Friday, 8 April 2011
18: The Lotus Eaters, “The First Picture of You” (no.15, 1983)
Further lounging around in bed, this time in a more mysterious and haunting manner - rather apt for a band that took Louise Brooks and Anais Nin as their muses. The Lotus Eaters themselves were the product of a Liverpudlian pop scene that in just one decade gave us Pete Wylie and The Mighty Wah!, Echo and the Bunnymen, Icicle Works, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Christians, China Crisis, Black, It’s Immaterial, The Farm, The Las and Dead or Alive, plus Half Man Half Biscuit (of course), if we’re prepared to stretch to Birkenhead, and The Reynolds Girls and Sonia, if we’re getting desperate - an extraordinary (and extraordinarily diverse) roster of musical talent for a city overshadowed by the B-band.
The Eaters (as they were almost certainly never called) peaked in the UK with this, their debut single, although their florid arthouse stylings won them a cult audience in Europe, and they eventually returned to touring last year. Often overlooked in any retrospective assessment of 1980s pop (and I’m typing this while watching the TOTP2 Eighties Special, a prime-time blandfest featuring contributions from Culture Club, UB40 and Duran Duran) is how exceptionally produced certain of the decade’s singles were: yes, Stock, Aitken and Waterman were churning out generic repetitive beats over at their Hit Factory, but a song like “The First Picture of You” survives today as a shimmering, Josef von Sternberg-like haze of atmosphere: in mood and sound, very nearly the equal of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer”. (And yes, I absolutely mean that as a compliment.)