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The Communards seminal debut album is to be reissued on its 35th Anniversary this autumn by London Records. The duo’s iconic ‘Hi-NRG’ cover of Don’t Leave Me This Way gets a new remix from 7th Heaven as part of an expanded CD/Digital release, and there will be a limited edition vinyl release of the album, all available from 3rd December. 

Mixing pop and politics wasn’t exactly a revolutionary act in itself in 1985, but no mainstream chart pop act had ever done so with the fervency, purpose and personal passion as The Communards.  From the message laid down in songs such as Reprise (acidly dedicated to Margaret Hilda Thatcher on release) or Breadline Britain’s condemnation of life under the Conservative government, right down to their stark, tongue in cheek, Soviet-styled artwork. Even the band’s name was taken from a group of 19th century Parisian revolutionaries.

“The Communards were more of a political outfit making music,” says frontman Jimmy Somerville who alongside Richard Coles delivered fiercely pro-gay rights and staunchly left-wing messages within an era-defining mix of glorious Hi-NRG pop and beautiful, piano-led melodicism; all held together and lifted skywards by the astonishing leaps and bounds of Somerville’s unmistakable counter-tenor voice. 

“We wanted to bring down Thatcher by doing cover versions of ‘70s disco classics and sort of supper club jazz music. It perhaps seems a rather over ambitious project now, but at the time it was a brilliant idea.” recalls Richard Coles with a chuckle. 

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“Before anything else, Jimmy and I were activists. We’d grown up gay in a hostile world and for us that was a matter of life and death – literally – so we weren’t messing about. We wanted to fight that fight,” he continues. “And that was not just a fight on one front, it was a fight on all sorts of fronts. We thought that our liberationcould only happen if it liberated others.”

To revisit the duo’s debut LP today is a wonderful reminder of just how special and transformative pop music can be. Take Disenchanted’s melancholic pulse; the delicate, moonlit flourishes of La Dolora; the clear message in their reading of jazz standard Loverman and of course, the soaring, evergreen rush of their cover of Gamble and Huff’s Don’t Leave Me This Way – number one in the UK for six weeks, the biggest selling single of 1986 and still a song that can send joy pulsing through the veins of generations not even born when the pair first stormed the charts.

DON’T LEAVE ME THIS WAY – YOUTUBE

The CD and digital formats have been expanded to include some rarities, fan favourites and previously unreleased material.  These include  Don’t Leave Me This Way (Gotham City mix part two) which Coles calls “my favourite thing that Jimmy and I did” and fan favourite Disenchanted (dance) remixed here by Mike Thorne.   Also included is the only radio session the duo ever recorded with Janice Long in October 1985 on which they debuted previously unpublished tracks and the demo version of Summertime, the only recording in existence of this collaboration with Sarah Jane Morris.  

For Somerville in particular, the initial idea was that The Communards would be less commercially successful than Bronski Beat, but the runaway success of Don’t Leave Me This Way changed all that.  “I was basically in the throes of being famous and realising, ‘Shit, I’m famous!’ and not really dealing with it very well.” recalls Somerville of his second life as a pop star. “But at the same time, it had amazing parts as well. We were doing so much live stuff. There was myself and Richard and eight other people on stage, three openly gay men and seven women, and it was just this fantastic mayhem and just great fun on tour.”

The band’s commercial success massively expanded their platform and the audience for the ideas and ideals.  “We were one of the only bands at that time that were openly and up-front and honestly dealing with this whole new dark period of gay politics and AIDS. We weren’t sitting on our hands.” recalls Somerville of the height of the band’s fame. “We felt it was our duty in a sense.”

The Communards were a band that led with their identity and ideas, driven by the hope that living their truth would help set others free. 35 years on that truth remains as important and inspirational as ever. 

35th ANNIVERSARY EDITIONS PRE-ORDER ONLINE NOW

 

Track listings:

VINYL: 

The Communards – Communards (35 Year Anniversary Edition)

UPC : 5060555215187 /  REF CAT : LMS5521518

A Side

1. Don’t Leave Me This Way (6:27)

2. La Dolarosa (2.43)

3. Disenchanted (6.14)

4. Reprise (5.22)

B Side

1. So Cold The Night (6.48)

2. You Are My World (8.01)

3. Lover Man (3.52 )

4. Don’t Slip Away (2.58)

C Side

1. Heavens Above (3.59)

2. Forbidden Love (5.04)

3. Breadline Britain (2:32)

4. Sanctified (2.36)

D Side

1. Never No More (3:01)

2. Sentimental Journey (3:33)

3. When The Walls Come Tumbling Down (4:20)

4. Judgement Day (5:14)

CD:  

The Communards – Communards (35 Year Anniversary Edition)

CD / CAT : LMS5521520 / UPC : 5060555215200

CD1

1. Don’t Leave Me This Way (6:27)

2. La Dolarosa (2.43)

3. Disenchanted (6.14)

4. Reprise (5.22)

5. So Cold The Night (6.48)

6. You Are My World (8.01)

7. Lover Man (3.52 )

8. Don’t Slip Away (2.58)

9. Heavens Above (3.59)

10. Forbidden Love (5.04)

11. Don’t Leave Me This Way (Gotham City Mix Part Two) (11:38)

12. Disenchanted (Dance) (8:44)

13. Sentimental Journey (3:33)

14. When The Walls Come Tumbling Down (4:20)

CD2

1. So Cold The Night (Janice Long 23rd October 1985) (3.46)

2. Don’t Slip Away (Janice Long 23rd October 1985) (2.33)

3. America (Janice Long 23rd October 1985) (4.16)

4. Forbidden Love (Janice Long 23rd October 1985) (2.49)

5. La Dolarosa (Janice Long 23rd October 1985) (2.36)

6. You Are My World (Extended 12” Version) (9:52)

7. Don’t Leave Me This Way (“Ruff” Mix) (8:27)

8. Heavens Above (“Ruff” Mix) (3:19)

9. Summertime (Demo) (3:17)

10. Lover Man (Alternative Version) (4:04)

11. Forbidden Love (Alternative Version) (5.01)

12. Breadline Britain (2:32)

13. Never No More (3:01)

14. So Cold The Night (Remix)(8:22)

15. Judgement Day (5:14)

16. Don’t Leave Me This Way (7th Heaven Club Mix) (8:25)

 
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