The Firm (novelty band)

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For other uses, including other groups called The Firm, see Firm (disambiguation).
The Firm
Origin London, England
Genres Novelty songs
Years active 1982–1987
Labels Bark
Past members John O'Connor, Grahame Lister, Tony Thorpe, Dev Douglas, Gary Wilson

The Firm is a British music act, formed by guitarist, session musician and music producer John O'Connor, which had hits in the 1980s with novelty songs.

"Arthur Daley E's Alright"[edit]

John O'Connor, primarily an acoustic guitarist, ran his own recording studio (Bark Studios in Walthamstow, London) specialising in songwriters' demos, for some ten years.[1] In the early 1980s he decided to concentrate more on playing and writing music, working as a session musician with artists in a variety of genres, from Maddy Prior and Isla St Clair to the more commercial pop of Bucks Fizz.

In 1982 he and fellow guitarist Grahame Lister wrote a novelty song, "Arthur Daley 'E's Alright",[2] based around the Arthur Daley character from the British TV series Minder, and including many catchphrases from the show. Unable to find an artist willing to release the song, O'Connor & Lister did it themselves, under the name of 'The Firm'. It spent seven weeks in the UK Top 40, peaking at No. 14,[3] and was performed on TV chart show Top of the Pops on 29 July 1982 featuring former Rubettes guitarist Tony Thorpe on lead vocals.[4]

"Long Live The National"[edit]

In 1983, with the future of the Grand National horse race in doubt, The Firm released a song "Long Live The National" as a single in support of the campaign to keep the race alive. The single did not chart.

"Star Trekkin'"[edit]

In 1987 O'Connor and Lister recorded another novelty song, this time based around catchphrases from the Star Trek TV series set to a catchy, childlike tune with an increasingly frantic arrangement. By now the group included former The Rubettes guitarist Tony Thorpe, who adopted the stage name Ron Spock in homage to Star Trek character Spock. It was rejected by all the labels he approached with it. Believing it to be worth releasing, O'Connor pressed an initial 500 copies on his own label, Bark Music.[5] The record, "Star Trekkin'", spent two weeks at number one in the UK and a total of nine weeks in the UK Top 40,[3] and reached No.3 in Australia, with comparable success in Japan and Europe and worldwide sales of over a million copies.[1]

Though it received substantial airplay on various radio stations throughout the U.S., the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

On the back of their success with "Star Trekkin'", The Firm released an album, "Serious Fun", in 1987, through K-Tel in the UK and Dino Music in Australia.[6][7] As well as "Star Trekkin'", it included previous singles "Arthur Daley ('E's All Right)", "Superheroes" and "Cash in Hand", plus eight new tracks.

In the US, "Star Trekkin'" was released on the Dr. Demento albums Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty CD of All Time in 1988, Dr. Demento: 20th Anniversary Collection in 1991, and Dr. Demento: Hits From Outer Space in 2006.

Afterwards[edit]

O'Connor moved to California, where he went on to record several New Age music albums on the Higher Octave label as part of the band Eko,[1] and won the BMI TV Music award (1998)[8] for his work as composer on the King of the Hill cartoon series. "Star Trekkin'" is still played on shows like Dr. Demento and regularly resurfaces on compilation albums to this day.[9] Lister still writes in The Jailhouse Studio in Essex but mainly records in Nashville, Tennessee. He also plays in his band, Roots Revue, every Thursday in Brentwood, Essex. Apart from music he also coaches tennis in Billericay, at the Billericay Lawn Tennis Club.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Tingen, Paul (December 1998). "John O'Connor From 'Star Treking' To King Of The Hill". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  2. ^ "Firm, The - Arthur Daley 'E's Alright". Discogs. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  3. ^ a b "Arthur Daley (E's Alright)". Chart Stats. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  4. ^ "The Minder songs". The unofficial fans of Minder website. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  5. ^ "Firm, The - Star Trekkin'". Discogs. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  6. ^ "Firm, The - Serious Fun". Discogs. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  7. ^ "Firm, The - Serious Fun". Discogs. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  8. ^ "BMI Film/TV Awards: 1998". Broadcast Music, Inc. 1998-01-01. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  9. ^ "Dr. Demento Discography". DMDB. Retrieved 2007-04-25.