Released today in 1986: We Should Be Together

Polydor POSP805

Polydor POSP805

Tracie Young owes her recording career to an advert in Smash Hits.
The first call from Weller in the Bitz column (Smash Hits, 5-18 August 1982)...

The first call from Weller in the Bitz column (Smash Hits, 5-18 August 1982)…

She responded to, um, Respond’s call for girl singers for the label – but not straight away. “I didn’t answer the first advert because it said you had to be 18 and I was 17 but I answered the second one,” she told Neil Tennant in the issue of 17 March 1983, the day before her debut single The House That Jack Built was released. “That was just after I moved from Chelmsford to Hereford and I was unemployed and really bored. When I saw the advert I couldn’t believe it: it was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.”

... and the one Tracie responded to (Bitz, 2-16 September 1982)

… and the one Tracie responded to (Bitz, 2-16 September 1982)

Respond was the idea of Paul Weller, who appeared alongside Young on the cover of the issue of Smash Hits referred to above, who was aiming to create a kind of modern British equivalent Motown for emerging talent. Young was invited to meet him and “about a week-and-a-half later he sent me a tape of The House That Jack Built, a very rough demo, and said: ‘Can you learn it and then come down to the studio?’. But before we actually got round to recording that, he phoned up and asked me to do the backing vocals on Beat Surrender. Apart from being a great privilege to be on the last [The] Jam single, it was also a very valuable experience.” She also got to contribute vocals to an early The Style Council single, and on working with Weller she had this to say: “Working with Paul is not so bad now. First of all, it was really hard because he’s so unpredictable and I never knew what to expect. This one thing I never took any notice of was what I read in the press about him. He’s always made out to be such a miserable sod, isn’t he? But he isn’t like that at all. He does have his up days and his down days, though, and I never knew what to expect.”

On Respond itself, she said, “I think my record and The Style Council and this whole Respond thing is basically about youth and going against the whole rock culture thing. The one thing we all have in common is that we hate rock music, the sort of thing you might see in the American charts. It’s boring – utterly bland. I thin Paul would like to sign more and more people to Respond as the wheels get in motion and things start to happen – which they will. He’d like to get more and more young people. The emphasis is on youth and a soul essence. It’s something that we all believe in.” Weller, also interviewed in Tennant’s piece, agreed – and his comments were the source of one of the most famous misquotes attributed to him. “People under twenty are very different, they’re fresher. They don’t try and intellectualise music, they don’t have that phoney pretence about it. They’re more intuitive. The whole point of Punk was that emphasis on young people. I think teenagers have got to get that arrogance back… things have really changed haven’t they? It’s like Punk didn’t make any difference.” [The last sentence was paraphrased back at the Smash Hits office as “It’s like punk never ‘appened,” and the phrase turned up in the magazine’s pages on a number of occasions thereafter.]

Unfortunately, Respond didn’t make much difference either. It was active for four short years and yielded only a handful of hits, despite signing some quality acts and having high production values. Young’s second album, completed in 1985, didn’t make it to the shops as a result of its demise. (It finally saw release nearly thirty years later, in the wake of a reissue of her first, 1984’s classy affair Far From The Hurting Kind.) Nevertheless, she (with six singles) and The Questions (with seven) were Respond’s most prolific artists, with Young as the most successful: The House That Jack Built made the Top 10, while The Questions never made it to the Top 40. They released no further singles after Respond ended, but Young went on to join Weller on the label The Style Council were signed to, Polydor, and released more titles, including We Should Be Together. Unfortunately neither this, nor a follow-up, returned her to the charts and plans for a Polydor album were shelved. She then withdrew from recording.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Jul. 11
RELUCTANT STEREOTYPES (Paul King) Confused Action (WEA K18293)
DEPECHE MODE Everything Counts (Mute 7BONG3)
TRACIE YOUNG We Should Be Together (Polydor POSP805)
S’EXPRESS (Mark Moore) Superfly Guy (Rhythm King LEFT028)
YAZZ Only Way Is Up (Big Life BLR4)
THE GROOVETRAIN (Nick Heyward) Why Did You Do It (Urban URB21)