Released today in 1989: I’d Rather Jack



In their penetrating analysis of the playlists of commercial radio stations, The Reynolds Girls propose that there should be “no heavy metal, rock n’ roll, music from the past,” pointing out that “no one ever asked for our opinion, no, we don’t get a say.” They go on to argue that “all we wanna do is have a good time”, and that this wish is frustrated by “demographic stereo: they never play the songs we know”. Furthermore, they report the results of their statistical analysis which clearly shows that the “DJ on the radio station is always more than twice the age of me.” In an expansion of this theme, they reject the offer of “AM, FM, all that jazz,” countering this with the suggestion that they would “rather sing along with Yazz”. Contained within their considered research are the names of several acts that they believe contribute to the negative aural landscape of British popular music at the end of the 1980s. But how did these groups fare during the decade in question?

“I’d rather jack than Fleetwood Mac.”
There was no getting away from Fleetwood Max in the 1980s. If the band didn’t have an album out, then at least one of the members would. Those appearing during the decade included

  • 1980: Live, Fleetwood Mac.
  • 1981: Bella Donna, Stevie Nicks; Law And Order, Lindsey Buckingham; The Visitor, Mick Fleetwood.
  • 1982: Mirage, Fleetwood Mac.
  • 1983: I’m Not Me, Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo; The Wild Heart, Stevie Nicks.
  • 1984: Christine McVie, Christine McVie ; Go Insane, Lindsey Buckingham.
  • 1985: Rock A Little, Stevie Nicks.
  • 1987: Tango In The Night, Fleetwood Mac.
  • 1989: The Other Side Of The Mirror, Stevie Nicks.

  • plus various compilations of past material and new work from past members. Between them, these albums yielded 9 hit singles in the UK in the period 1981-1988, including three Top 10 hits from Tango In The Night alone. There must have been at least one song The Reynolds Girls knew among that lot, surely?

    “Golden oldies, Rolling Stones, we don’t want them back.”
    Another group where the members’ solo projects would keep interest in the collective going while the fans waited for the next album, coming back was exactly what The Rolling Stones kept doing in the 80s (and to this day). They last had a Top 10 single in the UK 1981, which might indicate a lack of interest in them from the generation younger than them, but their studio albums (released at roughly three intervals during the 80s) all comfortably made the Top 10 in the albums chart. In addition, there were two solo studio albums from Mick, one each from Ronnie, Bill and Keith, and even a live one from Charlie. Mick Jagger and David Bowie also had a #1 with their cover of Dancing In The Street in 1985. That was one for The Reynolds Girls to sing along to, at least.

    “Who needs Pink Floyd? Dire Straits? That’s not our music, it’s out of date.”
    Britain ushered the new decade in with Pink Floyd at #1 with Another Brick In The Wall, proving that they could still write a hit song even though they’d spent the whole of the previous decade avoiding the singles chart (their last 45rpm release in the UK had been in 1968). So successful was it, it earned them a platinum disc – a rare award for singles sales. Their first album of the 80s though, The Final Cut (1983), was the last to feature original member Roger Waters who would three years later describe the Floyd as “a spent force”. So, by 1989, perhaps The Reynolds Girls had a legitimate point about them being “out of date”.

    Whether the same could be said for Dire Straits is a moot point. Plenty would argue that their music (a prime example of “adult oriented rock”) was indeed out of date, but technologically at least, in 1985 they were pretty cutting edge. The computer-animated human characters in the promotional clip for their single Money For Nothing were something new to most viewers; the song’s lyrics shrewdly name-checked MTV and unsurprisingly, perhaps, it was video of the year at the MTV Awards in 1986. The album the track was taken from, Brothers In Arms, was the first to sell a million copies on the new compact disc format, and was one of only a few ‘full digital’ recordings available at the time. Digital tape recorders had only been available since the late 70s so most recordings available on CD in the mid-80s were “AAD” (recorded and mixed using an analogue tape recorder and digitally mastered for transfer to CD) or “ADD” (original sessions recorded on analogue equipment, but mixed and mastered digitally) – Brothers In Arms was “DDD”. So never mind AM or FM.

    NEW SINGLES on sale from Feb. 13
    ROXY MUSIC (Bryan Ferry) Jealous Guy (Polydor ROXY2)
    DEPECHE MODE Everything Counts (Live) (Mute BONG16)
    The REYNOLDS GIRLS I’d Rather Jack (PWL PWL25)
    Julian LENNON Now You’re In Heaven (Virgin VS1154)
    WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE’RE GONNA USE IT International Rescue (WEA YZ347)


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