Monday, May 17, 2021

"Broken Land" by The Adventures

Song#:  3496
Date:  04/30/1988
Debut:  97
Peak:  95
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This Irish band was formed by Terry Sharpe and Pat Gribben in 1984. They filled out the group with four other musicians including Gribben's wife, Eileen. They began playing shows early in '84 and it didn't take long for them to get noticed by a label. Chrysalis Records came calling and signed the band. They released two singles both of which scraped the lower rungs of the UK chart. It was enough for Chrysalis to fund an album and their debut, Theodore and Friends, was released in the spring of '85. A third single nearly cracked the Top 50, but it seemed the band wasn't making the inroads that they or the label thought they would. The band then moved over to Elektra and released this single. It took off and got to #20 in the UK. The band then quickly got in the studio to record their second album The Sea of Love. With the song doing well in the UK, a deal for US distribution was struck and the single released. It made the Rock Top 40 at #39 and was able to cross over to the Pop chart for a few minor weeks near the bottom. The album then scraped the US chart at #144. It did better in the UK reaching #30 thanks to a second single, "Drowning in the Sea of Love," that got to #44. A third album, 1990's Trading Secrets with the Moon, didn't fare as well and the band lost their Elektra contract. They got one more opportunity with Polydor Records for 1993's Lions and Tigers and Bears, but it went nowhere and the band proceeded to break up.

ReduxReview:  The chorus of this song kind of reminds me of an Irish version of Nick Heywood's "Wouldn't It Be Good" while the verse has a Tears for Fears kind of sound. It was atmospheric Euro-rock that was a bit dark and mysterious. I like the song, the singer, and the big, echo-laden production, but it is nothing that I would have pegged for single release here in the US. It was a better fit for the UK and indeed it made the Top 20. Their second single "Drowning in the Sea of Love," which didn't chart here, was another nice slice of cinematic pop, but again it just wasn't going to excite US radio listeners. I like what the band had to offer, it was just that they didn't have that one killer track that would have put them over the top. If you like that big, arena-filling sound of bands like Tears for Fears or Simple Minds, I'd suggest listening to their album. Very interesting.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before forming The Adventures, Terry Sharpe was a member of another popular Irish band called The Starjets. Formed in 1976, the band honed their skills over the next couple of years and developed a punk-pop/power pop sound that garnered them attention. They signed with Epic Records in 1978 and released a few singles before finally getting on the UK chart with "War Stories" in 1979 (#51). A debut album, God Bless the Starjets, would follow, yet despite good notices it didn't get anywhere. Still signed to Epic, the band got a new guitarist, Pat Gribben, and renamed themselves as Tango Brigade. A lone single was released in 1981 by the band, but it failed to generate interest. With that result, the band lost their contract and split up. Sharpe and Gribben would then go on to form The Adventures. In April, 2020, The Starjets would end up getting a little bit of attention. Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong recorded the song for a video series he did called "No Fun Mondays." During the COVID pandemic, Armstrong recorded cover tunes and released them on Mondays on Green Day's YouTube channel. He ended up doing thirteen cover songs the eighth of which was The Starjets' "War Stories." The series was so popular that Armstrong decided to compile the songs for release. No Fun Mondays was released in November of 2020. It featured the thirteen tracks he had already put on YouTube along with one additional song. Other songs Armstrong covered included the Bangles "Manic Monday," Tommy James & the Shondell's "I Think We're Alone Now," and Kim Wilde's "Kids in America." (P.S.: The Starjets album is pretty great for any fan of power pop - you can find it on YouTube.)


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