Monday, 8 December 2014

Vintage Vinyl #4

Red Box - For America 7"
Bought from: Strawberry Fields, Cardiff
Price paid: one of a batch of singles I paid £8 for.

I told you about the shop where I bought this record along with a few others back on #2 in this series. The last time I passed it, it was closed and a sign in the window announced it was closing for good. A shame as I didn't spend nearly long enough there last time.

The story of Red Box is a rather interesting one, but I'll leave you to read that on Wikipedia. I remember this single back when it first came out in 1986. I had actually bought their previous single Lean On Me which reached number 3 in the UK charts the previous year. If I'm being honest, I much prefer Lean On Me - it's an absolutely corking song, one of the great forgotten hits of the 80s. For America was conceived as a protest against the record company. In spite of the massive worldwide success of Lean On Me, Sire felt Red Box's material didn't have the mainstream appeal they desired so asked them to write a song that could be a radio hit in the States. For America was the result, but far from championing our transatlantic friends, it was a scornful critique of the shallowness of the US media.

For America also made the Top 10 in the UK and was number one in six countries. Ironically (or not) it wasn't a hit in the States! The band's debut album 'The Circle & The Square' followed, and I remember buying it. Sadly, it didn't emulate the success of the singles, peaking at a lowly number 73 in the UK charts, and that was pretty much the last we ever heard of Red Box. Well, sort of...

A second album 'Motive' was released in 1990 to no fanfare and it sank without trace, Then 20 years later, a new Red Box line-up released 'Plenty', their third album, through the legendary Cherry Red Records, the label on which they released their very first single way back in 1983. They still tour and are big in Poland, apparently.


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