Title - London Boys: Requiem Ė The London Boys Story [5CD]
Artist - London Boys
Now for the first time, we can all celebrate the memory of the London Boys with a brand new 5-CD box-set, London Boys: Requiem Ė The London Boys Story, 5CD Expanded (out July 30th via Cherry Red Records UK) featuring three albums, expanded with a host of extra material.
Edem Ephraim and Dennis Fuller, both true Londoners from the east end, were christened The London Boys in 1986. Discovered whilst working as dancers in Hamburg, producer Ralf-Renť Mauť instantly saw their potential for pop stardom.
The duo enjoyed several hits in Europe and Asia, but it was the single Requiem that caught on internationally, thanks to Pete Waterman, who persuaded The London Boys U.K. label to release the record domestically.
Requiem rose to #4 on the charts and was swiftly followed by the #2 hit London Nights. Both were included on the near-double-platinum album, The Twelve Commandments Of Dance, that also hit #2.
Further hits followed in the UK and around the world with Harlem Desire, My Love, Freedom and Chapel Of Love.
Sadly, the duo were killed when their car was hit by a drunk driver in the Eastern Alps, Austria, on January 21st, 1996.
Disc One: THE TWELVE COMMANDMENTS OF DANCE
2. KIMBALEY (MY MA-MAMA SAY)
3. HARLEM DESIRE
4. CHINESE RADIO
5. WICHITAH WOMAN
6. MY LOVE
7. LONDON NIGHTS
8. IíM GONNA GIVE MY HEART
9. EL MATINERO
10. DANCE DANCE DANCE
12. THE MIDI DANCE
14. TALK! TALK! TALK!
16. REQUIEM (Continental Edit)
17. LONDON NIGHTS (PWL 7Ē Remix)
18. HARLEM DESIRE (7Ē Mix)
19. MY LOVE (7Ē Remix)
20. REQUIEM (Special U.K. Mix Edit)
This once 12-track album, now lovingly expanded, bursts open with lead single Requiem. Whilst starting with some sinister gothic organ, it soon switches over to a bouncing bassline and beat.
The throbbing synth bass set alongside the repeated line of never gonna get enough is catchy, and the spoken word style of the verses remind me of the Pet Shop Boys.
This gives the choruses a great contrast where Dennis Fuller and Edem Ephraim show off their vocal range and harmonies. This is a wonderful dancey, uplifting song.
Some pan-pipes open next song Kimberley (My Ma-Mama Say), switching to another chugging bass-heavy track, backed by a light pop beat. The chorus is really quite catchy. At times it reminds me a little of Boney M.
Next up is Harlem Desire, which stood as their third UK charting single, reaching #17 in 1989. This song is quite dancey, giving plenty of space for Edem to show off his vocals.
It has some great vocal harmonies too, and also sees lots of stabbing synths scattered throughout. Musically, this again reminds me of the Pet Shop Boys, and itís wonderfully catchy and sing-along.
Chinese Radio follows this, and is laden with pseudo-Chinese-esque synth sounds. The spoken-word verses offer a sound that feels like itís from much earlier in the 1980s, and it works pretty well here.
The chorus is wonderfully catchy with Ouuh, radio! I love my radio! My Chinese radio whilst a repeated radio, radio, radio is chanted underneath it. All ends on the gong, presumably signaling dinner time!
This is followed by Wichitah Woman, which starts off with some more of that pseudo-Chinese-esque sounding synth, and it repeats it several times throughout which is odd considering Wichitah (sic) is here in the US.
The song bounces along, but itís not quite as catchy as some of the other tracks. This song feels like a filler to me.
Up next is My Love, which is a great little dance track. Itís fairly simple, but catchy, giving the guys lots more vocal harmony time. This was the fourth UK single for the duo, but signaled their decline by stalling at #46 in the charts.
Still, it did earn them an appearance on UK Breakfast Show TV-AM during the Mad Lizzie Webb fitness routine section.
