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SPANDAU BALLET

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Biography: 

As one of the leading New Romantic bands, Spandau Ballet racked up a number of British hits -- as well as one Top Ten American hit, "True" -- during the early '80s, becoming one of the most successful groups to emerge during new wave. The only other new romantic band to enjoy greater commercial success was Duran Duran, yet Spandau Ballet was there first, scoring three Top Ten hit singles during 1981 with their synthesized dance-pop. By 1983, the London-based quintet had shed its Roxy Music-inspired robotic art-disco and picked up on Bryan Ferry's latter-day crooner persona, revamping themselves as a slick, stylish white soul act. It was in this incarnation that Spandau Ballet experienced its greatest success, as "True" reached number one in Britain and number four in America. However, their time in the spotlight was shortlived. Though they had a few more hits in Britain, none of them were particularly big, and in America they disappeared at the end of 1984. By the end of the decade, the group had split, with their core members, brothers Gary and Martin Kemp, launching acting careers with the 1990 film, The Krays.

The Kemps -- who played guitar and bass, respectively -- founded Spandau Ballet in 1979 with Tony Hadley (vocals), Steve Norman (rhythm guitar, saxophone, percussion), and John Keeble (drums). The group hired their schoolfriend Steve Dagger as manager. Spandau Ballet began playing nightclubs in London that had responded to punk by embracing exaggeratedly fashionable clothes and makeup. Soon, the band was one of the most popular attraction on this scene, which subsequently dubbed by the British press as "New Romantic." Chris Blackwell, the head of Island Records, saw the group at a London party and offered them a contract on the spot. They rejected his offer, choosing to set up their own label, Reformation. Early in 1980, the group licensed Reformation to Chrysalis, giving their label the distribution power of a major label.

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"To Cut a Long Story Short," Spandau Ballet's first single, shot to number five in Britain upon its fall 1980 release. It was quickly followed by the number 17 hit "The Freeze" in early 1981, and "Musclebound," which reached number ten in the spring. The singles made their way over to America, where they received play in dance clubs. By the spring, their debut album, Journey to Glory, had been released. In the summer, they released a new, non-LP single, "Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)," which boasted a funkier beat and soulful flourishes. The group continued to pursue this direction on their subsequent singles, including the gold-selling Top Ten UK hits "Instinction" and "Lifeline," as well as their 1982 album Diamond, but it didn't reach its fruition until the 1983 album True.



True was a full-fledged white-soul album, much like the sophisticated pop of late-'70s Roxy Music albums. The title ballad reached number one in Britain during the spring and a few months later, the single and album became a hit in America, peaking at number four and 19 respectively. Spandau Ballet managed to hit the Top Ten once more in the UK with "Gold," which peaked at number two; in the US, it reached 29. "Communication," a third American single from True, fizzled in the spring of 1984. Its failure was the beginning of the band's commercial downfall. "Only When You Leave," the first single from 1984's Parade, was a number three hit in the UK, yet it only reached 34 in the US; furthermore, it was their last American hit ever. Parade was a success in Britain, yet it wasn't as big as its predecessor. In 1985, Spandau Ballet sued Chrysalis, claiming that the label wasn't providing enough promotional support for the band, especially in the US, and thereby harming its career. The suit was settled in 1986, and the group jumped ship for CBS/Columbia (Epic in the US), where they released Through the Barricades that same year. The title track was a Top Ten hit, but its follow-up, "How Many Lies?," became the group's last Top 40 hit ever. Following the release of Heart like a Sky in 1989, the group quietly disbanded the following year.

Gary and Martin Kemp played the notorious British mobsters the Krays in a 1990 film of the same title. Gary Kemp pursued acting as his vocation during the '90s, appearing in The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston, HBO's The Larry Sanders Show, and Embrace of the Vampire with Alyssa Milano. Tony Hadley released a solo album, State of Play, in 1993. ~ All Music Guide 

Source: Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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A-HA

Discography:

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A-ha trio
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A-ha trio in suit
Biography: 

In their small snowy country of Norway, members of the 1980s super group A-ha are considered close to royalty. The pretty boys of Oslo were the first Norwegian band to make it big in pop-music. By the end of 1980s, they had amassed numerous awards and platinum albums.

