21 May 2017

Fabulous Wealthy Tarts - The Last Time/ The Chase Is On

Label: Bright
Year of Release: 1983

I was watching "Top of the Pops" on BBC4 a few weeks back, and Paul Young appeared to perform "Come Back and Stay" with his backing group The Royal Family. There were two surprises to be enjoyed in that nostalgic televisual package. The first was that "Come Back And Stay" was a far better single than I remembered it - maudlin, eerie, slightly angular and as unusual as a mainstream, bluesy pop track can get away with being. The second surprise was the camera panning round on to the backing singers, one of whom I remembered having a weird childhood crush on. "Didn't they actually have a single out of their own?" I asked Twitter.

And here we are. Kim Lesley and Maz Roberts were singers not just for Paul Young, but also as participating members of Jools Holland and His Millionaires. Finding that their career as session voices for hire wasn't delivering everything they wanted out of life, they broke away to record this single. It's unsurprising that they were given the opportunity - they stood out visually, having an in-your-face, fun-loving, camera-friendly image which ensured that they hogged almost as much screen time as Mr Young when they appeared with him.

The small Bright label picked up the tab and let them in the studio to record this, a cover of The Rolling Stones "Last Time". In common with a vast array of other sixties covers in the eighties, this takes the minimal riffs of the original and gives them a rigid, staccato synth pop backing. This may have worked once for Soft Cell's take on the Northern Soul smash "Tainted Love", but for other contenders (including Tik and Tok's "Summer In The City" and Glass Museum's "Daytripper", and Naked Eyes "Always Something There To Remind Me" - though that was, to be fair, a hit in some countries) it proved fruitless, and this was no exception. Not helped by the fact that the prissy BBC took exception to the group name Fabulous Wealthy Tarts and apparently refused to play it, "Last Time" sank faster than the gumboots of a man foolishly trying to cross the Thames Estuary by foot at low tide.

As to whether it deserved that fate, judge for yourself. In common with many of Paul Young's covers, it's a complete reboot, taking the raw stomp of the original and replacing it with laser-eyed modernity.  When people take risks and attempt complete rewrites of songs rather than performing mere bog-standard covers, it's usually to be applauded. In my considered opinion, though, tracks like "The Last Time" mainly work because they're so gritty and grimy sounding in the first place - as soon as you scrub them clean and remove that aggressive swing, what you're left with is very polished, precise repetition with little atmosphere. The pair try to take the song in interesting new directions, but ultimately it's too bluesy and slight to be up to the challenge.

They never did release another single, but returned to their other duties instead. As for the woman I had a strange "Top of the Pops" crush on, she (Maz Roberts) entered a relationship with Paul Young's bass master Pino Palladino, and eventually married him. Who could blame her? He managed to create noises I never could summon from the depths of my bass guitar, and he also had the distinct advantage of not being an incredibly underage boy, thereby enabling her to have a normal relationship which wouldn't involve being placed on the sex offender's register. But he's still a git anyway.


Webbie - FootieAndMusic said...

I was watching the same and thinking the exact same thing. Thank you for answering that question.

They were great on that song and also great on the next one - Love Of The Common People.

I thought that they complimented Paul's vocals perfectly and was saddened when they weren't there any more.

You also answered a question as to what happened to them. I did not know that Maz married Pino.

I also looked up to find out more about the two and on Discogs I discovered that Kim released a single in 1979 and another one in 1980. I'm throwing down challenge glove to you know to track those down. - AND - I found where where Kim is now: She is now Reverend Kim Lesley in New York ! There's a couple of clips of her singing live and of course she's still got that great voice.

23 Daves said...

I'll do my best to find reasonably priced copies of both... thanks for all the extra information!

Arthur Nibble said...

According to the bespoke 45cat website, the first Kim Lesley single was on Pye (with its last throes Reginald Bosanquet era black and white label) and her second was on the PRT-reactivated Piccadilly label, reopened for business after lying dormant for 13 years.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Now that is a very amusing final paragraph. Great work.

Love your blog, mate. Thanks for sharing your passion.



Kev said...

I saw Pual last night in Poole, performing No Parlez in its entirety (as it's 35 years old now!) - I was lucky enough to go backstage and have a chat with him and his new band. He has two girl singers with him again, one of whom is Kim's god-daughter! They too have excellent voices and attitude in spades, just like Kim and Maz - They didn't have a name so I suggested The Tartlets, and I think it might stick!