Babylon Zoo

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Babylon Zoo
OriginWolverhampton, England
GenresAlternative rock, electronic rock
Years active1992–2000
LabelsPhonogram, WEA, EMI
Past members

Babylon Zoo were an English rock band formed in 1992 in Wolverhampton. Their song "Spaceman" gained considerable exposure through its use in a Levi's jeans television advert in the United Kingdom in late 1995. Released as the band's debut single on 21 January 1996, it entered the UK Singles Chart at number one.[2] "Spaceman" led to the band being considered a one-hit wonder; they had little success with any subsequent releases.[3]


Frontman Jas Mann had formerly been in an indie music band, called The Sandkings. In 1993, a three-track demo earned him a contract from Phonogram Records for his next project, Babylon Zoo,[3] but ended up being signed to Warners' WEA record label where the band recorded the album The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes. However around this time Clive Black, the Managing Director of Warners, was poached by rival record company EMI and so took Babylon Zoo over to EMI.[4][5]

The band's first single was the song "Spaceman" which had been recorded and pressed by Warners as a CD single, before being scrapped when Black left the company. However, a promo version was played on a Manchester radio station, where an advertising agency creative heard it and decided it would be perfect for a Levi's jeans TV advert they were developing. Levi's used part of "Spaceman" for their UK TV ad and so the hook of the song became popular. Even though the rest of the song turned into slower grunge-glam track, it still became the fastest-selling debut single in British history.[6] The single sold 383,000 copies in the first week of release,[7] spending 5 weeks at number 1.[8]

Critic Steven Wells wrote that the "Spaceman" single (resembling the Levi's advert version for only "about ten seconds") angered many consumers. He reported that Mann drew further ire through self-aggrandising interviews, and noted his ridicule in the media, including from the NME and in a 1997 episode of comedy TV series Brass Eye.[9]

Tim Moore wrote that "only failure and embarrassment" followed for Babylon Zoo.[10] An album entitled The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes was produced at Mann's New Atlantis Productions music and video centre. It peaked at number 6 on the UK Albums Chart on 17 February,[2] but quickly dropped out of the Top 40, lasting only a further two weeks on the chart.[11] Subsequent singles charted progressively lower, failing to match the success of "Spaceman".[8] The band's reputation was further damaged by a series of scathing live reviews.[12]

In 1999, a follow-up album was released, King Kong Groover. The album received negative reviews and sold fewer than 10,000 units,[12] failing to chart in the UK. The singles from the album were "All The Money's Gone", which was released in the UK and Europe and peaked at number 46 on the UK Singles Chart. The second single, a cover of Mott the Hoople's "Honaloochie Boogie", was only released as a promotional single in France.[13] The group disbanded shortly after and Mann moved to India where he spent time working for an aid agency.[14]

In 2005, Jas Mann announced he would be issuing a new Babylon Zoo album, called Cold Clockwork Doll, though no official release date was ever announced and no further updates followed.[14][15]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Many critics and journalists felt that Babylon Zoo was influenced by David Bowie's musical style.[16][17][18][19] As such, the band can be seen as a 90's alternative rock band of the time with glam and electronic influences.



Title Released UK
The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes February 1996 6 28
King Kong Groover February 1999


Year Song UK
Certification Album
1995 "Spaceman" 1 3 The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes
1996 "Animal Army" 17 59
"The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes" 32
1999 "All the Money's Gone" 46 King Kong Groover
"Honaloochie Boogie"
2000 "Love Lies Bleeding" Non-album single

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whetstone, David. "Broom Bezzums: Germany's most famous English folk band gear up for UK tour - The Journal". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 38. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ a b Sutton, Michael. "Babylon Zoo Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Babylon Zoo Online :: Biography". Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  5. ^ "About Babylon Zoo & Jas Mann". Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  6. ^ Borzillo, Carrie (16 March 1996). "Popular Uprisings". Billboard. Vol. 108, no. 11. p. 26. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Clean Bandit score huge-selling Number 1 single with Rather Be". Official Charts Company. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Official Charts: Babylon Zoo - Singles". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  9. ^ Wells, Steven (23 January 1999). "This week's singles". NME. Archived from the original on 31 August 2000. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  10. ^ Moore, Tim (2012). You are Awful (but I Like You): Travels Through Unloved Britain. Vintage. pp. 157–158. ISBN 978-0-224-09011-7.
  11. ^ "1996 Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive 9th March 1996". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Spaceman band falls back to earth". Sunday Mercury. The Free Library. 9 May 1999. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Babylon Zoo - Honaloochie Boogie". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Where Are They Now?". Archived from the original on 30 April 2012.
  15. ^ Edden, John (21 April 2011). "Whatever happened to... Babylon Zoo". Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  16. ^ Thompson, Dave (June 1996). "Babylon Zoo: The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes". Alternative Press. p. 69.
  17. ^ Spencer, Neil (11 February 1996). "Music Releases". The Observer: 12.
  18. ^ Gill, Andy (2 February 1996). "Record reviews". The Independent. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  19. ^ Courtney, Kevin (12 February 1999). "Rock/Pop". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 6 December 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  20. ^ a b Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
  21. ^ "1996 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 16 April 2020.

External links[edit]