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The Rubettes still going strong
Formed in 1973 in England, the Rubettes were originally assembled as a session outfit by Wayne Bickerton of Polydor A&R. Inspired by the successes of Sha Na Na, Mud, and Showaddywaddy, they combined glam rock presentation (red and white suits with matching caps) with a rock & roll revival sound. Their first release, 1974’s “Sugar Baby Love,” was an instant smash, remaining at number one in England for five weeks while denting the U.S. charts at number 37 in August, and remains their best-known record. Subsequent releases would be less successful, but the band soldiered on and continued to tour on the nostalgia circuit well into the 2000s.
Sugar Baby Love
“Sugar Baby Love” was recorded in 1973 by a group of session musicians, with Paul DaVinci singing lead. Three months after the song’s recording, the band was established with a lineup consisting of vocalist/guitarist Alan Williams, John Richardson on drums, Mick Clarke on bass, Bill Hurd and Peter Arnesen on keyboards, and Tony Thorpe on guitar. The Rubettes’ name, like their music, was selected to consciously tap into ’50s America iconography, and the revival sound bore fruit in the U.K. on several more singles: The “Sugar Baby Love” sound-alike “Tonight” was a strong follow-up, and “Jukebox Jive” and “I Can Do It” went Top Ten there as well. None charted in the States and the group moved from glammy nostalgia into more serious territory. They turned many a head with 1976’s “Under One Roof,” a sensitive portrayal of a gay man disowned and later murdered by his father; along with Rod Stewart’s “The Killing of Georgie,” it was one of very few songs tackling the difficult topic of homophobia.
Under One Roof
Under One Roof reached the Top 40, and the band scored one more Top Ten hit with 1977’s “Baby I Know” before they dissolved at the end of the decade. In 1982, at the urging of a German promoter, Williams re-formed the group for festival shows and the band continued to tour into the 2000s, with original members Richardson and Clarke with ex-Kinks keyboardist Mark Haley. As John and Mick tell me, today the guys can even boast new music. Check out our zoom interview and The Rubettes’ latest song.
Meet Mick and John
The Rubettes Today
Behind the band: Matt Bianco
Matt Bianco is a UK group formed in 1982 by Mark Reilly (vocals),Danny White (keyboards) and the late Kito Poncioni (bass) all originally members of the band Blue Rondo A La Turk. For their first album “Whose Side Are You On ?” they hired unknown polish vocalist Basia Trzetrzelewska. Her vocal arrangements gave the album a jazzy dimension that Reilly and White couldn’t anticipate and hits like “Get Out of Your Lazy Bed” and “Half a Minute” turned Matt Bianco into one of the biggest acts of the 1980s . The bands name suggests that Matt Bianco is a personal name, but Matt Bianco is a fictitious character they invented from the spy, secret agent world that laid the concept for their music and imagery.
Whose side are you on?
Basia and Danny White left the group after the first album to pursue a solo-career. Mark Reilly found keyboard player and session musician Mark Fisher and recorded the next (self titled) Matt Bianco album which included the big hit “Yeah Yeah”, followed up by a European tour that saw them perform in front of more than 250,000 people
Matt Bianco became a household name in Europe and in order to get into the U.S. market, they hired Gloria Estefan’s husband and producer Emilio Estefan and recorded the album “Indigo”, which included the singles “Don’t Blame It On That Girl” and “Good Times”. Basia and Danny White joined Mark to reform the original Matt Bianco in 2003, after 20 years apart. Mark tells me he’s been super busy every since.
New Album release
“The Essential Matt Bianco” re-imagined re-loved. It’s 30 tracks of all the favourite tracks from the Matt Bianco catalogue which are either re recorded or remixed and have been interpreted for where we are now. It’s available now and is about to be extensively toured with concerts around the world.
Listener request: Bryan Davies
If you’ve been around for a while and living in Australia, you may remember British born Australian singer and entertainer BRYAN DAVIES. He was the first and youngest person ever to host his own evening TV variety show in the ’60s. He came to the attention of Australian rock fans in 1959. His clean-cut good looks and comparatively mellow rock style made him ideal for the TV pop shows of the era, such as Sing! Sing! Sing! and particularly Bandstand, on which Bryan became a regular. Bryan released his first hit song, a cover version of Mark Wynter’s “Dream Girl”. Three more Top 40 contenders followed over the next twelve months. His version of “Dream Girl” outperformed the Wynter version on the Australian charts
Remember the '60s?
Bryan’s others hits were “Five Foot Two”, “I Don’t Want To Be Alone”, “Love and Money” and “Ten Pin Bowling”. After having featured on pop shows all over Australia, Bryan scored his own teen music TV series and at 17, Bryan Davies became the youngest person in the world to host his own television show.
Thanks to a listener request, we catch up with Bryan this week and let Joy from Coffs Harbour chat with the star she’s idolised since her teens. I know you’ll enjoy the chat.