Two of the band members, Magne Furuholmen and Pal Waaktaar, grew up in Oslo. Their first band together, Spider Empire—formed in 1977—was heavily influenced by the music of the Doors and Jimi Hendrix. Spider Empire evolved into another band called Bridges in 1979 and took on a bassist and drummer. Soon they released their first album, FakkeltogTorchlight Procession—on their own label, Vakenatt. The Bridges were working on their second album when Morten Harket entered the scene. Influenced by the falsetto of Freddy Mercury of Queen, Harket had been singing in other Oslo bands. 

 

After deciding to work together, the band, with Harket on lead vocals and Furuholmen writing many of the lyrics, the band began tossing around ideas for a new name. They decided upon A-ha because, as Furuholmen explained, it was easily memorized and familiar exclamation in any language. "Originally, we were trying to find a Norwegian word that people would be able to say in English. Eventually Harket spotted a song called "a-ha" in Waaktaar's song notebook. It was a terrible song, but a great name. I mean, you say it, a-ha, all the time," Furuholmen said online.  

In 1982, the band began changing its tune and started working on becoming a more commercial, synth-pop sounding band, like pop kings Duran Duran. The trio began looking toward England for a record label to offer them a contract. Even with their chiseled good looks and snappy sound, success would take a while.

983 was to be the dawning for the Norwegian music marvels. After ringing in the new year by relocating to London in January, the trio managed to purchase some recording time at Rendezvous Studios. One demo, "Lesson One," caught the ear of John Ratcliff, manager of the recording studio. Ratcliff in turn played it for Terry Slater, a former record company executive who once worked with the Everly Brothers. Slater was so impressed with the band that he agreed to manage the trio immediately and arrange a series of influential auditions.

As a Christmas present for their families and compatriots, A-ha brought home a worldwide contract with Warner Bros. Records. The first album Hunting High and Low, included the single "Take On Me." Released in early 1984, it was re-worked version of "Lesson One." The band experienced a successful Norwegian debut, but failed to reach audiences over in England and abroad. Only 300 copies of the album were sold outside its native Norway. In 1985, the band, at the urging of Slater, remixed and re-released the single.

During the summer of 1986, Warner Bros. Records decided to invest some money on a revolutionary video for the struggling band. "Take On Me," directed by Steve Barron, was a charcoal animation of the band members was a fore-runner in semi-animated video-market. At the third MTV Music Awards in 1986, the video won for Best New Concept Video, Best New Artist Video, Best Special Effects, Best Direction, Most Experimental and the Viewers Choice awards, among others awards. According to the Encyclopedia of Rock Stars, it was a record number of wins by one act for both the fledgling ceremony and band. 

In 1986, A-ha released it's sophomore album, Scoundrel Days. Although less successful than Hunting High And Low, the album did include the hit single "Cry Wolf." A year later, the band was commissioned to create the theme song for the new James Bond movie, The Living Daylights. Their third album, Stay on These Roads, almost entirely written by guitarist Pal Waaktaar continued A-ha's popularity in England while marking its journey into obscurity in the United States. The album entered the English charts early in 1988 at number two.

After a two year holiday, A-ha released their fourth album, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, in November 1990. This new album shows a departure from the heavy synth-ladled albums of the past. In 1991, after a string of little noticed singles,, A-ha released a six year retrospective album entitled Headlines and Deadlines, The Hits Of A-ha

During the fifth annual World Music Awards, the darlings of Norwegian pop music were named Best Selling Norwegian Artist of the Year two years in a row 1992-93. In 1993, the band releases Memorial Beach, which featured the single "Dark Is the Night." More than previous A-ha albums, this album highlighted the talents of the other band members including new members bassist J.B. Bogeberg and Per Hillestad on drums. Much of the album reflects time spent in America.

