Apr 10

T’PAU – “China In Your Hand”

Popular67 comments • 6,276 views

#600, 14th November 1987, video

When I was small we had one of those boxy Minis with a wood-framed chassis. It was a fine car I’m sure – my Aunt took it from us in the late 70s and gave it a good run before it finally died. But there was always something ungainly about it, and looking back it’s odd to remember these machines which mixed metal and timber in a way that seems now quite un-car-like.

And “China In Your Hand” gives me the same feeling. This is a power ballad which hasn’t come out sleek and thunderous, it’s come out lumpy and awkward and lashed together with incongruous bits of wood. There’s a wrecking-ball chorus, Carol Decker’s billowing voice, enjoyably scrambled lyrics – but there’s also that sax solo where you’re expecting a guitar one, and those precise scene-setting pizzicatos which make the intro so tempting and the rest of the tune so draggy. The mix of sounds should make the song more interesting, expand on the sturdy, denim-clad virtues at its core, but it just seems messy. Especially if you play it next to a full-on hormone exocet like Heart’s “Alone” – a fairly obvious marker for what this version of “China” was aiming for and missing.



  1. 1
    Tom on 15 Apr 2010 #

    And with that I’m off on holiday for a while – 10 days or so. Sorry for keeping you waiting for T’Pau, I’d really hoped to get to the end of ’87 but it wasn’t happening. Some big records to look forward to, at least. And also when I come back there will be a SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT of interest to most Popular readers (I’d hope) about a new (to FT) thing I’m all excited about.

  2. 2
    MBI on 15 Apr 2010 #

    The UK #1’s list is really such an alternate dimension for someone looking through American eyes. So far, we’ve seen a #1 for A-Ha that WASN’T “Take On Me,” a #1 for the Troggs which wasn’t “Wild Thing”, a #1 for Paul Young which wasn’t “Everytime You Go Away,” and now, a T’Pau song which isn’t “Heart and Soul.”

    Now, that’s a good song, “Heart and Soul.” That’s a style and sound which fit T’Pau much better than power-ballad, as Tom so astutely points out.

  3. 3
    Matt DC on 15 Apr 2010 #

    Wasn’t this on one of the legendary mid-00s FT-kru Glastonbury tapes? I have a vague memory of bellowing along to it around a tape player in a field somewhere. Expected it to get a higher mark for that alone.

  4. 4
    Tom on 15 Apr 2010 #

    Was it? I associate the song with Alan somehow so maybe you’re right :)

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 15 Apr 2010 #

    Dame Edna called those Mini estates ‘half timbered cars’. As for T’Pau, this is how I remember mainstream ’87 without recourse to historical data. Desperate. And yes, Alone is the AOR ballad bomb! Have a great break, yous lot.

  6. 6
    AndyPandy on 15 Apr 2010 #

    A kind of very average pub-type band who unbelievably got very lucky…? Extremely annoying – I give more 3s than anything but very rarely give less but this is a definite 2.

    From the birth of the charts up to this song only “I Don’t Like Mondays”, “Mull of Kintyre”,”Matchstalk Men”, “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool”, “The Chicken Song” and “No-one Quite Like Grandma” can challenge it IMO

  7. 7
    AndyPandy on 15 Apr 2010 #

    @2- they had 2 hits! unbelievable I thought they’d only managed this because for some of the dire Radio 1 djs at the time this combined (an albeit even shite-er)version of the type of rock they were into with a singer who I imagine they really went for.

  8. 8
    Alan not logged in on 15 Apr 2010 #

    ‘ I associate the song with Alan somehow’

    i might conceivably have bunged this on a tape. It’s not a great favourite but it has a bitter-sweet place in my memory cos this was number one for aages right – if not it felt like it – and in my first term at uni. It’s a third rate nonsense ‘belter’. Nothing I’d feel guilty about bellowing out four sheets to the brothers bar wind, but it’s far from great. A 5 I’d say

  9. 9
    thefatgit on 15 Apr 2010 #

    “Heart And Soul” was the superior song of their 2 hits, reaching #4 as a reissue. It starts as a white soul/new pop workout with Carol Decker laying down a lullaby rap (best way I can describe it really). However as the song builds after the first chorus, we’re into power ballad territory. It’s a nice idea, and deserved to be the more memorable hit. T’Pau were never destined to be cutting edge, but H&S sounded almost fresh within the rock-pop sphere. It’s a shame they were up against the much stronger and toothsome Heart, who were the gold standard power balladeers of the late ’80s.

