Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Sigue Sigue Sputnik, 1986.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik were a British new wave band formed in 1982 by former Generation X bassist Tony James. The band had three UK top 40 hit singles, including the songs "Love Missile F1-11" and "21st Century Boy".
The band was formed by Tony James, ex-bassist of the defunct Gen X, and Neal X (Whitmore), who recruited singer Martin Degville. Degville was a clothes designer and supplied the band's wardrobe, and YaYa, the store where he worked, became the band's base. Their first gig was in Paris, supporting Johnny Thunders, with James' former Generation X colleague and then drummer for Thunders, Mark Laff, on drums.
Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash, worked with the band as live sound engineer, helped manipulate their sound, and appeared with them when they opened for New Model Army. Fachna O'Kelly, manager of The Boomtown Rats who had provided much of the band's equipment, provided the band with the name Sigue Sigue Sputnik, as a supposed reference to a Russian street gang and meaning, in rough translation "burn, burn satellite" ("sigue" coming from a form of the Russian verb сжигать, meaning burn, and Sputnik referencing the first man-made satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957). The band's sound was, according to James, arrived at by accident, when he inadvertently mixed elements of film soundtracks with their demo track "Love Missile F1-11" while putting together a video compilation from his favourite films.
Commercial success (1984–1989)
Interest in the band increased sharply in 1984 after James was interviewed by the NME, with several record companies sending representatives to their next performance at the Electric Cinema in London, and they were invited to perform on The Tube. The band were signed by EMI, with the band themselves claiming in the press that they had signed for £1m, though in actual fact revealed to be £350,000. The band's first single, the Giorgio Moroder-produced "Love Missile F1-11", was released in February 1986, and reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart, number 2 in South Africa and was a major hit in several countries in Europe and Asia. Its popularity was boosted by its inclusion in the John Hughes film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The samples used in the single had not received copyright clearance, and were replaced in the US version. The follow-up, "21st Century Boy" reached number 20 in the UK and, despite largely negative reviews, the album that followed, Flaunt It, again with Moroder at the controls, went top ten in the UK, and also reached number 96 in the US. The album included paid commercials between tracks, James stated prior to its release that they would sell 20–30-second advertising slots for between $2,500 and $7,000. He explained this by saying "commercialism is rampant in society. Maybe we're a little more honest than some groups I could mention," and "our records sounded like adverts anyway". Advertisements that did sell (including spots for i-D Magazine and Studio Line from L'Oréal) were complemented by ironic spoof ads including one for the Sputnik corporation itself claiming that "Pleasure is our Business". A subsequent tour was characterised by poor ticket sales and crowd violence.
It was two years before the band followed this up, and subsequent releases fared less well. The Stock Aitken Waterman produced "Success" peaked at number 31 in late 1988 and the singles that followed peaked outside the top 40. Second album Dress for Excess peaked at number 53 in the UK but sold well in Brazil. The band split up in July 1989, with James joining The Sisters of Mercy later that year. Chris Kavanagh went on to Big Audio Dynamite II joining Mick Jones. Mayhew formed Mayhem Deranged.
A collection of early demo recordings from 1984 and 1985, along with three tracks from 1990, First Generation, was released in 1991.
In 1995, James and X formed a new version of the band with Christopher Novak (vocals) and John Green (keyboards). Their song "Cyberspace Party" was a major hit in Japan, and an album, Sputnik: The Next Generation, was released there, selling 50,000 copies. In 1998, with Degville back on vocals and with Claudia Cujo on drums, the band started to perform again which resulted in the year 2000 release of Piratespace.
In 2004, Degville left the band to pursue a solo career and has performed as Sputnik 2/ Sputnik 2 – The Future and Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic, self-releasing tracks under those and his own name over the years through www.sputnik2.com and other digital sites. In 2016, a 12" vinyl version of a track called "Timex Kid" was released under the Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic name.
Neal X is a key member of the Marc Almond band plus he went on to form his own band, The Montecristos which released its debut album "Born to Rock n' Roll" in 2015 following a successful crowd funding project.
Tony James formed the group Carbon/Silicon with Mick Jones which has released a number of tracks digitally for free (namely via www.carbonsilicon.com) as well as selling music commercially, including the 2007 album release The Last Post.
James claimed that he had chosen his bandmates for their looks, and the band's slogan was "Fleece the World". James billed the band as "Hi-tech sex, designer violence, and the fifth generation of rock 'n' roll".
The themes and imagery in the band's songs were often influenced by futuristic, dystopian or post-apocalyptic films such as A Clockwork Orange, The Terminator, Blade Runner and the Mad Max trilogy. Visually, their image included fishnet masks and brightly coloured wigs.
- Tony James – space guitar, electric guitar, synth guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, backing vocals (1982–1989, 1995, 1998, 2001–)
- Neal X – electric guitar, backing vocals (1982–1989, 1995, 2001–)
- Martin Degville – lead vocals (1982–1989, 1998, 2001–2004)
- Chris Kavanagh – drums, electronic drums (1982–1989, 1995)
- Ray Mayhew – drums, electronic drums (1982–1989)
- Yana YaYa (Jane Farrimond) – keyboards, space echo, special effects, effects (1982–1989)
- John Green – keyboards (1995)
- Christopher Novak – lead vocals (1995)
- Claudia Cujo – drums (1998)
- Jenny Z – effects (2001–2009)
- 1986: Flaunt It – UK No. 10
- 1988: Dress for Excess – UK No. 53
- 1996: Sputnik: The Next Generation (Japanese only release under the name Sputnik: The Next Generation featuring Hotei)
- 2000: Piratespace
- 2002: Blak Elvis vs. The Kings of Electronic Rock and Roll
- 2003: Ultra Real
- 1990: The First Generation
- 1997: The First Generation – Second Edition
- 1998: The Ultimate 12" Collection
- 1999: Flaunt It + Dress for Excess – French single CD edition of both albums (minus "Success" and "Dancerama").
