The Hit Parade
|The Hit Parade|
left-right Cath Carroll and Julian Henry.
|Labels||JSH Records, UK
Minty Fresh, US
Vinyl Japan, Japan
Sarah Records, UK
The Hit Parade are an independent pop music group, based in London, England. It has been claimed that they are named after the US television programme, Your Hit Parade. However, this programme was unheard of in the UK, where the weekly Top 50 charts were themselves often referred to as the hit parade in the past. The Hit Parade was formed in 1984, by three school friends Raymond Watts, Matthew Moffatt and Julian Henry. The group has released seven albums and eleven singles to date.
The Hit Parade recorded their first three singles in Raymond Watt's garage in the 1980s, working alongside experimental groups Psychic TV and Einstürzende Neubauten who were both recording there at the time. The Hit Parade's early records "My Favourite Girl" and "The Sun Shines In Gerrards Cross" became 'Singles of the Week' in Melody Maker and Record Mirror, and were played on BBC Radio 1 by DJs including John Peel, David "Kid" Jensen and Janice Long.
The Hit Parade has never been commercially successful, in part because the three core members have been occupied in other careers. Watts moved to Berlin in 1989 to record with industrial rock acts, Henry developed a successful career in marketing and journalism, while Moffatt founded his own film lighting company. But they have continued to release records to the current day. They proclaim the Latin motto "Semper Eadem" ("always the same") on their records.
The Hit Parade record for the JSH record label producing 7" vinyl singles in limited editions. The first six of these singles, carrying the catalogue reference JSH 1 through to JSH 6 have become collectible. In 1985, The Hit Parade became the last group signed to Stiff Records by label chief Dave Robinson. Material was recorded for Stiff, but the label went out of business before anything (other than a track on a compilation album) was released.
In 1988, él records label boss Mike Alway introduced Henry to Jessica and Miranda Griffin of indie band Would-be-goods. Henry arranged  nine of the original twelve songs on the band's first album, The Camera Loves Me. In the 1990s, The Hit Parade signed to the Sarah Records label, and recorded "In Gunnersbury Park", an ode to Gunnersbury Park, the West London civic garden. Henry, and Harvey Williams from Another Sunny Day, performed at the Sarah Records farewell concert on board the Thekla Boat, permanently moored in Bristol, in 1995.
In the mid 1990s, The Hit Parade became popular in Japan and the Far East, as a part of a neo acoustic movement that celebrated British indie bands such as The Pastels and Haircut One Hundred. The Hit Parade signed to Vinyl Japan and later Polystar Records. They had a Top 20 indie hit with "Hello Hannah Hello". They toured Japan several times, and performed at the opening of the Virgin Megastore in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and appeared on MTV Japan and other TV shows. They signed to Minty Fresh Records, Chicago, in the United States and released their first US single, "Hello Hannah Hello".
In 2006, The Hit Parade released The Return Of The Hit Parade, their fifth album. It was the result of a three year collaboration between Henry and St Etienne producer / engineer / musician, Ian Catt. Their ninth single "My Stupid Band" was released at this time. The album also contained two songs set in coastal villages in Penwith, West Cornwall; "The Queen of Mousehole" and "Born in St Ives". In the same year, the Hit Parade single "You Didn't Love Me Then", appeared on Sanctuary Records C86 double album Cd86: The Birth Of Indie Pop.
The band released their tenth single in October 2010, a duet featuring Cath Carroll and Julian Henry named "I Like Bubblegum" b/w "Zennor Mermaid" on 7" vinyl on JSH Records. The single raised money for the Porthmeor Studio in St Ives Cornwall restoration fund. It was voted one of the best singles of 2010 by Drowned In Sound. In May 2011 they released their 11th single 'There's Something About Mary', which raised funds for the Fisherman's Mission in Newlyn and was described as 'a bona fide pop smash' by Drowned In Sound. The B-side contains a tribute to 90s Sarah Records signing Brighter, named 'The Boy Who Loves Brighter'.
In 2014 the Hit Parade released "Cornish Pop Songs", a collection of new songs set in West Penwith, to glowing reviews. The Cornishman called the release 'the best album made about Cornwall this century" and "a glorious collection of melodic, memorable guitar-based tunes".
Many of the Hit Parade's songs refer to locations in England, Japan and Mexico including "See You In Havana" (Zihuatanejo, Mexico), "Huebos Mexica" (Zona Rosa, Zocalo, Mexico City), "Road To Beaconsfield" (Beaconsfield, Bull Lane Tennis Club Gerrards Cross), "Wipe Away the Tears" (Acton, London), "So This Is London" (London, Regent's Street), "Born In St Ives" (St Ives, Cornwall), "The Queen Of Mousehole" (Mousehole, Cornwall), "Westbourne Terrace W2", "Autobiography" (Goodwin Sands, Kent), "Gunnersbury Park", West London, "So Said Kayo" (Nagoya TV Tower, Mr Donut, Tokyo Hands Dept Store). The Hit Parade song, "Grace Darling", tells her heroic story, and appeared on their fourth album, The Sound of The Hit Parade.
