Tuesday, 2 June 2009

1985 Midge Ure: If I Was

I've always seen the post John Foxx Ultravox as the 'Alan Partridge' of the electronic movement, totally un-self aware in the bland pretension of their po-faced output. Perhaps not unexpectedly, Ure cracks open no new moulds for his debut solo single, quite the opposite in fact. 'If I Was' 'borrows' Queen's 'Radio Ga Ga' for its basic rhythm track and a walking in treacle version of Ultravox's own 'Hymn' for the chorus; there may be nothing new under the sun, but these lifts are blatant, not less through the Queen song being barely a year old. Put them all together and you have a low key plod built around an ascending chorus that's Ultravox in all but name.

Lyrically, it's torturous. Midge's lines are shoehorned into some Procrustean bed of rhyme to force them to scan, but they end up running as smoothly as a car with square wheels:"If I was a leader, on food of love from above I would feed her". And "If I was a poet, all my love in burning words I would show it". And "If I was her lover, her eyes in kisses I would cover". The Grammar Nazi's may want break out the arrest papers over the "If I was etc" when 'If I were' etc would more correct usage in this context too. But let's not go there.

'If I Was' is an agreeable slice of middle aged angst aimed at those who like to sort out their worries and stress by reaching for the kettle rather than the razor blades. Unchallenging, unthreatening and unimaginative - there will always be a nodding audience for songs that seem to be making profound statements on the human condition. 'Real music' they like to smugly call it, but 'If I Was' is more Fraud than Freud in those stakes. Or should that be 'In stakes of those, more Fraud than Freud is 'If I Was'? Or should it be 'In stakes of those, more Fraud than Freud was 'If I Was'? Enough.

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