    “China In Your Hand” was ungainly and cumbersome. Forever linked with an unpleasant memory.
    Autumn 1987 represented change. My parents had divorced, the previous year and had formed new relationships. Both would marry around this time and I was to gain new stepbrothers and stepsisters on both sides. Me being an only child, this was as profound a change as any I had experienced. My mother married into a family with 4 stepsiblings: 3 boys and 1 girl. The girl and the eldest brother were adults looking to settle down with families of their own. The 2 younger boys were still at school, one soon to leave. I was introduced into a wider circle, unprepared and soon these new relationships would become abrasive. I didn’t have my own place, so I moved in with mum and stepdad, occupying the eldest stepbrother’s room. He had moved in with his girlfriend, and left his expensive stereo behind. Being unfamiliar with family protocol, I used his stereo as if it were my own. Big mistake. He would visit often, and he found out I had changed the settings on his graphic equaliser. I might as well have taken a dump on his turntable, and found myself being set upon by an irate and punchy stepbrother. My fault. Lesson learned. He retuned his equaliser to the strains of “China In Your Hand”. It sounded horrible. He packed up the stereo and took it away with him, but not before I asked him why he had set his equaliser so the vocals the song he played were tuned almost out, echoey, in the background behind loud bass, sax and plucked strings.
    “That’s the way I like to hear it!” he replied. And with that, the stereo and the stepbrother moved out. I couldn’t comprehend his reasoning. To this day, that song reminds me of being a fish out of water, not knowing the rules, being the outsider.

  10. 10
    Conrad on 15 Apr 2010 #

    Graphic equalisers were a terrible idea though weren’t they? Bass and treble, that’s all you need – bass at around 2 o’clock, treble at 4.30

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 15 Apr 2010 #

    It’s pretty dire. As well as the power ballad connection it also has a lot of the sententious that crept in with Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones. Thank heavens for House.
    Thanks ♯9 for sharing that – and for reminding me of graphic equalisers – which I had completely forgotten about. I remember being quite excited when I inherited a ‘music centre’ which featured one – only to lose interest within about 5 minutes when I realised how insignificant a difference it made.

  12. 12
    Steve Mannion on 15 Apr 2010 #

    funny that no-one remembers their THIRD top 10 hit (the somewhat cynical ‘Valentine’).

  13. 13
    Tom Lawrence on 15 Apr 2010 #

    I really like those little strings, though – has anyone ever sampled them on anything? Chorus is fun too, but the rest of it is indeed a bit unnecessary and somewhat interminable. I’ll give it 5, I think.

  14. 14
    taDOW on 15 Apr 2010 #

    “heart and soul” sounds like pet shop boys crossed w/ desmond child – FANTASTIC. i have lived my life to this point w/ no knowledge of nor curiosity towards what any other t’pau might sound like and i’m not about to change that now.

  15. 15
    Izzy on 15 Apr 2010 #

    This was the 600th number one, which I remember as quite a big event for some reason, the possibility being trailed for weeks beforehand. It gave it a sense of importance and bombast that it hasn’t really retained.

  16. 16
    Paulito on 15 Apr 2010 #

    Not a bad tune, really, though the lyrics are hilariously awful. However, it got to #1 on the strength of the (as everyone else has pointed out) far superior “Heart of Soul”. They actually notched up a further six top 40 hits after this one, all of which were unmitigated shite (anyone remember “Sex Talk”? Ugh.)

  17. 17
    lockedintheattic on 15 Apr 2010 #

    yep, Izzy, I remember that too. Radio 1 DJS made a real fuss of it at the time, does anyone else care to remind us what the other contenders where?

    Heart & soul was much better than this, even just for the novelty of the singing over the spoken bits. And neither are a patch on Heart, who I adored at the time, even as the rest of my musical listening tastes were heading in a distinctly housey direction.

  18. 18
    TomLane on 15 Apr 2010 #

    This was a non-charter in the U.S., while “Heart and Soul” peaked at #4.

  19. 19
    swanstep on 15 Apr 2010 #

    File under ‘How the hell did this get to #1’. For 5 ridiculous weeks no less. I actually don’t remember the song from the time so it must have done little down under. I guess everyone from Enya to Tori A. to (even) Milla J. sort of took this sound to the bank a few years later, but CIMH itself is pretty ugly. 3 or 4.

