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Sad Café was a British soft rock outfit, that enjoyed a recording somewhat successful career from the mid-'70s through the early '80s. The group's leader, singer Paul Young (not the same Paul Young that scored the '80s hit "Every Time You Go Away"), got his start with music in the mid-'60s, when he fronted a forgotten Manchester group called the Toggery Five, which included a few members that would later go on to join prog rockers Jethro Tull -- guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker. By the early '70s, Young was fronting another forgotten outfit, Gyro, and by 1976, opted to leave the band -- taking Gyro guitarist Ian Wilson with him. Young then formed Sad Café, along with members of another Manchester band, Mandalaband (Ashley Mumford [guitar], Vic Emerson [keyboards], John Stimpson [bass], Tony Creswell [drums]), who had issued an obscure self-titled release in 1975. The fledgling group signed a deal with the Chrysalis label, but for reasons unknown, the record company shelved a debut album finished in 1976. Switching to RCA, some of the songs from their proposed 1976 debut were included on Fanx Ta-Ra, issued a year later, which was followed by such further releases as 1977's Hungry Eyes, 1978's Misplaced Ideals, and 1979's Facades (the latter of which spawned the group their biggest hit single, the U.K. Top Five "Every Day Hurts"). It was also around this time that Mandalaband briefly re-formed for an album (which Young supplied vocals to), The Eye of Wendor. Sad Café was never able to follow up their single with another substantial hit, and decided to call it a day in 1981, after a few more underappreciated albums saw the light of day (1980's self-titled release, plus 1981's Live and Olé). Young would later re-submerge as one of the singers of Mike + the Mechanics, a side project of Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford (sharing the vocal duties with Paul Carrack), that scored a big hit with their self-titled debut in 1985. The late '80s saw Young join up once more with Ian Wilson under the Sad Café moniker, issuing 1986's The Politics of Existence (with guest spots by both Rutherford and Carrack). From here on out, Young split his time between Sad Café (1994's Whatever It Takes) and Mike + the Mechanics (1988's The Living Years, 1991's Word of Mouth, 1995's Beggar on a Beach of Gold, and 1999's self-titled release), and in 1993, took part in a benefit concert for a British hospital, that featured an unusual line-up that was a combination of both Mike + the Mechanics and Pink Floyd -- David Gilmour (guitar, vocals), Rick Wright (keyboards, vocals), Nick Mason (drums), Tim Renwick (guitar, vocals), Mike Rutherford (bass, vocals), Gary Wallis (drums), and Young. On July 15, 2000, Young passed away in Cheshire, England, at the age of 53, effectively ending any hope of further Sad Café offerings. ~ Greg Prato
1976 in Manchester, England
'70s, '80s, '90s