Friday 5th June
‘We Close Our Eyes’ was released in the spring of 1985. It reached number 5 in the UK charts and became a top 10 hit in the USA. This success was followed by three further UK top 10 hits – ‘Call Me’, ‘Goodbye Girl’ and ‘Don’t Look Down’. The album ‘Go West’ sold 1.5 million copies worldwide and remained on the UK chart for 83 weeks, establishing them as one of the greatest songwriting duos to emerge in the 80’s. In 1986 they won the BRIT Award for ‘Best British Newcomer’ – the one BRIT which is decided by the listening public.
In 1992 their third album ‘Indian Summer’ was released. Written and recorded in California, it further justified legendary producer Arif Mardin’s early description of Go West as ‘modern Motown’. ‘Indian Summer’ included the single ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’, the opening song in the hugely successful film ‘Pretty Woman’. The film’s soundtrack has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’ received ASCAP awards in 1991 and 1992 as one of the most played songs on American radio. ‘Faithful’, the second single from the album, received similar BMI Awards in 1992 and 1993.
Following Peter’s success on the TV series ‘Reborn In The USA’ he, Go West and Tony Hadley performed together on a 60 date UK tour in 2004.
Their first single was “The Druids are Here” which was released on Whaam Records in 1982. They released no further records until 1985, although a four track EP recorded live at Alice In Wonderland, a Soho nightclub where The Doctor was house DJ, was available direct from the band. The band’s female backing singers were known collectively as The Anadin Brothers. Originally there were three Anadin Brothers, but this was soon whittled down to Wendi West and Colette Appleby.
In 1985, they signed to IRS Records and released “Happy but Twisted”, a five track 12″ EP including a cover of Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine”. This reached number 2 on the indie charts.[ This was followed by “The Miracle of the Age”, produced by Andy Partridge of XTC. Around this time the band performed a concert in a television studio in Limehouse, London which was recorded for television broadcast, although it was not shown at the time. At this concert the line-up was augmented by Roman Jugg of The Damned on keyboards and second guitar.
They scored an international hit in 1986 with their next single, a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”. The single reached number one in the UK. They fared less well with subsequent singles; “Burn” and “Waterloo” (the latter of which was a cover of the ABBA hit, with Roy Wood on saxophone, backing vocals and in the video). “Burn” reached No. 29 in the UK Singles Chart and “Waterloo” peaked at No. 45.
The band released their final studio album Instant Heaven, in 1996 on their own ‘Madman’ record label.
In the early 2000s, the band’s current line-up appeared on retro-themed British TV shows such as ITV1′s Hit Me Baby One More Time, and a Top of the Pops Christmas special celebrating 50 years of the UK Singles Chart. In 2003, Jackson left the UK to live in Mexico, although frequently returned to the UK and, in June 2006, appeared on Channel 4′s Bring Back One Hit Wonders with a new line-up. Around this time they released an EP called Timewarped. In 2008, Jackson moved back to the UK.
Stock Aitken and Waterman wrote their follow up single, “He ain’t no competition”, which peaked at No.6 in the UK charts. Brother Beyond’s first album “Get Even” was released and became a big success selling 400’000 copies. Further singles “Be My Twin” (chart position 14) and the reworked “Can you keep a secret” (No.22), kept their success moving along with their first nationwide tour.
Saturday 6th June
Following a successful first festival performance in the UK in August 2014, Tom Bailey went straight into a highly successful 17 date tour of the USA with Howard Jones, Midge Ure, China Crisis and Katrina. The US tour included Tom making a special guest appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and playing to a 4000 strong audience at LA’s legendary Greek Theatre.
The Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey features Tom Bailey on vocals, keyboards, guitar, harmonica and percussion. His all female band feature Angie Pollock (Peter Gabriel/Goldfrapp) on vocals and keyboards, Amanda Kramer (The Psychedelic Furs/Information Society) on vocals and keyboards and Emily Dolan Davies (Brian Ferry) on electronic drums.
The Thompson Twins had huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Songs such as ‘Hold Me Now’, ‘Doctor Doctor’, ‘You Take Me Up’ and ‘Love On Your Side’ provided the soundtrack for so many people’s lives worldwide in the mid-eighties. In 1985 The Thompson Twins played ‘Hold Me Now’ at Live Aid in Philadelphia and also performed the Beatles ‘Revolution’ with Madonna and Nile Rogers.
Says Tom: “This is the first time I’ve sung the TT’s hits in decades. It’s taken a long time, but now I’m really looking forward to playing those songs to some of the fans that were there first time around.”
Formed in 1977, the original Thompson Twins trimmed down their line-up in 1982 to a three piece of Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway as they adopted a more electronic synthesizer based sonic line-up. Tom Bailey was the singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and, along with lyricist Alannah Currie, composed and arranged the Thompson Twins music.
The Thompson Twins also enjoyed big success on the US dance chart with ‘Lies”, ‘In the Name of Love’ and ‘Hold Me Now’ all reaching No 1.
In 1988 they had another No 1 dance chart hit in the US with ‘In the Name of Love 88”.
The last Thompson Twins show in the 20th century was in Austin Texas in August 1987 and the band finally broke up in 1993. Since then Bailey has worked in many different areas of music, from the experimental electronic Babble and Kolab to the Indo-fusion of the Holiwater Band, the visual astronomy project BSP and the sound-system dub of International Observer.
The music and videos of the Thompson Twins became a fixture on hit radio and music television throughout the world in the eighties. Tom Bailey will at last be bringing those songs which meant so much to so many, back live in 2015.
Upon its release “Never Gonna Give You Up” shot to Number 1 and remained there for 5 weeks. It was Britain’s largest selling single of that year. “Whenever You Need Somebody” was the follow up single and this hit Number 1 in 7 countries. Including 4 Astley-penned songs, the album “Whenever You Need Somebody” entered the UK album charts at Number 1 and sold over 15.2 million copies worldwide, making him the top selling British act of the year. At the 1988 BPI Awards (the UK’s Grammy equivalent), Rick scooped Best Single Award for “Never Gonna Give You Up”. He performed the song in front of an estimated television audience of 100 million viewers!
Christmas 1987 was marked with a double AA single release. It featured a cover of Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall In Love”, and in the New Year it was flipped to “My Arms Keep Missing You”. “Together Forever” completed the released tracks from the album, peaking at number 2. It was a similar success story in the USA, as Rick became one of the few British artists to crack their market. Rick’s American success was reinforced with a second Number 1 single, “Together Forever”. “It Would Take a Strong Strong Man” became another Top 10 single and the album also reached a position within the Top 10 selling close to 2 million copies. It earned him a 1988 Grammy nomination as Best New Artist.
Rick set off on a World tour. The UK, US, Canada, Australia and Japan were amongst the 15 countries visited and contained over 70 shows. Both concerts held at Wembley Arena were sell-outs.
