3
Jul 09

KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND – “Give It Up”

FT + Popular33 comments • 2,949 views

#525, 13th August 1983

At first listen – and honestly at tenth listen – “Give It Up” seems like another disco carriage clock hit: thanks for all the hard work boys, now have a number one. On the other hand, if you want a splashy summer hit you could do far worse – this is a little rigid and lacking in bottom end perhaps, but full of bright carnival touches. It’s a marvellously airy record – good (as I’ve discovered this week) for clearing the head on a muggy day. The production aesthetic is “salad of all the trebles” – buzzy synths, high rhythm guitar, falsetto and brass all hustling for prominence. KC himself isn’t the intense central presence he was on “Please Don’t Go” – he’s upstaged by the backing singers, whose “Nana-nana-nanananananaNOW!” is the song’s most delightful (and enduring) element.

6

Comments

  1. 1
    Tom on 3 Jul 2009 #

    Have to say this sleeve suggests a different record entirely.

  2. 2
    Ned R. on 3 Jul 2009 #

    It’s kinda funny — this is the only song by KC that I remember hearing at the time of release, as opposed to backtracking/oldies play/etc. Always seemed pleasantly anonymous at the time in the US, though, a top ten hit that just was…there — like Loverboy songs.

    Also WTF with that cover.

  3. 3
    pink champale on 3 Jul 2009 #

    this is pretty much the archetypal six out of ten record – it’s always good top hear it, but i can’t imagine ever seeking it out. the cover looks like a caption competition. “andres’ career as a burkha designer soon ran into trouble”

  4. 4
    pink champale on 3 Jul 2009 #

    as did my career in grammar

  5. 5
    David Belbin on 3 Jul 2009 #

    Hmm, spotifying this after your call for comments on Twitter but over a minute in and the version that’s supposed to be from KC’s greatest hits turns out to be an instrumental – a-ha, a double click for info takes me to the right version. However I still have no memory of this. Can I have danced to it all those years ago? It’s inoffensive, but I don’t think I could go higher than five.

  6. 6
    Pete Baran on 3 Jul 2009 #

    Playing “guess the score” before clicking through I went for a six. Its fun, its got one excellent hook (nananananannow) but surely never changed the world. If this turn from King Crimson’s Sunshine Band period is going to be remarked upon by anyone, it may be the least offensive record ever. I am guessing an average score of about 5.7

  7. 7
    rosie on 3 Jul 2009 #

    Here’s another one I’d have been hard-pressed to put a number one date to – any time between late seventies and where we’re to, I suppose. Good, refreshing summery stuff with no real substance, like musical elderflower champagne.

    I spent much of that August staying in Exeter with my new friend Jenny, who comes from that part of the world. Mainly bumming about on Dartmoor and around the South Hams. I was introduced for the first time to Hope Cove, which has long been my favourite seaside hidey-hole, and learned the true story of what everybody in the South Hams knows about the stonking great American monument on Slapton Sands. Just under a year later, in the run up to the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Nationwide claimed to be revealing the truth about Slapton Sands, that US rehearsals had been bombed by the Luftwaffe. Ha-bloody-ha! I now knew what the South Hams had always known – that the Americans hadn’t bothered to tell the British military what they were up to and it was the RAF, thinking they were foiling an invasion force, that bombed them.

  8. 8
    wichitalineman on 3 Jul 2009 #

    I had a fun summer job gutting a burnt out house in Coulsdon, Surrey, preparing it for the builders to do it up. The weather, as now, was sticky hot. Give It Up reminds me of the smell of burnt furniture, a Tupperware box of cheese and pickle sandwiches, and almost swallowing a wasp which had flown into my lukewarm can of Coke.

    Enough of the glory days. It was indeed a shot of Tizer that summer, all air bubbles but irrespressible. I willed it to the top, a genuine moment of pop naivety in a bummer of a year that kept the gaudy Gold pinned at no.2. Give It Up and Malcolm McLaren’s Double Dutch (a no.3 behind Paul Young and Freeez) were my summer picks of ’83.

    My friend Pete thought the opening verse was “everybody wants your love, I just want to make you in my own mind” which would make it a jaunty successor to Happy Together and Just My Imagination. Except, of course, he’d misheard – KC was used to shakin’ his booty and winning his girl.

  9. 9
    Rory on 3 Jul 2009 #

    It’s an eye-opener how readily I can slot these 1983 tracks into the categories “Mine” and “My Brother’s”; he played a bigger part in my earlier musical history than I’d suspected. This one was “his”, even though I don’t think he ever owned it, because something about the “Nana-nana-nanananananaNOW!” makes me think of him singing it. Which is a happy effect, given that we’ve washed up on opposite sides of the world. A cheery 6 for you, Mr C.

