Great Moments In Pop – The 80s Part 53.

This is a group who I have featured in one of my longer pop music pieces, but it’s time to feature them in this series too. Haysi Fantayzee were a duo (although technically speaking they were actually a trio), the main members were Jeremy and Kate. They did some things on the chart in the early-80s that were rather bizarre even by the standards of that era.

They had four hit singles, two of which made the Top 20, and they are still remembered for these today. They were “John Wayne Is Big Leggy” and “Shiny Shiny”. And if you had to push me, I would have to say that my favourite of the two is “Shiny Shiny”. But it must not be forgotten that they had two smaller hits with “Holy Joe” and “Sister Friction”, neither of which made the Top 50.

And there was also their only album “Battle Hymns For Children Singing”. They were fairly popular, but their time on the chart lasted for barely a year, and they split in 1983. Since my last piece, I have found out a little more about what they did next. Kate had only one solo single. In November 1983 “Love Me Like A Rocket” was released, although this only reached an unofficial no. 140.

There was also a video made for this that was rather exciting. How this wasn’t a chart-sweeping sensation I’ll never know. After this, Kate went on to become a hugely successful photographer, working with lots of people who would go on to have lots of hits on the chart, after she had stopped having them herself. I also said about Jeremy becoming a successful club DJ, and I was sure that he had at least one more hit single on his own.

I knew that he had been involved in the dance group E-Zee Possee, who had some hits in the early-90s, and are probably best-known for March 1990’s “Everything Starts With An E”. But it turns out that it wasn’t as hard to track down his other hit singles as I originally thought because they were released under his real name, which is rather useful.

In October 1996 he teamed up with Amos for “Stamp!”, which reached no. 11 (the same position as “John Wayne Is Big Leggy”). This also got him back on to Top Of The Pops for the first time since those days. And in May 1997 he had another hit when “Argentina” reached no. 30. Since then he has continued to be in much demand as a remixer.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 54.

This is a duo who I have already featured in one of my longer pop music pieces, but I thought that I would include them in this series too, because they did have some great moments, and their story is worth (re)telling. Alisha’s Attic consist of the sisters Karen and Shelley, and they come from a musical family, because their dad had a chart-topping single way back in 1963.

Although they found fame in the mid-90s, I was rather surprised when I discovered that their first attempt at pop stardom was as long ago as November 1988 when “Sugar Daddy” was released, while they were still in their mid-teens, and they were known at this point as Keren And Chelle, which is rather trendy. I’m not sure how much publicity this had at the time.

The rather low-budget video couldn’t have been shown on The Chart Show because this was off Channel 4 at the time. The only way that the video seems to have been preserved is because this was featured on the VHS female pop stars compilation Girls Girls Girls 2. “Sugar Daddy” reached an unofficial no. 167, but critics were rather divided somewhat on this though.

One said “a nice record, it’ll be a hit”, whilst another thought that this was “a wretched hi-NRG abomination”. After going away for a while to polish their style, they but this behind them, and returned almost eight years later, this time as Alisha’s Attic, to much more acclaim, and for the next year or two, they really did make the no. 12 position on the singles chart their own.

In August 1996 “I Am I Feel” was released, and this has to remain their best-known song, if not their biggest on the chart. This is considered to be a famous “Girl Power” anthem, or would be if some other female group hadn’t come on to the scene a week or two earlier and sold themselves on that idea too. Dave Stewart was also involved in this. He seems to know a lot about working with female duos, maybe this was an attempt at making “the new Shakespears Sister”?

And of course, this was also the theme to ITV sitcom My Wonderful Life. Alisha’s Attic did have many more hit singles (that have been detailed in the other piece), but they never made the Top Ten with any singles or albums. And by 2001, it was all over, which was a real disappointment, the chart was definitely a better place with them around. They didn’t rule the world, but they had a good try.

Great Moments In Pop – The 80s Part 52.

A while ago I discovered the show Club MTV, where various dance music songs were played, and I really enjoyed this. On one edition, I came across a group that I wasn’t familiar with, but they seemed to be rather interesting, so I thought that I would find out more about them. Company B were an American female group that formed in the mid-80s.

