[midlife 150] #113: fun boy three “our lips are sealed”

October 6, 2010

Single cover for Our Lips Are Sealed by Fun Boy Three

#113 Our Lips Are Sealed by Fun Boy Three, single 1983 (available on album Waiting, 1983) [buy from Amazon.co.uk]

Co-written by Fun Boy Three (and former Specials) front-man Terry Hall and Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin, Our Lips Are Sealed is a song with a double life. Its first incarnation – the Go-Go’s version that reached the US top 20 in 1982 – was as a slice of all-American pop confection that sounds like it portrays high school secrets and locker room gossip.

Its second, gloomier, reading – from Fun Boy Three the following year – is perhaps truer to its (reported) real meaning: hushed advice from Hall to Wiedlin about their illicit romance, formed after the Specials and the Go-Go’s performed together in LA at the beginning of the 1980s (Hall also had a girl back home).

Both ‘original’ versions are wonderful – the song is so good that it would take a special kind of talent to ruin it (Hilary & Haylie Duff come very close indeed) – but the FBT recording (produced by David Byrne no less) wins.

Hall’s deadpan delivery; the congas and timpani; the foreboding grand piano chords; the staccato, toneless bass; and, oh, those mournful backing vocals – it goes beyond the perfect pop of the Go-Go’s version to become an almost gothic hymn to paranoid love (just compare and contrast their respective promo videos: Go-Go’s here, FTB here).

This review is part of close to 94 ‘s [midlife 150] series, which counts down favourite music 1970-2009.

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