The Blow Monkeys

The Blow Monkeys are a British new wave/sophisti-pop band that formed in 1981. The first single, “Live Today Love Tomorrow” was released in 1982. They subsequently enjoyed a successful career with several hit singles and albums across the 1980s before splitting up at the beginning of the 1990s. Their first hit song was “Digging Your Scene”, which hit No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1986. They had four albums and eleven singles in the UK charts from 1986 and 1990.

In late 2007, the original band members reunited. They have subsequently released five albums (one of them a live recording).

Fronted by lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist and piano player Dr. Robert (born Bruce Robert Howard, 2 May 1961, Haddington, Scotland) the group formed in 1981, upon Howard’s return to the United Kingdom, after spending his teen years in Australia. The other members are Mick Anker (born 7 August 1961) on bass guitar, Neville Henry (born 11 October 1961) on saxophone, and Tony Kiley (born 28 November 1961) on drums.[8]

In 1984, they released their debut album, Limping for a Generation, but their first hit came two years later, in 1986, with “Digging Your Scene”, from their second album, Animal Magic (which reached number 21 in the UK Albums Chart). The single attracted attention for the topical lyrics, dealing with the AIDS-fuelled backlash against gay people. It peaked at number 14 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 7 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. In addition, it reached a high of number 12 in the UK Singles Chart, number 24 in Italy and number 25 in Germany.

In January 1987, She Was Only a Grocer’s Daughter, the band’s third album was released; it reached number 20 in the UK, thanks to its biggest hit, “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way”, which reached number 5 in the UK (and number 28 in Italy), although it never charted in the United States. However, it is featured in the movie Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. The song “You Don’t Own Me” appears on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. The record also featured harmony vocals by singer-songwriter Grayson Hugh.

Outside the group (though actually included on their fourth album, Whoops! There Goes the Neighbourhood), a successful single release by Robert Howard was “Wait”, that featured early Chicago House diva, Kym Mazelle, on female lead vocals. The record was an early British recording in the subgenre dubbed UK garage. The track reached number 7 in the UK chart. It would later re-appear on the Blow Monkeys’ first greatest hits album, Choices – The Singles Collection, their highest-charting record, reaching Number 5 in the UK Albums Chart in 1989.

The band split up in late 1990, shortly after the release of their fifth album, Springtime for the World (an EP of the same name also came out, collecting all three singles from the album). After briefly recording with Dee C. Lee, as Slam Slam, Dr. Robert went solo. He contributed to Paul Weller’s solo debut album, and co-wrote material with both Weller and Lee. Another notable collaborator was Beth Orton.

On 18 November 2007, the original band members announced the reunion of the Blow Monkeys, as well as a new album Devil’s Tavern and a tour in 2008. The album was funded by the pre-orders placed by fans. The release date for the album was 8 September 2008. Q magazine reviewed the album by saying, “Their first album in 18 years still finds the frontman in fine voice; Robert continues to sound like he dresses only in velvet and smokes cigarillos”.

In June 2009, the band released a special edition double digipack CD and DVD of their performance at the 100 Club in London. It featured the original band performing fifteen songs including: “Digging Your Scene”, “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way” and “Wait”; as well as other tracks from the band’s earlier work along with a few new songs from Devil’s Tavern.

In January 2011 the band released another new album Staring at the Sea, with “Steppin’ Down” as the first single issued.

Their latest album, Feels Like A New Morning, was released by Cherry Red Records in April 2013, accompanied by a second CD containing 10 Blow Monkeys songs performed by Dr. Robert.

In 2013, Sony Music issued a comprehensive three disc box set, Halfway to Heaven: The Best of The Blow Monkeys & Dr Robert, covering the best of The Blow Monkeys, Dr Robert’s solo work, as well as a 1984 concert from the Hammersmith Palais.

In October 2014, the band went into Monnow Valley Studios, Rockfield, Monmouthshire, Wales to record a new album, with Jon Withnall on mixing and engineering duties. The resulting album If Not Now, When? was released in April 2015.

In October 2017 the band released their 10th studio album “The Wild River”. Written and produced by main man Robert Howard it was recorded and mixed at Gismo 7 Studio in Motril, Spain. The album features Crispin Taylor on drums ( ex Galliano) and is a return to their soul/funk roots. It is released on Monks Rd Records.

The band is suppprting Level 42 on their Eternity tour starting in October 2018.

Studio albums

  • Limping for a Generation (1984)
  • Animal Magic (1986)
  • She Was Only a Grocer’s Daughter (1987)
  • Whoops! There Goes the Neighbourhood (1989)
  • Springtime for the World (1990)
  • Devil’s Tavern (2008)
  • Staring at the Sea (2011)
  • Feels Like a New Morning (2013)
  • If Not Now, When? (2015)
  • The Wild River (2017)

80s Singles

  • “Live Today Love Tomorrow” (1982)
  • “Go Public” (1984)
  • “Man from Russia” (1984)
  • “Atomic Lullaby” (1984)
  • “Wildflower” (1985)
  • “Forbidden Fruit” (1985) (UK Singles Chart: No. 94)
  • “Digging Your Scene” (1986) (UK Singles Chart: No. 12; US Billboard Hot 100: No. 14; US Hot Dance Club Play: No. 7; Germany: No. 25; Italy: No. 37; Netherlands: No. 37)
  • “Wicked Ways” (1986) (UK Singles Chart: No. 60)
  • “Don’t Be Scared of Me” (1986) (UK Singles Chart: No. 77)
  • “It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way” (1987) (UK Singles Chart: No. 5; Italy: No. 44; Netherlands: No. 29)
  • “Out with Her” (1987) (UK Singles Chart: No. 30)
  • “(Celebrate) The Day After You” with Curtis Mayfield (1987) (UK Singles Chart: No. 52)
  • “Some Kind of Wonderful” (1987) (UK Singles Chart: No. 67)
  • “This Is Your Life” (1988) (UK Singles Chart: No. 70)
  • “It Pays to Belong” (1988)
  • “Wait!” (1988) Dr. Robert and Kym Mazelle (UK Singles Chart: No. 7)
  • “This Is Your Life” [Remix] (1989) (UK Singles Chart: No. 32)
  • “Choice?” featuring Sylvia Tella (1989) (UK Singles Chart: No. 22)
  • “Slaves No More” featuring Sylvia Tella (1989) (UK Singles Chart: No. 73)
Members Dr. Robert (Robert Howard)
Neville Henry
Mick Anker
Tony Kiley

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