BOOK’S JOOK: The Fixx’s “Sunshine In The Shade”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

    The Fixx photo FixxSunshine_PS_zps2a4d4887.jpg
    My introduction to The Fixx was through MTV and the song “Stand Or Fall”. I liked what I heard and hoped to find out what they’d release next. “Red Skies At Night” was their next single and it was quite good as well. The band managed to have two decent hits with their debut album, so when they released their follow up, some wanted to see what they could do. Reach The Beach ended up giving the band two of their biggest hits, “Saved By Zero” and “One Thing Leads To Another”. Visually, the group knew how to manipulate imagery with how they presented their music, whether it was about painting themselves or showing a cocaine spoon (or whatever that was supposed to be). Both songs were good, not bad during a time when more artists were realizing how important MTV was becoming in promoting their music.

    The band followed their third album in 1984 with Phantoms and its first single, “Are We Ourselves?” Similar to a band like Duran Duran, it seemed like their new music was progressive forward, slightly similar to their old song but a unique arrangement to show they were in a new year, ready to prove themselves. The song managed to go as high as #15 on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart and even to #1 on the U.S. rock chart, enough to let everyone know this group were here to stay. Unfortunately, the next two singles did not do as well, despite being far better songs. One of the songs that made a huge impression on me was “Sunshine In the Shade”.

    Lasting less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, it was a mid-tempo song that had a nice pop groove to it, which was highlighted with background vocals that sounded as if it was taken from Earth, Wind & Fire. Cy Curnin’s lead vocals never sounded more powerful with the falsetto compliments. The song reaches its bridge, makes a slight shift and it sounds as if will lead to one more verse, then a chorus, but while a portion of the chorus is heard, it is only in brief and the song ends cold. It leaves you hanging, wondering if there will be more, but it never comes back. It ends great, and with pop songs being everywhere from 3:30 to 4:30, having a song just under 2:30 was a throwback to hit songs from the 50’s and 60’s. I’m sure some fans wondered why the band couldn’t finish the song or radio wondered why the band didn’t give them enough. No matter, for Rupert Greenall’ keyboards did give the song a nice Nick Rhodes feel and guitarist James West-Oram’s chords pushed it to the edge of U2. On top of that, while the music world celebrated Duran Duran’s John Taylor’s funky ways, you couldn’t tell me Dan K. Brown’s basslines in this song were not impressive. Just when it was tentatively getting good, the band stop. Sadly, the short length may have been the reason why the song didn’t attract a wider audience, a shame considering how great it is.

    When the band released a follow-up single, “Less Cities, More Moving People”, it seemed fans weren’t ready for it. The song touched briefly on politics but was more about how we communicated and socialized amongst one another, and with a music video that was made to look like a TV news segment about world events, it may have been too much for viewers to take. I rarely saw this on MTV, mostly on USA’s Night Flight, and yet along with “Sunshine In The Shade”, I felt it was one of The Fixx’s finer moments, especially with Rupert Hines’ production.

    Phantoms did not sell as well as their first two albums, but the group did release a new album two years later, Walkabout and while they had a hit with “Secret Separation”, The Fixx’s popularity was winding down a notch, but just a notch. They would continue to have hits on the modern rock charts and while they did have hits throughout the 1980’s, pop radio seems to stick with the ones that are more well known by audiences, a shame since their minor hits are just as impressive, if not more. “Sunshine In The Shade” remains not only one of The Fixx’s best songs, but one of the best pop songs of the 1980’s, creating great magic in only 2 minutes and 26 seconds.
    The Fixx photo FixxSunshine_label_zps15fbcbb9.jpg

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