Fine Young Cannibals’ Second Album Turns 30: Why the Classic Still Drives Us Crazy


Carrie Bradshaw, The Dude and Andy Warhol weren't the one previous mates who paid us a go to on Superbowl Sunday in 2019. It was amidst a Taco Bell/T-Mobile cross-promotion that we heard Andy Cox's iconic opening riff to "She Drives Me Crazy," the singular smash from his group Fine Young Cannibals and a track that helped make 1989 one of many all-time nice years for prime 40 radio.

The Two-Tone ska motion that advanced alongside post-punk within the U.Okay. in the course of the late 1970s loved maybe essentially the most streamlined segue into the following decade of the 2 genres. The Specials (who had transitioned into the Special AKA and Fun Boy Three) and Madness would each discover nice success on the brand new wave circuit, whereas David Wakeling and Ranking Roger of the English Beat would race up the charts as General Public. Meanwhile, FYC -- comprised of the opposite half of the group in any other case referred to as The Beat in Cox and bassist David Steele, together with Roland Gift, former saxophonist/singer for Akrylykz -- would comply with their collective roots within the throwback sounds of American R&B. Named after the 1960 film starring Robert Wagner, George Hamilton and Natalie Wood, the Cannibals launched their eponymous debut on IRS Records in December of '85, and leaned closely on their influences in previous Motown and ATCO soul, incomes them a prime 10 hit of their native England with the only "Johnny Come Home" however solely crucial acclaim and school radio airplay right here within the United States.

"We all shared a love of the Stax sound within the Cannibals," Gift advised the British journal On: Yorkshire in 2017. "That was the factor that introduced us collectively and Otis [Redding] was most likely my favourite singer, and he nonetheless is, so these influences will certainly be there."

Yet by 1989, the Cannibals have been aiming to evolve their model according to the rising tide of the long run sounds in golf equipment throughout England. And following a string of contributions to movie soundtracks -- specifically Jonathan Demme's Something Wild and Barry Levinson's underrated comedy traditional Tin Men, the place they factored prominently within the script as the home band -- the trio started delving deeper into the burgeoning dance actions rising from Manchester, London and Bristol on the time by acts like 808 State, Soul II Soul, The Wild Bunch and Smith & Mighty.

"The dance music factor is just like the punk of the Eighties," Cox told Rolling Stone in 1989. "Or rock & roll within the Fifties. It appears to be the factor that's the most vibrant a part of fashionable music."

Their wonderful second LP, The Raw & The Cooked, was launched in America on Feb. 20, 1989 to laudatory kudos and intensive airplay on fashionable rock radio. At 10 songs and a hair below 36 minutes, the document expertly captured the group's sonic transition in actual time, which additionally might be attributed to Cox and Steele's momentary home music outfit Two Men, A Drum Machine and A Trumpet and their sole 1988 single "Tired of Getting Pushed Around."

"The Raw & The Cooked was a significant premiere for us on 92.7 with 'She Drives Me Crazy' going instantly into highest rotation and it then exploded on our request strains and with the whole air employees," explains Denis McNamara, the one-time program director for the influential Long Island, NY fashionable rock station WLIR/WDRE. "We all knew it was a smash. The cowl of the Buzzcocks' 'Ever Fallen In Love' was instantly a rave for our viewers for the reason that authentic was a very long time punk anthem for WLIR and this new cowl was a smoother and extra lyrically pushed model of a traditional. 'Good Thing' was additionally an early premiere favourite with a giant push from us that broke it with listenership manner previous to its pop hit chart prime standing on 'common radio' as we referred to our extra conservative industrial competitor shops. We have been such huge followers. I keep in mind being personally invited to see Roland Gift star in a Shakespearean restricted play at Stony Brook University in the course of the lifetime of the album. If I keep in mind appropriately, his label would have a lot most well-liked if he had toured with the band on the time as a substitute of forwarding his performing profession. He was fairly good, a really gifted artist and an unbelievable singer. I solely wished they'd completed extra albums as I'm positive our pal Roger Ames, their label head within the U.Okay., did too. It was actually an awesome recording."

