9
Jun 10

FAIRGROUND ATTRACTION – “Perfect”

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#608, 14th May 1988, video

This record really enrages me without my being easily able to work out why. It’s not the tune – when I’m not listening to it “Perfect” bops around my head quite pleasantly, or at least the “beey-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee” hook does. Of course, that in-head version lacks Eddi Reader’s stridency, which really surprised me when I listened to the track again: I had this memory of it as a very breezy, light, record, a sort of skiffle Bobbie Gentry deal, and it might have been but her blaring voice buckles the song, and she makes her romantic idealism sound a little smug.

Not to mention that she sounds like she’s yelling in your ear, and here’s where I think I’ve worked out what really bugs me about “Perfect”: the production. It’s intimate, but impeccably intimate, crispness and echo deployed too neatly, like somebody has spent a great deal of money on trying to sound like they hadn’t. This is probably intensely unfair – the song was apparently self-produced and I’ve no doubt the band’s rootsiness was genuine: maybe 80s recording studios were just set up in such a way that it was hard to trespass off more clinical paths.

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  1. 61
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 10 Jun 2010 #

    I am usually very extremely pro unassuming comfort-pop — disposable, harmless, catchy fluff is a GOOD THING — but this is NOT really that (it only sounds like it when you don’t listen closely: faux-fluff). As it happens, nor is it is the kind of music I actually get tremendously cross about — but it is a VERSION of the kind of thing I get cross about, which is music that pats itself on the back and puts on airs about such-and-such, which not in fact delivering such-and-such. Here I guess it’s this stepford-wifey idea of perfection — “You, you must supply this because I, I deserve it” — packaged in such a characterless and by-the-numbers song. I translate punctum’s sardonic “Soul Passion and Honesty” (ie SP&H in a Bad Way) as his diagnosis of this tendency’s allergy to the concept of ACTING as a route to revelation (classic soul music having no such allergy, of course). ER’s delivery seems to be awarding itself medals for her decision not to act the actress, but doesn’t actually come up with anything better.

  2. 62
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 10 Jun 2010 #

    As ER sings it it’s actually a stepford-husbandy idea of course…

  3. 63
    Erithian on 10 Jun 2010 #

    A couple of happy memories this brings back: firstly the date above (the official chart date, i.e. the Saturday following the day the chart was announced) was my birthday, and as a birthday treat watching Liverpool lose the Cup Final to Wimbledon couldn’t be bettered. Secondly, a few months later my new girlfriend (now my wife) and I had our first holiday together, a glamorous hitch-hiking trip to Bavaria, and I was asked to translate the lyrics of “Perfect” into German as it played on the radio, for a driver who was a bit of a fan.

    I’m a bit surprised at the vehemence this has attracted from those who are anti, mainly I suppose because of what it represented as much as the track itself. For me, it was a perfectly pleasant song, good to hear again with its jazzy bass and minimalist setting. Although I guess Eddi Reader’s “wacky” dress style might wind a few people up. There was a sort of late-80s uniform among girls who didn’t want to dress girly or glam up – you’d see a lot of them coming out of Pogues gigs looking vaguely scary.

    Thefatgit at #19 and champale at #27 draw strange conclusions in comparison to Gwen Guthrie et al. I agree with Punctum in not finding any materialism in “Perfect” which surely is about finding the compatible lover rather than the sugar daddy, while the “smug free spirits” and “canal boat tossers” claim falls down a bit when you see the location of the canal – not clear where it is but it looks more like the Birmingham or Manchester (as seen in the Boddingtons ads) basins rather than idyllic Oxfordshire or posh Little Venice.

    Although champale has a good point about “a place where bills… are a real and urgent issue”. You can maybe see that tension throughout pop, from the Motown acts of the 60s, contrasting with the middle-class dropouts of the hippie scene, onwards. As I said in the “In The Summertime” thread back in 1970, to live that languid existence it probably helps if your family has a bit of dosh to start with.

