Apr 08


FT + Popular102 comments • 13,773 views

#375, 9th August 1975

It’s easy to look back on the social mores of previous decades and cringe or laugh. Sometimes it’s also neccessary. There were probably good – and funny and poignant and poptastic – songs to be written about immigrants’ mixed feelings for their new lives and former homes: it doesn’t seem to me like political correctness gone mad to suggest that two white session musicians may not have been the best candidates to write one, especially not when you factor in Max West’s turn as Tobias Wilcock, “Coconut Airways”, “are we cool brother?”, “Mary Jane” and so on.

Of course it was all ‘just a bit of fun’. It’s unfair to suggest Typically Tropical should have written anything more socially conscious: they weren’t aiming to, and judging by the deftness of touch on show here that’s a good thing. But it’s also unfair to suggest anyone now should feel much other than vague embarassment or discomfort when they encounter this. I have an immense soft spot for holiday novelties – the idea of singles as souvenirs is a strong and charming one, and really (as we’ll discover in a future entry) “Barbados” is a rousing bit of nonsense wrapped in a gruesomely ill-judged framing device. You could certainly make a case that Radio 1 should have known better than to promote it. This, though, is from the period when the station had only recently established itself as guardian of the nation’s Summer Fun, and it seems to have taken a strictly majoritarian view of what that Fun consisted of.



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  1. 91
    crag on 9 Apr 2008 #

    My jokey use of “its just a bit of fun” was in reference to Popular itself rather than Barbados specifically. We should remember we are talking about Pop Music here- perhaps the most wonderous, frustrating, fascinating and awe-inspiring artform known to man, yes, but at the end of the day it is Just Pop Music.

    Obviously the racially dubious nature of a track like Barbados should be taken into account when discussing it but there is no need for such heated responses.

    I visit Popular to have an enjoyable discussion w/ music fans about pop, to hear about tracks i wasnt previously aware of, to share the occassional joke or amusing anecdote and also basically to chill out.

    I dont visit to have(or to read) prolonged arguements with people, especially not to have what i feel were perfectly valid points slagged off and attacked.This should be (that dreaded word again)FUN. If it stops being so i won’t be visiting with such relish or regularity.As Mark G says “let’s be cool”.

  2. 92
    Tom on 9 Apr 2008 #

    The ability to get into sharkier waters is what makes the Popular comment threads better than just a more in-depth version of “I Love The 70s”.

    One of the things that’s always fascinated me about pop music is how, for something that is apparently so trivial, it manages to spark such argument and passion and how often those arguments manage to touch on much bigger issues.

    That all said, internet debates have a habit of becoming circular, and it’s not as if we won’t have a LOT of opportunity to return to some of these issues in different contexts. Posters on both sides have made their points, there’s not a lot to be gained by repeating them, so I’m declaring this particular bit of discussion ‘closed’. Thanks!

  3. 93
    Waldo on 9 Apr 2008 #

    Tom. May I just add one final thought?

    I’m rather hoping now that when we get to 1978, we don’t have all this over again, along with ludicrous accusations of “racism” being levelled at people who are merely expressing an opinion with which others disagree.

    I rather fancy my hoping will be in vain. But what you gonna do?

  4. 94
    Tom on 9 Apr 2008 #

    Let’s wait and see.

  5. 95
    Tom on 5 Oct 2009 #

    Unlocked once again. Not that I’m encouraging additional comment but I think Billy S had a few “-watch” posts in mind.

  6. 96
    Billy Smart on 5 Oct 2009 #

    Pan’s People’s Christmas TOTP interpretation!;


  7. 97
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Sep 2010 #

    The fourth number one of my life, and I don’t think I’d heard it before today. …and my goodness. Would have been much better had I not seen the TOTP video, for all of the reasons discussed at length already. But if the discussion is closed…it’s closed. The more recent variant version (while no more sophisticated than this musically) is I suppose less troubling.

  8. 98
    inveteert on 5 Mar 2016 #

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  9. 99
    Auntie Beryl on 22 Jan 2019 #

    Best Popular comment yet.

  10. 100
    lonepilgrim on 8 Nov 2019 #

    liked this at the time but can see it is problematic now – as illustrated by the debate above

  11. 101
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  12. 102
    Gareth Parker on 9 May 2021 #

    I would go with a 3/10 here. A bit of a lifeless single in my eyes.

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