- 2000: Sci-Fi Sex Stars
- 2001: 21st Century Boys: The Best of Sigue Sigue Sputnik
- 2003: The First Generation – Vid Edition
- 2007:One-Up: Sigue Sigue Sputnik – The Remixes (digital only release)
- 2007: Ray of Light (digital only release which includes 6 tracks recorded for "tribute" albums)
- 2008: 1984 Flaunt It: Demos and More
- 2013: Demo Bomb (free digital only release via sputnikworld.com)
- 1986: "Love Missile F1-11" – UK No. 3, SA No. 2
- 1986: "21st Century Boy" – UK No. 20
- 1986: "Massive Retaliation" (US only release)
- 1986: "Sex Bomb Boogie" (German only release)
- 1986: "Rocket Miss USA"/"Teenage Thunder" (released under the name "Sci-Fi Sex Stars")
- 1988: "Success" – UK No. 31
- 1988: "Hey! Jayne Mansfield (Superstar)" (Brazilian only promo release)
- 1989: "Dancerama" – UK No. 50
- 1989: "Ride 'Em Carmen" (released under the name "Bizet Boys")
- 1989: "Albinoni vs. Star Wars" – UK No. 75
- 1989: "Rio Rocks"
- 1996: "Cyberspace Party" (Japanese only release under the name "Sputnik: The Next Generation")
- 1996: "Like There's No Tomorrow" (UK 12" promo release under the name "T.N.G.")
- 2001: "Love Missile F1-11" (Westbam Remix) (German only release)
- 2002: "Everybody Loves You" (German only release)
- 2004: "Grooving with Mr. Pervert"
- 2007: "Ride My Love Missile" (white label only techno mix of "Love Missile F1-11")
- 2009: "Into the Unknown" (free digital only single release via sputnikworld.com)
- 2011: "C'mon Everybody" (Japanese only digital release)
- 1986: Documentary/Rockit Miss USA (Remix)/She's My Man (Remix) (12" Limited Edition - 5000 copies given away free with the album Flaunt It at HMV)
- 1986: The Trial of Tony James – Myth or Reality (12" Interview Picture Disc)
Other album appearances
- 1986: Armed & Dangerous OST (includes the SSS track "She's My Man")
- 1989: Rude Awakening OST (includes the SSS track "Success")
- 1990: David Bowie Songbook (free CD included with magazine and includes the SSS version of "Rebel Rebel")
- 1990: A Tribute to Prince: Party O' the Times (includes the SSS version of "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man")
- 2000: Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna – Volume Two (includes the SSS version of "Ray of Light")
- 2000: Don't Blow Your Cover: A Tribute to KMFDM (includes the SSS version of "Virus")
- 2000: Covered in Nails: A Tribute to Nine Inch Nails (includes the SSS version of "Piggy")
- 2001: A Gothic-Industrial Tribute to The Smashing Pumpkins (includes the SSS version of "Bullet with Butterfly Wings")
- 2002: A Tribute to Johnny Thunders: I Only Wrote This Song for You (includes the SSS version of "Personality Crisis")
- 2005: Tribute to Thunderbirds – 40th Anniversary Special (includes the SSS version of "Thunderbirds Are Go!")
- 2005: This Is Not Retro (includes the SSS track "Pussywhipper")
- 2011: All Time Super Guest by Hotei (featuring the collaboration with SSS on the track "C'mon Everybody")
- 2016: Ferris Bueller's Day Off OST (includes the SSS track "Love Missile F1-11")
- 2016: Say I'm Your Number One: Stock, Aitken & Waterman (30 CD Box Set includes a 10 track EP of the SSS track "Success")
- 1986: Sex Bomb Boogie (VHS UK video only single release)
- 2003: Live in Tokyo (DVD Japanese only release)
- Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. Miller Freeman. pp. 615–16. ISBN 9780879306076.
- Handelman, David (1986) "Sigue Sigue Sputnik: 'Fantasy band?'", Gettysburg Times, 8 August 1986, p. 26. Retrieved 25 September 2010
- Hibbert, Tom (12 March 1986). "Sigue Sigue Sputnik (feature)". Smash Hits. EMAP Metro. 8 (4): 27.
- Schabe, Patrick (2003) "TONY JAMES AND THE ARGONAUTSSS", PopMatters, 29 May 2003. Retrieved 25 September 2010
- Newsweek, Volume 108, p. 43
- Goddard, Peter (1986) "Sigue Sigue Sputnik is out to sell the sounds of silence", Toronto Star, 27 July 1986
- Sanderson Healy, Lauren (1986) "With Cynical Hype, Five British Rockers Ride Sigue Sigue Sputnik to Semistardom", People, Vol. 26, No. 8, 25 August 1986. Retrieved 25 September 2010
- Leigh, Danny (9 February 2001). "I just kept cool, you know. Travelled. Did a couple of porn movies". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
- Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Where Are They Now?: Yahoo Music, 20 May 2010
- Popson, Tom (1991) "Early Sigue Sigue Sputnik unearthed", Chicago Tribune, 5 April 1991
- "Sputnik set to go into orbit again", Evening Times, 19 January 2001, p. 32
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 498. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website – SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (S)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
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