Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Oliver!: Mo-Dettes - Fandango (15 March 1992)

Even before I tell you anything in depth about this track, you'll probably have heard enough in the opening seconds to go, "Ah, John Peelesque circa 1980, I believe?"  It's all there.  Guitars that sound like the opening of cocktail umbrellas; mannered Mittel-European female vocals that in this particular case sound like they're going to go "Ooh la la" at any moment; whole verses delivered in a foreign language (French, I think*) and a feeling that the whole track is going to collapse in on its original intentions and end up as a Girls At Our Best pastiche.

*Your intrepid blogger just looked at Mo-Dettes page on the John Peel wiki.  Turns out that the lead singer, Ramona Carlier was born in Switzerland, so less mannered than I had thought.

Mo-Dettes were formed in 1979 and included in their ranks Kate Korus, a founder member of The Slits, though she left them before they recorded their legendary Peel Sessions.  Fandango was the opening track on their sole 1980 album, The Story So Far.  The half English/half French mash-up may sound genially close to gibberish as it rattles along, but is of a piece with an album which despite the of its time sound manages to touch a number of musical bases.  What comes through in Fandango is a half lament, half sigh of relief that the protagonist's former lover is out of her life.  This theme is touched on to more satisfying effect on Bedtime Stories.

Peel played the track in response to a letter from a listener called Andy asking for some records by among others Mo-Dettes, Section 25, Blue Orchids and others from the post-punk era.  Peel obliged by playing this back to back with a song by The Diagram Brothers.  I'm charmed enough by Fandango to include it, but I think there are much better examples of Mo-Dettes on their album than this track.  As well as the aforementioned Bedtime Stories, I would recommend their swingtime flavoured history of the Kray Twins (sad to see that it didn't turn up on the soundtracks to either Legend or The Krays), the nifty character sketch of Foolish Girl or the irresistible White Mice in either version.

Video courtesy of Pleasure Victim

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