Friday, September 9, 2011

I got a feeling of optimism...General Public

Back in early 1984 it was sort of weird period for me to be a mod or whatever it was that I was trying to be.  The Jam were long gone, all the '79 mod and ska bands were gone and I was clinging to hopes that new bands would emerge (luckily within six months I'd be digging deep into..."the Rubble" he heh heh and turn my back on "contemporary music" till Brit pop's 15 minutes).  True I'd gotten really into a West Coast band called The Three O' Clock, but there weren't British (and in my Anglocentric mod music world that meant a lot)and they were just a tad too new wavey for me to REALY follow with the ssme conviction that I'd worshipped the Jam, The Specials or (ack!) Secret Affair. Then in the spring of 1984 there came a burst of hope from my car radio on WPRB, my local "cool" college radio station one day whilst driving around (I was 17 and yes I had a car, more on that some other day).  The voice sounded incredibly familiar, was it...?  Yes it was!  It was Dave Wakeling of the (English) Beat!  The band were called General Public and the record was called "Tenderness".  I immediately located a British music monthly (I can't recall what, possibly "The Face"?) and it mentioned the band's line up which was a veritable freaking super group: ex- members of The Specials, The (English) Beat, Dexy's Midnight Runners/The Bureau and even Mick Jones from The Clash!!  My ship came in!

I was completely blown away by it, it had all these great bits (an oboe even reminding me immediately of the 1st LP era Bowie tracks I was so enamoured with) and it sounded so fresh (it holds up okay but admittedly it's a bit "too 80's" for me now). I immediately bought the single in the "import" bin of a record store in Quakerbridge Mall (where I'm still known to snag an occasional Ben Sherman or three when I'm in the area 27 years later........) and played it constantly and put it on a cassette tape and it was on in my car 24/7 (alongside other un-mod numbers like Aztec Camera's "Oblivious", The Cure's 'Love Cats" and of course heaps of Squire, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Syd Barrett...., but the latter is another teenage tale for another day). When it eventually garnered a U.S. release I snagged that one too. In fact my U.S. copy is still brand new and my U.K. copy is literally unplayable. Maybe that's because I played it so many times or that I played it so many times on my then crap stereo (actually wait by then I'd actually had a nice stereo that my mom actually bought for me on credit that i was paying her back for bi-weekly). But the record reminds me of this brief kernel of brightness and optimism in my mundane, depressing world that was the spring of 1984 knowing that I'd finally be out of high school in a few short months and feeling young and actually for once, happy. Every time I hear it I'm 17 again and in the seat of my Triumph Tr-7 tooling around with the sunroof open with my French crew cut in a well worn pair of desert boots and a tennis shirt (non Fred Perry at this point in the game) before the weight of the world was thrust upon me with adulthood.

US Issue Front

US Issue Rear

U.K. Issue


Anonymous said...

Remember that single quite well myself. "Limited Balance" was a decent b-side, too...

Mr. Suave said...

Loved the early GP stuff. Nice blend of power pop, soul and that uptempo sort of 80s new waviness. Always liked Anxious best off that first full album of theirs.