    Oh, and great post/anecdote #9,thefatgit!

  20. 20
    swanstep on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Oops, one more time: a Milla link that works.

  21. 21
    LondonLee on 16 Apr 2010 #

    iTunes has a graphic equalizer, they haven’t gone away.

    I sort of wanted this to be a hated-it-then/like-it-now track but it’s still bloody awful unfortunately. I always got the impression that T’Pau came along at the wrong end of the decade and would have been better off with that look and sound (and name!) around 1984.

  22. 22
    punctum on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Just as Kate Bush watched a documentary on Emily Bronte and had an idea for a song, so did T’Pau singer Carol Decker watch a documentary on Mary Shelley. Although it doesn’t particularly advertise its plot, “China In Your Hand” is actually a meditation on the subject of Frankenstein – “To take life on Earth/To the second birth/And the man was in command.” Cleverly the lines “It was a flight on the wings/Of a young girl’s dreams/That flew too far away” acknowledge the enormous influence of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner on Shelley’s novel, while the single version’s second verse turns accusatorily to the “monster” himself: “Come from greed/Never born of seed/Took life from a barren land…/A prophecy for a fantasy/A castle in his mind.” The chorus with its reproachful “Don’t push too far/Your dreams are china in your hand” frames the song as a warning not to abuse or misuse the gifts with which we are bestowed – “You don’t know what you might have set upon yourself.”

    The song is best heard, if heard it need be, in its original, full-length album version, with its additional verse referring explicitly to Mary Shelley’s own difficulties with childbirth (only one of her children survived infancy) and its significantly less polite sax solo. But it was re-recorded for single release, and while it clearly remains a significant cut above “Let ’em say we’re cra-ZAY!” with a more interesting musical structure, more challenging lyrics and an evidently more heartfelt performance, most of the song’s subtleties are excised in favour of regrettable bombast. Whereas Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” was radical in form and delivery as well as inspiration, “China In Your Hand” is essentially superior provincial AoR power balladry – complete with a new sax solo which produces at its climax the kind of “expression of emotion” which in Derek Bailey’s memorable phrase “immediately freezes the balls” – and as such tied with Rick Astley as the longest number one run of 1987 (five weeks). A nice try, then, but it lacks the directness of something like Heart’s “Alone” or the truly epic heraldry of a “Total Eclipse Of The Heart.”

  23. 23
    Alan not logged in on 16 Apr 2010 #

    on, i imagine, most people’s behalf – thanks for pointing out the Frankenstein/Shelley theme. good lord.

  24. 24
    Erithian on 16 Apr 2010 #

    I have to say I was and remain very fond of this one, a cut above most power ballads for its stateliness (those strings definitely work for me) and what sounds a genuine rather than forced passion. Perhaps, in Tom’s phrase, the wood-framed chassis is an asset – there’s a feeling that they’re not *too* smooth, and learning from Marcello’s post that it’s clearly “about” something emphasizes that the lyrics are superior to most of the genre as well. “Heart and Soul” was a cracker too, but it’s good that something of this stature, with such original subject matter, was a number one.

    T’Pau were victims of what I saw as a depressing trend towards misogyny in Q magazine some years back – in a “where-are-they-now” type piece someone wrote that Carol Decker “looked and sounded like a barmaid”, while elsewhere Louise Wener was virtually ridiculed throughout Sleeper’s career and Wendy James wasn’t treated much better. Obviously their bands weren’t to everyone’s tastes, but it did seem the criticism of these women came from somewhere darker. Did anyone else see the same sort of attitudes in the music press?

    Number 2 Watch – for the first four weeks of T’Pau’s reign the number 2 was George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You” which would have meant an impressive 16-year gap between number ones. In its fifth week Rick Astley’s version of “When I Fall In Love” crashed in at 2 but was doomed to go no higher, stymied by the Nat King Cole re-release; so that the Christmas number one would be that act we’ve discussed before in their magisterial phase. More on that, of course, when Mr Ewing gets back from holiday (volcanic ash permitting, Tom? And congratulations on completing another century, btw.)

  25. 25
    FC Ljubljana but logged out innit on 16 Apr 2010 #

    This song is great! Although I always forget that it isn’t by Heart. 7 for me.