Rick began co-writing material with the likes of Level 42′s Mark King and Climie Fisher’s Rob Fisher. Rick co-produced an album, aptly named “Free” which was released in 1991. Musical contributions came from Art of Noise’s Ann Dudley, who scored string arrangements and gospel star Andrae Crouch who arranged the choir featured in Cry For Help, Rick’s next single. Elton John also featured on the album, playing the piano on 2 Rick-written songs. Rick silenced his critics with “Cry For Help” becoming yet another Top 10 record that placed him in the Guinness Book of Records becoming the first male solo artist to have his first 8 singles reach the Top 10 in the UK, an achievement which has still to be beaten. The album “Free” was another success, again sitting inside the top ten.
In 1993, Rick returned to the scene with the album “Body & Soul”. Rick scribed all of the tracks on this album himself, co-writing with artists such as Rob Fisher and Lisa Stansfield. There were two singles taken from “Body & Soul”, “The Ones You Love” and “Hopelessly”. At the same time Rick’s family was also flourishing with the birth of his daughter. Not wanting to compromise his family life, the album didn’t get the promotion it could have had. Despite this, the singles still charted but Rick felt it was time to ‘hang up his boots’ and retire from the business as a performer. 2004 was to be a special year for British Rick fans when a surprise 8 date tour was announced for September. It would be the first stage appearance for Rick in 14 years! The tour kicked off in Dublin and included most of Britain’s major cities before finishing at The Criterion Theatre in London. It even included a concert at the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, a venue most musicians are honoured to play in. Each performance comprised of ‘classic’ songs from past decades including Sinatra, Bacharach and The Carpenters as well as a few from Mr Astley’s musical resume. The sell out tour was hailed a success attracting an audience of all generations with some attendees travelling from as far a-field as mainland Europe and Mexico!
More recently there has been the Rick Rolling phenomenon on the internet and Rick winning MTV Europe’s “Best Pop Performer Ever “award , in 2009 Rick performed in Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Portugal, Chile, Dominican Republic, Canada and of course the UK.
In 2010 Rick was special guest of Peter Kay on his “Tour that doesnt tour, tour” with 20 shows at the MEN and a week at the O2 Arena London.
Since the release of their breakthrough album “We Are Family”, this remarkable group has continued to develop and expand their diverse talents, blossoming into multi-faced artists who have received over one hundred awards and commendations for outstanding work in the entertainment field. Highlights include Billboard Artist of the Year, Tokyo Music Festival Silver Award, and Two (2) Grammy Nominations for Best R&B Duo or Group and Record of the Year. The song We Are Family won the Grammy for Record of the Year.
SISTER SLEDGE became established as one of the world’s most successful female groups, setting off a series of events, which made the group virtually a household name. We Are Family became a worldwide family anthem and was adopted by the Pittsburgh Pirates as the team theme. That year, the Pirates claimed victory over the Baltimore Orioles, winning the World Series. Ultimately the album soared past the RIAA Platinum mark, hitting the very top of both Pop and R&B charts.
In the 80′s and 90’s, the world witnessed the full flowering of four college graduates with subsequent hits, Lost in Music, Love Somebody Today, Reach Your Peak and the international Gold Record, Frankie and World Rise and Shine, #1 in Italy.
In the new millennium, Sister Sledge continues to sell millions of records worldwide and travel extensively in Asia, Africa, throughout Europe, the Middle East, South America, Australia and the United States, earning rave reviews. “Sister Sledge has the stuff legends are made of,” stated one critic from the Chicago Tribune.
Sister Sledge has captured the hearts of many diverse audiences… from Carnegie Hall in New York, to the Sun Plaza in Tokyo…. from the State Center Accra Ghana, to the Glastonbury Music Festival in United Kingdom, and the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.
Serene harmony, high energy, and the ability to captivate any audience, is the Sister Sledge prescription for lasting success?
Bronski Beat not only introduced the world to Jimmy’s unique voice, their debut smash hit ‘Smalltown Boy’ tackled pertinent social issues with it’s lyric addressing the isolation and rejection felt by a provincial gay youth forced into leaving town. Although not the first pop song to deal with this topic, Bronski Beat’s chart friendly early 80′s electronic dance sound and the everyday ordinariness and honesty of the three performers, made ‘Smalltown Boy’ the biggest record about gay issues there’d ever been.
Jimmy’s next band The Communards enjoyed a string of hits from their two hit albums ‘Communards’ (1986) and ‘Red’ (1987). One moment the Communards were hurtling to the number one spot – a position they held for weeks in the UK in 1986 – with their energetic, hedonistic cover version of the Philly soul classic ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’, the next stunning audiences into silent awe with their touching lament for a loved one lost to AIDS, ‘For A Friend’.
1989 saw Jimmy embark on a solo career with 5 more hit singles and two albums; ‘Read My Lips’ (1989) and ‘The Singles Collection’ (1990). These included a stirring cover of Sylvester’s disco anthem ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’.
Jimmy’s continued outspokenness on gay issues didn’t prevent his records being played and selling in huge quantities. His honesty as a gay performer almost certainly helped to pave the way for his success.
The album ‘Dare To Love’, released in June 1995, is a typical rollercoaster mix of upbeat pop dance numbers and more serious songs exploring gay issues. ‘Heartbeat’, the first single from ‘Dare To Love’ went to number one in the USA dance chart, and The E-Smoove and Armand Van Heldon mixes are still being played in clubs. Spring 1997 saw Jimmy release a single from ‘Dare To Love’ on various European labels entitled ‘Safe’. Remixed by Todd Terry and DJ Tonka, it reached no. 1 in the Spanish charts and was played across Europe.
Having left London Records, Jimmy signed a new deal with Gut Records and the single ‘Dark Sky’ was released in late 1997. The following album ‘Manage The Damage’ followed in 1999, produced by Ash Howes and co-written with friend Sally Herbert; which included the singles ‘Lay Down’ and ‘Something To Live For’.
The new millennium saw Jimmy release a new version of Bronski Beat’s ‘Why (Almighty Mixes)’ in 2000 through Almighty Records in the UK. The CD also included a version of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ which featured on the Queer As Folk 2 soundtrack for the Channel 4 TV Series. Warners also released a new compilation ‘The Very Best Of Jimmy Somerville, Bronski Beat and The Communards’ in the same year.
Jimmy’s next solo album entitled ‘Home Again’ (2004) featured collaborations with Rosenstolz / Felix Gauder / Mauro Picotto / Rolf Elmer (Jam n Spoon) and Tillmann Uhrmacher was released on Jinx Music / BMG (Germany).
