8 October 2008
Second Hand Record Store Dip Part 17 - Marshall Hain - Coming Home
Who: Marshall Hain
What: Coming Home
Found: Wood Street Market, Walthamstow
Year of Release: 1978
Cost: One pound
Marshall Hain are often quoted as being "one hit wonders", their stupendous single "Dancing in the City" being the alleged 'hit'. Really though, it's entirely up to you where you draw the line - if you think that anything which worked its way into the Top 40 was technically a hit single, then this follow-up "Coming Home" did indeed burrow its way in, spending a mere week at Number 39 before waving goodbye to the Sunday afternoon Radio One countdown forever.
A quick listen to this reveals why they failed to capitalise on their promising start. "Coming Home" is a pretty but undistinguished ballad which completely lacks all of the sultry heat of its predecessor. I used to own a K-Tel compilation called "Night Moves" filled with late seventies MOR ballads, and "Coming Home" would have sat quite nicely on there next to Judy Tzuke, Randy Vanwarmer and Sad Cafe, waiting to be played by couples on their Ford Cortina stereos as they came home from late nights on the town. The point is, where "City" was a very distinctive piece of work, "Coming Home" sounds like it could have been recorded by just about any MOR artist in that period, whereas the B-side "Different Point" flags up how they ended up on the predominantly hard rock/ art rock Harvest label, being full of over-enthusiastic jazzy workouts. And at the risk of exposing my ignorance, was this the first ever use of the "Bvvvvwwwaawwwwow" Paul Young bass guitar noise?
Going back to the subject of "Dancing In The City" - a topic I'm sure both Marshall and Hain are utterly sick of, wherever they are - it has to be said that it was one of my favourite records ever as a child, and it still hasn't shifted from my iPod playlist as an adult. It cropped up on a "Guilty Pleasures" compilation recently, which baffled me completely - I had no idea I was ever supposed to feel guilty about liking it. What's not to like, after all? Besides sounding quite unique even now, it's one of the few tracks I can think of that sounds strangely sexual despite not referencing the dirty deed once across its four minutes. The soft-porn keyboard sound and subtle saxophone halfway through might be doing that, as well as the slightly hushed vocals and thunder effects. It stinks of a hot sticky night at the local discotheque and suggestive dancing - it's no surprise to me at all that a few YouTube commenters are saying that they either lost their virginity or had their first kiss to the record.
The video is noteworthy as well for giving us so many early music vid cliches in one unexpected hit. Smashing lightbulbs in slow motion? Check. Sinister looking black cat? Check. Neon signs denoting a "city"? Check. Members of the band prowling around "enigmatically"? Check. Whether this was a video that created the cliches or simply followed them I couldn't tell you, but it's a pleasing little retro-nugget.
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