Friday, 11 February 2011
Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones
Often, when I try to remember something from the past, something else muscles its way in, like they were magnetised together. For example, when I think of the album ‘Chicago III’ my mind immediately shows me a picture of the dirty living room windows at the house we lived in during the early 1970s. The linkage goes something like this: in 1971 I did not own my own record player and was thus forced to use the family ‘Alba’ auto-changer-in-a-box player that sat in the living room. The living room faced south and in the depths of winter when the sun was low on the horizon, its watery beams would spear into the room illuminating the window pains and revealing them to be a bit on the shabby side after a winter of rain and frost. Quite why I would only play this particular disc on sunny winter days rather escapes me, but there it is – a memory frozen for all time.
More particularly, I was reminded of another linkage when I heard Chesney Hawkes one-hit-wonder rendition of ‘I Am The One And Only’ on the radio the other day. Most people will know by now that this song was written for him by Nik Kershaw who churned out a number of very competent songs for both himself and others from the mid 1980s onwards. And as soon as I think about Nik Kershaw there is a knock on the door and who should rush in but Howard Jones. To me the two just seem to be inseparable and I can’t think of one without the other.
Why does this happen? Well, let’s see…
They both bothered the charts in the period 1983-1986 then disappeared
They both sported a ridiculous mullet
I own two albums from each of them
Doesn’t really seem enough does it? Yet they even sit close together in my alphabetically stored LPs (J,K) and you feel like separating them like an over-zealous primary school teacher and banishing them to the A and Z sections. Musically, however, they were quite different. Howard Jones offered a dose of care-free pop in the classic tradition of hummable throw-a-way tunes set in the genre of the day, electro-pop. Listening to ‘New Song’ and 'What is Love’ now just make me smile which is what they are designed to do so mission accomplished.
Kershaw, on the other hand, was always a bit more knowing musically and wore his jazz leanings on his padded shouldered sleeves. There was always an aura of cleverness associated with his output which, because it was always topped by a good tune, I kinda liked. Things like ‘The Riddle’ with its slithery melody and ‘Wouldn’t it Be Good?’ are beautifully crafted songs.
Perhaps that’s the link. For a brief period, I liked them both, but I still haven't worked out why Kershaw gave away his best song.