Wednesday, September 17, 2014

General Public - All The Rage

Today (September 17th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of All the Rage, the debut album from General Public. Dave Wakeling (vocals and guitar) and Ranking Roger (vocals, bass, keyboards and drums), formerly of the Beat, decided to form their own group to continue working together. They teamed up with Mickey Billingham on keyboards and Andy “Stoker” Growcott on drums (both from Dexy’s Midnight Runners), Horace Panter (from the Specials) on bass, and Mick Jones (from the Clash) and Kevin White on guitar.

The band was backed by a full horn section. This included Gary Barnacle, Saxa, and Michael “Bami” Rose on saxophone, Vin Gordon on trombone, Steve Sidwell and Eddie “Tan” Thornton on trumpet, and Bob Porter on horn.

The album did well, reaching number 26 on the US Billboard Album chart (with a thirty-nine week total run) and number 19 in Canada.

Side one opens with the swinging rhythms of “Hot You’re Cool”. Under the title “So Hot You’re Cool”, a twelve-inch dance version of the song climbed to number 16 on the US Billboard Dance chart. I like the way the organ simmers in the background while the piano, percussion and horns take center stage.

“Tenderness” was the second single from the album; it went to number 95 in the UK, number 50 in Australia, number 39 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, number 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 15 on the US Billboard Dance chart and number 11 in Canada. The lyrics focus on the emotional core of a relationship and its importance. Whenever I hear this song today, I immediately think of the 1995 movie Clueless where the song was featured prominently in the closing credits.

“Anxious” opens with a stark riff and then the vocals layer in. It creates a paranoid feeling that is so appropriate.

The third single “Never You Done That” stalled at number 105 on the US Billboard singles chart yet shot up to number 13 on the US Billboard Dance chart. It has been so long since I heard this track that I had forgotten about its pure poppy perfection. It is like a big fluffy cotton candy treat that puts a smile on my face when I hear it.

The mood shifts quickly with “Burning Bright”, a dark rocker about Armageddon. I like how the guitar chords at the start ring out like a tolling bell.

Side two starts with “As a Matter of Fact”. I like how it starts with an almost tribal rhythm that was popular in freestyle music at the time. It then shifts to a more mainstream pop sound.

“Are You Leading Me On?” looks at a woman’s teasing and tries to determine to where it is going to end. On the bridge, it shifts into pure Ska for which the Beat and the Specials effectively capitalized on.

Next up is the quirky, quick-beat of “Day-to-Day”.

Another question is posed with mid-tempo “Where’s the Line?”, a look at the distinction between love and lust.

The self-titled “General Public”, the first single, closes the album. It hit number 60 in the UK and number 41 in New Zealand. I like the mood that is quickly established with the percussion at the start.

When General Public hit the scene with All The Rage, I was just starting out my sophomore year of college. I remember quite distinctly hearing the more popular tracks from this record on the local college station, especially the hit singles. I think this was a good start as Wakeling and Roger were trying to branch out in a new direction musically.

1 comment:

HERC said...

After years of resenting this album, I am back into digging it.

In 1985, when it came out, I was an overnight stocker at Target. For the three weeks that I worked that job, four nights a week, the supervisor blasted the album non-stop. I wore earplugs after second day - at that time, we could not wear personal headphones and stereos for "safety".

Time heals all wounds though so its back on my good side.