  10. 10
    Tom on 3 Jul 2009 #

    Rory according to Wikipedia the Oz charts got a remix of this at #1 about a decade later? How was it?

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 3 Jul 2009 #

    This has the bright summer sound that reminds me of Gloria Estefan – which may well reflect their common Miami background. It sounds pretty timeless because of the lack of obvious 80s signifiers (other than the sleeve) and is a unalloyed joy.

  12. 12
    Conrad on 3 Jul 2009 #

    Pleasant enough ditty, a bit surprised it went to number 1. I was in the South of France at the time staying in Aix, and enjoying myself as a 16 year old let loose in the South of France might…

    So, don’t really remember much about it. I do remember buying the Shalamar album ‘The Look’ in a French record store though.

  13. 13
    Billy Smart on 3 Jul 2009 #

    Well, I REALLY like this one. The “Everybody wants you! Everybody wants your love!” make me think that this is really a song about lust, about chasing a woman who everybody fancies, hence the buzzy trebleyness of it conveys a singer getting slightly too overexcited and overheated to me. It’s a highly imperfect seduction song, and thus more endearingly human than most.

    BUT THEN – many years later – I had an awful realisation that that isn’t actually the reason why this song was written. The one who everybody wants may well be a nubile female mask for a recovery programme song by Harry Casey sung to himself about hey, he has so much to give to the world, and how he really needs to give ‘it’ up, ‘it’ almost certainly being cocaine.

    This idea has always put me off ‘Give It Up’ to some extent ever since it came to me, but not so much as to ever stop it giving me a buzz when I hear it.

  14. 14
    Rory on 3 Jul 2009 #

    #10 Tom, you’re right, four weeks from 5 February 1994 apparently, but I couldn’t remember it at all – shows how much I was paying attention to the charts by then. Triple J (the alternative radio station) was the place to be in the 1990s. Anyway, here’s the Cut ‘n’ Move version:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYDemDKgsX8

    That’s no remix, that’s a cover.

  15. 15
    TomLane on 4 Jul 2009 #

    This song went to #18 in the States. Not up there with his mid-70’s Sunshine Band songs, but damn catchy regardless. And isn’t that the whole point of KC’s catalog?

  16. 16
    Matos W.K. on 4 Jul 2009 #

    IIRC, in the U.S. the record was promoted as just “KC”–no Sunshine Band. I think they were trying to rebrand him as not-disco, since even in ’83, the year of “Billie Jean,” one of the greatest disco records ever, “disco” still had a stigma people were trying to escape.

  17. 17
    The Intl on 4 Jul 2009 #

    Is that one of Michael Jackson’s kids on the cover?

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 4 Jul 2009 #

    Number 2 Watch: Two weeks of Spandau Ballet’s aspirational ‘Gold’. As a series of signifiers of class and sophistication, the effect on me is like that of ‘True’ with a faster tempo.

  19. 19
    Tom on 4 Jul 2009 #

    “Gold” is a lot better than “True” – would have been a good shout for a 9.

  20. 20
    JonnyB on 5 Jul 2009 #

    Once more I find myself astonished that this was a #1. I don’t remember it at all from the time – just as one of the filler tracks on disco compilations.

    It kept ‘Gold’ off number one?!? Golly. 6/10 – very fair mark.

  21. 21
    sonnypike on 6 Jul 2009 #

    My favourite thing about this song was its inspired use as a football chant by Crystal Palace fans a few years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdVxsiIseUA (from 00:20).

    ‘Gold’ would be a clear 9, at least.

  22. 22
    lonepilgrim on 6 Jul 2009 #

    I do not understand the love for ‘Gold’ at all – pedestrian bellowing over a wannabe Bond theme in my opinion.

  23. 23
    Erithian on 6 Jul 2009 #

    I remember this as pretty unremarkable disco fare, like most of their records not actually objectionable but not something you’d let go of the dial for if you were retuning the radio. Hard to tell why this and not many other records from the time with perfectly serviceable hooks made the top. In terms of KC’s back catalogue even this discophobe would make an exception for “Queen of Clubs” though, that was a cracker – high energy before it was called Hi-NRG perhaps.

