Single Of The Week is where I review a single I'm particularly enamoured of at the moment. It might be a brand spanking new release, or a classic from decades past that I just feel like going on about.
In 1984, people knew that marketing singles meant more than just releasing two discs with twenty really bad remixes. There was an element of creativity involved. Wham's 'Freedom' was available as either a George or Andrew-shaped picture disc. Banananrama's 'Hotline To Heaven' had a jigsaw puzzle cover, while their 'Rough Justice' had a fake 3D cover. This is the kind of stuff collectors like, and the same kind of logic was applied by MCA executives to Nik Kershaw's fourth single of 1984, 'Human Racing', when the pop wonderboy was at the peak of his chart prowess. (For a slightly more comprehensive overview of Nik's career, check out one of the earlier Single Of The Week candidates.)
Although Nik was a prolific songwriter, there was no non-album material available for B-sides at this stage, since he was well into the recording of his second album, The Riddle. So to make the single more appealing, it includes not only 'Human Racing' (a song which dated back to Nik's 1980 work with Fusion), but also a remix of 'Faces' on the B-side.
Just in case that wasn't quite appealing enough, the single was made into a double-pack, with live versions of 'Cloak And Dagger' and 'Drum Talk'. And just in case that still wasn't enough, the gatefold sleeve for the single including a 'Human Racing' board game, essentially a Snakes and Ladders style game which quoted lyrics from the song at various points. The single included dotted lines on the four corners and suggested that these be cut off as counters; hopefully no-one was actually that foolish.
You want more? Well, there was more. In addition to this double single, there was a normal 7" release, a picture disc 7", and two completely different 12" releases. Before you ask, no, I haven't got them all, though I wish I did.
So did it work? Well, yes. 'Human Racing' was the least successful of the four singles from Nik's debut album of the same name (unless you count the original release of 'I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me', which we wouldn't). It still reached #19, though, which was a perfectly respectable placing in those days, and one which outstripped anything released from Nik's Radio Musicola and The Works albums. This proves that clever packaging helps, but it also proves that many more people should have bought the later singles.
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