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Nov 08

KELLY MARIE – “Feels Like I’m In Love”

FT + Popular98 comments • 4,480 views

#466, 13th September 1980

One of the things that gives 1980’s number ones a queer, lopsided aspect is the way there’s not much of a middleground between hits which emerged more or less direct from youth subcultures and those shepherded into popularity by the likes of Noel Edmonds. In particular the pre-teen and tween market seems pretty dead at this point. This void would soon be filled with sound and light and ribbons and stripey noses but meanwhile pop was the stamping ground of young adults and not-so-young ones, a world in which hormone rushes had been replaced by messily consequential relationships.

The curious child – a seven-year-old like me – might have found this grown-up pop scary, mysterious and compelling. But (and this is what I did in fact do) they might also opt out entirely. My parents weren’t interested, and any influence I had over the TV ended with the closing Blue Peter theme. In Autumn 1980 I changed schools, and started getting more homework, so bedtime was rolled back: this is where I start remembering news stories (Mount St Helens, the Moscow Olympics), and could watch Top Of The Pops regularly. Not because I wanted to, just because it was there. If I’d grown up now, in a multi-channel world where I could have watched cartoons and sci-fi shows and dinosaur documentaries all afternoon, I might never have cared much about pop at all.

Kelly Marie falls just before this cut-off point, so what has this got to do with her? Just that there actually was still a version of pop made available to kids, a kind of light ent junior centered around Swap Shop and TISWAS on a Saturday morning. The watchword here wasn’t kid appeal but cheapness – low cost alternatives to chart staples with presumably low booking fees: Budgens singer-songwriters and Woolworths disco. This half-remembered take on pop culture isn’t much represented on Popular, unsurprisingly given that the major star was the omnipresent and quite useless B.A. Robertson. But Kelly Marie was totally part of it, of pop as I actually experienced it in 1980 – which perhaps explains why I’m fond of what is by any reasonable standard a shoddy bit of work.

“Feels Like” is a grotty, grubby, British version of disco, the syndrum hits from “Ring My Bell” relocated to the Maplins Hawaiian Ballroom, busybodying you onto the dancefloor. If the fantasy of disco – decadent, sexual, aspirational – has a Playboy style appeal, Kelly Marie was more readers’ wivesy. That’s not really because of her mildly saucy performances, it’s more to do with her vowelly vocal line – “fee-uhls like ah’m in lu-huv!” (DOO DOO). It gives the record an enthusiastically amateurish air, like it’s a karaoke version of itself. For listeners with a stake in club music, Kelly was no doubt a horror show, but in a year low on bubblegum I find it hard to judge too harshly.

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Comments

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  1. 76
    vinylscot on 27 Nov 2008 #

    Just to put the record straight. I’ve been in touch with Marcello this evening and he has confirmed that he is not Marshmallow Hamilton. I would say that although Marshmallow’s writing, his post #58 anyway, was obviously intended to mimic Marcello’s style (on one of his off-days), it wasn’t well enough written (which is why I used the word “almost”, and I note Rosie wasn’t taken in either.).

    Say what you like about Marcello, but he always writes well!!

  2. 77
    izzy on 27 Nov 2008 #

    I’ve been musing on my comments at no28, and specifically why I didn’t peg this as an attempt at disco before reading this thread. I think nos10 and 57 nail it between them – this isn’t a disco song at all, it’s pub rock!

    And as such, it doesn’t work – the melody is all wrong for dancing, but great for belting out in the back of a pub. You couldn’t imagine ‘Stayin Alive’, ‘Heart of Glass’ or ‘I Feel Love’ in such a context, but I could see this one no problem.

    It explains why it’s so quirky and charming, and yet enduringly popular here (and one presumes totally unknown abroad). It’s a strange and foreign mix – and probably as bewildering to outsiders as the Wehrmacht jazz bands that so amused GIs occupying Germany in 1945. And like those, the form is there but the point is missing.

    Which led onto a troubling thought – pub rock as the true sound of Britain. At its best this ensures the popularity of great anthems; but at its worst glam meaning Glitter over Bowie, and Oasis’ fatal lack of ambition.

