Lost Treasures #3 I Do What I Do
Amongst the rubble and pandemonium of 1985-86, there is a lost corner that needs us to shine a light. Whilst Simon sailed off on his yacht - and Andy and Roger drifted off - John got busy living with his new pals in New York.
It was John, of course, who had secured the Bond gig, and John who was feeling like a lost soul in his drinkie, druggie world. It would seem that this offer of a film soundtrack for a sexy big-budget film was perfect for him. An easy showcase for him as a star within a blockbuster budget and sophisticated movie stars.
It didn't really work out that way. The film bombed in the USA and despite the single earning the brackets ‘Theme from 9½ Weeks’ it didn’t make the final cut of the film. It is track one on the soundtrack LP, but the film itself is led by older songs like Jo Cocker’s You Can Leave Your Hat On, Slave To Love (Ferry) and This City Never Sleeps (Eurythmics) which have aged more gracefully and are the stand out songs featured in the film. I Do What I Do was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Original Song (and Kim Basinger was up for Worst Actress).
Since then, 9½ Weeks has had a much better critical reception and did VERY well on video release. Perhaps it's also time to take another look at I Do What I Do?
We start with some sharp stacatto synths, reminiscent of the introduction to A View To A Kill. The female vocals offer another Duran-tease, and the breathy backing repetition of the title track gives a hint of the to-come “No-No-Notorious!”. Admittedly, this goes on too long, and finally interrupted by swirling Duranish synths. These lead us down in to the rather abrupt gear change for our first sound of Mr Taylor as lead vocalist. The game may be up for many of you at this point, no doubt, but for now we persist.
[One wonders how JT felt about stepping up to the mic for the first time, having seen Le Bon, Palmer and De Barres (co-writer of I Do What I Do) do their thing for all those years. Was he thinking, “I wouldn’t mind a bit of that? How hard can it be? How come it’s the lead singer that, well, leads? It’s MY turn!”]
John gets all sensual on us with his sexual suggestiveness and questioning. This gets him to his favourite word, “fantasise”, which he presumably had had ample opportunity to say and use in different locations and positions over the preceding years. Close your eyes, ladies, he’s moving in. But enough. After his 20 seconds in the spot light, we’re back on what we now realise is the chorus.
The chorus, as we’re being appreciative (charitable?), has a lulling quality which was intended to echo the films dream-like state of sexual abandonment, but also has a menace – “I do what I do to have you” is quite threatening, and Mickey Rourke’s character in the film plays this part. The track is also making its effort to mirror the film’s ‘female smoothness’ with the ‘male bit-of-rough’ in the contrast between the chorus / verse.
JT’s second verse is less successful lyrically, and him asking if his body heat “is the right intensity” is a bit odd, but he’s also now playing a more submissive role. The track is fairly zipping along now and we’re in the third iteration of the chorus before the time hits 2 minutes.
The middle 8 is less successful as we go all twinkly, and then are brought out of our reverie by a Billy Ocean-esque sax solo. Yes, this is 1986. But then John gets it right. He’s on his third verse, accompanied by a female backing vocalist, but his vocal style then becomes apparent – he’s channelling Bowie! And he manages to pre-date the great man by 10 years. The world-weariness in the question “Are you happy now?” is in a similar style as the line “don’t you want to be free?” in “Hallo Spaceboy” and John doesn’t let himself down.
We’re left for last quarter with the sax and chorus playing us out – the film made use of similar music, so he was giving them what they wanted.
You can scoff and be picky. And you’d be at least partly right. The chorus isn’t really strong enough and the song needs a third act to achieve a real lift off. And if you've made it this far and are thinking, "hmm, maybe I've been unfair," the video will kill that mood (over to you, Morgan Richter). But JT gave this a good go. For his chutzpah Cherry Lipstick asks you to listen again at this rather different Lost Treasure.
USA: no 23
UK: no 42