It flopped, and Phil Harding and Ian Curnow at PWL were hired to produce their second single, a cover of I Feel The Earth Move. A promotional clip was recorded at beginning of June 1989, artwork for the sleeve was finalized, and a catalogue number and release date were allocated, but at the last moment senior PWL producers Stock Aitken Waterman, encouraged by the reception to the group’s appearances at recent roadshows with other PWL artists, decided to handle Big Fun themselves and the single was shelved. (It was just as well. American singer Martika issued her far superior version of the song a couple of months later and scored a major hit.)
A cover of Blame It On The Boogie was selected to replace it. It was a wise choice: energetic and positive, and the song suited the falsetto vocals. Promotion was helped by a memorable dance routine hastily improvised by the group, the wearing of colourful bomber jackets, and by the fact that they genuinely appeared to be having (big) fun. Before long they found themselves in the Top 10. The sleeve of the single had this to say about the members: Herbert was “a real extrovert who loves house, rap and pop music, dancing and being with people who know how to have a good time”; “Starting his musical career at the age of 12 by writing his own songs, he has always wanted to be in a pop group and now his dream has come true,” we learnt of Creswick; and finally “Mark was born in Scotland but brought up in Melbourne, Australia, where he lived until a few years ago when he decided to travel the world but got no further than London! After hooking up with Jason and Phil, he was asked to join their group as his voice complemented theirs and completed the Big Fun line up”. Despite getting everything right with this release, one year later it was all over.
The rest of 1989 went well: there was another hit single, this time a Stock Aitken Waterman original, and they appeared on the Band Aid II single released at the end of the year. The following spring, they teamed up with fellow ’89 newcomer Sonia to record a cover of the Carole King classic You’ve Got A Friend for another charity single, this time for Childline. In the end, a new song of the same title was created by Stock Aitken Waterman for them to sing and this was released instead, falling a few places short of the Top 10. Meanwhile though, a patchy Big Fun album, A Pocketful Of Dreams, had been issued. The songs Creswick, Herbert and Gillespie received writing credits for were reasonable, but the choices of cover versions were suspect. It was sheer folly to attempt The Heaven I Need, a Stock Aitken Waterman song originally recorded by The Three Degrees: Big Fun’s voices weren’t up to it, and anyway once Sheila Ferguson, Helen Scott and Valerie Holiday have had a go at something there’s little point in emulating it. Goodness knows also whose idea it was to record Hey There Lonely Girl, but the policy with PWL albums seemed to be to include at least one cover version of an old standard along with the original material (see all Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan albums) so in it went. Releasing it as a single however was extremely misguided. Quite possibly one of the worst records ever made, complete with a boring promo video with the group in baggy suits that looked like they were straight off the peg at Top Man, the fourth single from an album already months old was in and out of the lower reaches of the Top 75 in two weeks.
Nevertheless, the album briefly made the Top 10 and a second LP, to be recorded in New York, was planned. But when the end came it was ruthless. Jive dropped them, claiming (it isn’t clear on what authority) that what success they had had was unlikely to be duplicated. (It wasn’t just Big Fun: a similar fate awaited their friend Sonia who was dropped in the same year by her label Chrysalis, despite having made the Top 20 with every record she released.) Big Fun’s problem was that it wasn’t clear any more who they were marketed at, and Jive probably decided it wasn’t worth trying to resolve the issue. With Seventh Avenue, the audience was obvious: gay men. (And if other parties wanted to join in the fun, they were welcome: the lyrics of Seventh Avenue songs were all gender neutral.) Big Fun got their break by being screamed at by teenage girls, but by the time their album was out, judging by the appalling knitwear they sported on the cover it appeared they were trying to appeal to the girls’ mums instead. Unable to get another recording deal, they split. (A couple of years later, Gillespie and Creswick briefly reformed as Big Fun II (without telling Herbert) and recorded a cover of Stomp!, which flopped.)
NEW SINGLES on sale from Apr. 10
The BEAT Drowning (Go Feet FEET6)
The CLASH Magnificent Seven (CBS CBSA1133)
BIG FUN Living For Your Love (Jive JIVE200)
The CURE (Robert Smith) Lullaby (Fiction FICS29)
DURAN DURAN Do You Believe In Shame? (EMI Manhattan DD12)
PRETENDERS Windows Of The World (Polydor PRE69)
SIMPLE MINDS (Jim Kerr) This Is Your Land (Virgin SMX4)