It didn’t have to be that way for The Blow Monkeys…but it was!
The five-piece group The Blow Monkeys formed in 1981 and spent the 80’s releasing interestingly titled albums and sending singles up and down the charts the world over, even in America! Lead by singer ‘Dr’ Robert Howard (b.1961), the band issued their first single, “Live Today Love Tomorrow”, in 1982, although this failed to chart, as did all four singles to come from their debut album, “Limping For A Generation” did in 1984. It was with their second release, “Animal Magic”, in 1985 that attention began to come their way and more so with the third single from the album, “Digging Your Scene”, in early 1986, which gave them their first UK top 40 hit (No.12) and a No.14 charting release the other side of the Atlantic.
“Animal Magic” would reach No.21 at home and No.35 in America as well as finding success across Europe and ‘down under’, although the two follow up singles failed to reach the highs of “Digging”. The band spend the rest of 1986 writing and recording for their third album and in January 1987 released what would become their biggest and perhaps best known song, “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way”, which made its way to No.5 on the UK chart and was a top ten hit in many other places. Although the song didn’t do anything in The States, the album, “She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter” (a nod to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher!), did and gained a top twenty placing back home. A collaboration with US soul singer Curtis Mayfield (“(Celebrate) The Day After You”) surprisingly flopped later that year which produced just one more charting single, “Out With Her”. “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way” featured in the film ‘Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol’, which undoubtedly helped it chartwise. At the same time, the non-album track “You Don’t Own Me” featured on the soundtrack of the smash hit of 1987. ‘Dirty Dancing’, an album which has, to date, sold over 32 million copies!
Their 1988 album, “Whoops! There Goes The Neighbourhood” saw a similar downturn in interest with both singles “This Is Your Life” and “It Pays to Belong” barely scrapping into the top 100 of the UK singles chart. Happily, 1989 would offer something of an Indian Summer to The Blow Monkey’s story and their fortunes. The year began with ‘Dr’ Robert hooking up with rising American singer Kym Mazelle for the pop-duet “Wait”, which put him back in the UK top ten for the first time since “Doesn’t Have To Be”. Next, a remixed and reissued “This Is Your Life” finally made the top 40 (No.32) followed by a new single, “Choices”, featuring former Boney M backing singer Sylvia Tella on vocals, which preceded a best of collection of the same name. This proved a big success, peaking at No.5 in the UK, the band’s highest ever chart placing.
This run of hits was not to last, however, and following the release of their next album, “Springtime For The World” in 1990, the group split up. ‘Dr’ Robert continued as a solo artist releasing no less that seven albums between 1994 and 2016. His most recent two have been while The Blow Monkeys reformation in 2007, which has seen them perform live and go on to record and release, to date, five new albums, beginning with 2008’s “Devil’s Tavern” to their most recent offering, “The Wild River”, in 2017. Regular updates on the greatest hits package have followed ever since while ‘Dr’ Robert himself has graced us with two tracks with Monks Road Social (“Lost In Rasa”) in 2018 and “The Coming Of Grace” in 2019. Last year, 2020, saw him hook up with Martin Glover aka Youth (Bananarama‘s “Preacher Man” and Zoe’s “Sunshine On A Rainy Day“) for the song “Get Yourself Together”.
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