Sunday, 24 January 2010

2000 Steps: Stomp

Before I start, I want to point out that I 'get' Steps, I really do. I 'get' the Technicolor, bargain basement ABBA, dance based pop of simple sophistication that kept one eye on the school disco and the other on the office party. In fact, I sometimes think I 'get' it better than the management team behind them - if ever an act cried out for a Monkees style TV show to flesh out the carefully selected, acceptably United Nations of England Scooby Gang line-up of the people fronting it, then it was Steps. Sadly, no such show was commissioned and so the personality of the 'stars' is relegated to what they could project onto their songs. And barring five pretty yet faceless faces, it wasn't a lot. But as I've said, that's fine. I get it. Steps weren't the new Beatles, never aspired to be and I'm not 'anti' them or any of their ilk because of it.

As another aside, I've often though that if Steps had been active in the seventies, their releases would be on KTel or Ronco, a suitable home for party music that needed no personality other than its own in-built party kazoos and streamers.* They weren't of course, but ironically if they were, then being very much a throwback to the string driven disco sound that held sway in the seventies, 'Stomp' would have fitted right in without much need for leverage.

Again, I don't have a problem with revivals or homage's per se, but what irritates about 'Stomp' is its shameless yet unacknowledged borrowing of its main themes from Chic's 'Everybody Dance', a song that, at certain moments, the band sound like they're about to break into before an unheard stage cough from their intellectual property lawyers brings them to their senses and they hold their tongues. This doesn't make 'Stomp' a bad song or any less danceable (which was Steps' whole raison d'etre after all), but it does make it a depreciated and rather tacky one, a song that will appeal most to those who only want to see the shadows flickering on the wall of Plato's cave and have no interest in turning to see (or in this case hear) the entities that cast them. Or for those not familiar with Book VII of The Republic, to those who think that brand Corn Flakes taste absolutely fine when they've never tried Kellogg's. In other words, to the inherently cheap. Which is what 'Stomp' is. Oh yes, I 'get' Steps alright......

* Those who have never heard of either of these labels wouldn't benefit from an explanation, but for music fans active in the late eighties/early nineties, then the fact that were actually on Jive is no less apt.

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