Sep 09

DEAD OR ALIVE – “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”

FT + Popular62 comments • 7,182 views

#546, 9th March 1985, video

If “Relax” – as Mark Sinker put it during the subsequent discussion – was a non-DJs idea of a club record, “You Spin Me Round” is a DJ’s idea of a Frankie track. In fact, it sounds like Stock, Aitken and Waterman have broken into Trevor Horn’s studio at night, nicked a load of his gear, done a bag of speed and started pressing buttons at close to random. Marvellous, in other words. The hidden force driving the record’s mania is that hyperfast sequenced keyboard run, its chattering bleeps like a player piano installed on the bridge of the Enterprise, adding a note of derangement to a track already lacking in restraint.

Without Pete Burns, of course, “You Spin Me Round” would be considerably shyer. It’s a fine example of a limited performer finding the one perfect record for him: he gets to play the Lion Queen, prowling and roaring his way around the song-stage in his finest panto predator style while the drum machines bang out a strutter’s rhythm. “I WANT YOUR LOVE!”

“You Spin”‘s crude machine-rush wouldn’t be matched on a number one for years but its chassis was already well-travelled: hi-NRG club beats and keyboards in debt to Patrick Cowley, Bobby “O”, and other NYC and European post-disco music. SAW always knew their stuff (and could be somewhat sniffy about the fact when their credentials were mocked). But this is trashier, buzzier, more immediate even than that: there’s a Dionysian kick to it which feels more like a rebuke to New Pop than its barbarous fag-end. Sadly it’s a staging post on its producers’ journey to the centre of the cheap, and without Pete Burns to frame they never achieved this wildness again.



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  1. 31
    will on 16 Sep 2009 #

    It had taken the best part of two months to even enter the Top 40 but on entering the business end of the chart ‘rocketed’ up to Number One in four weeks, I seem to recall.

    Not sure how I feel about this now. It’s a danceable record but not a particularly lovable one. But then Burns was never a particularly lovable pop star, was he?

  2. 32
    Steve Mannion on 16 Sep 2009 #

    #28 I seem to have provided a clue in my previous post without even realising ha

  3. 33
    Billy Smart on 16 Sep 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: Dead Or Alive performed ‘You Spin Me Round’ on Top of the Pops on five occasions (the Xmas edition I’ll come to in the fullness of time);

    14 February 1985. Also in the studio that exciting week were; The Colourfield, Killing Joke and The Smiths! Simon Bates & Janice Long were the hosts.

    28 February 1985. Also in the studio that week were; Stephen Tin Tin Duffy and The Commodores. Mike Smith & Peter Powell were the hosts.

    7 March 1985. Also in the studio that week were; Shakin’ Stevens, Jermaine Jackson and David Cassidy. John Peel and Janice Long were the hosts.

    14 March 1985. Also in the studio that week were; Go West, Alison Moyet and Paul Young. Mike Smith & Gary Davies were the hosts.

  4. 34
    pink champale on 16 Sep 2009 #

    absolutely a nine. i’d never really thought about it being SAW doing frankie before, but that’s clearly what it is. there’s more than a touch of soft cell too, and it’s this slightly menacing seediness, along with the the way the SAW machine here seems set to ‘out of control’, that gives ysmr an edge over a lot of their other stuff. i will put in an early vote for ‘love in the third degree’ as being the second best of the non-embargoed ones though.

    we’ll have and wait to see whether this is the greatest celebrity big brother-related no.1 (competition is reasonably stiff) but on the evidence of cbb it seems very likely indeed that pete burns is vilest individual ever to have hit the top spot. the look of almost sexual pleasure on his face as george galloway started taunting barrymore about his alcoholism will stay with me to my grave.

  5. 35
    pink champale on 16 Sep 2009 #

    sorry about “hit the top spot” btw, momentarily turned into peter powell. i meant of course “be the toppermost of the poppermost”.