2009 saw the 25th anniversary of the release of ‘Smalltown Boy’, and was marked by the release of Jimmy’s fifth solo album ‘Suddenly Last Summer’, which was inspired by and recorded on a trip to Australia in 2006. The album features his unique acoustic interpretation of some classic songs including ‘Sweet Unknown’, ‘Hush’ and ‘Hanging On The Telephone’. ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ was re-released on a limited edition CD/DVD via Cherry Red Records / Strike Force Entertainment in April 2010, featuring bonus tracks and two videos from the album in special packaging.
A new EP of contemporary electronica followed in 2011, Jimmy’s first new material for 5 years. Collaborating with long-term producer and friend John Winfield, Jimmy emerged with his freshest material in years and the freedom to co-produce was evident in the results. The EP consisted of 4 new original tracks penned by Jimmy and John and to compliment these tracks the EP features 4 great remixes from Robert Dietz, Thomas Schumacher, Julien Chaptal and Felix Gauder.
Jimmy took to the road in the summer of 2011 on the Here And Now 10th Anniversary UK arena tour, alongside other artists including: Boy George, Jason Donovan, Belinda Carlisle, Midge Ure, A Flock Of Seagulls and Pepsi & Shirlie. A darker second EP entitled Momentum was released to coincide with the tour. Featuring 5 new original tracks plus 2 remixes, the title and striking artwork of ‘Momentum’ were a response to the darker, fluid flow of production conjured by this new body of work.
‘Solent’, the third and final EP from this trilogy, was released in May 2012. This collection of glitzy electro-pop was both an homage to the dance music of Jimmy’s youth and a showcase of his seriously contemporary yet timeless sound. Featuring remixes from Fred Falke, Siriusmo, John Winfield and Felix Gauder, it was the perfect summer soundtrack.
Special double-CD fan editions of Bronski Beat’s classic album ‘Age Of Consent’, along with both Communards albums (‘Communards’ and ‘Red’) and Jimmy’s solo albums ‘Read My Lips’ and ‘Dare To Love’, were released in July 2012 on Edsel/Demon featuring rarities never before available on CD and sleeve notes based on recent interviews with Jimmy.
2014 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of ‘Smalltown Boy’, for which he recorded the haunting Reprise version, released in June.
Famous for re-making disco classics as his own – ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’, ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ and I Feel Love to name but a few – ‘Homage’ was a logical next step in Somerville’s career, one at which he can only excel considering his background, passion and undisputed vocal talent. The album is due for release on March 6th, and features a truly vintage feel enriched by his incredible vocals.
Two teaser tracks – ‘Back To Me’ and ‘Travesty’ – were digitally released last year, providing a tantalising taste of the forthcoming album. 30 years after he burst onto the scene with Smalltown Boy, Jimmy now takes us on joyous musical journey to where his love for music started; bringing to it his unmistakable vocals and unique talent.
ABC’s second album “Beauty Stab” was a very different proposition to the polished beauty of “The Lexicon of Love” and spawned the hits “That Was Then But This Is Now” and “SOS”. It developed a much rawer hard-edged sound. These were protest songs from a band that was constantly evolving.
This was followed in 1984 by the album “How To Be A Zillionaire”. ABC again conquered American audiences with a series of devastating club mixes and pre Gorillaz animated cartoons. “How To Be A Millionaire”, “Be Near Me”, alongside “Vanity Kills” and “Ocean Blue” were all Billboard dance chart number ones. The emphasis here was unashamedly electronic.
“Alphabet City” was co produced by Chic’s Bernard Edwards. By the summer of 1987 the worldwide hit “When Smokey Sings” had powered its way toward the top of the American charts. Representing a return to luxuriant soul, along side the songs “The Night You Murdered Love” and “King Without A Crown”. Capturing the cosmopolitan feel of the moment, ABC’s fourth album is both urban and chic. Heavy MTV rotation and an appearance on legendary show Soul Train cemented even greater success in the U.S.A for the band.
In 1991 ABC began work on an ambitious soul pop extravaganza “Abracadabra”. Releasing “Love Conquers All” and the BlackBox mixed “Say It” the following year.
The nineties saw the release of “The Lexicon of Live”. No prizes for guessing that it is a live album that showcases ABC on stage. A band that could deliver in the recording studio could clearly do the same in front of an audience.
“Skyscraping” in 1997 represented a tour de force of gilt edged ABC. “Stranger Things” and “Only The Best Will Do” embrace Glam inspired rock and roll. Collaborating with artists as diverse as King Britt in Philadelphia and David Arnold in London, ABC continue to experiment and entertain.
In April 2008 ABC released their first studio album in over 10 years. “Traffic” was a collaboration between Martin Fry, David Palmer (who had been in ABC during “The Lexicon of Love”) and Chuck Kentis. The magnificent first single “The Very First Time “ was a massive hit on BBC Radio 2, with the follow up “Love Is Strong” demonstrating that even now 26 years on from “The Lexicon Of Love”, Martin Fry’s song-writing, stage craft and musicianship is still as contemporary as it was in the beginning.
It may be twenty seven years since “The Lexicon Of Love”, but ABC audiences and the press all say that the energy and the vocals of the band today easily match what they put out back in the 80’s , giving audiences worldwide a great night of music and entertainment.
Whether performing as a band, or performing with an Orchestra Martin Fry is the consummate show-man.
A comment from the late, much missed – but still inspiring – co-founder (along with Bruce Watson) recently recalled by drummer, Mark Brzezicki – these words hit home as hard and true now, as they ever did, as Big Country continue their particular journey, ever forwards.
Steeped in a stunning catalogue of proud and stirring hit songs such as “Fields of Fire”, “Chance”, “In A Big Country” (which sold 2 million), “East Of Eden” and their biggest UK hit “Look Away”, along with massive albums such “The Seer”, “Steeltown”, “Peace In Our Time” and the triple Grammy–nominated, “The Crossing”, Big Country continue to look beyond the next horizon, as they turn the page from 2013 to 2014.
As they bid farewell after three years to Mike Peters, the band – Bruce Watson (guitars/vocals); Mark Brzezicki (drums, vocals); Jamie Watson (guitars/vocals) and former Simple Minds’ bassist/vocalist, Derek Forbes – begin a new chapter. The band will be augmented on stage by Simon Hough ex-front man for Denny Laine (Wings), Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy) etc.
Renowned as Britain’s answer to the Jackson Five, with their dynamic sound and fabulous dance routines, they rocked the British and US Pop Charts in the 80s. The Pearson siblings burst onto the scene with the name Five Star, a name created by their father Buster Pearson in 1983, performing a sizzling rendition of a demo, their father originally intended to record with another group.
After performing a song entitled Problematic for the BBC, the group signed with a major label TENT/RCA and released their 1985 debut album Luxury of Life and the rest is, as they say, pop history. Five Star, scored a total of six top 10 singles and with their number one album in the UK Silk & Steel breaking Michael Jackson’s record by becoming the youngest group ever to top the British charts, and also the first black group to top the UK charts in 1987. Five Star, were named “Best British Group” by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) the British equivalent to the American Grammys.
