KATRINA AND THE WAVES
B-Side: Machine Gun Smith
An Anglo-American group (guitarist and drummer the Brits, bassist and vocalist the Yanks), best known for their big summer hit Walking On Sunshine. I have several singles by Katrina & The Waves but not that one - but I'm sure it's something you've probably been overexposed to already, and so you'll have a ready made opinion on that. One of my abiding memories of Katrina & The Waves is seeing them live at Gloucester Park, and them singing Walking on Sunshine during a gray and miserable drizzle. Anyway enough of that song and onto this record.
Just as an aside I've noticed that many of these singles have a pleasing weight to them and they feel just right and nicely balanced to hold - there are some later singles that feel flimsier - almost flexible - but not this one. This record feels is physically much weightier than almost all of my other singles. This is neither good or bad thing per se (although there is something satisfying in that little bit of extra weight - it makes the record feel more substantial somehow).
Que Te Quiero is from earlier in the career of the band, but the sunny feeling is still here - albeit in a more muted form. The adjective which most immediately comes to mind is bouncy. It starts of with a bass lead bounce that carries on through the verses of the song, this is punctuated by occasional, enjoyable castanet trills. The chorus is comes in a big blossoming shower of brightness, that contrasts well with the more subdued verses. The story is simple it's about the captain's daughter who is in love with "the boy from Mexico", much to the disapproval of others. The chorus in sung in Spanish, another little thing that lifts this offering out from the mundane. Of course my Spanish is limited-to-non-existent. I've got a vague feeling that Que Te Quiero means something to do with love, and that's about it, but the story is simple enough that you don't need to understand the words to get the meaning.
An ode to a terrorist, especially one that seems to paint the terrorist in a good light, is an odd thing to do, but Machine Gun Smith is just that very thing. To be fair we don't know from the song whether he's IRA, Basque separatist, PLO, Hezbollah or any other, but it does explicitly state that he is a terrorist. Although the description of how he "stalks a little country with a machine gun in his fist" makes him sound more like a soldier of fortune to me - but I suppose that's not exactly mush higher on the evolutionary ladder. Maybe it's meant to be ironic - but there's nothing in the lyrics that suggest anything in the way of that. It's lower and muddier in sound that most Katrina & The Waves - but not by much. It still has a vibrant, poppy bounce that is at odds with the lyric. There's also some artificial stuttering introduced in the chorus that makes the whole production sound so defiantly 80's.
A record that I enjoy the a-side of even if it is slight, and that I would like to enjoy the b-side of, but it just doesn't quite reconcile. Maybe in the end this record is better to hold than to hear!
Next time some beasts of Burdon (sic)...