Dec 09

BORIS GARDINER – “I Want To Wake Up With You”

FT + Popular32 comments • 4,233 views

#575, 23rd August 1986, video

Alas, to wake up you must first fall asleep, and Boris Gardiner’s lovers’ rock slowie veers awful close to lullaby. The tune is sweet, the keyboard lands halfway between bounce and caress, and there’s a gentleness and humility in his creamy delivery. What might have been something as oily as “The Lady In Red” instead comes over as a harmless summer evening melody, almost chaste. “Harmless” rarely sets the blood racing though, and “I Want To Wake Up” is as heavy on the eyelids as it is on the sentiment.



  1. 1
    MichaelH on 16 Dec 2009 #

    I was always faintly disturbed that the woman in the video looked young enough to be his daughter. You can get away with that in the big budget Hollywood style video, where the storyline is clearly fantasy. But in a video set in an ordinary British town, on an ordinary street, it felt creepy and leering. Which would be irrelevant to the quality of the song, were it not for the fact that even the mention of its title immediately rings creep alert bells in my head. While it’s certainly not sexy, I can’t hear it as chaste, either – just grubby. Even the title seems to signify the age gap between the two: Boris has no longer got the stamina to keep it going all night; what he’s looking forward to isn’t what happens before they fall asleep, it’s the feeling refreshed afterwards, when he’s had a good kip and his joints have stopped aching.

  2. 2
    thefatgit on 16 Dec 2009 #

    Boris, Boris, Boris…oh dear, what were you thinking?

    You can’t really hate this like CdB’s effort. It’s a drink of water when what you really want is Pol Roger.

    Nice shots of Westbourne Park tube though!

  3. 3
    JimD on 16 Dec 2009 #

    Thanks to a bit of entertaining wikipedia vandalism (now fixed), there was a brief period last year where I believed this song was by my current MP, Barry Gardiner.

  4. 4
    swanstep on 16 Dec 2009 #

    Three weeks at #1, and, according to wiki, the third best-selling single in the UK in 1986, and the biggest so far in 1986. How odd. One would have thought Bananarama’s ‘Venus’ would have blown through this in an instant (perhaps especially in the UK), but no. There’s a Cheers dialogue where Sam tells Diane that he hates her. She scoffs and says that of course he loves her, continuing for good measure:
    Diane: And everyone knows that hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is.
    Sam: Well, whatever you say. I really don’t care.

  5. 5
    anatol_merklich on 16 Dec 2009 #

    Nothing to add here but that his surname means “curtains” in Norwegian (and Swedish, I believe — jungman Jansson may be able to confirm).

  6. 6
    col124 on 16 Dec 2009 #

    Mercy, this one’s dull. Halfway through watching the video I began wondering how many forms of transportation Boris would get to use–walking, subway, car! I was holding out for a boat sequence, but sadly no…

    A 2 or 3: I flipped a coin and gave it the lower score.

  7. 7
    lonepilgrim on 16 Dec 2009 #

    I drifted off during the video and was irritated to find him still droning on after what seemed like hours later – all I could think about was that he was going to get his white trousers dirty sitting on the ground like that

  8. 8
    Billy Smart on 16 Dec 2009 #

    Aw! I reckon that poor Boris was only bounced into making the video with an unsuitably young woman by his record company. I rather like this – at times when I’ve been particularly struck by the wish to wake up with someone it strikes a cord, and the rest of the time its perfectly agreeable. I even liked it when I was 13.

    Boris Gardiner had some good previous form though. His much earlier hit, 1970’s number 14 smash ‘Elizabethan Reggae’ is the business, if amazingly sprightly organ led pop ska instrumentals are your bag – and they should be. Indeed, looking at the chart for 17th of January 1970, the week that it entered, one can see it as part of a golden age of reggae pop; Liquidator, Wonderful World Beautiful People, Moon Hop, and further hits for Desmond Dekker and The Equals.

  9. 9
    LondonLee on 16 Dec 2009 #

    Is it just me or is that train coming into the tube station more than a little Freudian given that Boris is leering at the young lady at the time?

    I usually find that a nice Lovers beat makes even the flimsiest tune listenable but it’s a struggle with this one, especially as it sounds like it’s played on the keyboard I bought my daughter at the Early Learning Centre.

  10. 10
    Jungman Jansson on 16 Dec 2009 #

    anatol (#5) – it does indeed. “Boris Gardiner” (which reads as “Boris’s curtains”) could easily have been a Swedish punk band from the late ’70s.

