Oct 10


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#637, 16th December 1989

A Jive Bunny Christmas medley was at this point probably the most inevitable thing in the entire history of pop music, but that didn’t make its arrival any less painful. And honestly, little could have prepared you for how brazenly shoddy “Let’s Party” actually sounds.

Let’s start with the backing – Joe Loss’ “March Of The Mods” is a record with several fine qualities, all of which appear in the two minutes of it Jive Bunny doesn’t use. The Mastermixers lift the march-time and riff and in their hands it immediately becomes a grim press-gang, redolent of the very worst aspects of the “party season”: the heartless forced fun of Christmas. Listening to it is like being pressed against a wall by some wobbling, braying, sodden monster who excuses all offences with the sprig of mistletoe clutched in their clammy hand.

It’s an introvert’s nightmare, and we are all introverts compared to Jive Bunny. For the first time the record acknowledges his malign presence: the “March” sections are extended to make room for a satanic hypeman crying “JAAAAIVE BUNNEH!” every fifteen seconds. The producers also drop in the occasional sample – “What the hell is going on?” asks a voice, perhaps a tactic to make the record seem like a spontaneous explosion of zany hijinks to which only boring straights could possibly object. (We’ll see this kind of thing again: Noel Edmonds, for one, is taking notes)

And at last we get to the sampled records. Naturally, having a theme handed to them on a plate and two decades of festive hits to weave together, the Mastermixes use a massive three songs. This isn’t mixing so much as carving – chunks of Slade, Wizzard and Gary Glitter hacked into the track and bleeding at the edges: Frankenstein’s monster in a kiss-me-quick Santa hat. The Slade section sounds like they’re trying to get the right speed live; before the Gary bit (“TAKE IT AWAY GAZZA!”) the MC goes “Wind It Up! Wind It Up!” as the tempo lunges upwards.

These are good records, of course – well, two of them are: Glitter is showing his eager-to-please side, not his swaggering one. But I think – just maybe – you’d get to hear them in full around Christmas without the intervention of the Mastermixers and their floppy-eared chum. There may have been worse records than this at Number One, but surely none more unnecessary.



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  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 13 Oct 2010 #


  2. 2
    lockedintheattic on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Right now Jive Bunny have 3 of the bottom 10 reader-rated songs so far, which is quite an impressive (but entirely deserved) feat.

    Number 2 watch: The only Jason Donovan song I ever liked, the christmassy-sounding (thanks to the sleigh bells) When You Come Back To Me

  3. 3
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    As I said before I enjoyed the ‘March Of The Mods’ element so would have to relisten to hear quite the level of badness you’ve described – and I’d forgotten about the “what the hell is going on?” bit.

  4. 4
    Kat but logged out innit on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Bwahahahaha just listening to this now – even my dreadful mash-up attempts are better than this! The ‘clap your hands and stamp your feet’ bit at the end sounds weirdly like Zag of ‘Zig &’ fame.

  5. 5
    Rory on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Putting the “Christ” back into Christmas…

    I don’t know what’s more offensive, its usual mastermixeriness or the fact that they shamelessly cashed in on two of the biggest UK Christmas perennials. But why choose? It’s a guaranteed 1, especially as it’s the third JB track I haven’t been able to listen to all the way through on YouTube.

    Thank JC it’s all over.

  6. 6
    sonnypike on 13 Oct 2010 #

    “Interestingly” the version on the 2009 Jive Bunny comp on Spotify includes Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, presumably in place of the absent Glitter.

  7. 7
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #6 I hope they go “TAKE IT AWAY MAZZA!”

  8. 8
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The sound of waiting in a queue in Woolworths or WHSmith in December, condensed into 4 minutes, with some idiotic wailing over the top (oh, well, perhaps for added suburban English shopping-centre effect).

