Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Motors - "Airport" (1978)

One of the first English bands to make a serious run in the early New Wave days, when disco was still raging, The Motors were mislabeled as "punks," when in fact they were blatantly a power pop group.

As typical with many great bands, they were far bigger in the UK than in the US. The single "Airport" was from their second album, Approved By The Motors, and it was by far and away their biggest career hit. While it zoomed up the charts in the UK, alas, it was only a minor hit here.

A mid-tempo song with melancholy chords and prominent piano chords and arpeggios, the English accents are thick, but you can't get the song out of your head. This is one of those tunes where you can clearly embarrass yourself belting out the "oo-oo-oo-ooo" background vocals during the chorus.

Band leaders Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster crafted what was in essence a perfect power pop song -- nothing fluffy or light, no teen angst, a whirlwind rock beat, yet everybody singing "dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit" on the break to the chorus:

And I can't believe,
that she really wants to leave me
and it's getting me so,
It's getting me so.

Then they blurt the word "Airport" and before you know it, you're doing that killer "oo-oo-oo-oo" background vocal. What a tune. An early production from Robert "Mutt" Lange, who knows a few things about memorable hooks (Def Leppard, Huey Lewis & The News, The Cars, Shania Twain).

Guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky (yep, that's what he called himself) left the band afterwards to do his own power pop album, Strange Man Changed Man, which featured the fantastic "Girl Of My Dreams" (to be discussed at a later post).

The clip below is from a UK "countdown" show from the mid 70's where the Motors lip-synch their way through the 45 version of "Airport." While pianist Nick Garvey is singing dead seriously, the guitarist and bassist are dressed like, yep, airplane pilots and clearly having a good laugh at themselves.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Andy sings lead and plays keyboards, Nick plays bass and sings backing vocals.

(iff anyone knows who actually played that excellent, punctual bass in the studio, i'd be grateful for the info)

Anonymous said...

so few seem to have realized that the entire chorus section of this song is actually 'lifted' from the Shadows' "Man Of Mystery"