Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bronski Beat

Bronski Beat were a British pop music trio from the mid 80s. The members consisted of singer Jimmy Somerville, Steve Bronski, and Larry Steinbachek. All members of the trio were openly gay and their music reflected on gay-related issues.

The trio formed in 1983 when they shared a three-bedroom flat at Lancaster House in Brixton, South London, England. A year later, they signed a record deal with London Records after performing nine live gigs.
In June of 1984, Bronski Beat released their debut single, "Smalltown Boy" which became a hit in the United Kingdom, peaking at #3 on the UK Singles Chart. The song topped the charts in Italy and the Netherlands.

The song was about a young man discovering the joy and hardships of being gay in a small town and it addressed family rejection for being homosexual & homophobia in British society.

When it was released in 1985 in the United States, it peaked at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100, #4 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Maxi-Singles Sales chart and topped Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart for a week. 
The trio's follow-up single "Why?" peaked at #6 on the UK Singles Chart and became a top 10 hit in Australia. The song lyrically focused on anti-gay prejudice.
In December of 1984, Bronski Beat released their debut album, "The Age of Consent" which peaked at #4 on the UK Album Charts and the United States, it peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200.

The inner sleeve of the album listed the various ages of consent for consensual gay sex in different nations around the world. (At the time, the age of consent for sex between men in the United Kingdom was 21 years old).
Another single from the album, a cover version of George & Ira Gershwin's song, "It Ain't Necessary So" (from "Porgy and Bess) peaked at #16 on the UK Singles chart.

The song spiked some controversy centered around the lyric: "David was small but oh, my!" The band's focus on that lyric permits the song to accept the questioning of heterosexuality as part of the natural order of things.

Because Bronski Beat was openly gay and sex-positive, some listeners might've taken the reference as an allusion to sexual prowess in spite of size, thus turning an iconic biblical figure into a viable object of a gay sexual fantasy.
In 1985, Bronski Beat teamed up with singer Marc Almond to record a cover version of the late Donna Summer's song, "I Feel Love."

The full song version was a medley which incorporated snippets of Donna's song, "Love to Love You Baby" and singer John Leyton's song, "Johnny Remember Me." The song peaked at #3 on the UK Singles Chart.
In early 1985, the trio and their producer, Mike Thorne went back to the studio in record a new single, "Run From Love."

Polygram Records (London Records' parent company at the time) pressed numerous promotional singles and 12" versions of the song, sending them out to both radio & record stores in the United Kingdom.

Due to political and personal tensions within the band, the single was shelved. After that, Jimmy went on to form the Commundards and singer John Foster was recruited as his replacement.
The song was released on Bronski Beat's remix album, "Hundreds & Thousands" which was released after Jimmy's departure from the trio. The album peaked at #24 on the UK Albums chart.
In November of 1985, Bronski Beat released the single, "Hit That Perfect Beat" peaked at #3 on the UK Singles Chart. It was also successful in Australia and featured in the movie, "Letter to Brezhnev."
In March of 1986, the trio's third single, "C'mon C'mon" peaked at #20 on the UK Singles chart. The song was also successful in Ireland, peaking at #5 on the Irish Singles chart.
In May of that same year, Bronski Beat released their sophomore album, "Truthdare Doubledare" which peaked at #18 on the UK Albums chart.

During that time, they teamed up with music producer Mark Cunningham for the first-ever BBC Children in Need single which was a cover version of David Bowie's song, "Heroes" under the name "The Country Line."

In 1987, John left Bronski Beat and following his departure, Bronski Beat began working on their third album, "Out and About" which was recorded at the Berry Street Studios in London with music engineer, Brian Pugsley.

Steve and Larry toured extensively with the new music from their upcoming album which received great reviews, but the project was discontinued & they were dropped from London Records.

During that same year, Bronski Beat and Jimmy Somerville did a reunion concert for "International AIDS Day" at the Brixton Academy in London.

In 1989, Jonathan Hellyer became the lead singer for Bronski Beat and the trio toured extensively in the United States & Europe with back-up singer Annie Conway. 
They had a minor hit with the song "Cha Cha Heels" with singer\actress Eartha Kitt. The song was originally written for film & recording star, Divine, who wasn't able to record the song before his death in 1988.
From 1990 to 1991, Bronski Beat released three more singles on Zomba Records: "I'm Gonna Run Away," "One More Chance," and "What More Can I Say," but neither of them made the charts.
After that, nothing much was heard from them until 1994 when John Foster and Steve Bronski released a techno version of "Tell Me Why" and an acoustic version of "Smalltown Boy" on German record label, ZYX Music.
A year later in 1995, Bronski Beat released the album, "Rainbow Nation" with Jonathan Hellyer returning as the lead singer as John dropped out of the project.

After that, Bronski Beat went their separate ways.

Steve became a music producer for various artists. In 2007, he remixed the song "Stranger to None" by UK alternative rock band, All Living Fear and the song "Flowers in the Morning" by Northern Irish electronic music band, Electrobronze.

Larry Steinbachek became the musical director for Michael Laub's theatre company, "Remote Control Productions."

John Foster resides in London where he is still producing new music and performing live.

Jonathan Hellyer is currently a singer for the Dame Edna Experience & dabbles in acting & comedy.

Jimmy Somerville gained success with the Commundards and continues to be active in the music business today.

To follow Jonathan Hellyer on Twitter, go to:

To see the music video for "Smalltown Boy," go to:

To see the music video for "Why," go to:

To see the music video for "It Ain't Necessarily So," go to:

To see the music video for "I Feel Love," go to:

To see the music video for "Hit That Perfect Beat," go to:

To see the music video for "C'mon C'mon," go to:


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