Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eruption Take A One Way Ticket To Hit Central

In 1979 I recall hearing a song called ‘One Way Ticket’ and thinking that it sounded very reminiscent of Boney M. Well, it wasn’t Boney M behind the track, but there was a very strong connection that contributed to the similarity in sound/style.

The artist was in fact a five piece disco/soul/funk outfit called Eruption. Eruption was formed in 1974 in London by vocalists Leslie Johnson (lead) Precious Wilson (backing), with brothers Gregory (guitar) and Morgan (guitar) Petrineau, Gerry Williams (keyboards) and Eric Kingsley (drums). Precious Wilson had been born in Jamaica and migrated to England with her family when she was seven. The other members of Eruption hailed from the Caribbean (Guyana) and Africa (Ghana), but they quickly made Britain there home, winning the RCA sponsored Soul Search Contest in 1975, scoring their first recording contract.

Their debut single ‘Let Me Take You Back In Time’ gave the band a profile on the soul/R&B charts during 1976/77 but mainstream success still eluded them. Exit lead vocalist Leslie Johnson and enter Boney M producer Frank Farian who saw the potential for another chart topping act. Farian assumed creative control of the group, signing them on with the German based Hansa Records label, making them label mates of Boney M (also supporting them on tour). Identifying the need for a charismatic focal point, Farian moved former backing singer Precious Wilson clearly out front of the band for their next single ‘Party Party’ (1977). But it would be the group’s next single that would elevate them to Boney M like heights of popularity. ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ (originally a UK#41 hit for Ann Peebles) hit the British charts in February 1978, shortly after debuting Stateside and in Australia. The electro-funk tune, credited to Eruption Ft. Precious Wilson, soared to #5 in the U.K., #18 in the U.S. and erupted to #1 on the Australian charts during June ‘78. Soon after their self titled album ‘Eruption’ (OZ#14) hit the stores, but surprisingly didn’t yield any more hits.

Just as many, including I can recall Molly Meldrum, were about to consign Eruption to the one hit wonder bin, they released the single ‘One Way Ticket’. The song was written by Neil Sedaka and had originally been the B-side to his 1959 hit ‘Oh! Carol’. But Farian gave it the Boney M production treatment and the Eruption version was virtually unrecognisable beside the original. Their version was funked up with a twist of reggae for good measure and debuted on the U.K. and Australian charts in mid ‘79. ‘One Way Ticket’ arrived at destination #9 in Britain and #10 in Australia, whilst it proved popular on the U.S. club circuit, peaking at #30 on the U.S. Club Play Singles chart. Their second album ‘Leave A Light’ only managed to illuminate as high as #42 on the Australian charts, and neither title track nor ‘Sweet Side’ broke out on the singles charts.

Singer Precious Wilson left Eruption soon after, and was replaced by Kim Davies. The new look Eruption released the album ‘Fight Fight Fight’ in 1980, but though the singles ‘Go Johnnie Go’ (Ge#10) or ‘Runaway’ (Ge#21) maintained the group’s profile on the Continent, Eruption couldn’t manage to buck against the rapid sinking of the good ship disco and all who crammed aboard her. Tragically singer Kim Davies was killed in a car accident and for a while Eruption put everything on hold to consider their future.

They recruited a new lead singer Jane Jochen, and following a compilation release in 1981, released an album of new material ‘Our Way’ in 1983. Sadly the poor sales of singles ‘In A Thousand Years’ and ‘Joy To The World’ indicated Eruption were approaching career dormancy. One final single in 1985 with ‘Where Do I Begin’ failed to spark any further interest, and Eruption soon called it a day.

Precious Wilson continued to record and tour throughout the 80s and 90s. In 1994 Farian released the compilation CD ‘Eruption Gold’, which featured several remixed Eruption tracks and Precious Wilson solo singles. Precious Wilson provided the vocals on the 1992 UK#19 hit ‘I Feel Love’ by techno group ‘Messiah’.

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