Monday, September 9, 2013

 B.A. Robertson - smarmy comedian popster with a string of UK hits. Starting big ("Bang Bang" #2) and ("Knocked It Off", Top Ten), then dwindling fast ("Kool in the Kaftan", "To Be Or Not To Be"). Followed by career as talk show host / TV presenter, notable mostly for having enraged Annabel Lwin of Bow Wow Wow into a live-on-TV rant about the shitness of his "shit show" (see end of post).

Julie Burchill argued that B.A. found the gap in the market that opened when Ian Dury lost his knack for tickling the national funny-bone  and also lost his tunesmith-supreme partner Chas Jankel. A nice theory although "Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3" reached  Number 3 only the month before "Bang Bang" hit. But it's true that the Dury/Blockheads star was in the descendant, with Do It Yourself not selling well, and soon there would be didn't-quite-make-the-grade minor hit hit "I Wanna Be Straight" and Laughter, mirthless and altogether hitless.

"Bang Bang" certainly does seem to be an attempt to repeat (with just enough difference) the formula for "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick", Dury & the Blockheads monster hit of the preceding winter. Note the percussive echo of "stick" with "bang". Difference factor: instead of sex-as-timeless-universal force exalted by Dury, with "Bang" it's Romance ("when love has called/BANG BANG/the mighty fall"). And where "Rhythm Stick" roams  across Geography ("Eskimo/Arapaho/Move their body/To and fro" etc), the verses of "Bang Bang" traverse History (Marquis de Sade, Shakespeare, Samson and Delilah... and choicest verse: "Tony and Cleo struck out for the free-o/. down Egypt's way/But Caesar had squeezed her in Rome on his quilt for a day " etc).  It's a bit of name-droppy list song too, like "Reasons to Be Cheerful."

Clinching the Dury-manque surrogate role is the fact that B.A.'s delivery/ song persona - despite being a Scot man with a chunky brogue in conversation -- is Mockney wideboy.

"Cool For Cats" might also be the template here...  the sound of the single does come from a similar New Wave meets disco place.

The kind of "clever", catchy single that Radio One daytime deejays really really liked to get behind (see also Jona Lewie, Buggles, "One Night in Bangkok", et al) and yet was just New Wave enough for the earlier-in-the-night night time R1 deejays to play too.

Then B.A.R. did something I'm not sure had ever been done before -- follow his big hit with a song about having just had a bit hit ("Knocked It Off"), his feelings of taken aback triumph (like a fluke goal scored), success going to his head, but with faint but distinctly discernible undercurrent of worry about being a one-hit-wonder.  No  need to worry, the even-smarmier "Knocked"got to number 8.

Of these... the less said the better.

Oh dear

Double scotch...

Here's B.A. floundering with two of my favorite new pop stars

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