Title - 'Adventures in Clubland: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Modern Romance
For those not in the know here in the States, Geoffrey Deane and David Jaymes formed Modern Romance in 1980, having previously been the mainstays of the punk parody band the Leyton Buzzards which they formed in 1977. After one failed stab at the record industry, Deane and Jaymes continued working together, embracing the burgeoning electronic style of dance music that was becoming popular in London clubs at the time.
In 1980, they tried again, but their first release, 'Modern Romance' and the follow up, 'Tonight' also both proved to be unsuccessful. So, Modern Romance then opted to lessen the predominantly electronic sound in favor of a Latin-American dance style with emphasis on bass, percussion and brass. They recruited trumpet player John Du Prez into their new line-up along with Andy Kyriacou on drums and percussion, and then released a new single, 'Everybody Salsa' in the summer of 1981. Finally they had cracked it, as the single reached the UK Top 20.
They followed this later in the year with similarly themed 'Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey', which went one better than its predecessor and reached the UK Top 10. Despite these two hits, the band's debut album, Adventures in Clubland was not a success. However, in the US they scored a #2 hit on the Billboard Dance chart with 'Can You Move', a mostly rap variation of 'Everybody Salsa'.
After further UK Top 40 hits with 'Queen of the Rapping Scene' and a cover of the 1955 hit 'Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White', Deane departed the band in 1982 to pursue solo projects. Michael J. Mullins took over the mantle of lead vocalist, and their next release saw the band reach their highest UK chart position with 'Best Years of Our Lives' in late 1982.
Further hits followed in 1983: 'High Life' (UK No. 8), 'Don't Stop That Crazy Rhythm' (UK No. 14), and the ballad 'Walking in the Rain' (UK No. 7). Indeed, both 'Best Years Of Our Lives' and 'Walking In The Rain' earned Modern Romance Silver discs. All good things must come to an end though, as we know, and thus Modern Romance released a final album, Burn It! in 1985.
However, in 2001, Andy Kyriacou reformed Modern Romance with a new line-up, joining the burgeoning British 80's revival scene. The new line-up featured no original band members save for Kyriacou himself and in 2002 they released the album Back on Track (also known as Moves 2 Fast, complete with a different track listing). This consisted mostly of re-recorded Modern Romance hits. And so, here today, under the musical direction of Kyriacou, Modern Romance continue to play the 80's festival circuit.
And thankfully for all us Modern Romance lovers, Cherry Red Records (UK) have just released their debut album in expanded form. Adventures in Clubland: Expanded Edition has been remastered from the original tapes and now includes interviews with, and imagery provided by, founding members David Jaymes and Geoffrey Deane. These period images, official band shots, sleeve shots and more truly make this new release into something special, and along with bonus tracks - including songs from their debut EP and various other remixes - Adventures in Clubland: Expanded Edition is ready for your ears to embrace once again.
The first track, with the repetitive mantra of "Kick out the junk" is 'Bring On The Funkateers' and that's backed by the brilliantly catchy Parisian orchestrations of 'Nothing Ever Goes The Way You Plan / Queen Of The Rapping Scene.' Just two songs in and my memories flood me back to 1982 and where I was, what I was up to. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, just one of those indelible records that still has the ability to do that to its fans. The musical chart powerhaus 'Clubland Mix: (Everybody Salsa/Moose On The Loose/Salsa Rapp-Sody/ Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey)' is next, and yet another massive flashback to an era I still miss so very much.
Even such a song as 'We've Got Them Running (The Counting Song)' - an album filler at the best of times, and which yes, they do actually count all the way through it - is catchy. The trumpets and Latin sway a joy to behold, before we move on into the trio of songs that ended the original album: The uber funky guitar work of 'I Stand Alone,' the slap bass and chanting of 'I Can't Get Enough,' and then 'Stand Up' (a song that always sounded as if it was being played at the wrong speed!)
As we head into the Bonus Tracks on this expanded edition once you hear the addictive Latin salsa funk tones of 'Best Years Of Our Lives' and you've (hopefully now) completely lost all hope of doing whatever it was you were doing at the time! Now inclusive of new lead singer Michael J. Mullins, the fast paced track is like a speeding musical bullet into your brain and is backed by the rapping of 'Moose On The Loose (Disco Mix)' and 'Best Years Of Our Lives Part 1+2 (Midnight Mix).'
The titular band shout out to themselves, 'Modern Romance' is next and without the sound and favor of a Latin-American dance style back beat, it showcases perfectly why it failed back in the day. The frantic punk-pop vibe of 'I Believe In Me' is actually quite good, if they had actually been a pop-punk band, and is backed by 'Tonight.' The last track is an electronic slow funk cover version of Peggy Lee's infamous 'Fever' and that wraps this whole expanded edition album up very nicely.
