Monday, May 4, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 55)

55. "Popkiss"
Artist: Blueboy
Year: 1992

My interest in Blueboy stemmed from my adulation for Harvey Williams, which is ridiculous when you consider he was brought in as a second guitarist, but I always ended up liking the bands with whom he associated himself. This wasn't really his band, however. Blueboy belonged to Keith Girdler and Paul Stewart.

Choosing one song from Blueboy is about as tough as it gets for me. If this was an albums list, no problem. 'Unisex' is the band's high point, and there are certainly some great individual songs from that LP I considered, particularly the orchestral "So Catch Him" or the jangly "Cosmopolitan," but those early singles from just before to just after 'If Wishes Were Horses' are too good to pass up. The lyrics to "Clearer" have a bluntness rarely seen in a first song. "Meet Johnny Rave" (Hey, Adam, here's another Johnny song for you!) is vintage Sarah, and so is "Cloud Babies" from that first album. My list of candidates continued to grow.

I finally settled on "Popkiss," in part, because this was the first song I heard from Blueboy, and those four minutes grabbed me and have yet to let me go. Perhaps you'll understand if I put it another way. More times than not, when making a mix tape with Blueboy on it, this would be the song I would choose. It was the band's second single, and musically the song was light years ahead of "Clearer." At the time, Girdler and Stewart had put up a notice at the University of Reading's student union seeking musicians. Philosophy student Gemma Townley was the only one to reply, but what a find! She could sing, as well as play the bass, piano and cello. Her talents were incorporated immediately. Stewart describes the song as "ferocious," and "Popkiss" has the feel of a live recording... unusual for a Sarah act. The band marched to a different beat for sure. I couldn't remember ever hearing a wordless chorus in a pop song.

Blueboy was opening for the Field Mice just as they were about to call it a day. Williams had been playing with those guys, and he found himself impressed with the young upstarts, calling them "a few levels above any of the other Sarah acts, and way more exotic and interesting and just better than most other independent music at that time." He was ready to join up just as the songs for this 7" were being assembled. If this song was good enough for one of my favorite indie heroes, I can certainly find room for it on this countdown.


Anonymous said...

Another Johnny (and one I don't know)
Swiss Adam

Scott said...

Not really sure how but Blueboy seemed to have passed me by. I was hooked from the first chord, excellent tune.

Brian said...

Hi Scott. Glad you liked it. The verses are vintage Sarah, but then the band goes off on a really interesting tangent. So tight. Blueboy has always been one of my favorites from the label. I believe we will be listening to two more Sarah bands before this list concludes.