Kerry Delius – Dear Christine
From Kerry Delius – They Say It’s Gonna Rain
Released on Arrival Records, 1984, UK
If you’re used to reading this blog, you probably share with us the idea that « B-sides » can almost be considered as a subgenre of pop music; a musical territory where musicians let loose of the economic stress the industry put on their shoulders to experiment with their musical fantasies, feeling safe in the shadow of the A-side – the potential hit that justifies the financial investment of the producers. B-sides tell a parallel story of pop music; like the dark side of the records industry, they give an account of decades of experimentations in recording studios. They are the « Dub sides », bubbles of creative freedom, leftfield windows on another possible musical continent.
Kerry Delius wrote and released They Say It’s Gonna Rain in 1984 and though you may recognize the melody, you probably never heard it before. However, a few years later, the song was vamped by the infamous producers trio Stock, Aitken & Waterman who turned it into a huge #1 hit, sung by Hazell Dean. The original song already bears the ambition of its 1985 cover : it’s a nagging hi-NRG bulldozer, filled with epic moments… in other words, nothing that foreshadowed the absolute weirdness of its B-side.
Even though I’m used to witnessing the artistic gap between two sides of a same 7″, I couldn’t expect Dear Christine to be so dark, twisted and esoteric! The song begins with a strange industrial drum pattern, eerie electronic sounds that remind of tropical birds and field recordings of someone sitting at one’s table to write a letter. Then, we hear Kerry Delius‘s voice reading out loud a letter to her « Dear Christine » about a forbidden love affair somewhere in Africa. What’s particularly unsettling is that the listener’s eavesdropping on a private confidence though one doesn’t have a clue about the identity of the narrator – is it Kerry Delius herself ? An extract from a novel ? – and one feels like one’s been put in a voyeuristic situation without against one’s will.
It seems that the song was entirely written, arranged and recorded by Kerry Delius. This lack of filter – no producer giving his endorsement – probably explains the radicalness of a song that reminds of Karen Finley, but with an even stronger outsider touch. Morality: producers, label bosses, give artists absolute creative liberty once in a while, it pays.