    It truly is a harmless song, this. My first impulse was to dismiss it as horrible, but it isn’t. It seems friendly enough. And it unexpectedly started playing in my mind on the way to work the other day, so it’s stickier than I would have thought at first. But it doesn’t go any further than that. Maybe a slightly more riveting arrangement could have helped.

    Speaking of the video – the age difference between Boris and his object of lukewarm romantic interest doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that Boris creepily just happens to show up wherever she goes and merely looks at her like a sad puppy.

    SwedenWatch: #4. Apparently it was less popular with the Tracks listeners, as it peaked at #9 there.

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 17 Dec 2009 #

    and I’ve realised that this record was number 1 when I began my first real job as an art teacher – starting a career that only just ran into the sand this year….

    any news on what was No.2…who was on TOTP etc.?

  12. 12
    MBI on 17 Dec 2009 #

    Someone at the record company fucked up and misspelled the man’s name on the single sleeve. I’m far more interested in that than the song in question.

    Wikipedia tells me that Boris was some kind of reggae journeyman popping here and there for years. It doesn’t have a lot of information about him. Can anyone here give me a little context for this guy and this song?

  13. 13
    TomLane on 17 Dec 2009 #

    No chart action in the U.S., and I think we didn’t miss much.

  14. 14
    Rob K on 17 Dec 2009 #

    So, fast forward to 1989. I’m deep in the throes of my first significant relationship which naturally involved sex. And lots of it.

    After one particularly passionate evening my partner breathlessly quoted a line from the film “About Last Night”. “As Demi Moore would say”, she whispered, “I love making love with you……”. Stunned by this curveball I searched my memory banks for a similar reference which I could use to return the complement and with a straight face I solemnly intoned “And as Boris Gardner would say, I Wanna Wake Up With You.”

    For that, and that alone, it’s a 10 from me.

  15. 15
    Mark M on 17 Dec 2009 #

    Re 12: accordiing to Lloyd Bradley’s Bass Culture, he was discovered via top Jamaican talent show the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, first hit big over here (as noted) with Elizabethan Reggae, once sacked a member of his band for having dreads, and played bass for Lee Perry’s Upsetters. But even that tiny bit of information is so much more than the vast majority of people hearing or buying this song knew, I suspect – there was no context for this song other than: summer/reggae.

    The video is rubbish but I rather like it as a cheery amble around West London (compare with Lily Allen’s tiresomely snearing LDN video – the second version). Certainly, you’d having to feeling as mellow as Boris to be standing on the platform at Westbourne Park with a smile on your face, living in the most distant hope that a train might be coming down the Hammersmith branch of the Metropolitan line (as was).

  16. 16
    punctum on 17 Dec 2009 #

    Boris Gardiner was there virtually from the birth of reggae, as original bassist with the Upsetters and producer of various post-ska favourites, one of which, “Elizabethan Reggae,” hit big in 1970; but by 1986 he had long since mellowed into a straight-down-the-line MoR crooner, a sort of JA Johnny Mathis. The fact that “I Want To Wake Up With You” was subsequently covered by Engelbert Humperdinck should confirm its very tenuous connection to Lovers’ Rock, even though it is strictly speaking Britain’s biggest-selling Lovers’ Rock single, and in the post-“Under Mi Sleng Teng” reggae world it came across as even more old-fashioned. But it crossed over to the punters who thought that Dennis Brown wrote The Singing Detective, and its simple and rather repetitive construction was enough to make it 1986’s big last-dance smoocher. Gardiner sings it with fulsome mellowness, and while the song’s sentiments can hardly be disagreed with, ultimately it’s the type of Dale Winton-friendly pop reggae which makes UB40 sound like Black Uhuru. Blameless, but also fairly unexciting, as per its ghastly AoR synth intro.

  17. 17
    Erithian on 17 Dec 2009 #

    Lonepilgrim #11 – nothing to remark at number 2 – in BG’s three weeks at the top the number twos were the previous and subsequent number 1s plus Sinitta back up to 2 after two weeks at 3.

    My first year in London and I’d never ventured out to Westbourne Park as yet, but the thrill was there as soon as I did a couple of years later – Boris was here! Of course that phrase doesn’t have quite the same ring to it for Londoners now – unless of course you’re being mugged in town late at night and hoping for a hero to arrive on his bike à la Del and Rodney as Batman and Robin.

    I remember this easy listening so-so record being featured on “Our Tune” once, by a mum whose baby had struggled through the first 24 hours of its life. She wanted so desperately for the baby to survive and be there with her when she woke up, that the title seemed appropriate. Just shows the lyrics don’t always count for everything.

