Nineteen. N – N – N – Nineteen.
Social comment songs about war are usually accompanied by strummed guitars, but Paul Hardcastle's powerful '19' was an electronic dance-floor-filler that sold nearly 3 million copies in 1985. '19' topped charts in 13 countries, including five weeks as number one in the UK and for six weeks in both Germany and France.
Not many people had noticed Paul's name before '19', but this was his eleventh single, either under his own name or as part of two groups.
Oval Music publishes them all, and Oval Records released the first six.Two singles by Direct Drive and four by First Light were all in the UK style known as jazz funk. Vocalist Derek Green was reminiscent of Philip Bailey in Earth Wind and Fire, and the songs still hold up well, especially 'Time Machine' and 'I'm the One'. First Light's instrumental 12" single 'A.M.' was a big hit on London's pirate stations in 1982.
Paul Hardcastle made the top 5 in the US R&B singles chart in 1984 with another instrumental, 'Rain Forest', selling 300,000 copies.
After '19', Paul had three more top twenty hits, including 'The Wizard' - the theme tune for Top of the Pops on BBC-TV for eight years.
'The Wizard' still works well for any kind of countdown, especially on sports programmes running through all-time top tens - best goals, best saves, best celebratory routines, etc.
'19' has to be (and usually is) on any self-respecting collection of 80s hits.
'A.M.' and 'Rain Forest' are instrumentals with momentum, that work well in thrillers and moody car drives.
Territories where Paul Hardcastle is well known
'19' topped the charts in every major territory except USA, where it was number one in sales but only #15 on Billboard, which factors radio play into the Hot 100 position. Many radio stations shied away from the Vietnam War theme, but that is exactly what it makes it still so pertinent today - just ask any parent of a soldier killed in Iraq.
'Rain Forest' has became a staple oldie on smooth jazz stations..
Special Notes for Synchronisation
EMI controls master rights for '19' and 'The Wizard', both published by Oval.
Oval controls both master and publishing rights on all recordings by Direct Drive and First Light on the album Time Machine.
Paul Hardcastle owns master rights to 'Rain Forest', published by Oval
Tracks by First Light and Direct Drive at iTunes
Where is he now?
Paul Hardcastle has been one of the best-selling smooth jazz artists in the US for the past fifteen years, alternating between the artist names The Jazzmasters and Paul Hardcastle.
The Best of Paul Hardcastle (EMI) is available at Amazon and other leading online stores.
Visit the What Music website to hear samples of all the Direct Drive and First Light tracks and to buy the album Time Machine.