19 May 2009

Second Hand Record Dip Part 33 - Kenny - Hot Lips

Kenny - Hot Lips

Who: Kenny
What: Hot Lips
Label: Polydor
When: 1976
Where: Wood Street Market, Walthamstow
Cost: One pound


Part of me feels slightly sorry for many of the bubblegum and glam bands who were still active around the same time punk broke. They doubtless thought what they were doing remained relevant, as did their managers and publicists, but they were about to be chased across pop's landscape by a swarm of angry hornets.

That said, I actually don't completely buy the version of history which suggests (as "The League of Gentlemen" said in their Creme Brulee sketches) that everything was ruined by punk rock, but there was no question that the balladeers and footstompers who graced the front cover of "Jackie" were about to meet their Waterloo. It wasn't that everyone who might once have listened to Mud was now keen on the idea of The Clash instead - I challenge you to find me any marketing evidence showing that's the case - more that the world of pop is unflinchingly fickle, and totally unforgiving of those who won't develop their sound and image. The trouble is, there weren't many places for the glitter-covered ones to go. They could attempt to mature into serious rockers, as The Sweet did, but would frequently find the public unconvinced that they'd ever be as authentic as Led Zeppelin. Other than that... what could they do? Discover synthesisers? Go disco? The options were few and far between, and most would have made them seem ridiculous.

Kenny are a case in point, and "Hot Lips" was one of their first flops. Whilst their famous chart hit "The Bump" became so loved it was eventually sampled by the Cuban Boys on "Oh My God They Killed Kenny", "Hot Lips" is a much more peculiar beast, incorporating high pitched squeaky vocals ("Hot lips, hot lips, girl you got hot lips... you're turning me oooon!" they squeal like Disney mice), a very Sweet-ish riff, and is so damn rum I don't know how else to describe it or what to make of it. It's not an argument for the fact punk had to happen, but it does sound like a bunch of very confused men scrabbling around the dregs of the party bag for some new fun ideas, and finding only a few helium balloons for comfort. We've all been there, chaps.

Apparently Keith Chegwin was involved with Kenny in their earliest days, and at least he would later go on to have a hit when he recorded "I Wanna Be A Winner" with Maggie Philbin and Noel Edmonds (under the name "Brown Sauce"). I have that particular ditty on vinyl as well, and if you plead with me enough I might upload it one day...

In the meantime, download "Hot Lips" here, and ask yourselves the question - "If I were in Kenny, what direction would I have suggested they take to survive?"

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