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The Hit Parade

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A duo of singer/songwriter Julian Henry, who plays guitar, and producer Raymond Watts, who plays keyboards and handles the programming, London's Hit Parade were perched on the divide between indie acoustic guitar jangle and dancefloor-friendly electronics for most of their career. Even more than St. Etienne, the Hit Parade make plain the connections between two styles often seen as widely disparate. Henry and Watts got together in the early '80s and began making bedroom recordings which they issued on their own JSH Records beginning with 1984's "Forever." A string of singles followed over the next two years, including "My Favourite Girl," "The Sun Shines in Cerrards Cross," "You Didn't Love Me Then," "See You in Havana," and "I Get So Sentimental." After a years-long silence, most of these singles were collected on 1990's With Love From the Hit Parade on the U.K. indie Vinyl Japan. The same label released the holiday single "Christmas Tears" later that year, which was included in two versions (one with Amelia Fletcher of Talulah Gosh and Heavenly singing lead) on the 1991 album More Pop Songs, which put Watts' keyboards more prominently into the mix. (A slightly reworked version of this disc, with tracks from the early singles, was released in Japan in 1992 as Light Music.) Possibly through their relationship with Fletcher, the Hit Parade hooked up with the estimable Sarah Records, which released their next single, "In Gunnersbury Park," in January 1992. By this time, however, the Hit Parade had again slowed down their output, and with the exception of the 1993 single "Hitomi" on Chicago's Minty Fresh label, the duo weren't heard from again until 1994, when Sarah released the EP Autobiography, followed quickly by the full album The Sound of the Hit Parade, with which it shares no tracks. Henry quietly disbanded the Hit Parade after the release of that album. ~ Stewart Mason

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