Released today in 1985: Black Man Ray

Virgin VS752

Virgin VS752

In 2001, the Guinness Book of Records declared Liverpool as the World Capital City of Pop, in honour of the huge tally of #1 hits produced by acts originating there over the previous five decades. ‘Merseybeat’, in the early 1960s, referred both to the signature sound of the rock and roll/rhythm and blues/skiffle fusion played by many of the groups popular at the time, and to the movement in general: for the first time, a geographical location in Britain was associated with regularly producing chart music.

In the 1980s, several chart regulars from Liverpool also found themselves on the cover of Smash Hits. Unsurprisingly, some of them had worked together in earlier bands before finding fame. Three people, each of whom appeared on the cover on his own, started out in the same band. Pete Wylie, Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch called themselves The Crucial Three when they worked together briefly in the late spring of 1977. Cope was the odd one out. Unlike the others he wasn’t born in Liverpool, becoming resident when he was at university there: but it was where his later group The Teardrops Explodes was founded. But before that band was formed he had a second stint with Wylie in another short-lived group, Mystery Girls, which also featured Pete Burns. This outfit was operational for a brief period in the autumn of 1977; when they split Burns went on to form Nightmares In Wax (which evolved into Dead Or Alive) while Wylie and Cope tried again with Nova Mob, which lasted around six months. After that project ended, Cope reunited with McCulloch to form A Shallow Madness, who worked together during the summer of 1978. (Are you keeping up?) They fell out though and Cope sacked McCulloch; the remaining members of the band morphed into the aforementioned The Teardrop Explodes. McCullough formed Echo and the Bunnymen.

Meanwhile, Wylie was a member of a couple of other local bands, including The Opium Eaters and the Crash Course. The former included Paul Rutherford, who would later become one of the singers with Frankie Goes To Hollywood. (His future band mate Holly Johnson was working on his solo career at this time.) Ultimately, Wylie would found Wah!, the name under which he would release material for much of the 80s.

Other bands from Liverpool starting out in the early years of the eighties were Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and China Crisis. Emerging in the middle of the decade were Julian Lennon and Carol Decker’s band T’Pau. (Decker was born in the Liverpool Urban Area but the band was not formed there.) Towards the end of the 80s The Reynolds Girls and Sonia completed the list of Liverpudlians on the Smash Hits cover.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Mar. 4
CHINA CRISIS Black Man Ray (Virgin VS752)


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