Wednesday, June 25, 2008

These Korgis Don't Live At Buckingham Palace

In amongst all the hurly burly of power-pop, punk, new wave and the lingering embers of disco during 1980, it was nice to see that a gentle, reflective ballad could still appeal to the masses. ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ by The Korgis was one such song.

At the core of The Korgis were the duo of James Warren (vocals/bass) and
Andy Davis (vocals/drums), both of whom had been members of established British rock outfit Stackridge. Davis was a founding member of Stackridge back in 1969 and Warren joined soon after. The two struck up a fruitful song writing partnership during the run of the eclectic band, which played a range of styles from psychedelic pop-rock to progressive rock. There were obvious comparisons to be drawn to contemporaries Genesis and Jethro Tull, but Stackridge didn’t succeed beyond a loyal cult following in Britain.

Warren left whilst the band were still active but Davis held on throughout a turbulent era of line-up changes during the mid 70s, before eventually Stackridge called it a day after the release of their 1976 album Mr. Mick. The pair decided to try their luck as a duo and thus The Korgis came to be. Though essentially a duo in terms of most of the creative aspects of the group, guitarist/violinist Stuart Gordon and keyboardist Phil Harrison were regular contributors along the way (prompting The Korgis to sometimes be referred to as a trio or even quartet). The Korgis released their first single ‘Young ‘n Russian’ in March 1979 but it went largely unnoticed. However their follow up effort ‘If I Had You’ finally offered Warren and Davis the vehicle to crack the top 20. The song peaked at #13 on the U.K. charts in mid ‘79 and gave The Korgis enough commerical impetus to record and release their debut eponymous album soon after.

The Korgis would reach the peak of their popularity during 1980 with the release of their second album ‘Dumb Waiters’ (UK#40,OZ#72). The first single lifted from it was ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ which became a global smash hit, reaching #5 in the U.K. mid year and soon after peaking at #11 in Australia and #18 in the U.S. The huge success of ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ has to many, consigned The Korgis to the museum of ‘one hit wonders’ but technically speaking they were not so. But their commercial appeal was relatively short lived - the follow up single ‘If It’s Alright With You Baby’ only made the lower reaches of the U.K. charts (#56) whilst a third single ‘Rovers Return’ didn’t return The Korgis to the charts.
The Korgis released one more album in 1981 with ‘Sticky George’, but by this time the group was largely driven by James Warren and the single released ‘That Was My Big Mistake’ was actually credited to James Warren & The Korgis. It was apparent soon after that The Korgis had called it a day, though one more single was issued during 1982, with a Trevor Horn produced remix of the song ‘Don’t Look Back’.

Following the dissolution of The Korgis James Warren released the solo album ‘Burning Questions’ in 1986 whilst Andy Davis released his own solo LP in 1989 titled ‘Clevedon Pier’. The pair reunited in 1990 to re-record ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’, with new recruit John Baker on board, and soon after released an album of new material called ‘This World’s For Everyone’ (1992). But despite being well received in parts of Europe and Japan the reformation would be short lived. During the 90s Davis collaborated with former Korgis associate Stuart Gordon in the Andy Davis Band. The 90s also saw a rekindling of interest in the music of Stackridge, and in light of this James Warren put together a demo EP initially and after much too-ing and fro-ing eventually a revamped Stackridge line-up coalesced to record and tour again in the late 90s.

Most recently Warren and Davis once again resurrected The Korgis, again with early 90s collaborator John Baker, to record a 14 track ‘unplugged’ album of material released in 2006. Soon after a new song ‘Something About The Beatles’ was made available online. It seems these ‘old dogs’ still have a few new tricks left, though ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ will likely remain their best effort.

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