Soho : You Won’t Hold Me Down UK CD-3 
- You Won’t Hold Me Down [7″ ver.]
- You Won’t Hold Me Down [the Harley Davidson Mix]
- More Of A Man [ver. 2]
- Piece Of You [ver. 2]
Like many, I first encountered Soho with their magnificent “Hippychick” single. I was beguiled by the wonderful vocal harmonies of the Cuff sisters, Jacqui and Pauline. That they had the cheek to use the most distinctive chunk of The Smiths, apart from Morrissey’s tuneless warbling [which I despise] to build their guerilla hit around frankly blew me away. The best part was when I was in a club at the time and that distinctive intro began and the Smiths fans braced themselves for rapture only to have their dreams dashed to pieces once the heavenly voices of the Cuff sisters arrived to keep me on the dance floor. Hah! If it had been Morrissey singing, that would have been my cue to take five.
Once I got the “Goddess” album I was properly amazed at some of the finest singing I’d ever heard mated with nascent dancerock-slash-house production and playing of Tim London. I was genuinely impressed with the resulting music that had that whole “second summer of love” vibe, yet was mated with some solid songwriting and… did I mention the singing? The band were opening up for the kind of similar Jesus Jones and I was hot to see their show, unfortunately, the band were missing from the opening slot once I got to the venue, and the local opener were so pretentiously awful [in a Jim Morrison sort of way], I didn’t even want to stay for the iffy Jesus Jones to see if I could salvage my money’s worth from the evening.
I kept my eyes open for any Soho music but it was few and far between. This CD-3 was their second single for the group’s initial Hedd Records label in the UK, so when I found it at a record show in the early 90s, I picked it up straight away. My ears weren’t completely prepared for the high BPM thrasher that the disc delivered. The A-side is present in a succinct [yet speedy] mix that was simply extended [even in 1988] to make the longerer Harley Davidson mix. I have to admit that the furiously paced drum machine gets pretty fatiguing to listen to. The A-side was from their debut album, “Noise,” which I have not heard yet.
Tim London has a fascinating, tell-all blogpost on Soho’s history on the band’s website where he admits that picking Ian Ritchie [Lightning Seeds] to produce their first album instead of choice #2 [Steve Hillage of Gong] was a huge tactical error since Ritchie didn’t understand what they were doing at all. Their reasoning was that Ritchie wasn’t a hippy like Hillage, apparently ignorant of Hillage’s great synthpop work with Simple Minds and Real Life, not to mention his own proto techno System 7!
Perhaps for this reason, the B-side “More Of A Man” is an album track present in its self produced demo version. Its slower pace marks it as easier for me to listen to. Having owned only the second and third Soho albums, I am used to more languidly paced material by the combo. I consider them rock dance rather than dance rock, if that makes any sense. But with the vocals sounding so good, even this earlier, housier material gives me something back.
The band’s debut A-side is tacked onto this CD single for good measure, since it never made the leap to digital. Like every other track here, it’s also on their album in a different production. This CD-3 captures the band just slightly ahead of their grasp of pop mastery that will typify their next two albums, but in and of itself, is nothing to be too ashamed about. One day, I’ll have to buy the debut album and see what London complains about, since I don’t exactly dislike Ian Ritchie or his tuneful production.
The Soho website is something I came across a few years ago and I was amazed that the band have released all of the music they recorded after being cut free from the major labels in 1994 or so. London has even made a selection of B-sides and rarities available for fans to download free on Bandcamp, if you are so inclined.
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“The best part was when I was in a club at the time and that distinctive intro began and the Smiths fans braced themselves for rapture only to have their dreams dashed to pieces once the heavenly voices of the Cuff sisters arrived to keep me on the dance floor.” – SPOT ON MONK! The DJ at Limelight in NYC used to get a great kick out of the same thing…
As for Ian Ritchie….not sure what everyone at the time really saw in him…sure he is a fine musician and can be found on everything from Wham! to Laurie Anderson to Roger Waters over the last 35 yrs, but as a producer I always thought it was his cred as a member of Deaf School that earned him status rather than any great abilities to direct a project. One of my greatest disappointments is that Ian Ritchie rather than Zeus B. Held produced the majority of Pete Wylie’s Sinful. But I’m sure Michael Frondelli and Ian Ritchie made the record company sleep easier.
Echorich – Well, Deaf School were a fascinating group. Almost the heirs apparent to Roxy Music… but not quite.