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A-capella group that topped UK pop charts,
This review is from: The Best Of The Flying Pickets (Audio CD)
Pop music history is full of unlikely success stories but I was really taken by surprise when the Flying Pickets had the UK Christmas number one of 1983 with their cover of Only you. This song, a UK number two hit just a few months earlier for Yazoo (with Alison Moyet as lead singer), should not be confused with the similarly-titled Platters hit of the fifties, though both are great songs.
The Flying Pickets, as their name might suggest, originally came together when they were among the performers at a political musical, which toured theatres all over Europe for two years. After that, they refined their act performing live in the UK on the club and cabaret circuit before eventually landing a recording contract, which got off to a great start with Only you..
Although they followed Only you with a top ten hit - a cover of When you're young and in love (Marvelettes), they were unable to maintain their success. Their third and last hit (Who's that girl - a Eurythmics cover) just scraped into the lower end of the UK charts. Clearly, the British record-buying public regarded them as a novelty act although they remained popular live performers for a number of years.
This compilation contains their hits as well as their distinctive covers of I heard it through the grapevine (Marvin Gaye), Tears of a clown (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles), You've lost that loving feeling (Righteous Brothers), Sealed with a kiss (Brian Hyland), Only the lonely (Roy Orbison), Space oddity (David Bowie), Grooving (Young Rascals), I got you babe (Sonny and Cher), Summer in the city (Loving Spoonful), Get off of my cloud (Rolling Stones) and Higher and higher (Jackie Wilson).
I do not agree with their politics but it's the music that counts - and it's brilliant. The only other a-capella group I am familiar with is the Swingle singers. I like them too but I think that the very upbeat music of the Flying Pickets is more instantly appealing.