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The Best - Tina Turner

In pre-digital days, being a deejay was in many ways simpler than it is now. I first became a deejay because I was fed up attending my local village flower show annual dance in the marquee erected for the day on the village Recreation Ground where there would be the eternal spotty youth spinning the discs, constantly sabotaging his occasional dance floor successes with a spectacular succession of middle of the road "naff" tracks interspersed with, presumably, his own undanceable, personal favourites. His further overly amplified exhortations to his audience to get up and dance turned the whole spectacle into Audio Hell: any deejay who resorts to haranguing his listeners to dance rather than letting the music do the talking is patently not up to the job.

In the days of vinyl only, an ability to resist requests that would impair the set, or reverse the mood, was vital and the old excuse " sorry, I'm afraid I haven't got that one with me" was top of the list. The skill was to politely convince those making requests, that either you couldn't play the song because you didn't have it with you, or that you would play it later. This last usually worked because those making the requests were often extremely drunk and therefore shortly to pass out or forget they had made the request in the first place. When these failed, the deejay was in trouble and it was always useful to have a strong friend nearby. I confess, I often was unable to resist making things worse for myself: on two separate but memorable occasions I was attacked for saying (a) "now you are really beginning to bore me" (the guy went absolutely crazy) and, amusingly, I thought, as a punter threatened to kick my head in (b) "ah, I see that now you're taking the high moral ground in the argument".

But then there was "naff" which is a way of describing something that is corny, unsubtle and unsophisticated. Now, regular followers of Uncle Stylus will know that I am a fan of "naff" at the right time and in the right place - one post has featured Dave Dee, Dosy, Beaky, Mick and Tich for instance ( see ), another Nina and Frederick (see ), a third, Julie Felix ( ) . Generally, unless you are in France, "naff" lowers the tone at a disco, and puts dancers off. The French, perhaps because they have produced very little worthwhile pop music of their own, are brilliant at "naff". But that is for another day. Suffice to say, in the right hands, for instance, Tina Turner's, "naff" can be as good as it gets.

Most of the major hits of Tina Turner's successful solo career were written and produced by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten who had spent 7 years writing and producing for Cliff Richard in the 1970's and Mike Chapman who, with Nicky Chinn, was famous for writing virtually all the glamrock hits of Suzi Quatro, Mud and the Sweet.

"Naff" or otherwise, they did a good job for Tina Turner, recognising the natural soulful authority in her voice, and writing a series of anthemic singles which had huge appeal to ordinary people, including "What's Love Got to Do with It", "Better Be Good to Me" and "We Don't Need Another Hero". Not least among these is "The Best".

Late one night at my umpteenth Flower Show disco, a guy came up and asked me to play "The Best" for his wife and him. I did the usual thing, said sorry I didn't have it. At first he didn't believe me, thinking the relief I was trying to hide in my voice, revealed a lie. He then told me they'd had a great time, and that it would have made their evening if I played Tina. He explained that they'd had a little boy who'd had a terminal disease and "The Best" is what they'd sing to him.

In one part of my memory, the guy lived nearby, went back home, got the record, I played it, and everyone danced and sang along to the chorus. It seems so vivid that now I can't tell if it's the truth, or whether I've made it up just to make me feel better. I hope it is.

Maybe only Tina Turner can do that.


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