I’m willing to be corrected, as I know there’s a few of you out there who know far more about the band than I ever will, but here’s my stab at a bio for The Darling Buds, drawn and compiled from a few sources.
They formed in South Wales in 1986 – in Caerleon to be precise, a fact I’m well aware of as I was previously advised by a Welsh friend that Caerleon is most certainly distinct from Newport. Consisting of the 19-year-old Andrea Lewis, billed simply as “Andrea”, guitarist Geraint Farr, billed as “Harley”, and a bassist known simply as Simon, the drumming was originally performed by a machine, which may indeed have been manufactured by Eko, but I can’t say for certain.
The group’s debut single, “If I Said”, was self-released in February 1987 and was well-received. The group moved to Native Records, during which time the line-up was re-organised, with Andrea and Harley being joined by new bassist Chris McDonagh and drummer Richard Gray (billed as “Bloss”) and two singles were released.
Signing with Epic Records (part of the Sony Group) in 1988, they cracked the charts with Burst (#50) and Hit The Ground (#27) in advance of a Top 30 debut LP, Pop Said in January 1989. Two further singles from the album – Let’s Go Round There (#49) and You’ve Got To Choose (#45) were minor hits, much to the disappointment of the label who really had high hopes, probably much of them pinned on the looks of the young, blonde singer.
In advance of the follow-up album, drummer Bloss left the band and was replaced by Jimmy Hughes from Black. Released in September 1990, Crawdaddy, proved to be a flop, as did the singles lifted from it. Undaunted, and still with Epic, the band released a third album, Erotica, in September 1992, just a matter of weeks before Madonna‘s album of the same name.
One of the tracks from the album, Long Day in the Universe, which was featured on the soundtrack for the Mike Myers film, So I Married an Axe Murderer which helped give some additional exposure in the USA in particular. The band toured the States in support of the album but, like many others, grew increasingly frustrated by their lack of commercial success and disbanded before the year was out.
Fast-forward to July 2010. The band came together for a one-off tribute concert in their native Newport in memory of John Sicolo, the owner of the music venue TJ’s who died earlier in the year; only Andrea of the original members was part of the reunion. Four years later, reacting to calls from fans, a London show was arranged after which there were appearances at various festivals, including Indietracks in 2015, an occasion when my good mate and sidekick Aldo would likely have seen them. This would later lead to the recording of an EP, Evergreen, issued by Oddbox Records in April 2017, and the first new material by The Darling Buds in 25 years.
The band is still on the go, with an active Facebook page, which advises that, if restrictions are lifted, they are scheduled to play a show in Newport on 15 May 2021.
Here’s a handful of tracks, all from the earliest days, from a greatly underrated band:-
mp3: The Darling Buds – If I Said
mp3: The Darling Buds – Burst
mp3: The Darling Buds – Shame On You
And from a compilation album featuring the bands that appeared at Indietracks 2015:-
mp3: The Darling Buds – Sure Thing
This was originally released on Erotica back in 1995.