As we all know by now, drummer and percussionist Andy Kyriacou joined the band in the early 80's and was fortunate enough to have gotten on board only 8 weeks before the band charted with their first hit record, 'Everybody Salsa.' Still at the helm of the band today, and actually a dear friend of mine, chatting with Andy he talks more about the making of the album, promotional touring for it, and even takes a look at some old band photographs from the day, long since thought lost in time!
Geoffrey Deane recalls days where you would all play three or four club gigs a night, doing everything live and as he puts it, it was like a "rent-a-party"! What are your own memories of those days? Andy "It has to be clarified that these performances were in the form of a "PA" [Personal Appearance] whereby we sang to our record i.e. to vinyl - no instruments, just mikes. It would have been a logistical nightmare to go from club to club, playing completely live. And yes, it was complete madness - performing at one club, allowing a respectable amount of time afterwards, for meeting fans and signing copies of the single we had given away during the performance, then being hurried into waiting cars to be rushed to the next one, and do it all over again. The strange thing is, it never got boring. Tiring, maybe, but never boring."
Taking a look at this old black and white photo that is now included in the sleeve art for this expanded edition, what first comes to mind? "Ahh, the Brideshead Revisited era! Dave and Jeff were both into this program and thought, quite misguidedly, that it would be a good look. Even more misguidedly, I decided to sport a beard for this session. Sometimes, a DeLorean would really come in handy, don't you agree?"
What was it like being in the studio recording Adventures In Clubland at that time in the early 80's? "I recall that time very well, working with Norman, our producer who had only just enjoyed great success with Joe Jackson. As my drum tracks went down, I distinctly recall listening, and thinking "What a lovely sound he's managed to get"."
Tracks like 'Everybody Salsa' and 'Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey' weren't easy sells from the off, as the radio DJs didn't play them and the record company didn't seem to know what to do with them. But then it all clicked. But how? "'Everybody Salsa took off after I suggested doing our first PA, at a club called Hombres, where my friend was the DJ. That went well, and because the record company was unwilling to financially back a tour, I had the idea of doing lots of these PA's and suggested it. As we went from club to club performing these PA's, the club DJ's often played at the local radio station too, and would play the record after seeing us. Eventually, all the provincial stations were playing it, and Auntie Beeb had no choice but to play it too, and thus, a hit was born."
Indeed, the album wasn't a big success in the UK, but was huge here in the US! Suddenly you were over here, playing gigs like Paradise Garage to ten thousand people and living the high life! What are your memories of your first US tour? "I believe those gigs were PA's and only Dave and Geoff performed in the US at this time. As for my first memories of the US - let me clarify the situation: Basically, you had a bunch of white East End boys and one North London Cypriot, who got together and recorded an album which incorporated Latin influences. They enjoyed success, not only in the good old US of A, but also managed a Gold album in Venezuela. Coals to Newcastle, Sand to the Arabs, etc. The next thing you know, I was with the band in the US for the first time, in Los Angeles, filming a commercial for ..... Japanese Whisky! Before you ask, I have no idea why. The irony is that I was, and still am, teetotal!"
Taking another look at a just resurfaced old black and white photo of the band from back in the day, once again included in the new sleeve art for this expanded edition of the album, what springs to mind now? "The photo session supporting the single 'By The Way I'm Still In Love With You'. It was Geoff's last single with us, which was a huge success at being a flop!"
In the new interview with David Jaymes, he mentions the unsung, unknown "band member" back then, the cigar-munching Brazilian, Luis Jardim. What can you tell us about him? "I can tell you lots! I shared a room with him on a few occasions - I know stuff!! Ssshhhh! However, I can tell you, I introduced him to my friend Maria, whom he married and had two daughters with. He was a very funny, and lovely guy, and we would often get backstage after a gig, and wring our shirts out to see who had worked hardest/sweated the most!! Gross I know, but hey, it's rock 'n' roll. Luis was a great percussionist, but also a wicked bass player."
Listening to a few of the tracks from the album, tell us more about what was going on in Modern Romance's life when these were being written/recorded:
'EVERYBODY SALSA' - "This was written just before I joined the band, and performed on TV for the first time, on Top Of The Pops."
'AY AY AY AY MOOSEY' - "Admittedly, I thought the chorus was a little corny when Geoff came up with the lyrics, but hey man, the sales figures speak for themselves!!"
'QUEEN OF THE RAPPING SCENE' - "When guest artiste Bev Sage came up with the idea of doing her part of the rap with a French accent, I thought she'd had a little too much wacky backy, but I stand corrected - masterstroke! Still a great tune and I perform it to this very day."
'BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES' (Bonus Track) - "Do you mean "Bone Us" track?! This song was played everywhere, and took the band to the next level in terms of success. And as far as I was concerned, in terms of the spoils of success which really mattered - women!!!"
Finally, if you could sum up Adventures In Clubland in just five (5) words, what would they be? "Real instruments/players, rhythmic, fun."
'Adventures in Clubland: Expanded Edition' CD Purchase Link