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The Fixx

The Fixx are, in one sense, the quintessential New Wave group: a British band who polished synth pop and art rock with an eye on American audiences. During their heyday in the early 1980s, the Fixx didn't have much of a profile in their homeland -- they never cracked the Top 50 -- but they were a significant presence on MTV, Top 40, and AOR in the U.S., reaching the Billboard Top Ten with the nagging "One Thing Leads to Another," then scaling similar heights with the moody "Are We Ourselves?" and "Secret Separation." By the end of the '80s fashions had changed, and their commercial hot streak cooled, yet the Fixx persevered, one of the few bands of the early '80s to regularly tour and record into the 2020s. Formed by university friends vocalist/keyboardist Cy Curnin and drummer Adam Woods in the early '80s, the pair advertised in the music press for additional members, eventually recruiting keyboardist Rupert Greenall, guitarist Tony McGrail, and bassist Russell Mckenzie. Taking the name the Portraits, the band recorded a pair of singles for Ariola Records, "Little Women" and "Hazards in the Home," neither of which gained much attention. Within a year, they swapped McGrail for Jamie West-Oram and McKenzie for Charlie Barrett, adopted the name the Fixx, and recorded "Lost Planes," the single that led to a record contract with MCA. The Fixx released their debut album, the Rupert Hine-produced Shuttered Room, in 1982. It spawned two minor U.K. hits, "Stand or Fall" and "Red Skies," and spent a short time on the charts. In America, none of the singles were hits, yet the album stayed in the Top 200 for nearly a year. After Shuttered Room, Barret left the group; after a brief period with Alfie Agius, the band made Dan K. Brown his permanent replacement. Once again produced by Rupert Hine, 1983's Reach the Beach, released in 1983, established them as a hitmaking force in the U.S. The terse, pulsating "One Thing Leads to Another" became a number four hit, sending the album into the Top Ten. Reach the Beach would go platinum by the end of the year, launching two more Top 40 singles -- "Saved by Zero" and "Sign of Fire." Despite all their American success, the Fixx failed to break back into the British charts with Reach the Beach; in fact, they never had another British hit in their career. The Fixx returned in 1984 with Phantoms. While it performed well -- it peaked at number 19 and went gold -- it didn't match the success of Reach the Beach; after it launched the number 15 single "Are We Ourselves?" the record fell off the charts. Although their audience was shrinking, the Fixx kept their basic, synth-driven sound intact for 1986's Walkabout, which featured the hit "Secret Separation." After Walkabout, the band stopped working with producer Rupert Hine, which resulted in a harder, more guitar-oriented sound for 1988's Calm Animals. The record charted at number 72 but spawned no hit singles. Ink (1991), their next album, didn't reverse their declining fortunes even though they tried to update their sound with an emphasis on guitars and slick, dance-ready beats. After the record failed to recapture their mainstream audience, the Fixx receded from the spotlight before resurfacing in 1998 with Elemental, an album that found Brown replaced by bassist Chris Tate. A year later, they returned with 1011 Woodland, a collection of re-recordings of their greatest hits. Former Roxy Music and Adam & the Ants bassist Gary Tibbs would join them for 2003's Want That Life. Five years later, Brown returned for a world tour, a reunion that became permanent. The Fixx released Beautiful Friction, their first album in nearly ten years, in 2012. A decade of regular gigging commenced, highlighted by such specially focused jaunts as the "All Request Tour," "FIXXmas Tour," and concerts where Reach the Beach was played in its entirety. The Fixx also toured in support of Every Five Seconds, released in 2022.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo


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