Five Star have sold over 10 million albums around the world without ever having toured outside the UK on Tent Records, distributed by RCA and then later Epic Records. Luxury Of Life reached the UK top 5 and sold over one million copies, and went gold in the USA on the strength of the top 20 British smash, the Grammy Nominated single All Fall Down/First Avenue.
Five Star have been performing together for 30 years, with 32 top 100 hits on the Tent Records label. The group was launched under the direction and guidance of their father/manager Buster Pearson, a renowned Pop/R&B musician who played with Wilson Pickett, Muddy Waters, Desmond Decker and Jimmy Cliff. To those that remember Buster, they only knew him as Five Star’s manager, but to the band, he was (and is) much, much more.
Buster tragically passed away in 2012 and Five Star would like to dedicate the following to him:
“For almost 30 years we had the honour of working with our Dad and learning so much from him. He taught us that hard work gets you everything, that you must love what you do, and be the best at what you choose. Because of him, Five Star was first class. We strived for perfection and had phenomenal success with the guidance, love and belief from our father. Daddy, you were always first class and the best Dad we all could have hoped for. Because of you, our dreams came true and and your legacy will always live on. We went out to conquer the world and that is what we did and we know you were so proud. You, our darling Daddy, are truly and deeply missed, but Never forgotten. Rock on in heaven – you’re a true legend! All our love, always and forever, your children Sted, Doris, Lorraine, Deniece and Del.”
The Beat are known the world over for a string of hit singles, including “Mirror in the Bathroom”, “Too Nice To Talk To”, “Can’t Get Used To Losing You”, “Hands off She’s Mine” and “All Out To Get You”. Their songs of peace, love and unity fuse ska, pop, reggae and punk rock and their dynamic live show has garnered them a loyal following at home and abroad.
The Beat formed in Birmingham in 1978, part of the West Midlands ska revival scene that also produced The Specials and The Selecter, whilst London saw the formation of Madness and The Bodysnatchers.
Their first single was an arresting version of Smokey Robinson’s “Tears Of A Clown”, given a completely new feel, and was backed with their own composition “Ranking Full Stop”. Released in a one-off deal on Jerry Dammers’ Chrysalis-backed 2-Tone label, the single stormed into the Top 10 in December 1979, and saw the band appear twice on Top Of The Pops. Backed by Arista, the band formed their own label Go-Feet Records.. The first release in February 1980 was another Top 10 hit, “Hands Off… She’s Mine”, and was the first of twelve chart singles for the band on Go-Feet.
The band released three albums “I Just Can’t Stop It” (1980), “Wha’ppen” (1981) and “Special Beat Service” (1982), which contained many tracks that demonstrated their more politicised and socially-conscious leanings. All three albums were reissued in the Summer of 2012 by Edsel Records with bonus additions.
The 2015 line-up features Ranking Roger and Ranking Junior on vocals, Fuzz Townshend on drums plus Andy Pearson, Matt Godwin and Steve Harper and Bobby Bird on bass, sax and guitars.
Betty Boo went onto write songs for the likes Girls Aloud, Dannii Minogue, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor interspersed by collaborations with Alex James, The Feeling, and Jack Rokka.
Pianist Chas Hodges and guitarist Dave Peacock were widely experienced around the British rock scene of the 1960s and early 70s before teaming up with drummer Mick Burt (another much-travelled musician who had gone back to his original trade as a plumber) to form the group. Chas had worked with the legendary producer Joe Meek, backed Jerry Lee Lewis, played with Mike Berry and the Outlaws, along with Ritchie Blackmore, and also the highly respected Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, which had Burt on drums. He then joined Albert Lee’s cult band Heads Hands and Feet before playing with Dave and Albert in Black Claw. Dave had been equally active, Starting out in The Rolling Stones (no, not them!) in 1960. Spells with The Tumbleweeds, Mick Greenwood, Jerry Donaghue, and the above mentioned Black Claw followed prior to the pair coming together to go out on their own as Chas & Dave.
Their debut album ‘One Fing ‘n’ Anuvver’ was released on the Retreat label in 1975 earning critical acclaim from the likes of John Peel among others. This self-produced offering was perhaps the first (definitely the strongest) example of cockney Rock ‘n’ Roll, with song titles such as ‘Ponders End Allotments Club’ giving a strong North London angle to the genre. Their proudly cockney vocals and exuberant good humour, blended with their love for genuine Rock’n’Roll, led them to title their 1978 EMI album ‘Rockney’ (later to become their label name) which featured some top quality songwriting and was championed, before their commercial success, by the influential DJ Charlie Gillett. Two years later they were spotted by an advertising exec at a pub gig playing their composition ‘Gertcha’; he signed them up to make ads for Courage beer and lucrative popularity naturally resulted as well as awards for the ads themselves. ‘Gertcha’ became their first Top Twenty chart entry. They followed up with ‘The Sideboard Song (Got my Beer in The Sideboard Here)’ from their third album ‘Don’t Give A Monkey’s’ , and their two most successful singles, 1980’s ‘Rabbit’ (from the same album) and the fine, more reflective ballad ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’ two years later. In between they recorded their first live album – ‘Live At Abbey Road’ – for EMI. The famous Studio One being converted into an East end pub for the occasion with friends and industry invited.
More popular recordings came along with ‘Margate’ and ‘London Girls’ and a move into the sporting world, collaborating with the Matchroom Mob on ‘Snooker Loopy’ in 1986, and Tottenham Hotspur FC on their FA cup final songs. The 80s also saw Christmas releases with collections of their favourite old time songs brought back for a new audience. The boys still found time to contribute theme tunes for TV shows such as ‘Crackerjack’ and ‘In Sickness & In Health’. Regular appearances on our screens as well as their own TV specials boosted their profile to household name status. Perhaps the high point of the decade though was being presented with the ‘Red Book’ by Eamonn Andrews on the TV show ‘This Is Your Life’ during the show’s heyday in 1985.
Throughout the 90s they switched their attention to new projects. They worked with the late Johnny Speight – creator of Alf Garnett. And they recorded a collection of songs to commemorate the 50th anniversary of V.E day in 1995. This proved to be their most successful album to date hitting number two in the charts (kept off of the top spot only by Take That’s farewell album). The accompanying video was equally successful. They also returned to the advertising world when Heinz Baked Beans used ‘The Diddlum Song’ for a successful TV ad campaign in 1993. In 1998 they had an unexpected breakthrough in America when radio stations started playing their track ‘Flying’ in heavy rotation, resulting in overwhelming public response. This lead to them being snapped up by US label Cleveland International and ‘The World Of Chas & Dave’ album was released to cash in on the buzz, which it duly did, winning them scores of fans in the states including Jack Clement, legendary engineer at Sun Studios (who is credited as having discovered Jerry Lee Lewis no less).So 25 years on, the boys found themselves touring the US for the first time.
