Ego! Envy! Lust!
Maz Roberts and Kim Lesley had been working together as session singers for several years before lending their innovative vocal talents to tracks on Paul Young’s debut album. Their partnership had been named when they worked on the album Jools Holland and His Millionaires in 1981. Holland said in his 2008 memoir, “With the benefit of hindsight, it may have been a mistake to call them ‘The Wealthy Tarts’. [The ‘fabulous’ was added in 1983, when they started to work with Young’s backing band The Royal Family.] We thought it went well with ‘The Millionaires’, and it was supposed to imply their wealth of talent. But times were politically correct even then and, when we played our first gig with them at the Albany Empire in Deptford, the name made people uneasy.” Accordingly they were variously credited on the recordings they contributed to. On their first single with Young, for example, the sleeve credit was for ‘The WTs – Kim and Maz’.
Kim Lesley had begun the 1980s as a solo singer, her second single Look Up At The Sky appearing in the summer of 1980 on the Piccadilly label. Unfortunately, Piccadilly was subsidiary of Pye, which was wound up in September that year. Pye’s assets were taken over by PRT but only a couple more recordings were issued on the Piccadilly label before it was mothballed and Lesley found herself without a recording deal. She was able to continue working as a session singer and had been doing so, with Maz Roberts, on an occasional basis already; they now started to work together more frequently and performed live and studio vocals for various artists. Their combined experience in the industry led to Holland thinking that “although they were the same age as us or younger, were more like professional musicians,” when they came to work with The Millionaires. He recalled that “Maz had an enchanting voice,” and “Kim sounded like Aretha Franklin.”
1983 was a busy year for them. They turned up on records like Tracey Ullman’s debut album for Stiff in 1983, as well as continuing their close association with Young and The Royal Family, most memorably on the singles Love Of The Common People and their finest moment, Come Back And Stay, a single that quite simply wouldn’t have worked without them. Meanwhile, they arranged the release of a single of their own, The Last Time. Unfortunately it wasn’t a hit, and although they appeared on I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, the lead single for Young’s second album, their role on the rest of The Secret Of Association was greatly reduced. In the second half of the 80s, sightings of pair were scarcer. So, where are they now? Holland said that Maz’s voice “ultimately beguiled Pino [Palladino, The Millionaires’, and later The Royal Family’s, bassist, and session player extraordinaire – he played on just about everyone’s records in the 80s] – they now have grown-up children together,” and Kim “still has an amazing voice. She is now a reverend in the Unitarian Church in New York.”
NEW SINGLES on sale from Sep. 2
ALTERED IMAGES Change Of Heart (Epic EPCA3735)
INXS (Michael Hutchence) The One Thing (Mercury INXS2)
Paul YOUNG Come Back And Stay (CBS CBSA3636)
FIVE STAR Love Take Over (Tent PB40353)
Billy IDOL Rebel Yell [Re-issue] (Chrysalis IDOL6)
SIMPLY RED (Mick Hucknall) Come To My Aid (Elektra EKR19)
STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE Jolene (Korova KOW42)
TOYAH World In Action (Portrait A6545)
Midge URE If I Was (Chrysalis URE1)