21
Oct 11

CHARLES AND EDDIE – “Would I Lie To You?”

Popular48 comments • 5,065 views

#683, 21st November 1992

Classicist pop often sacrifices quality for vibe. Shakin’ Stevens might have had the moves down but if “Oh Julie” had fallen back through time to the 50s it would have simply got lost in a flood of better rock’n’roll. The secret shame of the traditionalist is that they’re parasites on the present: they need time to have changed, or they wouldn’t stand out.

But every now and then something turns up which shrugs this problem away. “Would I Lie To You?” is classicist alright – when I first heard it I knew nothing of soul history, nothing of Philly, doo-wop, 60s pop-soul or anything else it might be nodding to, but I recognised it as something reaching backwards. And it didn’t matter: “Would I Lie To You?” would have been a hit in 1974 too.

No secret why: this is an irresistibly sweet record. Charles and Eddie have no edge whatsoever, they come over as total nice guys, and they don’t even have the “secretly a prick” vibe most “nice guys” end up with. It’s dreaminess all the way down: if anyone’s going to end up hurt it’ll be them, but that’s an unimaginable outcome as long as the record’s playing.

So how do they stop it becoming saccharine? I think the key is that the chorus is such a massive sugar hit that on the verses they can relax, play around, enjoy each other’s company – flirt a little, basically. When they’re trading harmonies, finishing each other’s lines, swooping and sighing at one another the “girl” becomes simply a fictional convenience. It’s all platonic, for sure, but it’s no surprise their origin story (carrying the same record on the subway) was like something out of a music nerd rom-com: few other records demonstrate the joy of mutually loving and making music so prettily.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    lex on 22 Oct 2011 #

    Not really sure what to say here, my sentiments echo Tom’s in the review pretty exactly. Really nice memories of it. Remember becoming aware that it was “proper” music, contra the Eurodance that was simultaneously taking my fancy, but not in a negative or boring way. 8 or 9.

  2. 27
    Dan Quigley on 23 Oct 2011 #

    As a nine-year-old at the time, with a prepubescent’s fixed ideas of gender roles, I was slightly affronted by what I perceived to be Charles and Eddie’s relaxed androgyny. As such, what must be one of the safest records imaginable had an element of edge for me, not least because in spite of my reservations, I adored it.

    Listening to it now, while I’m not quite as crazy about it as some here, it is charming, isn’t it; like a pleasingly un-macho Sam and Dave. Love the gawky, do-woppy lyrics (‘You can read my diary; you’re on every line’) and there’s something hugely admirable about any record, let alone one in the soul tradition, that has the confidence to climax on an acapella whimper.

    Hello all, by the way!

  3. 28
    will on 24 Oct 2011 #

    Hmm…I’m a bit baffled at the amount of love this record is getting. I remember it as being a fairly nondescript piece of retro fluff. It’s harmless enough, but as 60s soul pastiches go isn’t fit to lace the boots of McAlmont and Butler’s Yes or even Gabrielle’s Give Me A Little More Time.

    And that ridiculous story of them meeting on the subway put me off too. Whether it was true or not hardly mattered, it sounded just like a poor PR concoction.

  4. 29
    hardtogethits on 24 Oct 2011 #

    #28 Will – thoroughly in agreement, and what wonderful examples you choose to illustrate how magnificently this kind of thing can work.

  5. 30
    Steve Mannion on 24 Oct 2011 #

    More illustration needed! I probably do prefer ‘Give Me A Little More Time’ (and ‘One Goodbye In Ten’) but tho they both sound more faithfully authentic (WILTY has a subtle hip-hop influence in the backing) I can’t think of anything that would really elevate those that much above this.

  6. 31
    hardtogethits on 24 Oct 2011 #

    Further illustration might lead us into unnecessary conflict.

    I think it’s quite unkind to pick over the tastes of others for the sake of it, and to invent strong negative opinions merely to counter the positive feelings others have towards a record – as someone on a different Popular thread said, to be the “Dog in the manger”*. Yet to elucidate what makes Yes and GMALMT more enjoyable to me than WILTY, I (for one – remembering they weren’t my choices!) would have to begin to describe what I think are WILTY’s weaknesses – in comparison to the other records at least, if not in absolute terms. The more interesting challenge is to ponder what enjoyment others get from it, and to try to make recommendations along similar lines.

    Still though, I feel awkward. I tried the 30 day song challenge on Facebook recently and when one friend stated on my “wall” that they preferred a different version of one of my favourite songs, I couldn’t sleep! I didn’t agree with them, of course, but worse, how could they do that to me? With all of the thought that had gone into making a selection? That melting pot of memory, emotion and reason. I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone else, and I’m struggling to appreciate morally whether there’s a real difference between that situation and this one. I can rationalise it this way and that, but I can’t convince myself. However, I am glad someone said pretty much exactly what I feel, because then I can take the coward’s way out and simply agree.

    *Though this is obviously quite separate from voicing a well-formed negative opinion or negative association.

  7. 32
    anto on 24 Oct 2011 #

    Clearly very popular so I don’t want to dampen that.
    It’s not a song I’ve ever latched onto but it is well crafted.
    One of my initial thoughts is that it has a hint of seventies to it.
    Actually it seems to hint at how music tastes move back and forth.
    It could have been a number 1 in 1972 or 2012 or 1992.
    It would have been a top 5 hit in 1982 or 2002 because it’s catchy enough but the actual sound would seem out of step.

