And an equally cracking b-side as well.
Released in June 1985 and going all the way to #8 in the charts, this is one of those records that I had on 7″ vinyl back in the day, but which would be lost with many hundreds of others after a disastrous and misguided effort to do a runner from a rented flat in Edinburgh. It’s one that I liked, but didn’t love enough to ever go chasing any replacement, but when a 12″ copy showed up a few weeks back, I decided to take it home and give it a listen.
mp3: Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home (extended version)
I was quite bemused to find that the first minute or so is merely an extended noise before the music begins. Even then, it takes the form of an extended drum roll and some incidental music before the familiar trumpet solo eventually begins. As a result, it doesn’t feel as immediate or as sharp as the 7″ version as can be heard in this promo video which, if memory serves, was made for showing on The Tube on Channel 4:-
I was also struck by how much of the sound on the 12″ would be ripped-off by Communards for their cover of Don’t Leave Me This Way, which would go to #1 the following year.
I’d also forgotten how much I had enjoyed the b-side, re-discovering it again after such a long time:-
mp3: Fine Young Cannibals – Good Times And Bad (extended mix)
The song is credited to Andy Cox, the guitarist with FYC and who had, along with bassist David Steele, on the demise of The Beat, joined forces with vocalist Roland Gift to form this new band. But the lyric doesn’t feature Gift; instead, it is the work of Douglas Kahn, an American-born but Australian-based academic who is renowned for his writings on the use of sound in the avant-garde and experimental arts and music.
It had been back in 1980 that the then 29-year old Kahn had, through the use of a razor blade and a reel-to-reel player, created a tape called Reagan Speaks for Himself, taken from a media interview given by the then presidential candidate. All these years later, and such things are easy enough to pull together, but this was genuinely well ahead of its time, and it was released by Sub Pop on a compilation cassette in 1981 before being given away as a flexidisc with the March 1982 edition of RAW, a comic magazine from the USA.
Either way, Andy Cox was obviously aware of the work, and in adding a funky, jazzy, poptastic soundtrack, he helped to create something that was, certainly back in 1985, far from the norm.