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Posted by: In: Other 13 May 2022 Comments: 0


318-Bronski Beat-Smalltown Boy.

1984-Number 3 single.

Best Bit-At 0.28. In these slightly more enlightened times this songs message thankfully doesn’t quite resonate the way it did back in 1984, when it was genuinely ground breaking and very brave.

Bronski Beat were formed in London, England, in 1983 by Jimmy Somerville, (vocals) Steve Bronski, (1960-2021) (keyboards and percussion) and Larry Steinbachek (1961-2017) (keyboards and percussion.) All three were openly gay, and used their music to promote gay issues, in an era where other Pop Stars were trying to keeping their homosexuality out of the public domain.

It was Larry Steinbachek who was born in Southend, Essex, England, who was an associate of Steve Bronski, whose real name was Steven Forrest, who after hearing Jimmy Somerville singing during the making of the 1983 documentary film ‘Framed Youth: The Revenge of the Teenage Perverts,’ alerted Bronski about Somerville’s vocal talents, leading to the three of them joining forces, and signing a recording contract with ‘London Records’ after just nine live gigs. Jimmy Somerville who was born on June 22nd, 1961, in Glasgow, Scotland, would stay a member of Bronski Beat until 1985, before leaving to form The Communards, and gaining his greatest success with the song ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way,’ which spent four weeks at Number 1 in the UK in 1986, and was also that years best selling single (see also best songs 725.) After The Communards Somerville also had a very successful solo career, releasing six studio Albums between 1989-2014, and achieving seven top 40 singles. After Somerville left the Bronski Beat, John Foster was recruited as the new lead singer, in total there were seven band members between 1983 until the split in 1995, Steve Bronski resurrected the band again with two others in 2016, and they were active until 2018. The Bronski Beat recorded three studio Albums between 1984-1995, and 15 singles of which eight reached the UK top 40.

‘Smalltown Boy’ was the debut single released by the Bronski Beat, with Bronski, Somerville, and Steinbachek all receiving the songwriting credits, the song was later added to their debut Album ‘The Age of Consent.’ By 1984 many European countries had reduced the age of consent for homosexual acts to 16, but it remained 21 in the UK, the inner sleeve of the Album contained the different international ages of consent for males to engage in gay sex. ‘Smalltown Boy’ addresses what it was like to be gay in the early 1980’s, telling of homophobia, loneliness, and family misunderstanding. In the song the narrator feels he has to leave his family home as his parents, and the people where he lives will never accept or understand the person he is. He has to move a long way away in order to start a new life.

‘You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case, alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face.’