  4. 64
    Rory on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Just thinking through some of the reactions here… it sounds as if some of you would like this more if it had a bit more ache and longing in the delivery, as opposed to its perceived smugness, to give it some satisfying English irony. I wonder if there are different cultural readings at work here. It didn’t surprise me to learn that Reader was Glaswegian; there’s something about the tone of ‘Perfect’ that matches very well the tones of the young Scottish women you’ll see on the streets of a Friday night, especially in Glasgow. But beneath that defiant surface lurks a recognition that things aren’t always, or even often, perfect; the song gains a situational irony, rather than explicit, when heard or sung in that context. It’s got to be perfect… but it isn’t. It’s shite – especially after a decade of Thatcher. The song thus serves as pure escapism: a soulful, smoky delivery would surely have been far too depressing to hit number one.

    Thinking through the Australian reaction, for we also sent it to number one: when it comes to expressions of just how bloody lovely everything is and should be, a certain kind of Aussie loses all sense of irony anyway. Queensland advertised itself successfully to domestic tourists as “beautiful one day, perfect the next”, when the state still had a reputation for police and government corruption and authoritarianism. The title of a 1960s critique of the nation called The Lucky Country, which its author intended ironically (we’d been living off our luck and it was running out), went into the language as an entirely unironic self-description, in the same way that Kiwis call New Zealand “God’s own country”. If you want the perfect expression of it, watch that alternative video of Kylie’s 1988 hit, as she drives through sunny Sydney. I should be so lucky: yes, you should, and you are. Lucky, lucky, lucky. Perfect? It’s got to be.

  5. 65
    swanstep on 10 Jun 2010 #

    @rory, 60. I’d kill for doctor who, u2, or a coke ad at this point myself, but I’m newly affeared that the cold light of Popular day will see those former pleasurables sink!

    @vinylscott. You sound like you have, as it were, inside knowledge that for you debunks Annie Lennox. Care to dish any of that? I know her main contribution to music is just her voice, but surely Rosie’s right that it’s a hell of a voice.

  6. 66
    Rory on 10 Jun 2010 #

    That said, I can completely understand how its use on Asda adverts could suck all vestiges of joy from the song, whether or not you once enjoyed it. Talk about your situational irony.

    @65 It’s like the painful wait for a childhood Christmas at this point, isn’t it?

  7. 67
    DietMondrian on 10 Jun 2010 #

    After thinking on it I’ve decided my description of this as “a dreadful throwback” is a bit harsh and I’ve upgraded my score from two to four – partly because there are so many 90s number ones to come that are properly deserving of ones and twos.

    Re: Kill Uncle – I think it’s an underrated album. I much prefer its light sparkliness over the muscular, meat ‘n’ two veg stodge that came later in Morrissey’s solo career.

  8. 68
    swanstep on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Stray thought: wasn’t ‘Don’t Worry, be happy’ a huge hit around this time? There was a bit of recession at this point after the stock market crashes and various banking/savings and loan and property bubbles burst at the end of 1987. In the US, pretty serious anxiety about Japanese economic power was cresting (it would show up in movies like die hard shortly). Is ‘Perfect’ at bottom a bit of recession-softening pick-me-up the way ‘Don’t worry’ was (if you were on the left of things you tended to feel politically obligated to heap scorn on ‘Don’t worry’! IIRC).

  9. 69
    Rory on 10 Jun 2010 #

    @68 Number one in Oz for six weeks in November-December, and yes, very much part of the same story there. The other aspect was the bicentenary: combine jingoistic celebration with recessionary fears and bingo, escapist number ones aplenty.

  10. 70
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 10 Jun 2010 #

    “Don’t worry be happy” surely has the opposite message though: “whatever d00d, we’ll get by, especially if we’re cheerful” versus “I demand and deserve perfection” (which whatever it IS is not “recession-softening pick-me-up”)

