Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Tramps Like Us

More mid- 80s Liverpool following yesterday's Pink Industry song- today Frankie Goes To Hollywood's over the top, everything turned up to the max cover of Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run. When Trevor Horn and Frankie recorded 1984's double album Welcome To The Pleasure Dome the massive hit singles Relax and Two Tribes had already dominated the airwaves. The Power Of Love and 1985 title track single were further smashes. This left the rest of the album being a bit of a ragtag bunch of skits and covers with a few originals. 

Springsteen's anthem with its dreams of flight and escape from dull lives and dead end jobs- 'this town's a death trap, a suicide rap'- was possibly felt very keenly in mid- 80s Liverpool, a city abandoned by the government into 'managed decline' with high unemployment, derelict buildings and a falling population. For Springsteen the highway offers freedom, even if it's 'jammed with broken heroes... everybody on the run tonight/ But there's no place left to hide'. Holly Johnson gives it his all vocally, a screaming, high octane performance as the drums, bass and guitars pound and squeal, 'tramps like us/ baby we were born to run'. 

On the album and sadly missing from the mp3 below there's a brief bit of dialogue to plant Frankie's cover firmly in Liverpool rather than New Jersey, a man signing on at the dole office and getting short shrift from a DHSS employee who threatens to put him on daily sign on. The humour of that brief exchange places the song and Springsteen's outsider road anthem in a slightly different light. You can get in the car, hit the M62 but they'll stop your giro and you'll be skint very quickly. 

Born To Run

The population flight from Liverpool was something Pete Wylie noted in Wah!'s epic single, also released in 1984, Come Back, a home made epic on a Springsteen scale and a plea to his fellow scousers not to go elsewhere but to stay, stand your ground and fight. 'Come back/ I'm making my stand/ Come back'.

Come Back (The Return Of The Randy Scouse Git)


jesseblack said...

New Jersey = No giro in the first place :-)

Swiss Adam said...

Yep, it's a good point Jesse.

Rol said...

Catching up, but obviously I love this post. "You can get in the car, hit the M62 but they'll stop your giro and you'll be skint very quickly." I think that's why the Springsteen dream always appealed to me... it was so far away from the M62, it might as well have been another planet.

JC said...

Interesting take on the Wylie song being about his home city. I always associated it (certainly the Randy Scouse Mix) with the fact he had long-running issues with WEA Records and how the label wanted to turn him into a pop star. Either way....it's a belter of a song.