Black Box Recorder was formed in 1998 when Luke Haines, who had found previous success with his Britpop-era band The Auteurs, formed a duo with former Jesus and Mary Chain drummer John Moore and the two of them approached Sarah Nixey to provide vocals. I myself didn’t get into the synth-based, indie pop trio right away. In fact, it was my friend Tim that suggested I give their 2003 album, “Passionoia”, a go, likening their sound to that of Saint Etienne but with the dark lyrical content of The Auteurs. Tim was dead on and of course, I loved the album right off. Unfortunately, like most of Haines’s projects around that time, the project was short-lived, and “Passionoia” ended up being the group’s third and final album.
Track seven on said album was a fun number called “Andrew Ridgeley”. That’s right. That Andrew Ridgeley.
“I never liked George Michael much
Although they say he was the talented one”
A portrait of the artist as young music fan is turned on its head in Haines’s hands. He writes a fictional version of singer Sarah Nixey’s youth, who dutifully reads her lines in that fabulous sing/speak thing she does. A lovelorn teen who buys her first record because of the lesser known half of Wham!, and then discovers the reason why you should never meet your heroes. Randy Andy tumbles down from the sparkling clouds in her eyes when she spies him many years later and she realizes he is only human.
“I was brought up to the sound of the synthesizer
I learned to dance to the beat of electronic drums
I came alive to the smouldering fire in your eyes
I love you now and I will til the day that I die”
Musically, “Andrew Ridgeley” is a synth pop suite in three movements: the tentative and twinkling verses, the picked up and thunderous dance floor choruses, and finally, the breathy and joyful puffed up clouds. If only all pop music was this smart.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.