[…continued from last post]
Following the flat commercial prospects of the “Springtime For The World” campaign, The Blow Monkeys did the honorable thing and called it a day approximately a decade into their lifespan. Reasoning that the releases were not selling sufficiently, they split up for commercial reasons and not anything more destructive to the band, such as personality clashes or the like. At the end of their 1981-1990 run there were a handful of UK Top 40 singles, including a Top 10…two if we count “Wait!,” though the latter was technically a Dr. Robert/Kym Mazelle single.
But it’s true that the bulk of their fine singles generally fell far outside of the UK top 40. Only two of their albums ever got released in the US, and though “Animal Magic” was successful here it quickly became a case of “what have you doe for me lately?” and after the failure of “She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter,” there were no US releases of any Blow Monkeys material. From 1988 onward, anything by either The Blow Monkeys or Dr Robert solo would be import only. This included the two singles that would be released on the newly reactivated Regal Zonophone label from EMI.
1991 saw “I’ve Learnt To Live With Love” released in a handful of formats, and the next year had “A Simpler Place + Time,” also with the full complement of CD and vinyl formats. Each of these releases were extensively remixed, showing that Dr. Robert wasn’t giving up on dance music by a long shot, though neither single charted. I only have the CD5s of each, and still need to track down some 12″ mixes. This meant that his time on Regal Zonophone was brief. But concurrent with these two singles were some of the first projects that Dr. Robert did after the dissolution of The Blow Monkeys that were all released in America.
Dr. Robert was friends with Paul Weller and almost got involved with late period Style Council under the nom du disque of The Akai Kid. As I’m not much of a fan of The Style Council, I’m unsure if the tracks with Dr. Robert involvement were ever officially released. The fallout for this fact, though, was that Dr. Robert was all over projects like Slam Slam, featuring Weller’s wife, D.C. Lee. She was one of the former Wham! backing vocalists. This got a US release in 1991 and I bought a copy…only to trade it off soon afterward. Dr. Robert wrote and produced but it failed to convince.
Next, Dr. Robert played on the first three Paul Weller solo albums as released in 1991-1994. He played and sang on “Paul Weller,” “Wild Wood,” and “Stanley Road.” I had been a fan of The Jam, but had sat out The Style Council after disappointment with the first single. In the early 90s, I remember shopping in an Ybor City antique store [Decades A-Go-Go] and hearing Paul Weller solo music that sounded pretty good. At the time it could have only been his first or second albums, so I took a chance and bought a US promo copy [with bonus disc] of “Wild Wood.” It was yet another Paul Weller blast of indifference to my ears, and it didn’t last long in the Record Cell.
Of greater interest was the 1993 EP from Starjuice; the electrofolk [?!] duo that Dr. Robert had formed with Benny Staples [ex-Woodentops drummer]. I remember reading about this in some UK music publication and going for the second [and last] time ever to The Drop Shop; a DJ specialist record shop in Orlando that was not my usual feeding grounds for music, to say the least.
I will say this for The Drop Shop: If there was a weird dance release by a favorite act doing something peripheral [like John Foxx’s Nation 12 “Electrofear” single], I went to The Drop Shop and by George, they would have the record! Even a limited numbered edition of 500 like the Starjuice EP! Being vinyl, I only listened to it once, back in the day and I recall that it was a weird electro/acoustic mix that sort of made sense following “Springtime For The World.” The next year brought forth the beginnings of a series of six solo albums from Dr. Robert that would fill the 1994-2007 time period with his most focused work.
Next: …Signing Up For Songwriting School