British group Halo James never wanted to be a one hit wonder, but they were. I could have told you that!
by Christopher Smith
Halo James were a short lived British group, who like so many in the music business, are just remembered for one song. And is that a bad thing? Well how many people can say they’ve even released a single or an album?!
The group formed in London in November 1988 and consisted of front man Christian James (born 1965), Ray St. John on guitars and Neil Palmer on keyboards. St. John could already boast of chart success having been a member of the group Pride from 1979 to 1982, which also contained the singer Sade Adu. He would co-author one of her biggest and most famous hits, “Smooth Operator” which reached No.5 in the US and No.19 in the UK. The group would spend the next year writing and recording and were ready by October 1989 to take on the charts.
Their debut single “Wanted” was…erm…not what people wanted. It stalled at No.45 in the UK and made no appearance anywhere else. But as 1989 turned into 1990, things were about to change. Their second single “Could Have Hold You So” was released in January and quickly shot up the UK top 40 to spend two weeks at No.6 at the beginning of February 1990. Appearances on Top Of The Pops as well as cover features in many of the biggest selling music magazines ensured everyone got to know all about them as well as serving as useful promotion for the forthcoming album. The song also charted across many parts of Europe, but failed to gain an audience when it was released in The States in May.
The album “Witness” was released in March and would gain many positive reviews from music magazines and notable industry critics. It would peak at No.18 in the UK and eventually receive a Gold certification for sales of over 100,000 copies. It was a minor hit in a handful of European countries. The next single “Baby” was released in April but stopped outside the UK top 40 at No.43.
The group released “Magic Hour” next, in the Summer of 1990 but that only charted at No.59 and re-released “Wanted” in the UK that Autumn, this time reaching the dizzy heights of No.89!
Despite songwriting for a planned second album, the group disbanded in April 1991 following ‘artistic disagreements’ between Christian James and Ray St. John. James decided to continue as a solo artist writing numerous songs including “Mission Of Love” which he had intended to release himself. However, he would eventually offer it to Jason Donovan who released it as his first post-PWL single in July 1992. The song reached No.26 in the UK. St. John continued as a songwriter and producer and has written for the likes of Gabrielle and even Snoop Dogg! Neil Palmer would also turn to writing for other artists including US singer Melanie, Haddaway and German singer Xavier Naidoo, who was to of represented his country at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, but was forced to pull out because of his right-wing political views and homophobic lyrics.
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