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Monday 8 March 2010

Fun Boy Three 'Tunnel of Love'

In the five years after punk a narrow trousered army of people and bands stormed the singles charts, in the days when that meant something, who wouldn't have been pop stars in any other period. If punk musically was an ending, a full stop, it was a beginning for a mass of men and women with ideas, inspiration (do it yourself), and newly found access to the means of production (instruments, recording studios, independent record labels, pressing plants). Some brought a load of new or forgotten influences and musical styles (The Clash, Orange Juice, Scritti Politti, The Slits, The Specials, later on The Style Council, amongst others), some brought angry/fizzy pop songs (The Jam, Buzzcocks, Dexys Midnight Runners, Magazine, loads more) and found a mass audience, some went deeper and further (PiL, Joy Division) and some brought a unique view of the world and their place in it (Ian Curtis, John Lydon, Joe Strummer, Green Gartside, Edwyn Collins, Terry Hall). I'm sure there's loads of names you could insert or change. These people changed lives, trouser cuts, hairstyles, political beliefs, outlooks. They didn't really sound anything like each other- just relatively like minded, making outsider pop music.

Terry Hall had a reputation for being miserable. In recent years he's been diagnosed as bipolar. In between he recorded some great vocals and lyrics, in The Specials, Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield and his solo career. While musically The Specials were Dammers' band, making ska popular with teenagers, then branching off into lounge, easy listening and jazz, all the while with a frustrated rockabilly guitarist, it was often Terry's words or delivery of other people's words that gave them their contemporary twist- Too Much Too Young, Ghost Town, Gangsters, Friday Night Saturday Morning. When Terry, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple left to form Fun Boy Three they carried this on- weird, skewed pop music with interesting lyrics- try The Telephone Always Rings, or The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum. Or this, Tunnel Of Love, surely the most jaundiced, cynical view of love and marriage to hit the charts.

'You gave up your friends for a new way of life
And both ended up as ex-husband and wife
There were 22 catches when you struck your matches
And threw away your life
In the tunnel of love'

With violins and fiddles and a catchy pop tune. Selling hundreds of thousands. Who could do this today?

In the picture above right Terry Hall is modelling a limited edition V neck jumper from a well known street style label. Available in black or maroon, 500 of each, with a deeper than usual V and slimmer cut, and a signature label. I'm snobbishly thinking 'turning rebellion into money', while also thinking 'Mmmm.. nice, want one.'

08 Tunnel of Love.wma

1 comment:

hsd said...

check the new gil scott heron album - I'm new Here.