Day 96: ‘Smalltown Boy’ by Bronski Beat

This record made it into the final selection by default. I’d wanted to include something by Prince, but apparently he won’t allow any of his music on YouTube. Well, his loss is your gain.
Bronski Beat were an openly gay synth trio who made their sexuality into a political platform. At the time, gay performers fell into one of four categories: really in your face, like Holly Johnson (Day 14) and Pete Burns (Day 92); closeted to some extent, like Morrissey (Day 48); playing it cool, like the Pet Shop Boys (Day 53); or operating deep underground, like Coil (Day 57). On the other hand, Bronski Beat chose to shout from the rooftops, but oddly enough they didn’t attract anything like the controversy the others did. Maybe all the closet queens in the media felt they were on their side. Who knows?
‘Smalltown Boy’ tells pretty much the same story as ‘Fade to Grey’ by Visage (Day 33). It’s about escaping from your claustrophobic upbringing and running off to a place where you can be yourself. Isn’t that what all creative individuals have to do, when you boil it all down?
Jimmy Somerville – vocals; Steve Bronski – synths, percussion; Larry Steinbachek – synths, percussion

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