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Searching for a hit in a haystack NME April 1985

Strange yet true: The Farmers Boys have never been in the Top 40. Very nearly, but not quite. And as far as the charts go, they know all the angles, like market sectors and sales gimmicks and getting on Top Of The Pops. Last year they missed Top Of The Pops by one place when ‘In the Country’ was at number 44. It was all a question of whether Alphaville could fly over from Germany in time. They could. ‘Big in Japan’ got bigger. ‘In the Country’ wasted away to nothing. As Finest Moments go, this is pretty inauspicious, but the Farmer’s Boys haven’t allowed it to break their spirit. Their lack of chart success doesn’t obsess them. It’s merely a nagging doubt that keeps on rising to the surface.

Baz (vocals): “We’ve done two LPs full of fine songs. As far as the songs go, they’re pretty wonderful.”

Mark (bass): “The thing about The Farmer’s Boys is, I can’t see we’ve done anything wrong. Chart success doesn’t mean a thing to me. I know our records have got better and better…”

Frog (guitar, keyboards): “Ah but we were so close. It was touch and go you know whether or not Alphaville could make it. We used to wake up on a Tuesday morning and we’d be thinking, today might be the day we become really famous. It’s really exciting that.”

The second Farmer’s Boys album ‘With These Hands’ is probably as good as the first, although it sounds less spontaneous, more produced, a thicker more expensive sound. The first album was rather nervous pop made by eager boys, whereas this is tighter, triter pop made by slightly more insecure boys.

Frog: “making the first album took hardly any time at all. iIt was over in a flash. It was almost accidental, really, it just… seemed to fall onto the tape…”

Stan (guitar): “I think the second one sounds a bit more powerful. It’s more coherent, more like an album’s supposed to be like. We spent more time doing it. It makes the first one sound live.”

And so it goes on. The Farmer’s Boys will have to have a hit soon if they are to restore EMI’s confidence in them, but they hate having to have a hit, needing to notch up so many sales. Unwilling self publicists, they are pushed into doing awful, grotesque things like miming songs on Pebble Mill At One and being photographed among crass pastoral props.

William Leith

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