Waxing Nostalgic: The Fixx, “Cameras In Paris”

Published on August 1st, 2014 in: Music, Waxing Nostalgic |

By Jeffery X Martin

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If any band was helping Eighties kids dance their way into oblivion, it was London’s The Fixx. Dance-oriented music with serious gloom and doom lyrics, The Fixx was the great combo meal of the decade. Worried about global politics and the possible annihilation of the self within an existential context? You’ll love The Fixx. Want to dance all night to some sweet bass licks and driving, sparkling synths? You’ll love The Fixx.

It helped that, along with Duran Duran, The Fixx was one of the first bands to fully embrace the music video genre. A lot of their visual work played out like Stanley Kramer anti-war propaganda, filmed on dirty battlefields and in abandoned English manors. The music, even when it was dark and foreboding, was still poppy enough to get your pogo on (although people dancing en masse to a song about nuclear war was an Eighties-exclusive activity).

They scored their first hits in 1982, with the release of their album Shuttered Room. Videos for the songs “Red Skies” and “Stand or Fall” hit heavy rotation on MTV and the record cracked the Billboard Top 200. Crammed from edge to edge with happy dirges, the holocaust with a clap track, Shuttered Room is a masterpiece of fears and worst case scenarios. And while the video hits get all the attention, even today, it is the deep cuts where the album really shines.

The hidden jewel on Shuttered Room is “Cameras in Paris,” a weird little tale of spies and political maneuvering, all taking place in secret. Running off a janky “Chopsticks” keyboard section, the song sounds like caffeine jitters. The guitar is staccato, sharp and jabby, while vocalist Cy Curnin goes from a whisper to a scream, until you can almost imagine him running for his life down some Parisian alleyway.

Of course, the lyrics are easy to sing along with, too. Not.

Political friction is greased by détente
One country can and another one can’t
All the movements in a metaphor
Who is the sleeper found dead on the floor?

Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue? Nothing gets the preps and the freaks together on the dance floor quite like songs about détente.

The skittish style of “Cameras in Paris” is a recurring theme throughout the band’s catalog. Very little is calm or safe in the world of The Fixx, which makes perfect sense, when you consider how the world was when they first came to prominence. Russia and the US were at odds. Israel and Palestine were pummeling each other with everything from missiles to rocks. There was unrest along the border between North and South Korea. The oil producing countries in the Middle East threatened to make things difficult for the rest of the world.

Actually, this may be an opportune time to listen to The Fixx.

You can listen to The Fixx and other bands mentioned in this column in the exclusive Waxing Nostalgic Playlist, exclusively on Spotify. It’s a wild, eclectic mix of oldies, some familiar, some not so much. Listen! Subscribe! Enjoy!

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