Hit single London Nights is up next, and the tempo, throbbing bassline, and the mixture of choral synth samples and dance beat really makes this song really catchy.
Itís completely understandable how this song did so well back in the summer of 1989. Again, thereís plenty of Pet Shop Boys about this song, and that would have certainly been to their credit, alongside the general up-beat, party feeling of the song.
Iím Gonna Give My Heart is a much more gentle pop track in comparison to the more energetic tracks that appear elsewhere on this album. It comes complete with some lovely synths sweeping in.
Again the pounding dance beat is present, and the song builds up nicely into the first verse. This song acted as the duoís first single back in 1986, but like the next four singles (most also from this album), it failed to chart.
Thankfully they persisted, and found success a few years later.
Ninth track El Matinero reminds me a little bit like an early Macarena. Essentially it seems to be about a dance, and the song has plenty of vocal samples along with some authentic South American sounds to it.
The song is pretty simple, but again feels a bit like a filler.
Dance, Dance, Dance is up next, and this was their third early non-charting single in 1987. Thereís elements of Stock/Aitken/Waterman to this track, even though they had nothing to do with it.
Obligatory 80ís Saxophone gets a speedy airing here, helping to deliver the song into its final third. The song has some great megaphone-styled instructions for the dancing listener. Iím surprised that this song didnít chart, as itís definitely catchy enough.
A slow ballad follows Ė Sandra Ė possibly the only song in the history of pop to bear that name. This sees Edem and Dennis take on a more mature sound and topic of missing a love. Gone are the pounding dance beats and synths.
This time itís vocal harmonies and gentle beats. Thereís even a key change and a brief second appearance of Obligatory 80ís Saxophone in the last third of the song.
The original album closes with The Midi Dance, which even by title, let alone by the vocals and music style, sound like itís come straight off of a David Hasselhoff album.
The song plods along with plenty of space for Edem and Dennis to once again show off their vocals. The chorus is particularly catchy, as is the bridge where they spell the word Midi, just in case you were confused.
This is quite a nice catchy closure to the album, and gives a lyrical nod to disco influences that have appeared throughout the album.
What follows now on this first disc are seven tracks that were rarely heard from the London Boys. The HI-NRG euro beats of both Helpless and Talk! Talk! Talk! and the previously unreleased dancefloor throbber Heartache are up first and then we get various remixes of their better known hits.
Disc Two: THE TWELVE COMMANDMENTS OF DANCE DISC II
1. IíM GONNA GIVE MY HEART (Maxi Mix)
2. HARLEM DESIRE (Maxi Mix)
3. DANCE DANCE DANCE (Maxi Mix)
4. MY LOVE (Maxi Mix)
5. REQUIEM (Continental Mix)
6. LONDON NIGHTS (Extended Version)
7. HARLEM DESIRE (Extended Remix)
8. MY LOVE (Extended Remix)
9. REQUIEM (London Remix)
10. LONDON DAYS (Instrumental)
The second disc is a collection of six of their hits all now brought forth as Maxi Mixes or Extended Versions, with the stands outs here being the brilliant London Nights, the magnificently euphoric Requiem and, for my money, the underrated My Love.
Disc Three: SWEET SOUL MUSIC
1. SWEET SOUL MUSIC
2. TONIGHT! TONIGHT!
4. IS THIS LOVE
5. BOB MARLEY
6. WAS?! (JUST AN ILLUSION)
7. LOVE TRAIN
8. HIGH FIDELITY
9. CHAPEL OF LOVE
11. REGGAE-REGGAE, RASTA RASTA (Reprise)
12. CHAPEL OF LOVE (Radio Mix)
13. IS THIS LOVE (7Ē Remix)
14. FREEDOM (Eight-O-Eight Mix)
15. SWEET SOUL MUSIC (Soul Kitchen Mix)
16. CHAPEL OF LOVE (Hot Mix #2)
17. FREEDOM (Instrumental)
18. CHAPEL OF LOVE (Jungle Mix) (Previously Unreleased)
This original 11-track album, now expanded, opens with the rattle of snares of third single and titular track Sweet Soul Music. This sees Edem and Dennis take on a Motown-inspired song.
