Saturday, March 25, 2023

"Swing the Mood" by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers

Song#:  4084
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  11
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Novelty

Pop Bits:  In the late 80s, UK DJ Les Hemstock began supplying mix tracks to Music Factory Masters, a company that would basically issue out albums specifically for DJs that contained "megamix" tracks - basically medleys of well-known songs by a specific artist or ones that reflected a theme. For their Issue No. 22 album that was released in '88, Hemstock assembled a mix of early rock 'n' roll hits framed around the Glenn Miller swing era classic "In the Mood." Hemstock's track, titled "Swing the Mood," proved to be a popular selection and so label owner John Pickles and his DJ son Andy decided to see what would happen if they made the track into a single. With the help of another DJ, Ian Morgan, the team decided to develop a sort of face or front for the song. They came up with an animated character called Jive Bunny to use as a promotional front and filled out the name of the act with The Mastermixers. With everything in place the single "Swing the Mood" was issued out in the summer of '89 in the UK. The novelty tune caught on and it ended up spending five weeks at #1 on the UK chart. With that success, a full album was called for and Jive Bunny: The Album was created and released. With the song doing so well in the UK, a deal was struck for US distribution. The single would end up doing quite well nearly cracking the Pop Top 10 while getting to #38 AC. A second single "That's What I Like" would become another #1 in the UK, but could only get to #69 US Pop. The album would be a #2 triple-platinum seller in the UK and a #26 gold seller in the US. Jive Bunny's popularity would swiftly dwindle in the US and the outfit would never chart again. However, a few more hits would follow in the UK.

ReduxReview:  The decade started with a hits mix of sorts with '81's "Medley" by Stars on 45, so why not end the decade with one? The difference being that the Stars on 45 single consisted of re-recorded versions of songs while "Swing the Mood" mostly used the real tunes (with minor exceptions where they could not obtain the rights and had to re-record pieces). Either way, this was not my cup o' tea. I recognized how this might be a crowd pleaser at an event or party, but it was definitely something I could hear once and then never hear again. I can't say that it is the worst medley mix ever concocted. It was well-crafted and had the right tunes that would attract an audience "of a certain age." As a novelty tune it wasn't awful. It just wasn't my thing. The Stars on 45 single was about the only one of these I ever really liked. Anything else that came along was like a rinse-n-repeat thing and they end up coming off as cheap, easy things to create and peddle in order to make a quick buck and I wasn't buying them. Others would quickly follow (again) like '90s "The Grease Megamix" that featured songs from the film. Luckily it was a short fad that tended to be relegated to the UK. I'm sure someday there will be another song medley that will rear its ugly head and the trend will start again, but I'm praying it won't happen.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Jive Bunny would follow up their pair of #1s with a third chart topper. "Let's Party" would reach the top spot over the Christmas holiday of '89. It was a one-off single as was the follow-up "That Sounds Good to Me," which made it to #4. The Jive Bunny project would quickly record a new album, It's Party Time" and get it out in '90. Its first single, "Can Can You Party," would be the outfit's last UK Top 10 reaching #8. A pair of Top 20s would follow and that helped the album get to #23 and go gold. But like a lot of similar acts, the novelty wore off quickly. A couple of Christmas themed albums would sell pretty well, but as the 90s wore on interest in the Jive Bunny mixes waned. Later in 2018, it was reported in the British tabloid The Mirror that "Swing the Mood" originator Les Hemstock would claim that he received next to nothing from the hit single or album and was going ahead with a lawsuit. It is unknown whether an actual suit was filed and if so, the outcome. Hemstock would continue to be a popular DJ over the years and achieve a bit of fame with collaborator Chris Jennings. Billed as Hemstock & Jennings, the duo would release a few trance/dance club hits. They would also co-write and be featured on the US #6 Dance hit "Nothing But You" with Paul Van Dyk (#14 UK). Hemstock would also branch out into acting and appear in a few films and TV shows


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