Fun Boy Three was an English new wave trio that released the 1982–83 albums The Fun Boy Three and Waiting on Chrysalis. They formed as a breakaway act from two-tone ska pioneers The Specials.
Fun Boy Three collaborated with Bananarama on the UK Top 5 singles “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” and “Really Saying Something.” Frontman Terry Hall partnered with Jane Wiedlin on the Go-Go’s 1981 US hit “Our Lips Our Sealed,” which FBT popularized in the UK with their 1983 version.
Members: Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, Neville Staple
Fun Boy Three commenced in July 1981 when singer Terry Hall, singer–percussionist Neville Staple, and singer–guitarist Lynval Golding left The Specials, the Coventry ska septet that made the popular 1979–80 albums The Specials and More Specials on 2 Tone–Chrysalis. Hall, the frontman, shared vocals with Golding and Staple on the hits “A Message to You Rudy” and “Rat Race.” He announced the split during a July 2 appearance on Top of the Pops for The Specials UK No. 1 “Ghost Town” (to the shock of Specials keyboardist and policymaker Jerry Dammers, who wasn’t notified beforehand.) In their new configuration, FBT pursued a darker sound with minimal arrangements and echoing baritone vocals overlaid with jungle percussion.
“The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)”
Fun Boy Three debuted in late 1981 with the sardonically deadpan “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)” (b/w “Faith, Hope And Charity“), a U.K. #20 hit.
Fun Boy Three and Bananarama
For their next single, the three collaborated with Bananarama on the ’30-era standard “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” (b/w “The Funrama Theme”), released in January 1982 (U.K. #4). Hall contacted the trio after seeing a feature on them in an issue of The Face.
“It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)”
“It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)”
“Really Saying Something”
To return the favor, FBT backed Bananarama on their second single “Really Saying Something” (U.K. #5), originally recorded in 1964 by minor Motown group The Velvelettes. All three a-sides have videos that were generously rotated on the fledgling U.S. cable network MTV.
The Fun Boy Three
Their first album, The Fun Boy Three, was released in March 1982 on Chrysalis. It features 11 songs, including both sides of the first two singles. The back cover says “Co-Starring… Bananarama,” who feature on four songs, including “Sanctuary” and “Alone.”
One further single, “The Telephone Always Rings,” followed the album’s release. The album was recorded at the Bridge Studios and co-produced between the group and Specials-producer Dave Jordan.
Fun Boy Three assembled a backing band consisting of female classical players — Annie Whitehead (trombone), Nicky Holland (piano), Caroline Lavelle (cello), and Nicky Parker (violin) — for a cover of Gershwin‘s “Summertime,” released in the late summer of 1982. The band, minus Parker, were retained for the next album.
Fun Boy Three released thir second album, Waiting, in February 1983 on Chrysalis. produced by David Byrne. It features 10 originals, including “We’re Having All the Fun,” “The Pressure of Life (Takes the Weight off the Body),” and “Well Fancy That!”
The album yielded three singles: “The More I See (The Less I Believe),”
“The Tunnel of Love” (U.K. #10)
“Our Lips Are Sealed” (U.K. #7), the last of those co-written with Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s, whose version was a stateside hit the prior year. Additional musicians on the album include percussionist Geraldo D’Arbilly (Blue Rondo À La Turk, Animal Nightlife) and Specials cornetist Dick Cuthell.
Fun Boy Three disbanded in late 1983 after promotions wrapped for Waiting. Hall returned the following year in the sophisti-pop combo The Colourfield, which issued two albums on Chrysalis between 1985 and 1987. Golding and Staple joined the pop-reggae combo Sunday Best, which backed Selecter vocalist Pauline Black on the 1984 single “Pirates On the Airwaves.”
- The Fun Boy Three (1982)
- Waiting (1983)
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