Thereís certainly the beat, and a burst of brass, and a sample of a man saying Motown every now and then. The song is really upbeat and fairly catchy. The wall of sound and enthusiastic pop vocals reminds me of something youíd hear from Big Fun.
Next is Tonight! Tonight!, opening with a sultry spoken promise before bounding straight into another tirelessly bouncy pop song. Again, the pop vocals and harmonies run throughout, and Iím reminded again of Big Fun, or Brother Beyond, or maybe even Jason Donovan, yet thereís no sign of Stock/Aitken/Waterman here.
The track was the albumís fifth and final single, but it didnít bother the UK charts.
That leads on to second single Freedom, which also as the duoís final single to chart in the UK. It reached #54. The track opens with swirling synths and vocal chorus, before dropping into another big pop song.
The vocals are a bit buried in the mix though, although the backing vocalists help to lift it a bit. The theme of unity that this song conveys probably helped it get picked as a single, and the breakdown with the inevitable crowd-participation hand claps above the head moment is a nice but brief moment that would have helped bring things together, but Tonight! Tonight! would have been a better choice for the earlier single.
Is This Love follows and the tempo lowers for a breathy and tender ballad. A warm synth pad swells as echoey soft percussion and vocals joins the guys as they sing about love. Musically thereís a beat that reminds me of the Fine Young Cannibals and swathes of orchestra-like sounds that would make Enya twitch.
That said, itís a really nice song, and really good to hear the guys sing a slow song. Weíre even treated to a key change in the final minute, that allows the guys to show off their vocal power and range. The track was the albumís 4th single, but didnít touch the UK charts.
The tempo picks back up as weíre given a mid-tempo Bob Marley. Not actual Bob Marley, but a song. The bubbling synths gradually evolve closer to a reggae sound, but never quite get there. Whoís the man? Edem asks, as the track steadily builds with loads of vocal layers and an affectionate song about Bob.
Thatís followed by Was?! (Just An Illusion) which opens with some insane female vocals that sound like what Martha Wash might sound like if she trapped her hand in a door.
The track is a prime 1991 exhibit of mashed up of pseudo-rap, dance vocals, and unstoppable euro-pop synths. Itís a bit nuts, and probably could have benefitted of making a bit of space in the track with a few less instruments just to give the vocals some breathing room.
Itís time for Love Train, and this has some beautiful synths throughout, and the catchy synth sequence weíre introduced to right off the bat, is a great friend throughout this song.
The song effortlessly shuffles from verse and chorus and back. The vocal samples everybody part-ay and cheering crowds dates it a bit, but this is definitely a great track that could.
High Fidelity is next, and this track sounds pretty unstoppable. Itís very loud and energetic, with the chorus vocals repeatedly singing the song title. It probably was exciting and fresh in 1991, but listening to it now, it just goes on for a bit too long.
Chapel Of Love follows this, and this was the albumís lead single. The track opens with an interpolation of The Wedding March before bursting into a high energy dance track.
This is absolutely the sound that The London Boys were successful for in the UK with their debut album. The lyrics are catchy, as is the throbbing bass drum, racing bass line and synths.
Excellent! Sadly though, it wasnít a success, and it gave them a #75 UK single Ė their lowest, and penultimately charting single in the UK.
That leads on to Cherokee, which begins with cries of Cherokee Nation!, and is performed like a political battle song, and the London Boys have definitely got the defiant vocal power and musical wall to put up a good fight.
Would have been interesting to see this as a music video, although I donít think it would have performed at all as a single.
The album closes with Reggae-Reggae, Rasta-Rasta (Reprise Bob Marley) which wafts in as if from a radio before becoming the full stereo track.