In this new century, Chas & Dave’s appeal has never been greater or more varied. The audiences are getting younger without the boys deliberately trying to appeal to the youth, and new bands are citing them as a major influence. None more so than The Libertines, who when asked who they wanted on the bill with them on their London shows in 2003/2004, didn’t hesitate… Chas & Dave. The shows at The Brixton Academy & The Kentish Town Forum were a huge success with Pete & Carl from the band joining Chas & Dave on stage for a couple of numbers. This glowing endorsement from the band of the moment opened a lot of people’s eyes and ears to Chas & Dave.
In 2005 Chas & Dave joined forces with EMI once more resulting in two top selling CD releases. The year also saw their long overdue debut at the Glastonbury Festival as they packed out the acoustic stage with over thirty thousand fans singing along. The year ended on a high with a sold out christmas beano at the Shepherd’s Bush empire which was filmed by EMI for a debut DVD release.
In 2009, Dave’s wife Sue, a driving force behind Chas & Dave’s career, passed away after a brave battle with lung cancer. You can read more about this remarkable woman here. In the wake of this, Dave decided to retire from the band.
In 2011, Chas & Dave reunited for a hugely successful tour. Highlights included three sold-out nights at the London Indigo2 as well as storming sell-out dates at The Liverpool Cavern and the Glasgow o2 ABC. Initially intended to be a final tour, the fan reaction was such that the boys couldn’t stay away and resolved to tour again. They ended the year with two special nights back at the Indigo2 commemorating the 30th anniversary of 1981’s Christmas Jamboree Bag album.
Now Chas and Dave will mark their 50th year in music together with the October 28th release of a brand new studio album, which will be released under a new deal with Warner Music Entertainment. It represents their first new studio album for a generation – 27 years to be precise!
The album was recorded at the end of June in Studio 2, Abbey Road – “The Beatles Room” – with Grammy-winning bluesman Joe Henry (Solomon Burke, Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello & Bonnie Raitt) on production duties. It sees Chas and Dave return to their roots with a collection of early R&B, skiffle and rock n’ roll classics alongside new takes on songs of their own. The album is set to highlight their finely-honed, versatile musicianship and intricate vocal harmonies and features a crack team of musicians and special guests including guitarists Albert Lee and Martin Taylor, Buddy Holly and The Crickets’ drummer J. I Allison and on keys Jools Holland and Hugh Laurie.
In the eight weeks between that first meeting and appearing on “A Song for Europe” on 11th March 1981, Bucks Fizz were hurled into a melee of rehearsing, recording, routining, styling, interviews and photography. All that hard work and effort was to pay dividends – they went on to win the Song For Europe and Eurovision Song Contest 1981 and became household names around the world.
With over 20 singles released over the next few years including 3 number ones, “My Camera Never Lies”, “Land Of Make Believe” and of course, “Making Your Mind Up”, they sold in excess of 15 million records, spending 219 weeks in the UK charts alone!
Over the years, each member of Bucks Fizz went their own way but in 2008, Cheryl, Mike and Jay were reunited for a television show, “Pop Goes The Band” and they can now be seen at festivals, eighties weekends, private functions etc, regularly throughout the UK and beyond.
In 2015 they will be embarking on a major UK, Europe and Worldwide tour.
The group actually started out being billed as The Lopez Sisters when there were three of them – Lillian, Louise, and Carmen. They hailed originally from St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, but grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, where their parents moved when all three girls were small children. They sang together from an early age, eventually appearing at New York’s Carnegie Hall as the headline act in the New Faces of 1968 concert.
An agent spotted them at that concert and booked them for a five month European tour. When they returned to the States, Carmen left the trio to marry, but Lillian and Louise were then so hooked on performing they resolved to continue, and so recruited a replacement – this time, a man. Manila-born Tony Reynolds joined them and the trio became a popular live act in the New York area.
In 1976 the sisters became affiliated with the Chappell Music organization as songwriters (Lillian co-wrote the title track of the hit Broadway show “Bubblin’ Brown Sugar” for which she won a Grammy Award) and there met Sandy Linzer. A well known producer and writer, Linzer had been responsible for hits for such artists as the Four Seasons and the Toys, and was currently working with the Savannah Band, which featured August Darnell (who would later go on to huge success as Kid Creole). Linzer immediately loved Odyssey, saw their enormous potential and began writing and producing for them.
From their debut album emerged their first smash single – Native New Yorker, an international hit late in 1977. Unfortunately, Linzer and the group were unable to sustain a sizeable follow-up for over two years. It was a frustrating experience. Tony left the group and was replaced by Billy McEachern of Fayetteville, North Carolina, a former gospel singer. Additionally, Lillian’s eldest son, Steven Collazo became part of Odyssey behind the scenes, recording as a background vocalist and journeyman session musician. Luckily, the chemistry worked, but this time even better.
With Linzer still at the production helm, the group cut their “Hang Together” album. It contained Use It Up And Wear It Out, a club song with an unusual world-weary lyric which saw heavy action on the US Disco/Dance Music charts.
The flip, Don’t tell Me, Tell Her was stronger on US Black Radio, but the split action prevented Odyssey from getting a pop-soul crossover hit. There was no such problem in the UK however, where Use It Up shot to the top, re-launching Odyssey in a much more convincing way than in 1977. The hits came thick and fast: The long running ballad If you’re Looking For A Way Out, Hang Together, a brilliant re-working of the Lamont Dozier classic Going Back To My Roots, and Inside Out, along with what Brits came to refer to as a “rare groove”, the aforementioned Don’t tell me becoming a huge underground anthem.
Odyssey became international attractions. With Steven Collazo now as musical director, they backed up their successes on singles and albums with a punishing succession of tours throughout the 80’s, playing the Middle East, South America, Europe, and of course, around the USA. In two years, their hit albums included Hang Together, I’ve got The Melody, Happy Together, and The Magic Touch Of Odyssey amongst several compilation albums which continue to be released today.
Performing around the UK and Europe through the 80’s and into the 90’s, the journey that is Odyssey continued with the inclusion of Al Jackson. In 1994, Steven moved up to co- front the group and produce new versions of the Odyssey classics while appearing with Lillian on television, touring the larger arenas, top hotels, festivals, clubs and holiday villages throughout the UK and Europe.
Lillian and Al acquired new talents, interests, and directions, retiring from entertaining and making way for Steven to take the “odyssey” further, along with the twins Annis and Anne Peters. Lillian Lopez-Jackson died of cancer on September 4th, 2012, yet her legacy continues.