  8. 33
    Hugh on 25 Oct 2011 #

    The ‘oh yeah!’ in the middle of the chorus is embodied in Charles’ and Eddie’s postures on the sleeve! (even though only sung by Eddie). Very evocative. It’s also a singstar classic, the repeated chorus at the end goes on much longer than you remember. What a great song: 9

  9. 34
    chelovek na lune on 25 Oct 2011 #

    Hmm, I’d say that “One Goodbye In Ten” is a sublime, stunning, superior work of art (and I think such terminology is not out of place here) to “Would I Lie To You”, which, while aiming less high, succeeds admirably at what it does – On OGIT the anguish sounds heartfelt, so palpably, painfully, sincere; the arrangement is powerful, and it is in all a thing of wonder. What it is not, however – because of this intensity and tautness – is a likely or potential no 1 record (as they were before the new release straight-in-at-the-top fever made such distinctions not meaningful: 1992 is still just on the right side of that line). What is great – and it is wonderful – about WILTY is its easy-going beauty and charm, combined with at least a good degree of technical proficiency. It’s radio-friendly, but, damn, it’s quality. So yes, I’d say that OGIT is the better song, and the better record – but when it comes to pop music you’d gladly hear on the radio, Charles and Eddie have the edge. Gabrielle, meanwhile, and while I am also fond of that song, really isn’t in the same league as either, at least not with GMALMT. “If You Really Cared”, though, hmm, maybe.

  10. 35
    Billy Smart on 25 Oct 2011 #

    I think that I actually prefer the stripped-down original demo version of One Goodbye in Ten Shara Nelson recorded with St. Etienne that was on the b-side. Perhaps the Showaddywaddy-style backing vocals that go “Ba ba bow bow bow!” would strike many listeners as too silly, though.

  11. 36
    Steve Mannion on 25 Oct 2011 #

    #34 Interesting idea re beautiful songs being too taut and intense to appeal to the masses. In Shara Nelson’s particular case perhaps she was too associated with romantic resignation and broody mystique to have been able to take a song all the way. OGIT/SN may have been too tasteful in that respect but ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ came closer and even a Nelson ‘Nothing Compares 2’ (thus by a Nelson for a Nelson!) is just about imaginable (but a version more proud than passionate). I can’t quite hear her doing ‘Sleeping Satellite’ tho.

  12. 37
    intothefireuk on 26 Oct 2011 #

    Certainly nothing going on here for me. A sugary ineffectual record and one that I will quite happily switch off whenever I bump into it on the radio or TV. The overly repeated chorus grates and irritates. Not quite sure where all the love here for it comes from. Had it been released in the 60s or 70s or whatever period they are alluding to, I doubt it would have had any impact at all. 4 at best.

  13. 38
    Rory on 26 Oct 2011 #

    I had no idea what this was until I watched the video and realised I’d heard it before. A great hook, but for me this goes on about a minute and a half too long; I would have preferred the briefer treatment it would have got in the 1960s. Nevertheless: 7.

  14. 39
    Tim Byron on 27 Oct 2011 #

    This was a song I was aware of at the time, because it was all over the radio, I guess? But I can’t say I paid it very much attention whatsoever – it was just one of those songs that was there in the environment, that were pleasant enough but didn’t strike you one way or another. But I do now find myself with mild nostalgic emotional attachments to Australian alternative pop music from the mid-to-late 1990s which, at the time, I wasn’t really that fussed over, and listening to Charles and Eddie here I feel similarly.

    The interesting thing to me about that nobody else has commented on is the sadness of it; the chorus uses the same I IIIm chord progression that plenty of sad sack alt country types have made a career out of, and between that and the emotional tone of the vocals, it has a rather melancholic feel to me. I listen to it and wonder whether the sadness is because they’re unjustly being accused of cheating, or whether they now regret the consequences of the cheating they’re justly accused of. I feel it’s more like the latter? After all, my mum always told me, ‘don’t trust anybody who says “trust me” to you’.

  15. 40
    AndyPandy on 29 Oct 2011 #

    Retro but not in the fascimile way of something like Diana Ross ‘Chain Reaction’ and played on the then still pretty ‘street’ Kiss FM at the time without jarringly sticking out. Nice tune but not really where my attention was being focussed at the time that being firmly occupied with what I saw as the sounds of 1992/the future.

  16. 41
    thefatgit on 31 Oct 2011 #

    Surprised there’s been no mention of The Eurythmics yet. Their WILTY from ’85 is also a nod to past R&B triumphs, as much Charles and Eddie’s is.

  17. 42
    lonepilgrim on 14 Nov 2011 #

    A song I will always love. You can’t beat it.

  18. 43
    punctum on 14 Nov 2011 #

    I was going to reread this thread while walking through Barnsbury but realised that I would only be in York Way.

  19. 44
    Matthew H on 14 Nov 2011 #

    Yep, I agree with (pretty much) all of you – this is lovely – so I’ll take a moment to speak up for NYC.

    It’s another effortless piece of sweet pop-soul, this time built around the Buffalo Springfield For What It’s Worth riff. Oddly I think the Oui3 cover came out around the same period. Anyway, the (apocryphal?) C&E meeting is brought up in the lyrics; something like “I ran into C on the A-train/He had a brand new copy of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man…” I could look it up but I like trying to remember it. If the story isn’t true they were certainly keen to keep hammering it.

  20. 45
    punctum on 14 Nov 2011 #

    Unfortunately, they both knew it wasn’t what we, we needed.

  21. 46
    Davyboyb on 10 Jan 2014 #
  22. 47
    Davyboyb on 10 Jan 2014 #

    (sorry entered here by accident)

  23. 48
    DanH on 1 Jun 2014 #

    When I was going through U.K. #1’s, I was surprised to hear this, I hadn’t heard it in years. Was a decent charting hit in the U.S., but my mind blended it together with Simply Red’s “Stars,” which I heard more often throughout the years. Not a favorite of mine, but I appreciate the ‘nice guy’ write up…though visually they looked like half of Color Me Badd.

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