Friday, January 2, 2009

Cramped Sleeping Quarters Inspire A #1 Hit

Perhaps realising his error on the ‘Tales Of Illusion’ album, Young returned to the familiar Fox formula for the band’s next single ‘S-S-S-Single Bed’, released in the first half of ‘76. Noosha assumed lead vocal duties, aside from the Kenny Young delivered ‘talk box guitar’ section of the song. ‘S-S-S-Single Bed’ stormed into the British charts in April ‘76, and found a place to lay its weary head at #4. Australia adopted Fox as its own and ‘S-S-S-Single Bed’ streaked to #1 in August ‘76. It spent three weeks at the summit, and went on to become the 8th biggest selling single in Australia for 1976. On the back of the phenomenal success of ‘S-S-S-Single Bed’, Fox’s first two British hits, ‘Only You Can’ and ‘Imagine Me Imagine You’, were released as a double-A side single in Australia, and reached #16. An Australian released album titled ‘S-S-S-Single Bed’ (#22), was an amalgamation of Fox’s first two 1975 albums.

In early 1977 Fox finally unveiled their third album ‘Blue Hotel’, this time featuring Noosha as lead vocalist on every track. When Kate Bush emerged on the scene later in the year, comparison’s were drawn between the shrill, high pitched vocal styles of both singers, but Noosha’s delivery was more languid. Kenny Young was again the main creative force in terms of writing and production, though guitarist Herbie Armstrong contributed to the mix. ‘S-S-S-Single Bed’ was included on the album, in fact it was the opening track, but the next single ‘My Old Man’s Away’, missed the charts completely. Reportedly the rest of the album was a bit of an eclectic mix, oscillating between slickly produced soft rock, through progressive rock, to straight pop. Whatever the balance, good or bad, the public at large didn’t choose to spend 45 minutes at Fox’s ‘Blue Hotel’.

Following the disappointing reception for ‘Blue Hotel’, Noosha left Fox to pursue a solo career. Given her strong association with Fox, the singer adopted the name Noosha Fox for her first single ‘Georgina Bailey’. The song, written and produced by Kenny Young, reached #31 on the British charts late in 1977 (OZ#91). A Noosha Fox album was in the works, but was shelved indefinitely. Her next single, ‘The Heat Is On’ (not of the Glenn Frey variety), surfaced in 1979, but it froze on release.

Meanwhile, Kenny Young and Herbie Armstrong maintained musical ties in a new band called Yellow Dog (taking their name from the W.C. Handy standard 'Yellow Dog Blues'). They scored a major hit in both Britain and Australia with the quirky pop rock number ‘Just One More Night’. Lyrically it featured a similar theme to Carole Bayer Sager’s ‘You’re Moving Out Today’ (see previous post), with equivalent acerbic humour, from a male perspective. As mentioned, the track’s previous incarnation was on Fox’s ‘Tales Of Illusion’ album (where Young actually handled the vocals). The song was given an overhaul, and peaked at #8 in Britain, and #6 in Australia in mid ‘78. It was lifted from Yellow Dog’s second album ‘Beware Of The Dog’ (OZ#50 - they had released a self titled effort in late ‘77). The follow up single ‘Wait Until Midnight’ didn’t quite have the snarl of its predecessor, peaking at #54 in the U.K. and #74 in Australia. Yellow Dog released one final album in 1981, titled ‘Stranger In Paradise’, but they retired to the kennel soon after. Herbie Armstrong later worked extensively with Van Morrison, and Fox keyboardist Pete Solley went on to be a much in demand producer (Jo Jo Zep, The Sports, The Romantics, Oingo Boingo - see previous posts), and recording with the likes of Eric Clapton, Whitesnake, Procol Harum, and Al Stewart (see Dec post).

In 1980, between Yellow Dog albums, Kenny Young reunited with Noosha Fox, and a reformed Fox released the single ‘Electro People’, their take on a new wave synth-pop track. It was heard as a theme tune for the Kenny Everett Show, but didn’t garner much airplay otherwise. That was where the Fox reunion ended, and Noosha Fox returned to her solo career. She released two more single during 1981, ‘More Than Molecules’ and ‘Hot As Sun’, neither of which managed to react with any heat. Soon after she withdrew from the music business for the remainder of the 80s. She recorded some new material with Fox (the band) in the early 90s, but it remained unreleased until 2004, when it was included as bonus material on a CD reissue of the ‘Tales Of Illusion’ album. There is an official Noosha Fox website in development, well at least it was as of two years ago. Maybe if it ever gets properly up and running, we’ll learn more of what Noosha Fox has been up to over the last 25 years - selling S-S-S-Single Beds?

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