Anyone familiar with my tastes will be aware that I am drawn to the kind of 80s music that has recently been dubbed “Sophisti-pop”. A little bit cerebral, very melodic, often quite genteel, and bathed in atmosphere. A decent proportion of the third disc on A Jamboree Of Surprises project falls squarely (and unapologetically) into this category.
Some of these selections flirt with the notion of being “forgotten”; The Korgis song, for example, has gained something of an evergreen status owing to subsequent cover versions and appearances on a few 80s compilations, while Labi Siffre’s affecting anti-Apartheid anthem also potentially has a higher profile than this concept demands. Radio Africa and Broken Land were heavily supported by Radio 1 at the time, too, even if their chart positions (#19 and #20) never really reflected it.
A Jamboree Of Surprises: The Forgotten Eighties [CD3]
- Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy) Scritti Politti 4:23
- King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up) [7″ Mix) China Crisis 3:54
- The First Picture Of You The Lotus Eaters 3:44
- Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime The Korgis 4:07
- The Captain Of Her Heart [Edit] Double 3:58
- The Downtown Lights The Blue Nile 6:31
- Chocolate Girl Deacon Blue 3:22
- Broken Land [Edit] The Adventures 4:08
- Come Back The Mighty Wah! 4:27
- Pills And Soap The Imposter 3:44
- Shipbuilding Robert Wyatt 3:04
- Radio Africa Latin Quarter 3:56
- (Something Inside) So Strong [Edit] Labi Siffre 4:50
- To Be Reborn Boy George 4:26
- Come On Home Everything But The Girl 3:23
- Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune) [Single Version] It’s Immaterial 3:53
- The Ink In The Well David Sylvian 4:32
- Think For A Minute [Single Version] The Housemartins 3:31
- For A Friend Communards 4:38
What starts off as a “Sophisti-pop” trip ends up taking a few detours, but concludes with the beautiful melancholy of The Communards’ great overlooked single. The first few songs pretty much pick themselves, a mixture of the lush and the romantic. Usually I opt for edits, but the full Downtown Lights has to be on here, of course. Chocolate Girl – another non-Top 40 hit with a high profile and solid sales – offers a brief respite from the intensity, before a double dose of anthemic alt.pop.
Pete Wylie’s passion is then swiftly pierced by Costello’s withering Falklands diatribe, and his other withering Falklands diatribe which he gave to Robert Wyatt to stunning effect. That leads into more politico-pop, the African chimes of imminent freedom from Labi and Latin Quarter respectively.
The Boy’s rebirth from 1987 was a last-minute inclusion, as it fitted in perfectly after Something Inside (So Strong), while also paving the way for the closing run of songs. A bit of NOW-inspired title juxtaposition with Come On Home followed by Driving Away From Home. I felt The Ink In The Well was too obviously similar to the sound of Shipbuilding to go straight after it, and it means there’s another bit of wordplay going on with Ink being followed by Think.
For A Friend then acts as a kind of post-apocalytpic coda after The Housemartins sing about the end of the world!