Monday, 14 September 2009

1988 Robin Beck: The First Time

That Coca Cola logo on the sleeve gives the game away early doors - 'The First Time' is an extended version of a jingle written for one of the late eighties coke adverts given a new lease of life as a single. It's the same way that the New Seekers' 1971 number one 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing' was a modified version of the famous 'I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke' ditty.

I remember the advert well, and watching it again on YouTube not only brings back a warm glow of nostalgia, but also reveals how well the tune worked in the context of a one minute TV ad. Cutting the Coke apron strings to let it stand on it's own two feet away from the fast cut, feel good imagery presents rather a different proposition.

Gone is the short, punchy soft rock vibe and in comes a slowed down, chug-a-lug interpretation that lands somewhere between the Scylla of a power ballad and the Charybdis of straight up glam metal. Beck wails and moans like Pat Benatar on a bad hair day whilst drums crash and guitars squeal around her, but all involved mistake volume for substance and the end product is rather hollow at heart.

"First time first love oh what feeling is this

Electricity flows with the very first kiss
Like a break in the clouds and the first ray of sun

I can feel it inside something new has begun"

Ostensibly a song about falling in love, 'The First Time' sorely lacks any genuine feeling of excitement and, compared to Belinda Carlisle's exhilaration back on 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth', Beck sounds like she's reading the words off a crib sheet with one eye on the pay cheque.

But how else could it have turned out? That picture on the cover is a still from the ad itself and it hammers home the fact that this is not so much a Robin Beck single as an extended marketing campaign for a fizzy drink. In that sense it meets its ends admirably, but it leaves 'The First Time' with as much inherent goodness as the product it's advertising. And how much goodness can a product that seems to be using a blowjob as an advertising tool
have? I mean, look closely at that cover, you can just imagine the bloke saying 'Go on love, it won't bite'. 'The First Time' indeed!

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