Original Mirrors

The Original Mirrors were an English new wave band that released the 1980–81 Mercury albums Original Mirrors and Heart Twango & Raw Beat. Singer Steve Allen hailed from Liverpool legends Deaf School.

Members: Steve Allen (vocals), Ian Broudie (guitar), Jonathan Perkins (keyboards), Pete Kircher (drums), Phil Spalding (bass, 1978-?), Jimmy Hughes (bass, ?-1981)


Background

The band started in January 1979 as a nameless project between singer Steve Allen and guitarist Ian Broudie, both established figures on the Liverpool new wave scene.

Allen was fresh off a four-year run with Deaf School, where he performed under the moniker “Enrico Cadillac.” He was the primarily vocalist (among three) of the large band, which released the 1976–78 albums 2nd Honeymoon, Don’t Stop the World, and English Boys, Working Girls. He co-wrote half their songs with guitarist Clive Langer, who followed with the Boxes and entered production.

Broudie started with Big in Japan, an unsigned Merseyside punk act with (future KLM) Bill Drummond and (future Pink Military) singer Jayne Casey. Langer encouraged their formation and sat in briefly before the arrival of (later Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer) Holly Johnson. Despite their brief (thirteen months) existence and scant (belated) output, Big in Japan (along with Deaf School) kickstarted Liverpool’s musical renaissance.

Allen and Broudie rehearsed as a trio with drummer Peter Kirchner (b. 1945), whose career dated back to the cross-channel beat scene. In the early sixties, he played in The Burnettes, an early (pre-Hendrix Experience) band of guitarist–bassist Noel Redding and singer Neil Landon (who reunited with Redding in Fat Mattress). In 1967, Kirchner embarked on a three-year strint with London popsters Honeybus and played on the subsequent solo albums of colleagues Pete Dello and Colin Hare. Most recently, Kirchner played on L.E.X., the 1979 third album by Liverpool Express.

In June 1979 the nameless trio made their live debut and demoed material that impressed Phonogram, which signed them to the label’s Mercury division. The band held auditions that netted keyboardist Jonathan Perkins and bassist Phil Spalding. Perkins played in the early (pre-record) XTC and cut a 1978 album with Stadium Dogs. Spalding, a former computer operator, gigged before as a Bernie Torme soundman.

They settled on the name Original Mirrors and debuted with the November 1979 single “Could This Be Heaven?” backed with “Night of the Angels,” both Allen–Broudie originals produced by Bill Nelson, the erstwhile Be-Bop Deluxe mastermind who recently fronted Red Noise and entered production with the second Skids album Days In Europa.


Original Mirrors

The Original Mirrors released their self-titled debut album in February 1980 on Mercury.

Original Mirrors features nine Allen–Broudie originals, including the two pre-released songs and both sides of the followup single “Boy’s Cry” and “Chains of Love.”

Side One contains a cover of the Supremes classic “Reflections.”

A1. “Sharp Words” (4:28)
A2. “Reflections” (4:09)
A3. “The Boys the Boys” (3:30)
A4. “Flying” (4:04)
A5. “Chains of Love” (4:02)
B1. “Could This Be Heaven?” (5:10)
B2. “Boys Cry” (2:35)
B3. “Night of the Angels” (3:38)
B4. “Panic In the Night” (3:18)
B5. “Feel Like a Train” (5:00)

Aside from the two Nelson-produced songs, the Original Mirrors recorded the album with soundman Alan Winstanley, a longtime engineer for United Artists (999, The Stranglers) who recently teamed with Clive Langer in a production partnership unveiled on the debut Madness album One Step Beyond.

Arista issued Original Mirrors in the US and Canada with a reverse-sided, shuffled tracklist. Mercury lifted alternate a-sides in France (“Sharp Words”), Germany (“Reflections”), and Italy (“Flying”).

After this album, Spalding humped ship to Toyah, the backing band of Toyah Willcox. The Original Mirrors hired bassist Jimmy Hughes, whose background included pop-punks The Banned (as Tommy Steal) and a one-album stint with Cowboys International. Most recently, he played in The Subterraneans with journalist Nick Kent.


Heart Twango & Raw Beat

The Original Mirrors released their second album, Heart Twango & Raw Beat, in May 1981 on Mercury.

Heart Twango features eight songs co-written by Steve Allen and Ian Broudie, including their third single “Dancing With the Rebels.”

Broudie lone-wrote the title track and “Please Don’t Wear Red.”

A1. “Heart-Twango And Raw-Beat” (2:02)
A2. “Dancing With the Rebels” (3:27)
A3. “Teenbeat” (2:49)
A4. “When You’re Young” (4:00)
A5. “Things To Come” (5:04)
B1. “Darling….In London” (4:00)
B2. “Don’t Cry Baby” (3:55)
B3. “Please Don’t Wear Red” (4:28)
B4. “Swing Together” (3:21)
B5. “Time Has Come” (3:18)

Sessions took place in early 1981 with Mike Howlett, an erstwhile bassist (Gong, Steve Hillage Band) whose producer credits included recent titles by Athletico Spizz 80, Fischer-Z, Martha + The Muffins, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, The Revillos, and Teardrop Explodes.

“Dancing With the Rebels” preceded the album as a single, backed with the non-album “Sure, Yeah!” The album was co-engineered by two staffers at Richard Branson’s Manor mansion: Richard Mainwaring (Landscape, The Human League, Scars, Zones) and Steve Prestage (Japan, The Members, The Ruts, Jane Aire & The Belvederes).

Heart Twango & Raw Beat appeared in a sleeve designed by Factory Records visual artist Peter Saville (Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Monochrome Set) with color-lit posed photography by one Drew.

“Time Has Come” reappeared as the b-side to the fourth and final Original Mirrors single, “20,000 Dreamers,” an Howlett-produced Allen–Broudie original.

A. “20,000 Dreamers” (4:31)


Post-Split

Spalding later surfaced in Mike Oldfield‘s band and GTR, a supergroup with guitarists Steve Howe and Steve Hackett and ex-Bronz singer Max Bacon.

Broudie formed the duo Care with Wild Swans mastermind Paul Simpson. They cut three 1983–84 Arista singles and recorded a long-vaulted album. He entered production and later formed the Lightning Seeds.

Hughes joined Department S

Kircher served three years in Status Quo (1982–85) after the abrupt, mysterious exit of co-founder John Coghlan.

Allen became the Senior A&R Director at WEA’s Eternal label.


Discography:

  • Original Mirrors (1980)
  • Heart Twango & Raw Beat (1981)

Sources:

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