London Boys – My Love
Whenever I start writing about a song, the thing that is usually furthest from my mind is credibility – either mine or that of whoever I’m talking about. In my opinion credibility is the enemy of amazingness and soon as you start thinking about it you’re doomed (and while we’re at it, the same goes for longevity). Yet even I paused when I considered doing a piece on the London Boys and I had to stop and ask myself why.
The London Boys (Dennis and Edem) felt like a sort of acrobatic male counterpart to Mel & Kim, even down to the fondness for little hats. Put together in Hamburg by producer Ralf René Maué, for a few months in 1989 they were absolutely huge. They had two gigantic hits (Requiem and London Nights), and an album that shifted in mystifyingly large quantities. In fact, The Twelve Commandments of Dance was the nineteenth most popular long player of 1989 in the UK, selling more than Kate Bush’s The Sensual World and Tears for Fears’ The Seeds of Love. Roughly half a million British people are in possession of a copy, but I doubt you’d find half a dozen still willing to admit it. The reason? The London Boys were just inescapably and utterly naff – but in a year that saw Jive Bunny score three no.1 singles that wasn’t much of a problem. However, as soon as the calendar flipped to 1990 there was one almighty pop hangover to deal with and everyone sobered up, started buying The Three Tenors and The Four Seasons and denied all knowledge of the two dancers.
Perhaps surprisingly, I didn’t buy Requiem or London Nights or the album – not because I thought they were inherently awful, I just didn’t take to them. I did, however, purchase the fourth single, the one that the rational part of my brain tells me is absolutely dreadful, but the pop part insists is fabulous. It’s been an ongoing battle for the last twenty seven years, and one that’s meant I’ve never been able to part with my 3 inch CD single of My Love.
Good lord, it’s cheap – but this single remix sounds prohibitively expensive compared to the original from 1987 (which you can still hear on the album, although I really don’t recommend it). This version has a whole lot of added oomph, with a rollicking new backing track full of clattering drums, synth whooshes and back up singers who drown out Dennis and Edem for at least half of the record. It sounds – and I mean this in a good way – exactly the sort of thing you’d hear whilst trying not to be sick on the waltzers at the fairground. It is, somehow, exciting – though for me this may be because I originally heard it on my first ever visit to a gay bar (Austins on Hope Street in Glasgow) at the age of seventeen. Dressed in a shirt and tie (because that’s what I assumed you had to wear to get into these places) and absolutely frozen in terror, I only relaxed when the DJ in the little booth by the door put this on, and it sounded brilliant. For that reason I’ve always associated My Love with illicit thrills, and I’ve been able to overlook all the naffness, dodgy singing, clothes, dancing and just enjoy it for what it is – three and a bit minutes of mindless optimism that’s borderline hysterical from start to finish. Have you ever seen two people who looked more happy to be pop stars than the London Boys? I haven’t. If you need more evidence, just look at this appearance with the nation’s favourite fitness expert, Mad Lizzie, on TV-AM – I don’t think I’ve ever been that enthusiastic about anything.
My Love peaked at no.46 in the UK, and with that the London Boys‘ moment was well and truly over, and soon forgotten – but for those would deny the presence of London Boys records in their home, I have a warning: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. How else do you explain the popularity of Reggie and Bollie on The X Factor last year? It appears we’re still capable of falling for a couple of grinning dancers who can’t really sing, can’t believe their luck, but jolly well cheer up the nation with their high jinks. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Entered chart: 02/12/1989
Chart peak: 46
Weeks on chart: 6
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I know when I’m beaten.