STEPS FIVE: JAPANESE TARA'S

[STEPS 1] [STEPS 2] [STEPS 3] [STEPS 4] [STEPS 5]

August 85' found the band adding final touches to 'Platform One' the original title of their second long player. With Richard Burgess once again in the producerís seat the sessions had been put to tape in between European concert dates, headlining at Glastonbury, video shoots, promotion for 'Alone Without You' and an American tour.

Americaís perception of King was greatly influenced by eight months of UK media coverage. In the USA Paul was King, just as Madonna was Madonna or Prince sometimes was Prince. Despite efforts to correct the impression and push King as a band, the American press were unconcerned with the finer details. 

The USA dates were a success. 'Love & Pride' was enjoying high rotation on MTV - Kings live set was tight and by this time the booted and suited funksters were more than practiced in winning over curious crowds. Group unity however was not tight but at least on stage, with the audiences cheering, King still managed to stand shoulder to shoulder.

 

 

36 GLASTONBURY JIM 85

Amongst the founder musicianís earlier discontent was now turning bitter. They no longer felt equal partners in this piece of pop theatre. Jim, Mick and Tony now believed themselves recast as extras confined to the shadows whilst their lead singer strutted in the spotlight.

At the end of September 1985 following the US shows a window was set aside for some rest and the band headed home to love ones. In Coventry they found sympathetic ears to their frustrations and in reality from this moment King the band really ceased to exist.

Paul remained in London joining Richard Burgess on the final mixes of Platform One. Exhausted from the negative atmosphere surrounding the group he decided to re-christen their new album 'Bittersweet'....

 

03 Band photo - jp
01 Band photo - jp
02 Band photo - jp
ALBUM :  Bittersweet

"Bittersweet as a title seemed a more honest assessment of Kings emotional state. We had worked hard for some success and yes fame has it's pluses but at the same time your life isn't suddenly made perfect or clearly mapped. On the contrary I personally felt less in control, often compromised and unhappy with some realities of that success. Albeit of course as a self obsessed 24 year old wallowing in his artistic martyrdom.

As a more experienced soul I would have told myself to quit sulking, go talk with the rest of the band, sort out our problems and leave Platform One in place..... It was a far more positive statement of intent" Paul King

With barely 10 months between them 'Steps In Time' and 'Bittersweet' as albums, have much in common musically. Due to the speedy demand for the latter it's probably not surprising that their second long player offers no real development in the bands recording craft.

Bittersweet is a literal record of the groups live material as they toured and worked planet pop in early 1985. There was little time for new arrangements or approaches. Due to the groups deteriorating relationship there were no discussion of different directions, no evaluation of what worked and what didn't.The band had 10 new live tracks and they had a short space in which to record them.

This they did and actually with Richard Burgess's skilful assistance the record stepped up to the mark and in tracks such as 'Alone Without You - 'I Cringed I Died' and 'The Taste of Your Tears' they even managed to deliver some gems.

 

SINGLE TASTE 1985

On appearance The Bittersweet European Tour of that winter in 1985 ticked all the correct boxes of a throbbing vibrant pop phenomenon. Sell out crowds, threats from Animal Rights groups over their Boots 17 sponsorship, three nights of thrills at Hammersmith, hammers, knives and Yugoslav lorry drivers in Zurich, birthday bashes in Birmingham and mad kidnap attempts in Milan. All very exciting, creating some great press and solid steps for a band building up to their next phase.

Behind the scenes however, the reality was very different. For two months the group toured and promoted their wares across Europe whilst operating their own version of the cold war. On one side of the iron 'stage' curtain stood the band and the other side stood their lead singer.

Two separate camps now existed with little communication taking place apart from the two hours of show time. This of course impacted on crew and staff so by the time their tour machine hit Glasgow for New Years Eve the warning signs were ominous.

05 whistle test passes

Their Barrowlands concert was to be televised live by the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test. In the hours leading up to show Perry Haines was using all his management skills trying to persuade Paul to do the gig at all. The previous months had taken their toll on the singer. The groups resentment, CBS's lack of belief , the fact he had a big nose, whatever.

Almost 12 months to the day of their break through Paul King was prepared to quit.

With visions of David Bowies famous [if short lived] retirement announced to his unsuspecting fans and band at Hammersmith Odeon. Paul and his manager debated the pros and cons of ending King live on stage in front of a national TV audience. As Paul walked up to the microphone Perry Haines couldn't be certain that come January 1st he would still be representing one of the countries biggest pop acts.

In the end despite their personal issues King were united by the crowd and delivered a fine show. Paul left the stage and Glasgow alone.

 

Paul King LIVE - 006 Paul King LIVE - 007

1986 started with more promotional trips to the USA and also Japan where the demand for the band to come and tour was becoming hard to ignore. In the meanwhile Perry tried to build bridges within the band and assess how CBS viewed Kings future. The signs weren't good.

Like any family who have fought or argued the band did slowly get back on talking terms. A surface level of normality returned but the damage had cut deep. Early 86í saw the band writing and demoing tracks for a potential third King album. 

JAPAN SNOOPY DJ 2 & KING

In June a double a-side was recorded at Sarm Studios with Trevor Horn protege Julian Mendolson but the single was never released. Concerts in France, Spain and an appearance at Birminghamís NEC for Artists against Apartheid with the Pogues, were the bands only public appearances before a Japanese tour that September.

Japan was surprisingly fun. Happy to be back on the road and being so far from home the band actually seemed to enjoy each others company. A number of new songs hinting at new directions were well received by the crowds and Kings final live performance took place in Nagasaki on September 22nd.

Paul left Japan flying directly to the USA for a creative meeting with the producer Dan Hartman. After leaving the Edgar Winter Band, Dan Hartman had moved onto play, write and produce a number of disco classics. More recently he'd taken James Brown to the top of the charts having written and produced 'Living In America'.

Hartmanís rock and dance credentials made him an interesting choice to guide King on their next musical journey. But that journey was never to take place.

 

JAPAN KING & FANS 2

Dan Hartman was more confident in delivering a great record provided the band allow his session musicians to play on the album. CBS were not excited by the prospect of a third King release but would consider financing a solo Paul King record.

KING BAND IN FRONT OF BUS

The options were clear and the choices seemed predetermined. Unfortunately for all concerned the bands emotional insecurities combined with a failure to talk through their problems had dealt lethal damage to their musical compatibility.

Ironically for Jim, Mick and Tony their resentments and fears of Paul becoming a solo artist had become a self-fulfilled reality.

If the unity and commitment of their early years had survived the pressures of 1985 then King may have gone onto make their third and potentially greatest record. As it was Paul returned from New York called a band meeting and announced his intention of leaving the band

 

King was dead - Long live King.

 

04 TONY LIVE -fn
06 JIM - fn
JIM & MICK LIVE - 017
KING JAPAN TOUR POSTER
JAPANESE KING ALBUM BINDER
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