  11. 71
    rosie on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Time for another of Rosie’s peepholes into social history, I think. I’m still working for the big American bank, although I won’t be for very much longer because having returned after my Easter break I found there’d been a reorganisation and although I still had a job, I had been reorganised out of having any meaningful role. I’m also secretary of Kensington Constituency Labour Party in the days when being a constituency party officer actually meant something, so when I leave the office for Bank tube and the ritual cry of “fucking rich cunt” from the young man who had his pitch at the entrance (if only, I thought) and saw the Evening Standard crying “BY-ELECTION FOR LONDON” I was naturally curious. This would be the first by-election of the 1987 parliament and the first since Truro in March the previous year, so this was exciting for a London-based political anorak. It was only when I got home and found fourteen messages on the newly-installed answering machine that I realised that it was our own dear Brandon Rhys-Williams that had popped his clogs. Rhys-Williams was a Tory, but a Tory of such endearing eccentricity that it was hard not to like him. This was going to be the most fun it’s possible to have in British politics: a by-election at a time when the government was deeply unpopular. (It’s hard to get across to those not in the know that Margaret Thatcher and the herds of her young acolytes who “came into Liverpool Street” to work in the post Big Bang dealing rooms were detested by many old-school City types). Instinctively one knew to head for the Earl Percy on Ladbroke Grove where, in a very different Labour Party, the grass roots, the head office apparatchiks and the whips’ office nominees would drink and rub shoulders together in that gritty hostelry while the machinery ground into motion. It was destined to be a new kind of by-election, conducted by a Labour Party that was trying to avoid a repeat of the Greenwich debacle more than a year earlier and starting to apply the marketing strategies that would so debase the political scene in the decades to come.

    The newly-fashionable Notting Hill was spreading northwards and the old Rachman-style warrens of flats were being cleared out and renovated. This was controversial of course, and there was one strand of political view that said “we want to campaign for an improvement in the conditions of the poor, but we don’t want the improvements to happen in practice because then they won’t vote for us any more”.

    This is the Notting Hill of Martin Amis’s London Fields. A community that managed to find a unique harmony amongst a wide spread of social conditions, yet one which was beginning to creak and crack and become divided against itself. Chart music had little impact on me at this time; neither this number one nor any of those to come before polling day evoke any memories of the campaign (one of the rainiest by-election campaigns on record, I believe) and I had to check the timeline carefully. But it does seem to me that I can see parallels now between the social changes and the increasingly divided and mutually hostile music scenes going on.

  12. 72
    Martin Skidmore on 10 Jun 2010 #

    I dislike this for the pleased-with-itself reasons that Mark nails, but I’ve never genuinely hated it.

  13. 73
    punctum on 10 Jun 2010 #

    I was working at the old St Mary Abbots Hospital in Kensington at around this time and well remember Brandon Rhys-Williams and the Kensington by-election. Dudley Fishburn won for the Tories but by a surprisingly small majority – wasn’t it in the order of 800?

    Notting Hill living space renovations IIRC varied considerably depending whether you were in the RBKC bit or Shirley Porter’s City of Westminster bit. Gerrymandering, ah yes…

  14. 74
    swanstep on 10 Jun 2010 #

    @Lord Sukrat, 70. Good point, but the overall sunniness/naivete/nostalgia of Perfect’s tune and instrumentation makes it *sound* like the song is saying everything *will* be perfect (not that you’ve resolved to be alone forever if you can’t get your perfect/ideal partner), which is the pick-me-up.

  15. 75
    pink champale on 10 Jun 2010 #

    #63 i’d actually forgotten the video was done on a canal until i read some of the later comments and was thinking canal boaters just as a general example of the kind of moneyed faux bohemianism (fauxho?) that gets my goat. but yes, subliminal memories of the video are no doubt why i made this connection. the video is probably also the reason i have this prejudice in the first place. (and that david essex sitcom).

  16. 76
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 10 Jun 2010 #

    I think the thing’s that’s so peculiar about this song is indeed the unusual degree of difference in tone between when you vaguely half-listen — and it seems amiable and unremarkable — and when you actually listen closely.

    haha there’s a thurber short story where he breaks his spectacles and describes the rich and bizare world he finds himself in — “why is an admiral in full regalia pushing a wheebarrow along that rooftop?” — and how much he misses it when he gets them fixed. The world of half-heard pop is perhaps similarly floridly compensatory…

  17. 77
    Rory on 10 Jun 2010 #

    @74: Exactly. If you don’t listen too closely to the words – which many people don’t – then they all evoke the same upbeat message: don’t worry, you’re in luck, everything’s perfect. It’s all simply irresistible! What a wonderful world. I’ve had the time of my life.

