Released today in 1986: Caravan Of Love

Go! Discs GOD16

Go! Discs GOD16

This was the second a cappella chart topper of the 1980s, following The Flying Pickets’ version of Yazoo’s Only You which was 1983’s Christmas #1. The Housemartins almost made it their single a Christmas #1 too, but were knocked off the top in the crucial week by a re-issue of an old Jackie Wilson song which had a claymation video. That type of thing was popular in ’86.

“It’s not directly religious,” said lead singer Paul Heaton of his group’s interpretation of the song. Evidence to the contrary was that all four members of the group had shaved the symbol of the cross into their hair, they had filmed the promotional clip for the single in a church, they were depicted in prayer on the sleeve, the B-side (which Heaton wrote with drummer Hugh Whitaker) was called When I First Met Jesus, and their arrangement of the song was more gospel-sounding than the original. Isley Jasper Isley had released the song in America on 20 August 1985 as the lead single from their album of the same name, issued a month later. “I first heard Caravan of Love when it came out about a year and a half ago and it just stuck in my head,” Heaton continued. “I thought it was a good song but that Isley Jasper Isley could have done it better. So we decided to do it vocally. We had to alter one line in it – it mentioned something about ‘every man in the world’ but we changed ‘man’ to ‘people’ – we’re not having any of that ‘man’ rubbish! We’ve been playing the song on tour in Europe and it’s really funny because the audience get lighters out of their pockets during it like they’re at a Queen concert. It’s really corny.”

Although the lyrics referenced Chris Jasper’s Christian beliefs, Heaton put a different slant on the message of the song. “It’s more like spiritual… inspirational… preaching sisterhood and brotherhood and things like that. We’re cynical about the Christian movement but we’re not cynical about religion at all and we’re getting less and less cynical about it. It’s just a feeling of goodwill to people. Not to all people though – it’s the feeling that if Christ were alive today he’d be on the side of the poor and poverty-stricken as opposed to the rich.”

NEW SINGLES on sale from Nov. 24
1986
A-HA Cry Wolf (Warner Bros W8500)
The HOUSEMARTINS Caravan Of Love (Go! Discs GOD16)
Nik KERSHAW Radio Musicola (MCA NIK11)

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