Monday, June 23, 2008

Jim Diamond Earns Ph.D. In Hit Making

Jim Diamond was the voice behind the worldwide #1 ‘I Should Have Known Better’ in 1985 but many then, and many now, might not realise that he had already been involved with a huge hit single several years previous.

Scottish born Diamond had been a professional musician since his teens. During the 70s he toured and recorded with several bands including Gully Foyle, Bandit and the Alexis Korner Band. He then spent some time working as a session musician in L.A. and for a time formed a band called Slick Diamond (with guitarist Earl Slick). Diamond then returned to England and took up duties as one half of early 80s synthesizer-based group Ph.D. Diamond provided the vocals whilst the balance of the group was classically trained pianist Tony Hymas ex of the Jeff Beck Group (with another Jeff Beck Group alumni in drummer Simon Phillips joining in on the recording sessions). They struck gold in Australia in late 1981 with the song ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ which peaked at #5. It was one of my favourite tracks on my cassette copy of the compilation 1981 Over The Top released whilst the song was still entrenched in the charts. Surprisingly ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ didn’t hit the British charts until April 1982 but once there it performed even better than in Australia, eventually rising as high as #3. Ph.D.’s self titled debut album also sold well (OZ#29,UK#33).

Ph.D. enjoyed considerable success across Europe as well, with ‘I Won‘t Let You Down’ hitting #1 in Holland and the top 10 in West Germany (as it was then) and Belgium. They released a second album ‘Is It Safe’ in 1983 and the future looked bright until Diamond became ill for a prolonged period and the group eventually went their separate ways.

When ‘I Should Have Known Better’ reached #1 on the U.K. charts in December 1984, Jim Diamond was quoted as saying that he hoped it wouldn’t be #1 the following week. The reason was that the Band Aid single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ was due for release and he hoped it would go straight to the top on debut. That didn’t happen due to release dates and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power Of Love’ actually replaced Diamond’s song for one week prior to Band Aid rocketing to #1. Diamond’s #1 effort shares its title with The Beatles classic from ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and made it to #1 in Australia as well (1 week in April ‘85) but missed the charts in the U.S. He co-wrote the classic with Graham Lyle of Gallagher & Lyle fame (‘Heart On My Sleeve’).

Jim Diamond had a couple of minor hits later in 1985, also lifted from his debut solo album ‘Double Crossed’, before returning to the top 5 in Britain in 1986 with ‘Hi Ho Silver’, the theme song from the TV series ‘Boon’ (not of the David variety). Following an extended period away from the charts he returned with a self-titled album in 1993 which made the U.K. top 20. Diamond is still an active musician and regularly plays these days with saxophonist Chris ‘Snake Davis’ (M People) in a duo called The Blue Shoes. His most recent album release was 2005’s ‘Souled And Healed’. Fellow PhD member Tony Hymas has gone on to work more with the Jeff Beck Group and has also recorded several jazz and classical genre albums to critical acclaim. Rumour has it Diamond, Hymas and Phillips are back in the studio recording tracks for a long overdue new album for Ph.D.

With one of the most unique voices of his or any other era, Jim Diamond’s career should have reached greater commercial heights than it did, but still we have a handful of gems, diamonds even, to celebrate.


John Sposato said...

I can confirm there is a new album on the way. The old albums will be reissued as well. I helped with the reissues. They'll all be available in a couple months from Voiceprint.
There's an article and link on my blog.

A. FlockOfSeagulls said...

Many thanks for the update John. Look forward to the new/reissued material in coming months.

A. FlockOfSeagulls said...

Also, hope you don't mind that I've added a link to your blog site.
A. FlockOfSeagulls

John Sposato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Sposato said...

That's more than OK. I can't tell if people actually see it. I have too many good ideas just not to post them.
Three is now available! So is Double Crossed once again.

A. FlockOfSeagulls said...

Thanks John for the updated info. on album release availability. Keep up the good work!