    The UK’s number ones in ’88 weren’t quite as overwhelmingly upbeat (at least on the surface) as Australia’s, but there are similar candidates ahead.

  18. 78
    vinylscot on 10 Jun 2010 #

    swanstep @65 – Annie Lennox has a good voice, and when it is coupled with the right material it can sound very pleasant and quite effective. But she’s not THAT special, and, as has been discussed on a number of other threads, it’s the whole package that grates – it’s not ALL her fault; the (popular) media rather deified her, and let’s just say she wasn’t exactly reticent about playing along. Forced weirdness or “kookiness” rarely sits well.

  19. 79
    punctum on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Neither of these bother me in themselves, but one of my big problems with AL is that she usually sings as though pop is slightly beneath her. Interestingly the current Eurythmics album at this time was Savage which IIRC she said was about their going back to doing the sort of music they wanted to make. Along with In The Garden it’s the only Eurythmics album which I feel keen to revisit.

  20. 80
    swanstep on 10 Jun 2010 #

    @vinylscott, 78. OK, thanks, I sort of see where you’re coming from. I do remember Lennox getting very some reverent South Bank Show-like attentions around the time of Diva, which is the sort of thing that can be irritating (I got all of this very secondhand tho’ in the US). Great record tho’! She and her handlers can perhaps be forgiven for milking that moment of stars coming into alignment. I do at any rate.

  21. 81
    Mark G on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Here I am, late again…

    #6, I have it that Beth Orton won Best Female in 2000, beating 2 spice girls and the tabloids reporting it as ‘spice girls fail to win award’.

    I liked this record, purely because it sounded like my grandad’s old wooden radiogram. Big thing, 4 ft high, 8 feet wide. The radiogram was pretty big too. I thangyew.

  22. 82
    MagicFly on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Still loathsome. The musical equivalent of that ghastly hopping scene in Truly Madly Deeply.

  23. 83
    The Leveller on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Found this irritating and twee at the tender age of 17. I’ve mellowed now but it’s still a three… two points for the leggings on top of the pops

  24. 84
    Matthew K on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Sorry for the offence caused – it wasn’t intended. My original comment allows that “some sane and decent people might like it for particular reasons” and I would certainly class Rosie, Rory et al in that group, in fact it was in deference to Rory’s opinion that I included the caveat at all.
    My too-blunt statement was a summation of what is, actually, my critical opinion – that a piece like this, calculated and buffed smooth for maximum appeal, really IS offensive to me. Music is really important, and when it becomes light fodder for people unwilling to engage with something deeper, a part of me dies.
    This is of course not the ideal mindset to bring to a discussion of number 1 pop hits.
    I really am genuinely sorry that a bit of hyperbole caused offence to people whose opinions I have enjoyed reading for several years now. Hope it’s not a lasting impression.

  25. 85
    punctum on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Light fodder can sometimes prove the deepest art. Not the case with this record, admittedly, but the watchful writer has to be careful not to fall through the shallow/deep critical trapdoor.

  26. 86
    rosie on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Isn’t the bulk of pop music “calculated and buffed smooth for maximum appeal”? And wasn’t that always so? It seems to me it goes with the territory.

    And hasn’t the meme of “I take x very seriously therefore I deplore y” been with us for generations? Isn’t it at the very root of youthful rebellion, and hasn’t it always been? I noted in a comment to a much earlier entry my primary school head’s remark “who will remember the Beatles in twenty years?”.

    I don’t think Hermann Hesse is read as much now as he was, but Matthew K reminds me a little of Harry Haller, the protagonist of Der Steppenwolf. It’s a book I commend to Matthew. Reading it does not, of course, preclude his choice of light reading, any more than my own appreciation of, say, James Joyce in any way impedes my huge appetite for trashy crime fiction.