After feeling "spent out" artistically, the band took a two year sabbatical according to an online interview at http://www.wwiv.com/a-ha/a-ha-faq.html. The trio decided to pursued individual artistic challenges. Furuholmen co-wrote the soundtrack for the Norwegian movie Ten Knifes in the Heart, which world premiered in 1994. He also created a wood carving for the cover design for the album Songs from the Pocket, a solo project of his fellow tour mate J.B Bogeberg. During this time apart, the band did regroup to record "Shapes That Go Together, " theme song for the 1994 Special Olymics that were held in Lillehammer, Norway.

Harket recorded the Frankie Valli hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" for the Coneheads soundtrack in 1983. The movie was directed by Steve Baron, the gentleman behind the record shattering "Take On Me video." In 1995, Harket released Wild Seed, his first solo album with Warner Brothers Records International. In 1996, Pal Waaktaar also released an album with Warner Brothers Records International. With his band Savoy, he released Mary is Coming in early 1996 in Europe and the United States writing all the songs on the album.

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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ULTRAVOX

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Biography: 

Rejecting the abrasive guitars of their punk-era contemporaries in favor of lushly romantic synthesizers, Ultravox emerged as one of the primary influences on the British electro-pop movement of the early '80s.

Formed in London in 1974, the group - originally dubbed Ultravox! - was led by vocalist and keyboardist John Foxx (born Dennis Leigh), whose interest in synths and cutting-edge technology began during his school years. With an initial line-up consisting of bassist Chris Cross, keyboardist/violinist Billy Currie, guitarist Steve Shears, and drummer Warren Cann, their obvious affection for the glam rock sound of David Bowie and Roxy Music brought them little respect from audiences caught up in the growing fervour of punk, but in 1977 Island Records signed the quintet anyway, with Brian Eno agreeing to produce the band's self-titled debut LP.

After scoring a minor U.K. hit with the single "My Sex," Ultravox returned later that year with Ha! Ha! Ha!; sales were minimal, however, and Shears soon exited, replaced by guitarist Robin Simon. A third LP, 1978's Systems of Romance, was recorded in Germany with renowned producer Conrad Plank, but no merchandise or t-shirt maker could generate enough excitement for the album, and it too failed commercially. Island soon dropped the band, at which time both Foxx and Simon quit, the former mounting a solo career and the latter joining Magazine.

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At that point the remaining members of Ultravox tapped singer/guitarist Midge Ure, an alumnus of Silk as well as Glen Matlock's Rich Kids; upon signing to Chrysalis, the new line-up recorded Vienna, scoring a surprise smash hit with the single "Sleepwalk," which reached the number two spot on the U.K. pop charts in 1981 and pushed the LP into the Top Five. The album's title track also fared well, peaking at number two on the charts and remaining there for several weeks.

After 1981's Rage in Eden, Ultravox teamed with legendary producer George Martin for 1983's Quartet; their most successful LP in the otherwise impenetrable American market, it launched the minor hit "Reap the Wild Wind." Upon completing 1984's Lament, Warren Cann left Ultravox to forge a solo career.

The remaining members, after adding Big Country's Mark Brzeicki, resurfaced with U-Vox in 1986 before going their separate ways. Currie and Simon re-formed the band in 1993, adding vocalist Marcus O’Higgins; three years later, they released the lack-luster Ingenuity with Sam Blue on lead vocals. The album marked the group's final studio release. 

