REALLY FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE

Don’t worry…..I’m not trying to squeeze in another posting about the bloggers weekend or Coldplay. The image above does give the game away somewhat….

I’m not sure what the world record is for most singles lifted from an LP, but in terms of % then the 7 out of 10 associated with The Raw and The Cooked, the 1989 sophomore album from Fine Young Cannibals must be up there.

Of the seven singles, four went Top 20 and only one of them failed to chart – possibly because the record buying public really had no excuse to shell out any further. The album itself was one of the best-selling of the era – it has been certified triple platinum in the UK and double platinum in the USA – and is estimated to have sold more than three million copies worldwide.

Unusually for such a popular and huge-selling record, it has quite a bit going for it, successfully bringing together a number of genres such as pop, rock, soul and funk to good effect, albeit it also has a rather dreadful cover of a hit single by Buzzcocks.

It was actually quite surprising to see Ever Fallen In Love? on the album as the FYC version was already more than two years old having been recorded for the film Something Wild (directed by Jonathan Demme) and had been released as a single in its own right in early 1987. Indeed, film buffs might have thought that there was very little new about The Raw and The Cooked as three more of its songs had featured in the 1987 movie Tin Men (directed by Barry Levinson) in which the band appeared and performed within a film that was set in 1963…..

But I digress.

As with all hit albums, it was preceded by a strong single, one that dominated the airwaves in early 1989:-

mp3 : Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

This unusual but fine sounding single was released in the first week of January and spent almost three months in the charts, peaking at #5, setting the tone for what would be a triumphant year for the band. Just as it dropped out of the Top 75, the folk at London Records released this in April:-

mp3 : Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing

This had been one of the songs featured in Tin Men and so it is deliberately retro sounding. It is toe-tappingly and hand-clappingly catchy but in a way that avoids becoming annoying. It spent more than two months in the charts, peaking at #7. The label then waited until August to issue the next single:-

mp3 : Fine Young Cannibals – Don’t Look Back

Unlike the previous two singles, this one has dated pretty badly. It’s a run-of-the-mill and indistinct effort that doesn’t have all that much going for it. The record buying public obviously agreed as they didn’t part with their cash in the same way – it spent just four weeks in the charts and peaked at #34.

In most instances, a poorly selling single would lead a label to decide to call it quits on that particular album and to look to persuade the singer or band that it was time to get some fresh songs out there. However, the big problem was that FYC were not the slightest bit interested in doing anything new. Lead singer Roland Gift was determined to pursue an acting career and was certainly not the slightest bit inclined to rush back to the studio – it was also the case that the band weren’t tied to any rigorous and demanding contract and so could take things at their own pace.

The pre-Xmas boost for 1989 came via a fifth single in November, one that highlighted in particular the soulful nature of the lead singer:-

mp3 : Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not The Man I Used To Be

This spent ten weeks in the chart, peaking at #20 in mid-December.

All told, it meant that FYC had seen singles occupy a slot in the Top 75 in 33 of the weeks during 1989. The parent album, having entered  at #1 in the first week of its release in mid-February remained in the chart throughout the rest of the year, and indeed was still as high as #18 at the end of December 1989.  Sales wise, it was only out-performed by the toe-curlingly awful giants of the pop world like Phil Collins, Jason Donovan, Gloria Estefan and Simply Red.

The album would stay in the charts for a further five months – boosted by it winning Best Album at the Brit Awards in February 1990 (at which FYC were also named as Best UK band) – and only dropping out at the end of May 1990 by which time two further singles – I’m Not Satisfied and It’s OK – had been released with the former reaching #46 but the latter being a complete flop.

FYC never made another album after The Raw and The Cooked, although in 1996 they got together one last time to record two new songs to include on a 14-track ‘best of’ effort which, despite including no less than six tracks from the Raw and The Cooked, still went Top 10 and sold more than 300,000 copies in the UK alone.¬† On that basis, it is somewhat baffling that they never wanted to take advantage of their continuing popularity and make more records.

JC