From an old record box: Then Jerico – Big Area


On 4 February 1989, the brief career of British rock band, Then Jerico, shone its brightest when “Big Area” reached its highest chart position of 13. The recording I have is catalogue number 886-366 7 and is a 1989 pressing of the 7″.

There’s a touch of the Johnny Hates Jazz’s about Then Jerico. They spent a little while building themselves up from initial interest in 1985, through their debut album “First (The Sound of Music)” which culminated in the top 20 single “The Motive” (highest placing no18 on 12 September 1987, one of the week’s that Rick Astley was dominating the top spot with “Never Gonna Give You Up”), until this career high.
1988 and 1989 saw them take off with this single and the similarly named album that begat it, “The Big Area”. And then, in 1990, they split. Eh ? And not a jot of that same level of success did they ever again achieve.

It’s easy to understand why they made it as far as they did, however, their sound like a melding of anthemic, stadium-filling Joshua Tree/Rattle and Hum-era U2 and Echo & The Bunnymen. That mixture is more in the favour of the former on the a-side and the latter on the b-side. Again, you can see why: “The Big Sweep” predates “Big Area” by a couple of years, recorded back when Ian McCulloch was nearer the height of his powers and fame. According to the band’s website the b-side was never allowed to stand in its own stead because of ‘anti-Maxwell/Murdoch’ lyrics. Quite how you could tell this song is about those two is beyond me – I’ve listened to it about twenty times over the last fortnight and I can’t decode the rumoured lyrical bombshell.

It has been an amicable reacquaintance: I still enjoy the confidence and pomp of the a-side. Mark Shaw has a natural frontman’s voice, the guitars ring (and solo) gloriously and the beat is crunchy (as helpfully telegraphed when occasionally added to a hefty cymbal slap). And there’s not really any flies on the production.

The b-side surprised me when I played it – it may in fact have been the first time I had ever listened to it. It sounds much more of its time – although it also sounds like my buddy Erol’s old band ‘Winterlong’ in places – New Wave-y, less rock/more electronic and danceable.

Now, without further ado, enjoy the wonder and the majesty of the promo for this 1980s nugget…

I can only apologise for the presentation of this video – taken as it is (apparently) from the a NOW! compilation VHS video. In the video itself, we get Mark Shaw channelling Ian Astbury and Bono in a tasselled leather jacket and wide-brimmed black hat; although in the narrative inserts, he reminds me rather more of Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot, lead singer of Curiosity Killed The Cat…

Well, anyway, that was and is the end of Then Jerico for me. If nothing else, my old record box has so far taught me what a charts- and singles-based music buyer I was back in the 80s.

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