RIFFS / Shakespeare's in the house: Chris Rea jumps to Womack & Womack's 'Teardrops'

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The Independent Culture
ALL MY favourite records seem to be on C90 tapes with no titles on them. This is one I do remember though, from a couple of years back. It's a dance track whose big attraction is that it has everything. There's an argument that you lose the soul when you use modern recording techniques, but this is modern and still has all the flavour of the Sixties, when I was there in my mohair suit. You can happily play it back to back with a Marvelettes or an Elgins single.

I started having difficulty in the Seventies when rhythm-box tracks first came out, and I worried that I was getting older. But it wasn't me, it was the music that was getting squarer. In 'Brown Sugar', 'Honky Tonk Woman', 'All Right Now', the tempo moves about a bit - it's not exactly tight - and the atmosphere of the room in which the record was made does travel into the Friday night on which it's played. When machines took over, I found myself aged 24 and not inspired to move my body.

This was the first track to do that to me for 12 or 14 years, it was a wonderful experience, like God was smiling down on me again, like He was still there.

It's a classic Friday night Romeo and Juliet story - somebody's been unfaithful, and the scenario's taking shape within the opera of the weekend dance. It's about misery, but Cissy makes it sound OK because she sings from her soul - she gets that hard Tamla Motown sound like Martha Reeves, and she sings as if she's playing an instrument, she doesn't make a big job of a long word.

It's got the classic synth noise, a funky sound in its own right, not a copy of another instrument. The whole thing is in and out in three minutes, but says it all. I would hazard a guess they worked in the old way, and they put it down when they were feeling good about themselves. I guess it runs at about 130 beats per minute, and whenever I hear it I want to jump up: 'Footsteps on the dancefloor, reminds me baby of you / Teardrops in my eyes, next time I'll be true.' Those are four lines that would take Shakespeare 19 lines to say the same thing in. I think if the feeling is there, the grammar doesn't count.

'Teardrops On The Dancefloor' is on the Womack & Womack album 'Conscience', 4th & Broadway BRCD519.

(Photographs omitted)