REBELLIOUS JUKEBOX: The Members vs Stray Cats

The things you learn, eh? All these years I just assumed that Stray Cats were from Brighton or some place, at the very least were English but no – four decades on and you learn that they were from a place called Massapequa – that’s Long Island, New York.

Rewind a long long way back and I’m in a children’s home in Surrey and this song, Runaway Boys, is on the radio. And I mean a lot. Anthony, an older lad of fifteen loved it because he was practically a teddy boy and was well into rockabilly.

I love the vibe of this record, the whole shebazz and decide to spend some pocket money on it in Woolworths but I waited until later when it fell out of the charts and you’d get singles for 30p. The financial traumas of pubescent finance, kids these days have no idea they’re born.

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For the rockabilly element alone I’ve noted to tag GeneVincentFans on Twitter. Many have said that both songs in this tie are ‘bangers’ – that adjective does make me laugh because that word will only ever mean sausages.

Stray Cats followed up the success of Runaway Boys with Rock This Town but must have faded after that, certainly I never heard of them again but you know, they’re still around so it’s a case of Stray Cats are over Stray Cats were.

The essence of the song hit home to me in my situation at the time.

“You’re under age and you’ve got no sense of crime”

Not just a great song but the early eighties, )and Runaway Boys was released November ’80 but didn’t hit the charts until the following year), were jam-packed with contrasting styles so it had to put its wits against punk, ska and disco and an array of novelty pop acts.

Runaway Boys peaked at number nine in the UK charts.

In this second round of the Jukebox, Runaway Boys today comes up against what I can only describe as an iconic rock single. And it is British (I’ve checked!). The Members were from my neck of the woods really. At one time my mum had a boyfriend in Camberley so I temporarily stayed with him and his kids on the Old Dean estate.

Same old boring Sunday morning, old men out washing their cars
Mum”s in the kitchen cooking sunday dinner, Herbert’s still moaning for food

Herbert. Such a funny name now to think of it. Used to be a slight term of affection for a scamp, you know, he’s a bit of a Herbert.

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And now when I play Sound Of The Suburbs I question that quirky beginning. You know, that guitar intro that sounds like something out of Trumpton speeded up. What made them think of doing that?

At the time it was just there, you didn’t really take any notice of it, just waited for the whole thing to burst into life. But wow, such energy. It’s got a fantastic coda too hasn’t it, you know those last twenty seconds and how it’s gonna go… bang… done. Come to think of it, Runaway Boys has the very same magnificent climax. True to say also that I’ve never been a fan of fade-outs.

About suburban angst, there are are probably a fair few that are similar but the comparison I would draw from around the same time, perhaps a little earlier is The Jam’s That’s Entertainment.

“Face-battered walls and the cry of a tomcat
Lights going out and a kick in the balls”

Sound Of The Suburbs is entertainment alright and yes, I was one of those lucky enough to have the clear vinyl copy.

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That was mine but I’m a little confused now about the alternative cover Discogs have in relation to the clear vinyl; I never saw that before.

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But yes, one of those songs we remember now that at the time rocked your socks off, as did Runaway Boys and it’s gonna be a great battle for sure, perhaps another close Jukebox call.

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