[lang_fr]Bronski Beat: Biographie [/lang_fr][lang_en]Bronski Beat: Biography[/lang_en]

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Bronski Beat est un trio londonien qui a vu le jour en 1984, à l’heure où la pop anglaise se mêlait à la New Wave.

Bronski Beat est connu et reconnu grâce à la voix haut perchée de son chanteur Jimmy Somerville. Jimmy Somerville, qui avoua son homosexualité très tôt dans un pays où l’homophobie était librement affichée, a bouleversé, le petit monde anglais de la musique en 84, avec deux singles tonitruants : Why et Smalltown Boy.

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Leur premier album The Age of Consent, d’une qualité que la critique ne manquera pas de célébrer, cartonne la même année. Un an plus tard, Jimmy quitte le groupe pour former les Communards. Bronski Beat se trouve un nouveau chanteur John Jon, totalement inconnu. Le groupe réalise plusieurs albums, mais les fans s’accordent à dire que le groupe a tout perdu, depuis le départ de Somerville.

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Bronski Beat was a popular British synth pop trio of the 1980s.

At the height of its popularity, the band consisted of distinctive singer Jimmy Somerville (born in Glasgow, Scotland on 22 June 1961), backed by Steve Bronski (born Steven Forrest, 7 February 1960, in Scunthorpe, England) and Larry Steinbachek (born Lawrence Cole 6 May 1960 in London), both of whom played keyboards and percussion.
Their music is characterized by Somerville’s soulful counter-tenor voice and quirky synthesizer accompaniment.

Bronski Beat formed in 1983 when Somerville, Steinbachek and Bronski shared a three bedroomed flat, Lancaster House, in Brixton, south west London. Apparently the band’s name was « God Forbid » before Bronski Beat was suggested by Bronski, as a pun on the group name of Roxy Music and the main character from the Günter Grass novel, The Tin Drum.

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<strong>Bronski Beat</strong> signed a recording contract with <strong>London Records</strong> in 1984 after doing only nine live gigs. The band’s arresting debut single, <strong>« Smalltown Boy »</strong>, the tale of a boy who was cast away by his family for being gay, was a huge hit, peaking at #3 in the UK Singles Chart. The single was accompanied by a memorable promotional video of Somerville eagerly trying to make friends at a swimming pool then being attacked by a homophobic gang and being returned to his family by the police and having to leave home. (The police officer was played by Colin Bell, the then marketing manager of London Records). </p>
<p>« Smalltown Boy » reached #48 in the US charts and peaked at #7 in Australia. It is now widely considered a 1980’s classic, in addition to being a gay anthem.<br />
« Smalltown Boy » established the trio as an outlet for gay issues – all three members are gay – and the follow-up single, « Why? », while focusing on a faster energetic musical formula, was more lyrically focused on anti-gay prejudice. It also achieved Top 10 status in the UK, reaching #6, and was a Top 10 hit for the band in Australia.</p>
<p>At the end of 1984, the trio released an album which was provocatively titled <strong>The Age of Consent</strong>. The inner sleeve listed the varying ages of consent for consensual male homosexual activity in different nations around the world. At the time, the age of consent for gay men in the UK was 21. The LP hit #4 in the UK album chart, #36 in the US and #12 in Australia.</p>
<p>A third single was released amid controversy before Christmas 1984: a revival of « <strong>It Ain’t Necessarily So »</strong>, the George and Ira Gershwin classic (from Porgy and Bess) which questions the authenticity of Biblical tales. It also reached the UK Top 20.</p>
<p>In 1985, the trio joined up with <strong>Marc Almond</strong> to record a version of the <strong>Donna Summer</strong> classic <strong>« I Feel Love »</strong>. The full version was actually a medley, also incorporating snippets of Summer’s <strong>« Love to Love You Baby »</strong> and John Leyton’s <strong>« Johnny Remember Me »</strong>. It was a huge success, reaching #3 in the UK, equalling the chart achievement of <strong>« Smalltown Boy »</strong>, and was memorably described by one critic as <strong>« the gayest record ever made »</strong>.</p>
<p>Although the original had been one of Marc Almond’s all-time favourite songs, he had never read the lyrics and thus incorrectly sang <strong>« What’ll it be, what’ll it be, you and me »</strong> instead of <strong>« Falling free, falling free, falling free ».</strong></p>
<p>Shortly before the remix album Hundreds and Thousands was released, Somerville quit the band, stating he wanted a career which was « more political ». Somerville went on to form <strong>The Communards</strong> with <strong>Richard Coles</strong>.</p>
<p><strong>Bronski Beat</strong> recruited <strong>John Foster</strong> as lead singer. A single, <strong>Hit That Perfect Beat</strong>, was released in January 1986, reaching #3 in the UK. It repeated this success in the Australian charts and was also featured in the film, <strong>Letter to Brezhnev</strong>. A second single, <strong>« C’mon C’mon »</strong>, also charted in the UK Top 20 and an album <strong>Truthdare Doubledare</strong> was released in May 1986, peaked at #18.</p>
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The film « Parting Glances » (1986) included Bronski Beat songs « Love and Money, » « Smalltown Boy » and « Why?. »
Foster left the band in 1987.

