4 December 2008
Frazier Chorus - Typical
Year of Release: 1989
"Inspired by no-one/ other groups bore us/ how can you say we sound like Frazier Chorus?" - 'Girlfriends Finished With Him' by Half Man Half Biscuit
The only surprising thing about this particular Left and to the Back entry is that it took so long for me to bother to upload it here - after all, I uploaded a Chart Show clip of the video nearly two years ago, which has since been sitting pretty on YouTube by itself picking up plentiful hits.
Frazier Chrorus were probably one of the ultimate cult bands in the late eighties and early nineties, picking up an audience from all over the genre spectrum. "Ravers", if we wish to clumsily use early nineties tabloid speak, apparently purchased their album "Sue" to enjoy as comedown listening. Stranded C86 kids with no off-kilter arty bands to appreciate in the Madchester flood snapped up their records with joy (Stuart Murdoch out of Belle and Sebastian was one of them). I might be imagining it, but I'm also fairly sure that Radio Two played them once or twice, and the then yuppie targetted, CD lifestyle dominated magazines "Q" and "Select" had plenty of praise to heap on them. Radio airplay may have proved to be a problem, but for awhile it seemed as if they might be precisely the kind of odd band which breaks away from the indie fringes - the type of act for whom uniqueness might prove to be an advantage rather than a stumbling block.
Despite the Half Man Half Biscuit lyric above, nobody really sounded much like Frazier Chorus at the time (even Jona Lewie, despite the protestations of a couple of critics) with their hushed, whispered vocals, and use of flutes, strings and chiming glockenspiels. They sounded rather like an act who had raided the school instrument cupboard and then been forced to rehearse quitely in the library before being introduced to the world - and whilst that should be an awful, awful prospect, it created a bizarre noise which was at once richer and more varied than their contemporaries, as well as introducing some gentleness and introspection to a rather boisterous music scene. In fact, it's a noise which suits eighties production values incredibly well (unlike a lot of the other poor sods who had to record at the time). The fussy, velvety nature of most studio activity from the period seems to work in their favour.
It didn't all take off perhaps quite as well as some people expected, obviously, but the amount of affection they created is still very apparent in many online communities, and they seem to be remembered to a greater degree than (for example) more successful alternative acts of the same period like The High.
As a footnote, it's worth adding that apparently Martin Freeman is lead singer Tim Freeman's brother, and the character in "The Office" was partly based on him [citation needed - ed]. A point to ponder whilst you listen to the "Typical" twelve inch single, perhaps...
1. Typical (Extended Mix)
3. Born with a Headache
Oh, and here's the video clip:
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