  3. 78
    AndyPandy on 27 Nov 2008 #

    I’m a bit disappointed to find out the idea of Saturday Night Fever coming from Stevenage was just a myth – amazing what a bit of local journalism can do as I first heard it in some quite respectable article on the film…

    It’s definitely true about the early Level 42 singles the b-side of ‘Love Games’ ‘Instrumental Love’ was held up as probably their peak. “Are You Hearing (What I Hear?) was another good one. Of course early-Level 42 were thought “authentic” enough for a Larry Dunn and Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire to ask to produce their “Standing In the Light” album which included their first big pop hit The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)

    Probably the one British disco track that I’ve never heard even the most anti UK soul/disco fan dare to criticise was Atmosfear’s “Dancing In Outer Space” which even crossed over to the US market…Probably one of the best pre-house dance tracks made anywhere in the world full-stop.

  4. 79
    Tom on 27 Nov 2008 #

    Re 76 – I admit my eyebrows were raising a bit. Highly satirical I’m sure, though let’s end the spoof here eh? Thanks Vinylscot for the confirmation.

  5. 80
    Tom on 27 Nov 2008 #

    (Especially as it’s getting in the way of a rather good discussion of the British way of disco.)

  6. 81
    mike on 27 Nov 2008 #

    Re. Level 42, the underground soulboy pick has to be “Starchild” from 1981, co-written by Wally Badarou, which enjoyed a small revival towards the end of the late 80s rare groove scene.

  7. 82
    crag on 28 Nov 2008 #

    Re: Brit disco- I’m suprised nobody has mentioned the Average White Band yet- “Pick Up the Pieces” is a beast of a tune, while “Lets Go Round Again”, though not a fave of mine certainly sounds like the real thing, no pun intended.

    Speaking of Scottish pop types- hey, what have you got against BA Robertson, Tom?! Anyone who can write “We Have A Dream”, The Greatest Football Song Of All Time (Fact!)for the 1982 Scotland World Cup Squad,is ok w/ me…..

  8. 83
    LondonLee on 28 Nov 2008 #

    Yeah, but ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ is such a blatant JBs copy I can’t give it too much credit, good though it is. ‘Cut The Cake’ on the other hand…

    There was The Rah Band too, though they could be as High Street cheesy as Kelly Marie they had their moments, ‘The Crunch’ in particular.

  9. 84
    AndyPandy on 28 Nov 2008 #

    London Lee (No61) I’m pretty sure Linx’s first hit ‘You’re Lying'(another top tune) was at the tail end of the first wave (1980)and was later sampled on The Hypnotist’s “Pioneers of the Warped Groove” other side to hardcore classic ‘The House is Mine’.Or come to think of it was it on the A side?.And talking of The Rah Band their ‘Falcon’ was pretty good too.

    Re Mike at 81 yes bit of an omission on my part how could I forget Starchild.

    Someone mentioned is this where syndrums went to die…I suppose it was until they were resurrected as a sample of Rose Royce’s ‘Is It Love You’re After?’ on ‘The Theme to S-Express’ 7 years later.

    Re this idea about dance music getting harder the further north you get wouldn’t it be more true to say that the further you get from London the less “funky” the sounds get (with the possible exception of the Manchester area).And when talking about hard sounds doesn’t it really mean the central belt of Scotland and possibly Newcastle/Sunderland/Middlesbrough (and of course Holland and Belgium!)And not as I saw someone write in an article on the net a few months ago said when completely missing the point that they are all having it bigtime to gabba in the Shetlands etc!I’m sure from my walking holidays up there (northern Scotland not Shetlands) and in other rural parts of Britain another point could be made that those tiny rural discos you find in small towns are the last holdout of the mainstream pop/inanely chatting wedding style dj which were once so prevalent everywhere else.

  10. 85
    Billy Smart on 28 Nov 2008 #

    I always liked the idea that enthusiastic crowds would chant “AVERAGE! AVERAGE!” at AWB shows.

  11. 86
    mike on 28 Nov 2008 #

    #84 – We’re straying into embargoed territory re. the syndrum revival, but I don’t think that any made it from “Is It Love You’re After” into The Future Chart Topper Which Sampled It. However, there are syndrums all over the lead 12″ mix of another 1988 chart topper.

