Monday, March 28, 2005

wine is all I have

Stephen Duffy could have been the Pete Best of the '80s. Just as Best was no longer a member of the Beatles when the Fab Four became household names, Duffy departed from Duran Duran before that group exploded on MTV. However, Duffy was able to carve an audience for himself, releasing numerous albums that ventured into various forms of pop music.

In 1978, Duffy formed Duran Duran with John Taylor (guitar) and Nick Rhodes (keyboards) in Birmingham, England; Duffy sang and played bass. A year later, Duffy left the band for a solo career. While Duran Duran conquered the charts in England and America, Duffy started writing songs. In 1982, Duffy collaborated with Muligan Dik Davies (Fashion) & Stokert (Dexys Midnight Runners/The Bureau) to form Tin Tin. Duffy's first single with Tin Tin, "Kiss Me," was only a minor hit in England, peaking at No. 155 on the chart. In America, though, "Kiss Me" became a club favorite and a staple on alternative radio stations.

In 1985 after two other singles Virgin/Ten released another version of Kiss Me and propelled it to Number 3 in the UK charts. The follow up Icing On The Cake was the first record to carry the legend "Produced By Stephen Street". An album of odds and sods (including an ill- executed collaboration with Booker T Jones) The Ups and Downs went to Number 35. His second album Because We Love You (also a collaboration with Stephen Street) failed to chart. The aural orgy of clashing styles Dr Calculus MDMA Designer Beatnik (with Roger Freeman, ex Pigbag), a work slightly ahead of its time in theme, was the third and final Virgin album.

While much of Duffy's earlier work embraced the wistful synth-pop of Soft Cell, he explored British folk rock and jangle pop when he helped create the Lilac Time in 1987. In 1988, the Lilac Time signed with Mercury Records in the US and released their self-titled debut LP. The Lilac Time attracted a college radio following and produced a few albums before breaking up in 1991. In 1995, the time was right for a Stephen Duffy renaissance. Signed to the Indolent label, he formed Duffy with the American guitar band Velvet Crush. Together they headed down to North Carolina with one-time R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, and emerged with possibly the best album of Stephen Duffy’s career. In 1996 Stephen bothered the charts ever so slightly as part of super-duper group Me Me Me (Blur's Alex James and Elastica's Justin Welch being the other Me's). More recently he helped write and produce the number one hit single Radio with Robbie Williams.

Buy They Called Him Tin Tin, a collection of Duffy's long out of print early work from Amazon.

Tin Tin - Kiss Me


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