From my very limited experience (and that a long time ago), one of the things that you do at the start of a relationship is get to know the other person’s likes and dislikes. Food, movies, other stuff….and music. The whole concept of the Mix Tape (now the Playlist) comes from this – “I’ve scoured my music collection and here’s some things I think you’ll like, or that have meaning (and I hope you’ll like).” Or possibly “If you don’t like this, it’s probably not going to work out between us.”
Hopefully, both partners bring something to the musical relationship – sometimes you’ll like what the other brings, sometimes you won’t, but you’ll probably at least make the effort to tolerate it.
When my wife and I met, one of the first things we agreed on was that we liked Yes’s album Going For The One (that pretty much sealed the deal for me right there). Beyond that it’s been a mixed story – I never persuaded her of the merits of Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Van Morrison, and it took some time (and a concert) to get her over to Bruce Springsteen; I’ve never got Gorillaz or some of the other things she’s liked.
But one band that she brought to our relationship right from the start was Sad Café. They’d been around the scene for a few years, having been mentored in Manchester by another of her favourite bands, 10CC. They’d had a couple of hits, but that was all I’d heard of them – hits on pop radio and Top Of The Pops on TV.
She said that I should see them live, because they were really good. I wasn’t that keen, but I was young and in love, so I agreed to go with her. And it was one of the best gigs I’d been to up to that date.
Sad Café were fronted by Paul Young – not Paul “Wherever I Lay My Hat, That’s My Home” Young, but the Paul Young who went on to join Mike And The Mechanics before a tragically early death in 2000. And what an excellent live performer he was – moves like Jagger (why does that sound familiar…?), sings with a strong blues-rock voice.
The rest of the band were equally compelling musicians, and we subsequently saw them in concert several more times (including once in Newcastle which was the only time I’ve ever seen the support act – a local band – have more fans at the gig than the headliners) and one in Manchester: there’s always something a bit more special about a home-town gig.
Sad Café never made the breakthrough to the big time that 10CC did, with only Every Day Hurts and a couple of other minor hits registering with the wider public, though they retained a loyal live following. For me, they’re a very under-rated band who produced some very good albums – check out Fanx Ta-Ra, Facades (see what they did there?) or their live album.
Here are some links – hope this gets across some of what seemed so good about them in the early ’80s (and I don’t just mean the hair):
Every Day Hurts – their biggest hit
My Oh My – very Stones-y
Keeping It From The Troops – Bit of a weird video, but my favourite Sad Café song. That first time I saw them live, Ian Wilson (guitar and vocals) told the funniest joke I’d heard from a band on stage. In the early ’80s, it seemed like everyone played covers of Bob Dylan songs, so he introduced this with “We’d like to play a Bob Dylan song now….nah, f**k it, he never plays any of ours.” Which I thought was very funny.
And here’s video of Sad Café playing Strange Little Girl live, which gives you a sense of how dynamic they were and what a hypnotic performer Paul Young was (not sure those trousers were such a great idea, though). Check out the full concert video if you can (assuming it’s accessible from countries other than the UK).