Nu Shooz Have It In The Bag

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Whilst I will always be an 80’s girl (some may say a technology laggard) at heart, there are certain aspects of the 21st century I positively embrace. One of those is Skype or, as I prefer to think of it, the everyday manifestation of the videophones we were promised during my favourite decade. Invaluable when meeting in person is not possible, due to time or geographical constraints, Skype has come to my rescue on a number occasions. Last Thursday was one such time.

As much as I would have loved to hop across the pond to visit Portland, Oregon, home to Valerie Day and John Smith of Nu Shooz, I have still to win the lottery in order to fund such a trip. So, when the opportunity came to interview the husband and wife team, whose 1986 No. 2 hit “I Can’t Wait” spent 11 weeks in the UK Top 40, Skype it was.

Bag Town - Nu Shooz

Back performing live after a 25 year hiatus, and with their album “Bag Town” released earlier this year, there was plenty to discuss. We covered topics from musical influences to 80’s fashion mistakes, creative inspiration to favourite tracks on the album, all of which will appear in my next book, More Eighties. Some of the content from our interview will also appear in another publication on which I have been working. Watch this space…

In the meantime, it really is worth checking out the latest offering from the band. A fusion of R&B, Jazz and Latino influences, “Bag Town” holds a wide appeal, with touches of Shakatak, Janet Janet and Gloria Estefan, yet remaining creatively unique. Anyone in search of  fantastic sax need look no further than “The Real Thing”, the first single from the album, whilst “Way Outside” brings a hint of Hip-Hop to the R&B mix, to give a track straight out of an 80’s disco. For me, the best was saved for last in the track listing with “The Rail I Ride”, a beautiful blend of acoustic guitar, harmonies and the soulful purity of Valerie’s vocal. A truly gorgeous song.

For your copy of Bag Town, visit http://www.nushoozmusic.com/

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Ganging Up For The Kane Gang

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To name your favourite song of an entire decade is no easy task. When that decade is the Eighties, the decision becomes even harder as we were, at times, spoilt for choice. For me, the summer of 1984 was the pinnacle of the Eighties. With Frankie Goes To Hollywood topping the charts, and acts like Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel rubbing well-padded shoulders with Nik Kershaw; as well as OMD talking loud and clear alongside Echo & The Bunnymen, music was at a diverse high. The summer of ’84 was also my first summer as a teenager, and evokes memories of lazy, sunny days at the beach, and trips to Dreamland in Margate, when it could still boast to have the biggest Big Wheel in Europe. It was also a time when I began to write prolifically.

Kane Gang photo

L-R Dave Brewis, Paul Woods, Martin Brammer

For all that associated nostalgia, but more importantly because it is an amazing, soulful track, my all time favourite song of the Eighties is “Closest Thing To Heaven” by The Kane Gang. Peaking at number 12, the song spent 8 weeks in the UK Top 40. During that time, I wrote to the band, asking what were their favourite Soap Operas (I like to think my interview questions have improved slightly since then!). Despite being at the height of their success, and having overloaded, hectic schedules at the time, a few weeks later I received the above publicity photo, along with a handwritten reply from band member, Dave Brewis. For those of you desperate to know what their favourite soaps were in the Eighties, the letter will appear in my next book, as will the answers to a number of questions I was able to put to Dave a couple of weeks ago.

One thing that did emerge from my recent quizzing, and something I’d like to share with you now, is the band’s current status. The band reformed last September, for a one-off charity performance at Dave and Martin’s old school, Northlea in Seaham. The following month, a 3 CD edition of “The Bad & Lowdown World of The Kane Gang”, featuring demos, remixes and live performances, in addition to the 1985 album, was released. However, with all three band members working full time individually within the music and media industries, there are no current plans for any more live performances by the band. I am sure I’m not alone in feeling disappointed at being denied the opportunity to listen to their blue-eyed soul first hand, so I have a cunning plan…Maybe, just maybe, if The Kane Gang get enough “Likes” on Facebook and followers on Twitter (@TheKaneGang), they will be persuaded to give us another gig or two?

For now, to remind you just how good they sound, and because I need no excuse to play this track, here is “The Closest Thing To Heaven”.