Nov 08

ODYSSEY – “Use It Up And Wear It Out”

FT + Popular35 comments • 3,253 views

#462, 26th July 1980

“Use It Up” steamed to number one on the back of its chant-friendly refrain: “one, two, three – shake your body down!”. But, effective though the surging chorus is, there’s a lot more going on here. The band are mix-and-matching a bunch of dancefloor protocols – sweet disco backing vox; whistles and latinate rhythmic tinges; chirruping and squawking synths; steelband suppleness; and finally some lovely scat-singing on the extended version’s coda. The result is pleasingly loose and relaxed, an open-door party where how you move matters a lot more than where you’re from.

If anything it’s a little too scattershot – Odyssey were at their very best on their more focused singles: the elegance of “Native New Yorker”, the determination of “Going Back To My Roots”, the frozen desperation of “Inside Out”. But just as “Xanadu” points to the waning of disco as a mainstream force, the melange of styles on “Use It Up” hints at the rich base of ideas the club scene would draw on as the spotlight moved on.



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  1. 26
    pink champale on 17 Nov 2008 #

    the gb(rb)p liked this one best too

  2. 27
    Billy Smart on 17 Nov 2008 #

    It’s ‘Inside Out’ that is the pinnacle for me, but we all seem to agree that there are about half a dozen great Odyssey singles, which this is emphatically one of.

    The MU strike of the time probably contributed to my having no contemporaneous memories of this. Its hard to add much to what’s already been written, just to say that the crisscrossiness of the rhythms make it an endlessly pleasurable thing to listen too.

  3. 28
    MildredBumble on 6 Jun 2010 #

    ‘Native New Yorker’ was a fabulous record.

  4. 29
    Alex on 19 Oct 2010 #

    The people who did Native New Yorker*. And to think it could have been St Winifred’s in an alternate timeline.

    *also the name of a rather good club in 90s Leeds

  5. 31
    wichita lineman on 28 Feb 2011 #

    Great piece, Billy. I’d never realised quite how twisty-turny the lyrical conceit of Upside Down is. Matches the title, if not the video.

    My strongest memory of the song is having it stuck in my head for 90 mins (would… not… go… away!) while watching Honduras v Yugoslavia. A draw would’ve sent Honduras through but they lost to a last minute penalty.

    Not a very appropriate memory, really. But I’m glad I’ve never related toooo strongly to the lyric.

  6. 32
    wichita lineman on 28 Feb 2011 #

    Is this the shortest Popular thread of the 80s and beyond?

  7. 33
    Auntie Beryl on 23 Feb 2013 #

    Hopefully not, so I’ll chip in with a hat-tip to Electribe 101’s version of Inside Out.

    The song fits their approach perfectly, Billie Ray Martin’s careworn vocals layered over the dehumanised bleeps of the Electribeblokes. Lovely.

  8. 34
    mapman132 on 14 Sep 2014 #

    I was surprised to just find out this never charted in the US – I was under the impression that it had possibly peaked as high as #2! For a moment I thought maybe I was confusing it with another hit, but no, this is the song I thought it was. Not the only early 80’s dance hit to shockingly miss the US top 40 either: there’s another much more famous one that reached UK #2 but only US #46, but I’ll leave that until we reach the much later still-bunnied version.

  9. 35
    Adam on 22 Mar 2015 #

    Hope Marvin Gaye’s family is unaware of this.

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