  6. 36
    Steve Mannion on 16 Sep 2009 #

    to bring up the ‘slowest climb to #1’ thing again, i’m sure i mentioned this before but Nickelback’s ‘Rock Star’ so nearly set what would probably have been a new record for this – 17 weeks before stalling at #2 (mercifully). That any song could do this as recently as two years ago is interesting tho.

    addendum: in fact yes i mentioned both this and the aforementioned 16th week chart-topper in the comments for Aneka’s ‘Japanese Boy’, so adding insult to injury in repetetive chart geek tedium terms there or wot…

  7. 37
    MikeMCSG on 16 Sep 2009 #

    #36 I think I’ve got it – a real chin-stroker that one !

  8. 38
    Kat but logged out innit on 16 Sep 2009 #

    I’ve found one that took 15 weeks to hit the top according to Polyhex…

  9. 39
    Steve Mannion on 16 Sep 2009 #

    And I’ve found another that took 16 weeks…coming up this very year! Probably a bunch of these really, its just that the one I mentioned first is the one I’ve always remembered ‘witnessing’, listening to the chart each week and groaning as it refused to be defeated. There seems to be a tendency among them all to be coming from artists who weren’t yet fully established which makes sense. Still, the challenge to come up with a 17 weeker goes on.

  10. 40
    misschillydisco on 17 Sep 2009 #

    i am an enthusiastic SAW supporter, especially when i’ve had a few ales, and i feel this is the pinnacle of their achievement. they used to fill their records with effects that would make lights at discotheques go mental. i’m all for it. pete burns was, for me, the second most perfect* 1985 popstar: an over-made up gobshite. 9, all the way.

    * most perfect, morrissey

  11. 41
    Billy Smart on 17 Sep 2009 #

    Morrissey & Burns together in Smash Hits;


  12. 42
    MikeMCSG on 17 Sep 2009 #

    #34 While I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with your verdict on Pete Burns’s character I’d be very wary of buying into Endemol’s self-serving crap about “social experiments” and “revealing true selves”.

    CBB shows you how an already troubled (usually through diminished status) celebrity copes (or fails to) with extreme psychological pressure (if not outright torture) in an unforgiving artificial environment. It might tell you something about their strength of character but not their real personalities.

    I expect to be making the same point on four occasions when we get to 1999-2001.

  13. 43
    Conrad on 17 Sep 2009 #

    41, enjoyed that interview. I wonder if Pete and Mozzer are still phoning each other up.

  14. 44
    anto on 17 Sep 2009 #

    The Morrissey/Burns article is a camp classic, but what an odd pairing – Mancunian/Liverpudlian
    Indie Prince/Pop Tart
    Militant Vegetarian/Outspoken wearer of fur
    The most reserved man in music/The least reserved man
    in Britain.
    Still they seemed to find common ground over some tea and biscuits.
    By the way Conrad (43) from what I hear neither men are especially reliable at returning calls in general.

    One other thing that strikes me about You Spin Me….. Burns’ voice is not so different from Andrew Eldritch or Ian Astbury. Like those two his vocals offer command over flexibility so perhaps this is what the goth stars of 1985 might have sounded like if they had a few extra dance moves.

  15. 45
    misschillydisco on 18 Sep 2009 #

    forgot to mention previously that SAW were also responsible for this rather camp classic (one of my favourite records ever): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0nOb5h0JU8

  16. 46

    “The most reserved man in music” <--- is this morrissey? it seems imprecise!

  17. 47
    anto on 18 Sep 2009 #

    Hhmmm I suppose next to Pete Burns the Rio Carnival would seem “reserved “.

  18. 48
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Not many UK TV appearances on the list, but I suspect that there may be more than these;

    THE MONTREUX ROCK FESTIVAL: with Boy George, Talk Talk, Philip Bailey, Culture Club, Dead Or Alive, Elton John, Millie Jackson, Howard Jones, Kenn Loggins, Shakatak (1985)

    THE MONTREUX ROCK FESTIVAL: with Philip Bailey, Culture Club, Dead Or Alive, Elton John & Millie Jackson, Howard Jones, Kenny Loggins, Shakatak, Talk Talk, Paul Young (1985)

    WHISTLE TEST: with Cabaret Voltaire, Godley & Creme, Dead Or Alive, The Alarm (1985)

    WOGAN: with Pamela Bellwood, Dead Or Alive, Aled Jones, Ken Livingstone, John & Chris Lloyd (1985)

    WOGAN: with Tim Brooke-Taylor, Dead Or Alive, Sheila Gish (1986)

  19. 49
    ottersteve on 2 Oct 2009 #

    #4 and others.

