It is time for a throwback album review. I was flipping through the stacks and saw this and grabbed it. I hadn’t heard it in a long while, but suddenly I wanted to hear it. So, I played it then the next day, played it again. I then said, heck, let’s play it again and then decided I want to write about it so here we are.
The Fixx were a big New Wave band out London, Engalnd from the early 80’s and consisted of Singer Cy Curnin, Guitarist Jamie West-Oram, Drummer Adam Woods and Keyboardist Rupert Greenall. There was no bass player for this album, per se, as they went through a couple. Their regular bass player Alfie Agius quit before the album was complete and then they brought in Dan Brown but he wasn’t made a full fledge member until after the Tour I believe. Oh yeah, that Dan Brown is not the writer Dan Brown of ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
The Fixx were huge on MTV and their videos were in constant rotation. I really enjoyed the songs and after the album came out on May 15, 1983, I eventually bought it. I didn’t catch them on tour with this album, but on November 20, 1984 I caught them on tour with their next album ‘Phantom’, but the only reason I was going was from this album, ‘Reach the Beach’.
Ok, not really, the main reason I went was because of a girl. My good friend, we will call her Robin (Because that is her name), wanted to go and so we went. It wasn’t a date or anything and looking back I wonder why her and I never did date. There was a connection, but most likely I was way too shy and she was way too smart to date a guy like me. I believe she has her Phd in some science related fields. Like I said, she was really smart and very cute. Okay, I am way off topic. Back to the concert, the one cool thing I do remember is how Cy got on stage. The stage went black, a spotlight shown brightly on the floor and Cy’s arm comes “reaching” out of the floor which is like one of their music videos. He arose from under the stage and it was a cool effect. I don’t remember much else, but I do remember enjoying the crap out of the show.
The band was New Wave, but they weren’t like Duran Duran or overly bubbly dance music. No, The Fixx to me seemed like a much more serious band. They seemed to be smarter and more intelligent than other bands at the time. Their music sounded more mature, better crafted and seemed to take on stronger topics. Their use of synthesizers was done in a way to enhance their sound and not always the driving force behind it. Hell, they had a player like West-Oram on guitar and they used him wisely so the keyboards didn’t need to be overdone in each and every song. And then throw in Cy Curnin’s vocals, who had this great range, such control and was way more mature in his vocals. They were not too high in register, a little deeper than a lot of the singers. He is pretty awesome. Why don’t we just get to the music.
The album opens with their biggest hit “One Thing Leads to Another” which went to #4 on the Billboard Charts in 1983. The song opens with a West-Oram riff and has a great groove beat thanks to the rhythm section of Adam’s drums and Alfie’s bass. Cy’s vocals are very melodic and he kills it on the bridge which is more a cappellic piece before going full band mode in the chorus. The keyboards are used to throw in effects while the guitar riff is still the main driver. The song is about dishonest politicians and it is amazing how the song would fit even more so with today’s politicians.
“The Sign of Fire” also made the Top 40, reaching #32 on Billboard. The song was a slightly slower tempo, felt real serious and had more of a funk-like groove. The music was hypnotic in tone and Cy’s vocals are mesmerizing. He just draws you in. The next track “Running” is probably the most new wave sounding as the keyboards are used more, but still a lot of guitar fills by Jamie. The song starts off a little boring, if I’m being honest, but becomes more melodic and interesting as we get to the chorus and then it picks up from there.
The first single was “Saved by Zero” and went to #20 on the Billboard Charts which means this album had 3 Top 40 hits. Not bad. The song is cool as it is about how sometimes, the nothingness in life is all we need. If you have nothing left to lose, then that can be freeing and make things more simple. This is one of the songs that felt so much more intelligent than other songs out by other bands. I loved the groove, the sound effects, the guitar solo even as simple as it felt. I loved that it felt ethereal like it was floating around in my mind.
The final track on Side 1 was “Opinion” and it starts off pretty cool with Cy basically singing a cappella with a few synth bass notes accompanying. I found it to be a little haunting and yet beautiful. About half way through the full band materializes and a full band song emerges. It was all done in such a cool way.
The first track up on Side 2 is the title track “Reach the Beach”. It is a more heavy Synth song and very pop. The bass was louder in this one and that too was on synth. Cy’s vocals tower over the synths and dominate the song. The chorus is simple, yet effective. Next up is “Changing” which to me falls a little flat. Heavy on the drums which you think I’d like, but it is a repetitive. It picks up at the chorus but overall the song doesn’t feel flushed it out well enough in the verses.
Then we get “Liner” with a heavy slap-bass from Alfie (one of only 3 songs he’s on) which gives the song a funk feel which is pretty cool to me. There is a horn section, okay not really, it is all done on synths but a nice touch. The guitar work is done as an accent piece to the bass groove. Cy’s delivers a soulful performance and although the song isn’t as exciting as it could’ve been, it is still a relatively cool track.
“Privilege” is up next and really different and experimental sounding. Jamie is playing a weird little riff, the synths are all over the song as well with little effects added here and there. Cy’s vocal delivery is very different, it is almost spoken but still so dang melodic. All I can say is this different, but not necessarily bad different, but maybe not good either.
The final track “Outside” is powered by the kick drum from Woods supported by some nice riffs by West-Oram and then the vocals see Cy going more soulful and he does hit some of those high notes that I bands were hitting at the time. At times I feel his vocals can be stronger than the music. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your opinion.
- One Thing Leads to Another – Keeper
- The Sign of Fire – Keeper
- Running – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Saved by Zero – Keeper
- Opinion – Keeper
- Reach the Beach – Keeper
- Changing – Delete
- Liner – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Privilege – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Outside – Keeper
The Track Score is 7 1/2 out of 10 our 75%. I will say the first side is much stronger than the second and I think the first side is the main reason I like this album. The songs are so strong and I do have some good memories associated with it. I am a fan of Cy Curnin’s vocals as they are distinctly his. He is deliberate in his deliver and his vocals are both melodic and soulful. A great combination. I like that their sound is more mature and less like the sugary dance music of the time. They had a great 3 album run with their first three albums and that is really all I know, but this one was always my favorite. Because of that strong first side, I am giving it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as I do visit this one a lot. It probably should be a 3.5 but the memories push it up a notch.