Sing This All Together (See What Happens)
With their Acid Jazz-prefiguring dancey sounds and flashes of sixties pop and fashion, Swing Out Sister had made a big impression in the mid-late eighties, appealing to swanky types who liked imported coffees and teenage girls who wanted to copy that trademark haircut alike. Then percussionist Martin Jackson left, leaving remaining duo Corrinne Drewery and Andy Connell free rein to explore their own personal sixties fantasy world. The upshot of this was the aptly-titled album Kaleidoscope World, from where this equally kaleidoscopic single was drawn. NINE POINTS.
Brought His Mellotrode And Freaked ‘Em All Out
This is, it has to be said, an altogether different kind of psychedelia to any of the fellow sixties-apers it came up against, more in tune with the sort of thing that happened when the Ray Conniff Singers found themselves contractually obliged to throw in something for the peace and love crowd. Hence it sounds more like a lavishly-orchestrated late sixties film soundtrack – complete with hefty musical quotation from the Midnight Cowboy theme - than a sitar-led headswirler, only bolstered by modern production techniques that make it feel almost like a dry run for Saint Etienne. NINE POINTS.
On The Bus Or Off The Bus?
Nothing more bad-trip evoking than a couple of encouraging words of eye-drying to an unnamed male friend who has been abandoned by some heartless Bacharachian dollybird, but there’s some nice phraseology all the same (“nights don’t come any longer, days seem to last forever”), and a lot of playing around with the titular ‘blue’ imagery. SEVEN POINTS.
The Green And Purple Lights Affect Your Sight
The video starts off with a couple of French art film-esque monochrome sightseeing offcuts, then turns into a heavily stylised pastiche of The Avengers rendered in gaudy primary colours, intercut with posing on a beachfront. Ace! EIGHT POINTS.
I’m Picking Up Bad Vibrations
The reasons behind Andy’s departure halfway through making the album have never been clarified, but if he was unsure about this new-ish direction then it seems that he wasn’t alone. Critics may have raved over Kaleidoscope World, but in only just scraping the top ten it represented a mere fraction of the commercial success they were used to, something that had already been signposted by label Polygram shifting them to ‘progressive’ subsiduary Fontana, alongside such renowned chart-botherers as The Cocteau Twins and House Of Love. Forever Blue itself stalled at a less than overwhelming number 80. EIGHT POINTS.
Ha Ha Ha… We Blew Your Mind!
Happily, all of this seems to have got Swing Out Sister exactly where they wanted to be, free to make albums zigzagging between psych, lounge, jazz and Northern Soul, all of it sounding like the work of someone whose favourite member of The Beatles was George Martin. EIGHT POINTS, which nets them a very un-Forever Blue total of FORTY NINE POINTS.
Next Time – the missing link between Jason Donovan and Joe 90…