Annis and Anne have had their own successful careers as soloists, vocalists with Billy Ocean, their own releases and as members of the very popular Boney M. Lillian Lopez said of them, “they’ve known Odyssey over the years and understand its very heart and soul…” With such a strong line-up of talent and experience, Steven Annis and Anne continue the very best of the classic Odyssey sound with a new vitality which combines the old school with a modern flava’ that keeps the music alive and flowing”.
During the 80’s Sam was the most photographed British star, alongside Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher. Not since the Beatles has a British personality been so well known all over the world, across a complete cross section of age, sex, race and religion.
Sam toured the world, barely stopping for breath and made a terrific impact with her live act, selling out halls of up to 30,000 capacities across Canada and America and touring Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. In Montreal she broke the box office record. In South America she had huge record sales and a sell out tour sponsored by Pepsi – 20,000 seat minimum. In one year alone Sam played to over a million fans. Another year was spent in New York, VJ’ing for MTV promo video programmes on Music Television), acting in a sitcom and recording with top US producers.
As someone with humanitarian interests she chose to also visit and perform in unusual countries including Bosnia, Russia, the Ukraine and Siberia. In India Sam performed to 70,000 people three nights in a row, breaking the record previously held by Bruce Springsteen. It is her global approach that accounts for the international composition of Sam’s fan base.
Sam has also had parts in three films ‘It’s Been Real’ starring John Altman, The Match starring Pierce Brosnan, Ian Holm (Alien), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly), David Hayman and Isla Blair and Bollywood classic ‘Rock Dancer’ written and directed by V Menon, starring Kamal Sadanah, Ronit Roy, Sharon Prabhakar, Javid Jafri, Anood Kumar and Johnny Lever.
In recent years she has appeared in several TV shows including a great appearance in ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here’ and ‘Celebrity Come Dine With Me’. Recently she has been researching and writing her autobiography.
She continues to perform sell out shows around the globe with her live band and is still actively recording. The official video of her duet with Sabrina Salerno (a cover of ‘Call Me’) has had over 3 million hits on YouTube whereas a live performance in Saint- Petersburg has had 6 million hits on YouTube.
She was also the featured vocalist on the 4 Strings’ release ‘Forever’, which was a huge dance floor hit. She has just shot her latest movie role in British horror movie ‘Seven Cases’ which was featured at the 2014 Cannes film festival. She’s currently in the studio finishing off her 10th album with producer Ian Masterson.
She recently reunited with top US artists / writers / producers Full Force on a new track for their latest album which was released in August 2014.
For over ten years he ran a West End theatre in London’s Leicester Square (home of the Boy George musical “TABOO”) as well as a successful Ballroom and Latin Dancing Club. He has produced a triple platinum selling album for the Japanese band ‘Buck Tick’ which became number one in their native country and Co-Produced the winning UK entry for Eurovision 2001 held in Copenhagen, for the young Sheffield singer Lindsay Dracass, having a UK top 20 hit at the same time.
In 2009 he returned to live performance with the Scottish Supergroup ‘ Four Good Men ‘ and then became lead vocalist for XSM ( Ex Simple Minds ) featuring original ‘ Simple Minds ‘ members Derek Forbes and Brian McGee, who to date have successfully toured the UK, the Philippines, Holland and completed a three week tour of Germany in 2012.
After a lengthy ‘ hiatus ‘ (some twenty years or so) from solo live performance, he returned to the stage in 2012 once more under the name Owen Paul.
In late 2012 Owen appeared on BBC 1’s Watchdog as part of their ‘rogue traders’ team. He then performed at numerous 80’s festivals throughout the summer of 2013 as a solo artist and also secured a spot as guest DJ on Absolute 80’s radio station. Throughout the year he also continued his working relationship with XSM (Ex Simple Minds) performing at huge outdoor events in both Germany and Holland.
In January 2014 Owen released “The One” his first official single in the UK since 1987 by his new album “About Time II”.
Sunday 7th June
Born in Trinidad, Billy settled in London’s East End when just seven years old. The calypso crazy kid soon got turned on to soul singers like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, as well as pop groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, leading him to spend much of his study time in the music room.Billy got his first break when he signed to GTO records, for whom his second single was the Motown-ish Love Really Hurts Without You,which reached No. 2 in the UK charts and No. 12 in the US.
Two top twenty singles followed; Love on Delivery and Stop Me, then Red Light Spells Danger became a smash in both the UK and the US.Billy changed record labels and his move to Jive Records provided instant success, with the million selling American number one single Caribbean Queen (for which Billy won a Grammy for best R&B Vocal), followed by Loverboy, and Suddenly, which became the first of Billy’s killer ballads. The Album from which these singles came from spent a year in the US Charts selling double platinum (triple in Canada).
Billy also performed on the American half of Live Aid, making 1985 a truly incredible year for him.1986 wasn’t bad either, opening with When the Going gets Tough (the tough gets going), the theme song to the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner/Danny Devito movie Jewel of the Nile. Billy then launched the Love Zone album, which went straight to No. 2 in the UK charts, staying in the top 40 for six months. In the US, there was a No. 1 single with There’ll be Sad Songs (to make you cry). More Hits were to follow with the now classic Get Outta my Dreams; Get into my Car, giving Billy yet another US No. 1 hit.
2015 sees Billy back on the road again with his band in the UK, Europe and the US.
Beyond nostalgia both press and audience agreed that those many classic Ratsongs had indeed stood the test of time morphing from the radical, upstart transgressive rage of the mid-70′s into tunes for the ages with a tragic contemporary resonance. The audience, ranging from the Rats’ contemporaries to the newer, younger curious crowd wondering what the fuss had been about, immediately recognised the timeless frustrations and rage of the Now embodied in the Rats’ tunes and performance.
Age had indeed not withered them, but made them more potent. At a time of cookie cutter anodyne musical drivel the visceral Shock of the Old from its original purveyors is one of contemporary music’s great treats and revelations.
Then came the second single ‘What Is Love?’ which reached No. 2 in the UK and the third single, the enigmatic ‘Hide and Seek’ which showed the spiritual side of Howard Jones’ writing. This was followed by the first album ‘Human’s Lib’ which came straight in at No. 1 in the UK in April 1984, eventually going platinum and which took the synthesiser and Howard to a new plateau. This success spread across the globe with ‘Human’s Lib’ going gold in the USA, Japan, Germany, Italy and Australia.
With a large and loyal fanbase and album sales now exceeding eight million, this consummate musician and writer has maintained an admirable independence, writing, recording, performing and touring in the way only he knows how. He has proved that he is one of the most talented writers and performers out there. His independent attitude and his ability and willingness to take risks ensure that he continues to operate on the cutting edge of today’s music.
His first recording on which he played the saxophone was with Hull ska band Akrylykz, the second release on nearby York’s Red Rhino Records. Although this record was unsuccessful, it did bring him to the attention of Andy Cox and David Steele of The Beat. The Akrylykz toured with The Beat, which led to them in around 1985 asking him to be the lead singer of their new band Fine Young Cannibals after their old band, The Beat, had broken up. He also was a guest artist on the Ska City Rollers’ Time Is Tight single.
