The Next Big Thing? Part 2

TwitterThe Next Big Thing? Part II
In the second part of this review of Smash Hits’ annual tips for the top, we look at the acts who achieved some level of success but could not properly be called pop “stars”. These 15 acts all had at least one hit single each (i.e. they reached the Top 75), but not so big a hit that it would make them eligible to appear on ‘Top Of The Pops’ (i.e. they fell short of the Top 40).

The B. B. & Q. Band
Year predicted to break: 1983
Biggest hit: On The Beat (reached #41 on 25/7/81)
The initials stood for Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens, indicating that this lot were from New York. The hit noted above turned out to be their only taste of chart action in the UK, although (with line-up changes) they continued for a further five years. The band’s activities were ended when their founder and producer Jacques Fred Petrus (also behind groups such as Change) ran into financial difficulties with the IRS in 1986 and fled to the country of his birth, Guadeloupe, where he was murdered in June 1987 apparently after a dispute with a patron at a nightclub he owned there.

The Blue Nile
Year predicted to break: 1985
Biggest hit: Saturday Night (reached #50 on 19/1/91)
Scottish synth group comprising Robert Bell, Paul Buchanon and Paul Moore with a reputation for reclusiveness and perfectionism. “After a very wonderful (and pretty successful) album in A Walk Across The Rooftops and a couple of near-miss singles in Tinseltown In The Rain and Stay, the trio are back in the studio recording their second LP,” declared Smash Hits’s 1986 yearbook, adding the codicil “mind you, their first one took months to record so don’t hold your breath.” Wise words. That second LP was Hats (from which their biggest hit was taken) and it didn’t appear until 1989. But it is universally agreed that it was worth the wait. Hats was an instant classic and has become one of Linn records’ longest-sellers, remaining in catalogue on CD ever since its release; it was their breakthrough record reaching #12 (four years after Smash Hits’ estimate, but hey, they said the break would come with the second LP). Only two further albums have appeared in the past 25 years, and it is unknown if The Blue Nile still exists. After High in 2004, Moore didn’t join the others for a planned tour and has had little if any contact with them since. Buchanon released a solo album in 2012.

Bourgie Bourgie
Year predicted to break: 1984
Biggest hit: Breaking Point (reached #48 on 10/3/84)
A band with a history so confusing, it’s not really clear who Smash Hits were recommending. An album featuring most of the members of Bourgie Bourgie had been recorded in 1982 for trendy Glasgow independent record company Postcard with a female singer, credited to Jazzateers. Postcard then folded and the album appeared the following year on Rough Trade with vocals by Grahame Skinner, who subsequently left to join Hipsway. By then, Paul Quinn, who had a close association with their former label Postcard, had joined, took over as frontman, and they renamed themselves Bourgie Bourgie. After a couple of singles in 1984 they split up. Then (without Quinn) reformed Jazzateers with another singer. But lasted for only one single. In the early 90s, Quinn formed The Independent Group on the re-launched Postcard records, which featured members of acts from the early-80s era of the label. He withdrew from the industry later in the decade.

Year predicted to break: 1988
Biggest hit: Gypsy Road (reached #54 on 6/8/88)
American hard rock band formed in 1983; still together despite changes in personnel and periods of inactivity. They had minor hits in the UK from 1987 through to 1991.

Deon Estus
Year predicted to break: 1987
Biggest hit: Heaven Help Me (reached #41 on 6/5/89)
American singer, songwriter and session musician. He played bass for many acts from the mid-70s, including most notably for the UK Wham!. He had minor hits of his own here from 1985 through to 1989, with Heaven Help Me coming from Spell, which remains his only solo album.

Year predicted to break: 1988
Biggest hit: I’ll Never Get Over You (reached #75 on 28/8/93)
American female freestyle vocal group with unstable line-up originally formed in 1984. They had minor hits here from 1987 through to 1993 and quit recording a couple of years later, but the name was revived for touring purposes about ten years ago.

Paul Haig
Year predicted to break: 1983
Biggest hit: Heaven Sent (reached #74 on 28/5/83)
Former singer and songwriter with Josef K, early label mates (at Postcard) with Orange Juice and Aztec Camera.