    An utterly pointless record. (Having made a point of tracking them down, all inspired by Popular: I have to say – still, less bad, in more than one case CONSIDERABLY less bad, than the remaining hit singles the Bunny went on to have. “Over To You John (Here We Go Again)” – which I think was to raise money for St John’s Ambulance probably being the worst of them. It sounds perceptibly amateurish and unfinished to a far greater degree than the others. I’m not recommending that anyone else tracks em down btw, but they are all on Youtube)

    Still, I fear another bunny’s ears will start wildly twitching if I mention bad records made for charidee, mate, too loudly this month….so I shall hush

  9. 9
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    A few years ago somebody commented that Jive Bunny were “the UK Steinski” which is a bit like saying that Roy Castle was the British Clifford Brown. Just because “Lessons 1-3” mastermixed those number one tunes doesn’t make Jive Bunny’s unfortunate chart-topping triptych their equivalent – the difference is to do with cynical showbiz against loving art, canned laughter versus natural humour, machines and humanity (and were Jive Bunny to have lived all nine of its alleged lives it could never have conceived something as starkly moving as “The Motorcade Sped On”).

    Even by their humble standards, Jive Bunny’s Christmas offering was an especially shoddy piece of work, not so much mastermixing as first year primary school mixing on turntables made of Playdoh, consisting as it does of huge, indigestible chunks of Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody,” Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” and (ahem) Gary Glitter’s “Another Rock ‘N’ Roll Christmas” ineptly slotted into fragments of the ever faithful John Anderson and his team parping their way in various keys and tempos through the old Joe Loss relic “March Of The Mods,” a tune forever associated in my mind with primary school PE class workouts. Saddest of all perhaps are the newly-recorded contributions from Chubby Checker, Noddy Holder and Roy Wood, adding mock-mirthful voiceovers to the shameful melée and demeaning themselves in the process.

    Ah yes, process, processed…had it not been for the next entry, “Let’s Party” (with its handy B-side of Anderson’s mob performing “Auld Lang Syne”) would not only have made Jive Bunny the third, and by far the least, act to have their first three singles go to number one (and thereby opening the gates for the kind of subsequent warped thinking which would put Westlife on a near-equal footing with the Beatles or Presley), but would also have been the last number one of the eighties – a truly sorry end to any decade. But few seemed to care; the record was spun and energetically, drunkenly danced to at countless parties that season. Hundreds of thousands of people enjoyed and were entertained by Jive Bunny’s processed demolition of music. Hundreds of thousands of people derived enjoyment from living processed lives. And by the following Christmas, Jive Bunny couldn’t get arrested.

    But enough of Jive Bunny; a remedial word here about the far more important chart event of December 1989, namely the Manchester/Madchester trilogy which stormed the Top 20 within the space of a fortnight – there was a fourth record, Morrissey’s “Ouija Board, Ouija Board,” but that barely registered, and while not one of his indispensable records does merit a small round of applause simply for not being “Let’s Party” whose ghastly stench of quotation-marked happiness spoke far more of death (as one of its few distended samples aptly put it, “What in the hell is going on?”). Of these, “Fools Gold” (no apostrophe, and if you had the twelve-inch its actual title was “Fools Gold 9.53”) by the Stone Roses became the most famous. Their slow escalation to sainthood is not entirely baffling, but in 1989 they were not instantly greeted as saviours of anything; the debut album received indifferent reviews in the music press and sold steadily. “Fools Gold” with its post-23 Skidoo twin-bass neurofunk approach satisfactorily updated 1981 for then-current needs – and in an atmosphere of Jive Bunny, trash dance cash-ins and the Billboard Hot 100 a month out of date, “Fools Gold” sounded sufficiently different and fetching to stand out amidst the morass.

    Happy Mondays, too, finally broke through – Vince Clarke’s “W.F.L.” remix should have done the trick earlier in the year, not to mention the divine “Lazyitis” re-recording with the slightly bemused pre-Beatles chart veteran Karl Denver – with the Madchester E.P., lead track “Hallelujah,” performed on TOTP the same week as “Fools Gold” with Kirsty MacColl on backing vocals, looking and sounding infinitely happier than she had done with the Pogues two Christmases earlier, a glorious stagger of post-everything rock-funk, and even if their masterpiece (Bummed) was already behind them, no one could demur at their thoroughly deserved success throughout 1990.

