Record Review: Affairs of the Heart – Waterloo Sunset

Heartbeat Records | UK | 12" | 1983 | PULSE 100T

Affairs of the Heart: Waterloo Sunset UK 12″ [1983]

  1. Waterloo Sunset [dance mix]
  2. Waterloo Sunset
  3. Waterloo Sunset [dub mix]

This was a record that a friend of mine bought decades ago; probably the period when it was released. I only just got around to listening to it since I’ve been “record sitting” the disc since my friend’s collection needed a more stable home for a long period of care. To answer your question, yes it is the Kinks song given a coat of 1983 paint. In this case, that means delightful synthpop using the tail end of analog synth gear just before the dreaded Yamaha DX7 began putting its digital boot to the groin of synthesizer music the world over.

The 12″ certainly doesn’t give value for money since only three mixes of the song appear on the 12″ with no other sings in tow. The 7″ version has the short version and the “Scrub Mix” [?] on the B-side, but I don’t have that record. For the record, the “Dance Mix” is the best thing to listen to. It’s a wonderful, sprightly cover of “Waterloo Sunset” with a winsome female vocalist carrying the tune over a nice period music bed. It’s not a beat heavy track. It’s more of a synthpop number than a dancefloor filler. The 7″ version is pretty much an edit of the dance mix and as such, is somewhat redundant. The “dub version” is typical of UK 12″ single dub mixes of the period; that is to say, it’s really an instrumental version. Lee Perry need not break a sweat. The only producer off the top of my head who made actual “dub mixes” of UK groups in this period with any panache was the late, great Martin Rushent.

I’d like to talk about the band more but I’ve come up empty-handed on getting any details on this release regarding the actual musicians performing on it. It was released on the Briston-based indie Heartbeat Records, and was produced by Steve Street. Initially, I assumed [incorrectly] that the production was an early one by Stephen Street but careful scrutiny reveals that the Steve Street who produced this record was a completely different individual. In fact, he is the same Steve Street who played bass for The Europeans. The other Stephen Street was working at Island Records as a staff engineer at one of their studios during this time.

What we have here is a pleasing, one-off New Wave cover version single by a band who probably had their one shot in the studio and they did this fine cover version in a session that got remixed a couple of times to fill out the two single formats. I suppose I should admit publicly, that I’ve never heard The Kinks original version, nor indeed, any of the other versions of this winning song. So one could say that I was truly judging this record on its intrinsic merits.

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10 Responses to Record Review: Affairs of the Heart – Waterloo Sunset

  1. jt says:

    “just before the dreaded Yamaha DX7 began putting its digital boot to the groin of synthesizer music the world over.”

    HA!
    I hate those damned things.

    I remember being encouraged to buy one back in the day (ca. mid-late 1980s), and getting an Oberheim Matrix-6 instead… which I STILL HAVE.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      jt – THE most dated production sound, apart from the dreaded 8 bit orchestral hit, to my ears – is the Yamaha DX7! It sounds flat and clean and completely lacking in power. The DX7 was a synth tailor made for lounge bars, everywhere. It is incapable of generating a threatening [read: interesting] sound.

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  2. Tim says:

    I never knew anyone covered this! I was late to the Kinks game – to me (via the limited exposure of MTV) they were Lola and Come Dancing, which is a shoddy way to pigeon hole them. It’s like saying the Swing Out Sister catalog may be reduced to Breakout or Thomas Dolby to Hyperactive or Blinded By Science.

    Last year (IIRC) Mr. Davies did that orchestral/choral Kinks album and I streamed it at work via NPR. I loved almost all of it and Waterloo Sunset gobsmacked me. Your post had me searching the web for covers of it, this one, meh. I did find Andy Mackay covering it and that was quite nice. And Cathy Dennis….really? She’s written gobs of hits for folks and quite honestly her version I was hoping would be (can’t believe I’m admitting this) closer to Nikki French’s cover of Bonnie Tyler’s ”Total Eclipse of the Heart” than the britpoppy offering I heard.

    Keep up the blog, I really look forward to each new post.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I’m still late to the game on The Kinks. I heard the same five songs growing up and I’m almost 50. What I have heard of The Kinks oeuvre, suggests to me that Davies is the best songwriter out of the British Invasion. Moreover, I have his 2006 “Other Peoples Lives” album and I can’t say that his chops have ebbed with time at all. Who is Nikki French?

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  3. Tim says:

    Oy…Nikki French, assuming that ? was not 100% tongue firmly in cheeky is some Euro-poptart who in the early 90’s did a couple of HI-NRG covers as singles. I collect covers of music and I love it when the cover just absolutely massacres the original, massacres in the sense that it is anything but a note-for note reproduction of the original. In a lot of cases, why do it if you’re going note-for note? If your career is covers (say, Holly Cole) I can see staying true to the source material but really…….let’s turn the page back to the first time you heard the Pet Shop Boys doing ”Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You). Points for gloriously over the top, bonus points for taking U2 down a notch at their peak of head-up-buttness.

    So I’m a covers whore. This now defunct band called ‘The Czars’ had an album that is pretty out of print that Amazon resurrected as a digital download that has a killer cover of Connie Francis’ ”Where the Boys Are” as well as several others. Hold on a sec while I look up the title…….”Sorry I Made You Cry” – – really worth seeking out if you like covers.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I’ll never forget the first time I heard PSB doing “Where The Streets Have No Name/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” It was in Miami on the [delayed] first date of their first American tour. The single’s release was several weeks out and none of us there in those pre-internet days were even aware that it was coming out. So. Total neutron bomb! Spit takes, jaws on floor – the works.

      This Nikki French sounds roughly equivalent to your basic Sabrina type then. Eurotrash hi-NRG doesn’t exist for me. I liked hi-NRG when it was a minimal, gay subculture thing. When it became a component of Eurokase, I lost interest fast.

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  4. EddieJohn says:

    This track was recorded at SAM Studios in Backfield Lane, Stokes Croft, Bristol. The SAM name was derived from Steve Street, Andy Davis and Murv Woolford’s names. Andy was never really part of the studio set up as he was busy with The Korgis and touring/recording with Tears For Fears. The studio moved to new premises 100 years up the road in 1985/86. I worked there as a session musician around this period. As for personnel, Murv and Steve would’ve shared instrument, engineering and production duties.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      EddieJohn – Welcome to the comments and thanks for shedding a little insider light on this good, but obscure cover version. I liked The Korgis and have their first two albums still on LP. Must write about them one day…

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  5. WattiePunk says:

    I arrived here as an old punk, trying to find more about the singer who replaced Beki Bondage in Vice Squad, known as Leah. Turns out ‘Leah’ is actually the same ‘Joolz’ who sings on this. So she went from early 80s synth-pop to mid-80s punk, and presumably then to obscurity…..

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      WattiePunk – Welcome to the comments! Vice Squad – now there’s a name I haven’t heard since 1981! I had no idea that Beki Bondage [who was popular in Flexipop, as I recall] ever moved on. So the Affairs of the Heart singer is “Leah” a.k.a. “Joolz” but surely not THE Joolz Denby? [checks]. Nope. I now see that Julia Rumbelow a.k.a. “Leah” a.k.a. “Joolz” is the singer here. And as near as I can tell she’s now a palliative caregiver!

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