From a Horror Classic an 80′s Anthem was created.
This article is from 80s Legends. Click the title to hop over there.
28 Years ago, this very day, an 80′s Anthem was Top of The U.K. Singles charts. The smooth but strong vocals of Carol Decker backed by a fantastic band, collectively known as T”Pau, were to be Number One until 19th December when The Pet Shop Boys assumed the Christmas top slot with Always On My Mind. Having been fortunate enough to catch T”Pau live at Butlins Bognor Regis on the 28th anniversary, to the very day, that China In Your Hand became number one in The U.K. charts it was an honour to be granted an interview by the great Carol Decker, co-writer (with Ron Rogers) of China In You Hand.
It was fascinating to hear that the move to a musical career was the result of “fluffing” her A Levels. Having what she described as a “lucky day” on passing her eleven plus, Carol felt like a fish out of water in a Science and Mathematics environment. This led to some dead end jobs and then on to Art School in Shrewsbury as a mature student at the age of 22. This new community was diverse, creative and artistic, it was here that she met Julian who was looking for a singer for his band. After an audition, Carol joined a SKA band known as The Lazers. Carol remembers recording at studios in Coventry where The Specials and The Selector were also making music.
I asked Carol if back in the 80′s she ever thought that T’Pau would still be in demand nearly thirty years later.
“I can’t answer that question in the context in which you asked it because as a young 20 something in a Rock N’ Roll Band I didn’t think past the next day. I didn’t think.. I hope this is an investment for my future, I was careering around the world, I was having hit records, staying in great Hotels and having a great time and that’s as far as my thought process went. Now I’m older, I do it the other way round and look back 28 years ago when Bridge of Spies was released and realise unwittingly what a great classic album we’ve written with the pop classics Heart and Soul and China. I hadn’t realised that I had invested in my future writing such strong songs I just didn’t realise that at the time.”
“A lot of people love the eighties especially if you are a certain age, it was an era in which you were forged, most of us have got happy memories of the eighties. I know some people don’t, it was politically a difficult time but when you think what a diverse and creative decade it was, from Post Punk, New Romantic, Electro Pop through to Pop Rock bands like T’Pau. The decade was really diverse, huge characters. Boy George, Madonna, Michael Jackson. The birth of everything from The Sinclair C-5 through to the mobile phone, the birth of MTV, the Pop Video, what an amazing decade and I think that was all mixed in with us. Set against some of the depressing things that are happening today, some think that they would like to go back to better times when the music was great.”
I commented on how accessible artists from the 80′s had become today and Carol raised a point in regards to success and fame.
“Back then a machine would have run it and as a very big artist you couldn’t possibly talk to everybody, if I was Adele for example everybody wants to talk to me and you have to cherry pick because you are too popular almost, when it all calms down a bit it becomes a bit more realistic.”
What about the music scene today, the manufactured sound and artists it produces?
” Nothing against the kids of today for trying, if I was twenty now I might be in the queue for X-Factor you’re just trying to catch a break. I’m not a snob about it but I hate the way the X-Factor number one has almost become part of the British Christmas tradition, it’s so bland, it’s almost like churning out a load of Westlife’s.”
How does it feel at live performances when the audience know the words to China and can sing it word for word?
“It always puts a tingle down my spine, China was number one as we speak now (28 years ago) right now every night I sing that song on stage. I always mention to the audience that China was number one at that time and they sing even louder. I hadn’t realised that myself and Ronnie had written a Pop classic, it’s very moving and uplifting and at times I feel quite emotional, there are times when I think do I have to sing that song again but if I ever feel that for five minutes it’s quickly gone when I see the impact it has on people and the cherished memories it brings back. It lifts my spirits and makes me feel very special and very lucky.”
What was the inspiration behind the song?
” I quite simply watched a documentary about Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen. It was a piece of pulp fiction that blew the musings of her husband Percy, Byron and the crowd that they hung out with. She received massive fame and success which caused strife jealousy, pettiness and bitching within their circle. It was a good story within a story, with the story being about her writing Frankenstein which is why it starts out, It was a theme she had on a scheme he had.”
It was great to hear live some of the new material from the latest album, Pleasure and Pain. The T’Pau DNA runs right the way through and the band have stayed loyal to the formula that has worked for them since the 1980′s. What about the future? Just finishing a gruelling thirty day tour with Go West and Nik Kershaw, Carol explained.
” In 2016 we’re going out on a twenty day acoustic tour to support the release of my autobiography entitled Heart and Soul which will be out on the 26th Jan. We will be performing acoustic versions of a cross section of all our albums with only four of us on stage at intimate venues. We will be telling some of the stories behind the songs.”
What can I say, T’Pau live, an interview with Carol Decker, news of a 2016 Tour and the release of Carol’s Autobiography. Certainly one of my personal highlights of 2016. I urge you to get your copy of Pleasure and Pain. Accomplished musicians with attention to lyrical detail, true to the T’Pau formula that we fell in love with nearly three decades ago, a must have.
The new book is already on my Birthday present wish list.