VIPs and royalty get treated like they’re special see
But the trick is there for all to see
They’re people just like you and me
Roll over Bob Dylan and tell Leonard Cohen the news! Oh yes, tonight we’re looking at an LP from 1987 that I used to love, mostly because no-one else I knew had it* and that I probably haven’t spun since 1992* an album that was, tonight, greeted by no less a rock authority than Mrs 1537 as ‘That was utter shit’; The Cross Shove It**.
16 year-old me despaired at ever being able to get hold of everything Queen had ever done, all the albums, singles, foreign picture sleeves etc – I’d have to find a better way of earning cash than charging my folks for putting the goats out every morning and bringing them in every day, the problem being that if I tried to charge any more I’d run up against the convenience/cost utility arc and my dad would just do it himself, leaving this nascent teenage capitalist effectively unemployed – it was the 80’s, harsh economic realities abounded. So, I decided to set my sights elsewhere and find a band I liked where I could get on the train at the first station. I settled on The Cross.
Okay, okay so this wasn’t quite the dramatic departure it may have been as basically the Cross was Roger Taylor’s solo band and he had recorded the whole of Shove It by himself with a couple minor interludes from Freddie Mercury and Brian May, whoever those bozos were. Now Roger was my favourite member of Queen and demonstrably the coolest one of them by far, the term bromance hadn’t been coined yet but it would have fitted my feelings for him – hell, I wanted to be him.
Anyway, let’s put the needle on the record. ‘Shove It’ careens in, borne aloft on a drum machine and what sounds like synthesized bass and quite possibly the worst rapping ever committed to vinyl. Let’s be fair to Roger, it’s all so very much of its time when the idea of a dance/pop/rap/rock hybrid must have been an alluring one and when you can suspend your critical faculties, or just turn the nostalgia dial up to 10, then it’s all good clean fun; as long as you leave the banalometer in the garage. ‘Cowboys and Indians’ even has a touch of INXS’ white-boy funky popism about it, surely no accident as Taylor was on record as being a big admirer of them by this time. The lightweight ‘Contact’, a song that seemingly exists solely in order to make the ‘I contact/Eye contact’ smartarseism, despite having a surprisingly lively bit of sax on it, fares a lot worse.
For Queen scholars the next track ‘Heaven For Everyone’ is interesting, featuring a Freddie Mercury vocal I hadn’t twigged it was the same track they put out as a Queen one after Freddie had snuffed it. I tend to recoil from those Frankenstein tracks put out after someone interesting dies, old vocals worked into some music by band mates and producer, I’m looking at you ‘Free As A Bird’! Nevertheless this is definitely one of the better tracks on Shove It, much as I like Mr Taylor singing the odd track on a Queen album, a whole LP’s worth can be a bit much sometimes and Freddie gives it some serious warmth. If you can ignore the usual gadzillionaire platitudes-passing-as-profundity lyrics, then this is a bit of a highlight here.
My favourite track is next up, the white soul go-go beating ‘Stand Up For Love’ which is, surprisingly a bit of a belter, it’s no tree-uprooter but it definitely has something, basically a really good gruff vocal and a fast beat.
I have a weakness for songs who have titles in brackets, don’t ask – it’s just the way God made me. The Cross volley a mixed pair over to me, ‘Love On A Tightrope (Like An Animal)’^, which is totally pants and ‘Love Lies Bleeding (She Was A Wicked Wily Waitress)’, which is much better courtesy of some squealing guitar from Brian May. The latter always used to be my fave track on Shove It as it described just the kind of dangerous, mean, sexpots that I was just itching to be done wrong by when I got a bit older. Listened to now, it’s a bit juvenile but no-one can deny the Awesome Power of the Brackets (A.P.O.T.B), ‘she was a wicked, wily waitress’ is great,
She was a waitress she looked real fine
The little temptress was so divine
A symphony of cheap perfume and pretty stale red wine
She can wait upon my table any time
She was poetry in motion
Stiletto heels and nylons she moved up to the table
I could see she had for me a burger with my fries on
What that doesn’t show in written form is my favourite moment on the whole LP, the fact that Roger Taylor rhymes ‘nylons‘ with ‘fries on’, in the way he sings it, that is pure unadulterated genius as far as I’m concerned.
So was this all a rich man’s folly? in the end possibly, because this was effectively a third Taylor solo LP and he wrote and played nearly all of it himself. Whether they did become more of a full band later on, I don’t know because I got clobbered by heavy metal before their second LP came out and I deserted them. It’s far too much of its time to hit home now and neither the songs, or the playing are strong enough overall. But, I really liked it at the time and Shove It always really sounded great to me in the sunshine played on a cheap Sony Walkman and there are enough good touches to keep it in the 1537.
Of course I sent off the newsletter/fan thing and here it is in all its’ glory. It makes me very nostalgic reading it again actually. Of course pre-internet, voracious capitalist goatherds in far-flung locales feasted on raw information like this (click to enlarge)
*in retrospect there may have been some perfectly valid reasons for that fact.
**The 28th LP I ever bought and the first one in the C section. Normal folk don’t know things like that*.
^do they mean ‘like an animal on a tightrope?’ surely that’d be wayyy cruel, depending on the animal? I mean less so for a mouse, more so for a walrus.