Several Hit Parade songs refer to literary figures and their work, including "The Road To Beaconsfield" (George Orwell, Enid Blyton), "As I Lay Dying" (William Faulkner), "House Of Sarah" Evelyn Waugh Brideshead Revisited), "Huebos Mexicana" (Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Ernest Hemingway, Malcolm Lowry, Ken Kesey), "See You In Havana" (Hemingway) and others. The artwork to the band's singles feature literary locations including Eric Blair (George Orwell), Wordsworth (Grasmere, Cumbria), Derek Jarman (Dungeness), Colerige (Alfoxden Park), Ian Fleming & Noël Coward (St Margarets Bay). Several of the Hit Parade's songs reference other indie pop landmarks including "Harvey", "House Of Sarah", "Are You Scared To Be Happy?", "Boy Who Loves Brighter" and others. Julian Henry discusses this in The Guardian in June 2011.
The Hit Parade first played live as a three piece during a month long residency at The Mean Fiddler in North London in 1990 before embarking on a UK Tour. In 1992 they toured Japan for the first time playing concerts in Shinjuku, Tokyo; they returned for four other Japan tours playing concerts in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, appearing with Billy Childish and his group the Milkshakes, and Edwyn Collins. Their line up during these tours included Mike Watts (keyboards), Harvey Williams (guitar) and Cath Carroll (vocals). The last time The Hit Parade played live as a three piece with Henry, Moffatt and Watts, was in 2006 in London. Henry and Williams played several concerts in London and Oxford in 2009, including at the London Indiepop Festival where they played a set of combined Another Sunny Day and Hit Parade songs and were given a warm welcome.
In May 2014 The Hit Parade performed live as Sarah 058 at the Arnolfini Bristol 'Between Hello & Goodbye The Secret Life of Sarah Records' exhibition.
The Hit Parade's bass guitarist, Raymond Watts, is known for his industrial group PIG, releasing seventeen albums. As well as touring extensively in North America, Japan and Europe, Watts has recorded many albums with KMFDM, including a platinum selling track on the video game movie Mortal Kombat. In 2009, Watts co-produced the music for fashion designer Alexander McQueen's last Paris show. The Hit Parade's drummer, Matthew Moffatt, runs a London based film lighting company, working with directors including Mike Leigh, Kathryn Bigelow and Paul Greengrass. Moffatt is credited on several Hollywood and British produced films including the Oscar winning Hurt Locker, and the Oscar nominated Vera Drake and United 93. The Hit Parade's guitarist, Julian Henry, founded the public relations agency Henry's House, is a trustee of The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA, London), is an advisor to Simon Fuller, and has written for periodicals including NME, Music Week and The Guardian on both music and marketing. Other members included Cath Carroll, Harvey Williams and Mike Watts.
|1984||"Forever / Stop"||JSH 1|
|1984||"My Favourite Girl / It Rained On Monday Afternoon"||JSH 2|
|1985||"The Sun Shines in Gerrards Cross / You Hurt Me Too "||JSH 3|
|1985||"You Didn't Love Me Then / Huevos Mexicanos"||JSH 4|
|1986||"See You in Havana / Wipe Away The Tears"||JSH 5|
|1987||"I Get So Sentimental / Sue"||JSH 6|
|1991||"In Gunnersbury Park / Harvey"||SARAH 58|
|1994||"Autobiography / The Dispossessed, Now The Holiday's Over"||SARAH 90|
|2003||"In Your Arms / She Goes Down"||JSH 7|
|2005||"Born in St Ives / Beauty Queen"||JSH 8|
|2006||"My Stupid Band / Twenty Per Cent "||JSH 9|
|2010||"I Like Bubblegum / The Zennor Mermaid"||JSH 10|
|2011||"There's Something About Mary / The Boy Who Loves Brighter"||JSH 11|
|1988||With Love From The Hit Parade||JSH Records: JPEW 1|
|1991||More Pop Songs||Vinyl Japan|
|1992||Light Music||Polystar Records Japan|
|1994||The Sound Of The Hit Parade||Polystar Records Japan|
|2006||The Return Of The Hit Parade||JSH Records: JPEW 2|
|2012||Pick Of The Pops Volume 1||JSH Records: JPEW 3|
- Writing and arranging credits cited on the album The Camera Loves Me