  27. 87
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 11 Jun 2010 #

    I don’t know about “the bulk” — I think I would argue that from around the 1920s (the era of hot jazz), pop falls into two camps, “buffed smooth” and “buffed rough”, if you like. The relative sizes — and fashionability — of the camps vary from decade to decade (indeed from month to month): this season smooth will be in, next season rough — and very few of us (I suspect) cleave only to one camp all our lives.

    As for calculation, well sometimes the honest blurt will get you further than the prepared speech, and sometimes it will wreck all hopes and plans! The problem with “Perfect” isn’t that it’s smooth, isn’t that it’s calculated — plenty of great songs are both of these. It’s that — well, lots of suggestions above, including from me, and none of them quite hitting the nail on the head yet, I don’t think. What a strange song it is…

  28. 88
    rosie on 11 Jun 2010 #

    @87: Some might call it quirkiness. For all its many faults I count that in its favour. Funny how I feel a great deal better disposed towards it than I did three days ago!

  29. 89
    DietMondrian on 11 Jun 2010 #

    It’s ersatz, isn’t it? It’s a fake thing. It’s one thing for an old track such as Reet Petite to reach the top, but Perfect is a lie. It’s like one of those faked old-style posters that says “Keep calm and carry on”. That’s why it rankles – for me, anyway.

    Please note that I’m not in any way saying that music has to be “authentic” (urgh!) or anything like that.

  30. 90
    Mark M on 11 Jun 2010 #

    A somewhat similar vein of nonspecific nostalgia was mined a couple of years earlier in The Colourfield’s Thinking Of You , to rather more satisfying effect. Obviously, with the involvement of Terry Hall, the message couldn’t be further from “it’s got to be perfect”…

  31. 91
    Rory on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Matthew K @84, no offence taken on my part, just a momentary tinge of “hey, what?”, now passed. It’s one of the joys of this place that we can get so spirited about any particular number one, when so many people would be wondering what all the fuss is about.

    @89: Ersatz, exactly. But that was the late 1980s to a T. “Perfect” was perfectly of its time.

  32. 92
    thefatgit on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Back in the early ’80s there was a fashion piece in The Face about a micromovement called The Young Fogeys. Basically it meant dressing like your Grandad, but it was a means to an end as the magazine was able to focus on traditional tailoring and grooming. I’m not really sure who opted in to this movement except maybe Mick Hucknall, but it seemed to represent a backlash against the Soccer Casual and his expensive foreign designer sportswear labels. The point being that when the shock of the new is too much, we sometimes over-react and return to traditions of the past as some sort of safety blanket. Not always, mind, but sometimes.

    So “Perfect” also can be seen as such a reaction. Not executed with great aplomb as most will agree, but I can see why a certain group of people would adopt “Perfect” when faced with Acid House, if they were unwilling or uable to embrace that.
    Maybe a similar demographic might be attracted to the music of The Baseballs today as opposed to I dunno, Lady Gaga maybe…although I suspect it’s perhaps more to do with faux-nostalgia?

  33. 93
    punctum on 11 Jun 2010 #

    We had The Baseballs in the eighties; they were called Big Daddy.

  34. 94
    Mike Atkinson on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Maybe the song sums itself up a bit too neatly? It doesn’t leave anything open to question, so it doesn’t particularly let you in.

    It’s also more heavy-handed than the version in my memory. Great twangy guitar break, though. That’s the best bit.

  35. 95
    rosie on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Assuming for a moment that “ersatz” is a fair comment on Perfect (I’m not saying it isn’t a fair comment, just that it’s not a comment I would make), then hasn’t ersatzness been a feature of the whole pop process? We’ve seen things like it before in Popular – The Temperance Seven come to mind from the early sixties, and Manhattan Transfer from the seventies. Both of those were obviously retro to me (Manny Tranny’s offering, as I said at the time, is not the best example of their work to my mind) and I found them immensely likeable. Similarly there was an outfit in the sixties called Harpers Bizarre who put Cole Porter into the charts.

    Perhaps I miss something here because I can see that for some contributors who were in their teens in 1988 this might sound like ‘parent’ music. To me its the workaday pop of my own youth and it’s not inconceivable to imagine, say, the Honeycombs doing it. Would it annoy in 1964?

