In the summer of 1984, FM was formed. Comprising the ex-Samson pair of bassist Merv Goldsworthy and drummer Pete Jupp, the formidable Overland brothers – vocalist/guitarist Steve and lead guitarist Chris; both formerly of Wildlife – plus the keyboard talents of Philip Manchester, better known as sci-fi nutcase Didge Digital, the band wrote six songs. In December of that same year they secured a recording contract with CBS. The debut album, ‘Indiscreet’, wasn’t far behind, and concerts and tours with Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Foreigner, Gary Moore, Status Quo and Magnum, REO Speedwagon and Bon Jovi followed. The Overland brothers were flown to America to write with hitmaker Desmond Child, returning with a few great stories and the awesome hard rock anthem ‘Bad Luck’. Completing the jigsaw, Queensr˙che/Dokken producer Neil Kernon was engaged to oversee 1989’s ‘Tough It Out’, a harder-edged second album that saw FM at last realising the sound they’d envisaged all along. To promote ‘Tough It Out’ the band set out on a gruelling 42-date UK tour that would see them returning to Hammersmith Odeon. Soon afterwards, however, Chris Overland decided to leave FM, his final performance taking place at the sold-out Town & Country Club.
In his place, FM recruited Andy Barnett, a guitarist who’d already been in a prototype line-up of the group (indeed, if you look closely, Barnett scored a co-writing credit for the ‘Indiscreet’ song ‘That Girl’). The impish Londoner brought with him a harder guitar sound and his influence upon FM’s musical direction soon became evident. Initially, some were appalled as Andy went into widdle overdrive, but his debut with the group, 1991’s ‘Takin’ It To The Streets’ album, was a more than creditable achievement. FM had moved on. There was a new record label – the well-regarded independent Music For Nations. The loud suits, flowing cloaks and bouffant hairstyles of the past were all conspicuous by their absence, likewise the fluffy keyboards (Didge Digital would parp his last with the band in late 1991). But ‘TITTS’ didn’t prepare anyone for the following year’s ‘Aphrodisiac’, an intoxicating and astounding collection of heart-wrenching ballads (‘Closer To Heaven’) and balls-out rockers (‘Breathe Fire’, ‘Blood And Gasoline’). Foreigner and Journey were now comparisons you were unlikely to spot in an FM review. The transition was complete, though the songs still remained recognisable for their melodic vitality and Overland’s cool, classy, confident vocals.
In undertaking a gigantic string of acoustic dates in the winter of 1992, FM would prove their rock ‘n’ roll credentials beyond all reasonable doubt. Combining an organic musical sound and the band’s unstoppable party attitude, the 40-odd dates they played covered Europe and onto Malta, sweeping aside any preconceptions that might still have remained. Indeed, it was commonplace for FM to convert disinterested bystanders into whooping, hollering idiots. The experience is still available if you pick up a copy of ‘No Electricity Required’ (also available on long-form video as ‘Live Acoustical Intercourse’). With Europe and the Far East finally opening up at last, a full-time keyboard appointment was made. The affable Jem Davis had played with Tobruk, Midnight Blue and UFO. Sadly, the arrangement was to prove short-lived. In the post-grunge fallout, bands like FM had become distinctly unfashionable. Under normal circumstances, the quintet wouldn’t have given a damn about such a predicament. However, they had begun to feel as though they were painting themselves into a corner with aptly titled ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ album. Shortly after it’s release, in 1995, the band quietly slipped away to pursue a variety of other opportunities.
Some of these projects solidified into albums, and some did not. Included in the former category are So!, Shadowman and The Ladder – all worth checking out if you happened to miss them. However, the individual members soon discovered it was impossible to get through an interview without being quizzed about the possibility of an FM reunion. The re-issuing and re-packaging of most of their albums on CD simply served to turn up the heat. And so it came to pass. At Nottingham Rock City on 27th October 2007, after considering (and declining) multiple previous approaches from the organisers of a melodic hard rock all-dayer called the Firefest, Merv, Steve, Pete, Andy and Jem finally played together again in public for the first time in 12 years.
With stage two of the group’s career about to begin, they were disappointed to accept the resignation of Andy Barnett. However, with an exciting new guitarist on board these plans are now firmly back on target. Brought into the band at Steve Overland’s suggestion, Jim Kirkpatrick was already a huge fan of FM so it was an honor to accept the chance of joining a group whose records he loved. Kirkpatrick was blooded at a low-key gig at Wigan’s Winstanley College in March 2009. All too aware of the way others have fallen at the same hurdle, FM have taken their time in completing a comeback disc, ‘Metropolis’, which drops in March 2010.
Tracklist: 01. WILDSIDE, 02. HOLLOW, 03. UNBREAKABLE, 04. FLAMINGO ROAD, 05. METROPOLIS, 06. OVER YOU,
07. DAYS GONE BY, 08.BRING BACK YESTERDAY, 09. I AIN'T THE ONE, 10. I DON’T NEED NOTHING, 11. THE EXTRA MILE, 12. WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN, 13. STILL THE FIGHT GOES ON
Steve Overland (vocals, guitars)
Merv Goldsworthy (bass)
Pete Jupp (Drums)
Jem Davis (Keyboards)
Jim Kirkpatrick (Guitars)
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