Allow me to get something off my chest first, if I may: Modern Englishâ€™s â€œI Melt With Youâ€ was not a hit back in the day. No matter how many former cheerleaders at your high school reunion squeal when it comes on, I am here to tell you those people not only did not like that song when it was released, they never even heard of it. The popular kids were not digging Modern English in 1983 â€“ they were more about Loverboy, Def Leppard and Michael Jackson. It wasnâ€™t until years and years later that revisionist history kicked in and suddenly everyone loved that song, even the jocks whom regularly beat up the â€œfagsâ€ in Duran Duran t-shirts back when the single was struggling to its peak of #78 on the Hot 100.
Not that Iâ€™m bitter or anything.
I bring this up because of conversations I have with people I went to high school with when I go back to small town Elyria, Ohio. Oh, Iâ€™ll be at the local mall with my nieces and nephews and someone will invariably stop me at the food court, â€œHey John, is that you??â€ (and Iâ€™m always amazed they recognize me, since Iâ€™m nearly 70 lbs. larger and have zero hair). Iâ€™ll give a weak smile and that I-totally-donâ€™t-know-you â€œHeyyyy!â€ and my sister will jump in and work the strangerâ€™s name into the convo. Invariably, the conversation will veer to music and this person, who I barely remember save only for being on student council or some other A-list high school activity will say something to the effect of â€œDo you still listen to all that â€˜punk rock?â€™â€
Now, I did like some true punk rock, but I rarely listened to it around people in my high school â€“ I knew better. But back in 1983, Modern English were easy to lump into â€œpunk rockâ€ if you were Sally McTreasurer who dated Trent Von Linebacker. It was â€œfag musicâ€, but you were trying to be nice. So it became â€œpunk!â€ Tee hee! So yeah, I still harbor some residual anger that â€œmyâ€ music has been co-opted by the cool kids and say, Burger King, over the decades. Oh, well. Theyâ€™re all still fatter and older looking (possibly due to said Burger King).
â€œInk and Paperâ€ was even more obscure than Modern Englishâ€™s first two American â€œhitsâ€ (â€œMeltâ€ and 1984â€™s exquisite â€œHands Across the Seaâ€, which weâ€™ll get to another day). It didnâ€™t even chart, but it wasnâ€™t for lack of trying. The band seemed so desperate for another hit, they even ripped off the â€œohh, ohh, ohhâ€ refrain from Springsteenâ€™s â€œBorn to Runâ€, for Godâ€™s sake. A grab for green doesnâ€™t get much more red, white and blue than that. Yet, â€œInk and Paperâ€ is still a fondly remembered song for me â€“ 1986 was a pretty big year for me (graduation and all), and the â€œStop Startâ€ LP this came from what was a fairly solid effort I wore out quite a bit that year.
Modern English limped along to re-record â€œI Melt With Youâ€ in 1990 (that version didnâ€™t chart much higher, either) on an otherwise new album called â€œPillow Lipsâ€, then one final gasp in 1996 with â€œEverything Is Madâ€. But massive airplay of the hit that wasnâ€™t has probably led to a quite comfortable life for the lads.
Just donâ€™t stop me in the mall and tell me how much you loved it back then, liar.
â€Ink and Paperâ€ did not chart.