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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Gagging (on) the Munchkins
Of course, it went to number one. Anyone who actually remembers the '80s could have predicted that.

In 1984, a year that has some weight in the annals of censorship, the BBC banned the song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood from its airwaves, largely because the Radio 1 DJ Mike Read found it offensive. Of course, it immediately went to Number 1 as well, having been languishing in the thirties prior to that - just as the Sex Pistols' banned song "God Save the Queen" had done seven years earlier at the time of the silver jubilee. You'd think they'd learn.

Oddly enough, I remember hearing that same Mike Read shortly afterwards playing the Beatles' "Come Together" with every sign of approbation - even though (to quote Ian Dury) a seasoned-up hyena could not have been obscener. But I suppose the Beatles' dirty jokes were by that time as far beyond reproach as Shakespeare's.

As I've noted, I consider this the cleverest political protest of all time. Besides, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" is a good song.

Now, "Relax" - that song I found immensely offensive. Not for the lyrics, which I can't remember and never could make out most of, but for the music. Of all the irritating Tuneless Wonders that have infested the airwaves, that was perhaps the all-time worst.

I was (and am) fundamentally out of sympathy with most of the pop music of the early '80s. I don't remember that one being notably worse than the rest, but I'm happy to defer to your judgement on that one.

It was about that time, after too many songs like that, that I stopped listening to pop radio, which I actually had been doing for about three years for the only time in my life. I liked songs like "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

That was a perfectly decent pop song, though I'd never have bought it. I do remember buying the first Big Country album around that time, though, and U2's War, which both sound very portentous now (and did then, but then I didn't mind it). I remember hating the New Romantics with a passion - the Human League especially - but I'm not sure why. The synthesizers had something to do with it, but on the other hand I did like Eurythmics, so who knows?

Big Country. Now that you mention the name, I remember them. Didn't they have a hit that began with bagpipes? It sounded really good for about ten seconds, and then devolved into pop sludge. There were a lot of songs like that around then: punk numbers that began with ten seconds of acoustic guitar, that sort of thing, perhaps to fool people like me into listening.

That's right - they were a Scottish band, and made much of it. Think of the Bay City Rollers plus musical ability - though it's true they were only fitfully able to drag clear of the undertow of formulaic poppiness.