One of the best punk bands who never made it to the mainstream was The Subway Sect, in 1982 four of its members, guitarist Rob Marche, bass player Chris Bostock, keyboard player Dave Collard and drummer Sean McLusky all left and formed the new wave group JoBoxers and recruited Ohio-born lead singer Timothy Wayne Ball who was known as Dig Wayne.
Chris Bostock is 55 this week and they first charted in February 1983 when their debut single, Boxerbeat, peaked at number three. They got their first break when they supported Madness on their Rise & Fall tour and you can see and hear the influence on their second single Just Got Lucky which reached number seven just three months later.
Their third hit was Johnny Friendly which paid homage to the Marlon Brando film On the Waterfront and featured Frank Bruno in the video.
Lillian Lopez, one of the two sisters in Odyssey would have celebrated her birthday this week.
The three Lopez sisters, Lillian, Louise and Carmen began singing together professionally in 1968 at their local stage shows as The Lopez Sisters. This led to some tours in Europe. In the mid-Seventies Carmen left the fold and was replaced by Manila-born Tony Reynolds, but he left after just one album. Bill McEachern, a tenor formally of We the People, joined after their first hit, but left soon after. “Getting bookings was hard because Odyssey were two girls and a guy”, Lillian explained. “So I said to my husband, Al Jackson, get your dancing shoes on, it looks like you’re in the band.”
The sisters ‘hid’ their ages well. Lillian was born in 1935 and Louise in 1933 which means at the time of their first UK hit at Christmas 1977, the ‘girls’ were 42 and 44 respectively. That first hit was Native New Yorker and song Frankie Valli had recorded earlier the same year.
Three years passed between their first and second hits. Louise explained, “We had problems with our management company, Champion Entertainment, and our second album, Hollywood Party Tonight, wasn’t danceable enough and didn’t really do anything. It’s dodgy doing slow songs when you’re just breaking through.”
Their second hit, Use It Up and Wear It Out, went to number one and the follow-up, If you’re Lookin’ for a Way Out reached number six. They had two further top 10 hits when a cover of Lamont Dozier’s Going Back to My Roots got to four in 1981 and Inside Out went one better in 1982.
After the hits dried up, they continued touring and I had the pleasure of working with them in 1990. Lillian, who retired from the music industry in 2000, died in September 2012 and Louise passed away in January 2015. Both had exquisite voices comparable to Randy Crawford or Gwen Dickey of Rose Royce.
Let’s enjoy the 1981 hit If You’re Lookin’ for a Way Out.
Countless soap stars have tried their hand at pop and, without doubt, the most successful is Kylie Minogue and certainly Neighbours and EastEnders have spawned the most. One Neighbours actor, in 1989, managed just two UK hits of which the first is, strangely but fondly remembered and the second, I defy anyone to remember. That second hit reached the dizzy heights of number 67 where it spent one solitary week on the chart, it was called This Love Affair. Anyone? No? Ok, the first one was called Don’t It Make You Feel Good and got to number 16. A-ha, I hear you say, Paul Robinson. Indeed, or Stefan Dennis as he was credited on the single.
He was born in Tawonga in the south-eastern state of Victoria. A tiny place which, in 2011, was recorded as having a population on just 580 people. He began acting in 1979 and had small parts in various Australian shows including The Sullivans, The Henderson Kids and The Young Doctors and successfully auditioned for Neighbours in 1984. He originally auditioned for the Des Clarke role but ended up as the ruthless businessman Paul Robinson.
He is still a member of the cast albeit taking a 12 years break between 1994 and 2002 during which time he toured New Zealand in the show Blood Brothers and then moved to the UK where got appeared in small roles in Casualty and The Bill, among others.
His music career was less successful but let’s remember his first and biggest hit.
Jacqueline McKinnon is 60 years old this week. You may not recognise that name but she had a number one hit in 1980 and was better known as Kelly Marie.
She was born in Paisley in Scotland and, as a child, was always singing so her parents entered her for the television talent show Opportunity Knocks when she was 16 where she performed I Don’t Know How to Love Him, from Jesus Chris Superstar, under the name Keli Brown and she won four times which, in-turn, led to a record deal with Pye records who released her first single Who’s that Lady with my Man in 1976, but it failed to chart.
Two years later her next single, Make Love To Me, failed in the UK but made number two in South Africa and number five in Australia where it spent over 40 weeks on the chart. Next came Feels Like I’m In Love which she got to record accidentally. The song was written by Ray Dorset on Mungo Jerry who explained to me in an interview, “I wrote Feels Like I’m In Love in 1977 with Elvis Presley in mind and even recorded it Elvis-style on my demo. My producer, Barry Murray, was about to send it to Elvis when he got a phone call saying Elvis had died. After that, I kinda put it to bed for a while. Kelly Marie had a few minor hits in France and had been hanging around our office a bit. I thought she had a good voice, so I asked her if she wanted to record the song.” It was released in 1978 but, yet again, failed to chart.
Two years later a club DJ in Scotland began playing it and soon it was re-issued and became a number one hit.
She had three further hits, Loving Just for Fun, Hot Love and Love Trial, each one fairing less well than its predecessor and so in 1984 took a break to get married and bring up her six children. She made a comeback on 1997 with an album which contained newly recorded versions of Feels Like I’m in Love and Hot Love as well as cover versions of Robbie Williams’ Millennium, Blanket on the Ground, I’m In the Mood for Dancing and River Deep – Mountain High but it failed to excite the record buying public.
In 2005 she appeared in the eight-week ITV show Hit Me, Baby, One More Time where each celebrity contestant sang one of their own song plus a cover version. Kelly naturally sang Feels Like I’m In Love followed by Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did It Again. She was up against Nick van Eede from the Cutting Crew, Sybil, the girl band Cleopatra and Chesney Hawkes who was that heat’s winner. The series was eventually won by Shakin’ Stevens.
Let’s enjoy her cheesy, but infectious number one from 37 years ago.