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Then Jerico

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In the late-'80s pinup void that followed Duran Duran's decline, there was no shortage of British contenders to fill the Fab Five's shoes. One of those bands was Then Jerico, a guitar-oriented London quartet fronted by the photogenic Mark Shaw. Shaw had formed the band at age 21, recruiting bassist Jasper Stainthorpe and drummer Steve Wren and poaching guitarist Scott Taylor from Belouis Some. The group released a single, "The Big Sweep," on Immaculate Records in 1985, but made their first big splash at the New Music Seminar in New York later that year, getting substantial interest from several labels. Back home, the band signed with London Records, which reissued "The Big Sweep" and a new song, "Fault," both of which attracted attention in the clubs. A handful of subsequent singles and a growing live following continued to raise Then Jerico's profile, and the band's first real chart success came in early 1987 with the song "Muscle Deep." "The Motive," a melodramatic slice of rock and soul, followed that single into the Top 40, as did the band's debut album, First -- The Sound of Music. Then Jerico added second guitarist Rob Downes to flesh out the group's touring lineup and worked with Roxy Music producer Rhett Davies on their slicker-sounding 1989 sophomore album, The Big Area, which handily built on their previous success. The title track became the band's biggest hit, reaching number 13 on the U.K. charts, and the album -- which featured appearances by Belinda Carlisle and ex-Kajagoogoo bassist Nick Beggs, went Top Five. Then everything went south surprisingly fast: Shaw decided to go solo, but arguments with EMI over his long-delayed debut, Almost (which finally saw the light of day in late 1991), caused him to split with the label. A live album, Mark Shaw Etc. Alive and Exposed, was released in 1992 while he looked for a new contract. He got one in late 1997 with Eagle Rock, after re-christening his backing band Then Jerico, and began work on a new album, Orgasmaphobia, which finally saw the light of day in mid-1998. Shaw has since continued to play gigs with Then Jerico, as well as occasional shows with ex-Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley and the SAS Band, a loose collection of '80s stars that includes Roger Taylor of Queen, Paul Young, and former Marillion vocalist Fish. ~ Dan LeRoy

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