Though most of the songs I’ve reviewed so far have their roots in Euro 80s pop, and we’re at the tail end of a rip-off renaissance of this time period, “Guilty” is the best candidate for “Song Most Likely To Make People Think It Was Recorded In The Last Few Years.” If the Editors covered this, I might start liking them again.
Classix Noveaux has a story that’s become a bit rote for me at this point, and I’m only ten songs into this little project: Band forms, band records song that becomes hit, band releases album, band’s album sells moderately well and band follows it up with second single that does the same, band tours various European countries that don’t have a whole lot else going for it in the early 1980s except for touring English synth bands, band ekes out two more albums that are hits in countries that aren’t the U.S. or the U.K, band breaks up.
But Classix Noveaux did have a few other things going for it. Though they formed via an ad in Melody Maker, like many other bands of their time, they boasted two members of X-Ray Spex (“Oh Bondage! Up Yours”). Also, unlike most of the other bands on this comp, their first single was not their highest-charting. That honor goes to “Is It A Dream.” Yeah, I didn’t know it either, but YouTube has it here. Between the scary looking lead singer, the weird guys following him around, the castle and the fencing, this is one of those videos that isn’t actually scary, but if you see it at a young age, it totally gives you the willies and will cause you to proclaim that it still freaks you out way into your 20s. Kinda like “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell. Seriously, what is with his dog? Even without the pig mask on, it’s weird. And that bathroom? The mailman in the diaper? Yeagh, I need to call my mother.
Not to belabor a point here, but someone in the comments of the video mentions Richard O’Brien, who played Riff in the film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the resemblance can’t be coincidence. Especially since they’re performing in and around a castle that bears a remarkable similarity to the one in the film. Sans Transylvanians, of course. Although the Transylvanians seem to make an appearance in the video for “Guilty,” in which the lead singer looks like what happens if you cross Marilyn Manson with Judas Priest’s Rob Halford (post-gay revelation).
Anyway, why “Is It A Dream” charted higher is a mystery to me because “Guilty” rules.
Classix Noveaux’s sound is probably best described as goth-punk and you’d have trouble convincing me that there’s a better example of it here. This is another somebody done somebody wrong song, and the singer’s clearly to blame. Yet there’s still defiant whining to be done (“I wonder why you haven’t the time for/The reasons why”). Bring aggro hasn’t seemed to work for angry-boy bands so most of them have turned to being pissy over loud guitars. So it’s refreshing to remember pomposity used to have a nice beat you could dance to. Also, if the writer of “Betty Davis Eyes” didn’t steal its shimmering guitar/keyboard sound from this song, I will eat a gym sock.
But what’s with the name? It is supposed to mean the band was destined to be a new classic, like those really lame movies they show on TNT that we’re all supposed to think are really good, even though many of them star Kevin Costner? See, this why no 80s bands are around anymore: hubris.