In addition to the “Criminally Underrated” series, I have featured “Angelic 80’s Voices” parts one and two. When I get around to featuring part three, Jimmy Somerville will definitely be included. I love his range, the unique sound, and the vibrant feeling he conveys. Somerville could sing the entire London telephone directory, and his listeners would be a captive and engaged audience.
Bronski Beat began life in Brixton in 1983. Their first hit, “Smalltown Boy,” portrayed the issues of life growing up homosexual and being alienated from family. The original band’s line-up consisted of singer Jimmy Somerville with Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek, both playing keyboards and percussion.
The trio had a follow-up single, “Tell Me Why” that showcased anti-homosexual prejudice. It also hit the UK Top 10, landing at number 6.
Bronski Beat released an album entitled The Age of Consent in 1984. It spawned a third single called “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” a cover of the George and Ira Gershwin classic that made its way into the UK Top 20.
In 1985, Somerville left Bronski Beat as tensions began to build among its members. A Bronski Beat album, Hundreds & Thousands, was released, offering mostly remixes and b-sides as well as the hit “I Feel Love.” Somerville went on to form The Communards with Richard Coles while the remaining members of Bronski Beat searched for a new vocalist.
Bronski and Steinbachek drafted singer John Foster as Somerville’s replacement, and released an album, Truthdare Doubledare in 1986. The LP spawned a UK hit single “Hit That Perfect Beat.” The next few years had Foster leaving, Jonathan Hellyer joining and leaving, then Foster joining again. Personally, I find that Somerville’s tenure was the high point for the group, his unique vocals giving the trio a signature sound that set them apart from the rest.
If you’re not familiar with Bronski Beat, take the time to check them out. Even if you are, give them another listen. This band added another important dimension to the best and most vital decade of music.
Purchase Bronski Beat music here.
“Smalltown Boy” via YouTube user 1984asdfasdf:
“Love And Money” via YouTube user cosmicerror:
“Tell Me Why” via YouTube user MasterChief1801:
“Need A Man Blues” via YouTube user garethmscott:
“Hit That Perfect Beat” (post-Jimmy Somerville) via YouTube user MisterRemaster:
The Age of Consent (1984)
Hundreds & Thousands (1985)
Truthdare Doubledare (1986)
Rainbow Nation (1995)