Thursday, 27 January 2011

Marshall Hain - Dancing In The City (1978/ No. 3/ 15 weeks/ Harvest)

It starts with a thunderclap. Some tappy drums pitter patter like rain. Synthi-percussion goes BUING! like the raindrops splashing in puddles.

It is a song that is constructed to precisely evoke sultry summer evenings, and which could only be a hit between June and August.

After a while a languid and well-spoken female voice greets us through this quiet storm;

If you’re a stranger here
And you need some action
We have a remedy
That could really catch on
Pleased to see another face
At light up time
If you’re feeling dull and run down
We can reeeally make you shine.

So many enticing promises. Note how the vocal opens out on "reeeally make you shine", an audible smile. How great it would be to actually meet someone like Kit Hain coming home from work, on a Friday evening in July...

The overwhelming quality of this song is it's palpable sense of intimacy. It's slooow, taking its time to uncurl and unwind - Its not especially suggestive, but it is so tinglingly sensuous;

Can you feel the darkness call?
Let the streets have their way...
They’ll carry you on ‘til morning -
And steeeal your soul away!

I can't imagine that there was ever a more quiet hit of the disco era. This may in part be due to the odd provenance of Marshall Hain, an experimental journey into pop from an avant-jazzrock keyboardist (Julian Marshall), giving the song a kind of grown-up feel, although obviously striking at the very heart of teenage desires and hopes. The single was released on the unlikely label of Harvest, EMI's stage for progressive rock. This is a definitive one-hit wonder, though the album, Free Ride is also very good.

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