  26. 26
    swanstep on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Utterly unrelatedly (except for the fact that it sounds line the manifest destiny of ’80s New Pop, hence of inherent interest to current Populist commenters), the forthcoming LCD Soundsystem record sounds completely ace (but I *loved* their last record): it’s streaming here. I reckon ‘Dance yrself clean’ has the best change-up since Take Me Out. Strongly recommended. Woo frickin’ hoo. I’m currently four songs in and there’s no duff track yet, and lots of building on ‘Get Innocuous’ from the last album is going on. Yay! :)

  27. 27
    pink champale on 16 Apr 2010 #

    oh yes, graphic equalizers. i was very jealous of my mate who got the matsui (dixons ‘japanese’ own brand) mini system one step up from mine at xmas 1987. It not only had five rather than three equalizers to slide up and down, but astoundingly had an LED display of his carefully calibrated settings. we were both slightly crushed to later realise that the LED display was in fact bits of yellow cardboard under perspex that were physically attached to the sliders.

    and i think it was at this time that my entire social circle was for some reason firmly of the opinion that the quality of a hi fi system was best measured by the speed at which the cassette slot opened (specifically that it should be glacially slow) and that we should spend hours in high street electrical stores testing this out, while quoting the “well, it equalizes your graphic dunnit” smith and jones sketch. none of us had girlfriends.

    and if i’d had a sufficiently dampened system, i’d certainly have been blasting out ‘china in your hand’. at the time i loved it, thinking it beautiful and mysterious and classy (saxophones, a video in soft focus AND slow mo!) though i could never see it in quite the same way after my french exchange (favourite band, le ‘ipsway) brought the full weight of his scorn (which as he was fifteen and french, was pretty weighty) down on it, and by implication me, the next spring. in retrospect, he was probably right on both counts.

    blimey, just read djp’s post. i nearly said something about ‘kate bush gone wrong’ and it looks like i would have been on the right lines – excellent spot punctum.

  28. 28
    Martin Skidmore on 16 Apr 2010 #

    I like it more than Tom (I gave it 6), for the chorus and for Carol Decker’s voice reminding me a bit of the glorious David Surkamp of Pavlov’s Dog obscurity.

  29. 29
    Steve Mannion on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Yeah 6 for me too – although not quite as powerful I don’t think of it as really any worse than Total Eclipse…

  30. 30
    thefatgit on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Redhead scouse singers:

    Cilla Black > Carol Decker > Sonia

    Any more?

  31. 31
    Stevie on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Candie Payne. Though Decker was born in the same part of Merseyside as me, she’s really more of a spiritual Black Country girl, I think.

  32. 32
    thefatgit on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Swanstep, that Milla Jovovich video is homage to Louis Bunuel innit?

  33. 33
    James Masterton on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Worth noting that the producer of China In Your Hand was Roy Thomas Baker. This record shares its creator with Bohemian Rhapsody. Think on it.

  34. 34
    Mark M on 16 Apr 2010 #

    I have nothing to say about China In Your Hand, a dull, dull song.

    Heart And Soul on the other hand, always seemed suspiciously conceptually similar to this indie classic.

  35. 35
    Billy Smart on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Re 27: Alan Partridge in Norwich Tandys, pressing the open button on a tape deck: “Nice action!”

    I saw a big book of sheet music once that promised “The 100 best-loved songs ever”. I was surprised to see that ‘China In Your Hand’ was one of them. Now that we hardly ever have to listen to them, I’d say that T’Pau are a rather endearing footnote in British popular culture – a bit rubbish, but at least having the courage of their convictions, and their art having a certain homemade quality, however much of a sheen it was given.

    This went down quite well in the fourth form, the majority of boys being suckers for classic rock stylings, and some of us fancying Carol Dekker.

  36. 36
    Billy Smart on 16 Apr 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: T’Pau performed China In Your hand on Top of the Pops on three occasions;

    5 November 1987. Also in the studio that week were; Heartbeat and Eric B & Rakim. Janice Long & Mike Smith were the hosts.

    3 December 1987. Also in the studio that week were; The Hooters, The Proclaimers, Paul McCartney and Maxi Priest. Gary Davies and Janice Long were the hosts.

    25 December 1987. Also in the studio that week were; The Bee Gees, Rick Astley, The Pet Shop Boys and Johnny Hates Jazz. Mike Smith and Gary Davies were the hosts.

