Times change, fashions evolve, yet some staples will remain around for years to come. Initially, there is nothing wrong with acts continuing to bask in the limelight. It can become an issue if this basking eats up the valuable potential exposure for the next best thing. Especially if the gatekeepers of culture are apprehensive to accept this change. In 1989, as an attempt to provide a pop-focused vox populi for the younger masses, Stock, Aitken, Waterman, found two sisters and turned them into a ready-to-go music act. The results were The Reynolds Girls musical unveiling, I’d Rather Jack.
To provide some context for the song’s origins. Stock, Aitken, Waterman were riding high commercially, yet the music was constantly being derided by the music presses. Getting fed up with the constant derision (and lack of airplay). They hypothesised that the old guard of the music industry was out of touch with the youth of the day and felt determined to evoke change. The Hit Factory picked two sisters to act as a voice, of the fans and of the producers, to convince disc jockeys to start playing the fresh new sound. The success of that attempt was debatable, but it did produce an entertaining song out of their efforts.
Like most tracks produced by The Hit Factory, the tune is flashy, catchy, and a tonne of fun, with a high proportion of synthesised sounds. You hear the squelchy origins of the Madchester acid house genre starting to permeate. Considering how the story would end for Stock, Aitken, Waterman, it is quite ironic for them to help lay down the groundings for the styles that would make them obsolete. Though this makes sense, considering that The Reynolds Girls were positioned to be ambassadors for the youthful up-and-coming sounds. All this is accompanied by an electronic drumbeat that adds a driving sensation to the proceedings, and hook-laden elements to give you earworms for days after hearing. Making this song a quintessential example of The Hit Factory sound that divided fans and critics to this day.
It is in the lyrics, that The Reynolds Girls earns retrospective intrigue. The chorus clearly articulating the manifesto of The Reynolds Girls that the songs on the radio are dated and stale. With the sister’s less than subtle attacks on the perceived old rock bands like Dire Straits and the titularly-called-out Fleetwood Mac. Interesting targets, nonetheless, as these were musicians who were still grabbing the audience’s attention at the time, even to this day. And the curious reference to Jack, and the uncertainty of what that refers to, New Jack Swing? An innuendo? I guess it is up to the listener.
While the solitary single was called out for being a manufactured attempt to appeal to the youth crowd. The song is an entertaining dance song with entertaining lyrics and a pleasing mixture of danceable beats and hooky rhythms. Unfortunately, The Reynolds Girls careers died with I’d Rather Jack, as the track offers some pop potential and could be a blueprint for a bustling regular music career. Though Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and the like still enjoy intergenerational appeal, I would imagine for The Reynolds Girls, they would rather jack.
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