Thursday, January 11, 2018

Summer Gold: Edwin Starr's 'H.A.P.P.Y. Radio'

Edwin Starr was best known of course for the million-selling (Vietnam) war protest song 'War', and so he should be. This is a remarkably fine pop record, however, particularly for its economy and drive. I particularly like the repetitive one-note horn (?!) line that is on the go when this fragment begins:

Just as the first ten seconds of 'If It's Love You Want' were, I'm almost certain, meant to make the song radio-playable, the whole of 'H.A.P.P.Y. Radio' is a record contrived to sell itself on radio, and to  briefly take DJs away from banter about stealing knickers off the clothesline and into reveries about how much their listeners love listening to the radio. To do so they must play it, and in playing it they make people want to buy it.

Starr had been living in the UK for half a decade when he made this record, which to my mind explains its tightness and fullness (am I getting too technical here lol) and also why, in the clip, the 'girls' behind Starr are white girls, which would have brought the army out in the USA or at least the Klan. They're two girls twice over, right? And the whole thing has been constructed so Starr can be bigger out in front, creating depth. Anyway I'm not here to talk about videos, but songs, and this is a fine little number that says nothing and therefore most things.

Unbelievably because it's so fucking hot, this record did not chart in Australia, but it was top ten in the UK.

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