The Hit Parade

The Hit Parade

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Hit Parade


Img_capt = left-right Cath Carroll and Julian Henry.
Img_size =
Origin = London, England
Genre = Indie pop/Pop/C86
Years_active = 1984 to present
Label = JSH Records, UK, Minty Fresh, USA, Vinyl Japan, Japan Polystar, Japan Sarah Records, UK
URL = [http://www.the-hit-parade.co.uk]
Current_members = Raymond Watts Matthew Moffatt Julian Henry

The Hit Parade is a pop music group based in London, UK. Named after the NBC US TV show Your Hit Parade which was broadcast across America in the 1950s as a showcase of the best of chart music, The Hit Parade was formed in 1984 by three schoolfriends Raymond Watts, Matthew Moffatt and Julian Henry. The group have released six CDs and nine singles to date.

Background

Originally hailing from neighbouring villages Little Chalfont and Gerrards Cross, the band recorded their first three singles in the garage of Watt's family house working alongside experimental noise groups Psychic TV and Einstürzende Neubauten who were both recording with Watts at the time. The Hit Parade's early records "My Favourite Girl" and "The Sun Shines In Gerrards Cross" became Singles Of The Week in Melody Maker, Record Mirror and other 1980s music publications, and were played on Radio1 by DJs including John Peel, David 'Kid' Jenson, Janice Long and others. They were tipped in the pop magazines to become 'the next Wham' and to be 'as hot as a-Ha'.

The Hit Parade has never been commercially successful in part because the three core members have been occupied in other activities. Watts moved to Berlin in 1989 to produce various industrial rock acts, Henry developed a successful career in marketing and journalism while Matthew Moffatt founded his own film lighting company. But they have continued to release records as the Hit Parade to the current day and have earned the respect of post punk critics, fans and label owners for their determined pursuit of pop purity. They proclaim the Latin motto "Semper Eadem" (always the same) on their records.

Recordings

The Hit Parade initially recorded exclusively for their own JSH Record label in the UK, producing hand designed 7" singles in limited editions. The first six of these singles, carrying the catalogue No. JSH 1 through to JSH 6 have become collectible. In 1985 The Hit Parade became the last group signed to UK new wave record label Stiff Records by label chief Dave Robinson. Material was recorded for Stiff but the label went out of business before anything (other than a Hit Parade track on a Stiff compilation) was released.

In the 1990s The Hit Parade signed to the Sarah Records label and recorded "In Gunnersbury Park", an ode to Gunnersbury Park, the West London civic garden, the first of several songs referencing British landscape. Julian Henry from The Hit Parade and Harvey Williams from Another Sunny Day performed at the Sarah Records farewell concert on board the Theckler Boat, moored in Bristol harbour in 1995.

During this period they played UK concerts with several indie notables, and were eventually signed to a major Japanese label. Harvey Williams, Amelia Fletcher of Tallulah Gosh and Heavenly as well as Factory Records signed Mancunian singer Cath Carroll perform on Hit Parade CDs.

In 2007 The Hit Parade released "The Return Of The Hit Parade" [http://www.the-hit-parade.co.uk] their fifth album, the result of a three year collaboration between Henry and St Etienne producer / engineer / musician, Ian Catt. They released their ninth single "My Stupid Band", an autobiographical story of a pop group doomed to a life of obscurity, at this time. The album also contains two songs set in coastal villages in Penwith, West Cornwall "The Queen Of Mousehole" and "Born In St Ives". In the same year the single "You Didn't Love Me Then" appeared on Sanctuary Records C86 double album Cd86: The Birth Of Indie Pop [http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cd86-Tracks-Birth-Indie-Pop/dp/B000HT3KO2] .

In the last year other new songs set in Penwith Cornwall have appeared on the band's myspace page, including 'Garage In Drift', 'Treen Girl' and 'Rainy Day In Newlyn'.

Songs

The songs of The Hit Parade are written by Julian Henry. Specific locations include "See You In Havana" (Zihuatanejo, Mexico), "Huebos Mexica" (Zona Rosa, Zocalo, Mexico City), "Road To Beaconsfield" (Beaconsfield, Bull Lane Tennis Club Gerrards Cross), "Wipe Away the Tears" (Acton, London), "So This Is London" (London, Regent's Street), "Born In St Ives" (St Ives, Cornwall), "The Queen Of Mousehole" (Mousehole, Cornwall), "Westbourne Terrace W2", "Autobiography" (Goodwin Sands, Kent), "Gunnersbury Park", West London, "So Said Kayo" (Nagoya TV Tower, Mr Donut, Tokyo Hands Dept Store), and others.

The Hit Parade song Grace Darling tells the true story of a 23 year old Victorian heroine who staged a dramatic rescue of the crew of a ship which had capsized in a storm close to her Lighthouse home on the Farne Islands near Bamburgh, Northumberland, in the North of England in the 1860s. The song is taken from their fourth album "The Sound of The Hit Parade".

Various Hit Parade songs carry literary references. "The Road To Beaconsfield" (George Orwell, Enid Blyton), "As I Lay Dying" (William Faulkner), "House Of Sarah" Evelyn Waugh Brideshead Revisited), "Huebos Mexicana" (Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Ernest Hemingway, Malcolm Lowry, Ken Kesey), "See You In Havana" (Hemingway) and others. The band's artwork features literary locations including Eric Blair (George Orwell), Wordsworth (Grasmere, Cumbria), Derek Jarman (Dungeness), Colerige (Alfoxden Park), Ian Fleming & Noel Coward (St Margarets Bay) and others.

In 1988 él label boss Mike Alway introduced Julian Henry to Jessica and Miranda Griffin of indie band The Would-be-goods. Henry is credited on the band's first album, 'The Camera Loves Me', with arranging nine of the original eleven songs.

Live concerts

The Hit Parade have toured irregularly. They last played as a three piece in 2006. Their first concerts were in and around South Bucks. Later they played in London at The Rock Garden, The Borderline, New Cross Gate, The Mean Fiddler and many other London pub / club venues. They have also played in Liverpool, Oxford, Brighton, Wolverhamption, Manchester, Colchester, Bristol and other cities.

During the 1990s The Hit Parade toured Japan four times, playing concerts in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and other cities. They toured with Stuckist artist Billy Childish and his group the Milkshakes, and later with Edwyn Collins. The band signed to Vinyl Japan and later Polystar Records. They enjoyed a Top 20 indie hit with "Hello Hannah Hello", performed at the opening of the Virgin Megastore in Shinjuku, Tokyo, appeared on MTV Japan and other TV shows. They signed to Minty Fresh Records, Chicago, USA [http://www.mintyfresh.com] .

Line up

Bass guitarist Raymond Watts is known for his Industrial group PIG (band), releasing 17 CDs and influencing commercially successful acts including Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails and others. As well as touring extensively in North America, Japan and Europe, Watts has recorded many albums with KMFDM one song which appeared in hit the video game movie Mortal Kombat.

Drummer Matthew Moffatt runs a London based film lighting company working with directors including Mike Leigh and Paul Greengrass. Moffatt is credited on several Hollywood and British produced films including Oscar nominated "Vera Drake" and "United 93".

Guitarist Julian Henry founded PR agency Henry's House, is a Trustee of The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA, London) [http://www.ica.org.uk] , is an advisor to TV and Entertainment magnate Simon Fuller and has written for newspapers including NME, Music Week and The Guardian on Music and Marketing.

External links

* [http://www.the-hit-parade.co.uk/ The Hit Parade website]
* [http://www.myspace.com/thehitparade The Hit Parade myspace site]


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