In 1988 dance collective Inner City were having ‘big fun’, but was that the ‘good life’? And where did it end?
Acid house and dance house had taken the clubs and the charts by storm in 1987 with number one’s like “Pump Up The Volume” and “Beat Dis”, and by 1988 was claiming chart dominance as well as a few disapproving looks by society. ‘The Summer of love’ in 1988 would produce anthems like “We Call It Acieed”, “Stakka Humanoid”, “Can You Party?” and one other major dancefloor filler worth noting. “Big Fun”.
DJ and producer Kevin Saunderson and singer Paris Grey came together in 1987 and formed Inner City, touring the clubs of Detroit at first and then, as house music and dance music swept across Europe and beyond, to a global audience. More than any other group it was their brand of infectious rhythms and beats that brought underground dance out into the open and with five US dance chart toppers, with commercial success to boot.
“Big Fun” was released late in that hot Summer of ’88, but quickly found it’s feet and clambered into the top ten’s across Europe as well as taking top spot on the US dance chart. In the UK it spent two months yo-yoing up and down the top ten, and then did the same in the top twenty before finally dropping out a full four months after its release.
The duo’s follow up came with the joyous affair that is “Good Life” that Christmas, and despite the charts stuffed full of Christmasy fare, “Good Life” would claim a top five spot almost everywhere it saw release, again topping the US dance chart and making No.73 on the Billboard singles chart. It bettered “Big Fun”s UK placing of No.8 by making No.4 on the Christmas week chart, with only Erasure’s “Crackers International” EP, Kylie and Jason, and Cliff Richard above it!
A third slice of chart success came in March 1989 with “Ain’t Nobody Better”, which again topped the US dance chart and made the top ten in the UK and Switzerland. It was the third and final release before Kevin and Paris released their debut album “Paradise” in May, reaching No.3 in the UK and being certified Platinum for sales of over 300,000 copies. It fared less well Stateside where it stopped at No.162 there, although it did top the album dance chart there.
A fourth US chart topper was had in the Summer of 1989 with “Do You Love What You Feel?” (UK No.16) and a further top 100 single chart entry was gained in the Autumn with “Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin?” (US No.76, UK No.12). A remix extension of “Paradise” was released in early 1990 making No.17 in the UK.
That same year the duo released their second album “Fire”, which contained the singles “That Man (He’s All Mine)” (UK No.42, US dance No.15) and “Till We Meet Again” (UK No.47). The album did not chart in either the UK or the US. Better luck was had two years later with their third album “Praise”, from which their fifth US dance chart No.1 “Pennies From Heaven” (UK No.24) was lifted along with “Hallelujah” (UK No.22) and the title track.
Since then the group have only released singles with a top five hit on the US dance chart “Do Ya?” (UK No.44) in 1994 and “Your Love” (UK No.28) in 1996. In 1999 the pair returned to the top ten with a remix of their biggest hit “Good Life” entitled “Good Life (Buena Vida)”.
With Paris Grey having left the group in the early 2000’s, a variety of different musicians and singers, including Kevin’s wife Ann, have continued to keep the flame alive under the new name of Kevin Saunderson featuring Inner City, releasing “Future” in 2011 and “Bad Girl” in 2014. In 2017 this collective was joined by non other than The Saunderson’s son Dantiez and together they released a new single “Good Luck”. Paris Grey, herself a gospel trained singer, has returned to her roots and also performs rhythm and blues across America.
Keep in touch with Inner City and Kevin Saunderson through his official FACEBOOK group