7_Songs: Jimmy Somerville

In 1984 the documentary Framed Youth: The Revenge of the Teenage Perverts was awarded with the Grierson Award for Best Documentary. The aim of this documentary was to raise awareness about homosexuality to wider audience. Jimmy Somerville was part of this project and his very emotional performance of "Screaming" in the documentary sure helped Somerville in further propelling his career in music. Richard Coles with whom he would form The Communards in the second half of the 80's was also part of this project and at this time, Jimmy already knew and used to hang out with Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek which will eventually turn into a Bronski Beat formation. A base and frame for Somerville's music career in the 80's was set. 
His body of work, counting in his international success with both Bronski Beat and the Communards, makes 9 studio albums and almost 30 singles. This includes some of the most selling singles of 1984, "Small Town Boy" and "Don't Leave Me This Way" from 1986.
On top of this, Jimmy Somerville remains as one of the early advocates for LGBT rights and freedoms of the 80's who proved that pop music is more than just for commercial selling and that it can be used as a vehicle to revolutionize certain ideas.

Small Town Boy (Bronski Beat) 
"Smalltown Boy" is Bronski Beat's signature song which gained huge success all over the world in 1984. Different than the usual trend with pop songs, this one had a profound meaning that meant an empowerment of gay liberation driven on the wings of seminal synth-pop instrumentation. In fact, the synth riff became a classic and has ever since the original release been borrowed and remixed in each decade, most notably by Groove Armada "History" in 2010 and Brandon Flowers "I Can Change" in 2015.

Why (Bronski Beat) 
"Why" was released as the second single and even though it could not follow the steps of its predecessor, it still managed to enter the charts in most of the countries in the world. Yet again, a song was dealing with anti gay sentiment feed even more by the growing anti AIDS hysteria and stigmatization. The music video was sort of a multi stage drama in a supermarket and portrays heroism against sentence and sin. Musically on the opposite, "Why" was even more energetic and among the dance floor killers in clubs across Europe.

Ain't Necessarily So (Bronski Beat) 
With the third single "Ain't Necessarily So", Bronski Beat took a different turn by covering a song that was originally written for George Gershwin's opera in 1935. Since its original release, the song has received many different treatments, mostly jazz or rock, but Bronski Beat’s was the first band to deliver a pop interpretation. The cover sleeve art was a parody of The Wizard Of Oz with Dorothy having the head of the devil.

Don't Leave Me This Way (The Communards) 
Jimmy Somerville, now under the Communards flag with Richard Coles, has had his second career peak in the 80’s with yet another cover version and their take of “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. Joined by the jazz singer Sarah Jane Morris, the band delivered a version that was more tuned to hiNrg dance pop. The song was again a huge success in Europe and even 30 years after its original release, it was voted by the British public as one of favorite 80's Number ones in UK history.

For A Friend (The Communards) 
The Communards' opus is mostly remembered by wider audiences for their hiNrg and synth pop hits. In 1987 however, the duo released “For a Friend” which was a real standout in tempo and form. The song was written in the memory of the gay activist Mark Ashton, a friend of Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles who died of AIDS aged 26. A following dedication appears on the album:

"Mark Ashton 1961-1987...it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."

Read My Lips (solo)
After Somerville and Cole parted their ways, Jimmy went on to pursue his solo career and released his debut solo album Read My Lips in 1989 and the single of the same name followed in 1990. It was not such a big chart success like the previous singles with the Communards, but again it was  call for action as the song discussed the need for increased funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

Some Wonder (solo)
In 2015, Jimmy Somerville returned with his sixth solo album titled Homage. It's probably Jimmy's best solo album in terms of musical production which pays tribute and goes back to the roots of disco music and celebrates the diversity of styles the genre had to offer. There was not an official single release, but Emanuel Franzel directed the official video for the song "Some Wonder".

For the complete Jimmy Somerville discography, as documented in music videos, please check the following the playlist below.

Jimmy Somerville / Bronski Beat / The Communrds Playlist