11
Mar 09

GOOMBAY DANCE BAND – “Seven Tears”

FT + Popular40 comments • 4,090 views

#497, 27th March 1982

“Seven Tears” is a platonic ideal of rubbish European pop: if it came out today you could half believe it was some kind of plot by the UK Independence Party. In its three and a bit minutes the poor man’s Boney M hit an impressive number of touchpoints:

– elephantine oompah beat
– comical pronunciation (“if dreams were wriggles”)
– monster key change
– lyrics that make no sense
– repetition of lyrics that make no sense
– repetition of lyrics that make no sense as a spoken word bit, just to underline quite how little sense they make.

Of course all of these – maybe excepting the beat – can and have been components of excellent pop, so there’s something – perhaps the song’s simple-minded earnestness – innocently likeable about the Goombays despite their record’s manifest dreadfulness.

3

Comments

1 2 All
  1. 26
    Snif on 12 Mar 2009 #

    This song was sufficient a hit in Australia to the point that I can hum the tune to the first two lines, but that’s it.

  2. 27
    rosie on 13 Mar 2009 #

    Snif @ 26: Come now, it’s such a musical cliché that, given the first two lines, you can hum the rest without thinking.

  3. 28
    will on 13 Mar 2009 #

    Detested it then, as now. But I haven’t been able to shake the bugger out of head for the last two days.

  4. 29
    Billy Smart on 16 Mar 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: The Goombay Dance Band peformed ‘Seven Tears’ on Top of the Pops on no less than five occasions;

    4th March 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Toni Basil, Gary Numan, Imagination, The Jets, ABC and Tight Fit, plus Zoo’s interpretation of ‘Deutscher Girls’. David Jensen was the host.

    18 March 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Classix Nouveaux, Leo Sayer, Japan, Gary Numan and Tight Fit, plus Zoo’s interpretation of ‘Layla’. Steve Wright and Richard Skinner were the hosts.

    25 March 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Altered Images, Bucks Fizz, Foster & Allen, The Boomtown Rats and Killing Joke (!). Peter Powell and Garth Crooks were the hosts.

    1 April 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Motorhead, Roxy Music, Dollar, Bardo and Status Quo. Yay! – John Peel was the host.

    8 April 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Haircut 100 and Chas & Dave, plus Zoo’s interpreatation of ‘I Can Make You Feel Good’. Simon Bates was the host.

  5. 30
    Billy Smart on 16 Mar 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: The Goombay Dance Band were a familiar sight on British TV screens in 1982;

    STARBURST: with Bob Monkhouse, Alvin Stardust, Druids, Goombay Dance Band (1982)

    SUMMERTIME SPECIAL: with Little And Large, Chas & Dave, Gigi Garner, Goombay Dance Band, The Grumbleweeds, Rudi Schweitzer (1982)

  6. 31
    DV on 16 Mar 2009 #

    When I was small and this was a hit, I assumed that the lyrics had some kind of deep meaning that I would understand when I was big.

  7. 32
    Malice Cooper on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Brian Jacks got fed up of winning “Superstars” and decided instead to sing and eat fire. The brilliantly named “Oliver Bendt” had a solo career and beat Peter Kay to this one

    http://i12.ebayimg.com/05/i/001/3a/3d/ed48_1.JPG

  8. 33
    wichitalineman on 26 May 2009 #

    K-Tel watch: Oliver Bendt and friends closed out side one of Turbo Trax, following Bad Manners’ Got No Brains and Matchbox’s One More Saturday Night.

  9. 34
    Tooncgull on 21 Oct 2009 #

    Hated it then…. hate it now. Go away, Goombays, please make them go away, somebody!!

  10. 35

    in what sense have they not in fact gone way?

  11. 36
    Tom on 21 Oct 2009 #

    I swear that sleeve is getting brighter.

  12. 37

    “You called Tash to Narnia. Tash is come. What have you now to say to hm?”

  13. 38
    Red Seeker on 1 Dec 2014 #

    The most guilty of guiltiest pleasures of mine! i know its shocking but I can’t help it

  14. 39
    Adam on 23 Mar 2015 #

    So yellow sells, who’da thunk it?

  15. 40
    Mostro on 29 May 2016 #

    “Seven Tears” is one of those songs I sort-of-knew, but which came out before I actively started paying attention to the charts (or indeed, music). (#) Maybe that’s why I’m more charitably disposed towards it than people who probably heard it ad nauseam at the time.

    I have a copy of this on one of those I-can’t-believe-how-ludicrously-cheap-some-CDs-are-these-days 80s compilations. You want me to be honest, here? The first few times I listed to it, I really liked it.

    Why? I’m feel I’m *really* sticking my neck out, but I have to say that the basic melody itself is much stronger than it’s generally given credit for. And I’m quite happy to admit that the Boney M-ish, hymnlike feel meets slightly cheesy early 80s Europop is something that appeals to me.

    The fundamental problem is that the whole song basically just repeats that melody until it starts to pall. This is something that increasingly works against it upon repeated listens.

    The first verse is basically just a weaker rehash of the chorus. It screams “filler” without providing any real variation, and the fact that the first key change occurs so early- i.e. immediately upon the return to the chorus- suggests that they know this is *already* getting repetitive! Really, I’ve nothing against key changes when they’re used towards the end of a song, and in a more skillful manner (e.g. a number of ABBA songs). Here though, it can’t help but come across as cheap and lazy.

    Then we get to what is either the middle eight or the second verse- still the same melody, and the lyrics are the same as the (first) verse; only by having them spoken instead of sung, their defects are more obvious. (I note Tom made essentially the same point). For me, though, the worst aspect is the inflections in his voice that take this beyond cheesy into disastrously goofy territory- someone whose first language clearly isn’t English trying (and failing) to mimic the patterns, intonation and cadence of American English. This is something the spoken word is much less forgiving of.

    Then it’s another bloody key change.

    Essentially, the problem with “Seven Tears” is that it takes a fundamentally strong melody, saddles it with a plodding beat, and rather than adding proper verses and middle eight to do it justice (and make one feel welcome when it returns!) simply repeats it for four minutes. And that terrible spoken section.

    But all these undeniable and very major flaws can’t entirely eradicate the appeal of a song that is- at the most basic level- actually quite decent.

    (#) Only by a matter of months though. That’s still enough when you’re six or seven years old…

1 2 All

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)

Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page