25 Years Ago: Right Said Fred Try to Live Up to ‘I’m Too Sexy’ With Debut LP ‘Up’
Right Said Fred, at least on American shores, are the epitome of the one-hit-wonder. Their 1991 single “I’m Too Sexy” was a hit around the world. But by the time their full-length debut, Up, came out on March 17, 1992, it was clear that nothing could ever live up to the success of that song and its accompanying, tongue-in-cheek video.
It’s a shame, because the London-based pop act led by brothers Richard and Fred Fairbrass had some fine tunes crafted for the dance floor, all of which barely resembled what they were ultimately overshadowed by in “I’m Too Sexy.”
“Words like novelty get thrown around,” the brothers said in a 2016 interview with Contact Music. “We have no problem with 'novelty' as it actually means 'new,' 'original' and 'unusual'. We know it's meant as an insult but you can't legislate against stupid. The indifference towards us use to bother us but now that indifference is dwarfed by our own indifference to it.”
Interestingly enough, Richard and Fred had much more credibility than others considered of their ilk; they had shared concert bills with Joy Division, and played with David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger over the years, so by the time Up was released, they were accomplished musicians who had been around the block. It was evident on singles like the almost Kinks-tinged “Deeply Dippy” and the playful “Don’t Talk Just Kiss,” the latter featuring R&B singer Jocelyn Brown. According to Richard Fairbrass, maybe if the singles had been released in the States in a different order, things may have been played out differently.
“When the record company released 'Deeply Dippy' in America, I think it got the worst radio reaction of any record in the history of that record label,” he told Songfacts, laughing. “And I think it's purely because it was not what people expected. That's all. I mean, in the U.K. we had "Don't Talk Just Kiss," which was kind of a bridging single. But in the U.S., "Don't Talk Just Kiss" didn't really work. So when the stations did "Deeply Dippy," I think it was just too much of a shift [from 'I’m Too Sexy'].”
Elsewhere on the album, “A Love for All Seasons” goes from Richard Fairbrass crooning like Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker to a pulsating track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Pet Shop Boys release. Up closer “Those Simple Things” is a blast of simple, laid back, perfect pop, which under any other circumstances could’ve been a huge radio hit. Instead, Right Said Fred got pegged with the aforementioned one-hit-wonder tag.
“Anybody that says that who hasn't been number one in America can shove off,” Richard Fairbrass said. “It's better a one-hit wonder than a no-hit wonder. It's not true in America anymore, because we've had quite a lot of success with dance remixes.”
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