1. Making Your Mind Up – 1981 #1
In under three minutes, the track delivers enough cheese to top every pizza in the greater London area. Sounding nothing like the rest of their repertoire, Making Your Mind Up launched a career that few other Eurovision winners could emulate. Even forty years on, tea-towel skirts still get ripped off in affectionate homage at Eurovision house parties across Europe.
2. Now Those Days Are Gone – 1982 #8
Hot on the heels of Are You Ready’s two high-octane number one hits, the melodic hush of Now Those Days Are Gone was a bold move. The beautifully harmonised acapella first half of the song showcases a fragile Mike Nolan lead vocal that sometimes seems to teeter on the brink of falling apart. Andy Hill’s maximalist production is dialled down, leaving a spotlight on the voices. The critical reappraisal could well start here.
3. When We Were Young – 1983 #10
Another swerve from their more happy-go-lucky sound, When We Were Young offered a more adult perspective of Bucks Fizz. Jay Aston’s stylised vocal delivery aped the then trendy Hazel O’Connor, and the dramatic electro arrangement underscored densely-voiced choruses. A couple more songs in this style were recorded at the time, suggesting that an album in this moody new direction might have been under consideration. Perhaps they lost their nerve, as a Greatest Hits package emerged instead, feeling slightly premature.
4. You And Your Heart So Blue – 1985 #43
With a driving Footloose-style rhythm track, superb vocals and a thunderous production, You And Your Heart So Blue looked, on paper, like a sure-fire hit. But Jay Aston’s shock departure clashed with the promotion of the single, resulting in a video that featured only three group members. Within weeks, the newly recruited Shelley Preston joined Bucks Fizz to perform the track in a highly publicized BBC TV “reveal” on Terry Wogan’s chat show, but the stunt did nothing to benefit the track’s chart fortunes.
5. New Beginning (Mamba Seyra) – 1986 #8
After a year of running on fumes, Bucks Fizz burst back into the UK Top Ten with New Beginning. This fresh piece of pop hitched an optimistic kumbaya lyric to a euphoric vocal arrangement and a dynamic rhythm track. The media took a renewed interest in the group but an ill-chosen follow-up single derailed their new chart momentum. These singles trailed an album whose title now seems prophetic – Writing on the Wall.
6. Heart Of Stone – 1988 #50
Following two years of near silence, the release of Heart Of Stone was surprisingly low on fanfare. Great songwriting, mature production and powerful vocal performances notwithstanding, the single stalled at #50 in the UK charts. At this point, the curtain lowered slowly on Bucks Fizz as a recording act. Cher enjoyed international success with her version a year later.
7. When We Were At War – 1983
Throughout their early years, Bucks Fizz were written off as manufactured puppets by critics, mere session singers with pretty faces. Perhaps in response to this, the four worked behind the scenes to develop some creative muscle. Collectively and singly, they wrote songs that were variously afforded B-side status, or, occasionally, elevated to album track lists. When We Were At War – written by the group and produced by Bobby G – was relegated to the flipside of 1983’s Rules of the Game single (#57). Stronger than a couple of flimsy songs on their preceding album, this elegant ballad deserved a more respectful fate.
8. Easy Love – 1982
The group’s sophomore album, Are You Ready, was so much stronger than its predecessor, that each of the ten tracks could have made a creditable single. Behind the glossy number one hits, album track Easy Love was a shimmering piece of Moroder-scented disco. Jay Aston’s fiery lead vocal jousts ably with stuttering brass and clattering percussion. Easy Love was a strident hint that the individual members had ability beyond the perky media personas and professional harmonising. A hit that got away.
9. Amen – 2017
The Bucks Fizz glory days were followed by many fallow years. Cheryl, Mike and Jay eventually built bridges and returned to performance with a new fourth member – another Bobby, handily enough – under the legally shrunken moniker of The Fizz. Mike Stock (of Stock/Aitken/Waterman fame) produced a comeback album, The F-Z of Pop. Bespoke new material rubbed shoulders with underwhelming new versions of three Bucks Fizz classics designed to reconnect with the past. The standout track, Amen, was written by Cheryl’s daughter, Kyla Stroud. Proud Mum’s lead vocal shows a voice bettered by age, and the ear-catching harmonies seem to channel Stevie Nicks.
10. Second To None – 2020
The working relationship with Mike Stock has remained strong, yielding two further albums: 2018’s Christmas With The Fizz was followed in 2020 by Smoke & Mirrors. The album’s eleven songs are steeped in 80’s nostalgia and Kyla Stroud provides another gem in the shape of Storm. While no Bucks Fizz songs were revisited in the making of this album, the zingy Second To None sounds like it might come from the same bloodline as 1981’s Piece Of The Action.
Why not visit The Fizz?
Find out what Cheryl, Mike and Jay are up to in 2021 by visiting their Official Site
Listen to Hometime's Music
Why not check out our guest writer, Tony Kavanagh's recordings as Hometime?