I recall reading a negative review of Hambi + The Dance’s 1981 single “L’Image Craque” in the pages of Trouser Press, but as usual, reading between the lines revealed that I might have been a likely member of the elusive target audience. The single was likened to an overwrought Ultravox sound and in 1981, I could see nothing wrong with that sort of approach! I bought the single in the lovely 7″ import bins at Record City Fern Park; dare I say Central Florida’s best ever selection of import vinyl [sorry, Murmur Records!] It was okay, but nowhere near the feverish sound my mind had conjured up in advance of hearing the actual single. What is did sound like, with the benefit of hindsight, was a mores synthetic harbinger of the slightly psychedelic, yet expansive sound of another Liverpudlian band yet to come; The Icicle Works. Perhaps the muddy production and engineering by Mick Glossop had something to do with my slight antipathy, but in 2017, perhaps its time to reexamine Hambi + the Dance.
Hambi Haralambous ran the Motor Museum studio in Liverpool, and was linked to various points in OMD’s history as well as the band Hambi + The Dance. Throughout its history, that band also contained several notorious figures of the Liverpudlian New Wave scene: Chris [Adam + The Ants] Hughes, Gazza [China Crisis] Johnson, Paul [FGTH] Rutheford, and Wayne [Dead Or Alive, The Mission] Hussey. So it was one of the fertile branches on the Liverpool Tree Of New Wave. The attractive thing about pursuing this thread is that there was an album and three, 7″ only, singles. Better yet, I have owned one of the singles since it was released. Picking up the rest needed to make the disc should be quite affordable, if I can source domestic sellers.
Hambi + The Dance: Heartache UK LP 
- Time After Time
- Living In A Heartache
- L’Image Craque
- The World
- Dancing Inside You
- Major Major
- Too Late To Fly The Flag
- Standing In The Rain
The three singles are as follows.
Hambi + The Dance: Too Late To Fly The Flag UK 7″ 
- Too Late To Fly The Flag
- She Doesn’t Talk
“Too Late To Fly The Flag” was the band’s debut single. There was a non-LP B-side, but I haven’t determined if the A-side was the same mix as the LP version. Many UK 7″ers of the ’78-’81 period had unique A-side versions on 7″, back in the day.
Hambi + The Dance: L’Image Craque UK 7″ 
- L’Image Craque
- L’Image Craque [dub]
This was the point at which I entered the fray, obviously. Considering that all of these records were released in 1981, I was shocked that there appear to be no 12″ singles of the band’s releases. 1981 was the year where 12″ singles seemed to have exploded in the marketplace, and Virgin Records, were usually quite savvy on trends like that. On one hand, the B-side here was the only remix [that I know of] of the band’s music with the dub mix on the B-side here. On the other hand, it’s cheaper to buy/ship a 7″ single. On the third hand, the fidelity of a 35+ year old 7″ single can be diabolically bad.
Hambi + The Dance: Living In A Heartache UK 7″ 
- Living In A Heartache
- Radio America
The final single was released in 1982. Since none of these troubled the UK charts, Haralambous was cut free from Virgin Records and he managed to release a few more singles and an album from this “phase two” of his career. In 1984, he lined up with MCA Records and put a single out called “25 Tears A Day” [L] with no album to follow. This time there was a 7″ as well as a 12″ single; each with distinctive tracks and the whole thing was produced by Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls. The Liverpudlian plot thickened.
His next appearance was on a UK 7″ pressing under his own Pink Pop imprint in 1985. Obviously, the gent had a thing for pink, as seen on these sleeves. “I Don’t Want To Lose You” [R] had a B-side called “Julie” and the latter did not figure on Hambi’s second and final album, which was m.i.a. for two years following this stillborn single release. Not that both of these singles were still branded with the band name from his Virgin Records era.
The final album, Promises” under the Hambi name, only appeared in Italy in 1987! Of the latter two single sides, only “I Don’t Want To Lose You” appeared here, and in a 4:18 version about 20 seconds longer that the earlier UK 7″ version. Methinks that digging this deep is probably unnecessary. I may continue further with a concise Virgin Records era project that leaves the later, frayed edges of the Haralambous fabric for another, even more obsessive hobbyist to curate.
– 30 –
L’Image Craque always sounded as if OMD and Teardrop Explodes bumped into each other in the studio and got along famously on record. I have it on a Liverpool Mixtape thats followed by Reunion by Black – a song only available on the US release of Comedy (and one that sounds like it was written ages before that album came out in ’88). That mixtape also has the aforementioned Teardrop Explodes – The Great Dominions, Dalek I Love You – A Suicide, Pink Military – Did You See Her, Echo And The Bunnymen – Pictures On My Wall, Nightmars In Wax – Shangri-la, OMD – Sealand and Other Boys by Wah!… I think I may have do dissect that tape, which seems to be much worse for wear than I would have thought, and make a post out of it.
