Fine Young Cannibals

  • British new wave/alt rock group from Birmingham England, formed in 1984. Members of the band were Andy Cox (keyboards, guitars), Roland Gift (vocals) and David Steele (bass, keyboards, drum machine). All 3 members contributed to songwriting.
  • Cox and Steele originally were members of the ska-punk rock band The Beat (aka The English Beat). The Beat released 3 albums from 1980 to 1982, and then split up. Steele and Cox decided to start their own band, and they listened to cassettes of over 500 potential vocalists before selecting Gift. They took their name from the 1960 film All The Fine Young Cannibals. Initially, they had difficulty getting a record deal, so they recorded Johnny Come Home on their own, and made a simple music video of the song. The video appeared on a British TV show, and record companies immediately contacted them. They signed in 1985.
  • FYC initially resisted their record company’s attempts to team them up with a producer, and Johnny Come Home was released, with its mix of ska, new wave and rock, with jazzy trumpet solo. It reached #8 in the UK and was popular at dance clubs in the U.S. Based on its success, the band was teamed with a producer that understood their vision, and their debut album, the self-titled Fine Young Cannibals, was released in late 1985. It sold modestly, reaching #11 in the UK and #49 in the U.S. Their cover of Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds reached #8 in the UK and #23 on the U.S. Dance Club Songs chart.
  • In 1986 and 1987, they contributed songs to 2 films – Something Wild and Tin Men. Four of these songs ended up on their next studio album – The Raw & The Cooked, released in 1989. The album was a major success, reaching #1 on the album charts in the U.S. and UK, and it was certified 2x platinum in the U.S. Two singles reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart – She Drives Me Crazy and Good Thing. The album was loved by the critics – it was nominated for a Grammy award for Album of the Year, and Rolling Stone ranked it the 9th best album of the year.
  • The band and its management had never experienced this level of success before, and they did not know how to handle it. The record label pressured them to come up with something even bigger. Unable to meet that expectation, they went on hiatus in 1992. Other than 1 song – The Flame, which was included on a compilation album released in 1996 – they never recorded again. Gift has done some film and TV acting, and performs as a solo artist. Steele has contributed production, vocals and instrumentation to dozens of albums by other artists. Cox teamed up with Japanese vocalist Yukari Fujiu in 2002 to form the duo Cribabi, an obscure garage band – their album Volume includes vocals recorded in a bathroom and a kitchen.
  • Fine Young Cannibals was one of the big things in music of the late 80s, and then suddenly they were gone. Funny how that happens sometimes. She Drives You Crazy was all over MTV in its day. Here’s the video.

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