  18. 18
    The Leveller on 17 Dec 2009 #

    #3 Jim D – I’ve met Barry Gardiner in the context of government work I once did and that bit of surreal vandalism just made my morning

  19. 19
    MikeMCSG on 17 Dec 2009 #

    I get the feeling this isn’t going to be one of our longer threads.

    Another unlikely chart-topper, Boris’s previous hit pre-dated my interest in pop. This is another in a long line of pop-reggae one-off hits in the same lineage as “Everything I Own” “Money In My Pocket” and “Sideshow” and actually inferior to them.

  20. 20
    Billy Smart on 17 Dec 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: Boris Gardiner performed Everything I Own on the Top of the Pops of December 25th 1986. Also in the studio that Christmas were; Doctor & The Medics, Simply Red, Pet Shop Boys and Chris De Burgh. Peter Powell, Gary Davies, Janice Long & Simon Bates were the hosts.

  21. 21
    will on 17 Dec 2009 #

    At the time I remember being utterly baffled by the success of this dull record. Twenty three years later I’m still baffled.

  22. 22
    Pete on 17 Dec 2009 #

    Every time I try to sing it, I end up with “There’s Something Inside So Strong”.

  23. 23
    Tom on 17 Dec 2009 #

    Since this is a slow thread you can go and read my further chart-nerd reflections on Christmas No.1s instead.

  24. 24
    Izzy on 17 Dec 2009 #

    #14: hahahaha, Rob K, that is magnificent!

  25. 25
    Jimmy the Swede on 18 Dec 2009 #

    Cheesy ol’ Boris ruins his career with this howler. The sentiment of the song is not romantic at all. It’s just as bad as saying: “I hope you don’t mind a little snorin’, honey!”

    Rob #14 – Great anecdote. It’s the fact that you were being completely serious which tickles me.

  26. 26
    Mark G on 18 Dec 2009 #

    Oh, I quite like this. 6 from me…

  27. 27
    jonnyk on 20 Dec 2009 #

    Remember hating this at the time, and it’s still every bit as dreary and gloopy as it was then. This was a particularly bleak period in pop – The Lady In Red, Every Loser Wins, The Chicken Song etc – and for me represents the tipping point from the imaginative, creative first half of the 80s into the more formulaic, bland and risk-averse late 80s and early 90s.

  28. 28
    DV on 28 Dec 2009 #

    This song is so forgettable that I do not remember it.

  29. 29
    Jonathan Bogart on 6 Jan 2010 #

    While this was on the top in Britain, across the ocean the more-or-less official tabulators of chart music in America had decided that some record needed to be kept of all the Spanish-language music whose popularity was no longer confined to pockets in the Southwest and urban immigrant communities.

    So Billboard’s Hot Latin chart was born, and I’m doing a Popular to it now here. I don’t have any particular expertise in the field; my only real qualifications are that I know Spanish and like pop. Anyone for whom either (or neither!) of those is true is welcome to comment. As someone who counts it an honor being listed in the Comments Crew here, I’m hoping to have a tithe as lively, informed, and enjoyable comments box over in my little corner of the pop playground.

    And with that, my advertising budget has run out.

  30. 30
    AndyPandy on 12 Jan 2010 #

    No 36 watch: a new entry for Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk’s “Love Can’t Turn Around” – although as I mentioned before Colonel Abrams ‘Trapped’ of a year before was described in the dance press at the time as ‘house’ at 25 years distance for some people that record doesnt seem so obviously the start of something however no mistake can be made about this being undoubtedly the real thing and so quite an important chart week musical history wise.
    Although Trevor Fung’s ill-fated “Project” in South London (in 1985)
    notwithstanding as far as the UK was concerned the music would just be played in mainstream discos and old style funk/soul clubs amongst the usual stuff for nearly another year before we had the start of acid house/rave and 18months till the scene really took off.

  31. 31
    benson_79 on 24 Sep 2020 #

    This was a running joke in our house as kids. My mum – who appeared 95% of the time to have no interest in the world of music – would often ask what was number one each week. “Ooh, is it Boris Gardiner”? (This anecdote pales in comparison to the one at #14, admittedly.)

    I can’t remember if mum genuinely liked the song or not, but middle-aged housewives who weren’t particularly interested in contemporary tunes certainly seems like its target demographic.

  32. 32
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jun 2021 #

    I’d be more inclined to go with a 3/10 here.

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