In 1989 Jonathan Hellyer became lead singer and extensively toured the U.S.A. and Europe with Steve and back-up vocalist, Annie Conway, and had one minor hit with the song « Cha Cha Heels », a one off collaboration sung by American actress and singer, Eartha Kitt, which was originally written for movie and recording star Divine, anticipating to record the song before his untimely death in 1988.

1990/1 saw Bronski Beat release three further singles, for the Zomba label « Zed Beat », »I’m Gonna Run Away From You », « One More Chance » and « What More Can I Say », produced by Mike Thorne. Line up was Steve Bronski, Larry Steinbachek, Jonathan Hellyer with Annie Conway on backing vocals.

John Foster and Bronski teamed up again in 1994 and released a techno version of « Tell Me Why ’94 » and an acoustic version of « Smalltown Boy ’94 » released on the German label, « ZYX Music ».
In 1995 the album entitled Rainbow Nation was released featuring Jonathan Hellyer as lead guest vocalist on ZYX.

In June 2006, song « Tell Me Why » by Supermode, (DJ:s Steve Angelo and Axwell), was released. It was a cover of the 1984 hit « Smalltown Boy » with lyrics from the single « Why ?« . The beat in the song « Cry for You », performed by Swedish dance singer September, is very similar to « Smalltown Boy ».

Bronski Beat’s song « Cha Cha Heel’s » featured in a medley for the film Kinky Boots starring Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Steve Bronski produced the single « Talking With Aliens » for electro-pop duo The Garland Cult (Aidan Casserly and Lar Kiernan) A digital EU release with the online label, Electric Fantastic Sound. Steve Bronski also produced « Hand On The Gun » for Aidan Casserly’s solo project, FIGARO.

Discography:

Albums:

The Age of Consent, 1984
Hundreds and Thousands, 1985
Truthdare Doubledare, 1986
Rainbow Nation, 1995

Compilations:

The Singles Collection 1984 / 1990 (incl. Jimmy Somerville, Bronski Beat & The Communards), 1990
The Very Best Of Jimmy Somerville, Bronski Beat & The Communards, 2002

Singles:

« Smalltown Boy », June, 1984, UK #3, US #48
« Why? », September, 1984, UK #5
« It Ain’t Necessarily So », December, 1984, UK #16
« I Feel Love » (medley with Marc Almond), April, 1985, UK #3
« Hit That Perfect Beat », December, 1985, UK #3 (strangely not available on iTunes)
« C’mon C’mon », March, 1986, UK #20
« Cha Cha Heels » (with Eartha Kitt), 1989, UK #32
« I’m Gonna Run Away From You », 1990
« One More Chance » 1990
« What More Can I Say », 1990
« Why 94 » 1994
« Smalltown Boy 94 », 1994
« Kicking Up The Rain » 1995
« Hit That Perfect Beat » / « I Love The Nightlife » 1995

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