Ugly Rumours: Faith Brothers reform?

It may not be a coincidence that Billy Franks chose last week to release the Faith Brothers back catalogue online for free download. Yesterday, after I posted a piece about the band, Billy sent out a fresh e-mail, promoting the new cover version, by Ugly Rumours, of Edwin Starr’s anthem ‘War,’ which entered the UK singles charts at #21 yesterday. Ugly Rumours, you may or may not know, was the name of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s old band, and the video – a spoof on The Beatles‘ ‘Get Back’ rooftop performance – features a fixed-grinning Blair lookalike on lead vocals. It also features some familiar faces as his backing band: namely Billy, Lee Hirons, and Henry Tresize of Faith Brothers, along with Billy’s now long-term drummer Keith. In addition to three female backing singers, the video is rounded out by George Galloway trying to draw attention to himself as usual. You can view the video here.

Not so coincidentally, the single charted despite lacking a proper release. Seizing on the recent change in British chart rules, its “sales” were entirely the result of people texting the word “peace” from their mobile phones and paying £1.50 for the privilege, under the assurance that profits would be going to the Stop The War coalition. How many of these “purchasers” have actually made a point of listening to the download is not so certain. To this degree, and I know Billy will hate to read this, it smacks of Band Aid‘s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ and Elton John’s Princess Di tribute remake of ‘Candle In The Wind,’ each of which sold as much as souvenirs and charity donations as they did for the music.

That said, it’s a good version. Not up there with The Jam, not as distinct as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and not as effective as Edwin Starr’s original, but a quality interpretation all the same. Who handles lead vocals, I wonder?

For those who don’t remember that legendary 1969 Beatles’ performance of ‘Get Back’ on a rooftop, here it is.

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January 2023