Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Suspicious Minds" by Fine Young Cannibals - April 8th 80's Quest Song of the Day

I did not jump on the Fine Young Cannibals band wagon.  They became very popular in America, but I am never big fan of high-pitched lilty voices so I disliked their lead singer, Roland Gift’s  voice.  Despite that, the one song by Fine Young Cannibals that I really, really loved was their cover of the Elvis Presley hit “Suspicious Minds”.  I am actually not a fan of Elvis Presley either (I know…unusual for an American), but the songs I do like from him such as “Suspicious Minds”, “In the Ghetto” and “Kentucky Rain” are all from his late 1960’/early 1970’s “Fat Elvis” phase.  Since I had never purchased a Fine Young Cannibals album in the mid-80’s I first heard the Fine Young Cannibals version in the late 80’s while I was DJ-ing on college radio station W.U.N.H. 91.3 FM in Durham, NH.  I thought it was a brilliant cover.  A brilliant cover to me is one that does not sound exactly like the original, only done by another band; but rather one that a band takes, does something slightly different with it, and makes it new and something of their own.  I thought the Fine Young Cannibals did this with “Suspicious Minds”.  I used to play it back to back with Elvis’s version often on my radio show - - the only Elvis and Fine Young Cannibal songs I ever played on it.

The Fine Young Cannibals were formed in Birmingham, England in 1984 by David Steele (bass) and Andy Cox (guitars) after their previous band The Beat (known in America as The English Beat) broke up when singers Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling went off to form a new band (General Public) without them and had their accountant call Steele and Cox to inform them.  Steele and Cox listened to over 500 audition cassettes over 8 months before enlisting Roland Gift, formerly of the band Akrylykz who had once opened for The Beat, to join their new  band as lead singer.  The band name was inspired by the 1960 Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood film, All the Fine Young Cannibals.  The band set out to create a new sound apart from their days with The Beat, by infusing jazz and soul into pop music.
The band signed with record label London Records in early 1985.  In an effort to maintain their own unique sound rather than the one the record company was trying to hoist on them, Fine Yong Cannibals released a single of a demo of theirs called “Johnny Come Home”.    When the video for the single was played the English music television program The Tube the major record companies took notice.  Fine Young Cannibals signed with I.R.S. Records and released their self-titled debut album in 1985 which contained their breakthrough hit “Johnny Come Home” as well as a cover of Elvis Presley’s hit “Suspicious Minds” – which included guest vocals from The Communards (see February 29th 80’s Quest post) lead singer Jimmy Somerville.

In 1987 Fine Young Cannibals appeared in the comedy movie Tin Men (starring Danny DeVito, Richard Dreyfuss, and Barbara Hershey) as the house band.  The same year, 1987 Roland Gift appeared as the character Danny in the film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid.   In 1988 Steele and Cox collaborated on a side project called Two Men, a Drum Machine and a Trumpet and released an instrumental house single called “Tired of Getting Pushed Around” .  It hit #18 on the U.K. charts and did well on the American dance music charts. 

In 1988 Fine Young Cannibals released their second album, The Raw and the Cooked which contained their best-selling singles “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing”.  Both hit #1 in America.  The album included songs the band had previously recorded for the movie Tin Men (one of which was “Good Thing”), as well as a cover of the Buzzcock’s song “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve”.  The Fine Young Cannibals version of this song also appeared on the soundtrack to Jonathan Demme’s film Something Wild.
In 1990 the band recorded a song for the Red Hot Organization’s AID’s charity album Red Hot & Blue which contained cover versions of 20 Cole Porter song.  Fine Young Cannibals’ contribution was the song “Love for Sale”.

After releasing only two albums, Fine Young Cannibals disappeared in 1992.  The band never officially broke up, but remains elusive.  Constant rumors of a reunion surface from time to time. Cox and Steel continue to work together on various music projects.  Roland Gift tried for a career in acting that never took off in a big way. 
In 1996 a Greatest Hits compilation was released.  The band reunited in the studio to record a new track for the album called “The Flame”.  In the 2000’s Gift got a band together and toured as Roland Gift and the Fine Young Cannibals.

We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out
Because I love you too much baby
Why can't you see
What you're doing to me
When you don't believe a word I say?

We can't go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can't build our dreams
On suspicious minds

So, if an old friend I know
Drops by to say hello
Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?

Here we go again
Asking where I've been
You can't see these tears are real
I'm crying

We can't go on together
With suspicious minds
And be can't build our dreams
On suspicious minds

Oh let our love survive
Or dry the tears from your eyes
Let's don't let a good thing die

When honey, you know
I've never lied to you
Mmm yeah, yeah

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