Thursday, 12 February 2009

1981 Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin: It's My Party

No, not that Dave Stewart, it's the one formally of Egg and Hatfield And The North (who Gaskin also sang backing vocals for). 'It's My Party' is a cover version of Lesley Gore's 1963 original (also a number one), but this version is very much of the eighties.

Perhaps a bit too much so - electronic experimentation is one thing, but in Stewart and Gaskin's hands this sounds like five wildly different versions of the same song cut up and pieced together at random, a bit like a three minute 'Supper's Ready' (you can tell we're dealing with former prog rockers here).

From the dirge like funeral march of opening to the straight laced bubblegum 'woo woos' at the close, 'It's My Party' never sits still for a moment. Stewart stuffs every loose second with fiddly keyboard, drum fills and at one point a (rather splendid it must be said) sample of peeling church bells, while Gaskin's wide eyed and lost vocal sounds like she's more concerned and confused about what she's doing in a song like this than what Julie and Johnny are up to.

In many ways, it's a forerunner of the wannabe Goth of Shakespeare's Sister - the duo are aiming for the angst filled and overwrought, but they are too commercially savvy to let go of the rope that anchors them to the pop field, making this an awkwardly straight/experimental cover version that's never really given the space to catch fire and isn't much fun to listen to after the first time.

Another problem is that 'It's My Party' is about a young girl's distress at seeing her beloved leaving her party with another girl. Teenage angst is a fine and dandy subject for angst filled teenagers to sing (Gore was 16 when she had her hit with it), but it's not half so convincing coming from a woman in her thirties, and ultimately you just feel like giving her a slap and telling her to pull herself together.

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