Tuesday, April 29, 2014

UK Indie Hits: 1980-89 (No. 20)

I'm counting down my top 50 singles from the golden age of the UK Independent Charts.

20. The Waterboys - "A Girl Called Johnny"

Other Contenders: This was the band's only indie charting single.

Chart Entry: April 16, 1983

Peak Position: No. 9

Comment: A tremendous debut single by Mr. Mike Scott. Man, do I hate saxophone, but it works better here than in just about any song I have ever heard. Tip of the cap to Anthony Thistlethwaite. This will help you pinpoint my age: 'The Waterboys' is among my first album purchases, and I'm happy to report I still own that same copy bought as a lad more than 30 years ago. "A Girl Called Johnny" preceded the album release by a few months on Scott's own Chicken Jazz label. Thus, the Waterboys had this one indie hit. The song is said to be a tribute to Patti Smith, one of Scott's favorites. I stuck with the Waterboys through "The Big Music" era of 'A Pagan Place' and 'This is the Sea.' I never bought another album from the Waterboys after 1985 (although I did follow Karl Wallinger to World Party for a bit), but I still visit the band's first three quite often.

Buy "A Girl Called Johnny" on 'The Waterboys.'

Here's a quick recap of the countdown so far. I'll post the list again when we get to the top 10.

50. Phil Wilson - Waiting for a Change
49. Ben Watt - Some Things Don't Matter
48. Depeche Mode - See You
47. Wire - Eardrum Buzz
46. Talulah Gosh - Beatnik Boy
45. McCarthy - The Well of Loneliness
44. The Field Mice - Sensitive
43. Felt - Penelope Tree
42. Razorcuts - Sorry to Embarrass You
41. The Jasmine Minks - Cold Heart
40. Electronic - Getting Away With It
39. Primal Scream - Crystal Crescent
38. Hurrah! - Who'd Have Thought
37. Shop Assistants - Safety Net
36. The Pastels - Comin' Through
35. The Sea Urchins - Pristine Christine
34. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Upside Down
33. The Brilliant Corners - Delilah Sands
32. Everything But The Girl - Night and Day
31. Associates - Kitchen Person
30. The Lightning Seeds - Pure
29. The Primitives - Stop Killing Me
28. The Loft - Why Does the Rain
27. The Flatmates - I Could Be in Heaven
26. Mighty Mighty - Throwaway
25. Yazoo - Nobody's Diary
24. The Wake - Talk About the Past
23. The Teardrop Explodes - Treason (It's Just a Story)
22. The Pale Fountains - (There's Always) Something on My Mind
21. Fire Engines - Big Gold Dream


Echorich said...

My Waterboys attention is similar to yours Brian. They peaked with A Pagan Place and This Is The Sea for me. I know they got a good deal of attention for Fisherman's Blues, but the spark was missing for me.
Listening to A Girl Called Johnny, you hear the vital, urgent intent in Mike Scott. He's believable - that's not something that is easy to come by in rock music. So much is artifice or edifice, music made with the wrong intentions or pretentions.
Wallinger seemed to find a way of stealing some of this from The Waterboys when he left, but even he didn't manage to keep the flame lit.

Brian said...

Yes, I'm with you. I just didn't like the shift in sound after 1985. A Pagan Place was the band's best moment for me, and A Church Not Made With Hands would be on my top tracks of the '80s list somewhere.

Echorich said...

I love Church Not Made With Hands, but always come back to The Big Music. The latter track has always seemed even bigger than Mike Scott and the band, like something that had to be released as if it had been preordained and Scott and Co. were chosen to release it. There's an ethereal, otherworldly presence in The Big Music. The song just invades me and can stay with me for days at a time.

Brian said...

Yes, so good, Echorich.