The first single I ever bought was Taco’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” b/w “Living in My Dream World”.  I listened to it incessantly and it was wonderful every time.  Did the footsteps echoing away come at the beginning or the end of the song?  I can’t remember anymore, but all I know is that was probably my first exposure to the concept of “radio edit”, because as big as that song was, I never heard the footsteps on the radio.
I think the record cost $1.49, twice as much as a comic book, so a significant investment.  I bought it at Woolco, at Tecumseh Mall in Windsor, Ontario, memorable as well for Whoppers, corn dogs, and the store where Todd Troy was caught trying to steal a Playboy.
I digress.  Taco.

TacoThe first single I ever bought was Taco’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” b/w “Living in My Dream World” (despite the image here, back then most 45s came in rather bland paper sleeves with holes cut out of the centre so the label could be read).  I listened to it incessantly and it was perfect every time. The footsteps echoing away at the end of the song are on the single, and definitely in the video (which I saw recently as part of VH1’s countdown of the greatest one-hit wonders of the 80s), but I don’t remember hearing them on the radio–this was probably my first exposure to the concept of “radio edits”.

I think the record cost $1.49, twice as much as a comic book, so a significant investment and tough decision to make.  I bought it at Tecumseh Mall’s Woolco in Windsor, Ontario, memorable as well for Whoppers (the chocolate-coated candy balls, not the hamburger), corn dogs, and the store where Todd Troy was caught trying to steal a Playboy.

I digress.  Taco.  The early 80s was a great time for synth-pop music that seemed to originate in another dimension: I probably wasn’t familiar with Kraftwerk then, but their offspring, like Gary Numan (my sister had a 45 of his “Cars” and that was another favourite of mine), Thomas Dolby and A Flock of Seagulls were all well-represented on the charts, even if they didn’t have much staying power.  Taco, however, was more novelty than musician ahead of his time.  This description from allmusic.com is succint: “Born Taco Ockerse in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 21, 1955, he recorded ‘Ritz’ in Germany in 1981; a year later, the song (originally popularized by Fred Astaire) hit the upper reaches of the U.S. pop charts, accompanied by a video depicting the singer decked out in a bow-tie-and-tails ensemble emblematic of the Depression-era movie musicals his image strived to emulate.”  And while I have subsequently purchased other albums by Gary Numan and Thomas Dolby (whose album Aliens Ate My Buick is, I believe, one of the overlooked classics of the late 80s) I’ve never once listened to one other note of Taco’s oeuvre, although I wish him well, as someone whose music has given me a lot of joy over the years; even now, when I hear “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, I can’t help but smile, and yes, dance just a little bit.

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