Vinyl Testaments is a series focused on overlooked, forgotten, and obscure recordings.
Before I begin this week’s post, I first have to say: Holy crap. I have a response to the VT from February 24 on the catalog of Big Daddy from one of the Daddies! Lightning Bob Wayne, founding member of Big Daddy, read the article and tells us the guys have a new record coming this October! Go read everything I said six months ago and get ready for fun!
Wow. OK, after a little toweling off, let’s look at a forgotten treasure from Manchester, England: the self-titled (and only) When in Rome, featuring that one song, you know, it was a dance hit…yeah, “The Promise”. In fact, it was such a dance hit the band got the go-ahead for an album that got dragged all the way to #11 on the Billboard charts (see, Billboard was a magazine that ranked album and single sales. Albums were…ah, screw it.)
“The Promise” is one of those near-perfect little pop confections with a hook in the chorus, a steady electronic drumbeat, sublime (not Sublime) vocal harmonizing–it’s sweet. The thing is, the whole album is, too–reminiscent of Culture Club, Dexys Midnight Runners, the Housemartins, the disc could easily have been a smash and a couple other singles could have performed better than they did, or were given a chance to. The second single, “Heaven Knows,” barely made Top 100. “Total Devotion” is a better song than “Careless Whisper.” But, it wasn’t meant to be. The band split after three years, then reformed, then legal noise brought one version in the states and one in the UK (always a good sign.)
It’s too bad, but at least this album remains and for fans of this style–true New Wave–it’s a fine spin. Seek it out and enjoy yourself.