Hue and Cry, Labour of Love and Yet More Late ’80s Scottish Bands

Getting back to my theme of great Scottish bands from the late 1980s, I can’t omit that duo from Coatbridge, brothers Pat and Greg Kane from Hue and Cry. Their second single release was Labour of Love which reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart in June 1987. Like Danny Wilson whom I wrote about the other day, their music was of a sophisti-pop persuasion but as anyone reading this blog will have come to realise, these labels baffle me and as a non-musician myself, my relationship with the songs I write about is quite simple – Do I like what I hear, how do they make me feel and would I like to listen to more? With Labour of Love the answers were quite straightforward – Yes I liked what I heard, I felt perhaps “energised” by it and yes I definitely wanted to hear more from them.

Labour of Love by Hue and Cry:

As it turned out with Hue and Cry, the chance came quite soon to see them live. In 1988 they embarked on a tour that included, wait for it, the small Ross-shire town of Dingwall. Now back in those days, the Highlands of Scotland hadn’t quite caught up with the rest of the country when it came to venues for socialising. Although the big cities had vast nightclubs with sophisticated sound/lighting systems and those dancefloors with the flashing squares (as showcased by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever), in the Highlands we had revamped hotel function suites, cinemas and dance halls. To be honest this was a bit of a godsend for me when I came to live here as if a particular record made me want to dance, that is exactly what I did and the gentrified nightclubs of the big cities did not provide enough space for my kind of dancing. (Yes many a night out was ruined for my friends as I apparently “put boys off” wanting to dance with us!)

Dance hall

And so it came to pass that Jings (seriously) nightclub in Dingwall, which had been a cinema back in the day, became quite the venue for bands touring the country. With a stage, a vast area for fans to watch from, and a small bar at the far end it was very definitely part of the circuit. I loved my night of watching Hue and Cry perform there and by 1988 they had quite a repertoire of familiar songs to entertain us with.

hue and cry

A bit of trivia about the song – In 1987 they were asked to perform it at short notice on TOTP when the American band Los Lobos had a mix-up with their visa applications. As anyone who remembers that era will know, a slot on TOTP practically guaranteed chart success and indeed it was fortuitous that the song “La Bamba” didn’t make it onto the show that Thursday.

Of course at the time I hadn’t realised that the lyrics of the song were written from the perspective of a working-class Tory voter of the mid-1980s who had tried to believe in Margaret Thatcher’s new Britain but was now realising that there was “too much pain for too little gain” in doing so. Not surprised that the lyrics were of a political persuasion however as Pat Kane himself has gone on to be a political commentator and makes frequent appearances on Scottish current affairs television programmes. He now writes for the The National and The Guardian and was one of the founding editors of the Sunday Herald. Like many of his generation, and like my own dear husband, he is also now bald as a coot so I had to do a bit of a double-take when I saw him on television recently. In my head I still see him as that young man on stage in Ross-shire in the late ’80s, but then again I think we are all still in our twenties in our heads, it’s just when you catch yourself in a shop window, see yourself in a photograph or try to replicate old dance moves that reality kicks in.

Anyway, three Scottish bands showcased in five days so definitely time to move onto a new thread and I’ll have a think about that one over the next few days. Barring another shock death in this, the year of obituaries, inspiration could come from absolutely anywhere…..

Labour of Love Lyrics
(Song by Pat Kane/Greg Kane)

You said, you recall about seven years ago now
You said, that you we’re so tough
And I loved it, oh
Loved you for putting me down in a totally new way
Down with, the bad old, sad old days
(Get away now)
But now, too much pain for too little gain
And I feel like I’m gonna strike back right now

Gonna withdraw my labour of love
Gonna strike for the right to get into your heart, yeah
Withdraw my labour of love
Gonna strike for the right to get into your cold heart
Ain’t gonna work for you no more
Ain’t gonna work, for you no more

Ha, easy, I noticed you said it never was gonna be easy
But not this hard
You’re so cold, so cold
The romance goes when the promises break
My mistake was to love you a little too much

Gonna withdraw my labour of love
Gonna strike for the right to get into your heart, yeah
Withdraw my labour of love
Gonna strike for the right to get into your heart, baby now
Withdraw my labour of love

I can’t stand it, I said I just don’t want it
Never gonna need it, anyway yeah
I can’t stand it, I said I just don’t want it
Never gonna need it, anyway
I don’t want you, I don’t need you
I don’t need your tricks and treats
I don’t need your ministration, your bad determination
I’ve had enough of you, and your super-bad crew
I don’t need your, I don’t need your
Pseudo-satisfaction baby
I can’t stand it, I said I just don’t want it
Never gonna need it, anyway yeah
I can’t stand it, I don’t want it
I don’t need your pseudo-satisfaction baby

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

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