TVD Radar: The Communards, Red 35th anniversary reissue in stores 10/7

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Communards’ album Red will be reissued by London Records on 7th October 2022. In celebration of the release, The 2 Bears have remixed the duo’s smash hit “Never Can Say Goodbye” and you can hear it today. The remix is part of a double CD and vinyl release of Red on red and white vinyl, featuring previously unreleased tracks and new liner notes by Owen Jones.

In their first remix since 2014 The 2 Bears (aka Joe Goddard and Raf Rundell) deliver a ten-minute dance workout of “Never Can Say Goodbye” in three parts: a bubbling house intro with Somerville’s voice thrown to the top in glorious isolation, spine tingling dash of strings in part 2 before descending into a nihilistic outro of drilled down synths, grinding bass and totemic vocals. The 2 Bears’ Raf Rundell waxes lyrical about their return to the studio: “We donned our ceremonial robes and headgear, lit the fire and wound up our machines. Throwing out our dizzy hang ups we hailed G.L.O.R.I.A to Glasgow’s golden throated songbird. 2 Bears reunited in pursuit of the groove.”

“Never Can Say Goodbye” reached No 4 in the UK singles chart and heralded the release of The Communards’ sophomore album to be produced with Stephen Hague. It was Red which really encapsulated the genius of the partnership between Jimmy Somerville’s iconic countertenor / falsetto tones and Richard Coles’ magical piano skills. “We wanted to bring down Thatcher by doing cover versions of ‘70s disco classics and sort of supper club jazz music. It perhaps seems a rather over ambitious project now, but at the time it was a brilliant idea.” recalls Richard Coles.

“Before anything else, Jimmy and I were activists. We’d grown up gay in a hostile world and for us that was a matter of life and death – literally – so we weren’t messing about. We wanted to fight that fight,” he continues. “And that was not just a fight on one front, it was a fight on all sorts of fronts. We thought that our liberation could only happen if it liberated others.”

When Red was released in 1987 AIDS was regarded as a death sentence and the pandemic looms large over the album. “Victims” powerfully articulates the horror of that moment centering on Billy, a young man dying of AIDS with a defiant chorus: “No-one to blame there’s only victims.” Gay rights activist Mark Ashton – immortalised in the film Pride for his work with LGBTQ Britons and striking miners and who died aged 26 – is remembered in “For A Friend,” a beautifully moving eulogy.

The basic idea that same-sex relations was driven by love, just like their heterosexual counterparts, was treated as outlandish, if it was even indulged at all. Vital then that The Communards addressed this in “There’s More To Love Than Boy Meets Girl” on which Somerville declares he wants to “tell the world I’ve found love and what it means to me, but all around there’s violence and laws to make me think again.”

The re-issued Red comes as a double CD or vinyl package on red and white vinyl with a track listing which includes an extended remix of “Never Can Say Goodbye” by Shep Pettibone, live tracks and demo versions of “Hold On Tight” and “Tomorrow.”

Red went top 5 in the UK charts reaching platinum status, and their cover of Gloria Gaynor’s disco interpolation of “Never Can Say Goodbye” continued to grow their global audience.

Few today would want to imagine themselves as being on the anti-gay side of the “argument” back then: and yet it was the mainstream position. It was only because a loud but isolated few dared to confront the anti-gay moral panic that this dire situation could be turned around. In dark times, through their music, that’s what The Communards did: if only more artists shared their courage today.

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