Released today in 1989: Chocolate Box

CBS ATOM8

CBS ATOM8

The most prominent British teen sensations of the final two years of the 1980s were Bros, to whom more pages were devoted in Smash Hits than any other act in that period. In a little under two years they appeared on the cover on nine occasions, despite issuing some fairly unremarkable music in that period. And although their records sold well for a short time, their chart achievements were modest: they never had a #1 album and it took two attempts to get their lone #1 single I Owe You Nothing to the top of the chart. Nevertheless, legions of “Brosettes” couldn’t get enough of them.

An early incarnation of Bros was formed by twin brothers Luke Goss and Matt Goss and their friend Craig Logan when they were in their early teens at the start of the 80s. By the time they were sixteen, they were using the name Gloss and were performing in small venues in and around Lightwater, Surrey, where they had grown up. At one of these gigs they were spotted by Tom Watkins (manager of Pet Shop Boys: “When I first saw them I was absolutely bowled over. Even then – when they didn’t look good and they didn’t have a lot of money to spend on clothes or anything – they had an incredible sense of style. They were very young and inexperienced and they were just singing cover versions but I knew that they could be really big so I wanted to sign them up. But they weren’t old enough to sign their own contracts so their mum had to do it for them. We then had to wait for Craig because he was still at school. When people say I manufactured the boys, I disagree. I like to say I just brushed the dust off an already good product.”

Watkins arranged a recording deal with CBS and I Owe You Nothing was released in the school holidays in 1987, the group now called Bros (a reference to their USP, the twins, the shortened form of ‘brothers’ also happening to rhyme with their family name). The writing credit for the song, “The Brothers,” did not refer to the members of Bros or even to the twins: it was a pseudonym adopted by Watkins and producer Nicky Graham, who co-wrote much of the early material. Despite more than adequate promotion, a fashion sense fans could copy (Grolsch bottle tops on their Doc Marten shoes and other gimmicks), and – on this one occasion – a very strong song, no hit was forthcoming. A weaker but easily memorable track, When Will I Be Famous?, was issued later in the year and earned them a silver disc at the start of 1988. Then all hell broke loose: “Brosmania” arrived, and they were constantly in the press and in the Top 10 for the rest of the year. Debut album Push went multi-platinum, the ‘Big Push’ tour of the UK sold out in around forty minutes, and they embarked on a world tour (‘Global Push’) that took in Europe, Australia and Japan.

It was in Japan that Logan contracted a virus that led to his dropping out of some European tour dates and ultimately, but indirectly, his exit from the band. Missing from live shows and promotional appearances for an extended period in early 1989, rumours began circulating about the real reasons for his absence. The Goss brothers confirmed that they had fallen out with him and the press indicated that he had been paid off. The general attitude of the press towards him was that he was expendable; there was often speculation about what exactly he or Luke Goss contributed to the records. (Pace some sources, it was not Smash Hits but adult comic Viz that first christened him with the dismissive nickname ‘Ken’.) It certainly seemed that that was the case as when Bros returned after a six-month break in their release schedule in the summer of 1989, the Top 10 hits continued – and now, the songs were co-credited to Goss and Graham. But somewhere along the way the bubble had burst. Second album The Time, issued in October 1989, sold a fraction of its predecessor and was in and out of the album chart in three months. Bros barely survived into the next decade.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Sep. 25
1981
Hazel O’CONNOR Hanging Around (Albion ION1022)
THOMPSON TWINS Make Believe (T TEE3)
1989
BROS Chocolate Box (CBS ATOM8)
Debbie HARRY I Want That Man (Chrysalis CHS3369)
SINITTA Love On A Mountaintop (Fanfare FAN21)
SONIA Can’t Forget You (Chrysalis CHS3419)
THOMPSON TWINS Sugar Daddy (Warner Bros W2819)

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