Haircut 100/Nick Heyward: The 80’s

There was this jangly, English pop band with interesting beats and a great lead singer.  Haircut 100 produced one very good album with several great songs, and imploded.  Nick Heyward, the main writer, singer and guitarist departed for a solo career.  Haircut 100 continued but without Heyward quickly saw the writing on the wall.

220px-Pelican_WestThis was a blue-eyed soul-pop band, one of many sprouting in England in the early 1980’s.  Their sound was instantly recognizable and quite infectious.

Thankfully, Haircut 100 gave us Pelican West (1982). “Love Plus One” and “Fantastic Day” were the most played songs from the album, with “Love Plus One” charting on several Billboard charts.

After Heyward left, Haircut 100 soldiered on for one album then broke up.  In the early 2000’s, the band, plus Heyward, played some concerts, and even recorded material for live CD.  They have talked about another reunion, but nothing official yet.

After Pelican West, Heyward had already been developing songs when he announced his departure from the band.  North of a Miracle, his first solo album was released in 1983.  It was produced by Geoff Emerick (The Beatles, Elvis Costello) who gave it a smooth and orchestral feel. The songs were more finely crafted and arranged, which accentuated Heyward’s rich voice, for a glossier, mature sound.  The result was a fine product, much like Costello’s Imperial Bedroom, one of his most critically acclaimed albums.  I like North of a Miracle, but it was a bit too middle-of-the-road, given the more basic production of Pelican West, that let the songs breathe. “Blue Hat for a Blue Day” and “Whistle Down the Wind” were the big singles.  My favorite, is the moody, heavily orchestrated “The Day it Rained Forever.”

Too bad that Emerick didn’t continue to work with Heyward.  His next two albums were produced by Heyward and Graham Sacher.  Postcards From Home and I Love You Avenue followed the same formula but with less success. Heyward’s albums were released in America, but he was more an English artist, and his albums charted there and in Europe.  Unless you were a fan, American audiences wouldn’t be familiar with him.  Every four or five years, Heyward released another album.

Haircut 100 was here and gone in the blink of an eye, but Nick Heyward stayed around and fashioned a nice career, even if you haven’t heard of him.


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