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Philip Jap – Save Us


For many years I’ve traded on being a walking 1980s encyclopaedia, and then the other day a pal destroyed my entire world by mentioning an artist I’d never heard of before. I was momentarily crushed, and then curious. Who was this Philip Jap person who had entirely escaped my attention?

It turns out that Philip’s story is fascinating, and one that resonates more strongly today than it did in his very short heyday in 1982. If you thought that One DirectionJLS and Ella Henderson were trailblazers in outshining the winners of a prime-time talent show, think again. Philip’s star was eclipsed by no less than six of his fellow contestants.

Quite how I managed to miss The David Essex Showcase on BBC1 is beyond me, though with only one television in the house I suspect the ten year old me was outvoted due to Russ Abbot’s Saturday Madhouse being on on the other side at the same time. So while I developed a lifelong fondness for Bella Emberg I missed out on the vicious pop fight that was taking place at the same time. This doesn’t seem like a fair trade.

Over the course of eight weeks during the summer, 70s hitmaker and neckerchief enthusiast David Essex launched his own search for a star, one which was of course punctuated by at least two of his own performances per show. You can find bits of it on YouTube, and it appears to have been very biased towards New Wave, with the minimum requirement of entry apparently being a haircut more outrageous than anything A Flock of Seagulls had so far come up with. As far as I can tell, it was the studio audience who decided each week’s top performer, and they must have been a rum bunch: here’s who they rejected in favour of the eventual winner: Talk Talk. Thomas Dolby. Amazulu. Toto Coelo. The Belle Stars. Mari Wilson and the Wilsations. All of these acts would go on to have varying degrees of success, but each of them would score top 40 hits. You’d probably pay at least a tenner to see that line-up today.

To the victor go the spoils? Not if you’re Philip Jap. Despite being signed to A&M Records and roping in none other than Trevor Horn to produce some of the album, his really rather ace debut single Save Us only managed to make no.53. Have a listen and see if you can figure out why. I can’t.

If you were going to attempt to cross Spandau Ballet circa Chant No.1 with Jobriath, I suppose 1982 was the time to do it. Save Us is full of early 80s nuclear panic, albeit panic you can dance to – and that was perfectly acceptable at the time. Philip certainly didn’t look any stranger than any of the other new wavers doing the rounds, and if anything he possibly looked a bit too ordinary – he was certainly a long way from doing a full Oakey.

I’m pleased to report that Philip didn’t let any of this get him down, and he now runs a very successful production company called AUDIOfield. He’s also made his album available over on SoundCloud and it’s well worth a listen. Hurrah! 

Entered chart: 31/07/1982

Chart peak: 53

Weeks on chart: 4

Who could sing this today and have a hit? OMG Adam Lambert.

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