Monday, July 13, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 33)

33. "The First Time"
Artist: The Hit Parade
Year: 1992

JC over at the (new) vinyl villain has a handy sidebar he calls "Sites Fit For Heroes." I always thought this was a great idea. Among the many reasons to like the list is that it very quickly tells new readers whether or not this is the place for them. If you like, say, Josef K or Morrissey from his impressive rundown, chances are you're really going to dig JC's blog and will want to continue reading. If I ever lift this for Linear Tracking Lives, Julian Henry's the Hit Parade will surely make my list of sites fit for heroes. As a bonus, for today's selection, you get two of my heroes for the price of one. Harvey Williams, a true king in the world of UK indie pop, is a guest on this song. That's him singing along.

I have to admit any confidence I may have had in this pick was shot earlier today by Mrs. LTL. I was playing the Hit Parade's 2003 single "In Your Arms" earlier today when she asked, "Is this a joke?" After mulling over whether to file separation papers at the courthouse, I inquired further. "It sounds like a parody of, uh, something," was her retort. Gutted. The only person I can think of who might help me defend this pick is Friend of Rachel Worth, the man behind the wonderful (but sadly retired) blog Cathedrals of Sound. He shares my affinity for Henry's twee, but I'm not quite sure if he made it past the '80s material. I hope he did because the Hit Parade has continued to craft beautiful odes to lost love for more than 30 years.

Perhaps someone from Japan will read this and proclaim his or her undying loyalty as well. Much like the Pastels, the band at No. 35 on this countdown, the Hit Parade have a legion of fans on that side of the world. It's one of those anomalies that have us in the west scratching our heads, but I'm guessing those are the listeners that pay the bills... kind of like the Wild Swans being huge in the Philippines. It's better to just accept it and be happy these bands are getting the love they deserve somewhere.

I have never understood why "The First Time" wasn't released as a single. For most of the last 20-plus years it was only available as a deep track on 'Light Music,' an obscure album put out by Japan's Polystar Records. The song got new life in 2012 when it became the opener on the must-have compilation 'Pick Of The Pops (Vol. 1).' Finally, many of the Hit Parade's best songs became widely available. Enjoy this wonderful little promotional piece to get you to run out and buy it.

How about one more bonus? Here is the presser for the 1992 album 'Light Music.' Yes, all of their PR is this offbeat:

This new high quality compact disc has been recorded live specially for you, the listener, in mind. The practical circular design ensures that it fits neatly into all modern players. The tone of the sound, we think you will agree, is not merely top notch but positively luxurious. On each track the performance has been recorded by scientists so each gasp and electronic reverberation has been captured.

Unlike other popular beat groups the Hit Parade are not in fact popular.

Their sperm-like appeal is based on willful obscurity and a necessity to remain unsuccessful for as long as possible. Despite this the Hit Parade have become famous all over the world and their two previous long play recordings have become milestones on the history of popular music.

A mood of strange awakening sweeps across this new compact disc, like a ghostly feather brushing cobwebs from the lips of a sleeping princess. And as the Hit Parade come to life the listener will understand why they have become leaders in their field of modern light entertainment. Each song tells the same sad story of romance, regrets and doomed one-sided relationships. The Hit Parade will add a new dimension to your unhappiness.

New fans of the band will find this compact disc to be an intriguing and enlightening experience. Other people, perhaps those with bad breath or ill-fitting trousers, might not at first appreciate the whims and obsessions of this perfect pop group. But stop for a moment and listen. Life will never be the same again. Maybe.


TheRobster said...

"sperm-like appeal"??? Ewwwww.....

Anonymous said...

genius - I've managed to keep going right up to the latest. The debut lp still hasn't been toppled but there are some cracking tunes in the later releases.

Not wanting to incur the wrath of Mrs LTL but ...... she's wrong!

kevinpat said...

This is very sweet. I didn't know this song or band. I'll check them out. However it did make me just wanna listen to my beloved Vauxhall and I album. That's a charmer for me, sweet sounds and spot-on songwriting. If you are also a fan here is a link to a free DL of a French tribute to that album (in English) that's really nice. "True flattery is a great cover," said me. Thanks for the Hit (Parade)!!!

The Swede said...

An effortless delight.

Scott said...

Always thought it was great that so many Scottish bands were so liked over in Japan. For some reason they seem to like all our great bands like The Pastels, BMX Bandits, TFC etc..Can hear why they would be so taken with The Hit Parade..

Brian said...

Ah, FORW, I hoped you would come through for me. So happy to read you have stuck with the Hit Parade too.... and completely with you on the 'With Love From...' being the best of a very nice bunch. Perhaps the band got a few new followers with this post. Thanks to the Robster, Scott, Swede and Kevinpat for giving the Hit Parade your attention. Much appreciated.