Ultimately my feelings about Summer Gold and late 1979 are mixed and colourful (you can have colourful feelings, right? Well, you can’t tell me I don’t). I do feel that you can sift out the album in all kinds of weird and wonderful categories, if you’re of a mind, into for instance disco pop, rock (there’s not much of that really – maybe three tracks), novelty (if you count ‘Up There Cazaly’, you’ve got at least two; except you might also count ‘Money’, although as we saw this was regarded as a ‘disco’ track at the time of its release at least in some quarters; you might also count ‘Twist A Saint Tropez’, I don’t know, you tell me). Then there are sublime ballads – about three of those – and, well, some outright shit that should be destroyed, but not much. I’ve made much of how surprised I am by the extensive lack of hits on the album, despite the extensive provision of artists who just had hits and/or were just about to have more, but not this time. So weird. That, in itself, doesn’t speak to the quality of the work. No album that features ‘Who Were You With in the Moonlight’ could ever actually be a bad album. And that song wasn’t a hit in Australia (by the way, I bought ‘Who Were You With in the Moonlight’ on iTunes a few days ago so I could play it on the radio, and I just want to say the rerecorded version of that song is one of the poxiest pieces of succulent pox I have ever had the displeasure of vomiting in response to. What a turd of a record. An absolute and utter turd. It’s always so strange when people don’t realise the value of what they’ve done, and seek to remake it for no good purpose whatsoever. Of course the fact that it's so good the first time, that makes it so bad the second time).
What kind of culture were we looking at in late 1979? I suppose the first thing to realise, and yes this was ‘my day’ in the sense of (whether I was listening to radio or not) there were very few songs in the top 40 at this point that I’m not extremely familiar with, and in various ways pretty positive about. There are a lot more drum machines and synthesisers in use than we were necessarily aware of in the moment, and a lot more studio experimentation on various records than was acknowledged. The lyrics were often highly dodgy, sticky stinky brown dodgy, and the sentiments and assumptions within and amongst them were shockingly awful, oppressive and dunderheaded garbage.
|My high school, John Gardiner HS. A truly disgusting place and time. Photo credit: Fuck Off|
I was 14 in late 1979, it was a highly horrible time to be growing up in Hawthorn going to the really, really bad high school and doing neither poorly nor well academically and essentially just wanting to get it over with. I may or may not have been listening to the radio 1979 but it wasn’t long before I really embraced pop music, at the edgy end. I note that the Pretenders’ ‘Brass in Pocket’, which I adored (and still have a super soft spot for) was a hit in early 1980. I spent a whole day willing that fucking song to come on the radio. I was so thrilled when I bought my copy of that single.
So maybe 1979 is not inherently interesting but interesting only to me. It seems like so much more! Probs not. That’s OK too. In fact, I sort of prefer it not being so perfect. Not least because it’s all dead and over now.
To finish up, a song that has nothing whatsoever to do with Summer Gold but which came out at the same time, I bought it a couple of weeks ago entirely on spec. Mick Drennan made a record and disappeared. Why couldn't more people do that?!*
* Perhaps even without the 'made a record' bit