    Ironically, having been sceptical about Marcello’s claim of an intrinsic visual element of pop, my attitude to Perfect has been significantly altered by seeing the video. I warmed to Eddi Reader, whom I now understand to have been born and raised in the Anderston area of Glasgow and is therefore hardly a smug middle-class boho. As well as having a beltingly good voice she’s also the total antithesis of the clone hot pop chick, somebody who is never going to be glamorous in any age and who doesn’t give a toss. I can admire that!

  36. 96
    Mark G on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Surprised by all the antipathy. Maybe in another era, it’d be more appreciated.

  37. 97
    Gavin Wright on 11 Jun 2010 #

    There are two vivid memories attached to this song for me – one is the Asda advert already mentioned, the other is of a boy in my class at school announcing he was listening to the Fairground Attraction album on what might well have been the first real-life Walkman I ever saw (this was when I was seven years old).

    I couldn’t give ‘Perfect’ any more than a 4/10 although that’s mainly because I find the chorus hook incredibly annoying – I’ve never given it any more thought than that so the negative comments here regarding other aspects of the record make an interesting read. I can certainly see it suffering from the same problem as most other sophistipop-type music of the time which is that it comes across as rather lifelessly professional. I think the word I’d go for is ‘businesslike’.

  38. 98
    thefatgit on 11 Jun 2010 #

    I’m not opposed to “ersatz” if there is some merit or value in it’s usage (irony, comedy etc). But “ersatz” as a cheap gimmick or temporary method just seems to undermine the product’s own integrity, hence the negativity surrounding this.

  39. 99
    punctum on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Depends what you mean by “integrity.”

  40. 100
    thefatgit on 11 Jun 2010 #

    I suppose it’s a case of did Eddi and co. say “I know, let’s do a rock ‘n’ roll number!” or did they say “I think this arrangement suits this lyric”?

  41. 101
    Caledonianne on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Gosh, you’re a moaning lot, apart from Tim, Sandy and Rosie.

    For me (notoriously unimpressed by 80s music) this is easily the best chart-topper since West End Girls.

    I don’t get this Thatcher’s Child stuff about it at all. The first time I heard this I was driving between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and it knocked my socks off. When I listen I hear a woman of my own age (I am four weeks older than ER) stating categorically that she won’t settle for second best – and I don’t think that has anything to do with acquisitiveness. At that stage in my life I watched several of my friends (lawyers to a woman)as they inched towards 30 marrying men who were never going to quicken anyone’s pulse, because they were kind, decent, solvent, reliable plodders and would make good fathers for their (future)children. This wasn’t what I wanted (I have only recently realised that theirs was not necessarily an ignoble ambition) and I cheered when Eddi banged the drum for the no compromises set – I wanted a man who was roguish, handsome, brilliant, witty etc etc. Not bothered about money. I found one who ticked all those boxes and – yup – just about then it was perfect. Right now going through the “in sickness and in health thing” and finding that base note of perfect from 20+ years ago very sustaining.

    I was working in London from 1987 onwards, and I didn’t see Fairground Attraction as part of that metropolitan smugness sect at all (and I loathe Peter’s Friends and the Em ‘n’Ken thing with a passion). I heard a girl with Glasgow consonants saying she wanted someone to make her heart sing, and I agreed.

    Eddi Reader’s voice gives me goosebumps and “Sings the Songs of Robert Burns” is one of my top five albums ever (so Rory should investigate it). As for her ‘royalty’ status. Even the Queen had to applaud the ancient then modern renditions of Auld Lang Syne at the opening of the Scottish Parliament. Just watched it on Youtube, and found myself in tears.

    Sorry vinylscot.

  42. 102
    thefatgit on 11 Jun 2010 #

    Ah…so that’s where I went wrong with my ex-missus. I was the kind-hearted plodder-type, but she really wanted the rogueish, witty type. What she actually ended up with was the younger, slimmer plodder type. Oh well!

  43. 103
    Rory on 11 Jun 2010 #

    “Sings the Songs of Robert Burns”… I’ll keep an eye out. After I’m done with the half dozen Kylie albums I picked up last month to plug that particular blind spot.

