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In Melody Maker, 7 November 1992
|Genres||Alternative rock, indie rock, progressive rock, Britpop|
|Labels||Sermon, Rough Trade, Food/Parlophone|
|Associated acts||Suede, The Blue Aeroplanes, Levitation, Dark Star, Placebo, Witness|
|Past members||Patrick Duff|
Strangelove were an English alternative rock band, formed in Bristol in 1991 comprising singer Patrick Duff, guitarists Alex Lee & Julian Poole, bassist Joe Allen and John Langley on drums. They released three albums before they disbanded in 1998.
Strangelove formed in Bristol, in 1991, after David Francolini (drums, of Levitation) spotted singer Patrick Duff, who at the time was a street busker. According to Duff, Francolini's words were "Get in the car, you're going to be a pop star." Francolini then got together various musicians he knew throughout the area; Alex Lee (guitar, formerly of The Blue Aeroplanes), Julian Pransky Poole (guitar, formerly part of The Jazz Butcher's band), and Joe Allen (bass guitar). With Francolini on drums, the quintet played their first gig at Bath Moles Club on 9 October 1991. Francolini took on the role of drummer for only two gigs, before being replaced by John Langley. The first song Duff wrote for Strangelove was titled "Zoo'd Out", in 1991, and released two years later as seven-inch Rough Trade single. Duff's tales of despair and sorrow struck a chord, and his impressive, emotionally charged vocals were described by Tom Doyle in Q Magazine's World of Noise compilation as "evoking thoughts of Morrissey as vocally-tutored by Scott Walker"
Following an early morning set on the NME Stage at Glastonbury 1992, the band were approached by John Peel to record a BBC Radio 1 session at Maida Vale, on 30 June. The band then released their first EP Visionary in October 1992 on Sermon Records, from which the title track was made 'single of the week' by Cathi Unsworth in Melody Maker. Another Peel session followed on 5 January 1993.
A second EP, Hysteria Unknown, in February 1993 earned them a support slot on Radiohead's Pop Is Dead tour. "Radiohead are definitely post-Strangelove," remarked Ed O'Brien. "We toured with them for 'Pop Is Dead' and we changed quite a lot after that. They were inspirational. Apart from their trousers."
Critical acclaim for the early singles led to major-label interest and they were signed to EMI label Food Records in 1993. Strangelove released their first album, Time for the Rest of Your Life on 1 August 1994, produced by Paul Corkett, who would go on to work on Strangelove's later albums. Time for the Rest of Your Life made numerous top albums of 1994 polls, and brought them to the attention of Suede who invited them to support on their Dog Man Star European tour in 1995. Manic Street Preachers' Richey Edwards was also a fan, inviting them to support at the London Astoria on the penultimate gig before his disappearance in 1995. Edwards' bandmate Nicky Wire commented that Time for the Rest of Your Life "fits staring out of the window and watching the rain in a small valley town". Suede and Strangelove bonded, and covered each other's songs at Sala Multiusos Zaragoza on 16 May 1995. Strangelove played Suede's "Killing of a Flashboy", while Suede played "She's Everywhere" (then under the working title "Spacey Vibe Thing"). Brett Anderson and Richard Oakes would later guest on this song in the studio, providing backing vocals. Love and Other Demons was released on 17 June 1996. The second single from the album, "Beautiful Alone", went to number 35 in the UK Singles Chart.
For singer Patrick Duff, internalised struggles and a heavy addiction to drugs and alcohol threatened to take his life. His battle with depression and excess were highlighted in one vaguely suicidal Melody Maker interview in 1994, and an aborted NME interview, during which he kept falling asleep due to drugs and alcohol in his system. After the second album's recording, Duff was booked into a rehabilitation clinic to finally kick his habit, and confront the demons within. He wrote about this difficult journey to getting clean for The Guardian in 1996: "I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My personal life was now in tatters – and I decided my last chance was to throw what was left of me into our album. Something was left in me that wanted to do something positive. Thank God."
By this time, Nick Powell had joined the band to play keyboards, expanding their sound. A third, eponymously titled album was released 6 October 1997. Written in Bethlehem, South Wales, and recorded at Abbey Road Studio Two, this album was seen as significantly more uptempo than previous albums with Duff choosing to write less directly introspective. Songs like “Superstar” and “Freak”, which were recorded live in the studio with minimal overdubs, set the tone.
The album yielded another UK Top 40 single, "The Greatest Show on Earth", and sell-out shows at the London Astoria and Shepherds Bush Empire. However, seemingly on the point of a major breakthrough, Strangelove split up on 20 April 1998. In later interviews, Duff acknowledged how "unfocused" he was on music while in Strangelove, that he could sense the band had run its course, and he needed to get away from the fast-paced life of touring to truly recover, and discover his calling as an artist. When asked about the possibility of a Strangelove reunion, Duff explains that while everyone in the band are still friends, and is not completely opposed to the idea, the chances of it are very slim. As a solo artist, Duff has played stripped down, acoustic versions of Strangelove songs, sporadically.
