You chose me, and I chose you, we’re the chosen few”

    With logic like that, …..

    nah, one for the useless hit list.

  11. 62
    DJ Punctum on 30 Jul 2008 #

    I quite liked it at the time ‘cos it reminded me of the Archies.

  12. 63
    Mark G on 30 Jul 2008 #

    yeah, can see that…

    still..

  13. 64
    Malice Cooper on 12 Aug 2008 #

    To compare them to Abba is insulting. The only time they nearly managed it was on “lightning flash” which resembled a “Not the Nine O Clock News” parody of “super trooper”.
    “Oh boy” and “Angelo” were great pop singles. This is just dreadful summertime pop that you would normally condemn as fit, only for holiday makers in Marbella.

  14. 65
    brian on 23 Aug 2009 #

    how can anyone not like figaro? It was a hard core classic.

  15. 66
    Brendan on 24 Sep 2012 #

    I actually enjoyed this tune (in contrast to the unspeakable dirge that was ‘Angelo’) so I would switch Tom’s marks for the pair and give this one 5 and that one 2. It seems that the venom this one received was more down to the idea that more of the population liked it more than ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ which indeed is a tragic state of affairs (though the fact that UTR reached the top in the first place was remarkable enough in itself) but I believe there are certainly far worse injustices in chart history than that.

  16. 67
    Inanimate Carbon God on 13 Feb 2015 #

    @1: This is perhaps the Death In Paradise of number ones. One of its cast explained it as “It’s not The Killing, it’s meant to be fun.” To quote a better song of this era about ramshackle seaside resorts, THAT’S NOT THE POINT, IS IT?

    See also: anything on the big or small screen that consciously self-identify as those two words which go together like the human ear and a syringe made of piranha teeth.. “guilty pleasures.”

    Marcello – it’s okay for me to reply to comments of six years’ vintage, isn’t it?

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