24
Jun 09

ROD STEWART – “Baby Jane”

FT + Popular41 comments • 3,096 views

#523, 2nd July 1983, video

A blowsy wreck of a single, this, keys and sax and guitar and Rod all fighting for the same earspace over an aggressively chuntering rhythm. What you really notice is how one-note and shot Stewart sounds – his great strength as a vocalist, that way he could lead you into a story, completely gone. Though even if he did still have the power to turn “Baby Jane” into something that might intrigue you, that clunking chorus would kill the momentum anyway.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 25 Jun 2009 #

    “I’m Still Standing” is tremendous

  2. 27
    LondonLee on 25 Jun 2009 #

    And a contender for most classically-1980s over the top video. Same guy who did Duran Duran’s vids wasn’t it? Russ Mc-something.

  3. 28
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 25 Jun 2009 #

    russell mulcahy! director of highlander and etc

  4. 29
    pink champale on 26 Jun 2009 #

    #17 not played as a Golden Oldie that much #19 …no afterlife…
    if you want to hear it at least a couple of times a day, get listening to capital gold…

    i’ll also vouch for the excellence of “i’m still standing”, not least for turning the potentially revolting ‘admire me for being a survivior’ lyric into something genuinely celebratory. the video is pretty amazing too – i don’t think i’d ever seen anything so bright and colourful and sharp.

  5. 30
    pink champale on 26 Jun 2009 #

    …i’ve just got a little chill of fear at the thought of robbie williams (who, actually, i suspect i’ve got more time for than most people here) let loose with the same lyric….

  6. 31
    intothefireuk on 28 Jun 2009 #

    It does bring back memories of the summer of 1983 which was one of my better ones so I can’t completely dismiss it. Leaving that to one side the single does nothing for me at all. Rod’s hoary old vocal sounds like he’s on auto pilot and the contemptuous synth & sax backing is just nasty. Yet it’s annoyingly catchy – but then so is Swine Flu.

    As seems to be the majority view here Elton’s ‘I’m Still Standing’ is a far superior piece of pop – not that there’s any real reason for comparing them.

  7. 32
    TomLane on 28 Jun 2009 #

    The chorus of “when I give my heart next time…” is good but Rod is fighting the rest of the song. I think Stewart would laugh if you brought up this song in a discussion of his 80’s hits (e.g. “Love Touch”). But in the liner notes to his Storyteller box set Rod says, “This is a strange one, insomuch that the melody was already written…and all I had to was make the words fit. We knew we had a good one.” That box came out 20 years ago, so I’d be interested in what he thinks now. In the U.S. this got to #14.

  8. 33
    peter goodlaws on 11 Jul 2009 #

    I entirely agree that this is a struggle for Rod and he seems to lose interest by the time he exits, which is just as well because so had I.

  9. 34
    DV on 28 Dec 2009 #

    I remember loving this song’s swagger. I still like it in a “would rather not actually listen to it” kind of way.

  10. 35
    Brooksie on 2 Mar 2010 #

    I like it. It’s a fine enough pop song, if a little weak for a 3-week # 1. Along with Bowie and Elton the career resurgences were complete. Punk never happened.

  11. 36
    Paulito on 28 May 2010 #

    @#35 Bowie being lumped in with Rod and Elton must be one of the most inane categorisations I’ve seen here. Firstly, Bowie didn’t experience a “career resurgence” in 1983 – having not lost any of his popularity in the preceding years, he didn’t need one. Your comment also suggests that he was one of the artists that punk was supposed to wipe out. Far from it – he was a major influence on that movement and even more so on the new wave that followed. Moreover, he made some of the most celebrated and cutting-edge music of his career during the 1977-80 period. Indeed, it was only with “Let’s Dance” (while still a superior pop song and album) that he first showed signs of jumping the shark.

  12. 37
    Brooksie on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Paulito @#36 Bowie being lumped in with Rod and Elton must be one of the most inane categorisations I’ve seen here. Firstly, Bowie didn’t experience a “career resurgence” in 1983 – having not lost any of his popularity in the preceding years, he didn’t need one.

    I disagree. Bowie’s career had a definite commercial lag between ‘Scary Monsters’ and ‘Let’s Dance’, and though that gap was not considerable (and was punctuated by the duet with Queen), and though his artistic credibility always remained high, the ‘Let’s Dance’ album has a noticeable conformance to the slicker more pop-oriented styles of the time. Same with Elton’s ‘I’m Still Standing’ single, Rod’s ‘Baby Jane’ and Queen’s later ‘Radio Ga-Ga’. For all of them ’83 represents a kind of line in the sand in which they seemed to get back their commercial mojo – even though they’d never stopped selling – and it was thought of that way at the time.
    As to my comment on Punk, I wasn’t saying that Punk wanted the likes of Bowie or Elton gone (a good few Punks had been adolescents at the height of Glam), but rather indicating that the brief years between the taking hold of New Wave in, say, late ’78, and the closing of the New Romantic era in say, late ’82 during which anything had seemed possible (largely created by the do-it-yourself ethos of Punk, and the record company confusion over what was good and what wasn’t that went with it) was now over. The more cynical financial drives of Thatcher’s Britain were giving way to the Miami Vice deck-shoed ‘Let’s make lot’s of money’ attitude of ‘New Pop’ with the public-pleasing formulas that went with it. And incidentally, I don’t say that strictly in the negative sense; I, like many people – enjoyed it all. I would suggest that if – as you said – Bowie only first showed signs of jumping the shark with Let’s Dance, it was because it was the first record in a number of years in which he had clearly approached a Producer with the mindset of ‘Let’s make something that will sell a lot’. It is, of course, just my opinion, but I hope that clarifies what I meant.

  13. 38
    pink champale on 19 Sep 2012 #

    #36/37 There are some stats somewhere on the wonderful Pushing Ahead of the Dame site which show Bowie was down to worldwide sales of not much more than 100,000 an album by the time of the Berlin albums(though I think Scary Monsters was up to around half a million). That’s not much for someone with Bowie’s rep and ambition.

  14. 39
    Cumbrian on 19 Sep 2012 #

    edited: nevermind

  15. 40
    DanH on 3 Aug 2013 #

    I didn’t hear this at all until I got into U.K. #1’s…I see it hit the Top 20 here in America. Must have been a slow week. This isn’t very good or memorable.

  16. 41
    Paulito on 12 Aug 2013 #

    @37: Fair enough, I see your point now!

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