 

Members include Sam Blue (joined group, c. 1995), vocals; Mark Brzezicki (born on June 21, 1957, joined group, c. 1986), drums; Vinnie Burns (joined group, c. 1995), guitar; Warren Cann (born on May 20, 1952, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; left group, c. 1986), drums; Chris Cross (born Christopher Allen on July 14, 1952), bass; Billy Currie (born on April 1, 1952, in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England), keyboards, synthesizer, violin; Tony Fennelle (joined group, c. 1993), vocals; John Foxx (born Dennis Leigh in Chorley, Lancashire, England; left group, c. 1980), vocals, synthesizer; Steve Shears (left group, c. 1978), keyboards, vocals; Robin Simon (group member, c. 1978-80), guitar; Midge Ure (born James Ure on October 10, 1953, in Glasgow, Scotland; joined group, c. 1980), guitar, vocals.
 
Group formed in London, England, by John Foxx, Steve Shears, Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie, 1974; signed to Island Records, 1976; released debut LP, Ultravox!, 1976; released Ha! Ha! Ha!, 1977; Systems of Romance, 1978; Foxx and Simon left the group, Midge Ure joined, c. 1980; released Three into One, 1980; signed to Chrysalis Records; released Vienna, 1980; released Rage in Eden, 1981; released Quartet, 1982; released Lament, 1984; U-Vox, 1986; lineup disbanded, 1987; Currie continued with various lineup changes.
 
Ultravox Official Website: http://www.ultravox.org.uk.
 
Albums:
 
Ultravox, Island, 1977.
 
Ha! Ha! Ha!, Island, 1977.
 
Systems of Romance, Island, 1978.
 
Vienna, Ariola, 1980.
 
Three into One, Island, 1980.
 
New Europeans, Chrysalis, 1981.
 
Rage in Eden, Chrysalis, 1981.
 
Quartet, Chrysalis, 1982.
 
Monument—The Soundtrack, Chrysalis, 1983.
 
Lament, One Way, 1984.
 
The Collection, Chrysalis, 1984.
 
U-Vox, Chrysalis, 1986.
 
Peel Sessions, Dutch East, 1988.
 
BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert, Windsong, 1992.
 
Revelation, Alex, 1993.
 
Slow Motion, Alex, 1993.
 
Rare, Vol. 1, Chrysalis, 1994.
 
Rare, Vol. 2, Chrysalis, 1994.
 
Future Picture, Receiver, 1995.
 
Ingenuity, Resurgence, 1996.
 
Dancing with Tears in My Eyes, EMI, 1997.
 
Premium Gold Collection, EMI/Electrola, 1997.
 
The Voice: The Best of Ultravox, EMI, 1997.
 
Extended Ultravox, Alex, 1998.
 
Live, WEA, 1998.
 
The Island Years, Spectrum, 1999.
 

 

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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THOMAS DOLBY

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Thomas Dolby
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Thomas Dolby
Thomas Morgan Robertson
Biography: 

The man behind iconic 80s song, She Blinded Me with Science, is Thomas Dolby. This synth-based, catchy song was supported with an appealing video and remains a staple when discussing the early days of MTV. But Dolby’s career in the music industry is denser than a one-hit wonder. As a producer and musician, he has become a well-known and sought after collaborator, technology advocate, and inspiration for fledgling synth-rock maestros globally.

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Dolby’s Grammy-nominated approach and style in music has constantly been in flux – from the synth-driven pop of his first album The Golden Age of Wireless to funky and emotive arrangements in later albums like Aliens Ate My Buick and Astronauts and Heretics.

His career started out shortly after he taught himself music and dropped out of school to join an R&B/Jazz band. By the 80s, he was contributing to albums as a session musician for the Thompson Twins, Def Leppard and Foreigner. This financially supported his own solo efforts to record his first album, 1982’s The Golden Age of Wireless. Two years later he released The Flat Earth on Capitol Records.

These two albums by Dolby were well-received by critics and achieved Gold status in the US. Despite, his later un-charting singles in the late-80s and early-90s, Dolby remained active in the music industry and established a technology company that would go on to develop a music file format for internet usage. This venture for Dolby was important as he is a strong advocate for copyright protection and has consistently voiced his opinion over unauthorised sampling and piracy.

