Dead or Alive … A Great Band?
Dead Or Alive were formed in Liverpool by frontman Pete Burns (vocals) and his band Mitch (guitar), Sue James (bass), Marty Healy (keyboards) and Joe Musker (drums).
Their first creative move was to issue the single ‘I’m Falling’ which was produced by fellow Liverpudlian and eventual Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie.
As post-punk began to die out and the New Romantic movement became mainstream the band found it increasingly difficult to make an impact on the scene. After releasing several more singles without any real effect, most of the existing members (bar Burns himself) who were disillusioned by the public’s general apathy towards’s their collective efforts, left the band early in the 80’s.
In 1982 future Sisters of Mercy and Mission U.K guitarist Wayne Hussey was introduced into the fold along with bassist Mike Percy.
The shake-up seemed to give Pete Burns a renewed sense of purpose which was evident in the dance-inspired ‘Its Been Hours Now’ EP. A flurry of promising singles followed the EP including “Misty Circles” and “What I Want” each of which gained the band invaluable column space in the music weeklies.
Further changes were afoot in 1983 with fellow glamour queen and drummer Steve Coy and keyboardist Tim Lever completing the outfit. A breakthrough now seemed inevitable and it happened in 1984 with the group’s lively adaption of KC and the Sunshine Band’s ‘Thats the Way (I like It), with the single charting at #22 in March of that year.
Capitalising on the popularity of the single DOA’s first full length recording ‘Sophisticated Boom Boom’ was released in April. Sales were disappointing, particularly so when you consider the amount of hype which surrounded the band at the time. Regardless, the album charted in the Top 30.
It took the band a year to produce and release their masterpiece ‘Youthquake’ which was supported by 3 top 30 singles including the by now infamous ‘You Spin Me Around (Like A Record)’, ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘My Heart Goes Bang’
The band continued to release LP’s as a unit until the late 80’s when Lever and Percy left the group. None of the aforementioned album’s hinted at either the quality or the popularity of ‘Youthquake’.
Pete and Steve continue to release records and perform under the Dead or Alive moniker.
What are they most famous for?
Pete’s andgrony has attracted much media coverage over the years. Some cynics (*cough* tabloids *cough) have unfairly labelled his look as nothing more than one protracted publicity stunt. But hey, what do they know?
Dead Or Alive are highly regarded for their camp dance epic ‘You Spin Me Around (Like A Record)” which proved to be their first #1 single (and the first of 4 ventures into the UK Top 20). Their version of “That’s the Way (I Like It)” continues to be a hit in clubs too.
Pete Burns achieved notoriety recently for his excellent solo single “Jack and Jill Party” which is a massive underground hit (particularly on the gay scene) to this day.
Why aren’t they famous?
Although the group were quite infamous in the UK for a period in the mid to late 80’s, they’ve since become mega-stars in Japan. So much so that their ‘ Nukleopatra’ was only released initally in the Far East.
Dead Or Alive were never really able to re-produce anything of the calibre of their earlier material. This ensured that their stay in the public eye was a short one.
Where to start
‘Youthquake’ contains by far the strongest material of the group’s back catalogue. The rest of the band’s LP’s are only really worth investigating if you are truly captivated by what you hear on ‘Youthquake’.
As an alternative ‘Evolution’, Dead or Alive’s recent greatest hits package, provides a great summary of the highlights of the group’s career.