Monday, October 16, 2017

Misstep Mondays: The Fixx

Time to dust off another less than stellar piece of vinyl from my collection. As I mentioned last Monday, this week's pick is another band from the UK that couldn't buy a hit in their homeland but struck gold (platinum, actually) with those of us in America who couldn't keep their eyes off of upstart MTV. That's a pretty apt description of me in '83 when the Fixx's 'Reach the Beach' climbed the Billboard ladder.

My hometown didn't get MTV until the fall of that year, but I was already hooked on the music-video genre through friends' cable systems in other towns and programs like TBS's new show "Night Tracks", USA Network's "Night Flight", HBO's "Video Jukebox" and NBC's "Friday Night Videos". If you timed your channel surfing just right, you could even catch a video on Nickelodeon between shows. I just got nostalgic to see the opening sequence of "Friday Night Videos". The first clip I found says the Fixx will be coming up. Figures.



What can I say about the Fixx? Bland comes to mind. New wave for the masses, maybe. Anyway, my 13-year-old self thought lead single "Saved By Zero" was great. Loved the spooky video too. By the time the song was being used to tout zero-percent financing on television adverts, let's just say the novelty had worn off. The song peaked at No. 20 over here. It didn't even bother to chart at all in the UK.

Follow-up single "One Thing Leads to Another" is, without a doubt, the band's signature tune, reaching the dizzying heights of No. 4 on Billboard's Hot 100. In the UK, an anemic No. 86 would have to suffice. The third and final single from the album, "The Sign of Fire", only got to No. 32, but that was still much better than not charting at all at home. When the dust settled, 'Reach the Beach' would sell two-million copies in the United States. Not sure what that says about us, but it can't be good. Other hits would follow, but 1983 would be the Fixx's finest hour.

The Fixx. Not the worst, but a misstep, nonetheless. Did I really just follow Aretha Franklin with the Fixx?

"Saved By Zero"

11 comments:

Echorich said...

So I have come to recognize a sub-genre, very American in it's appeal, that found a space to grow somwhere in the space between Synth-Pop, Post Punk and New Romantic. It's height was between 82 and 85, and some of the bands managed to last just a bit longer. The Fixx found themselves in this triangular space along with A Flock Of Seagulls, Real Life, Wang Chung, Berlin, Re-Flex - to name a few. These bands found life through early MTV - in the years before Billie Jean broke their the network's imposed color barrier.
Of those bands, I probably had the most time for The Fixx, maybe Wang Chung if I'm forced to be really honest. The Fixx tried their best to be dark and brooding and new. Sometimes it worked and other times their really thin concept and sound came right through.

drew said...

Jesus wept!

drew said...

I meant to say re- the getting of MTV, over here very few of us had it by the end of the 80 and many like my family, if you didn't buy into the Murdoch empire, never at all. So I have never really had the association with music and videos except of course for the ones that made it onto council TV.

George said...

"Not the worst," but pretty close??????? But you were 13 years old at the time so it's very unfair to be critical.

Brian said...

Drew,
Yep. He said, "Christ, this is awful!" He never tires of referring to himself that way. I was obsessed with MTV at that age. I watched it so much I figured out their rotation and could tell you what the next video would be before it would appear.

George,
That comment can become a nice copy and paste job for future posts. Most of these missteps will be from around my 13th, 14th or 15th year. I don't think the Fixx are the worst. They are too boring to get me that worked up.

Echorich,
You've listed some other artists that could very well show up in this series. Thanks for your honesty about the Fixx.

friend of rachel worth said...

I have red skies at night on red vinyl.

Brian said...

FORW, Early singles Red Skies and Stand or Fall weren't breakthroughs here, but many heard them during and after the success of Reach the Beach. Both get lots of plays on the nostalgic satellite-radio station.

Brian said...

Hi folks. My laptop is on life support. Will have to go to the shop for a bit. Back as soon as I can. The worst part is having the Fixx at the top of the page for days on end. Ugh.

The Swede said...

The band's American success explains why their UK label gave them such a long leash. Wikipedia tells me that 'the classic lineup (is) back intact' - the mind boggles!

Post-Punk Monk said...

Echorich - I was going to weigh in on The Fixx but your comment was far more interesting than that band ever was to me! A Flock Of Seagulls, Real Life, Wang Chung, Berlin and Re-Flex. You said a mouthful. Can you imagine what it was like for my third rock concert ever [at the ripe olde age of 20 - sad, I know… but I lived in Orlando!] to see Real Life opening up for Berlin??!! Talk about the snake eating its own tail! Now that I think about it, I have seen ALL of those groups in concert in Orlando… with the exception of Re-Flex. To his day I've still only heard "The Politics Of Dancing" from that band! If I were to pick a favorite out of that bunch it would be Real Life. AFOS were useless once they lost Paul Reynolds. I like the second Wang Chung album quite a bit. Berlin were hobbled by John Crawford's infantile sexism, though they played and sang well. I bought the debut album by The Fixx but after seeing them open for The Police [at my second rock concert ever] I was done with them. Their stage presence was indigestible to me and their sucking down of popularity bandwidth in America that I would have rather seen go towards more talented bands put me right off of them.

Rol said...

I own something by The Fixx... but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. I think that says it all.