The first thing to say about them is that their most famous songs were produced by a member of Foxy, who didn’t have any hits in this country, but they are probably best-known for their late-70s song “Mademoiselle” being sampled on the 1995 Jungle hit “Burial” by Leviticus. Company B consisted of three interchangeable women who all had rather big blonde hairstyles, which I presume weren’t their own work.

Around the time they found fame was when The Simpsons was first on TV, and I thought that their hair looks a little like how Lisa’s would if she was a real person. Another comparison can be made with the famous for three minutes 80s singer Spagna. There weren’t too many other American female groups on the scene at the time, but others include Cover Girls and Exposé.

In 1986 their single “Fascinated” was released in America, but wasn’t a success at first. In April 1987 they made the chart in the UK for the first time with “Jam On Me”, which reached an unofficial no. 125. I don’t think that they appeared on any TV shows in this country, but I did find a performance of this, where they managed to get the crowd rather excited.

But their biggest hit was in May 1987 when “Fascinated” reached an unofficial no. 89. They went down very well when they performed this on Club MTV. This also topped the Dance Chart in America, and reached no. 21 on the Hot 100, the only time they did so. It has also been said that this sounds rather similar to “I Can’t Help It”, a hit in 1988 for Bananarama (and the last one to feature Siobhan). Well this one came first, clearly they were more influential than I imagined.

I’m not aware of them having any more hits after this, but they continued to release singles until as late as 1990, including a cover of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (do you see what they did there). They also released two albums in the 80s, it’s a shame that they weren’t bigger. It is believed that at least ten women have donned the wigs over the decades, and a version of Company B continues to this day, although it is rather unlikely that any original members feature.

Down The Dumper – The 80s Part 28.

This is another group who had a rather brief amount of fame on the chart. Berlin were an American group who formed in the late-70s. Although various members came and went over the years, the spotlight was mostly focused on their frontwoman Terri Nunn, who has also been an actress and model. They have released several singles and albums going back to the early-80s.

They didn’t have much success at this point though, meaning that their singles including “Dancing In Berlin”, the rather naughty “Sex (I’m A…)”, and “No More Words” (that was performed on CITV’s music show Razzmatazz in 1984) didn’t make the chart in the UK. In 1985, there was an article in TV Times about up-and-coming American female singers that grouped Terri in with Dale Bozzio from Missing Persons (yes, really).

In October 1986 “Take My Breath Away” was released, which was featured on the soundtrack to the hugely successful film Top Gun. They finally hit the big time, as this was a chart-topper in the UK for four weeks (and also a chart-topper in American for one week). Now I have to confess that I have always had something of a soft spot for this one, because this sounds rather “squelchy”, if that is the word.

Their fame dropped off fairly quickly though, and they never made the Top Ten in the UK or America again. In January 1987 “You Don’t Know” reached no. 39. In the same month their fourth album “Count Three And Pray” made the Top 40. And in March 1987 “Like Flames” reached only no. 47. Less a than a year on from their success, Berlin split not long after this.

It’s a surprise to realise that they only had three hits. Their biggest single would linger for a while yet though. In February 1988 “Take My Breath Away” re-entered the lower end of the chart. And following the TV premiere of Top Gun and its use in a car advert, “Take My Breath Away” made the chart for the third time, and this time reached no. 3, to become a Top Ten hit in a second decade.

It really would’ve been a bizarre situation if this had been a chart-topper again four years on. And in 2002, a cover version of “Take My Breath Away” was a hit for dance act Soda Club. Since then, there have been various reunions, new albums, and more line-up changes, although Berlin have long since reached the “Terri and some blokes” stage, and they always have to perform that one.

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.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 53.

This is another group who were regulars on the singles chart in the late-90s, although they never really reached the heights and made the Top Ten, they did have a decent amount of hits, and a lot of them were rather good. Dubstar were a British group who formed in the early-90s, their most successful line-up featured frontwoman Sarah Blackwood, accompanied by Steve and Chris.