    And as regards early 1980s Popular entries, it turns out that we haven’t quite done with syndrums yet…

  12. 87
    Billy Smart on 28 Nov 2008 #

    I’ve always wondered – Was the Southern Freeeze in any sense a real dance, even one that Freeeze invented to market their name? Whenever the singer tells us that she saw the boy “once before, doing the Southern Freeeze”, the result of which she knew he was “the one, the only one for meee” my mind draws a blank as to what I’m supposed to be picturing.

    I’ve got a slightly better idea of what the disco stomp might have looked like. In my head, its quite an ungainly dance.

  13. 88
    AndyPandy on 28 Nov 2008 #

    2 cock-ups in 1 email! – not to remember the sample didnt get as far as the syndrums and to forget it got to No 1 – must do better!

  14. 89
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 28 Nov 2008 #

    haha ALL bands — disco, rock, avant-math-terror etc — should be required to cut a “Do the _______” track, complete with dance-moves symbols on the sleeve

    “Do the Crispy Ambulance!”

  15. 90
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 28 Nov 2008 #

    when my friends matt and david and i first saw “a certain ratio”, the local reviewer based his entire review of how trendy and bad ACR were on the “two haircut dancers” in the front of the audience, and how they danced, ie david and matt

    (i stayed back in the shadows)

  16. 91
    Caledonianne on 29 Nov 2008 #

    Oi! I think I can claim, without fear of contradiction, that I have spent more Saturday nights in Paisley than any other citizen of this bailiwick (seeing as how, though a Glaswegian by birth, I am a Buddy by accretion, schooling and – dare I say – by choice).

    I don’t hear anything particularly redolent of the town by the Cart (was tempted to say, “anything particularly Cartesian” about this record). In fact, having now spent as much of my life away from Paisley, as in it, I’d have to say that if this had originated in Banbury, I’d have seen it as a much better fit.

    Anyway – this dissing of Paisley must cease. Cease and desist! Has it not brought you Stealer’s Wheel? Gerry Rafferty? The aforementioned David Sneddon? And Paolo Nutini? It should be recognised as the apogee of aural approbation, and not remembered simply as the exponent of a whizz-bang textile design classic, and the locus of the most important case in the law of tort for (those poor benighted jurists in) the common law world.

    Nowhere in Edinburgh is Awfully Nice during the Festival…;-)

  17. 92
    Conrad on 29 Nov 2008 #

    Re 85, my favourite ever tribute band name is “Below Average White Band”. I guess the audience were unlikely to be disappointed

    (Second favourite, of course, Bi Jovi!)

  18. 93
    Conrad on 29 Nov 2008 #

    91, snail in ginger beer bottle?

  19. 94
    lonepilgrim on 29 Nov 2008 #

    since we seem to have wandered into stream of consciousness territory I always remember an interview with Linx where they asked the bass player, known as Sketch, what his name was short for. Quick as a flash he replied: ‘Preliminary drawing’

  20. 95
    Caledonianne on 29 Nov 2008 #

    #93, Conrad.

    The very same – Donoghue v Stevenson.

    And “Below Average White Band” is genius!

  21. 96
    lonepilgrim on 30 Nov 2008 #

    another thought on the shortcomings of uk disco – I seem to remember a familiar criticism in the 70s and early 80s that there were no good horn sections in the uk – possibly until beggar & co worked with Spandau Ballet on Chant No 1.

  22. 97
    Erithian on 1 Dec 2008 #

    SteveM #70 – “British version of disco” – reminds me a little of the line spoken by, is it Billy Fury’s character in “That’ll Be The Day”? – “Only Americans can write songs.” Assuming you count it as disco and not pop (a blurry line for sure), the aforementioned “You To Me Are Everything” doesn’t have to bend the knee to any US import as far as I’m concerned. Heard it again at a birthday do on Saturday night and loved it as much as ever.

    Did we ever come to a conclusion as to who Marshmallow actually was? (and it wasn’t me, before you ask)

  23. 98
    Tom on 1 Dec 2008 #

    I’m fairly sure I know but I’m letting sleeping dogs lie.

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