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‘Life sung a pretty song’ – our 15 favourite Bucks Fizz tracks


This week’s TV Cream Stays Indoors podcast features old pals Graham, Chris and Ian rewatching Trouble at the Top: Bucks Fizz: Making Your Mind Up and then having a chat about it, which we hope you’ll find very “conjugal, as they say”. In the process, the trio all declared their genuine love for the Fizz, and thus have come together to present their five (each) favourite tracks from the band’s mighty fizzography…

One of Those Nights (1981)


Three singles in and the school-bus singalongs have been ditched in favour of wine-bar guitars, smooth harmonies and sophisticated themes. Even in the opening line, Bobby’s lighting up a cigarette! The best bit is at 3:38, where the two choruses crash into one another. For bonus “feels”, seek out the lovely Spanish version, Noches Sin Ti. – Chris

Another Night (1981)


Breezy pop was always a Bucks Fizz forte, and this is the sort of finely-tuned rave-up with which they could have won Eurovision a second time, had the rules allowed it (which they should have done). The shimmering vocals tell a heady tale of regret mixed with bravado: someone’s put the Fizz in a tizz. But when the verse hits the chorus, it’s the musical equivalent of lifting your head and facing the world again. As the song ends with a final cry of “another night!”, you picture the group freezing mid-routine, arms jubilantly aloft. – Ian

The Land of Make Believe (1981)


It feels like the perfect Christmas number one, even if it didn’t quite get there in time. A peerless pop fairytale, The Land of Make Believe is built around a masterful production that effortlessly builds and rises towards the final chorus. For the definitive performance, see the original TOTP appearance, featuring Jay as a saucy Lady Di and Bobby as Captain Kidd, whose vest was clearly in the wash that day. – Chris

Breaking and Entering (1982)


Trouble is brewing on the quiet streets of Bucksfizzshire. Someone is on the prowl with two things on their mind: larceny and funky bass. “You think that you’re well wired,” grooves our anti-hero. “Me, I’m getting VERY tired.” But the girls fight back: it “wasn’t really all that hard”, they crow, to steal “your sad heart”. A riotous tug of harmony ensues, over a beat that sounds like a getaway car repeatedly trying and failing to start. It is possible this song led directly to the creation of Neighbourhood Watch. – Ian

Now Those Days Are Gone (1982)


A school leavers’ disco classic; a classy change of gear on the second album; a moment for Mike Nolan to pop himself onto a chrome stool centre stage, and – according to Bob Stanley – “home counties, potting-shed balladry of the highest order”. Now Those Days Are Gone is all of the above, and also an exercise in technical excellence. You wouldn’t hear vocals this tight again until the Balfour Chorus. – Graham

My Camera Never Lies (1982)


Bucks Fizz evolved faster and further in the space of 12 months than most bands manage in an entire career. Coming just one year after Making Your Mind Up, this song elevated them into the first eleven of pop: a rich confection of gutsy rhythms and dazzling harmonies, see-sawing effortlessly between pomp and charm. The 20-second breakdown, when everything splinters into a cascade of synth stabs, drum rattles and yelps, is one of the most exciting moments of the 1980s. If Trevor Horn wasn’t jealous, he should have been. – Ian

If You Can’t Stand The Heat (1982)


An epic pop melodrama, If You Can’t Stand The Heat heralded a new “raunchy” era for the band, with grinding choreography and a set of costumes clearly designed to warn Tight Fit off their turf. Not even a shambolic encounter with Simon Bates on BBC1 on Christmas morning (“Everyone knows you, but no-one knows who is who”) could stop it reaching the top 10. – Chris

When We Were Young (1983)


You want New Wave? Here’s Jay Aston, giving it Eighth Day in the opening section of this gloomy-doomy pounder. “We’ll probably lose a lot of our old fans with this single but I hope we’ll interest lots of new people,” she said upon its release. At 42 seconds, Cheryl jumps in, wrestling it back to the broad-brimmed-hat, big-coated Fizz sound, and it’s a wonderful fusion of styles. – Graham

London Town (1983)


Paul McCartney wrote a song called London Town, but went wrong in the very first line (“Walking down the sidewalk…”). No such danger here. Our fab four have got their feet planted solidly on pavements, which are being pounded by the loudest drums of the decade. Welcome to a metropolis full of “hostile faces”, howling guitars and shrieking vocals – no place for the Fizz, you’d think, yet this “rat race” is one they intend to win. “I know I’m gonna stay.” And who can blame them, when city living sounded this much fun? – Ian

Rules of the Game (1983)


Despite a barnstorming performance on The Little and Large Show, this majestic slab of glossy ’80s pop inexplicably stalled at number 57. A cautionary tale on the perils of fame (“face of the week/it was TV Times”), it was accompanied by a baffling video featuring a made-up martial art and Bobby channelling the Man from Del Monte. – Chris