They were sometimes grouped into the Britpop category, but they weren’t that really, they made more of a dance sound, along with some risqué lyrics. It could be said that they were a sort-of saucier Saint Etienne. They were also rather keen to perform some of their songs on TV. In July 1995 their debut hit “Stars” was released, and reached no. 40. It seems that this had the potential to do better though.

Next in September 1995 was “Anywhere”, which reached no. 37. I was watching the video to this recently, when there was yet another BLUE HAIR ALERT! I couldn’t believe it, I don’t know how this keeps happening, but Sarah joins the now rather unexpectedly long list of terrifically haired 90s pop stars. In October 1995 the debut album “Disgraceful” made the Top 30, and is mostly remembered now for the original cover having to be withdrawn.

In January 1996 “Not So Manic Now” was released, which reached no. 18, their first Top 20 hit single. They performed this on Channel 4’s The White Room, and they even turned up on ITV’s This Morning, where they also braved an interview with Richard and Judy. In March 1996 “Stars” was re-released, and this time reached no. 15, their biggest hit single in the UK, and deservedly so. They performed this on ITV’s Hotel Babylon and Top Of The Pops.

Next in August 1996 was “Elevator Song” which reached no. 25. They also performed this on GMTV, but not in the studio, they were on location in Torremolinos. In July 1997 “No More Talk” reached no. 20. This was performed on BBC1’s The National Lottery Live (the midweek edition that is) and Top Of The Pops. In September 1997 “Cathedral Park” reached no. 41, narrowly missing the Top 40.

In October 1997 second album “Goodbye” made the Top 20. In February 1998 “I Will Be Your Girlfriend” reached no. 28. I remember seeing the video to this on The Chart Show. And in May 2000 “I (Friday Night)” reached no. 37, their eighth and final hit single. But in September 2000 third album “Made It Better” surprisingly missed the Top 100, and Dubstar split on a low note. But the story doesn’t end here…

Around 2003, a new group came on to the scene called Client. Nobody knew who the members of this group were. They were only referred to as “Client A” and “Client B”, and they didn’t appear in any publicity pictures either because “we wish to be judged on our artistic merit, as opposed to our personalities”. They were the first singings to the late Andy Fletcher from Depeche Mode’s record label.

It was eventually revealed that they consisted of Sarah formerly of Dubstar, along with Kate Holmes, formerly a member of Frazier Chorus as a flutist, who had some minor hit singles in the late-80s/early-90s, and are probably best remembered for “Dream Kitchen”, and their frontman being Tim Freeman, brother of Martin. She is also the wife of record label boss Alan McGee.

After two minor hits, their biggest success was in January 2005 when “Pornography” reached no. 22, which featured an uncredited guest vocal from the bloke from The Libertines. Client eventually became a trio, but around 2010, Sarah left, and joined a reformed Dubstar, now reduced to a duo. They have made many new songs, and their most recent album was released last year.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 80s Part 24.

This is an example of how pop music careers can start at the same level, and then go off in different directions. In the mid-80s, Jellybean Benitez was a much in-demand producer. He was involved in some of Madonna’s earliest chart successes, he also had several hits himself, and he helped to further the careers of the female singers Elisa Fiorillo and Adele Bertei.

One of my favourites though is definitely “Sidewalk Talk”, which was Jellybean’s first hit single in the UK, and in February 1986 this reached no. 47 (although this had been on the dance scene since late-1984). This was credited to “Jellybean Featuring Catherine Buchanan”, but there were actually two female singers on this. The other one was Madonna, who was uncredited (and also the writer).

This is definitely up there with her best hit singles for me, although few people might’ve had realised that she contributed to this (and I don’t think there was a video made). Now as much as I like her songs, I haven’t done a piece on Madonna because her story is very well-known, and in the second half of the 80s she became one of the biggest pop stars in the world. But as for Catherine Buchanan? Who was she exactly, and what became of her?

