Sing This All Together (See What Happens)
The very definition of ‘whirlwind’, and accompanied by a hairstyle that looked like it was caught in one, Jason Donovan’s unplanned yet massively successful singing career was barely twelve months old when he started expressing frustration with his output and mentioning his love of The Beatles and The Stone Roses in interviews. True, a lot of it had been anthemic radio pop with too much treble, but there was also a higher smattering than usual of vaguely strange sixties pop covers (including the shimmering Rhythm Of The Rain and a spooky, semi-menacing take on Sealed With A Kiss), lending weight to his apparent desire to be seen as a modern day Russell Morris rather than just That Bloke In The Coat That Cost The Wrong Side Of Three Hundred Pounds. I’m Doin’ Fine marked the moment when he finally convinced Stock, Aitken and Waterman. EIGHT POINTS.
Brought His Mellotrode And Freaked ‘Em All Out
On first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was just another standard issue exercise in Beatle-emulation, albeit a much catchier than usual one, but listen more closely and you’ll notice a couple of subtle touches that elevate it a fair few notches above Noel Gallagher. There’s a Byrds-y jangly guitar intro, ‘submarine’ vocal reverb, toy piano, a flourish of Penny Lane trumpet that through the miracles of eighties recording studio ‘EQ Level’ botherishness ends up sounding like an escaped bit of the Joe 90 theme, and absolutely tons of near-Todd Rundgren-worrying lengthy blasts of phasing. Yes it’s all still very trebly and compressed and clinical-sounding, but let it never be forgotten that Stock, Aitken and Waterman did make some genuinely corking records that sounded great on local commercial radio, and this was one of them. EIGHT POINTS.
On The Bus Or Off The Bus?
Well, there’s nothing really profound to remark on here, just a lament-tinged rejoinder to a ‘difficult’ lady friend that comes across as something akin to Pet Sounds retooled for Big Fun, but there’s a nice undercurrent of introspective angst, and, given Mr Donovan’s enthusiastic preference for ‘certain substances’ around the time, the ‘Doin’ Fine’ could well have been achieved with the assistance of psychotropic means…SIX POINTS.
The Green And Purple Lights Affect Your Sight
Wigged-out dancing girls, flying semi-acoustic guitars, and Jase appearing as all four Beatle Boys (including a ‘Ringo’ doing comedy spinning around antics on his drumstool) in the style of a black and white TV pop show are the order of the day here, looking uncannily like those surviving stray fragments of the small-screen appearances of the likes of The Remains and The Vogues. Unfortunately – presumably out of fear that unsuspecting pop fans might get confused and explode – someone’s seen fit to superimpose a modern-day Mr Donovan doing his best bare-chested Jim Morrison poses over the top. The nicest thing you can say about it is that he was trying to copy Tim Booth. The least nicest thing you can say is that it ruins an otherwise fun video. SEVEN POINTS.
I’m Picking Up Bad Vibrations
I’m Doin’ Fine was nothing if not optimistically titled, as a recent nosedive in fortunes (not helped by, let’s be blunt about this, rotten songs like Hang On To Your Love) propelled it to the lofty heights of number 22. More or less abandoned by the pop fans, unlikely to be welcome with open arms by the indie kids doing that head-shaking shuffle and shouting “Fishes Eyes will watch your lies”, and without a ratings-grabbing TV show to fall back on any more, this was a commercial bad trip like few before or since. Keep away from the brown acid, Jase! EIGHT POINTS.
Ha Ha Ha… We Blew Your Mind!
Amazingly, this Woolworths’ Bargain Bin-bound calamity didn’t result in a ‘carpeting’ from the ‘suits’, unless the carpet in question was a flourescent yellow and green one. I’m Doin’ Fine was followed into the lower reaches of the Top Twenty by the similarly-inclined, if more funk-riffing, RSVP, and by a decent cover of Happy Together which did at least get him back into the top ten. Then, of course, musical theatre came calling and that was that, but for this brief if startling diversion into Nuggets-For-The-Gameboy-Generation territory he nets a more than creditable NINE POINTS. Which brings him to a rather fine-doin’ total of FORTY SIX POINTS.
Next Time – Roland Orzabal, a kangaroo, and the final reckoning…