By now, you probably know I’m a sucker for cheesy stuff and my tastes are usually quite different from the general population. So when there’s a group or an album that is really excellent but people constantly make fun of it/them (like Right Said Fred), I’m all over it.
The year was 1992 and I was as positive as positive could be that Right Said Fred was going to be the biggest band in the world very soon. I was a sophomore in high-school, walking to school listening to Up after falling in love with “I’m Too Sexy” which would soon be the number one hit in the country and of course the catch phrase on everyone’s tongue. At the age of 16, I was still naive to how the music business in general worked and how fickle the record buying public was. I was simply in enjoyment mode, something that I miss now that I write and think critically about everything that goes in my ears. However, writing this piece is the first time I’ve ever really thought about Up with a critical eye.
Right Said Fred’s debut is one of my favorite overlooked records of all time. That’s right, I said all time. They’ve released a total of eight records but only Up saw a U.S. release and other than the follow up (Sex and Travel) you have to pay an arm and a leg here in the states to get your hands on a physical copy of any of them. But see, not only don’t we know about the other seven albums but we barely know about Up as well. I’m sure one of two things happened back in 1992. Either you viewed “I’m Too Sexy” as a joke and didn’t want to spend money on a full album like that, or you bought the record only to find out there were no other songs that even remotely resembled their biggest hit and then got rid of it. I can’t really say what it was back in 1992 that made me fall in love with the record and keep it all these years. I can tell you though, that I pull this out to listen to it probably more than 90% of what I own because it’s so damn fantastic.
So back to being naive about music. I do admit that I still do like, “I’m Too Sexy” but back when I first listened to this record I remember thinking to myself “just wait for the next single,” at which point everyone would stop taking these guys as a joke. After all, the rest of the album is filled with simply fantastic melodic pop tunes. There was a dance feel to some tracks, with programmed drum beats at the forefront of the disc. But there were also songs like “Upon My Heart” and one of my favorite tunes of all time, “Those Simple Things” which are pretty straight forward pop tunes with some ridiculously catchy choruses and melodies. Charisma records tried to recapture the magic of the hit by releasing the danceable, “Don’t Talk Just Kiss” as the second single and it did hit #76 on the pop charts based on the momentum of “Sexy”. And then in the U.S. they dropped off the map.
The writing was pretty much on the wall over here. In the U.S. it’ s a rare occasion where you can have a novelty hit and then move on from it. But the mission was accomplished. With “I’m Too Sexy” Right Said Fred became a household name and even today, people can still recall who sang the song. The residuals from that alone probably allow the Fairbrass brothers to continue making whatever type of music they want. And it seems like every few years they re-release the tune or do a remix of it. They may never be forgotten thanks to being able to really work their 15-minutes of fame to the max, but they also deserve to be remembered for some of the fantastic work they did on the rest of Up.
Chris Holmes did a Beyond the Wonder piece on this album back in August making Popdose one of the few places on earth where two critics rave about this album. Over there you can listen to the entire album that he breaks down song by song.