Meanwhile in America...by 1983 disco was dead. In name anyway. But people still wanted to dance. In New York clubs like Funhouse and Danceteria and here too, in Stirling student discos like The Grange.
I wanted to dance. I couldn't dance, but put the needle on the record and I'd try.
In 1983 I'd cut my hair short and spiky, started wearing stonewashed jeans and a grey overcoat the girl bought me from Flip in Glasgow.
I was obsessed by two songs that year. The awkward, novelistic beauty of Cattle and Cane, by Australian band The Go-Betweens, ("I recall a schoolboy coming home/through fields of cane/to a house of tin and timber/and in the sky/a rain of falling cinders) and the giddying rush of Johnny Marr's guitar as it opens This Charming Man and that first line ("Punctured Bicycle on a hillside desolate") which electrified the bookish boy I was.
The latter would start an obsession with the band that would dominate my listening for the next four years (as might become apparent in the weeks ahead).
That year - April 13 - New Order played Stirling University. I went to see them play. They opened with Blue Monday, released the month before and the clearest sign yet that they had moved on from Joy Division. The sound of a band who had been spending their nights in those New York dance clubs. I didn't like it. I still don't really like it. In the same way I didn't like Confusion, the track they recorded with New York producer Arthur Baker that year. Maybe like is not the right word. Both of them have an appeal. Clipped and stripped, there's a stark, monotone feel to both. And they pointed the way ahead for the band and for eighties music in the way they fused white boy rock with black boy moves.
Yet neither thrilled me the way Baker's Walking on Sunshine had thrilled me the year before. Neither thrilled me the way Shannon's Let the Music Play thrilled me.
In the eighties music evolved on the dancefloor. It was there that all the different energies of the time crossbred and fused together. Hip hop, electro, later techno were a constant back-and-forth of influence and sound (later that cross-fertilisation would become even more concrete as sampling took hold). And new microgenres spun off, sometimes on a weekly basis.
"In the New York of the early 80s," David Toop wrote in Wire magazine in 1996, "Latin HipHop, or freestyle, evolved from Electro, an orgy of computer game dubbing and vocoder voices which reached dizzy heights of future-tack with the Jonzun Crew, Warp 9, Hashim and The Egyptian Lover. Discarded by rappers, Electro was turned into pop music by Latin HipHoppers - Babie & Keyes, Amoretto, Shannon - and then dubbed to smithereens."
Let the Music Play by Shannon is one of the first Freestyle tracks. Later Freestyle records would make their Latin origins more explicit but you could still hear it on this track. "Let the Music Play's electro-woodblock-and-cowbell percussion and kick-drum/snare-drum interaction sounded like a cross between Gary Numan and Tito Puente," disco historian Peter Shapiro writes in his book Turn the Beat Around.
Originally a mobile DJ from the Bronx, in 1983 the record's producer Chris Barbosa bought a Roland JX-3P and TB-303 (which would become the distinctive sound of acid house a few years later) with money given to him by his grandmother.
Working with Mark Liggett, he added Latin rhythms to the electro blueprint established by DJ/producers like Baker and John Robie. They came across a college student called Brenda Shan¬non Greene and invited her to sing on the track, then titled Fire and Ice. They then paired her vocal on the chorus with a white session vocalist Jimi Tunnell.
The sound that resulted is very early eighties, I guess. But at the time it seemed hard and fresh and new.
It made me want to dance. It still does.
This Charming Man, The Smiths
Cattle and Cane, The Go-Betweens
Last Night a DJ Save My Life, Indeep
Love is a Stranger, Eurythmics
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
Little Red Corvette, Prince
Just Be Good to Me, The S.O.S. Band
Tour De France, Kraftwerk
Coup, 23 Skidoo
Don't Talk to Me About Love, Altered Images
White Lines (Don't Do It), Grandmaster and Melle Mel
Song to the Siren, This Mortal Coil
Everything Counts, Depeche Mode
A New England, Billy Bragg
Kiss Off, Violent Femmes
China Girl, David Bowie
Relax, Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Every Day I Write the Book, Elvis Costello
Just Fascination, Cabaret Voltaire
Walk Out to Winter, Aztec Camera
Never Stop, Echo and the Bunnymen
Pills and Soap, The Imposter
Long Hot Summer, Style Council
The Crown, Gary Bird
Rockit, Herbie Hancock
Soul Inside, Soul Inside
Rip It Up, Orange Juice
A New England, Billy Bragg
They Don't Know, Tracey Ullman
Breakdown, Clock DVA
Honey at the Core, Friends Again
In the Neighbourhood, Tom Waits
The NME's single of the year: Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
John Peel's Festive 50 winner: Blue Monday, New Order
And the best-selling single of 1983 was Karma Chameleon, Culture Club