"Fox" and "Breathless" by Eight Miles HighReview
When we included the Eight Miles High track "These Days" on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Three' back in 2020, it was pretty much on the basis of shining a light on the talent of a band long split up: that song came from the 1993 ‘Features' EP which although it got national Radio One airplay, was their swansong.
Fast forward thirty years and if like me you had the above perception, then like me you'd be proved wrong as Simon Kelly (vocals), Mark Patrick (keyboards and programming ), Greg Sibley ( guitars), Simon Ward (bass) and Gary Cody on drums have reconvened to record two brand new songs which will be available on September 23rd: "Fox" and "Breathless". I suppose with the people involved I should have known better: both Simons were also in Some Kinda Earthquake whose 1989 "Mean 'n' Moody Rockin' Machine" can be found on the first HMLP volume yet offered us their new "My Mamma Lives In a Bottle" and "Minnesota" back this Spring (and there are rumours of more from that direction too).
Despite gaining two members from a rockabilly band, if you haven't heard "These Days", then please don't use that fact as a guide for it's really misleading. If you, on the other hand have listened to it (I hope you have) then like me you might have in your head vague associations with bands like Happy Mondays judging by the grooving funk beats and the group photo. That won't work with either of these songs either…. I think they must have developed their sound for the new recordings or at least not wanted to recreate their earlier style slavishly. Which is brave & commendable and they pull it off really well: frankly I'm not sure comparisons with their earlier incarnation are remotely necessary. This pair of tracks can attract listeners unborn in 1993 entirely on their own considerable merits and I hope radio stations & media approach this on that basis. This is soul music: some people coined the term "blue eyed soul" which fits here, though I can't say that it was an expression I was ever wholly comfortable with. You might think of Hall & Oates, or indeed solo George Michael. I might offer Deacon Blue, Scritti Politti or Prefab Sprout but I won't insult them by suggesting Simply Red.
This sort of music probably does get made better as those making it mature and not only develop as musicians but gain the life experiences necessary to inform the words. Certainly the playing is even better than first time round and Simon's vocals really stand out: we've missed these & he is on top form here.
If the playing is superb, what they are playing is no less so: these are classic, brilliantly crafted songs, up with some of the work of other artists cited above. "Fox" is the more unusual of the pair in terms of lyrics and assuming it's chosen as lead track for sending to radio stations etc has all the right ingredients to do really well: providing that those who draw up playlists don't notice or focus on the "timeline issue" (to be polite) which I'm afraid all too often excludes the worthy in favour of more gauche offerings. These songs deserve better.
I'm advised by my source within the band that more recordings are planned for 2024 & if they are as good as these….