    That leaves “Pacific” by 808 State, and the parallel story of Manchester dance, rearing up from those pregnant early eighties days of ACR and Quango Quango, and ending up with something truly new – think also of erstwhile 808 Stater A Guy Called Gerald, whose revolutionary “Voodoo Ray” finally crossed over to the mainstream Top 20 in 1989 at the third time of asking, and obliquely World of Twist with their monumental “The Storm,” and in a parallel-to-Manchester sense the Orb’s “Huge Pulsating Brain…” with its devastatingly patient 20 or so minutes of peaceful, beatless beats and its central resuscitation of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” and I heard a new world. “Pacific State,” when originally heard on the Quadrastate mini-album, was gorgeous and expansive where the rest of pop and dance was becoming clenched up and stilted once again – with its encouraging, medium-range beats, its floating soprano saxophone (more John Surman than Kenny G), its air of a “Wonderful Land” for the courageously generous new world of the nineties which was surely to follow. Spruced up somewhat for its 45 status, but losing none of its original magic, “Pacific” the top ten hit single became the lead single from the wonderful Ninety album, with which we can properly close down this decade just as the first Pretenders album opened it, a beaming, radiant proclamation of a shinier, newer pop – and how right it should have appeared on the ZTT label. From this perspective, it looked as though New Pop might just have won. Looking forward to the future, Madchester succeeded in making pop sound as though it had only just begun. For all emotional intents and purposes, let’s freeze the frame here, and refrain from doing so on Jive Bunny’s never-more-forced bonhomie.

  10. 10
    MikeMCSG on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #2 That Jason Donovan song had appalling lyrics eg “So many people, smiles on their faces / Armfuls of presents, going to places”. It was like Mike Stock knew the game was up and was taking the mickey.

    This record is just dreadful – the worst chart-topper since Nick Berry. Although there are some brighter records in 1990, the last three number 1s of 1989 seem like the harbingers of doom.

  11. 11
    Sam Howells on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Jesus, 1989 was sh1te, wasn’t it?

  12. 12
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    So was 1967, if you look at it one way.

  13. 13
    Alex on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I remember this – I was nine years old. It was embarrassingly shit. This, by the way, is the True Sound of Thatcher – cheap, contemptuous prolefeed, like the front of the Sun.

  14. 14
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I recall that Dale played this on Pick Of The Pops just after Xmas 2008, including the double G sequence in full. I’m not quite sure what the reaction was, if indeed there was any.

  15. 15
    Iain on 13 Oct 2010 #

    VH1 devoted a few hours to All the Number Ones of the 80s a couple of weeks ago, which included this in its full horror but (unless they put them in out of order) skipped both the other Jive Bunny numbers. And Doctorin’ the Tardis.

  16. 16
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The Fools Gold/Hallelujah/Pacific triumverate resulted in a particularly momentous Top Of The Pops in which all three songs were performed (and indeed mimed, with Graham Massey blowing the ‘Pacific’ hook somewhat unconvincingly into a Yamaha electronic clarinet). Also noteworthy for Jenny Powell’s affirmation that a new Stone Roses album would be released next year…

    Mercifully we did not get a bloke in a Jive Bunny suit dancing about in the TOTP studios and the pop pest was confined to video (where again, the ‘Rock & Roll Years’ inspired monochromatic montage still found approval). By contrast ‘Pacific’ had a dynamic future-focussed video showcasing some fancy computer graphics thus looking as well as sounding like nothing else in the charts, but a montage of moments from the previous ten years may not have been a bad fit for it either should there have been a desire to look back as well as forward at that point. I was captivated by it as a track and recorded the Chart Show (at this point in a bizarre late night slot) in order to watch the video in the morning before school.

    Still I would just about take ‘Let’s Party’ over ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers’ which had returned to the charts for some reason, altho the latter does appear to feature a cat playing bagpipes on its sleeve. Plenty of good stuff elsewhere tho, from ‘Street Tuff’ to ‘Getting Away With It’ to ‘Get A Life’ to another lovely PSBs/Dusty collab with ‘In Private’.

