I mentioned this elsewhere, but let’s give a thread to Fiat Lux. They are being included here in William’s World because they were the band with whom Ian Nelson very nearly made it big.
Between 1982 and 1985, they went through all the right stages: critically acclaimed indie single produced by well-known name (er, yes, none other than Bill himself); major label contract; very-near-miss singles; support from BBC Radio 1 DJs; hotly anticipated debut album; and…
Well that’s where it went wrong. The album didn’t happen because the label insisted on a proper hit single before releasing it. The nearly completed album tapes surfaced many years later and in that form are still easily found online (search under ‘Fac Ut Vivas’). The promo video and live footage compilation VHS tape – see Y**T*be – included songs that were never released but would have been on the album.
Then followed thirty years of a strong awareness that this was not a good end to a story.
Ian’s death in 2006 emphasised that this was a band that would never be likely to get its moment in the sun. In the years that followed, Bill mentioned a couple of times his own hopes of compiling a CD release for Fiat Lux’s material.
Let’s just appreciate Fiat Lux for a moment. FL are described on Wikipedia and elsewhere as a ‘synthpop band’ and this is fair enough as a quick summary. But actually, very few of the sounds were synths. What stands out these days is the ever-changing combinations of electronic rhythms with clarinet, saxophone, acoustic guitar, rumbling electric bass and the strong, deep tones of singer Steve Wright’s voice. The other special element is the boldness of the arrangements for and between instruments. Best song from the album is ‘The Moment’ - deceptively simple but so beautifully constructed. This band had something special going on. The other member was David Crickmore and he seems to have been the one most keen to move freely between instruments and bring out strong contrasts between sections of individual songs.
So now, in 2019, Cherry Red have finally compiled a 2CD retrospective of Fiat Lux’s career. Basically, it consists of the unreleased album (at last!), plus the six singles (A’s and B’s), plus the two tracks produced by Bill but never released in any form. [Bill recorded FL’s second single (Photography / Comfortable Life) with them but the Polydor people wanted the songs re-recorded for the band’s major label debut].
This stuff is just fabulous and the CD release is all taken from the original mastertapes. While you are over at the Cherry Red site ordering the Futurama re-issue, take a moment to add Fiat Lux’s ‘Hired History Plus’ (named after the singles mini-album that leads the 2CD set) to your order.
And not just that…..
Over at Proper Music https://www.propermusic.com/artist/Fiat-Lux-119055 is the chance to buy the first album by the reformed Fiat Lux (just Wright and Crickmore, with guests). This was released just last week and I must say that (to my surprise) it has turned out to be such a great album. Everything that was uniquely Fiat Lux is still there, particularly in the soaring, interesting use of clarinet and sax – not quite as Ian Nelson would have played them but clearly intended to continue the approach and pay tribute to Ian in where and how they are used. The gorgeous bass and strong vocals are also very much as they should be. The album is called ‘Saved Sympathy’ and is full of strong, sincere songs with rich vocals, clever arrangements and a quality that is simultaneously 1980s and something a bit smarter than that – which is what Fiat Lux always were.
If he’s happy to do so, I’d love to hear Bill’s thoughts on the band and its music and any memories of that time in his brother’s life. Did Cherry Red get in touch about the CD compilation?