Dolby’s musical talents would also benefit him in another business activity in composing hundreds of polyphonic ringtones including the Nokia signature theme. He has also worked as a producer and soundtrack composer for films and video games. In 1998, Yahoo! awarded Dolby with a Lifetime Achievement in Internet Music.

After various, successful one-off gigs in the 2000s, Dolby returned to the music scene and moved back to the UK in 2006. He continues to collaborate, tour and release new and re-mastered material.

Born Thomas Robertson in 1958 in Cairo, Egypt; son of an archaeologist; married Kathleen Beller (an actress), 1988; two daughters, one named Talia Claire.
 
Taught himself to play guitar, c. 1970; dropped out of school to pursue music, 1974; performed with Jamaican R&B band and played jazz in restaurants; played synthesizers for Bruce Wooley and the Camera Club, late 1970s; toured Europe and U.S. with Lene Lovich; played in Paris subways; played synthesizer for Foreigner, Def Leppard, Joan Armatrading, and Malcolm McClaren, early 1980s; released debut single, "Urges," 1981; signed with EMI Records; released first album, The Golden Age of Wireless, Capitol, 1982; co-produced Joni Mitchell's Dog Eat Dog and produced albums by George Clinton and Prefab Sprout, 1985; participated in Live Aid concert; participated in Roger Waters's production of The Wall, West Berlin, 1990. Composer of film scores. Founder of virtual reality company Headspace.
 
 
Awards: Four Grammy Award nominations.
 
Addresses: Record company—Giant Records, 8900 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 200, Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1906.

Albums:

(Contributor) Joan Armatrading, Walk Under Ladders, A&M, 1981.
 
(Contributor) Foreigner, Four, Atlantic, 1981.
 
The Golden Age of Wireless, Capitol, 1982.
 
The Flat Earth, Capitol, 1984.
 
Aliens Ate My Buick, EMI, 1988.
 
Astronauts & Heretics (includes "I Love You Goodbye"), Giant, 1992.
 
As producer
Joni Mitchell, Dog Eat Dog, Geffen, 1985.
 
George Clinton, Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends, Capitol, 1985.
 
Prefab Sprout, Two Wheels Good, Epic, 1985.
 
Prefab Sprout, From Langley Park to Memphis, Epic, 1988.
 
Ofra Haza, Desert Wind, Sire, 1989.
 
Prefab Sprout, Jordan: The Comeback. Epic, 1990.
 
Him scores
Fever Pitch, 1985.
 
(Contributor) Howard the Duck, 1986.
 
Gothic, 1987.
 

Sources: Juanita Appleby; Jeffrey Taylor

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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ZAINE GRIFF

Zaine Griff
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Zaine Griff album
GLENN MIKKLESON
Biography: 

Zaine Griff is back in town to revive memories of his London heyday at the O2 Islington on 20th October 2012. Zaine’s planning to give us nostalgic smorgasbord in this mini-tour, coinciding with re-mastered releases of Ashes and Diamonds,  Figvres and the rest of his back-catalogue. This mini-tour will remind his many fans of his great gifts and provide the platform for the planned release of new recorded and other artistic material.

Zaine created a club-circuit stir in the late seventies and early eighties, emerging from his contemporary-dance and avant-garde roots as a flamboyant fashionably-androgynous rock star in the Rocky Horror mould. The set was high quality and Zaine Griff was supported by an excellent band, with well-crafted tunes, catchy Hard Rock in the New Wave style. They (and it was “they” as Zaine Griff fronted what was very much a band) invariably opened with the autobiographical “The Scandinavian” and the set usually featured Griff’s tribute to Lindsay Kemp for whom he’d performed in “Flowers”. Zaine always delivered a command performance and his gigs were packed. His relative lack of real commercial impact in the UK is something of a mystery, particularly as he was thoroughly charming and interested as well as interesting.