Echorich – Okay. I certainly see Teardrop Explodes on “L’Image Craque” and I still smell Icicle Works; maybe not OMD so much. At any rate, I am intrigued in pursuing the Hambi thread through his Virgin era. As for Black, “Reunion” was one of the B-sides to “You’re A Big Girl Now.” I also have the US “Comedy” for the “Sweetest Smile” 5:22 remix on it. The US “Comedy” was an ugly chop job, compared to the magnificent German CD pressing I first bought, but sometimes you have to just have it all!
I stand corrected as I have the You’re a Big Girl Now single and actually the fidelity of the version of Reunion on the single seems much better than on the album. As for OMD association to L’Image Craque, it’s in the chorus where that TE/OMD mixture comes across for me. The more I listen to the single now, I actually hear a lot of early Wah! in the song as well…Pete Wylie really traded, for all it was worth, in that apocalyptic vocal style.
Echorich – Oh yeah! I really hear Pete Wylie in that earnest delivery. Spot on, sir!
The “Pink Version” of “25 Tears a Day” on the 12″ is superb-6:37 long and quite experimental.
Gavin – Still waiting to find those records. Looks like I’ll have to buy them online and the shipping will cripple me.
I was in the original Hambi and The Dance line up, along with Hambi, Wayne Hussey, and Paul Curran (Guy Chambers was in the band for a while too)…I recall the early influences were Television, Elvis Costello, Springsteen and Blondie…due to us all being egomaniacs the band self destructed and Wayne, Paul and myself formed our own band, which also fell apart…The original H&TD line up had a much different sound to the mark 2 version of the band on the album, I have some demos lying around somewhere.
P S Barlow – Welcome to the comments! I was late to the news that Wayne Hussey was in the early H+TD lineup when you were also in. I didn’t know about that pre-history of the band until more recent years, but as an American, it was miraculous enough that I was even dimly aware of the band in their Virgin era at all. Television, Costello, Blondie…and Springsteen? Those are some strange bedfellows. One of those things was not like the other. I can well imagine that the early demos would be worlds different to the Virgin releases. But those were probably not the demos that ended up getting the band signed. I would imaginr that legally, Hambi had to regroup and build lineup 2 and start again to get signed. Thanks for shedding light on the band’s history.
I think Hambi’s voice transcended any musical influences that might have accompanied it at various times and ,as Wayne recently stated, he was a natural ‘pop star’ to boot, so the early demos mustered enough record company interest to incite in-band wrangles regarding publishing and writing splits, one of these rows broke out very publicly during a ‘band meeting’ at a health food restaurant in the city centre, this was the one that sort of caused the break up….the new band and album that followed was the result of Hambi, understandably, deciding that he was going to be ‘the boss’ from that point on (and hats off to him for remaining focused)…the new sound was very synth heavy as opposed to the original band’s guitar based sound…in my ridiculously biased opinion H&TD #1 had an edge and originality that H&TD #2 lacked, but then perhaps that’s just nostalgia colouring my recollections of the time… I’m not sure whether you are aware but Hambi sadly passed away in October of last year, he certainly made his mark on the Liverpool music scene, though he really should have been a household name…he had an influence on me which stayed with me through the remainder of my musical journey.
P S Barlow – Valuable insights, sir! The financials of any band are a virtual minefield and require much wisdom to traverse. Personally, I like the equal split. I feel that there’s something each member brings to a band even if it can’t come down to notation charts [which are a ridiculously outdated notion], but even bands that go that route can have still have troubles. It’s human nature.
Yes, I was aware that Hambi sadly passed last year. I weighed in on writing an obituary but the fact is I only had a single 7″ single to my name and it didn’t feel appropriate to me. I want more, but the material is hard to source in America. Though I was aware that he was a significant part of the Liverpool scene and his work over the years as a musician was also complemented by his studio ownership and film making careers. I read with interest the eulogies by his friends like McCluskey and Hussey in the press at the time.
I agree with you regarding the royalty splits Mr P P Monk, although at some point the inevitable “why is his house bigger than mine?” mentality often creeps in, or in my case “How come he can afford large fries with his Big Mac?”…I suppose it relies on all band members pitching in and showing equal moral fibre and integrity (socialism in a nutshell) Loving your website by the way, and share your love of music and distrust of major social media platforms!
P S Barlow – I’m pleased you picked up on the distrust of social media platforms. I try not to beat enyone over the head, but it’s certainly there. I found social media merely distasteful from day one. As if anyone should care what I am eating and thinking! Years later, we can see it as the ruinous agent that it is. Monetizing lies and social breakdown in the simulation of connection.