Hoodoo Gurus

I Want You Back

Song Review by

The first single by the Hoodoo Gurus immediately put the Australian quartet in the forefront of the mid-'80s power pop scene; "I Want You Back" is a classic of the form, up there with Big Star's "September Gurls" or the Posies' "My Big Mouth." Musically, Alan Thorne's production is something of a three-minute seminar on how to add hooks to a song, from the slow fade-up of the opening (a neat gimmick that not enough bands have ever used) to Dave Faulkner's perfectly overdriven, close-miked acoustic rhythm guitar; James Baker's just-so drum flourishes in the bridge that leads to the chorus; and (the best part) Brad Shepherd and Clyde Bramley's near-yelled backing vocals in the choruses. Lyrically, the song is a bit of a fake-out, at first glance seeming like yet another lost-love power pop song. A slightly closer listen makes it sound like the revenge fantasy of a jilted ex (shades of the Beau Brummels' "Laugh Laugh"), but full attention to Faulkner's lyrics reveals it to be somewhat more mature than that: he's not particularly broken up about the end of the relationship -- "Then she left, as people do" is his resigned shrug -- but what really frosts his shorts, and the reason why he would never get back together with her even if she asked, is that after the breakup, she slagged off his friends. In most power pop songs, the emotional tenor of the lyrics never quite leaves high school, but at least the lyrics of "I Want You Back" hint at the kind of emotional maturity pop music so often lacks.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Stoneage Romeos 1984 A&M 3:10
Electric Soup: The Singles Collection 1992 Mushroom Records 2:47
Cool World 1996
Various Artists
Raven 2:47
Ampology 2000 Ace / Acadia 3:11
Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the '80s Underground 2004
Various Artists
Rhino 3:11
Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era - 1976-1995 2005
Various Artists
Rhino 3:10