Recently events on opposite sides of the world have engulfed Facebook. Not a terrorist offence or a natural disaster but the old problems of the shock of the new, the band wreckers, and band brand. In short should bands continue under the same name with new singers?
In Australia Boom Crash Opera have announced they are now without long term singer Dale Ryder who has been replaced (amicably) by Andrew de Silva. This has caused some controversy among followers with some saying Ryder was BCO (I don’t subscribe to that notion) and they’re off to support someone else. But who exactly? They might not be particularly well known outside of Australia but there certainly isn’t anyone quite like them.
This isn’t the first time they’ve suffered a major set back. In the early nineties co-writer Richard Pleasance departed, then a huge body blow to a still relatively young band. His serious/moody leanings complimented Peter Farnan’s comedic quirkiness brilliantly and thus you got that chemistry. However Farnan (affectionately known as Bungie) is a smart guy and if it weren’t for his acumen they probably would have folded then. BUT… a singer is different.
BCO’s ethos is very much an all for one and one for all band effort with no immediate leader yet Ryder being the frontman was the focal point (as most front men/women are). So with team BCO now down to three original members does that merit the BCO name? Personally I’d change it wherein lies the aforementioned curse of band brand, though as mentioned they are only really ‘known’ in Australia so it all depends on how much of a dent in their live earning potential that would have.
Of course if they did write and record new material and let’s say it was a hit in America well to them AdS would be the singer because they wouldn’t know any different (initially at least) as was the case with Ultravox in the UK when Midge Ure took over, not many were aware of John Foxx so the damage was minimal. And there lies another conundrum, it’s almost 20 years since their last original offering Gizmo Mantra so is a new album likely?
Only one act has got this right – David Sylvian when he refused Virgin’s money and re-christened the band Japan as Rain Tree Crow thus protecting their back catalogue and doing something new simultaneously. If the guys did produce new fruits I hope they consider this route. Whichever way they choose I wish them well.
Meanwhile in France similar has occurred with another long held favourite of mine Cock Robin; every bit as special and unique as BCO. Though there is a slightly different dynamic at play here as CR have two singers. A while back the feminine half Anna LaCazio respectfully called time on her performing career leaving Peter Kingsbery to continue (as was the case in 1991). Back then Kingsbery elected to use his own name for, as I’ve documented several times, some very good solo records.
This time he’s using the CR moniker presumably for marketing purposes. With a new French female singer, Coralie Vuillemin, in tow the Chinese Driver tour has been doing the rounds in France. Again opinions among the fanbase have been divided and equally divisive with some crying foul and some embracing the new. I’m somewhere in between. I like Vuillemin and she is certainly a good match but is it CR? That’s not easy to determine. Though I’ve yet to hear the new album I tend to look on it as Peter’s fifth rather than CR’s sixth which courtesy of the band name on the album cover and tour posters, it is, though only Kingsbery graces the sleeve (a first in terms of it being labelled a Cock Robin release).
A better question would be Who are Cock Robin? Technically speaking they haven’t really been a band since 1985’s debut after which it was the duo of the two singers aided by session men. Even when LaCazio was present it was – mostly – Kingsbery’s songs and voice. Still, for some her departure is confirmation this is not really CR while others are more positive. It’s the negative comments though which have prompted both Kingsbery and Vuillemin to spit bile at the perpetrators suggesting they do not attend shows if they are unhappy. All of which kind of defeats the objective of using the Cock Robin name and the accompanying promotional collateral doesn’t it.
The band brand issue is hardly a new phenomena with Roland Orzabal and Andy McCluskey among others utilising respective b(r)and names Tears for Fears and OMD during the nineties. Kingsbery half joked on Facebook that the next step would be to replace himself which would leave CR in similar terrain to Australia’s Little River Band who have no original members but trade on the name in America. Let’s hope the same fate doesn’t befall CR or Boom Crash Opera. Is there a solution? No mate… it’s only rock n’roll but even in a place called popular music brand is regrettably king.