Sunday, June 9, 2013

SPAZ reviews BREATHE's All That Jazz (Deluxe 2CD Edition)

The late '80s was a strange time in music.  The New Wave movement was already a thing of the past, although many of the bands were still around making music. Metal was now giving birth to a whole new breed of Hair Bands, House Music was big in the clubs, and R&B was all over the charts. With such changes happening seemingly overnight, there didn't seem like there was enough room for a new Pop band to make a dent in the charts.  And for Breathe, it almost didn't happen...

Though they had been releasing singles since 1986, it took two years for the band to release their debut album, All That Jazz.  Issued in the UK on Circa and in the U.S. on A&M, All That Jazz seemed almost dead in the water.  When the trio of David Glasper (vocals), Marcus Lillington (guitar) and Ian 'Spike' Spice (drums) came over to the U.S. to do some promo work, there wasn't much hope.  I met the band when they stopped by Abbey Road Distributors and we had a nice chat about music.  They were a bit disappointed by their lack of success but really appreciative of my enthusiasm for the band and their album. Glasper signed my LP with the words "With a few more like you, it could have happened'. 

Shortly after our meeting, A&M released "Hands To Heaven" as a single and then everything changed.  Now, 25 years later, people may not always remember the band name but "Hands To Heaven" remains a radio staple.  It's one of those songs that everybody knows.  A gorgeous and haunting ballad, "Hands To Heaven" has become a classic slice of late '80s pop that still makes lovers swoon.

And since it's the album's 25th Anniversary, Cherry Pop has released the ultimate edition of the album.  It not only contains the original 10 tracks from the album ("Don't Tell Me Lies" was added to the U.S. edition and later UK pressings as well) but it also contains every b-side, single edit, extended remix and rarity that could fit on a double CD set. This deluxe edition now features a total of 33 tracks with roughly half of them making their CD debut here.

For anyone who loved the album's smooth blend of Pop and R&B are going to love the generous amount of bonus tracks.  The non-album b-sides equal anything off the album, although the production does date some of the recordings.  Sometimes sounding like a mix of Wham and Steely Dan, Breathe wrote some smart and sophisticated yet chart-friendly pop tunes including "All That Jazz", which is the song that first caught my ear all of those years ago when I first laid the needle down on the album.  With two more hit singles, "How Can I Fall?" and "Don't Tell Me Lies", the album was one of the strongest releases that year and earned the band a huge fanbase of devoted fans.

Unfortunately for Breathe, their next album, Peace Of Mind, was released in 1990 to little fanfare and, when the album didn't scale the upper regions of the charts, they quietly split.  But perhaps that was all A&M's fault.  They were already preparing to alter the band's name to David Glasper & Breathe and eventually make Glasper a solo artist.  But alas, that never came to fruition. Perhaps it was their shift in focus that made them drop the ball.  Peace Of Mind was actually a better album as a whole then All That Jazz but had fewer hits (only "Say A Prayer" got much airplay in the States)

This deluxe edition of All That Jazz is everything that a fan could want... and more.  But just because you may not be a fan doesn't mean you shouldn't get it.  If you loved late '80s bands like Johnny Hates Jazz, Go West, and Waterfront, then this is a no-brainer.  It was great Pop music then and it's great Pop music now.  

RIP Spike

Stephen SPAZ Schnee

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Happy to come across your blog. I actually just published a blog about Sophisti-Pop and I've got two Breathe songs on it. Incredible era of music.