Today’s POP Rescue from an uncertain fate, is the debut 1989 hit album The Twelve Commandments Of Dance by duo London Boys.
This 12 track album bursts open with lead single Requiem. Whilst starting with some sinister gothic organ, it soon switches over to a bouncing bassline and beat. The throbbing synth bass set alongside the repeated line of ‘never gonna get enough’ is catchy, and the spoken word style of the verses remind me of the Pet Shop Boys. This gives the choruses a great contrast where Dennis Fuller and Edem Ephraim show off their vocal range and harmonies. This is a wonderful dancey, uplifting song.
Some pan-pipes open next song Kimberley (My Ma-Mama Say), switching to another chugging bass-heavy track, backed by a light pop beat. The chorus is really quite catchy. At times it reminds me a little of Boney M.
Next up is Harlem Desire, which stood as their third UK charting single, reaching #17 in 1989. This song is quite dancey, giving plenty of space for Edem to show off his vocals. It has some great vocal harmonies too, and also sees lots of stabbing synths scattered throughout. Musically, this again reminds me of the Pet Shop Boys, and it’s wonderfully catchy and sing-along.
Chinese Radio follows this, and is laden with pseudo-Chinese-esque synth sounds. The spoken-word verses offer a sound that feels like it’s from much earlier in the 1980s, and it works pretty well here. The chorus is wonderfully catchy with ‘Ouuh, radio! I love my radio! My chinese radio‘ whilst a repeated ‘radio, radio, radio‘ is chanted underneath it. All ends on the gong, presumably signalling dinner time.
This is followed by Wichitah Woman, which starts off with some more of that pseudo-Chinese-esque sounding synth, and it repeats it several times throughout which is odd considering Wichitah (sic) is in the US. The song bounces along, but it’s not quite as catchy as some of the other tracks. This song feels like a filler to me.
Up next is My Love, which is a great little dance track. It’s fairly simple, but catchy, giving the guys lots more vocal harmony time. This was the fourth UK single for the duo, but signalled their decline by stalling at #46 in the charts. Still, it did earn them an appearance on UK Breakfast Show TV-AM during the Mad Lizzie Webb fitness routine section.
Hit single London Nights is up next, and the tempo, throbbing bassline, and the mixture of choral synth samples and dance beat really makes this song really catchy. It’s completely understandable how this song did so well back in the summer of 1989. Again, there’s plenty of Pet Shop Boys about this song, and that would have certainly been to their credit, alongside the general up-beat, party feeling of the song.
I’m Gonna Give My Heart is a much more gentle pop track in comparison to the more energetic tracks that appear elsewhere on this album. It comes complete with some lovely synths sweeping in. Again the pounding dance beat is present, and the song builds up nicely into the first verse. This song acted as the duo’s first single back in 1986, but like the next four singles (most also from this album), it failed to chart. Thankfully they persisted, and found success a few years later.
Ninth track El Matinero reminds me a little bit like an early Macarena. Essentially it seems to be about a dance, and the song has plenty of vocal samples, and (i think) South American sounds to it. The song is pretty simple, but again feels a bit like a filler.
Dance, Dance, Dance is up next, and this was their third early non-charting single in 1987. There’s elements of Stock/Aitken/Waterman to this track, even though they had nothing to do with it. Obligatory 80s Saxophone gets a speedy airing here, helping to deliver the song into its final third. The song has some great megaphone-styled instructions for the dancing listener. I’m surprised that this song didn’t chart, as it’s catchy enough.
A slow ballad follows – Sandra – possibly the only song in the history of pop to bear that name. This sees Edem and Dennis take on a more mature sound and topic of missing a love. Gone are the pounding dance beats and synths. This time it’s vocal harmonies and gentle beats. There’s even a key change and a brief second appearance of Obligatory 80’s Saxophone in the last third of the song.
The album closes with The Midi Dance, which even by title, let alone by the vocals and music style, sound like it’s come straight off of a David Hasselhoff album. The song plods along with plenty of space for Edem and Dennis to once again show off their vocals. The chorus is particularly catchy, as is the bridge where they spell the word ‘midi’ just incase you’re confused. This is quite a nice catchy closure to the album, and gives a lyrical nod to disco influences that have appeared throughout the album.
Over all, this album has some wonderful early commercial dance/europop and light rap tracks on it. The album does hint back towards disco, but it undoubtedly helped to open the door to what was yet to come in 1990 with the commercial surge of dance music. It is up-beat throughout and mostly up-lifting and cheerful – definitely one to feel good about, although towards the end does seem to contain a few fillers. I’d have sliced 2 tracks off (El Matinero, and Wichitah Woman) to make this a perfect five-star rated 10 track dance album.
Where are the London Boys now?
Having finally made their chart break-through, the London Boys proved very successful with their Hi-NRG dance music and dance routines, for their first run of singles with this album. However, their commercial success faded despite releasing a further two studio albums and a ‘best of’ album, and none of these managed to chart in the UK. Singles Chapel Of Love (1990) and Freedom (1991) managed to score them low-chart positions, 75 and 54 respectively.
Sadly, both members were killed when their car was hit by a drunk driver whilst they were driving to a skiing holiday in Austria in January 1996. Edem’s wife was also killed, leaving their 3 year old son an orphan.
POP RESCUE REVIEW
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1989 UK CHART POSITION: #2
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from a Marie Curie shop.