Thursday, 14 January 2010

I'm dreaming, not sleeping

The Farmer's Boys were pretty important to me in 1982. Not content with putting out three great singles they were also good enough to come from Norwich, which, when you come from Colchester and want to be in a band, is a massive boost (in geographical terms, London is just as close, but, at the age of 14, a thousand miles away in terms of aspiration).

The band (Baz, Frog, Mark & Stan) had no drummer, and Baz used to croon whilst prodding a little Casio keyboard that he rested on an ironing board. They were never very cool, but they did everything themselves, operating their record company out of a side street in Norwich and hitting the top ten in the independent charts when you had to be truly independent and sell a fair amount of records to get there.

I wasn’t the only one taking note as, soon after the release of their third (and best) single ‘More Than A Dream’, the group signed to EMI, which is where their troubles began.

Out of the indie milieu, the Boys were now expected to compete in the big league, taking on Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran in the Top 40. ‘More Than A Dream’ was reissued soon after but didn't quite make it onto 'Top Of The Pops'– more (very good) singles followed in a variety of formats, but even double pack 7”’s and pig shaped picture discs (I kid you not) failed to secure the required number of sales.

Finally, the group seemed to shrug their shoulders and give in to the pressure, recording a novelty cover of the old Cliff Richard hit ‘In The Country’ and making a wacky video. Appearances on ‘Crackerjack’, ‘TV-AM’ and ‘About Anglia’ followed, but the record stalled at number 44 and they were effectively finished. Shame.

Here are both sides of the aforementioned 'More Than A Dream' single, as issued in December 1982. The a-side still sounds good and fills me with a youthful optimism (much needed now); the b-side 'The Country Line' manages to be funny and poignant at the same time.

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