Run For Your Life (1983)


With a record sleeve depicting the band fleeing an incipient wave of volcanic lava, this is Bucks Fizz strutting on the most unsubtle of soundstages. And thank goodness they are: few bands ever managed to make frenzied statements of doom (“The loneliness around you cuts like a knife!”) sound this sweet-voiced and danceable. Our heroes could be walking home from the pub or battling mythical foes in ancient lands – whatever it is, they’re in a pickle and you somehow feel better for having them share it with you. – Ian

Big Deal (1984)


The group had a surprisingly fecund career in TV theme tunes (let’s remember The Laughter Show and The Funny Side), but this Bobby G solo project from 1984 is the absolute ace. A melancholy muse upon losing the lot, it’s the perfect accompaniment to luckless gambler Robbie Box’s wayward journey home after a disastrous all-nighter. A journey that would end with him drinking a pint of milk, straight from the bottle. Cards in the gutter, here comes the rain. Cue Bobby: “Ah well, big deal!” – Graham

I Hear Talk (1984)


Look mum, Mike Nolan’s playing the guitar! The band might have been trying a little too hard to go legit at this point, but this remains a total banger, filled with irresistible hooks and an addictive chorus. The video is brilliant too, especially the bit where Bobby walks into a bar and sees… Bucks Fizz! – Chris

New Beginning (1986)


We’re reminded of that cartoon of David Byrne and Paul Simon, both laden with field-recording equipment and wearing pith helmets, bumping into each other in the African jungle. This 1986 ‘comeback’ single led the gold rush in ‘world music’ (it was released before Graceland) and, yes, it maybe seems culturally crass today. But if we can put that aside, here’s Bucks Fizz (the new iteration, it’s Shelley’s debut) soaked in reverb and Stomp-style percussion. The “We won’t take no for an answer” countermelody gives you everything great about the band. – Graham

Heart of Stone (1988)

“Big crowd at the crazy house!” This stormer from 1988 was the group’s 20th single, and the last to bother the top 50. It aches for credibility, both in its sixth former-essay lyrics (“Beneath the white fire of the moon”) and Bobby’s anguished vocal… and truly gets there. The soaring, high-drama epic was undersold by the accompanying video depicting Bobby, Mike, Cheryl and Shel appraising the ammenties of their holiday home. But it gave us all the chance to speculate who was ‘with’ who (oh, Bobby and Cheryl are linking arms!). Cher’s later version is acceptable, but a K-Tel platter by comparison. – Graham

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. richardpd

    August 19, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    Heart Of Stone I think set a record for taking the shortest time between recorded to played on the air, including being pressed onto a record.

    It was relayed between the programming on CBBC one day, during the Bobby The Banana era.

    The one-off disc was courier delivered to Television Centre and played by Andy Crane on that record deck at the back of the Broom Cupboard.

    A few weeks later Record Breakers had a feature on it.

  2. richardpd

    September 1, 2020 at 11:48 am

    I’ve got Big Deal on a tape of TV themes by Gran bought back in the mid 1980s and let me have.

  3. Glenn Aylett

    September 19, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Now beat me over the head with a Jam album, but I actually thought Bucks Fizz were quite good and ver kids must have liked them enough to give them three number one hits. Also every song they did sounded different, they went from the Eurovision pop of Making Your Mind Up to the melancholy tone of Now Those Days Are Gone in little over a year and later experimented with a rockier sound.

  4. richardpd

    September 19, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    It helps that mainstream pop in the 1980s allowed a lot of leeway, between the Svengalis of the glam era & and the SAW Pop Factory emerging later in the decade.

    • Glenn Aylett

      September 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm

      @richarpd, Had Bucks Fizz emerged in 1986, then it’s very likely Pete Waterman would have been involved and had them singing a load of identikit banal songs and then tossing them away at the first hint of an unsuccessful single. Luckily the group were created in the pre SAW era and found some talented songwriters and producers and to go from Eurovision pop to a song that sounded like something by Hazel O Connor was quite something, and then to come back from their terrible accident in Newcastle and Jay Aston leaving in acrimony was another achievement. ( Jay eventually made it up, hurrah).

      • richardpd

        September 21, 2020 at 10:56 pm

        In the ever shifting trends of the 1980s Buck’s Fizz did well to last as long as they did.

        • Glenn Aylett

          September 22, 2020 at 5:23 pm

          @richardpd, Bucks Fizz did see a dip in their chart performance in 1984 and then their horrific accident in Newcastle and Jay Aston leaving, but managed to bounce back with a new girl singer and a new sound. I think as a band they were lucky to have a producer who let them experiment, talented songwriters and quite a lot of say in what they released. Had it been SAW in 1986/87, it would have been four singles that were identical to Making Your Mind Up, then P45 time when the fifth one missed the Top 10.

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