In late 1998, Duff formed the short-lived band Moon, who performed a handful of gigs in England, and released a 7" single. After the swift dissolution of this band, Patrick then spent two introspective years living in the forest outside Bristol, a move which he explains he did out of fear, and the shame of "not being 'somebody' anymore". He was discovered in this forest by Thomas Brooman, the head of WOMAD Festival, where he was asked to perform. At this festival, Duff watched and met 81-year-old veteran South African master storyteller and musician, Madosini, whom he would go to Langa, Cape Town to live with, to write songs. In 2003, they went on to perform a number of successful concerts together around the world.
Duff released a solo album on 21 June 2005, Luxury Problems on Harvest Records produced by Alex Lee and Adrian Utley. In 2007, Patrick was commissioned by Bristol City Council to write a Christmas choral symphony, intended for a one-off exclusive performance at Bristol Cathedral. Recorded over six-weeks in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Adam Coombs, and Dave Francolini, what resulted was a 90-minute piece, consisting of seven spoken word pieces, and one song. Duff released this as Seven Sermons to the Dead, in December 2013. His second solo album, The Mad Straight Road was self-released in early 2010. In the 2011 promotion of this album, Patrick toured throughout Europe where he began the ritual of telling his life story to the audience. The audience proving receptive, allowed for Duff to continue to do this at every gig thus far. Patrick released a third solo album, his most intimate offering to date, Visions of the Underworld. Released 9 August 2013, he recorded this album, produced by Rich Brown, in a cottage in the wilderness of Dartmoor, consisting of live takes, and little to no overdubbing. It has been warmly received throughout the United Kingdom, and the wider world. Duff then proceeded to tour extensively throughout the UK and Europe. A song from the album, "Thought Birds", was released on Record Store Day, 2014, as a limited, 7" white vinyl split-single, with Duff on side A, and "Mr. Manners" by Aberdeen singer-songwriter Craig John Davidson on side B. A music video for the single, directed by Jason Baker, followed afterwards; Duff's first, in 15 years. Patrick also collaborated with Massive Attack's producer Neil Davidge contributing words and melodies to songs on Neil's first solo album, Slo Light released in February 2014. He is currently working on his fifth album.
Alex Lee joined Suede between 2001 and 2003; toured as an extra keyboardist and guitarist with Placebo on the Meds World Tour in 2006 and 2007; played guitar on Goldfrapp's 2008 album Seventh Tree and their 2013 album Tales Of Us and he toured both albums in the Goldfrapp live band as guitarist. He also continues to produce television and film soundtracks with Nick Powell, who has produced two albums with his own band OSKAR on Incarnation Records. Allen, Pransky-Poole and Langley formed Saturation Point. Their fourth album, Mechanisms, was released in 2009 on Invada Records.
The band's main line up was:
- Patrick Duff – vocals, guitar
- Alex Lee – guitar, keyboards
- Julian Pransky-Poole – guitar
- Joe Allen - bass guitar
- John Langley – drums, percussion
- David Francolini – played two gigs with the band, before being replaced by John Langley.
- Nick Powell – keyboards from late 1996, and onwards.
- Time for the Rest of Your Life (1994), Food/Parlophone – UK No. 69
- Love and Other Demons (1996), Food/Parlophone – UK No. 44
- Strangelove (1997), Food/Parlophone – UK No. 67
- One Up: The B–Sides (2008, iTunes only), EMI
EPs and singles
- Visionary EP (1992), Sermon
- "Visionary" (1992), Sermon - Melody Maker 'Single of the week'
- Hysteria Unknown EP (1993), Sermon
- "Hysteria Unknown" (1993), Sermon
- "Zoo'd Out" (1993), Rough Trade
- "Time for the Rest of Your Life" (1994), Food - Q Magazine's "Single of the year" (1995)
- "Is There a Place?" (1994), Food
- "All Because of You" (1994), Mother Tongue Records - Split single with My Life Story
- "Sand" (1994), Food - 10" single
- "Living with the Human Machines" (1996), Food – UK No. 53
- "Beautiful Alone" (1996), Food – UK No. 35
- "Sway" (1996), Food – UK No. 47
- "She's Everywhere" (1997), Food - Features Brett Anderson of Suede
- "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1997), Food – UK No. 36
- "Freak" (1997), Food – UK No. 43
- "Another Night In" (1998), Food – UK No. 46
- "Chrrrist, Whatever Happened To Strangelove?". Retrieved 10 August 2014.
- TransACTION Inc. "Strangelove". Rock The World magazine. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
As catchphrases go, Patrick Duff of Strangelove's emphatic shriek of "christ!" [sic] in Time for the Rest of Your Life is certainly memorable. Evoking thoughts of Morrissey as vocally-tutored by Scott Walker, this title track of the Bristol group's debut album was loudly heralded Single of the Year by Q writers.
- Moran, Caitlin (July 1997). "I'm so glad they're getting more radio play than us". Select. p. 87.
- Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 1003
- Larkin, Colin (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Indie & New Wave, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0231-3, p. 411-412
- "A Flavour of The Label (Issue 5)". Archived from the original on 8 October 1999. Retrieved 11 August 2014.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
- "Strangelove", Chart Stats, retrieved 27 November 2010
- "Strangelove". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 October 1999. Retrieved 11 August 2014.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
- "Patrick Duff – Interview". St Paul's Lifestyle. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- Duff, Patrick. "Patrick Duff Archives". Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 534. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.