That potential to stroll the skinny line between the underground and the mainstream is exactly what The Raw & The Cooked delivered to the FYC recipe, as so prominently heard on such tracks because the aforementioned "She Drives Me Crazy" -- which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April of '89 -- in addition to deeper album cuts because the soulful "Funky Drummer"-sampling "I'm Not the Man I Used to Be" and the propulsive acid-house inflected "Don't Let It Get You Down." Credit David Z, longtime Prince collaborator and one-time member of Lipps, Inc. ("Funkytown"), who together with the Cannibals and Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads helped produce the document. The resultant dance/rock mix would achieve publicity not solely on prime 40 radio and MTV however city radio as nicely -- specifically the album's fifth single, "I'm Not Satisfied," a track reflective of the influence Prince had on their route, cumulating in a trek out to Paisley Park Studios in Minnesota to work with Z.

"I believed they have been actually totally different on the time," he explains. "I used to be seeking to get out of doing the type of pop information that I had completed numerous in a row, as a result of everybody needed to sound like what was happening on the time. To me, they have been a unique animal than existed within the U.S. again then. When they got here to Paisley Park to document, which was a very bizarre expertise, they didn't suppose there was any tradition in Minnesota. I keep in mind Roland getting off the airplane with a bag of brown rice. Evidently, he didn't suppose he may get it right here, so he introduced his personal. It was a complete tradition shock for them, as a result of in Minneapolis on the time, they regarded like full aliens with their shaved heads and thin denims. I keep in mind taking them to First Avenue, and David Steele mentioned to me, 'Everyone is so tall right here!' I believed that was actually humorous."

Elsewhere, all three of the songs featured on the Tin Men soundtrack -- together with "Tell Me What," "As Hard As It Is" and the album's second Hot 100 No. 1 "Good Thing" -- flesh out the LP, in addition to their aforementioned creative reimagining of the Buzzcocks' Love Bites spotlight "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" from Something Wild, which, in accordance with former 120 Minutes host and present Sirius FM on-air persona Matt Pinfield, obtained excessive ranks from Pete Shelley and firm.

"It was so fascinating they ended the album with The Buzzcocks cowl, which was actually one of many biggest songs to come back out of the punk period and nonetheless holds up," Pinfield advised Billboard. "It was so cool their take, and the way they put a groove on it. I keep in mind speaking to The Buzzcocks as soon as about it, they usually thought their model of the track was actually cool. They weren't pondering, 'Oh, look what you probably did to our track!' But quite how nice it was they took the time to re-imagine it. They appeared fairly flattered about it on the time, really."

Despite the overwhelming crucial and industrial success skilled by The Raw & The Cooked, which was additional enhanced by third single "Don't Look Back" peaking at No. 11 on the Hot 100 and the LP itself reaching the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200, exercise within the Cannibal camp within the ensuing years fizzled to a gradual halt. In 1990, a tepidly obtained remix album, The Raw & the Remix -- that includes the handiwork of such distinguished producers as Flood, Delicious Vinyl's Matt Dike, Jazzie B, Nellie Hooper and Derrick May amongst others -- was launched in December together with a model of the Cole Porter commonplace "Love for Sale" as a part of the Red Hot + Blue AIDS profit album earlier that 12 months. London Records then launched a biggest hits sort compilation in 1996 known as The Finest that included two beforehand unreleased Gift/Steele compositions: "The Flame" and "Since You've Been Gone."

From there, the three males went their seemingly separate methods: Gift delivered his self-titled solo debut in 2002 to average fanfare and performs the U.Okay. '80s nostalgia circuit as Roland Gift and the Fine Young Cannibals. Steele would go on to supply English R&B vocalist Gabrielle's 1993 LP Find A Way in addition to launch a pair of solo albums in 2004's Fried and 2007's Things Change. Cox, in the meantime, shaped the band Cribabi with Japanese singer Yukari Fujiu and delivered one full-length, Volume, in 2002. And whereas the prospects of a Cannibals reunion are maybe as doubtless as a shock announcement of The Smiths getting again collectively, as Superbowl Sunday signified, the band, The Raw & The Cooked and particularly "She Drives Me Crazy" nonetheless very a lot resonate with the general public 30 years after conquering American airwaves.

"I keep in mind studying an article about Taylor Swift," recollects David Z. "She was working on the time with Jack Antonoff in New York on 1989. And she mentioned how she needed to do a track like 'She Drives Me Crazy.' She mentioned, 'I actually suppose 'She Drives Me Crazy' could possibly be on the radio now. It's that timeless.' I believed it was odd at first coming from Taylor Swift, nevertheless it was actually cool. It looks as if Fine Young Cannibals received beneath all people they usually're nonetheless there."