If synth-pop from the early ’80s is your scene look no further than OMD‘s “Enola Gay” which was around when I was still a teenage school kid. My mates back then were very much into the group, buying their records and playing them loudly.

They always reminded me of square Estate Agents or compliant Bank Clerks dressed as they were in neat haircuts, tank-tops and ties. I figured out that they had no intention of wanting a rock ‘n’ roll image, this was new music for a new generation.

It’s a good and memorable tune, albeit synthetic, apart from the bass guitar. This was probably the first time I’d ever hear synths and electronic drums, it all sounded weird and space-age in 1980. I was too busy listening to the Jam to notice.

By 1982 Altered Images had forgotten about wanting to be the next Siouxsie & the Banshees and were firmly in the teen pop market. “See Those Eyes” from March was a hit, just failing to reach the top ten. Quite an achievement considering this single was long after “Happy Birthday.”

I’ve just watched an interesting promo video of “See Those Eyes” set inside Portmeirion Village, made famous by Patrick McGoohan in ‘The Prisoner’ – Altered Images are all prisoners themselves dressed in the gear the original TV cast wore. A very good effort all round.

I’m new to the Television Personalities and I know I have a lot of catching up to do because they were quite a prolific recording group. The single under spotlight today came with a ‘Record Store Day’ release of ‘Some Kind Of Happening’, a collection of their singles right up to the end of the eighties.

My choice is “Painting By Numbers” released under the alias of The Gifted Children. This dates from May 1981, a later re-recorded version can be found on their album “Mummy, You’re Not Listening.”

“Painting By Numbers” is very basic, almost puerile. It could easily come from a kids TV show, you know the opening song before the programme kicks in. Even the lyrics are are simplistic and juvenile.

“Painting by numbers, it’s easy to do
Painting by numbers, I want to paint you.”

Ah, another Orange Juice record makes my playlist. A great jangle pop record too, at the time, this sound was ‘new’, especially for the British charts. “Felicity” was quite an old Orange Juice number and dated from around 1979, but was resurrected by Polydor and released as a single during January 1982.

More than their Postcard label fans must have bought a copy because the record entered the lower reaches of the chart, peaking at #63. A decent effort but obviously deserved better.

The B-side or in this case, the double A-side “In A Nutshell”, also dated back to their beginnings, perhaps they were clearing the decks for new material. Their hit “Rip It Up” was still a year away.

Josef K“Chance Meeting” b/w “Pictures” – June 1981, last of the Scottish design sleeve singles. Green disc label with band photo on A-side. Initial copies came with postcard insert with handwritten lyrics and a black and white photograph of a large litter of wild dog pups.

“Flowers” by Hurrah! was probably my favourite record released by a contemporary group in 1983. It wasn’t even the top side! Honestly, playing this record thirty eight years after buying it transports me back to my bedroom as a loner teenager. No friends in particular, I’d call ’em acqaintances, but I wasn’t so sad and inept that I didn’t have a regular girlfriend. I just wasn’t that interested in forming long lasting bonds with lads in particular. I’m even more reclusive nowadays.

I’d spend a lot of time playing Hurrah, Byrds, Love and Simon & Garfunkel records back in ’83. I became hooked on jangle pop and folk songs and “Flowers” in particular reminded me of Arthur Lee’s group. Now I can’t give a record any higher praise than that.

“Hip Hip” is also worthy, a strident jangle pop number. The sound of a Burns 12 string guitar and harmonies. A marvelous and wonderfully distinct sound that will never diminish over time.

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