She talked with herself, with Electribe 101 and asked if you would put your loving arms around her, but what happened then, Billie Ray Martin?
by Christopher Smith
Electribe 101 formed in 1988 and consisted of producers Brian Nordhoff, Joe Stevens, Les Fleming and Roberto Cimarosti, and German-born singer Billie Ray Martin (real name Birgit Dieckmann). Taking their name after a refrigerator and a synthesizer, the group released their debut single “Talking With Myself” in late 1988, which promptly failed on just about every chart that existed.
Before work had started on their debut album, Martin provided vocals on S-Express’s 1989 UK No.6 hit “Hey Music Lover”, as well as appearing on Top Of The Pops to promote the single.
The song gained her some much needed attention and when Electribe 101 released their next single, “Tell Me When The Fever Ended” in October 1989, it entered the UK top 40, reaching No.38 as well as No.22 on the US dance chart.
The group re-released “Talking With Myself” in January 1990 which fared much better this time around, reaching No.23 in the UK and No.8 on the US dance chart. Their debut album “Electribal Memories” followed soon after reaching No.26 in the UK. Two further singles “You’re Walking” and “Inside Out” came during 1990 but these could not match the success achieved previously.
Following disagreements with their record company as well as internal problems, the group split in early 1992 with the four guys eventually forming The Groove Corporation. A remixed version of “Talking With Myself”(‘98) was released in 1998 and peaked at No.39 in the UK.
In 1992 Billie Ray Martin went off by herself to pursue a solo career, releasing the EP “Persuasion” in 1993, before writing and recording for her debut album. Her first single proper came in late 1994, “Your Loving Arms”, which reached No.38 in the UK. This was subsequently reissued in May 1995 and this time fared much better, peaking at No.6 as well as charting across Europe and topping the US club play chart.
She followed this up with “Running Around Town” in August 1995, which made No.29 in the UK and No.3 on the US club chart. Her album “Deadline For My Memories” was released that Autumn and reached No.46 in the UK. The album was released in the US the following year but sadly failed to find the successful audience that the singles had done on the club/dance chart.
Three further singles were lifted from the album, “Imitation Of Life” (UK No.29), “Space Oasis” and “You And I (Keep Holding On)” during 1996. Halfway through writing her second album, Billie left Warner Records and moved to The States where she signed to React Music. She quickly released the single “Honey” in 1999 which made No.54 in the UK but did not do big business anywhere else.
The long-overdue second album, “18 Carat Garbage”, was finally released in 2001 and included the singles “Systems Of Silence”, “I’ve Never been To Memphis” and “Where Fools Rush In” all of which made no impact in any territory they were released. The album also could not save itself from the lower depths of the charts around Europe, despite being reissued in 2002 with bonus mixes as “Recycled Garbage”.
Since then Martin has continued to record and work with some highly acclaimed artists and producers. “Honey” was given a new lease of life in 2003, this time reaching No.3 on the US club chart. She worked with Giorgio Moroder in 2007 on the single “Undisco Me” which made No.6 on the UK dance chart and No.20 on the US club chart.
In 2008 she formed the new group The Opiates and released the “Anatomy Of A Plastic Girl” EP. A second EP “Rainy Days And Remixes” came in 2011 prior to their debut album “Hollywood Under The Knife”.
She released the solo single “Sweet Suburban Disco” that same year and has guested on a number of tracks with Terranova, Motor and the song “Off The Rails” with Venezuelan singer Aérea Negrot in 2014. In 2016 she released another solo single “Strongheaded Woman” from her album “Soul Tapes”.
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