Friday, May 17, 2013

The Fixx - Reach the Beach

Today (May 17th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Reach the Beach, the second studio album from the British new wave band the Fixx. This Platinum seller from 1983 went to number 91 in the UK, and number 8 in Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 200. It generated a trio of top 40 singles here in the US.

The band roster stayed pretty stable at this point. Cy Curnin (vocals), Rupert Greenall (keyboards), Jamie West-Oram (guitar) and Adam Woods (drums) all returned. The bassist role was split between two men on the recording sessions: Alfie Agius and Dan K. Brown. Brown stayed with the band for the tour and was officially listed on the third album in 1984,

Side one opens with “One Thing Leads to Another”. As the second single, it went to number 86 in the UK, number 38 in Australia, number 14 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 2 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, and number 1 in Canada. While the guitars and percussion are in the forefront, for me it is the synth squeaks in the background that really make the song for me. It reminds me of being out dancing in the early 80’s as it was a very popular tune for parties and clubs; the 2003 CD release included an awesome eight minute extended mix of the song.

The third single “The Sign of the Fire” went to number 32 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 20 on the Billboard Dance chart. It has a moody, almost haunting musical sound that mirrors the concerned lyrical message. Hearing it brings to mind a very dark night with a creeping fog slowly spreading everywhere.

“Running” has a catchy, foot-bouncing beat to it as it paints its picture to an uncomfortable uneasiness.

“Saved by Zero” was released as the first single; it peaked at number 98 in Australia, number 45 in Canada, number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the Billboard Dance charts. The opening guitar riff with underlying bass response sets the tone of the tune very well. Lyrically, Curnin has gone on record to say it about finding that inner place where you find a release and having nothing left to lose.

“Opinions” was the B-side to the second single. It closes out the first half on a heavier, dour note. The song’s protagonist is wallowing in a very deep pool of self-pity as he cannot deal with the harsh criticisms of others.

Side two begins with the title track. “Reach the Beach” plods along at a mid-tempo pace, mirroring the motion of someone moving against an out-going tide in the attempt to arrive at a secure destination. Here, the beach is symbolic to the heart of a love.

“Changing” features an irregular beat that takes me a little bit to synchronize to.

The bass line on “Liner”, a song set aboard an ocean bound ship, has a very funky feel to it. The synths punctuate in the background with a horn-like quality.

“Privilege” is about having special access to things others do not. It draws musically from an R&B position that gives it a very nice groove.

“Outside” closes out the original vinyl with a prominent pounding drumbeat.

While I liked a few tracks from their 1982 debut album Shuttered Room (click here for that review), this was the one that made me a big fan of the band thanks to the three hit singles. Reach the Beach was hugely popular when I went to college in the fall of 1983. I remember quite fondly that the name was used quite often for party themes in the dorms; there would be huge posters recreating the iconic album art to advertise the events hanging in the lobby of the main dining hall.


HERC said...

Thirty years already? WOW! Thanks for the continuing trip through what seems like our nearly identical record collections.

That "One Thing Leads To Another" extended mix was my Holy Grail from the moment I first heard it on the Saturday Night Dance Party (or whatever it was called) we were listening to at my first job - it was my first week as well. I called the radio station and they gave me the number of the show's DJ (seems strange now) and I left him a message. He called me back, at work, three days later and said he would sell me the record for $75. I tried to bargain - $10 for a cassette copy of the song - and he countered with $25 for a full 60 minute tape of "rare mixes" which I accepted. The rest of the tape was lame EXCEPT for the very last song which wasn't a mix at all - "State Of The Nation" by Industry. (Surely, you're gonna review that one - the EP or Stranger To Stranger album. Please.)

Finally found the original promo 12" single with that mix of "One Thing Leads To Another" in 1986 at Bookman's for $5 - I like to think it was that same DJ's copy. Scored song on CD in 1995 on comp Hit That Perfect Beat! Vol. 2 and then again on the 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition of today's featured album in 2003. The big bonus on that last one for me was the Long Version of "Deeper And Deeper" from the Streets of Fire soundtrack. Had no idea it even existed!

Martin Maenza said...

Wow, that DJ really tried to stick it to you for some exclusive mixes.

I was not familiar with "State of the Nation" by Industry - I had to YouTube it. I don't remember that one - but I liked it. I will need to seek it out (see if the EP or album are anywhere available). The EP's were 1980 and 1981 while the album is 1984. So, I have time.

"Deeper and Deeper" from Streets of Fire is a great track! I like that whole soundtrack a lot (have reviewed it on my blog previously).

HERC said...

In my quest to get "rare" music, I have been rooked (for lack of a better term) many times but at the time it was worth it. Once a song gets into my head, I have to have have it. Still think today is the greatest time in history to be a music fan.

Those first two EPs were just two guys and they sound different - they added 2 more guys to the band, signed with a major label and put out another 5 song EP in 1983 that included "State Of The Nation" - the only song of theirs on Spotify.

There are two distinctly different official videos for the catchy song: one on a ship and one at a mansion. Then they put out the album and broke up. It was later issued on CD only in Phillipines where they were HUGE! While I have the vinyls, I still hope one day a CD will be released domestictally.

Lead singer/songwriter Jon Carin went on to write and tour with the Roger Waters-less Pink Floyd.

Have you read my Streets Of Fire feature? Who knew there was a sequel?

Martin Maenza said...

Thanks for the information on the EPs. Bummer only one song is on Spotify. If I can't find the tracks online to listen to, I probably won't be able to review the EP.

I checked out your Streets of Fire post. Very nice. I think I had heard about there being a sequel - not sure where I read it though.