Tuesday, November 3, 2020

"American Dream" by Simon F.

Song#:  3307
Date:  10/24/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  91
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Simon Fellows got started in the business as a writer for the British music magazine NME (New Musical Express), yet aspirations to become a musician himself led him to forming the duo Intaferon with Simon Gillham. The pair were able to sign with Chrysalis Records and release three singles in 1983 and 1984. Two of the songs became low charters in the UK, but it seems that wasn't enough for the duo, who decided to go their own ways. Fellows was able to keep on with Chrysalis and recorded a 1985 debut solo album titled Gun. It would be credited to Simon F and would be released in both the UK and US. Unfortunately, nothing came from it and Fellows lost his contract with Chrysalis. After a move to the States, Fellows signed on with Reprise Records and recorded his second Simon F. album, Never Never Land. This first single got issued out and it became a blip on the Pop chart for two short weeks. In turn, the album failed to chart and quickly disappeared.

ReduxReview:  The Intaferon singles were steeped in British new wave. Simon F.'s Gun album kept some of the new wave elements, but incorporated a more mainstream rock/synth rock sound. He kind of kept the same sound for Never Never Land, but I think one of the issues he had was that he wore his influences on his sleeves. This single definitely had a David Bowie feel to it with it's "bop-bop-ba-ooh" background vocals and chugging "Heroes"-like groove. The LP's potential next single (which never got officially released), "New York Girl," was rocker straight out of the Billy Idol playbook. Then the track "Love Bomb" totally reflected ELO. The tracks were well-done, but they didn't necessarily sound original. It was like the label said "hey, Billy Idol is popular - do something like that" and Fellows did. Because of that, it was hard to get a feel for who Simon F. was as a musician. Still, this single had its moments. The production was clean and the groove-stopping chorus provided some interest. Fellows' voice was solid as well. He had potential, but songs like this were just too haunted by the influences.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Despite the results of this single and the album, Fellows got a second shot with Reprise. However, for his second effort, Here Comes the 21st Century, Fellows went for a more alt rock/hard rock sound and changed his credited name to F Machine. Its only single, "Runaway Train," failed to chart and that ended Fellows' time at Reprise. He would release a few more indie singles under the F Machine name, but nothing much came from them. After a final stab to try and get a record deal, Fellows then decided on a new career path. He began writing fiction and published his first novel, Don't Breathe the Air, in 2013. Four more novels would follow. Then Fellows used the knowledge he gained from his recording days and return to music journalism with the book The Chrysalis Records Story. It was set to be published in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed until 2021.

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