Jonathan Bernstein and Beatrice Colin together formed April Showers – a fleetingly brilliant Glaswegian pop duo who released just one single “Abandon Ship” on Big Star, a subsidiary of Chrysalis in 1984. It quickly gained a cult following due to its sparkling production from Anne Dudley (Art of Noise) and string-heavy arrangements. This quality was echoed on B-side “Everytime We Say Goodbye” with the 12-inch featuring an instrumental of Abandon Ship “Abandon Ship Sing-A-Long-A-Wonder Mix”. Due to its rarity and the presence of Anne Dudley this record is now highly sought after – good job I recognised its quality back in 1984! Both vocal version and instrumental are included in the compilation below.
In converting some rare Eighties vinyl to CD I thought it would be churlish of me not to share some of this hidden treasure. Where tracks are easily obtained via download sites or on CD compilations I haven’t included them. Hence Nick Neyward’s ‘instrumental version of ‘Whistle down the wind’ is included here because the vocal version is easy to obtain.
The instrumental 96.8 is on the B side of ‘The Highest High’ by China Crisis (1985), the year that I launched a Saturday afternoon sports show on Worthing Hospital radio and used this piece of music as its theme. It still sounds great to my ears – and is absolutely unavailable anywhere else.
The Secret Seven are so obscure that they do not have an entry on Last FM – but the 12″ mix of ‘Hold onto Love’ is an eighties favourite of mine – all glorious 7 minutes of it with sumptuous string arrangements and the signature programmed drum sound of the time.
Another favourite of mine was Virgin Dance – part of the thriving Liverpool scene that produced The Teardrop Explodes and others. The quintet consisted of Edwin Hind (vocals & guitar), Kenny Dougan (guitar), Lorraine Gardner (keyboards), Graham McMaster (bass) and Cliff Hewitt (drums, previously in Modern Eon). Led by vocalist Edwin Hind, the band released one album, “Against the Tide”, and scored one indie hit, “Are You Ready (For That Feeling)?” which is included here in both its 7″ and 12″ guises.
‘Weak in the presence of Beauty’ by Floy Joy was later covered by Alison Moyet but this version has the thrill and the passion of its writers in full flow.
Blow Up despite the name were nothing to do with the 60s film of the same name although they derived their name from it. The title of the track suggests they had Brighton roots and that was where I was living at the time, which is how Norman Cook who was working in Rounder Records in The Lanes, Brighton at the time managed to convince me to buy it. I have never regretted it. Norman (Quentin in those days) always did have great taste.
White & Torch were a Walker Brothers for the Eighties and ‘Parade’ is simply superb, both in vocal performance and arrangement – majestic sounding even now.
1. April Showers – Abandon Ship (12″)
2. April Showers – Abandon Ship (12″ instr)
3. Blow Up – Pool Valley
4. China Crisis – 96.8
5. Floy Joy – Weak in the presence of beauty
6. Mondo Kane – New York Afternoon
7. Nick Heyward – Whistle down the wind (12″ instr)
8. Sivuca – Ain’t no sunshine (12″)
9. Sophie & Peter Johnston – Happy Together
10. The Beautiful Americans – Beautiful Americans (12″)
11. The Secret Seven – Hold onto love (12″)
12. Two People – This is the shirt (12″)
13. Virgin Dance – Are you ready for that feeling? (7″)
14. Virgin Dance – Are you ready for that feeling? (12″)
15. White and Torch – Parade (12″)
Here they are: