You could probably write a doctoral dissertation on British pop music in the first half of the 1980s — in fact, I’m sure many people have. There were so many groups forming, breaking up, fracturing, starting new groups, innovating, influencing, ripping off and inspiring each other, it practically requires an advanced degree to even begin to sort it out.
Take the case of Tracie (given name: Tracie Young). I’d never heard of her until I pulled her LP from the stacks and saw her face smiling winsomely at me over the little white review labels. I had heard of Paul Weller (The Jam, Style Council) of course, and Paul Weller is who brought Tracie briefly into the world’s consciousness in 1983. The story goes that Mr. Weller posted an ad in Smash Hits magazine (for our younger readers, this is what people did before the Internet: had ads published in magazines printed on paper, which would then be responded to via physical mail — it’s amazing anything ever got done, really) looking for female singers between the ages of 18 and 24 for his label, Respond Records. The then-17-year-old Tracie Young replied, and Weller saw potential and signed her.
A brief career followed, peaking with this album, which featured songwriting and production from Weller, and, judging by the KCMU response, inspired the derision of college DJs across the nation. Respond folded in 1986 and Tracie was picked up by Polydor for a second album, but was dropped before it was ever released. And thus another 1980s pop might-have-been bites the dust.
“The full length LP from the ’18 year old female Paul Weller.'”
“I don’t need all the ‘tripe’ on the back but some of these songs are likeable.”
“This hurts my ears.”
“Lame girl music.”
“Too funky for me.”
“1-1 written by Elvis Costello.”
“Pleasant. All Style Council takes a while to be listenable – I feel this record is the same way. Only, ‘Thank You’ is a way dumb song. I don’t care if E.C. wrote it. But I think she should write her own songs.”
“It’s a good thing, too, AW, because that song is credited to someone named ‘Johnson.’ E.C. wrote ‘I Love You (When You Sleep).'”
“Try the title track — Paul W. wrote it and it’s painlessly similar to Style Council.”
“‘I Love You’ is a variation of Elvis’ own ‘Joe Porterhouse’ song. Wow!”
“No wonder it sounded so familiar!”