Friday, 6 May 2011

Junior - Mama Used To Say (1982/ No. 7/ 13 weeks)

Junior Giscombe is generally remembered for two things; being one of the biggest of the British music industry's periodical great black hopes for a crossover UK soul star with a long-term career, and for only really having one hit (the much later Kim Wilde duet doesn't really count).

What a hit it was, though! In America, too. When you remember it in your head, its the song that you recall - a series of injunctions from a dear departed mother to be careful with girls remembered as a man, an eighties take on Smokey Robinson's 'Shop Around'. When you listen to it, the thing which knocks you out is the hardness with which the song is aurally achieved - more Britfunk than light pop.

The effect is like living in a computer game and years ahead of its time. It's all electronic, even the brief ranging guitar solo and brass fanfares. Two elements are continually fighting against each - a deep bassline that waves loomingly back and forth, and a disruptive quacking siren effect that never seems to stop.

Peculiar percussive effects comment on the song - especially the rolling drums underneath the "You're YUNG! so YUNG!" plea and something that sounds like a crate of milk bottles being aggressively rattled. Junior's vocals complement this hard-edged and crunching thing, turning from light to growlly in a line, most obviously on the chorus;

"HMM-MUMMA Huesed to seh!"

Listening to this can be an immersive experience.

1 comment:

  1. I'd also say that this is one of the few examples of '80s jazz bass' actually enhancing a song rather than detracting from and dating it. It does some really rather strange atonal things in the chorus - and again in the middle eight - which gives the song an edge of mystery and tension.