A Brief History of the Darling Buds


The Darling Buds initially formed in 1986 in Caerleon, South Wales, near the city of Newport. Their name comes from the H. E. Bates novel The Darling Buds of May, which in turn comes from a Shakespear sonnet ("Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May..."). The original lineup consisted of Andrea Lewis (vocals), Harley Farr (guitar), Chris McDonagh (bass), and Bloss (drums). After playing a few local shows the group disbanded, as Andrea moved to London and Harley began plaing in another band.

In December of 1986 the group reformed for one more show. The date went so well they decided to book a recording session in a local studio and recorded some of their material. Two of these songs, "If I Said" and "Just To Be Seen," were pressed as an independent single. In the hopes of increasing their profile, the group sent a copy of their single to John Peel, the host at BBC Radio One responsible for the famed "Peel Sessions" series of live-in-the-studio recordings.

Peel was impressed enough to invite the band to record a session for his show. Inspired by this breakthrough, the group began to tour regularly, and recorded a second Peel Session in September of 1987. Following this the band signed with the independent Native Records, who released the band's next four singles, "Shame On You," "It's All Up To You," "Burst," and "Hit The Ground." Consistent touring in the UK and ongoing support from John Peel began to build the band's reputation. They soon had mainstream exposure on the cover of UK music magazines like Melody Maker. Then, everything suddenly came to a halt as Native Records folded.

By this time the band had developed enough clout to get a contract offer from Columbia, and opted to sign with them in the Summer of 1988. The band ended up choosing several songs from their Native singles to re-record for inclusion on their first album, Pop Said..., released in 1989. Two excellent singles were issued from the album, "You've Got To Choose" and "Let's Go Round There," but despite the strength of the material, the band's impact in the U.S. was limited due to the failure of their management company to arrange a U.S. tour. Bloss left the band at this point, and the group ultimately added Jimmy Hughes on drums to fill the void.

The following year the band released Crawdaddy, a noisier and more complicated album than Pop Said..., but one which still retained the powerful melodies of their previous work. "Tiny Machine" and "Crystal Clear" were released as singles, but the big news was that the band finally got a chance to begin their first American tour in support of the album in December of 1990.

Prior to their next album the group released a curious EP called Erotica Plays in 1991. The single included a slightly different version of "It Makes No Difference" from Crawdaddy, a preview of "Off My Mind" and "If" from their next album, and a non-album track called "Love And Death."

The next year the band released their third album, Erotica. In an unfortunate coincidence, this title was also chosen by Madonna for her 1992 album, issued shortly after the Darling Buds released theirs. Confusion over this situation may have cost the band some precious exposure. To further compound matters, label support for the album began to falter. In an unusual move, their label issued similar but different singles in the U.S. and U.K. "Please Yourself," the US single, featured the B-sides "Sure Thing," "Baby Head," and "Suffer." The U.K.-issued "Sure Thing" single featured "Baby Head," "Suffer," and "What Goes Around." A second single (or third, depending on your count), "Long Day In The Universe," was pressed but never officially released by the label.

The band was able to tour for Erotica in November/December of 1992, adding second guitarist Matt Gray for the tour, but in the absence of greater press exposure and label support the album did not sell well. The group disbanded in 1993.

Cherry Red Records reissued Pop Said... in 2006, adding a wealth of bonus tracks, including "Just Say So," "Pretty Girl," "If I Said," "Turn You On," "Different Daze," "Mary's Got to Go," "I'll Never Stop," "Shame On You (Slightlydelic Version)," and "It's All Up to You (Flip Flop Version)."

After the Darling Buds, Harley largely fell out of the public eye, reportedly becoming a nutritionist. Andrea worked with the Cardiff Theatre Company, and would later host The Slate arts and culture show for BBC Wales, as well as co-hosting the Welsh radio show The Weekenders, prior to creating the Children's Academy of Stage Training (CAST) in South Wales (www.thecast.org), with her husband, Jamie Jarvis.

In July of 2010 the Darling Buds unexpectedly performed a single show at a tribute concert in Newport, South Wales, in memory of John Sicolo, the beloved owner of TJ's, a music club in Newport, followed by a September 22, 2010 show at The 100 Club in London. In 2014 a pair of shows were played, April 18 at Le Pub in Newport, and April 19 at The Borderline in London. While it is unclear if a more lasting reunion is in the works, the performances were a precious opportunity for those who could attend, and a reminder of the wonder of the Darling Buds music. And who knows what the future holds, perhaps one thing truly does lead to another...



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