Mon Dieu, there’s a lot going on in this single but once you have heard it, you realise it could only come from one city in England – Bristol. The band were formed from various members of The Pop Group and The Glaxo Babies (who themselves had a song called ‘Maximum Sexual Joy’ which I guess is where the name originated). There are sounds here which point the way towards Rip Rig and Panic and Pigbag, elements of funk, punk, reggae, dub, jazz and one of THE great rock screams of all time (possibly the best female scream ever) courtesy of lead vocalist Janine Rainforth. Yet it all hangs together to form a joyous, danceable groove entirely in tune with the mish-mash of influences musicians of the time were exploring.
‘Stretch’ starts with a disco drum beat before a Chic like guitar riff begins and Janine Rainforth starts rapping over the top, “Don’t say maybe / Tell me Yeah!” emphasising the positivity of both music and lyric which seems to be about making the best out of difficult circumstances. The epitome of funk bass enters high in the mix and female backing vocals carry the melody repeating the spoken words. Then as the backing vocals are urging you to “Push it to the limit”, Rainforth lets out a bloodcurdling scream of “Stretch” that will have your neighbours calling the police assuming that you have met an untimely demise. There was no warning about a scream of that magnitude issuing from the music and equally without warning a saxophone enters the fray to take up melodic duties. And if all that wasn’t enough for you, the middle of the song has female chant singing highly reminiscent of Delta 5 where somehow the space race is invoked in the long line of things that need “Stretching to the limit.”
If this song doesn’t make you get up and dance, you must be wearing concrete boots welded to the ground. Maximum Joy was the name of the band and maximum joy is what they provided. Just a shame they didn’t stick to the original name because on this form, I’m sure they would have provided that as well.