My Top 1000 Songs #173: Good Morning Britain

I've never been much of a singles guy. Indeed, the only 7" vinyl single I remember buying was "Bohemian Rhapsody," back in 1976 when I was 10 (and that's because I was a 10-year-old and it was "Bohemian Rhapsody," so of course).

But when I heard Aztec Camera's "Good Morning Britain" on the radio, around the summer of '90--the summer after my first year of law school, which felt like kind of a sparse time for good new releases--I immediately wanted to hear it again. Like, that second

I wasn't a huge Aztec Camera fan (sure, "Oblivious" was one of the essential new wave tracks of the 80s, but I hadn't spent any time listening to their albums), so dropping a couple bucks on a CD single (with a half-dozen versions of the tune) seemed the better bargain.

It was just as good on second listen, if not better, and over the years it's lost none of its ability to totally rile me up. I think that's largely due to the presence of Mick Jones, and the song sounding more like a lost Big Audio Dynamite single than an Aztec Camera song, a big, boomy anthem that walks the line between guitar-driven rock and a more post-new-wave synth vibe. 

Jones and Aztec frontman Roddy Frame alternate lines throughout, a riveting call-and-response motif that works rather than sounding cheesy. Lyrically, it seems tied to The Troubles, and some of the references are beyond my knowledge, but there are some broader themes of war and bigotry, and universal shout-outs to change and hope, that resound regardless of the song's specific context. The last verse reaches a crescendo that's always stuck with me:

"But in this green and pleasant land, where I made my home I'll make my stand. Make it cool just to be a man, a uniform's a traitor. Love is international, and if you stand or if you fall, just let them know you gave your all. Worry about it later."

 BTW, I did eventually splurge on the whole album, and ended up liking it quite a bit.