  17. 17
    Billy Smart on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The Jive Bunny single is so depressing that I can’t find much to say about it. ‘March of the Mods’ deserves to be remembered as so much more than the ‘Let’s Party’ source, though, so perhaps it would be more productive to write about why I like that so much.

    This is party music, but music for a party that I might even enjoy being at, if I could travel in time. I imagine it playing at a proper dance hall , circa 1964, the age when you could go to both dances and discotheques. Its a big formal event, a works dance or New Years’ Eve, and the men and women are particularly dressed up for the night, as more hangs upon having a good time this evening as would normally be the case, neat partings, new ties, colourful dresses.

    Crucially, this wouldn’t be a gathering of the kool kids of the day, but a collection of several generations and more unfashionable and uncertain revelers. The ‘Mod’ in the title is just a with-it period trapping. The only mod thing about the single is the groovy organ that adds a few jolly flourishes over the second half of the disc.

    What this record really is a stomp, a chance for the dancers to let their hair down and lose a few inhibitions through an unapologetically silly tune. It’s a great blaring brassy thing;


    The effect of this repetition is really quite locked-on and relentless, demanding an instantaneous and non-cerebral response from the listener, rather like a hard-rockin’ guitar riff does. Eventually other instruments join in and flirtatiously play off against this riff, a call and response, some of the flutey arrangements sounding like the instrumentation for a British comedy film of the fifties or sixties. If you were dancing to this, I would imagine that you and your partner would have worked out some mutual action with your feet during the riff, walking towards and away from each other, say. Then, when the new bits of instrumentation came in, you’d have to do something silly like throw your arms out together. It would also be a good tune for communal dancing like holding hands in a ring-a-roses or a conga line. It’s certainly just as well that it only goes on for two minutes, because you’d reel away exhausted to the chairs at the edge of the room once it had stopped, feeling in need of a drink… but you’d feel happier and less selfconscious.

    Like many pop phenomena, The March Of The Mods comes from an unlikely source, the letkajenka, a traditional Finnish linedance that revolves around bunnyhopping actions. In the early 1960s a mutant strain of this spread in Finland, incorporating steps from the Madison and the Conga. And then somehow it traveled to England, Joe Loss & His Orchestra and to provincial dancehalls and night outs such as I like to imagine.

    Further internet research validates my theory that this tune led to the creation of special dance routines. YouTube listeners reminisce;

    “Takes me back to my dancing days at the Pamela Chelmiah school of dancing in St.Ives near Huntingdon! Fantastic memories.”

    – and –

    “I’d forgotten all about this music. I can vaguely remember doing the dance that went with it. Everybody went round the dance floor in a big circle. There was one bit where you jumped forward with your feet together then jumped back again then took four steps forward. I hated doing it as a kid because I wanted to be a rocker and thought that all mods were poofs. I still do.”

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 13 Oct 2010 #

    ‘Until You Come Back To Me’ is also the poppermost, says I. That is Kylie on backing, isn’t it? If so, then in marketing terms, I think that a trick was missed in not billing the single as Kylie & Jason again – Kylie is all over the backing vocals of this, sometimes taking lines where Jason remains mute, her invisible presence making her a more spectral loved other than in Christmas 1988. This song is actually a bit harsher than Especially for You, not having a pay-off of a reunion in the last verse. Its also explicitly set at Christmas in England;

    So many people
    Smile on their faces
    Armfuls of presents
    Going to places
    There’s a chill in the air
    as I walk through the night
    How I wish I could walk
    through the windows of time
    Would I see happiness there?
    see your face everywhere
    But the lights all go down
    over London…

