Monday, February 18, 2019

"Living in the Background" by Baltimora

Song#:  2683
Date:  04/12/1986
Debut:  91
Peak:  87
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Europop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This studio project assembled by Italian producer Maurizio Bassi and fronted by Irish performer Jimmy McShane unexpectedly grabbed a worldwide hit with the novelty-ish tune "Tarzan Boy." It would reach the Top 10 in many countries and although it would just miss that spot in the US (#13), the song made the band and McShane instant celebrities. Bassi then quickly got the band's debut album, Living in the Background, assembled and issued out. By the time "Tarzan Boy" had been on the Pop chart for a lengthy six months, this title track song would finally serve as the LP's second single. Of course, the tough thing about getting an instant hit out of nowhere is trying to follow it up and indeed Baltimora couldn't pull off a second hit. This song disappeared quickly after a month and that left the band caught in one-hit wonder world. As far as a career in the US, Baltimora's 15-minutes was up.

ReduxReview:  Let's face it - when an artist has a goofy, left-field hit like "Tarzan Boy," the odds of them scoring a second hit are decidedly not in their favor and indeed Baltimora fell to the follow-up jinx. In reality, this more serious song is not bad at all. It's an acceptable 80s synthpop tune that sounds good and was well-produced. However, it was nowhere near strong enough of a single to make people pay attention to Baltimora after "Tarzan Boy." But hey - the hit made Baltimora famous for a minute and folks still remember the song. That's not too bad of an outcome from a studio project that just happened to result in a quirky, unexpected hit. Someone is still making money off of it somewhere.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While Bassi, McShane, and the "band" weren't able to capitalize on the success of "Tarzan Boy" in the US, they were able to do a little bit more over in Europe - especially Bassi's home country of Italy. Two other songs from the album were able to reach the Italian Top 20, "Woody Boogie" (an odd Woody Woodpecker-inspired track) and "Juke Box Boy." It was enough for EMI to spend a little money on a second album, but its release would be limited to a few countries. The album Survivor in Love sank quickly when its first single, "Key Key Karimba," only got to #37 in Italy. After the poor results, Bassi moved on and Baltimora was no more. Apparently, McShane retreated from the music business after the experience. In 1995, he would die of AIDS in his hometown of Derry, Northern Ireland.


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