Catherine (no relation to Neil Buchanan I imagine) was a singer and rapper who was born in America, although by the late-80s, she had left to live in London (not the part where I live though). When she was at college in New York, she studied astrophysics and Russian, what a combination that is. She also wrote and performed all of her material.

In November 1987, she had one of her more high-profile moments, when she appeared on the Channel 4 music show Famous For 15 Minutes, where unsigned acts were given some airtime. Among the three songs she performed was an early version of “Love Is”, and she also showed off her ability to talk fluent Russian. It was good to finally put a face to the name.

And in August 1988, her debut solo single “Love Is” was finally released (and she was now credited as “Catharine” Buchanan). Curiously, the video isn’t on YouTube, but this was shown on Channel 4’s The Chart Show, so the only source to see this now is a 35-year-old TV show. One critic said “a bright, bubbly rap over jangly guitars, rhythmic tom-toms, the odd whistle, and church bells to boot”.

However, despite some good reviews and radio airplay, “Love Is” reached only an unofficial no. 96 in the UK (and didn’t chart in America as far as I know). From what I can tell, Catherine released no further singles or albums, and unlike Madonna, she seemed to vanish off the pop music scene entirely, and very little is known about what happened to her in the years after this.

When trying to find out some more about what exactly did happen to her, it was rather a surprise to discover that it seems that Catherine died suddenly in 2001, which is over two decades ago now. I don’t know how old she was, but I imagine probably around 35 to 40. A lot of people couldn’t believe that she never become the big star that they expected her to be.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2000s Part 14.

This is another one of those frustrating situations where this group only had one hit single in the UK, but the one that I like the most by them and would rather go on about actually didn’t make the Top 75. Freeform Five are an electronic production group, that has also featured various singers and musicians, and their first single was released as early as 1997.

But they didn’t get near the chart for the first time until December 2003, when the rather spectacularly-titled “Eeeeaaooww” was released, and reached an unofficial no. 180. Next in July 2004 was “Strangest Things”, which reached an unofficial no. 90 (and an album with the same name was released around the same time, but didn’t chart).

In October 2004, “Eeeeaaooww” was given another go, and this time reached an unofficial no. 86, a big improvement on last time, but still not high enough to be a hit. In October 2005 “No More Conversations” was released, but that hit still proved elusive when this reached an unofficial no. 123. This is the one that is my favourite of theirs, maybe it would be a good idea to give this one another go too.

Then in January 2006, they collaborated with the producer Mylo. He had already had a few hit singles, that were “Drop The Pressure”, “Destroy Rock And Roll”, and “In My Arms”. As if “Drop The Pressure” wasn’t epic enough already, this was re-released as a mash-up with Miami Sound Machine’s “Dr Beat” to become “Doctor Pressure”, which was his first and only Top Ten hit single.

So while he was rather high-profile, Freeform Five were lucky enough to get to work with him, on “Muscle Car”. This reached no. 38, to become their only hit single, but they had got there at last. Then in June 2007 “No More Conversations” was re-released, and this time reached an unofficial no. 77, being very close to becoming their second hit, which it deserved to be.

I remember that this was on the radio rather a lot at the time, and the video features a dance being done by some invisible people. Once again, why this wasn’t huge, and considered by many to be the sound of the summer is a mystery to me. And returning the compliment, Mylo did a remix of this. Since then, Freeform Five have continued to be in-demand remixers.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 90s Part 16.

This is someone who only had one hit in the UK, which I wasn’t hugely excited by, but then I discovered one of her other songs, that I really did like but wasn’t a hit, so I’ve decided to go on about that one as well. Jane Child was born to two classical musician/composers in Toronto and from the age of four was classically trained on the piano and violin, winning several scholarships and competitions (I have quoted that verbatim from a The ITV Chart Show fact box, but who will ever know? Oh no…).

Jane Child is indeed a Canadian singer/songwriter. She was also notable for her distinctive look. She had knee-length (perhaps even ankle-length) blonde braids, with a spiky bit on top, plus a nose chain and several rings. She reminded me of the mighty Sooz from As If a little. She was also keen to keep a very strong hold on her music, and came across as a rather intimidating character who didn’t take any bulltwaddle from anybody.