    The tempo of the song then steps up a gear, leading to several minutes of various protestations of Donovan knowing that she will come back and that when she does the fire will glow, etc. Sometimes this can sound ecstatic to me, sometimes hollow – I only realised a couple of years ago after 19 years of listening to this song that what I’ve always heard as “pain in my heart” is actually “a flame in my heart”. This double edge of joyous conviction, but a conviction based on little but faith with no indication of reciprocal feelings from the loved other makes ‘When You Come Back To Me’ a pretty accurate representation of what the feeling of hope is actually like, and makes this song amongst the very best of Christmas hits

  19. 19
    lonepilgrim on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Billy @ 17 – I think that piece of research may be the only good thing to have come out of this record

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    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    A note on the unexpected resurrection of “Donald, Where’s Yer Troosers?”: Simon Mayo was in charge of the Radio 1 breakfast show at this time and was inclined to do an annual “let’s get an unlikely novelty record back into the charts” campaign (a bit like Chris Moyles/John Barrowman but obviously without the internet), so Andy came back, as did “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” a year later and “Kinky Boots” still another year later (“came back” is a notional option, however, since neither of the latter made the charts on their original release).

  21. 21
    weej on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Oh god, this is way beyond terrible. Surely this must be the most “that’ll do” number one of all time.

  22. 22
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #18: More likely stalwarts Miriam Stockley and Mae McKenna than Kylie, I fear, but it’s a nice idea.

  23. 23

    “revolves around bunnyhopping actions” <--- !!! Ambushed by unexpected mastermixy arcane scholarship...

  24. 24
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #21: Also in the running for worst video ever made; thankfully Tom has not provided a link. It really looks as though it were made for 5p.

  25. 25
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Personally my kneejerk response to “March Of The Mods” is to do The Max Wall – a) ask your dad/grandad; b) see also Diana Ross’ 1982 top tenner “Work Your Body.”

  26. 26
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #24 Yeah I’m not sure I even had the will to look. There seem to be some later versions of JB videos which are even cheaper looking than the originals and see the Mastermixers (Visual Department) experimenting with the high tech power of Microsoft WordArt.

  27. 27
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I can agree that “When You Come Back To Me” (ANOTHER SAW single – after two of Sonia’s naff 1989 efforts) where the title is almost, but not quite, sung in the lyrics, is one of Jason’s finer efforts. (Hardly high praise, that).

    That he doesn’t sing in the chorus helps immeasurably. Which makes me think what a fine career he could have had as a singer had he adopted the Milli Vanilli approach. And if Big Fun had done that…

    This is surely as good a place as any to mention one of the nearly-great lost SAW-linked acts, just to check that I am not th only one to recall them: viz Morgan McVey. “Looking Good Diving”, anyone? (1986 I think).

    If we have to make a connection, the Morgan of the act went on (in Jan 1990 or thereabouts) to have a top 30 hit with a rather crap speeded-up cover version of “Walk On The Wild Side”. And Jason didn’t sing on the chorus of that one either. I vaguely seem to recall that there might have been some kind of Neneh Cherry connection too (and she was hovering around the lower part of the top 40 with “Inner City mama” roundabout now, IIRC.)

  28. 28
    Erithian on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Ah, Christmas, time of goodwill to all men, cheery parties in the bleak midwinter and lots of Yuletide fun. Like I’ve said before, I feel well disposed to a lot of Christmas songs that just warm the cockles of my heart and, despite what critics above may say – [sound effect of needle being taken off record] –

    Nope, sorry, even more loathsome than previously considered. Especially since these hugely unlovable people had “achieved” a chart feat only previously done by Gerry and the Pacemakers and Frankie Goes To Hollywood – first three releases at number one. The idea that this lot could do it just suggested the chart was properly going to the dogs.

  29. 29
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The three number ones thing produced a sense of dread for sure – there was definitely anxiety in March over whether they could break the Gerry/Frankie record. (Not spoiling too much to say they didn’t – “That Sounds Good To Me” was an affront too far and stalled at 4. Chart decline or no decline, at least when the record was eventually broken it was by a genuinely massive and important pop group.)

  30. 30
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Chelovek the connection would be the McVey (Cameron), Neneh’s husband. I remember that cover of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ mainly because it was competing with another cover of the same song released at the same time by Beatsystem.

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