    And the main memory of the time that this brings back is of being caught in a heavy storm in the streets of South Manchester one day after work. The previous few days had been stiflingly hot, so instead of scurrying for cover I just threw my head back and enjoyed the cooling shower – must have looked like a madman. As I said earlier, this was the ”other” famously hot summer after ’76, and the village of Liphook in Hampshire was mentioned so often on weather reports as setting record temperatures you began to wonder if they were keeping the thermometer over the stove.

  24. 24
    pink champale on 6 Jul 2009 #

    reading this thread (specifically the mention of nanananananana) it has come to my attention that the song i commented on (very briefly) up thread was in fact not ‘give it up’ by kc and the sunshine band, but (googling reveals) “the sun goes down (livin it up)” by level 42. i imagine ol’ thunderthumb would be delighted to have be mistaken for kc, but i can’t help feeling soiled.

    as for ‘gold’: the bathetic second “gold” in the chorus lets it down a bit but the rest of it is great. i really love the first verse about coming home as a conquering hero and it all being really awkward with friends and family not knowing quite how to deal with you. but then i always love songs about being a pop star and have never understood the general popcrit rule that these are a bad thing – popstardom is intrinsically interesting and – as one of the few with that experience – what a pop star has to say about it is rather more likely to be insightful than anything they say about romantic love or the undesirability of war as a means of resolving political or territorial issues.

  25. 25

    NEVER BE ASHAMED OF LOVING LEVEL 42

  26. 26
    Billy Smart on 7 Jul 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: KC & The Sunshine Band thrice performed ‘Give It Up’ on Top Of The Pops;

    28 July 1983. Also in the studio that week were: Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Lotus Eaters, Malcolm McLaren (performing ‘Double Dutch’ with the assistance of ‘Dynamo’s Skip’!) Robert Plant, George Benson and Bananarama. Mike Read & Janice Long were the hosts.

    25 August 1983. Also in the studio that week were; David Grant, Carmel, UB40, Shalamar, Level 42 and The Style Council. Simon Bates & Mike Smith were the hosts.

    25 December 1983. Also in the studio that Christmas were; Freeez, Shakin’ Stevens, Eurythmics, Adam Ant, Bucks Fizz, Heaven 17, UB40 and The Flying Pickets. Simon Bates, Janice Long, Mike Smith, Andy Peebles, Adrian John & Gary Davies were the hosts.

  27. 27
    Stuart P on 7 Jul 2009 #

    think you’re being well harsh on this with the 6 – that puts it on a par with Paul Young.

    It’s top summery pop: 7.5, borderline 8 for me.

  28. 28
    Matthew H on 10 Jul 2009 #

    I bloody love this song, but recall buying it only to complete that week’s Top 3 (I already had ‘Gold’ and ‘A Paris’). It’s grown on me over the decades, and actually continues to.

    We went on a 10-day family holiday to France when this had just climbed from 30 to 18 (I think). A fairly unremarkable creep up the charts, so as an avid chart-watcher I was astonished to find it at No.1 on my return. I believe it suddenly leapt from 18 to 3 – I wonder why?

  29. 29
    peter goodlaws on 11 Jul 2009 #

    KC and SB were, of course, massive in the US with a string of number ones there before “Give It Up” came along, which didn’t do nearly as well. The fact that it was so big here is for me rather curious, as I think it is a weak effort in comparison to their disco heyday. The summery feel to it certainly helped it without question but there wasn’t a shaken booty in sight.

  30. 30
    Brooksie on 2 Mar 2010 #

    @ Peter (above): Pop has always gone down better here than in the States. KC’s biggest US hits were Disco, but this is pop. Pure pop and the sound of summer captured on vinyl. Good enough to sing along with whenever you hear it. Who could ask for more?

  31. 31
    MildredBumble on 7 Jun 2010 #

    peter and Brooksie – yup, KC and them were having hits in the UK and Europe long before the US caught on. In spring 74 the fabulous Queen of Clubs was a UK hit. Took them another nearly-2 years to break into the US Top 20.

  32. 32
    PondScrum on 26 Oct 2011 #

    It was fresh in our house, but by 1982 the American public no longer had the patience for idiosyncrasies like “nanananananaNOW”. Like the “Abracadabra” of the Steve Miller Band it was favored by the roller rink crowd.

  33. 33
    DanH on 3 Aug 2013 #

    Well put Tom…this screams “Lifetime Achievement #1” in every note. I’m sure there’s a trope somewhere (even on here) for that kind of record…where a group makes all kinds of worthy records but makes #1 later on with not one of their best.

    I do love “Gold” though…takes itself so seriously and ‘classy’ like…always gives me a chuckle.

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