She wrote her songs, and was often busy at her big bank of keyboards featuring one of those computers with green text on it, composing her next piece. She simply wouldn’t be pigeonholed, partly because she wasn’t a pigeon. After over a dozen record labels took part in a big scramble to sign her, in May 1990 “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” was released, which reached no. 22 in the UK, her only hit in this country.

This also did well around the world, making the chart in New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, and reaching no. 2 in America for three weeks. Around this time, it was reported when given the chance to boost her profile she refused to perform “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” on Top Of The Pops because that would be classed as selling out. Yeah! Fight the power! Smash the system!

Her only other song to have success was bubbling under… on the Australian chart that is, where in March 1990 “Welcome To The Real World” reached no. 123. Now I really did like this one, partly because this sounds like it had dropped through a timewarp, being more 1986 than 1990, and there was also a weird robot voice. One critic said “a splashy debut with this yummy slice of dance-oriented rock that conjures up images of a more mainstream Sinead O’Connor”. Another said “don’t try to categorize this amazing all-around talent. Utilizing all the tools at her command, Jane is bound to hold everyone’s attention, brilliantly fusing Rock ‘n’ Soul.”

And this is almost certainly the only pop song to contain the lyrics “it’s raining/it’s pouring/the old man is snoring“. There were also two videos made for this, after the first one was rejected by MTV. “Welcome To The Real World” also reached no. 49 in America (at the second attempt I think), but didn’t get near the Top 100 in the UK. This was awesome though, why couldn’t this have been a hit too?

Her debut album “Jane Child” didn’t chart either. After this, Jane released two further albums, “Here Not There” in 1993 and “Surge” in 2001, but these weren’t successful, and very little is known about her work in more recent years. Apparently in 2006 she dropped off the face of the earth, which must’ve been painful. I wonder where her keyboards are now.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 52.

After doing lots of pieces going on about Shakespear’s Sister and how they unexpectedly became one of the biggest acts of the early-90s, I thought that I might as well take a look at the solo career of Marcella Detroit, as she had a few hit singles on her own. Marcella had already been in the music business for a long time before bumping into Siobhan (probably down the pub).

In the mid-70s she was a member of Eric Clapton’s group as a songwriter and backing singer. In 1980 she had a Top 50 hit single in America with “Help Me” in a duet with Robin Gibb from the Bee Gees. In 1982 she released her debut album “Marcella” (under her real name Marcy Levy). This was reviewed in Kerrang!, where she was favourably compared to Pat Benetar, and also praised for her “beautiful voice”.

And by the late-80s, all of the excitement with Shakespear’s Sister happened, which was something of a career swerve for both members, and has been well documented by me already. After her bitter departure in 1993, she decided to revive her solo career. In March 1994 “I Believe” was released, which reached no. 11, her biggest solo hit single in the UK, just missing the Top Ten.

In April 1994 her second album “Jewel” made the Top 20, the only one to make the chart in the UK. In May 1994 “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” reached no. 24. This was a duet with Elton John, who invited her to take part in his album, so she clearly still had plenty of friends in high places, and this was a cover of a hit from 1968. They also performed this together on Top Of The Pops.

And in July 1994 “I’m No Angel” reached no. 33. This would be her final hit single though. She returned in March 1995 with “Perfect World”, in July 1996 with “I Hate You Now…” (which she had to deny was about Siobhan), and in December 1996 with “Boy”, but these three singles all just missed the Top 100, and all of her further singles and albums got nowhere near the chart.

After her unlikely reunion with Siobhan, where they finally seemed to appreciate each other’s styles and personalities, they toured the UK at the end of 2019. Thank goodness this wasn’t planned for a few months later, or this would’ve had to be postponed indefinitely, and who knows what would’ve happened then. They also contributed to Top Of The Pops: The Story Of 1992, where they seemed a little cheerier about discussing the success of “Stay” then they probably would’ve done before the reunion.