Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Fixx: Reach The Beach

Back in 1982, I was hanging out with the manager of the local Record Bar, Geoff Gardner, who turned me on to a lot of great music. He had such an excellent ear for new talent it made my job as music director of WCIR-FM in Beckley, WV an easier job. He lived in a house just below the radio station and I found myself there quite often. The Fixx’s first LP “Shuttered Room” was one he introduced to me about the same time that my MCA Records national rep began promoting me on “Stand of Fall.”

While I liked the song, I found it sometimes necessary to think like the general public and hear songs for their value as hits – which meant often suspending personal tastes and moving towards songs that had qualities that the mainstream audience would like and buy. I think I got pretty good at this and was eventually featured in an article written by Joel Denver in August 1983 – and was referred to being the “Gatekeeper.” It was job I took seriously, and really much of the credit goes to my mentor Ron Hill who helped me develop this skill. He was a great tutor.

 Ron Hill and the Author at WCIR-FM

Therefore, we played “Stand or Fall” in a minimum and unreported rotation at nights to test the waters. Even better than “Stand or Fall” was the follow-up single, “Red Skies,” which remains one of my favorite songs of the 1980s. I suspended judgment on this one as well and put it in the same minimal rotation. Unfortunately, we received no reaction to these two singles, although I feel they were critical 1980s recordings – they just weren’t hits.

Saved By Zero

The Fixx’s luck changed in 1983 when they released their follow up LP, “Reach the Beach.” The first single, “Saved by Zero” is my favorite cut off of the new album. It did go into rotation and did moderately well. It charted nationally in the US at 20 on the Hot 100 and 9 on the rock charts.

I can even remember one of the stupid things I said when introducing the song on the air, “yes friends, a biographical account from Camp Swampy when Lieutenant Fuzz was sinking in quicksand and a red haired private pulled him out – ‘He was saved by Zero.’” I told you it was bad, but that was typical in those days.

The song was later picked up by Toyota for a 0% financing promotion they did in 2008. It is a great tune and certainly the TV exposure didn't hurt its popularity.

One Thing Leads to Another

As I listened to an album, I heard another song that had hit appeal and when I found that “One Thing Leads to Another” was slated to be the next hit – I put it on immediately. In fact before it climbed the charts, the band I was playing in at the time, “Audio Game” began doing the song and our drummer Meredith Trent sang lead. I really had fun singing backup and doing the weird keyboard envelope effects on my Prophet 5 on this song.

One Thing Leads to Another - Remix

The song did quite well in North America charting at #3 in Canada, #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. In fact the song was a colossal dance record; however, it wasn’t long enough for club play. MCA rush shipped a 12” in blue vinyl to radio and the clubs with a 8 minute remix that filled the void. It charted at 14 on the dance charts. I still have my copy of the blue vinyl promo copy of this 12” single.

The Sign of Fire

The third single, “The Sign of Fire” only was a moderate hit. It charted at 32 on the Hot 100 and 20 on the rock charts. The song only charted in the US.

While the album is one of my favorites from the early ‘80s, it is an anomaly of sorts. “Reach the Beach” and its three singles did better in North America than it did in the band’s native Britain. None of the singles even charted in the UK and the LP placed at a dismal #91. In Canada, the album hit #9 and did slightly better at #8 in the US.  Nearly 30 years later, this album still delivers.

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