Itís a continuation of earlier track Bob Marley, giving a wonderful continuation of the chorus vocals and harmonies. Itís a really nice addition in reprise form to close the album as it heads back off to a radio sound.
This expanded CD now adds four new tracks, such as the Previously Unreleased Chapel Of Love (Jungle Mix), which is an absolute belter, the beautifully constructed, and layered Freedom (Eight-O-Eight Mix), and a brilliantly vibrant Sweet Soul Music (Soul Kitchen Mix).
Disc Four: LOVE 4 UNITY
1. BABY COME BACK
2. I HAVE A DREAM
3. PHILADELPHIA Ď69
4. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK
6. OH, TRACEY
7. WEíRE CALLING THE WORLD
8. DREAMS OF GLORY
9. WALK ON BY
10. MY PRAYER
11. A BEAUTIFUL VIEW OF THE EARTH (Deep-Affinity Remix)
12. BABY COME BACK (Rapino 7Ē Handbag Mix)
13. MOONRAKER (Friendship 7 Mercury Mix)
14. BABY COME BACK (Please Come Home Extended Version)
15. MOONRAKER (Tribale-Base Mix)
16. BABY COME BACK (Teryjaky With Rapino Brothers Club Mix)
17. MOONRAKER (The Instrumental)
This album was released in 1993 where both Moonraker and Baby Come Back were released as singles in Germany, with Baby Come Back peaking at #27 in Austria.
Indeed, sadly, this was the last album from the duo, although Hallelujah Hits would be released under the name The New London Boys.
The album was not successful and the two singles also failed to chart in Germany, but it opens on the old Player hit from 1977 Baby Come Back and the flows seamlessly into the beat-tastic hits of I Have A Dream, the pop flow of Philadelphia Ď69, the dancefloor groove of Knock, Knock, Knock, and then we get the brilliantly vibrant, soaring Moonraker, and then the low key, cheesily-rapped ballad Oh, Tracey.
The HI-NRG returns for Weíre Calling The World which is itself backed by the mid-tempo dance-pop tempo of Dreams of Glory, the lighter pop ebb and flow of Walk On By, this original album closing on the magnificently ambient grooves of A Beautiful View of The Earth (Deep-Affinity Remix).
Now containing just two songs, with various remixes and extended mixes now thrown into the mix, both Baby Come Back and the space lift off and subsequent orbiting vibe of Moonraker are taken to their farthest reaches!
Disc Five: DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!
1. THE LONDON BOYS MEGAMIX
2. HARLEM DESIRE (Extended Mix)
3. IíM GONNA GIVE MY HEART (Remix)
4. LONDON NIGHTS (London Remix)
5. CHAPEL OF LOVE (Hot Mix #1)
6. REQUIEM (Hamburg Mix)
7. IS THIS LOVE (Come On Jamaica Remix)
8. HARLEM DESIRE (Instrumental)(Previously Unreleased)
9. IíM GONNA GIVE MY HEART (Instrumental)
10. MY LOVE (Instrumental)
11. CHAPEL OF LOVE (Instrumental)
12. DANCE DANCE DANCE (Instrumental)
13. GOSPEL TRAIN TO LONDON
Including a wealth of remixes, edits and instrumental versions, many mixes are new-to-CD from the original master tapes, and even some Previously-Unreleased mixes, this fifth and final is a right royal goldmine for fans of the London Boys!
Stand outs here, for me, at least, are the obvious ones such as The London Boys Megamix, the brilliant Harlem Desire (Extended Mix), and then we get London Nights (London Remix), a quite uber-funky Requiem (Hamburg Mix), and it all comes to a close on the HI-NRG of Gospel Train to London (inclusive of the traditional African-American spiritual choruses, such as both Heís Got the Whole World in His Hands, Michael, Row the Boat Ashore and Nobody Knows the Trouble Iíve Seen.
This wondrous Box-Set also features a brand new, 2021 interview with writer/producer Ralf-Renť Mauť.
Official 5CD Purchase Link