Hanoi Rocks
Year predicted to break: 1984
Biggest hit: Up Around The Bend (reached #61 on 7/7/84)
Finnish rock band formed in 1979 who had minor hits in the UK from 1983 to 1984 during which time they resided in London, but enjoyed more enduring popularity in Scandinavia and Japan. The death of their drummer in late ’84 began a chain of events that led to the band imploding the following year, but two original members revived the name Hanoi Rocks during the first decade of the 21st century.

King Trigger
Year predicted to break: 1983
Biggest hit: The River (reached #57 on 21/8/82)
The members of King Trigger had all been in failed punk rock bands before teaming up. The hit noted above turned out to be their only taste of chart action, and as indicated it had happened before the Smash Hits prediction of greatness for them.

Naked Eyes
Year predicted to break: 1984
Biggest hit: There’s Always Something There To Remind Me (reached #59 on 30/7/83)
One of a number of 80s “synth duos”, Naked Eyes featured Rob Fisher who later teamed up with Simon Climie to form Climie Fisher. Fisher and his colleague Pete Byrne were in a band called Neon prior to forming Naked Eyes, which featured Curt Smith of aforementioned synth duo Tears For Fears (see yesterday). Split in 1985.

Tommy Page
Year predicted to break: 1989
Biggest hit: I’ll Be Your Everything (reached #53 on 26/5/90)
Heavily influenced by Madonna, Page set out at the age of 18 to track down all the people he considered to be key to her success: her old stylist; her first producer; the boss of the record company that signed her; her early manager and the director of her first promotional clip, etc. Rejecting those who he thought superfluous (as she had previously done), he retained the talent he wanted for his first album, released on 12 July 1988 shortly after his eighteenth birthday. His next album Paintings In My Mind’s lead single I’ll Be Your Everything was written with members of New Kids On The Block and remains his only significant hit. Nevertheless, he has released a further five albums and although the last was fifteen years ago and self-released, he remains active. A single, a new interpretation of a song from Paintings In My Mind, was issued via iTunes earlier this year.

Psychic TV
Year predicted to break: 1984
Biggest hit: Magical Mystery D Tour EP (reached #65 on 20/9/86)
Formed by two former members of cult band Throbbing Gristle, Smash Hits wondered if they were “The Pink Floyd of the ‘80s? Inaccessible avant-garde innovators? A load of old codswallop?” while marvelling that “they’ve so far managed to manipulate two major record companies into lots of money, and convinced half the music critics of the country that what they do is music.” If not music then it was ‘video arts’ they were responsible for; they continue to defy categorization. Hugely prolific in the 1980s, their most ambitious project was releasing a series a series of 23 monthly live albums (started in the year of their biggest hit, above) which they abandoned without explanation after volume 17. Odd.

Second Image
Year predicted to break: 1983
Biggest hit: Sing and Shout (reached #53 on 18/8/84)
Seven-piece R&B/funk band who had minor hits from 1982 through to 1985 but were dropped by both Polydor and MCA. “Still around,” according to the 1986 yearbook, its unknown when they finally called it a day.

That Petrol Emotion
Year predicted to break: 1987
Biggest hit: Big Decision (reached #43 on 2/5/87)
Formed by former members of The Undertones after Feargal Sharkey embarked on a solo career, they had minor hits from 1987 to 1991 and released five studio albums before they split in 1994.

Vicious Pink
Year predicted to break: 1985
Biggest hit: C-C-Can’t You See (reached #67 on 22/9/84)
Duo formed in 1981 as Vicious Pink Phenomena, given a break by Soft Cell as backing vocalists. Soft Cell’s David Ball produced their first independently-released single; the minor hit above was their first for a major label and helped them establish themselves in clubs; “We still think they’ll make it,” The Smash Hits Yearbook reported in late ’85 – but they never crossed over to the mainstream.

The Weather Prophets
Year predicted to break: 1987
Biggest hit: She Comes From The Rain (reached #62 on 4/4/87)
Short-lived indie rock group whose bass player Alan McGee signed them to his record company Creation. McGee turned his attention to management rather than performing and after a line-up reshuffle, the new look The Weather Prophets signed to a major label for an album which sold disappointingly. The loss of their record deal and further personnel changes resulted in a lack of focus and although McGee took them back at Creation in 1988, they split soon after.

The Woodentops
Year predicted to break: 1987
Biggest hit: Love Affair with Everyday Living (reached #72 on 11/10/86)
Indie rock group with minor hits from 1986 to 1988 fronted by Rolo McGinty, still active today.

Tomorrow: those who didn’t make it.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 19
No release scheduled for this date.


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