In 1987, Gift had his first screen role in the film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. In 1990 he did his first stage work, playing Romeo in the Hull Truck Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a production which had a brief run in the United States at the Staller Center for the Arts. He also appeared as a lounge singer (singing songs that were included in the Fine Young Cannibals album The Raw and the Cooked) in the film Tin Men, directed by Barry Levinson.
In 1989, he appeared in Scandal as Johnny Edgecombe, Christine Keeler’s boyfriend.
In 1990, he was named by People magazine as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” in the world.
In 1993, he began the first of several appearances as the evil Immortal Xavier St. Cloud in the television series Highlander: The Series, and appeared in an episode of the Yorkshire Television series Heartbeat. He has also appeared in the movie The Island of the Mapmaker’s Wife.
In 2002, Gift released a self-titled solo album, featuring the single “It’s Only Money”.
Haircut 100 became as well-known for the preppie outfits they wore as much as MTV bubblegum like Love Plus One and Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl), two of the most endearing songs of the ’80s. Both singles hit the Top Ten in Britain in 1982. Other hits included Fantastic Day, Nobody’s Fool and Prime Time.
Nick Heyward (vocals, guitar) left Haircut 100 just when they were cruising through the pop charts in the U.K. Instead of destroying his career, the move actually provided him with more artistic credibility. Once on his own, Heyward’s work lost much of Haircut 100′s teen gloss; the music was still catchy, but the lyrics were more adult and introspective, as displayed on tracks like Whistle Down the Wind from his 1983 solo debut North of a Miracle. Other tracks from Nick’s solo days included Take That Situation, Warning Sign and Blue Hat for a Blue Day. In 1994, the Beatles-like Kite on From Monday to Sunday was a smash hit on American modern rock stations.
Hearing his music on the radio still makes the sun shine so, when Nick takes the stage at Lets Rock Bristol! prepare to be up-lifted.
In the 80′s these were all remixed and became huge hits again, thanks to the band’s massive following. Now the three original vocalists, Chris Amoo, Eddie Amoo and Dave Smith perform these hits and many more live on stage. Enjoy tracks like “You’ll Never Know What You’re Missing” and “Whenever You Want My Love” and discover why so many other artists have covered “Children Of The Ghetto”.
In 1969 the band started working on a reggae version of the John Lennon song “Give Peace A Chance”. Errol Brown had changed the lyrics for their version but was informed that he could not do this without John Lennon’s permission, so a copy of the demo was sent to the Beatles Apple record label to see what they thought of it. Fortunately, John loved the version and it was released on the Apple label.
The group was given the named ‘The Hot Chocolate Band’ by a secretary at the company, Mavis Smith, the band later changed it to just ‘Hot Chocolate’.
Towards the end of 1969 Mickie Most signed Errol and the cofounder of the group Tony Wilson as writers and recorded their songs with Mary Hopkins, Julie Felix and Herman’s Hermits before encouraging them to come up with a song for themselves. In 1970 Hot Chocolate, with Errol Brown as lead singer, released their first record entitled “Love Is Life” which reached number 6 in the charts. This was the start of a fifteen year career for the group who amassed a total of over 30 hits and also became the only group in the UK to have a hit for fifteen consecutive years.
In 1981 Hot Chocolate had the honour of being invited by Prince Charles and Lady Diana at their pre-wedding reception at Buckingham Palace which was attended by heads of Government and many members of European Royalty.
In 1986 Errol left the band and took time out to spend more time with his wife and then young children. The rest of the members of Hot Chocolate also took some time off to consider their future and in 1992 Patrick Olive, Harvey Hinsley and Tony Connor decided to start touring again.
The band found a new singer Greg Bannis and keyboard players Andy Smith & Steve Ansell. Since 1992, the band has enjoyed years of continued success touring all around the world performing to many thousands of fans who love the music of Hot Chocolate. In 1997 the classic single “You Sexy Thing” reached number one in the charts after it was featured in the movie ‘The Full Monty’ and a new Hot Chocolate ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation released in October 1997 reached number 10 in the album charts.
In 2010 singer Kennie Simon replaced Greg Bannis on vocals creating what many are saying is the best sound ever.
Dave Hemingway and Ali Wheeler, two of the three lead singers with the band, were having too much fun to get out the pipe and slippers, and so The South was formed. Joining the duo were fellow mainstays from the original touring band: keyboard wizard Damon Butcher and the potent horn section of Gaz Birtles and Tony Robinson that brought so much to the live shows. Armed with a sensational back catalogue of hits such as ‘Song For Whoever’, ‘Perfect Ten’, ‘Rotterdam’, ‘Don’t Marry Her’, ‘You Keep It All In’, ‘Old Red Eyes Is Back’ and many others, there is a long way to go on this particular road.
This band has history and pedigree. Dave Hemingway’s musical career stretches back into the Eighties. He became a founder member of The Beautiful South after the demise of The Housemartins, who had enjoyed a sustained purple patch and many hits before calling it a day in 1988. Whilst bassist Norman Cook went on to become superstar DJ Fat Boy Slim, Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway proceeded to form the new band in December 1988. Right from the off, The Beautiful South seemed to defy the normal logic associated with pop bands, not least for the fact that they stayed together for 20 years.
Over the life of the band, they produced many self-penned hits and had several number one albums – they scored their only number one single with the Dave Hemingway / Briana Corrigan duet ‘A Little Time’. A globally successful band, members of The South have performed these songs in front of hordes of fans from Hull to Houston. They love the material and know what will keep the fans happy.
Still as Beautiful as they ever were, The South continue the legacy with their own vibrantly singable and acerbically witty pop. As their critically acclaimed debut album Sweet Refrains, currently available on Zoo Records, confirms.
2014 will see them touring this new collection of songs alongside established favourites from their previous incarnation. The South are rightly extremely proud of their history – and their future looks very bright..
The band was signed to Virgin Records and recorded their debut album, Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms: Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain; which was released in December 1982. A re-release of “African & White” became China Crisis’ first hit in the UK, reaching #45 in the UK Singles Chart.
When the follow-up single, “Christian” made UK #12 in early 1983, this brought them to national prominence. By this time, Reilly had left the band, but was still credited on the record sleeve as a guest on the single, along with new member Steve Levy (oboe/saxophone). The album peaked at#21 in the UK Albums Chart. During this period the band toured supporting Simple Minds (as discussed in interviews on the DVD Live in Concert at the Paul .McCartney Auditorium Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts).
