Monday, 20 July 2020

Clandestine Classic LXII - Sweetest Smile

The sixty-second post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

In the car at the weekend, Radio 2 was on (don't judge me). Pick of the Pops, no less, with current host Paul Gambacini, trawling through the chart of August 1987. Why, I wondered, as Paul skipped past Star Trekkin' by The Firm without hesitation, does this programme never play the novelty records of the day?

All thoughts of Klingons on the starboard bow, however, were quickly pushed away as Paul got to number 8 in the chart for that August week 33 years ago. These days most people remember Black, aka the late Colin Vearncombe, for the excellent Wonderful Life. But this, also taken from Colin's debut album and released as a single in-between Wonderful Life's first release (when it peaked at #42) and its re-release (when it peaked at #8), is equally brilliant. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's even better. It's certainly been an ear-worm for me since Paul played it at the weekend. And isn't it a shame that Colin felt he'd been labelled something of a one-hit wonder, when he was so clearly anything but?

Sweetest Smile also hit #8 in the UK chart, so it's maybe pushing the boundaries of what could be considered clandestine, but since everyone remembers Black for the other track ... either way, it gave me an excuse to blow the dust off this series. It's also very much of it late-80s time... but no less fantastic for that. What do you think? Such beautiful melancholy ... maybe I should have saved it for a Blue Friday post.

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