Monday, April 12, 2021

"Jack the Lad" by 3 Man Island

Song#:  3461
Date:  04/02/1988
Debut:  94
Peak:  94
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Dance, House

Pop Bits:  As the 80s began, four English musicians, John Falleti, Mike Whitford, Nigel Swanston and Tim Cox, got together and formed a post-punk band called Airstrip-One. After a couple of indie singles, the band signed with Polydor. They released a pair of singles for the label in 1982, but nothing happened with them. The quartet then changed their sound to be more dance oriented and pushed out a single for Polydor in 1983 under the new band name of Escape from New York. An indie single followed the next year. Still, nothing paid off for the band. Whitford, Swanston, and Cox soldiered on and eventually became 3 Man Island. The trio got signed to Chrysalis Records and their first single was this near-instrumental dance track. It did well on the US Dance chart getting to #10. The action there allowed the single to get on the Pop chart, but only for a brief two-week stay near the bottom. In the UK it only got to #98. A second single, "Funkin' for the UK," was released but it only got to #44 Dance. With that result, it seems that Chrysalis wasn't interested in a full album and the trio was out on their own. They would do one indie single, "Horror House," in 1989 before calling it a day.

ReduxReview:  This was a good floor-filling house track that was well-produced by the trio. It was energetic and catchy. While the song was an excellent fit for the clubs, it wasn't all that great for pop radio. A dance track like this that is mostly instrumental with a few vocal parts needs to include a big hook that makes it stand out on pop radio. This tune didn't necessarily have that. The vocal parts just kind of flow along with the song. There was nothing that provided a definitive hook to keep the song memorable for pop listeners. So I'm not surprised it was a hit at Dance and a blip at Pop. Still, it was a solid house track that kept folks movin'.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After folding 3 Man Island, Nigel Swanston and Tim Cox went on to become a duo called Band of Gypsies. They released a few singles as the 90s began, but they didn't seem to get much attention. However, the tracks were a good calling card for them and the pair moved on to being a songwriting/production team. Among their first clients was Zambian-born singer Rozalla. Her second single, 1991's "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)," written and produced by Swanston and Cox, became a major hit reaching #6 in the UK and #1 US Dance (#37 Pop). A second US Dance #1 would follow along with another Dance Top 10. The duo would work with other singers including Kym Sims, who scored two US Dance Top 10s in the mid-90s. Swanston and Cox would also get credit as writers on another major #1 UK hit. In 1998, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, Strictly Ballroom) would record an album of songs that were featured in his films titled Something for Everyone. The tracks were either newly recorded or remixed by Luhrmann. One song he remixed came from his 1996 film Romeo + Juliet. Texas teen Quindon Tarver appeared in a choir in the film and sang a version of Rozalla's "Everybody's Free." Luhrmann took that track, did a remix, and then recited a spoken word piece over the top. Luhrmann used columnist Mary Schmich's 1997 Chicago Tribute essay known as "Wear Sunscreen" for the track. Schmich's piece was a written as a hypothetical commencement speech. Luhrmann would title his song "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)." It was released as a single and in 1989 it would hit #1 on the UK chart. The tune didn't do quite as well in the US where it only got to #45 Pop and #27 AC. Schmich, Swanston, and Cox were credited as composers on the song.


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