Afrodiziak – Wheeler and Claudia Fontaine – were a vocal duo who contributed to a number of big hits during the decade. They first came to radio attention when they performed on the final single by The Jam, Beat Surrender, in 1982 with other vocalists including Tracie Young. But it was their vocal responses on the following year’s Elvis Costello album, Punch The Clock, that were amongst their best work. “They had not appeared on many pop recordings and their spontaneous approach was a welcome contrast to the jaded clichés demanded of other groups of ‘session singers’,” Elvis commented in his liner notes to the 1995 reissue of the album. Thereafter, they added Naomi Thompson to the group and were rarely out of offers of work.
1984 saw them feature on Heaven 17’s album How Men Are and the classic Special AKA single Free Nelson Mandela, and the following year their voices could be heard on the two biggest hit singles from Howard Jones’s second album Dream Into Action. Madness’s Sweetest Girl, in 1986, gave them another Top 40 hit and they can be seen in the promotional video clip for the single. (Afrodiziak had also appeared, as a duo, in the video for Costello’s Every Day I Write The Book, a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.)
After the group dissolved, Fontaine sang lead for the Beatmasters on Warm Love, a minor hit for that group following a string of high-charting singles. She remained active as a session singer throughout the 1990s. Wheeler, meanwhile, having been a session singer for some 15 years and a member of two successful vocal groups in that period (prior to Afrodiziak she was part of Brown Sugar in the lat 70s, who had released several singles of their own), launched herself as a solo artist in 1990 with her well-received album UK Blak.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Mar. 6
VISAGE Mind Of A Toy (Polydor POSP236)
GUNS N’ ROSES Paradise City (Geffen GEF50)
MADONNA Like A Prayer (Sire W9539)
SOUL II SOUL Keep On Movin’ (10 Records TEN263)