Here’s a really great example of just how here today-gone tomorrow the pop music business can be sometimes. Doctor And The Medics were a band that formed in the early-80s, and their frontman was “The Doctor”, or Clive from Knotty Ash. They had a rather flamboyant look, I get the feeling that they weren’t to be taken entirely seriously and they knew how daft their image was, and when looking back at some old music magazines recently, I couldn’t help but notice something rather interesting about them.
Among the group were a pair of female backing singers/dancers known as The Anadin Brothers. They were Collette Appleby (no relation to Mel And Kim I imagine) and Wendi West (who went on to marry The Doctor), who had also worked with The Cult. They had a rather striking look with their long black hair, identical dress, heavy makeup and general air of mysteriousness, meaning they were probably the closest equivalent to the mighty Shakespears Sister on the pop music scene in this era which is fine by me.
By the mid-80s they had released a few singles that got nowhere. But then, in May 1986 they released “Spirit In The Sky”, a rather straightforward glam-rock cover of the song that had previously been a chart-topper in 1970 for Norman Greenbaum. Despite being rather faithful to the original version, the public became very fond of it, and just like the original it was a Number One single in the UK.
Suddenly they were a big deal, they seemed to be on Top Of The Pops every week along with many other TV shows, The Doctor appeared on the cover of Just Seventeen (I’m sure that the 12-year-old girls who bought that magazine loved him), Number One, Sounds, and, in a true sign that you’ve arrived, Lookin! It must’ve been very exciting for them to suddenly be the biggest pop group in Britain for about three minutes in 1986. Fame at last!
They then released their first album “Laughing At The Pieces”, which reached No. 25. So it must’ve been felt that there would be some anticipation for what they would do next, but… there wasn’t really. After the follow-up “Burn” reached No. 29, in November 1986 they decided to release another cover. This was “Waterloo”, which of course was the song that won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, and transformed Abba into pop superstars. What was notable about this one was that The Anadin Brothers took the lead vocal.
There was also an amusing video that featured a Eurovision style-show hosted by Katie Boyle, with various celebrities on the judging panel including Captain Sensible. The Anadin Brothers appeared dressed as the two ladies in Abba, which was a rather different look for them. Could they put their stamp on this classic? Helping them out was special guest Roy Wood, who knew a thing or two about famous hit singles himself.
They performed this on Cheggers Plays Pop and Saturday SuperStore, where they took part in a competition to play a gig at a viewer’s home. I’m sure that it was a great moment for the winner to find all of them at their door, and then see them go in and perform “Waterloo” in their front room to an excited crowd, I wouldn’t have minded that myself.
Despite all this, “Waterloo” reached only No. 45, and they never had another hit, meaning that, rather remarkably, barely six months on from their huge success, Doctor And The Medics were all over. They did release a few more singles and albums in the late-80s though, and The Doctor is still around and seems to be proud of his success. Some people get fed up with their biggest hit overshadowing all their other work, but if he wants to perform “Spirit On The Sky” on stage until he’s about 73 then good for him.