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Memorable Top Of The Pops Performances: Trio do Da Da Da

You don’t get the mix, he’s turned 86 — ie Beatles cohort Klaus Voormann, producer of this fun 45…

1982 was the year when a four year old Kraftwerk song became a surprise British chart-topper — you know, the one about she’s a model and she’s looking good. Well, perhaps she isn’t now. 

So does the Dusseldorf deities managing that hit explain how a cheerily-cheap Neue Deutsche Welle synthpop track with even heavier deadpan Germanic vocals and a delirious repetitiveness manage almost the same feat only five months later?

Not really, as the universal simplicity of Trio’s Da Da Da broke language barriers and was a hit all over Europe in the summer of ’82 — the whole continent working together and no doubt seeing this Number Two as a novelty record, which it wasn’t meant to be, because it‘s really La Bamba for the electronic generation. Let me explain.

In even the most apparently meaningless lyric, the very choice of nonsense words gives the song its lyrical potency. Da Da Da plays with a particular set of references to make its point. The knowing, robotic, self-consciously ‘modern’ sound and look of the Teutonic threesome (they weren’t called Trio for nowt) are referenced in the ‘dada’ of the song’s title, linking their absurdist stance to the Dada art movement of the 1920s.

Happily, there’s another Fab Four connection because Da Da da and much of the Trio canon was produced by The Beatles’ arty cohort Klaus Voorman.

Under their Berliner compatriot’s guidance, Trio’s main principle was to use the most minimalist practical structures by removing almost all ‘ornaments’ and polish from their music: to be immensely cut price and no frills: in other words, Tesco with a Casio.

Interestingly, bass was used very infrequently, which is all the more ironic seeing as Voorman was the bassist famed for his contributions to everything from You’re So Vain to Imagine and Transformer.

Maybe a pop song can be so primal, simple and basic that it sounds startlingly strange as a result. Either way, it’s a noteworthy one-hit wonder with an equally memorable performance on the BBC’s Top of the Pops. The arch Casiotonesters enlisted an assembly line of small kids with local weather report-style drawings to sit around cross-legged and painless in the background while the band pranced about to their atonal plinking. Altogether now, a-ha!

Steve Pafford

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