WHAT Barbra Streisand - Wet
WHEN Glascoed Royal Ordnance Factory Social Club - Summer 1980
Endless summer nights at 'the Club'.
Coke in classic bottles.
And it felt like this tape was playing all the time.
This was the end of an era. It was the final summer I spent in our tiny village primary school (70 pupils) before transferring to the much larger comprehensive school (1100 pupils). We also moved that summer from the Factory’s on-site ‘married quarters’ (population 200) to the village (population 2000). New house, new school, new friends, new music.
Listening to it 36 years later is, predictably, a mixed bag. The UK might have been punk for three years but that hadn’t reached Streisand’s Malibu bunker. It has the sticky sheen of West Coast music biz glossy excess plastered over it. You don’t have to call in Time Team to date it.
A concept album based around water? OK! A soft porn hot tub album cover? Yes! Car crash arrangements of flabby disco being choked by wigged-out guitar solos and sickly string sections? Uh huh! The version of “Splish Splash” is excruciating. But… “Wet”, “Kiss Me in the Rain” and “No More Tears” (with Donna Summer) can still hold their heads up. A decent cover version by the likes of Feist or Rhiannon Giddens could rehabilitate them for less decadent times.
Parts of this album are still scored deeply into my brain. If you say to me “It’s raining, it’s pouring…”, my follow-up line will always be “my love life is boring”, not “the old man is snoring”. Thanks Barbra. Who knows what other pinko liberal mantras she’s planted deep in my subconscious?
Now the Glascoed Royal Ordnance Factory Social Club is shuttered and decaying. Barbra’s tape looks like it’s gone through the wars. Time moves on.