Down The Dumper – The 90s Part 23.

This is someone who for a brief time had some success at the higher end of the chart after being tipped to do so for several years. The story begins in the late-80s when after an advert was placed in Melody Maker, the group Electribe 101 (who may or may not have taken their name from a make of fridge) were formed. They were some musicians from Birmingham who were joined by the German-born singer Billie Ray Martin, who was rather striking in both image and voice.

She had previously contributed (uncredited) to S-Express’s hit “Hey Music Lover”, but she really first caught people’s attention when in October 1989 “Tell Me When The Fever Ended” was released, which reached no. 32. This also got them on to Top Of The Pops. In February 1990 “Talking With Myself” reached no. 23, their biggest hit single in the UK.

In September 1990 “You’re Walking” reached no. 50, and also in this month they appeared on the cover of Record Mirror. In October 1990 their first album “Electribal Memories” made the Top 30. And in November 1990 “Inside Out” reached an unofficial no. 77, this was a cover of the Odyssey song. But unlike the words here in this song, Electribe 101 didn’t go on and on and on.

In 1992, their second album had been completed, but its release was botched by their management. They then split, with Billie going solo, and the other members forming Groove Corporation. In November 1994 her first solo single “Your Loving Arms” was released, which reached no. 38. This really was a case though of feeling that this should’ve done much better.

So in May 1995 “Your Loving Arms” was released again, with much more of a promotional push, and this time reached no. 6, her first and only Top Ten hit single in the UK (and this also made the Top 50 in America). One critic said “a haunting, slinky piece of dance music”, and this got her back on to Top Of The Pops for the first time in about five years.

But the follow-ups never did as well. In September 1995 “Running Around Town” reached no. 29, and in January 1996 “Imitation Of Life” also reached no. 29. In February 1996 the album “Deadline For My Memories” made the Top 50. In April 1996 “Space Oasis” reached no. 66, followed in August 1996 by “You And I (Keep Holding On)” which reached an unofficial no. 76.

In October 1998, for some reason Electribe 101’s “Talking With Myself” was rereleased, which reached no. 39, to become a Top 40 hit for a second time, over eight years on from the first. Billie’s final hit single was in August 1999 when “Honey” reached no. 54. Since then, she has remained a much in-demand singer. And a couple of years ago, Electribe 101’s second album “Electribal Soul” was finally released after a delay of three decades to much acclaim.


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