I admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for pop music– good pop music. It probably stems from growing up listening to my older siblings’ Beatles records as well as the stuff we used to hear on WLS and WCFL.

In the summer of 1979, there was a two-page ad in Billboard magazine for a UK-based music label which had finally struck a major distribution deal with a huge American company. (2/9/2012 update: through the miracle of Google Books, here’s the actual ad.) The ad talked about the history of the label, and how its sole reason for existence was for its owner to spend his huge inheritance as quickly as possible. The ad also had descriptions of the label’s four six initial releases under the new joint venture.

The label was Virgin Records. One of the releases was a self-titled album called The Records. The description in the ad described a guitar-based pop band who were destined for great things.

Okay, it was an ad. They’re allowed to say that kind of thing.

I picked up a copy of The Records based solely on the description of the ad and the sale price of $4.99 at my local Laury’s Records store in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was, and still is, one of the best $5 purchases I’ve ever made. The album contained some of the most catchy, hook-laden, and jangly (pre-dating even REM) power pop tunes I’d ever heard. For weeks, this was what you’d hear coming from my bedroom or ’74 VW Super Beetle.

The album featured the band’s biggest hit, “Starry Eyes,” which made the Billboard Hot 100 (lyrics on the next page). The better retro-80s radio shows usually play this song, so you may have heard it. Their second, less-big hit from the album was a song called “Teenarama.”

The Records was a “US-ified” version of the band’s original UK album, Shades in Bed. (US Record companies used to do this: they’d take a UK release and re-order the songs and change versions for release in the US market.) A few months after buying The Records a local shop (Record City in Skokie, where I spent many many hours and a lot of money) had an import of Shades in Bed, so I got to hear the album in its original form.

The Records also released a few EPs, including am infectious cover of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Love Letter.” In fact, they recorded that song twice, with two different producers– one being Mutt Lange (that’s “Mr. Shania Twain” to you).

In the summer of 1980, the band released its followup, Crashes (shown above). There had been a couple of personnel changes and the band didn’t repeat the chart success of their first time out, but the new album retained its power-pop sound. They even toured the US that year, and I got to see them at Chicagofest in August of 1980.

Band founder John Wicks still performs and records with a new version of The Records, and his web site is here. You can also check out the band’s Wikipedia page here. Cofounder/drummer Will Birch has a web site at this link and has written a book about the 1970s Pub Rock scene called No Sleep Till Canvey Island which is currently on my wish list.

On the next page, you’ll find the lyrics to two of my favorite Records tracks: “Hearts in Her Eyes” from Crash, and “Starry Eyes.”

(Side note: One of the other albums in the ad was XTC’s Drums and Wires. Updated 2/8/2012: my memory failed me when I originally wrote this: no XTC in the ad.)

(Another side note: I started writing this posting on June 17, 2005. It’s about time I got around to finishing it. :-)


HEARTS IN HER EYES
(Will Birch/John Wicks)
Some girls have a whole lotta trouble finding one boy
others want a lover and some, they just want a fun boy
My girl, she’s smart
she’s never ever gonna give her heart
and she’s wise…
She’s got hearts in her eyes
hearts in her eyes
Like a kid in a toy shop, she can’t stop
she wants all the boys
she’s got hearts in her eyes.
Some girls want a boy to give ‘em all the action
others in a hurry to find a little satisfaction
My girl, she’s tough
she gets going when the going gets
rough and she cries…
She’s got hearts in her eyes
hearts in her eyes
Like a kid in a toy shop, she can’t stop
she wants all the boys
she’s got hearts in her eyes.
When she’s at a party
she will flit from boy to boy
but she’ll never settle
’til her heart is filled with joy…
She’s got hearts in her eyes
hearts in her eyes
Like a kid in a toy shop, she can’t stop
she wants all the boys
she’s got hearts in her eyes.
STARRY EYES
(Will Birch/John Wicks)
While you were off in France, we were stranded in the British Isles.
Left to fall apart amongst your passports and your files.
We never asked for miracles, but they were our concern.
Did you really think we’d sit it out and wait for your return?
I don’t want to argue. I ain’t gonna budge.
Won’t you take this number down before you call up the judge?
I don’t want to argue. There’s nothing to say.
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way!
While you were on the beach, were you dreaming all about your share?
Planning to invest it all to cover wear and tear?
We paid for all the phone calls. The money’s off the shelf.
Don’t you know that while you’re gone away, I’ve got to help myself?
I don’t want to argue. I ain’t gonna budge.
Won’t you take this number down before you call up the judge?
I don’t want to argue. There’s nothing to say.
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way!
While you were in the pool, we were meeting with the boys upstairs,
Talking to the money men, and carrying out affairs.
We had no time for cocktails, or working up a tan.
The boys have all been spoken to. The writ has hit the fan.
I don’t want to argue. I ain’t gonna budge.
Won’t you take this number down before you call up the judge?
I don’t want to argue. There’s nothing to say.
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way

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