Album Of The Week - Johnny Hates Jazz - Turn Back The Clock
Updated: Jul 28
Following on from the seventies glam, we move back to the 1980s for a long overdue return to something a little funkier - Johnny Hates Jazz and their marvellous debut Turn Back The Clock.
A record that celebrated its thirtieth anniversary last year, Turn Back The Clock has grown to be one of my favourite records of the eighties, up there with the likes of Duran Duran's Rio or Marillion's Misplaced Childhood. It's got plenty of rhythm and is a real foot-tapper, as well as being a rather complete collection of songs.
Even after all this time, Clark Datchler sounds exactly the same - none of the magic in those compositions has been lost. Have a listen:
Opening song Shattered Dreams would go on to become of Johnny Hates Jazz's most recognisable. With its overarching bassline and synth sounds, combined with the catchy refrain, it was in the perfect mould to become one of the eighties' most iconic songs and worldwide, it did. Heart Of Gold builds on the funky nature of the opening track, this time incorporating horns and a lighter guitar sound to create something with a bit more about it - there's more substance and for that reason, it goes down as one of the best songs this album produced and indeed my favourite.
The title track is a little slower than the opening two, featuring a more wistful Clark Datchler talking about how he wish he could go back to a happier time, perhaps during a relationship. It's brilliant and would also go on to chart highly in the United States. Don't Say It's Love is wonderfully catchy and sounds, in part, like a Phil Collins solo song with its fantastic horn section. There's still that synth sound in the background substantiating what is one of the record's best offerings.
I Don't Want To Be A Hero sees a return to that eighties wall of sound with lighter guitar notes and overriding bass, but it comes with a different lyrical form. Contrary to Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes, it advocates a retraction from needless conflict. In particular, it discusses how a soldier is questioning their participation in what they perceive to be a pointless and unjust war.
Don't Let It End This Way is a little slower, but still brilliantly rhythmic with its hard drumming and somewhat spoken lyric. It describes a break-up and how Datchler doesn't want it left on bad terms. Foolish Heart is written in a similar vein to a song by the likes of The Human League with its call-and-echo backing vocals and extensive use of a drum machine. It's reminiscent of Mirror Man in a way by way of sound, giving it a great platform to work from and the whole band flies high on Foolish Heart. It's criminally underrated.
If you're wanting one of the most iconic albums from one of the best decades in music history, look no further than Turn Back The Clock. It's got everything from funky rhythms to anti-war protests and represents one of the most complete albums out there. Pure class.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/2X5nzf7
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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