His fans on the club circuit adored him, and although surprisingly reserved off stage, he’d happily join them in the bar – “Half a lager thanks Doug”. The live act was superb. Genuine Art Rock, it was driven, raucous, and mesmeric. The record when it came, produced by Tony Visconti had a more commercial feel and helped Zaine raise his profile considerably. I for one will be ordering the re-mastered back copies with genuine interest as well as some deep nostalgia for one of my great heroes.

History should mark Zaine down as one of music’s beautiful people – it was a mark of Zaine’s courtesy that when I wrote a fan letter congratulating him on the release of “Ashes And Diamonds”, I received a personal handwritten thank you note by return. Zaine Griff eventually returned to New Zealand to continue his various artistic projects and to run night clubs – a fabulous man who missed far greater success by a whisker.

Current audiences will welcome back a meticulous and inventive craftsman described on his own website as a romanticist dedicated his art and likely to excite new fans all over the UK. Welcome home Zaine.

© James Douglas September 2012

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Albums:

With The Human Instinct:

The Hustler (Zodiac, 1974)

Peg Leg (recorded 1975, released 2002)

With Screemer:

"Interplanetary Twist" (Bell, 1976)

"In The City" (Arista, August 1977)

As solo artist:

"Tonight" - single (Automatic, February 1980)

"Ashes and Diamonds" - single (Automatic, May 1980)

"Run" - single (Automatic, August 1980)

Ashes and Diamonds - album (Automatic, October 1980)

"Figvres" - single (Polydor, July 1982)

"Flowers" - single (Polydor, September 1982)

Figvres - album (Polydor, October 1982)

"Swing" - single (Polydor, October 1983)

With Helden (as guest vocalist):

"Holding On" - single (1983)

'Spies' - album (unreleased)

With Yukihiro Takahashi:

"This Strange Obsession" on What? Me Worry? album

With Gary Numan:

"The Secret" on the album, Berserker (1984) 

 

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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THE MOODY BLUES

THE MOODY BLUES
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THE MOODY BLUES SKETCH
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THE MOODY BLUES
Biography: 

The Moody Blues are a UK band that have had hit albums in the UK, US and worldwide – with an impressive 50 million albums sold and 14 platinum and gold discs. They started life as a Rhythm and Blues based sound in 1964, emanating from Erdington in Birmingham. Their name developed from a planned sponsored from a brewery and was also a nod to the Duke Ellington song: 'Mood Indigo'.

They were initially John Lodge, Michael Pinder, Denny Laine, Graeme Edge and Clint Warwick, undergoing a few line-up changes throughout the years, notably recruiting Justin Hayward as the singer. First signed to Decca Records, the band hit gold with their 2nd single, ‘’Go now’’ which remains their sole No. 1 in the UK.

Despite debut album, 'The Magnificent Moodies' sounding distinctly rhythm and blues influenced, their sound changed for their 2nd album 'Days of Future Passed' – which was more orchestral, and contained well-known track 'Nights in White Satin' which went on to become a million seller when re-released 5 years later, in 1972.

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They moved on to a more psychedelic sound that helped to define the progressive rock genre, with their 1968 album 'In search of the Lost Chord'.

The band took a long break in 1974, reuniting in 1978 with the album 'Octave' which sold well, and in 1979 the band toured the US and England, by 1981 The Moody Blues had reached No.1 again in Billboard charts and Top 5 in the UK with LP 'Long Distance Voyager'.

Between 1991 and 1998, the band took an extended break from recording , instead trying to perfect live music with an orchestra. 1999 saw the return of the long-running band, with the modestly received album 'Strange times' and an appearance on The Simpsons.

Since the turn of the century, The Moody Blues have released a live concert 'Hall of Fame', the film Journey into Amazing Caves and a Christmas themed album.

Their most popular albums were re-released in 2006, and the following year the now closed Hard Rock theme park in the US announced a ride: 'Nights in White Satin – the Trip'.

