Spagna – Easy Lady
Today we’re celebrating the glorious – and I suppose quite specific – sound that is Mid Tempo Mid Eighties Europop. To my mind, it usually means one thing and that thing is filth. Yes, whatever language it’s sung in, whoever’s doing the singing, somehow it always has a whiff of the night about it, when dark desires take over and every outfit is finished off with a leather jacket.
Of course Europeans have always done sex far better than us, I imagine because most Europeans’ first exposure to it wasn’t via the medium of Carry On films. Sex is allowed to be sexy in that mysterious place known as ‘the continent’, and even when it’s not really that sexy it’s still somehow a bit sexy.
I’m probably not explaining this very well, so to make my point quickly let’s have a gander at Italy’s very own Spagna and her breakthrough hit Easy Lady – which in 1986 went top twenty in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany and naturally raced to no.1 in her home country.
Straight away this record means business – sexy business – via its very slinky, up-to-no-good intro, which is the pop equivalent of spraying on a bit of cheap aftershave and heading off into the night to see what trouble you can get into. Of course as a teenager in a medium sized Scottish town there wasn’t really much trouble to be had, other than throwing chips at seagulls – but the promise of it was very exciting, and songs like this always set off a little voice in my head that spoke softly, saying “provincial gay discos await you”. They really did, and by the time I got there in the very late 80s they were still playing records like this. Hooray!
Easy Lady is – and I know quite a lot of you will think I’ve lost my mind, but do remember I love the Dolly Dots – a brilliant record with a lovely brash, splashy synth hook. You could spend a lot of time pointing out all the things wrong with it and make a very persuasive case that it is in fact rubbish, but not one word of it would get through to me because it makes me feel fantastic whenever I listen to it. It’s got nothing much to say beyond “I quite fancy the look of you, how about it?”, and it says it in such an un-sexy way (“you’re such a sexy groover”) – but somehow it’s still sexy. That, I think, is the beauty of Mid Tempo Mid Eighties Europop. It’s all about urges, and if you’re in the mood, being naff doesn’t make any difference at all (see also Slice Me Nice by Fancy and Irresistible by Stéphanie). God knows I’ve been charmed into bed with worse lines than that.
For me, the absolute best bit of Easy Lady is the middle eight, or the break, or the middle bit, or whatever the proper title is, where she goes “groove it and move it, show me you can use it” (which now seems like a harbinger of the Spice Girls, ooh), and then breaks into a quite spectacularly brilliant piano section which I swear is the inspiration for the reswizz of Into the Groove on You Can Dance. Well, maybe not swear (it’s a very overlap-py period), but gosh, one makes me think of the other and it’s a total thrill.
Here in Britain we got to know Spagna – who looked a bit like she’d found her frightwig stuffed down the back of Nick Beggs‘ radiator – through 1987’s no.2 smash hit Call Me (amazing), but it was a bit faster than Easy Lady and featured fewer minor chords and therefore wasn’t remotely sexy. Striking while the iron was hot – and come to think of it an iron would have calmed down that frightwig no end – Easy Lady finally got a UK release, just twelve weeks after Call Me. Considering that the holiday season was over and no-one here knew it, I’m quite impressed that it made no 62 – but it would be another year before she scored a second UK hit with Every Girl and Boy, which I’ve spent 29 years thinking had some level of PWL involvement but it turns out doesn’t. Every day’s a school day, eh?
Entered chart: 11/07/87
Chart peak: 62
Weeks on chart: 4
Who could sing this today and have a hit? If this song is ever covered by anyone ever again I will be very surprised. Also thrilled, but mostly surprised.