  37. 37
    Jimmy the Swede on 16 Apr 2010 #

    I can only echo Erithian’s comment about the ash cloud with relation to Tom’s holiday, which one suspects is overseas. I am writing this at the Customs Red Point in Gatwick’s North Terminal and I am the last man left before the night team take over, the rest of my team having been stood down. The reason, not suprisingly, is that not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. Basically, we’re closed and there is not yet any indication that flights will resume after 1300 tomorrow (Saturday). Best of luck, Tom! And to everyone else, of course.

    “China In Your Hand?” Not really one for me, I’m afraid. A fairly tame effort, which probably owed much of its success to the singer rather than the song. Didn’t Carol Decker attract a particularly nasty “admirer” soon after this hit the top?

  38. 38
    Billy Smart on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Re: 36. Heartbeat? Who they?

  39. 39
    Mark M on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Re 38: Happy clappy evangelicals, apparently. Maybe they had an earnest debate with devout 5 Percenter Rakim…

  40. 40
    swanstep on 16 Apr 2010 #

    #34, Mark M. Good catch on that Felt song being strip-mined. The curse of Cherry Red records (to influence v. widely but get no money and little public recognition oneself) strikes again.

    #32, fatgit. Milla’s vid. (which she directed) apes/recreates a (n early Bunuel-influenced) ’40s piece by Maya Deren called ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’. I confess to not even hearing of Meshes before Milla’s vid dropped in the mid ’90s, but apparently it’s a Film School/Studies standard/classic. Milla J. marked herself out early as being a bit of a smartie: she wrote some good songs and was v. good in some great films (Dazed and Confused and The Claim)… But (say as you would ‘…and then he invaded Iraq…’) then she married her Resident Evil director…

  41. 41
    Alan not logged in on 17 Apr 2010 #

    the ash won’t be spoiling Tom’s travel plans. But my surprise ft redesign might. I kid. I kid

  42. 42
    MikeMCSG on 17 Apr 2010 #

    Much as I liked the idea of someone from Shrewsbury – much-loved from childhood visits – making it big, this is really awful. How anyone can compare it to Enya or Tori Amos escapes me.

    BTW: I know this is cheeky but is anyone here a Spotify Premium member and can give me an invitation token ? It’s very frustrating to finally upgrade from Windows 98 and find it’s still out of reach. Email to mikemcsg@btinternet.com.

  43. 43
    Billy Smart on 17 Apr 2010 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: T’Pau’s TV appearances include;

    ALBUM: with T’Pau (1988)

    THE BRITISH RECORD INDUSTRY AWARDS: with The Who, The Bee Gees, T’Pau, Terence Trent D’Arby, Bananarama, Rick Astley, Chris Rea (1988)

    THE HIPPODROME SHOW: with Bernard Manning, T’Pau, Munoz, Then Jerico, Jeff McBride (1989)

    THE ROXY: with Jermaine Stewart (‘Gonna Get Lucky’), T’Pau (‘Sex Talk’), Lloyd Cole & the Commotions (‘From The Hip’), Pat And Mick (‘Let’s All Chant’), Bananarama (‘I Want You Back’) (1988)

    THE (NOEL EDMONDS) SATURDAY ROADSHOW: with Craig Ferguson, T’Pau (1988)

    SUNDAY, SUNDAY: with T’Pau, Eric Idle, Carol Decker, Richard Digance, Leigh Lawson, Twiggy (1989)

    WOGAN: with Stéphane Grappelli, Miriam Makeba, T’Pau, Mike Walsh (1988)

  44. 44
    anto on 17 Apr 2010 #

    The review has put into words pretty much all I’ve come to think about this song so I can’t add much.
    I will just say this is the first number one I ever really resented.
    Was it 4 or 5 weeks? I can’t remember but I know at one point it felt like T’pau would be number one forever.

  45. 45
    Brooksie on 17 Apr 2010 #

    Tom accurately captures what is bad about the song. But I’m a real also-ran-fan. So I like this. I’m glad T’Pau got their moment in the sun. I rather like the fact that it was about Frankenstein even though nobody seemed to notice (I did). Compared to some of the dreck around at the time, along with the birth of SAW as a viable force, T’Pau sound positively regal. I also liked many of their follow-up songs.

