Dollar – It’s Nature’s Way (No Problem)
It’s rather odd how Dollar tend to be little more than a footnote in 1980s pop history. When great duos of the decade are discussed it’s always Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Eurythmics and Everything But the Girl who get the attention, and poor old David Van Day and Thereza Bazar are mostly ignored. This is an injustice, for while Dollar may have been inherently naff they did make some cracking good records.
As refugees from the oddly creepy 1970s cabaret chart act Guys and Dolls, expectations for Dollar were quite low, and although they scored four top twenties across 1978 and 1979 they fairly soon lived up to them – 1980’s album The Paris Collection failed to yield a single hit.
Dollar‘s value had therefore reached an all-time low when Bazar approached Trevor Horn in 1981 with a view to recapturing their early success. Horn was yet to assume his title of Greatest Producer Ever, and his work with Dollar laid the foundations for his ground-breaking work on ABC‘s The Lexicon of Love a year later, which ultimately resulted in him becoming too busy to keep working with them. Their brief union resulted in four completely amazing singles – Hand Held in Black and White, Mirror Mirror, Give Me Back My Heart and Videotheque. The material he gave them was tailored to take advantage of the pair’s strengths and weaknesses (strengths being cutesy blonde chemistry and acceptable voices, weaknesses being astonishing vanity, hence Mirror Mirror.)
All four songs were top 20 hits (two of them top 10) and for a while Dollar were riding high again. But fairly soon the hits dried up once more and there was a not-that-amicable-split in 1983. But only one thing heals all wounds better than time, and that’s failed solo careers – so by early 1988 Dollar found themselves reunited and restored to the top 10 with a cover of Erasure‘s Oh L’amour. To use the old Smash Hits parlance, they were back! Back! BACK! and surely this time they were back for good.
Well of course not. Old tensions began to resurface and it took six months to get on with a follow-up, the song we’re here to discuss – It’s Nature’s Way (No Problem.)
Produced by PWL stalwarts Phil Harding and Ian Curnow, this was as Euro-pop as Dollar ever got, with a distinct Modern Talking Brother Louie flavour to it, only with added whips (whips can only improve a record – imagine Candle in the Wind but with WHIPS.) It’s also fairly clear that either Curnow or Harding (or both) had been on holiday to Ibiza at some point in the previous year, as the Balearic guitar all over it will attest. My favourite part of the record, though, is the fabulous spoken word bit in the middle – Thereza literally gives it everything on her breathy Spanish lines (and one of pop’s very best gasps at 2:35) while David couldn’t possibly sound more disinterested on his. It’s quite hilarious, and pretty much explains the problem with Dollar in a nutshell.
The game was soon up, and It’s Nature’s Way was to be Dollar‘s final appearance on the UK singles chart, entering at no.72 and limping to a peak of no.58 a week later. Those reunions kept on coming though, each one bringing them closer to their current status as the Barry and Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves from Hi-De-Hi! of pop. Better we remember them for some brilliant singles, eh?
(Note for purchasers: this is the astonishingly good 12 inch mix – all other versions on iTunes are dodgy re-recordings.)
Entered chart: 10/07/1988
Chart peak: 58
Weeks on chart: 3
Who could sing this today and have a hit? It’s high time we had a Balearic revival and I nominate Ruth Lorenzo to lead the charge.