    I seem to recall reading a piece somewhere that Kraftwerks “the model” took almost a year from its first release to reach No 1! I certainly recall dancing to it at my local club around th summer of 1981 – 6 months before it made the No 1 spot.

  20. 50
    Steve Mannion on 2 Oct 2009 #

    ‘The Model/Computer Love’ is also on 15 weeks (within the top 75) before #1 but not consecutively, according to polyhex chartruns search. No idea how long it spent bubbling under 75 tho.

  21. 51
    Kevin's Cousin on 11 Jun 2011 #

    It’s a very dull record, it just goes round and round and round… hang on, don’t they all?

  22. 52
    hectorthebat on 23 Dec 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1-1001
    Blender (USA) – Top 500 Songs of the 80s-00s (2005) 289
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    VH-1 (USA) – Nominations for the 100 Greatest 80s Songs (2006)
    Woxy.com (USA) – Modern Rock 500 Songs of All Time (combined rank 1989-2009) 897
    Gary Mulholland (UK) – This Is Uncool: The 500 Best Singles Since Punk Rock (2002)
    NME (UK) – The 100 Best Songs of the 1980s (2012) 98
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 981
    Vox (UK) – 100 Records That Shook the World (1991)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)

  23. 53
    Lazarus on 21 Apr 2015 #

    The sad tale continues, hard to know what to make of it all really – just seems to me that he should have seen a good therapist before he started consulting plastic surgeons …


  24. 54
    Phil on 21 Apr 2015 #

    The hidden force driving the record’s mania is that hyperfast sequenced keyboard run

    On “The Reunion” on Sunday, Pete Waterman revealed that this was a mistake – they stayed up all night mixing the thing, and only at 10 o’clock the next morning did they realise that they’d left the arpeggiator running on track 32 (or whatever). Presumably it would have taken a lot of work to take that track out (perhaps they’d mixed it down onto one track with some other stuff) so they left it in and hoped nobody would notice. Pete B however did notice, and loved it (and rightly so) – so they never told him it was a happy accident. All of which might help explain why they never hit that peak again.

  25. 55
    BT on 22 Apr 2015 #

    Moz & PB can be heard performing together here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx51PsNBe8E, although IMO the track really takes off after they’ve left the stage and the band reveal their jazz-funk chops

  26. 56
    Lazarus on 24 Oct 2016 #

    Another busy day in 2016 for the Reaper … following on from the news of Bobby Vee earlier, Pete Burns succumbs to a heart attack aged 57. RIP.

  27. 57
    AMZ1981 on 24 Oct 2016 #

    Bobby Vee and Pete Burns were both brief superstars from different eras and while neither ever quite sunk into obscurity, once the spotlight moved on they were never to regain it. Their deaths announced on the same day are a reminder that success peaks so quickly, youth is only passing and nobody is immortal.

  28. 58
    Jimmy the Swede on 25 Oct 2016 #

    #57 – Apparently Captain Scarlet was.

  29. 59
    Paulito on 27 Oct 2016 #

    @57 Burns did briefly regain the spotlight much later on, albeit in a desperately tawdry, end-of-the-pier freakshow capacity. Sad.

  30. 60
    Martin F. on 13 Nov 2016 #

    Bill Drummond on Burns (and more): http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/entertainment/remembrance-sunday-by-bill-drummond

  31. 61
    Mark M on 14 Nov 2016 #

    Re60: Still puzzling over the Pete Frame quote that the Eric’s scene was ‘the first unforced geographical rock boom since San Francisco mushroomed in 1967.’

    Anyway, that’s an enjoyable read, but as often/usual with Drummond it’s both very self-centred – it tells you almost nothing about Pete Burns – and full of connections that would fall apart if you tugged too hard. (I’m very sceptical that Townsend and Waterman actually visited him the same day, rather than the same… month?)

  32. 62
    Gareth Parker on 8 May 2021 #

    I would say 7/10. A fun record and Peter Burns really goes for it here.

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