  46. 46
    anto on 17 Apr 2010 #

    Re 24: Good point about Qs creep towards misogyny. This months issue features Florence in a figure-hugging outfit on the cover – other recent front covers Lily Allen topless (from the back), Cheryl Tweedy looking wet and willing, Lady Gaga with her arms over her nipples.
    If a woman wants to be on the cover she’s required to compromise.
    Have they ever asked Noel Gallagher whose featured on the cover 579 times to go topless or Bono to whip his bum out????
    I know Terence Trent D’arby once appeared full-frontal nude on the cover with a strategically placed caption to avoid ahem introducing the hardline which Q insisted was because they had taken a risk putting him on the cover as his previous album had flopped and they needed a kind of attention-grabber. I would be interested to know if they would have asked a white singer whose previous album had flopped
    (Be Here Now? Pop? Tin Machine?) to do the same.
    I seem to recall Q did a special “Womens Issue” a few years back – the cover was inevitably P.J Harvey in a skimpy t-shirt and underpants.
    One of the main questions they asked female artists in the issue was
    ” What’s wrong with being sexy?” Yes! Really! I can’t remember the other questions but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were along the lines of ” Does your boyfriend write all your songs for you?” and
    ” Why do you worry your pretty little head about these things?”

  47. 47
    lonepilgrim on 17 Apr 2010 #

    I really hope Q (or anyone else) never ask Bono to “whip his bum out”

  48. 48
    MikeMCSG on 17 Apr 2010 #

    Many thanks to whoever sent me the Spotify invite. Who says your mates on the Internet aren’t real ones ?

  49. 49
    anto on 18 Apr 2010 #

    Re 47: Well he doesn’t ask permission to talk through it.

  50. 50
    Conrad on 18 Apr 2010 #

    46, maybe they thought quoting spinal tap would allow them a free pass?

    Q is a horrible, horrible publication – the music-related equivalent to the daily mail. Smug, reactionary, middle england personified.

  51. 51
    swanstep on 19 Apr 2010 #

    @anto, 46. In the light of your remarks I checked out Q’s on-line cover archive….and, for what it’s worth the Gaga and Florence covers seem to me to be in the same ballpark as covers with Eminem, Justin T., Pink, Chili Peppers etc. from 5+ years ago. When you look at the last 20 years of covers in fact only 2003 is truly skin-obsessed (half of the covers – including Robbie Williams – basically naked), and beyond that the Lilly Allen and Cheryl Cole covers you mention from 2009 really jump out. They don’t feel like music magazine covers at all, and presumably they were designed to cause consternation/controversy, as well as to draw in a lads mag audience. I guess it’ll be interesting to see whether Q heads in this direction, but I wouldn’t bet on it. They might get a quick circ. boost from a naughty cover, but I don’t think they want to become just another lads mag.

  52. 52
    Erithian on 19 Apr 2010 #

    anto #46 – if it’s the one I’m thinking of, it was a cover featuring PJ Harvey, Bjork and Tori Amos under the headline “Hips, Lips, Tits, Power” (May ’94 – thanks for the tipoff swanstep) and as I recall the feature was a pretty serious and respectful interview with the three of them about women’s involvement in music.

    The abovementioned references to T’Pau, Sleeper and Transvision Vamp were of a piece with their occasional targeting of a band to be Aunt Sallies (Toploader took that role for a while) but female-fronted bands were used relatively often. (And Q are detemined to use that photo of BEP’s Fergie wetting herself at every opportunity!)

    Re women having to compromise to be on the cover – in the cases of Lily, Cheryl and Gaga at least they seem perfectly willing to wear fairly revealing clothing in their videos: is that compromise on their part as well or are they happy with it as part of their image, I wonder?

  53. 53
    Erithian on 19 Apr 2010 #

    Oh, and James at #33 – good to see you on these pages.

  54. 54
    thefatgit on 19 Apr 2010 #

    Adrian Deevoy, (for it is he) wrote that article on PJ Harvey, Bjork and Tori Amos. I notice his CV includes Penthouse AND Cosmopolitan. Go figure!

