Sunday, 1 March 2009

1982 Goombay Dance Band: Seven Tears

Now here's something - Kraftwerk were the first German band to ever top the UK charts, and now barely a few weeks later we had another one (astonishingly, there would soon be another to complete the hat trick, but more of that later).

Throughout the latter part of the seventies, there was a rivalry of sorts between the UK's Brotherhood Of Man (in their own minds at least) and Abba. Both had won Eurovision and both went on to release further hit singles with the Brotherhood's 'Angelo' ripping off Abba's 'Fernando' in a such a shameless manner that the Swede's lawyers must have been poised to pounce. But if Abba were top notch IKEA, the Brotherhood were most definitely chipboard cupboards from MFI with a few panels and screws missing.

I make the comparison because the moment 'Seven Tears' opens with those interminable 'Mmmmmmmmms' and then that plodding 4/4 drum beat, then Boney M's 'Rivers Of Babylon' springs immediately to mind. Also German, Boney M were a spent force by 1982, but the men behind this Goombay band clearly thought there were more miles to be had from this multi racial, happy clappy Euro beat engine yet.

'Goombay' is a variation of drum based music from the Bahamas that is played in a celebratory style, but while there was always a wondrous sense of humour and unpredictability about everything Boney M did, there is precious little celebratory or varied about 'Seven Tears'.

For the whole duration of the track, the rhythm and beat does not change one iota and it plods it's way dirge-like from start to finish in the manner of a hymn sung at a school assembly that has been rearranged by the trendy music teacher to try and make it more relevant to 'ver kids'. Any goodwill you may have felt toward it is ground down by the sheer monotony.

And if that wasn't enough, the lead singer, who manages to look like both Roger de Courcey AND Nookie Bear at the same time, blandly warbles the lyrics of tears running to the sea with all the emotion of a man whose first language is not English and is instead singing phonetically without the first idea of what he's on about. And he probably doesn't. I know I don't:

"Lonely like a stranger on the shore.

I can't stand this feeling anymore.
Day by day this world's all grey

And if dreams were eagles I would fly"

Unfortunately, dreams are not eagles and this is not a good song in any sense of the word. As lucky a number one as you'll ever hear, their luck soon ran out and the Goombay Dance Band did not trouble the British charts again.

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