Saturday, 29 August 2015

Noosha Fox

If you watched 'Top of the Pops' in the mid-70s when Queen started to emerge along with Cockney Rebel and bands like Sailor and Fox then you can't have failed to notice Noosha Fox in her silks and shawls before Stevie Nicks got hip to the floaty stuff. Noosha was the lead singer with Fox that had a series of great hit singles in the mid-70s and then promptly vanished from sight before punk decimated the pop charts. The band was led by Kenny Young who knows how to write a hit single.

Noosha Fox (aka Susan Traynor) had a very distinctive voice and look for the time, part 20s flapper and part proto-punk. The band were a load of old hippies trying to stay trendy but she had the style, the voice and the presence. She made it all work. And she's the one that amassed the fans, including me.

Fox's first single 'Only You Can' was a big hit and that launched Noosha and Fox as pop stars. If you were 14 back then then you almost certainly knew about Fox, if only because they were on Top of the Pops. Their first album 'Fox' was - and is - excellent and I still listen to it today (apart from 'Love Letters', a song I've never liked). I duly got their second album 'Tales of Illusion' which I should have loved but the blokes in the band decided they should do some of the vocals meaning it didn't really sound like Fox at all. It also seemed a bit dangerously old man hippy at a time when music and society was changing. The third album, 'Blue Hotel' passed me by in the punk wars of 77. I caught up with it a few years ago when it was released by Cherry Red and, while there are some nice songs, it was too late and doesn't have the magic of rediscovering old friends.

Noosha had a solo hit single in 1977 with 'Georgina Bailey' about a girl who falls in love with her gay French uncle. It's odd to think she performed on Top of the Pops in a black gym-slip singing that song all those years ago. The only other obviously "gay" song I can think of before that was 'The Killing of Georgie' by Rod Stewart who was in a  different league. Noosha made a few more singles - and you see and hear some of them on YouTube, including 'The Heat Is On' that was later a hit for Agnetha Faltskog - and Fox got together again but the moment had gone. The 15 minutes was over.

I just found out the other day that Cherry Red had released a double CD of Fox last year called 'Images '74-'84' so I had to look into it. I was delighted to see it had eight songs I'd never heard of so listened to samples and then downloaded them and they're an odd but interesting bunch. Some were B sides from the early singles so have a similar sound (which is a good thing), some new wavey electronica like 'Dancing With An Alien' and then there's an odd, almost ravey, version of 'Captain of your Ship' which Kenny Young wrote in the '60s for Reparata and was a hit back then. I don't mind odditity at all. But, what an awful cover! Big black block with a black and white photo which is reminiscent of the photo used on the cover of the first album. Such a lack of imagination.

Wouldn't it be great is someone put together a collection of Noosha's solo works? I suppose it'll be difficult tracking down the original master tapes and rights but that would be a great quest for someone and would, I'm sure bring joy to many people. Are you listening Cherry Red? In the meantime, I have eight new songs to get to know and enjoy and will wait patiently.

I wonder what Noosha is doing these days?

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