  55. 55
    anto on 19 Apr 2010 #

    Re 52: No it was a different one. More recent with P.J Harvey on her own.
    I think with Q it’s more a kind of lazy, pandering sexism of the sort we sometimes find in Richard Bransons Virgin ads. It’s the way they think there is actually something wrong with looking like a Barmaid.
    Not as aggressive as the whole Nuts/Zoo thing. It’s a kind of thoughtlessness as much as anything.
    It’s not the only reason I find Q disagreeable. I think Conrad@50 put it best. It’s a rather small-minded publication which probably thinks of itself as sophisticated. It’s brother mag Empire has similar tendencies.

  56. 56
    swanstep on 20 Apr 2010 #

    @anto, 55. Is this the PJ Harvey cover you mean? She’s got her guitar out, looks pretty in control and ferocious with her ‘lick my legs’ t-shirt on, and in the context of her glorious Stories from the City cd of the time, she looks every inch the Patti Smith of the ’00s. Gaga’s ‘dildo down her trousers’ cover and florence’s ‘attack of the 50 ft woman’ cover seem to me to be somewhat similarly funky ‘rock goddess’ images. Only the Lily A. and Cheryl C. covers seem to me to overtly head off into true lad mag territory. But, as you suggest, Q’s real problems are almost certainly its general shallowness, spitefulness, etc..

  57. 57
    swanstep on 20 Apr 2010 #

    Unrelatedly, the ‘year of mixtapes’ blog which I’ve recommended to Popular a few times before has a Giorgio Moroder mixtape this week. I haven’t listened to it yet, but it looks fab, and very much the sort of thing that Popular regulars might want to check out.

  58. 58
    MikeMCSG on 20 Apr 2010 #

    #56 Much as I like her Northern ballsiness, Cheryl doesn’t belong on the cover of a “serious” music magazine at all. I’ve been pondering a switch to Mojo for a while ; I think it’s the thought that I’d be making a surrender to middle age that’s stopping me.

  59. 59
    lonepilgrim on 20 Apr 2010 #

    #58 I have followed a trajectory from Disco45 >> NME >> the Face >> Q >> Mojo/Uncut/The Wire.

    The latter is the best of the three by a long way – it introduces me to music I would otherwise be unaware of – even if, in many cases, after listening I would prefer to be unaware of it. The other two I buy out of force of habit but there are only so many Beatles/Stones/Dylan articles a person can read.

    I’ve bought The Word on occasions but find it disappointingly shallow when it purports to be more perceptive and wide ranging.

  60. 60
    swanstep on 30 Apr 2010 #

    Seriously, what an election you lot are having! Are you ready to welcome your new Spandau Ballet overlords? (not sure from a distance what clegg and brown equate to – pretty please enlighten me!). Is the whole thing, in combination with short campaigns in a Westminster system, now just X Factor/Idol for politics as a few people have written/said? Anyhow, someone should write a Popular rant on the topic that can then be the election comments thread….

  61. 61
    punctum on 30 Apr 2010 #

    Reminds me of when Steven Wells interviewed Carol Decker in the NME round about that time and she said: “I voted Alliance in the election! Sorry! I know it’s very boring and not rock ‘n’ roll!” They got on pretty well.

  62. 62
    Billy Smart on 30 Apr 2010 #

    IIRC that interview was T’Pau’s sole stint as NME cover stars, with the great strapline “T’BIFF! T’BANG! T’PAU!”

  63. 63
    punctum on 8 Jan 2015 #

    Then Play Long returns from its Christmas holiday to examine the parent album.

  64. 64
    Lazarus on 17 Apr 2015 #

    Carol Decker is one of the interviewees on tonight’s ‘How to make a Number One Record’ on BBC4, along with the always-available Noddy Holder and some bloke called Bob Stanley – clashes with HIGNFY so could be one for the iPlayer, but sounds like it might be worth a look. Also features Chris Difford, who surely can only talk of the frustration of being stalled at number two, as Squeeze were twice in 1979.

  65. 65
    Steve Mannion on 24 Nov 2015 #

    “I was in a coma. They played me China in Your Hand and that’s what brought me out of it.”


  66. 66
    wllilly on 28 Apr 2017 #

    …For ” Heart And Soul ” I will recall that living in Green Bay , Wisconsin at the time (IIRC) ” HAS ” came across in my head , as someone who knew of the Eurovision contest but of course never heard it – I thought to myself that HAS sounded like my idea of what a Eurovision song might be !

  67. 67
    Gareth Parker on 23 May 2021 #

    A perfectly reasonable record from Carol Decker and co, in my view. I’ll err on the generous side and go with a 6/10.

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