They were not so manic in 1995, but are they so manic today? Enter Dubstar.

by Christopher Smith

British alt-pop band Dubstar formed in Newcastle in 1992 by Chris Wilkie and Steve Hillier and were joined by singer Sarah Blackwood (b.1971) the following year after her boyfriend accidentally left a tape of her singing in Steve’s flat, but is wouldn’t be for another three years before the group began releasing singles and albums commercially, finding continued success in the UK charts until the end of the decade.

The group spent their formative years performing at gigs across England but after being spotted by producer Graeme Robinson at a ‘sparsely’ attended performance in Newcastle in March 1994, he signed them to Food Records, a subsidiary of Parlophone and engaged the services of noted produced Stephen Hague (Erasure, Pet Shop Boys) to work with them on an album. In the Summer of 1995, Dubstar released their debut single “Stars”, which just broke into the UK singles chart at No.40. A follow up, “Anywhere”, progressed a little further to No.37 that October and in early 1996 came “Not So Manic Now”, the song that would make them ‘stars’.

“Not So Manic Now” took off and reached No.19, propelling the group’s debut album “Disgraceful” into the charts, having been released the previous year. Despite only peaking at No.30, “Disgraceful” stayed around long enough to gain a Gold certification for sales of more than 100,000 copies in the UK. Dubstar re-issued “Stars” in early 1996 and this time the track reached No.15, where is remains their best selling single. A fourth single “The Elevator Song” was released that Spring reaching No.25 but soon after, Dubstar were on to newer adventures.

They returned the following year with “No More Talk”, which returned them to the top twenty and preceded the release of their second album “Goodbye”, which would go on to peak at No.18 in the UK and gain a Silver certification for sales of 60,000 copies sold. Two further singles were released from the album “Cathedral Park” (No.41) and “I Will Be Your Girlfriend” (No.28).

Dubstar returned at the turn of the new century with the single “I (Friday Night)”, which gave them a eighth top 40 entry and was followed by the album “Make It Better”, although this fared less well. Steve Hillier left the group at this stage, with only a best of album released later on in 2004. Dubstar took a hiatus with Blackwood joining the band Technique and toured with Depeche Mode in the early 00’s. The group reformed in 2006 and recorded new material, which remains unreleased, due to Blackwood’s commitments elsewhere, and again in 2009 to record yet more new material, which also remains unreleased. Hillier left the group in 2014.

But it doesn’t end there. In 2017, Blackwood and Wilkie were back together and recording and this time they did finish that long awaited fourth album. “One” was released in October 2018 and featured the lead single “Waltz No.9”. The album was produced by Martin Glover aka Youth, who has worked with the likes of Bananarama (“Preacher Man”), Zoe (“Sunshine On A Rainy Day”), Blue Pearl (“Naked In The Rain”) and many others.

Stay in touch with Dubstar through their WEBSITE and their FACEBOOK page

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So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!