The original by David Essex and cover by Michael Damian both come from the refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (1973 and 1989), and both made the year-end charts.
As discussed before here and here, this phase focuses less on catchy bouncy melodies because that would be too stimulating. The performers' and audiences' energy levels are still in a crash after the previous manic phase, and they have not yet been restored to baseline levels by the following warm-up phase.
This state leads them to focus more on layers, echoes, and drones in ethereal textures that wash over them as they lie still, unable to get up and move around. Soothing repetitious motifs keep them in a passive trance.
Such a dream pop style shows up in both the indie and mainstream worlds during the vulnerable phase. The genres from the first half of the '70s are glam rock, early krautrock, and cosmic music -- not the most dreamy, spacey, heavily layered and overly produced music, but certainly in that direction.
In the glam rock example above, by the end there is very heavy vocal self-echo and layering, like a chant. The bass line is simple, repetitive, and trance-like. Otherwise it's very sparse, more of an unsettling kind of minimalism like being alone in the woods at night, hearing only the repetitive chant of crickets, frogs, and droning breezes.
The cover has a standard rock instrumentation, but it's really more of a dream pop song than a proper rock song. No guitar riffs, no rhythm guitar, no killer solo, no vocal range. Although it does have stronger percussion, it's still not very danceable -- you're drifting along passively under the multiple layers of cool soothing textures. A little less vocal layering in this one, since it's richer instrumentally, and they're filling that role instead. Like I said before, the late '80s are a mine for mainstream dream pop songs.
I always think of those late '80s overly layered dreamy hits as roller rink music. Most people aren't moving their legs, torso, and arms enough to count as dancing -- they're just coasting on by in the same direction, with minimal rhythmic movements, melting into a crowd like a school of fish in the ocean.
Or maybe I'm only remembering it that way because that's when I was going to the roller rink -- late '80s / early '90s, toward the end of elementary school when you're just beginning to get social and want to be around the opposite sex. I either wasn't born or was just a toddler during the roller disco days, when there may have been more actual dancing going on.
And even if I hadn't been too old to go roller skating into the mid-late '90s, the roller rink was already going extinct due to the helicopter parents of Millennials not allowing them to congregate in shared public spaces with minimal supervision. Really stunted their social development. Hearing roller rink music makes me nostalgic not just for that particular space, but the whole socially outgoing period that began in the '60s, before closing itself off into the cocooning period circa 1990 and lasting through today.