Tuesday, March 30, 2021

"Breakaway" by Big Pig

Song#:  3448
Date:  03/19/1988
Debut:  91
Peak:  60
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Indie Rock

Pop Bits:  This unusual outfit was formed by Australian musician Oleh Witer. After being a member of a few bands where nothing really panned out, he decided to take control and create a band that fit his vision. Having been inspired by a group of taiko drummers, Witer wanted to basically form a band that was mainly made up of drummers and vocalists. He first started to develop his project in London in 1984. After a move back to Australia the following year, Witer then fully develop his new band, Big Pig, which included vocalist Sherine Abeyratne and five other vocalists/drummers, two of which also played harmonica and keyboards. They began playing live shows early in '86 and in May issued out an indie self-titled EP. It helped them get signed to White Label Records, who reissued the EP later in the year and also pushed out the single "Hungry Town," which got to #18 in Australia. A full debut album would follow in '88 titled Bonk. The second single from the LP, "Breakway," took off and became a Top 10 hit in Australlia (#8). It did even better in New Zealand where it reached #1. The album would go Top 10 as well. The band had interest in trying to break through in the US and they were picked up by A&M Records. "Breakaway" would do well on the US Dance chart getting to #7. It was able to cross over to the Pop chart, but it couldn't quite make it to the halfway point. The album would reach #93. It would take Big Pig two years to return with a follow up titled You Lucky People, but by that time the big splash they made at home had ebbed away and the LP failed to chart or produce a hit. With that result, the LP was not released in the US and Big Pig would disband in 1991.

ReduxReview:  While it was not all that unusual that a band would choose to exclude a guitar and/or bass player in their line up (synthpop bands anyone?), Big Pig did set themselves apart with the various drummers and a harmonica player. The keyboard came along to add some chords, effects, and structure. Take that lineup and add some pop, soul, and funk rhythms and you get the unique sound of Big Pig. They were certainly odd, but it paid off in tracks like this propulsive single. The keyboard was more front and center on this track than the drums, but it worked out well. Sherine's vocal was also terrific as was all the background vocals. This urgent, edgy track was certainly different from the soulful original (see below), but I think the band did a terrific job updating the tune for the 80s. I'm guessing that members of Big Pig might have known this obscure US soul single thanks to the UK Northern soul scene. Several of Chuck Jackson's older tracks were popular in the clubs. This song was an interesting find and I liked some of the other tracks on the Bonk album. It's too bad this single didn't do better on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by soul star Chuck Jackson. Jackson's original version, titled "I Can't Break Away," appeared on his 1973 album Through All Times. It was released as the second single from the LP and got to #62 on the R&B chart. Jackson's biggest successes came in the early 60s when he was signed to the Wand label. He would land four R&B Top 10s with his biggest hit coming in 1962 with "Any Day Now" (#2 R&B/#23 Pop). That song, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, would later be a hit for country superstar Ronnie Milsap. Along with Dionne Warwick, Jackson was among the first artists to have hits written by the Bacharach/David team.  2) This song was selected for use in the 1989 sci-fi comedy film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Used near the beginning of the film, the tune was more-or-less consider the theme song. It was included on the soundtrack album, which charted at a minor #170. The film, which starred Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, was a box office hit and would spawn two sequels.



  1. If you’re wondering about that weird band name, Sherine came up with it. She got inspired after seeing a golden statue of a pig on a trip to China or some other Asian country. She also thought the words, “BIG PIG” could be seen a poster for an advert for the band far away LOL. It just... worked... I guess. LOL

    1. Always interesting where these band names come from!