Members have included Graeme Edge, David Justin Hayward, Denny Laine, John Lodge, Patrick Moraz, Michael Pinder, Ray Thomas, Clint Warwick.
 
Group formed in Birmingham England, 1964; founding members Denny Laine and Clint Warwick left the group and were replaced by Justin Hayward and John Lodge, 1966; formed Threshold recording label, 1969; disbanded, 1974; reunited with Patrick Moraz replacing Mike Pinder on keyboards, 1977.

The band continue to tour.

Albums:

The Magnificent Moodies, Decca, 1965.
 
Days of Future Passed, Deram, 1967.
 
In Search of the Lost Chord, Deram, 1968.
 
On the Threshold of a Dream, Deram, 1969.
 
To Our Children's Children's Children, Threshold, 1969.
 
A Question of Balance, Threshold, 1970.
 
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Threshold, 1971.
 
Seventh Sojourn, Threshold, 1972.
 
Octave, Decca, 1978.
 
Long Distance Voyager, Threshold, 1981.
 
The Present, Threshold, 1983.
 
The Other Side of Life, Threshold/Polydor, 1986.
 
Sur la Mer, Polydor, 1988.
 
Keys of the Kingdom, Threshold/Polydor, 1991.
 
Strange Times, Polydor, 1999.
 
December, Universal Music Group, 2003.
 

Sources: Wendy Gabriel; Debra Power

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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ABBA

Discography:

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ABBA
ABBA Reunion
ABBA in Blue and Red
ABBA Skimpy Silver Wrap
Biography: 

The most commercially successful pop group of the 1970s, the origins of the Swedish superstars ABBA dated back to 1966, when keyboardist and vocalist Benny Andersson, a onetime member of the popular beat outfit the Hep Stars, first teamed with guitarist and vocalist Bjorn Ulvaeus, the leader of the folk-rock unit the Hootenanny Singers. The two performers began composing songs together and handling session and production work for Polar Music/Union Songs, a publishing company owned by Stig Anderson, himself a prolific songwriter throughout the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, both Andersson and Ulvaeus worked on projects with their respective girlfriends: Ulvaeus had become involved with vocalist Agnetha Faltskog, a performer with a recent number one Swedish hit, "I Was So in Love," under her belt, while Andersson began seeing Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a one-time jazz singer who rose to fame by winning a national talent contest.

In 1971, Faltskog ventured into theatrical work, accepting the role of Mary Magdalene in a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar; her cover of the musical's "Don't Know How to Love Him" became a significant hit. The following year, the duo of Andersson and Ulvaeus scored a massive international hit with "People Need Love," which featured Faltskog and Lyngstad on backing vocals. The record's success earned them an invitation to enter the Swedish leg of the 1973 Eurovision song contest, where, under the unwieldy name of Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida, they submitted "Ring Ring," which proved extremely popular with audiences but placed only third in the judges' ballots.

 

The next year, rechristened ABBA (a suggestion from Stig Anderson and an acronym of the members' first names), the quartet submitted the single "Waterloo," and became the first Swedish act to win the Eurovision competition. The record proved to be the first of many international hits, although the group hit a slump after their initial success as subsequent singles failed to chart. In 1975, however, ABBA issued "S.O.S.," a smash not only in America and Britain but also in non-English speaking countries such as Spain, Germany and the Benelux nations, where the group's success was fairly unprecedented. A string of hits followed, including "Mamma Mia," "Fernando," and "Dancing Queen" (ABBA's sole U.S. chart-topper), further honing their lush, buoyant sound; by the spring of 1976, they were already in position to issue their first Greatest Hits collection.

