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A Tribute to The Farm

Album Sleeve

If perseverance warrants its own unique award, the Farm could have expected the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for their incessant efforts. Formed in 1983 by former youth worker Peter Hooton (b. 28 September 1962, Liverpool, England; vocals), Steve Grimes (b. 4 June 1962, Liverpool, England; guitar), Phillip Strongman (bass) and Andy McVann (drums). For much of the 80s the band flirted with politics, tagged "The Soul Of Socialism", encouraged the "Scally" fashions of their Liverpool home-town, and maintained strong soccer interests - primarily through singer Peter Hooton's fanzine The End, a precursor to the explosion of football fanzines at the end of the decade. By 1984, John Melvin, George Maher, Steve Levy and Anthony Evans had joined, bringing with them a brass section and adding a northern soul influence to the Farm's pop sound.

Two years on, the line-up changed again when McVann was killed in a police car chase. He was replaced by Roy Boulter (b. 2 July 1964, Liverpool, England) and the line-up was bolstered by Keith Mullen (b. Bootle, England; guitar) and new bass player Carl Hunter (b. 14 April 1965, Bootle, England). The horn section departed and Ben Leach (b. 2 May 1969, Liverpool, England; keyboards) completed a new six-piece collective that was destined to change the Farm's fortunes. After the synth-pop flop of their fourth independent release, "Body And Soul", the Farm started their own Produce label and had a fortuitous meeting with in-vogue dance music producer Terry Farley (of Farley and Heller) Consequently, a cover version of the Monkees "Stepping Stone" was augmented with fashionable club beats and samples and, come 1990, the Farm suddenly found themselves caught up in the Madchester "baggy" boom. The anthemic "Groovy Train" and "All Together Now", (the latter incorporating a sample of the seventeenth-century composer Johann Pachelbel's "Canon And Gigue"), swept the band into the Top 10 of the UK charts, to be followed in 1991 by their debut album, Spartacus, entering the UK charts at number 1. If these placings were not proof enough of the Farm's new-found fame, the next achievement certainly was: the band's football connection was sealed when toy manufacturers Subbuteo designed a unique team-kit, just for the band.

Later they also had the great honour of playing, alongside frequent collaborator Pete Wylie,Ian Mculloch and Gerry Marsden to 15,000 Liverpool soccer fans for the "Last Night Of The Kop", before Liverpool FC's legendary terrace was demolished. However, as the UK media tired of the "baggy" sound, so a decline in the Farm's fortunes set in. The band's new contract with Sony (which fostered their own End Product label) was over as quickly as it had started (although an attempt in 1992 at the Human Leagues "Don't You Want Me Baby" reached the Top 20). Help, surprisingly, came from the USA, where Seymour Stein of Sire Records saw some commercial potential in the band. In 1994, they adopted a more orthodox guitar/bass/drums approach for their parting shot, Hullabaloo.