Monday, June 15, 2009

The Amazing Jimmy Somerville

Before there was American Idol and Adam Lambert, there was an extremely gifted and out singer named Jimmy Somerville.

He was the lead vocalist for the Bronski Beat and The Communards before he embarked on a solo career. Like Lambert, he was known for his amazing range and fearless use in soaring vocals. The difference is that Jimmy was forming the Bronski Beat the year Lambert was born. Somerville moved easily between Hi N-R-G mixes, to blues-inspired ballads. There was the amazing Why? and Smalltown Boy, and the soulful Need A Man Blues and It Ain't Necessarily So while with the Bronski Beat. The Communards had sucess with dance hits Don't Leave Me This Way and Never Can Say Goodbye as well as the AIDS-inspired ballad, For A Friend.

Jimmy never stood behind a coy answer about his sexuality. And unlike Elton John, he wwas never 'married' nor transitioned with the cover of being bisexual. Of course, that might be tough when he was singing songs like There's More To Love Than Boy Meets Girl and Read My Lips (Enough Is Enough). Most of the songs he sang he had either co-written or wrote himself. In the mid 90s, he took some tie off and left England for San Fransisco to work in the AIDS community projects so he could bring what he learned back to England.

This year, Jimmy released his 6th solo project, Suddenly Last Summer, available only as a digital download from iTunes. It is a collection of acoustic covers of songs he found on his iPod, ranging from the flirty My Heart Belongs to Daddy to the Blondie song Hangin' On The Telephone, to a heart wrenching a cappella version of (Sometimes I Fell Like A) Motherless Child, recorded live for a crowd demanding yet another encore. His Walking After Midnight owns more to anonymous sex and tea rooms than it does to Patsy Cline's original. For me, it is great to hear him sing once again, and and have a great time doing it.


  1. I can remember when Jimmy Somerville was one of only a handful of out and proud musicians. When they played "Don't Leave Me This Way" at the bar in Harrisburg, it always made me want to dance.


  2. Yes, Jimmy didn't hide from anyone. I saw The Communards play in NYC in the late 80s, and he was every bit as amazing in concert. The crowd went crazy and were dancing up a storm - and I was just hoping Jimmy would sweat on me.

  3. For those of us who came to grips with our sexuality in the early to mid-80's, it was Bronski Beat's Age of Consent that got us through. Amazing dance tunes and an even more amazing message. God Bless Jimmy Somerville. As for the comparison to Adam Lambert, each night I listened to him sing, I heard more Andy Bell of Erasure than Jimmy Somerville. But what does this old behr know? LOL! Thanks for the trip down memory lane...the 80s was definitely THE best music-making decade.

  4. Behrmark, I hear you. The 80s made some great music, some of which I am still listening to. And I understand your thoughts on Andy Bell, but after seeing all the press, it occurred to me that perhaps many were not aware he is not nearly as original as the press seems to think. There were plenty of others who were around leading the way. Jimmy was my favorite.



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