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Monday, May 04, 2009

"llvin' on free food tickets / water in the milk from a hole in the roof where the rain came thru"

Did someone mention Paul Young?

Oh yeah, I did.

Paul Young was one of the new crop of British blue-eyed soul acts that sprouted up like crabgrass in the early-to-mid 80s, like Simply Red's Mick Hucknall, Alison Moyet (post-Yaz), and yes, Climie/Fisher. While Young had a fairly high profile at the beginning of his career in the UK, thanks to his association with his second band, The Q-Tips, he had a tougher road making waves in the States. His first US single, the Marvin Gaye remake "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)", sputtered upon release, just breaking into the lower depths of the Hot 100 (it fared considerably better in the UK, hitting #1).

Ah, but the follow-up, "Come Back and Stay" fared considerably better, breaking into the Top 40 and establishing a Young foothold in the US. The song is a classic, but it's really about two things - the fretless bassline and the weird, Tourette's-ish backing vocals of Young's back-up singers, The Fabulously Wealthy Tarts. Paul's nearly a footnote in his own song.

A similar issue cropped up on No Parlez's third Stateside single, "Love Of The Common People", a song made famous here by a few country artists, including Lynn Anderson and Waylon Jennings. You've got the Tarts yelping "Ah ay yiiii yiii!", sleigh bells, vibes and oh yeah, Paul singing. Best part - in the second verse when Paul sings:

It's a good thing you don't have bus fare
it could fall thru a hole in your pocket
and you lose it in the snow on the ground

...the Tarts robotically intone "a good thinnnng...OUCH" in the background. Wha, huh, wha? The 12" mix is even crazier. (And since this is now officially the season for giving, here's the rare 12" mix of "Come Back And Stay" that was on the B-side.) No Parlez also featured a blue-eyed soul version of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" which isn't nearly as vomit-worthy as it sounds like it would be.

"Common People" fizzled out in the low 50s of the charts, and No Parlez soon followed. But a short year later, Young would find major success the second time around, thanks to an obscure Hall & Oates album track and yes, by dumping the Tarts.

But I still liked 'em. OUUUUCH.

"Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" peaked at #70 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in 1983.
"Come Back And Stay" peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.
"Love Of The Common People" peaked at #45 on the same chart that year.

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Paul Young


posted by John, 10:01 PM