Adding Gazza Johnson (bass) and Kevin Wilkinson (drams) to the line-up, a second album, Working With Fire & Steel: Possible Pop Songs – Volume 2 was released in November 19’83. This was regarded as a more consistent effort, with tracks including “Tragedy and Mystery” (released as a single six months earlier), “Hanna Hanna” and the title track, “Working With Fire & Steel”, which became a hit single in Australia. ‘The album was a Top 20 success in the UK, and China Crisis spent 1984 and 1985 making their biggest chart run, beginning with their only UK Top 10 hit single, “Wishful Thinking”, which peaked at #9.
Their third album, Flaunt the Imperfection, was produced by Walter Becker (of Steely Dan fame) and reached #9 in the UK Albums Chart in May 1985. According to the album credits, China, Crisis was now officially a quintet consisting of Daly, Lundon, Johnson, Wilkinson, and Becker, However Becker never appeared with the band, and the subsequent tour featured new keyboardist Brian McNeill. Johnson was now credited as co-writer with Daly and Lundon.
The album was previewed by the #14 UK hit single “Black Man Ray”, which also enjoyed international success. The follow-up, “King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up)” was a Top 20 UK single (#19) but it would prove to be the band’s last substantial hit. A third release from the album, “You Did Cut Me”, stalled at UK. #54. They simultaneously released a video compilation, Showbiz Absurd.
In 1986, the band returned with the low key What Price Paradise, including “Arizona Sky” (the album’s first single release and another Australian hit), “June Bride”, “The Understudy” and “A Day’s Work For the Dayo’s Done”. All the band were now credited as songwriters. A second single from the album, “Best Kept Secret”: made UK #36 in early 1987. It was to be the band’s final Top 40 hit single. The five-piece band worked with Becker once more on 1989′s Diary Of A Hollow Horse, which earned critical acclaim though little commercial success. It spawned the singles “St Saviour Square” and “Red Letter Day”, both reaching the lower reaches of the UK Singles Chart. Becker acted as the producer of most of the album’s tracks, but this time was not credited as an official band member.
The band’s last studio album. Warped By Success, was released in 1994, following the band’s parting of ways with the Virgin label and produced their final UK hit. “Everyday The Same”. Although Johnson and Wilkinson both made small contributions, the band was now listed as comprising Daly, Lundon, producer Terry Adams and audio engineer Mark Phythian. In 1995 they released a live unplugged album and video entitled Acoustically Yours, which proved to be their recording swansong, This featured one last single, a live version of” Black Man Ray” and also saw a return for Johnson, Wilkinson and McNeill.
Sometimes misunderstood by critics, China Crisis distinguished themselves from their Liverpudlian contemporaries such as Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, The Teardrop Explodes, and Echo & The Bunnymen by digesting a cornucopia of musical genres, everything from jazz to progressive rock. Despite the stylistic deviations, China Crisis maintained their distinctive sound through a number of albums in the 1980s and 1990s.
Since 1992 there have been four compilation albums of their work for the UK and U.S. markets and three live DVDs.
Aswad (a name derived from the Arabic word for “black”) was formed in the Ladbroke Grove area of West London in 1974. Along with contemporaries Matumbi, The Cimmarons, and Black Slate, the band was among the first home grown acts to prove that Caribbean music could successfully take root in Europe. In its early years, Aswad was the only British group to record
and/or perform in concert with several top Jamaican artists, including Burning Spear, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. (Bunny, in fact, was known to refer to Aswad as the “Young Wailers”).
The trio first gained national attention in 1976 when their debut release, “Back To Africa,” hit the #1 slot on the UK Reggae Charts. “Love Fire,” their popular anthem released in 1981, eventually became part of the reggae canon and is still covered today by many Jamaican record producers (an honour no other British band has been awarded). The group’s 1983 Island release, Live and Direct, is considered one of the quintessential live reggae albums.
By the mid-80’s, the Aswad rhythm section of Drummie and Tony had contributed to a number of top British reggae hits by such artists as Janet Kay, Smiley Culture, Trevor Walters and Trevor Hartley. Later in the decade, the band became known for their adventurous fusion of such different musical styles as dancehall, funk, hip-hop and dub. Their catchword “fresh” soon became a favourite in Jamaican dancehalls.
After a series of successful singles and albums on Island and CBS, Aswad earned international acclaim with their reggae version of “Don’t Turn Around,” a song previously covered by both Luther Ingram and Tina Turner. “Don’t Turn Around,” released on Island in 1988, sailed to the #1 slot on the UK National charts and was the most-played record on French radio. (A similar pop version of the song was recently an international hit for Swedish group Ace Of Base).
Over the years, Aswad’s recordings have found them joining forces with a variety of artists, including Dennis Brown, Maxi Priest, Hugh Masakela, Steely & Cleevie, Shabba Ranks, and Sly & Robbie’s Taxi Gang. The band has toured extensively, playing to packed houses in such diverse locales as London’s Royal Albert Hall and Montego Bay’s Reggae Sunsplash to West Africa, Israel and Japan.
2000 saw Aswad celebrate their 25th anniversary along with a specially recorded live album “25 Live” and UK tour. The band also received the prestigious, and much coveted, Outstanding Contribution To Black Music at the fifth MOBO Awards .
Based in the Reggio Emilia area of northern Italy, the team made use of Katrine (Catherine Quinol) as a front woman for the Black Box project. Semplici was a clarinet teacher and played in the Music Orchestra in Bologna. Davoli was a well-known Italian club DJ (known as DJ Lelewel), largely at the Marabu Starlight Club and responsible for the hit single “Grand Piano”, another prime example of “Italo-house”, while Limoni was the computer and keyboard whizz kid of the trio.
The Groove Groove Melody team were established as one of the top production outfits in Italian dance music, churning out more than a dozen singles a year in their native country.
Among these productions the British music industry spotted “Ride On Time”. The single became the first of a series of Italian house records to crossover to the UK charts, staying at number 1 for six weeks in 1989, and becoming one of the best dance selling records of all time.
The Groove Groove Melody team were also behind the production of Starlight’s “Numero Uno” reaching the no 9 in the UK single charts.
Under seven or more pseudonyms, they turned out numerous further records.
However, as Black Box, in April 1990, they released an album called “Dreamland” which broke in the US charts as well as UK and the rest of the world, and featured the hit singles “I don’t know anybody else”, “Everybody Everybody”, “Strike It Up”, and “Fantasy”, a revamp of the Earth, Wind And Fire hit.
They were also responsible for, amongst other remixes, ABC’s 1991 comeback single, “Say It”.
In 1995 a second album called “Positive Vibrations” was released, featuring the American singer “Charvoni”, and including the singles “Not anyone”, “I’ve got the vibration”, “Native New Yorker” and “Fall into my love”.
In 2009 on the 20th anniversary of the monster classic there were world class remixes by Bass Weazal, Davoli & Rockdaworld, Western Disco, Erosie, Kinky Roland, Zeronine Crew.