The Flying Lizards were an English experimental rock band, who were formed in 1976 in England. They are best remembered as New Wave one-hit wonders, thanks to their deliberately eccentric cover of Barrett Strong's "Money", which became a UK and US chart success in 1979.
Career[edit source | edit]Edit
Formed by and led by record producer David Cunningham, the group was a loose collective of avant-garde and free improvising musicians, such as David Toop andSteve Beresford as instrumentalists, plus Deborah Evans-Stickland, Patti Palladin and Vivien Goldman as main vocalists. It also included the painter Michael Upton.
Cunningham's recording contract with Virgin Records was for only two singles, but when "Money" started to climb the charts they signed him to a new contract. The group released their début album The Flying Lizards in 1980. The album included two songs – "Her Story" and "The Window" – written and sung by Goldman. Their single issues included their postmodern cover versions of songs such as Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and "Money".
The album sold enough copies to justify Virgin's financing another Flying Lizards album, but 1981's Fourth Wall put its focus on the eclectic experimentalism of Cunningham's music. Despite the presence of another mangled cover of a pop standard (Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up") the album was a commercial disappointment, though it received strong reviews.
The 1984 album Top Ten consisted entirely of covers, done in a deliberately emotionless, harsh and robotic style, including James Brown's "Sex Machine", and Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne". By this time Cunningham was devoting much of his time to producing other artists (including This Heat and Wayne County). After releasing 1984's Top Ten, which combined Cunningham's eccentric take on pop with electronic textures and the vocals of Sally Peterson, Cunningham retired the Flying Lizards.
Their version of Barrett Strong's "Money" remained popular, and was used in the film soundtracks for The Wedding Singer, Empire Records, Charlie's Angels and Lord of War, as well as in the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning American television medical drama Nip/Tuck and the follow-up to the UK TV drama Life on Mars, called Ashes to Ashes. In 2011, the song was used in a commercial for Taco Bell.
An album of dub instrumentals, The Secret Dub Life of the Flying Lizards, recorded by David Cunningham mostly in 1978, was finally released in 1995. The first two albums, The Flying Lizards and Fourth Wall, were re-released by RPM in 2010, with the catalogue number RETROD883.
With only one single making the UK Top 40, the Flying Lizards join the list of one-hit wonders – a list that includes other UK punk or New Wave acts such as The Banned, John Cooper Clarke, Jilted John, 999,Radio Stars, Rich Kids and The Vibrators.
Band members[edit source | edit]Edit
- David Toop
- Steve Beresford
- Michael Upton
- Julian Marshall
- Michael Nyman
- David Cunningham
- Vivien Goldman
- Robert Fripp
- Bob Black
- Deborah Evans-Stickland
- Patti Palladin
- Peter Laurence Gordon
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
Albums[edit source | edit]Edit
- The Flying Lizards (Virgin Records, 1980) (UK No. 60, US No. 99)
- Fourth Wall (Virgin, 1981)
- Top Ten (Statik, 1984)
- The Secret Dub Life of the Flying Lizards (Piano Records, 1996)
- The Flying Lizards & Fourth Wall (re-release, RPM Records, 2010)
- The Secret Dub Life of the Flying Lizards (vinyl re-release, Staubgold, 2010)
Singles[edit source | edit]Edit
- "Summertime Blues" (Virgin VS230, 1978)
- "Money" (Virgin VS276, 1979) (UK No. 5 US No. 50)
- "TV" (Virgin VS325, 1979) (UK No. 43)
- "The Laughing Policeman" (under the pseudonym 'The Suspicions', Arista 361, 1980)
- "Move On Up" (Virgin VS381, 1980)
- "Hands 2 Take" with Michael Nyman (Virgin VS392, 1981)
- "Lovers and Other Strangers" (Virgin VS421, 1981)
- "Sex Machine" (Statik tak19, 1984)
- "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Statik tak25, 1984)
- "Money"/"T.V." (Old Gold, 1988)