    On “ersatz” (which I would still agree with, although I don’t think inferior to the originals implies bad in this case): DietMondrian, your example of the “Keep calm and carry on” posters isn’t the best analogy, because they’re not fakes, they’re reproductions. About as fake as a CD release of “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers”.

  44. 104
    lonepilgrim on 11 Jun 2010 #

    I heard ‘Dance the night away’ by The Mavericks today and it’s twangy guitar and ‘ersatz’ qualities reminded me of ‘Perfect’. Somehow, `i don’t imagine that DTNA would get the same level of dismissal as P.

  45. 105
    swanstep on 12 Jun 2010 #

    Interesting watching this thread develop… Is it perhaps finally a question of whether Reader’s voice (maybe together with fine points of production) does it for you? Near nursery rhymes from Feist and from Lily Allen in recent years have been huge hits because enough people have found their voices and personalities engaging, but those same voices and personalities drove significant minorities of folks up the wall! Reader’s voice doesn’t grab me (it reads to me as kind of a blank) but if it did I’d probably be happy to go along with the ultra-naive backing at that point. I confess to adoring Feist counting to 4 on Sesame St, and I can imagine Reader similarly saluting 3 along with Elmo and Grover ‘got to be-ee-ee-three-ee-ee…. perfect’. It wouldn’t be my thing because I wasn’t charmed by R’s voice in the first place, but if you were, then it would probably be fab.

  46. 106
    Caledonianne on 12 Jun 2010 #

    #102 Och, you’re *clearly* not a git at all! When I was 45 I belatedly realised that plodders are heroes. But I’m not really sorry I didn’t realise that in my twenties.

    A neutral observer would say my mates who made the compromises probably got the better deal. I wasn’t selfless enough for that; to go somewhere else entirely I wanted
    “my sun-drenched, wind-swept Ingrid Bergman kiss
    Not in the next life
    I want it in this”

    I guess I just think everyone deserves to experience love at first sight. At least once.

    Good call at #1 referencing Patience of Angels and Kirsty McColl’s Dear John (especially the latter) on the Eddi Reader album. Perhaps it’s where you end up if you keep demanding the ‘Perfect’?

    “My eyes have seen the glory
    There’s more to life than my life story
    And I’ll probably never find him
    But I have to keep on looking
    And I’m very, very sorry dear John.”

  47. 107
    thefatgit on 12 Jun 2010 #

    I fell in love with 2 women in my life. The first was a little younger than me. She had blue-grey eyes I could drown in. It was a passionate, thunder and lighning kind of love. We were in some ways on the same level, but in many other ways we were completely incompatible, which led to many rows. Sometimes she would drive me to utter distraction, but I loved her. It got to the point where I had no choice, so I ended it. I had to for the sake of my sanity and hers. It took me a long time to recover from that relationship.

    The second was the woman I was to marry. Again, striking blue eyes (I’ve always been attracted to beautiful eyes) but we just fitted together nicely. It was a different kind of love to the first. The kind where you feel that together, you can get through anything, no matter what life has in store for you. We could talk about utter nonsense and make each other laugh. We spent so long together, I thought it would be for life.
    But cracks began to show and eventually the things that had kept us together were driving us apart. To cut a long story short, seperation and divorce followed.
    So I guess the real problem I have with this song, is through bitter experience, I have not found perfection and perhaps never will. I’m not convinced it exists. We’re only here once, so if I fall in love again, I’ll do my best to hold on to it, accept the imperfections and get on with life. Isn’t that the best anyone can do?

  48. 108
    rosie on 12 Jun 2010 #

    swanstep @ 65: A belated afterthought apropos Annie Lennox:

    I know her main contribution to music is just her voice

    That’s Aloysia Weber, Joan Sutherland and Cathy Berberian put into perspective then!

    a

  49. 109
    swanstep on 12 Jun 2010 #

    @rosie, 108. Yikes, my remark reads poorly doesn’t it? I was honestly just trying to find some way to concede something to a Lennox skeptic for the sake of the argument – I in fact officially want to give Lennox a lot of credit as a writer (she wrote almost all of the songs on Diva I believe) and for much of her image/visual performance stuff. And, as you rightly suggest, even if someone *is* just a voice, that can easily be more than enough for greatness (to your list I’d add Ella Fitzgerald). I was trying to get my interlocuter to agree with that last point and apply it to Lennox, but my own phrasing perhaps obscured that that was my goal.

