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SHADOWY PRESENCE



When I write a "Should've Been" for the site, I always try to proffer some explanation for the unjustified lack of success and you might not be wrong to think that Fashion's lack of success may have come from a Spinal Tap-esque desire to chop and change their styles and, more importantly, their lead vocalist with astonishing alacrity.


In three albums, Fashion managed to have three different vocalists and even had to wheel a fourth one out on the road to tour their third album. Incidentally that last one was Troy Tate, previously of the most excellent The Teardrop Explodes and the first producer of The Smiths (his work would be rejected).


However, in 1982, the world seemed absolutely ready for Fashion, they had the look; they had the sound; they had the exposure. Their second album, complete with photogenic 2nd vocalist D Harriss, "Fabrique" should have been a slam-dunk.


It wasn't.


"Streetplayer", "Move On" and "Something In Your Picture" all had a good old bash breaking the charts with huge promotion and coverage but only the first managed to dent the Top 75. They unbelievably just couldn't buy a hit in the UK - though they did have a little success in Germany with today's subject.


They existed very much in the space where the New Romantics intersected with funk sensibilities which would put them alongside their contemporaries, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. Like these previous two, they would create exciting, driving floor fillers with specially recorded (not edited) longer versions (in Duran's case the awesome Night Versions) specifically for the clubs. These were not put together by musical mugs, that's for sure. Indeed, DD (as well as the Human League and U2) had supported earlier versions of Fashion.


Which brings us to "Love Shadow" , their final throw of the dice from "Fabrique". Of course, it sounds about as 1982 as it is possible to... fretless, slapped bass, electronic drums and little synth hooks. But you'd be hard pressed to find such a sultry dreamy track that still stands up as a great loss to oldies airplay.


It is even better when extended out on the 12" Smokey Vocal version complete with call and response from Gina X (a la ABC's "Poison Arrow") and what I think must be. bass clarinet chuntering away across the middle part (you can just hear it in the backdrop of the single version towards the run-out). It's a wonderful confection.


I think it's interesting to think of "Love Shadow" in comparison to a song like Kajagoogoo's "Too Shy" from the following year - another band who supported them, incidentally. Now you will think I've gone mad but "Too Shy" was a great pop record beautifully executed but is all rather lost behind the band's ridiculous name and Limahl's even more ridiculous haircut. Both had a lovely opening build-up which lured you into the track and had a rhythm that was beguiling rather than overly challenging before setting off into their more familiar hooks.


But Fashion could not get off the blocks, whereas "Too Shy" went to number one all over the world. "Love Shadow" is perhaps just a little too adult and artfully constructed (check out the Sly Stone like funk guitar) for an audience that wanted something a little more bouncy.


Regardless, though the rest of "Fabrique" may be a little too po-faced - like Re-flex's later "Politics Of Dancing" - "Love Shadow" is woven from velvet and its disappearance remains a mystery as smokey as its remix..


Sadly, whilst it did dent the Top 75, it didn't take off and the band moved on again with vocalist D Harriss leaving. Another album emerged in 1984 but the song remained the same and no hits were forthcoming.


Perhaps calling yourself Fashion is leaving you as a hostage to fortune and their moment came and went and nobody noticed - though you'll find they still have staunch defenders.


After all, would you consider Kicker Boots iconic or ironic...




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