Record Review: The Headboys – The Shape Of Things To Come

RSO | UK | 1979 | RSO 40

The Headboys: The Shape Of Things To Come UK [1979]

  1. The Shape of Things To Come
  2. The Mood I’m In

Ah, yes, The Headboys. I remember them well. This was a single that I happened to hear on FM Rock just once in 1979, the year of its issue. It was a driving Power Pop song with an insistent “oh, oh, oh, oh-oh” chorus hook that stuck in my mind for the last 32 years. I distinctly remember planning to buy the album, but for some reason, did not. Why? Well, they were signed to RSO records; home of the Bee Gees. And I don’t need to remind you that a growing number of people in 1979 were sick and fed up with the Bee Gees and disco music, which was at its inescapable peak right then and there. All of which it can be argued, that RSO records played a huge role in creating. The other reason why I might not have brought the album was its cover design.

Ugh. It still makes me not want to buy it! So for the bulk of my life, I had forgotten about The Headboys. It just didn’t seem worth my time and effort. Even so, that chorus hook never dislodged itself from my brain in all of the intervening years. And thus it was until last month, when I happened upon a dealer at a record show with a decent box of 45s. In it was a UK promo 7″ of “The Shape Of Things To Come” and it could be mine for the miserly sum of $0.33. How could I not bite?

And I’m so glad that I did! The chorus hook is not even the half of it! This is an exceptionally choice Power Pop classic, if I may say so myself. It starts with an earnestly strummed guitar over which vocalist Lou Lewis begins singing the first verse. The bass kicks in at double time and the whole chord structure begins an unending series of ascensions that lead inexorably up to the powerful choral hook. And it just keeps going on until Power Pop nirvana is expertly mined.

Keyboardist Calum Malcolm adds an incredible array of keyboards to the tune. First adding hyperactive piano that Steve Nieve would definitely approve of before moving to organ and synths for subsequent verses. Malcolm, of course, is the one member of The Headboys to eke out a career for himself after the band split up. He’s rightly feted for his distinctive engineering of the classic Blue Nile sound via his work at his Castlesound studios in Edinburgh, but this song is worlds away from the quiet, contemplative sound they’re known for. This, in comparison, is bursting with exuberance. Just listening to this track makes me feel incomparably alive.

The B-side is a decidedly lesser event. The verse structure fails to gel, though the chorus is a spot on classic. The overall effect makes a great B-side that, had more time been spent working out the verse structure, it might have been album material. Even so, the chorus is a killer, and it redeems the overall song considerably. The production by Peter Ker for all of this hits the ’79-o-meter right in the red. This is energetic pop rock that is caught up in the wave of Power Pop that was peaking at that same time. Think Motors, Bram Tchaikowsky, or Eddie + The Hot Rods. You’d be right for doing so since Ker produced those bands as well. Looking back, I’m amazed that the A-side was not included on the superb Rhino D.I.Y. disc “Starry Eyes: UK Pop II [78-79]” as it’s prime material for inclusion. Lose The Radiators or The Distractions and pop this sucker in there to make a great compilation even more sensational!

I need to get that album and all of it’s singles for a definitive REVO remastering. Like, pronto! And I’m not waiting 32 more years to do it.

– 30 –

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5 Responses to Record Review: The Headboys – The Shape Of Things To Come

  1. Brian Ware says:

    Yowsa, this sounds like Brian bait to me! I’m assuming this is not the song of the same name from 1968 by a group called Max Frost And The Troopers? That’s another power pop gem that was also covered on the Ramones “Acid Eaters” LP. The original version finally showed up on iTunes a few years ago after being featured in of all things, a Target commercial! First line – “There’s a new sun, rising up angry in the sky”…

    And yes, that’s one dorky looking album cover.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Brian Ware – Thanks for reminding me about something that I forgot to write about in my haste. This is a completely different “Shape Of Things To Come!” “Max Frost & The Troopers” we’re a fake band since the song was from the soundtrack to the amazing ’68 AIP youthsploitation classic “Wild In The Streets,” which I have on laserdisc! Max Frost was the name of the lead character, who ascended to the Presidency and threw all of the old folks into concentration camps! But, yes. This song is massive, Brian-bait!! It’s already on Premaster 16!

      Like

  2. Echorich says:

    Great track.
    There was a lot of great transitional power pop from around 78- 80. I think it’s as important as the punk movement as both the NYC and London scenes had a vibrant undercurrent of power pop bands. In NYC it was The Senders, The Sorrows and Quincy among others. By 79 most of the bands playing CBGB’s or Max’s were more power pop than punk.
    Calum Malcolm has his fingerprints on so many 80’s bands – Prefab Sprout, Blue Nile, Go-Betweens as well as Simple Minds (same manager makes for an easy connection there). The work he did to turn the unfinished, or underproduced work of Paddy McAloon on the most recent Prefab Sprout album Let’s Change The World With Music was invaluable – that same album being my favorite album of 2009.

    Like

  3. ronkanefiles says:

    Max Frost And The Troopers!

    Like

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