Monday, 12 January 2015

Texas 'Black Eyed Boy'

Chart Peak: 5
The modern soul sound of 'Black Eyed Boy' was the third Top 10 single for Texas this year... It was a whopping Top 5 hit in August following earlier successes with 'Halo' and 'Say What You Want'.
Three Top 20 hits in 1997 was already more than they'd managed in their entire previous career, and with them all making the Top 10 it was enough to put them alongside the Verve and, er, Chumbawamba as the year's late bloomers. By the time 'Black Eyed Boy' came out as a single in the summer, I already knew it well from my dad's copy of the White On Blonde album and the single remix took a little getting used to, particularly with the additional synthesisers dubbed over the bass solo.

The song - co-written by Robert Hodgens of the Bluebells, incidentally - is probably the best on the album, clearly aiming for a Motown-esque sound but stopping short of full pastiche and with a barbed lyric, both pleading and critical. For reasons I can't entirely articulate I've always especially liked the way Sharleen Spiteri sings the word "deceit", maybe because she's slightly smiling at the memory even as she complains about it. With a different delivery, the chorus lyric "Black-eyed boy, you will find your own space and time" could just be trite pep-talking, but it's clearly intended as a tougher sentiment here. Funnily enough, just last week Spiteri was asked on the radio who the song was about but if you were hoping for an exclusive, unfortunately she refused to answer the question. The production has a good propulsive energy and is well-detailed with smart use of percussion. On reflection I think the single mix is an improvement because that big string section really comes through on the intro and the extra few seconds in the fade leaves in a little extra taste of the vocals.

It's probably still not cool to say this, and there was a time in the last decade when I wouldn't have said it, but at their best Texas were very good indeed, and this is a real highlight.

Also appearing on: Now 36, 37, 39, 40, 43, 47, 48, 49, 56, 62, 63
Available on: Greatest Hits (UK Comm Single CD)

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