A cover version came up on random play recently. Cue a desire to write about it. The thing is, two previous posts on Age of Chance said all there was to say, but as they were in August 2014 and September 2015, I think I can get away with some lazy cut’n’pastes.
David, the Crumpsall Correspondent, in a guest posting referencing the visit of the Tour de France cycle race to Yorkshire, was the first to give them a mention. I followed up with a look at bands featured on a C86 compilation.
Cycling garb is now all the rage, but in the 80’s it was only really worn by… cyclists. Except, that is, for Age of Chance.
Age of Chance, consisting of Steve Elvidge, Neil Howson, Geoff Taylor and Jan Perry, came together after meeting at Leeds Polytechnic College and their first two singles came out on their own Riot Bible label. They were darlings of the indie scene, often touted at the time as the band most likely to succeed, but they never really did.
The music was a combination of styles, including a form of the newly emerging hip hop sound, with strident often spoken vocals delivered over rock and punk guitar chords.
Here’s the first two singles, from 1985 and 1986:-
mp3: Age of Chance – Motor City (RIOT 001 ‘A’ side)
mp3: Age of Chance – Everlasting Yeah! (RIOT 001 ‘B’ side)
mp3: Age of Chance – Bible Of The Beats (RIOT 002 ‘A’ side)
mp3: Age of Chance – Liquid Jungle (RIOT 002 ‘B’ side)
Each of the singles led to John Peel inviting the band to record a session for his show. The second session was recorded in June 1986, and the band chose to record their take on Kiss, which was riding high in the charts at the time, with Prince being regarded as the new King of Pop Music.
An offer was put on the table by Sheffield-based indie label, Fon Records, for a single, as long as it included a new, studio version of Kiss, which, as it turned out, retained their wonderful new opening lines of
‘You don’t have to be Prince if you want to dance; You just have to get down with the Age of Chance’
mp3: Age of Chance – Kiss
The media coverage, and the fact that despite being on a small indie label the single reached #50, led to Age of Chance signing to Virgin Records in January 1987, and a stab at the big time. Three singles and a debut album were released that year, but without any huge breakthrough – a lot of previously fawning critics turned, as they often did when a major label came calling, and said they had never released anything again that was good as the Prince cover and were unlikely to ever do so (which was unduly harsh).
The beginning of the end came in the autumn of 1988 when Elvidge, who was the lead vocalist, left the band during the middle of sessions for the next album. The music was completed and a new singer, Charles Hutchinson, brought on board the following year to add the vocals. This led to a delay in the release of the album, and it bombed completely when it eventually reached the shops at the tail end of 1989. The band did soldier on for another year or so, relying on what were always regarded as decent live performances to maintain enthusiasm, but they eventually called it a day in early 1991.
That’s the two b-sides from the 12″ single issued by Fon Records. Some 36 years on they do perhaps sound a tad of their time, but trust me, there was a real feeling of them doing being very unusual and innovative back in 1986.