Following on from Paddy’s singles review in the Record Mirror in April 1984, one of the singers he had critiqued, Tracie, took it upon herself to shoot back via the letters pages. It’s not exactly Blur v. Oasis, but nothing beats a good pop spat, all laid out below.
It’s worth reminding ourselves who Tracie Young was, and indeed is. She was the slightly sulky looking Paul Weller teen protégé who was featured on the Style Council’s classic “Speak Like a Child”. Weller had signed her to his Respond records label having been impressed by a demo tape received following an advert in Smash Hits magazine.
Apart from “Speak Like a Child”, her chart pedigree was broadly similar to Paddy’s eventual record, with one No 9 hit (“The House that Jack Built”), and one 24 (“Give It Some Emotion”). However at this point Tracie was the established star and Paddy the wannabee contender.
The song being reviewed by Paddy, “Soul’s on Fire”, managed 73 only. Tracie had heard the Style Council playing the chorus and asked Weller for the song: he’d agreed provided she wrote the verses. Paddy pointed out in the review the chorus had been inelegantly welded onto an unrelated verse, and probably that was the reason she was a little touchy about it.
Tracie is now a local radio DJ in Essex.
Finding these clippings – for which I’m indebted to the impressive memory of Paul Howden in the Sproutnet Facebook group – was a lovely little stroll down memory lane. Tracie is one of those people you do remember if you really think about it, a very typical early 1980s white soul singer with firebrand tendencies and a bit of a motor mouth. Someone who did care about what she did and about the world around her, but never likely to be more than an also ran in pop history.
Meanwhile most of the “next big things” championed in the magazine were to fall flat. And I was also amused at a two star hatchet job dismissal of the Blue Nile’s classic “A Walk Across the Rooftops”: no one ever quite misses the obvious quite so spectacularly as a 1980s music journalist. But even if hindsight bears Paddy out in his singles review – it’s a diabolically poor single – well done Tracie Young at least for having the chutzpah to take him on.