(#345: 9 May 1987, 2 weeks)
Track listing: Misfit/Down To Earth/Free/Know What You Know/Curiosity Killed The Cat/Ordinary Day/Mile High/Red Lights/Shallow Memory
Not just of its time, but utterly of its place; I knew something of Fulham wine bars in 1987 and this I heard coming out of all of them. It’s a wonder this bunch of amiable, if confused, Sloanies – coming variously from Earl’s Court, Sunbury-on-Thames, Strawberry Hill and Putney – were ever seriously touted as the new Duran Duran. Theirs is depressingly grown-up music, ideal fodder to make the twenty-something Cameron and Johnson feel they were modern, without all the awkward political stuff (don’t tell me they were really digging The World Won’t Listen or The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death). The problem is not that Curiosity’s music was bad – it isn’t (although “Down To Earth” is by far their best song) – but it’s not exactly earth-moving or life-changing either. It squats in the middle of the Broadway like a sulky sausage. Ben VP’s vocals are either too timid or too overstretched, various backing singers and eminent British jazz musicians read the flyshit and get their mortgages paid off, and – as was the regrettable norm of mid-eighties mainstream British AoR pretending to be pop – his lyrics, whether they deal with school bullies (“Shallow Memory” is no “Rusholme Ruffians”) or sententious finger-wagging (eponymous band song), are too pretentiously unfocused to make us feel or believe anything. Sly and Robbie pop up to produce “Free” and no doubt chuckled to themselves as Ben “I’m Independent, Are You?” VP droned “If we can’t be free/Then we don’t wants (sic) to be we” but simply make me wish I were writing about Rhythm Killers instead. And in “Red Lights,” the backward fisherman’s cap-wearing vocalist intones the following classic line: “The touch of your hand gives me the command to donate.” To donate what, Ben? Your left kidney?