THE BARELY REMEMBERED SOPHOMORE SINGLE

A previous instalment of the cracking debut singles series enabled the spotlight to be put on Magazine and the quite majestic Shot By Both Sides, released in January 1978.

It would be a further five months before the debut album, Real Life, hit the shops, comprising just nine tracks, one of which was a re-recording of Shot…., but noticeably absent was the single the band had released in the intervening period.

mp3 : Magazine – Touch and Go

It’s very much a song of its era, relying heavily throughout on the new wave guitar work of John McGeogh while Barry Adamson on bass and Martin Jackson on drums provide ample support as the rhythm section. And of course, there’s the unmistakable whining vocal delivery of Howard Devoto, seemingly almost breathless at trying to keep up with the relentless pace of the playing. It’s almost as if Dave Formula’s dainty keyboard solo, which comes in at exactly halfway through the song, is there to enable the vocalist to get a second wind.

Touch and Go isn’t a bad song. It’s big problem is that it is a very long way removed from the brilliance of the debut 45 and it didn’t have enough going for it to make it stand out among the other post-punk singles that were being released in 1978. It’s also quite unlike the other songs that Magazine were beginning to write and record – compare for instance with the opening track on said debut album:-

mp3 : Magazine – Definitive Gaze

I recently came across a review of Definitive Gaze that described it perfectly – ‘it switches between a sci-fi love theme and the score for a chase scene’ (Andy Kellman, allmusic). Touch and Go feels lumpen and unimaginative in comparison, and while there was ample space for it to be included on the debut album, it was a wise decision to cast it aside.

The b-side to the 7” was a real hoot:-

mp3 : Magazine – Goldfinger

Yup…..a cover of the theme tune to the James Bond movie as penned by John Barry and sung by Shirley Bassey. It’s almost as if Howie & co are auditioning for the right to compose and perform the next again Bond movie. The thing is, they would have certainly done a better job than what was used in the 1979 movie in the series – can anyone, without looking it up, recall what Moonraker sounded like?

Fun fact pop-pickers.

Despite being one of the most instantly recognisable of the Bond theme songs, Goldfinger only got as high as #21 in the UK singles charts in 1964, albeit it performed better in the USA by hitting the Top 10.

In fact, only one James Bond theme song has ever reached #1 in the UK. And very surprisingly, that accolade belongs to Sam Smith and his rendition of Writing’s On The Wall, which was written for Spectre in 2015.

Every day is a school day round here…………

JC

2 thoughts on “THE BARELY REMEMBERED SOPHOMORE SINGLE

  1. Magazine epitomized great post-punk. Apart from maybe the Stranglers, no one was relying so heavily on keyboards in 1978. Adamson’s bass was heavily treated with chorus effects, and McGeoch was in an innovative class by himself. ‘Touch and Go’ falls flat because none of these musical elements are featured. It’s just a bog-standard punk song played at half speed. Could have been the Adverts. No wonder it was left off the debut as the band were miles ahead of the old formula by then.

  2. I agree mostly with JTFL, with the exception that “bog standard” is a bit harsh. I think the b-side, perhaps in retrospect, gives a better impression of where the band were going.

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