ABBA's popularity continued in 1977, when both "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and "The Name of the Game" dominated airwaves. The group also starred in the feature film ABBA - The Movie, which was released in 1978. That year Andersson and Lyngstad married, as had Ulvaeus and Faltskog in 1971, although the latter couple separated a few months later; in fact, romantic suffering was the subject of many songs on the quartet's next LP, 1979's Voulez-Vous. Shortly after the release of 1980s Super Trouper, Andersson and Lyngstad divorced as well, further straining the group dynamic; The Visitors, issued the following year, was the final LP of new ABBA material, and the foursome officially disbanded after the December 1982 release of their single "Under Attack."

 

Although all of the group's members soon embarked on new projects - both Lyngstad and Faltskog issued solo LPs, while Andersson and Ulvaeus collaborated with Tim Rice on the musical 'Chess' none proved as successful as the group's earlier work, largely because throughout much of the world, especially Europe and Australia, the ABBA phenomenon never went away. Repackaged hits compilations and live collections continued hitting the charts long after the group's demise, and new artists regularly pointed to the quartet's inspiration: while the British dance duo Erasure released a covers collection, ABBA-esque, an Australian group called Bjorn Again found success as ABBA impersonators. In 1993, "Dancing Queen" became a staple of U2's "Zoo TV" tour -- Andersson and Ulvaeus even joined the Irish superstars on-stage in Stockholm -- while the 1995 feature Muriel's Wedding, which won acclaim for its depiction of a lonely Australian girl who seeks refuge in ABBA's music, helped bring the group's work to the attention of a new generation of moviegoers and music fans.

Source: eNotes

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THE HUMAN LEAGUE

Human League TRIO
Human League live
Human League solo
Philip Oakey
Biography: 

The British synthpop band The Human League is fronted by composer, singer, songwriter and producer Philip Oakey and had their first success in 1981 with 'Sound of the Crowd'. In October 1981 they released the album 'Dare' which reached number 1 in the UK album charts and went double platinum. The year ended with their UK/US number 1 hit 'Don't You Want Me' selling more than 2 million copies.

The rest of the 80s saw the band have peaks and dips. Their 1984 album 'Hysteria' underachieved before 1986 saw them release 'Crash' from which the single 'Human' topped the charts. In 1992 the band's contract was cancelled by Virgin causing Oakey to seek counselling for depression and band member Susan Ann Sulley to have a breakdown. Thanks to the efforts of band member Joanne Catherall 1993 saw the release of gold selling album "Octopus". The Human League still tour across the globe.

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Philip Oakey was seen as a fashion icon by many and his flamboyant style included make-up, high heels, diamante earrings and androgynous clothes.

Human League are touring again.

Members include Ian Burden (bandmember 1980-88), bass and synthesizers; Jo Callis (bandmember 1980-85), guitar and synthesizers; Joanne Catherall (born c. 1963; joined group c. 1980), vocals; Ian Craig Marsh (bandmember 1977-80), synthesizers; Philip Oakey (born c. 1956), vocals; Suzanne Sulley (born c. 1963; joined group c. 1980), vocals; Martyn Ware (bandmember 1977-80), synthesizers; Adrian Wright (bandmember 1977-85), synthesizers.
 
Band formed in Sheffield, England, 1977; signed by Virgin Records, 1978; released first major label album, Reproduction, 1979; radical bandmember change, 1980; first success with single "Sound of the Crowd," 1981; major success with Number One song "Don't You Want Me" from their Number One album Dare, 1981; comeback album, Octopus, released on East West Records, 1995.
 
Addresses: Record company—Elektra/East West Records America, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.
 
 
Albums:
 
Reproduction, Virgin, 1979.
 
Travelogue, Virgin Records, 1980.
 
Dare, Virgin, 1981.
 
Hysteria, Virgin Records, 1984.
 
Crash, Virgin Records, 1986.
 
Romantic?, Virgin Records, 1990.
 
Octopus, EastWest Records, 1995.
 
Secrets, Papillion Records, 2001.
 
Credo, Wall of Sound, 2011

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com.

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Rare, un-edited, unheard interview with Phil Oakley

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