  50. 110
    TomLane on 13 Jun 2010 #

    Somewhat catchy, but oh so slight. Which means forgettable. I’m surprised this peaked at #80 here in the U.S.

  51. 111
    Alan Connor on 14 Jun 2010 #

    “I heard ‘Dance the night away’ by The Mavericks today and it’s twangy guitar and ‘ersatz’ qualities reminded me of ‘Perfect’”

    –for even an closer match, try FA’s follow-up Top-10 Mexi-smash Find My Love.

    nb I suggested to Mark E Nevin that his was a song that wouldn’t be much different if it had been written with sync licensing in mind. He didn’t mind.

    (edit oops me not code html so good)

  52. 112
    DietMondrian on 14 Jun 2010 #

    @ 103 – thanks Rory, I didn’t realise that. Maybe a better example would have been something like this:

    http://artfiles.art.com/5/p/LRG/12/1286/V1BO000Z/beer.jpg

  53. 113
    rosie on 15 Jun 2010 #

    Blimey – just been doing a little research and it seems that Simon Edwards – the chap playing the guitarón – is the same Simon Edwards who played squeezebox with Bristol cajun/folk-rockers K-Passa when I lived there in the 1990s. A K-Passa gig would sell out a venue within hours of the first whispers getting out and they were always memorable occasions. At least for us wrinklies!

  54. 114
    Matthew H on 15 Jun 2010 #

    Really disliked this at the time, then inexplicably won the follow-up Find My Love in a Record Mirror competition. Inexplicably in so far as “why did I enter?” – winning was more explicable; I was probably the only entrant.

    In 1993, as a student, and for whatever reason, I bought the LP for tuppence in a secondhand shop and spent a happy evening sitting on my bedroom floor listening to it. My housemates thought I was nuts.

  55. 115
    Rory on 30 Sep 2010 #

    DietMondrian, if you’re still out there: saw this just now and thought of this thread: the IT support version of ‘Keep Calm’.

  56. 116
    Lifes a Riot with Sully vs. Sully on 16 Dec 2012 #

    So, what y’all saying is, this lot were the 80s Mumford and Sons?

  57. 117
    Zacco on 7 Nov 2014 #

    Have known about this site for a few weeks and am now commenting for the first time!

    This is a song I’d always thought of as one of those that most consider a classic so I was surprised to see very few people liked it a lot. I actually love it. That hook is just amazing and I also really like the production and the vocals. I never noticed any ’50s similarities myself, but then my knowledge of that era is pretty much non-existent haha. I guess the fact that I’m familiar with it but haven’t been subject to overexposure/overplay has helped with me enjoying it. I give this a 9, such a delightful listen for me.

  58. 118
    hectorthebat on 20 Feb 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Theater van het Sentiment, Radio 2 (NL) – Top 40 Songs by Year 1969-2000 (2013) 29
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year 43
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – Songs of the Year 33

  59. 119
    Patrick Mexico on 19 Dec 2016 #

    Found in Clitheroe Library three years ago, the artwork nicked from/which The First of a Million Kisses nicked! :D

    http://imageshack.com/a/img924/9099/xCPnnP.jpg

  60. 120
    Adam Puke on 21 Dec 2016 #

    #119. Interesting, never really considered this picture in any depth before. For some reason I’d just assumed it was by Oscar Marzaroli, whose work seemed to be adopted en masse by soulcialists and sophisti-poppers north of the border for sleeve art after his death in 1988 (despite being a more romanticised image than the bulk of his work).

    Turns out it’s actually by Elliott Erwitt, taken in 1955 and clearly depicting a coastal north American setting. All these years I’ve been labouring under the delusion it was taken outside Nardini’s in Largs staring out to Arran or something!

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