Limelight

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Nottinghamshire's Limelight are primarily associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the early '80s, but they were actually one of several acts whose origins lay quite a bit further…
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Nottinghamshire's Limelight are primarily associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the early '80s, but they were actually one of several acts whose origins lay quite a bit further back, and whose music just so happened to find its audience during this golden era for heavy music. In fact, brothers Mike (vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards) and Glenn Scrimshaw (guitar, bass) started writing songs together as far back as 1967, spending the next few years playing with numerous long forgotten groups (and releasing a pair of obscure singles in 1972) before hooking up with drummer Pat Coleman and adopting the Limelight moniker in 1974.

By then, the Scrimshaw family home had been outfitted with a serviceable studio, which allowed the versatile trio (all of them able to play each other's instruments with considerable skill) to start working on their demos while playing clubs all over the North of England, then Europe and, amazingly, Australia -- all without the benefit of a record contract. When they finally chose to seek one out with tiny independent Future Earth Records, though, Limelight found themselves thrust into the outer reaches of the NWOBHM maelstrom thanks to their serendipitously named 1980 single, "Metal Man" (b/w "Hold Me, Touch Me"). Not without reason, either, since the band's technically accomplished brand of heavy rock with progressive overtones was certainly different, but not worlds apart from, the sounds of definitive NWOBHM acts like Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, and Saxon, with whom Limelight toured for several months that year.

As if that weren't enough activity, Limelight also managed to record their eponymous first album in 1980, although its paltry initial release through a struggling Future Earth was soon out-distributed by a 1981 reissue on the slightly less bankrupt (for the moment) Avatar Records, and infamously packaged in a putrid Day-Glo green cover. Unfortunately, its more progressive, hard rock-leaning, and generally un-metallic songs -- though largely accomplished and engaging in and of themselves -- also revealed Limelight's true stylistic colors to their burgeoning but close-minded metal-hungry audience. So when they once again ran into record label troubles via Avatar's collapse, and then dared flirt with even more radio-friendly sounds on 1982's UFO-like "Ashes to Ashes" single, Limelight's brief acceptance among the heavy metal faithful quickly evaporated.

What's more, the bandmembers themselves suddenly seemed to be losing some of the drive that had fueled them through so many years of anonymity, and with the exception of a few scattered shows and half-hearted returns to the studio over the next few years, Limelight's career was effectively over. Even their supposed second album, also entitled Ashes to Ashes and released through Mausoleum in 1984, was nothing more than a repackage of their debut, re-sequenced with the title track added as a bonus cut. And except for a last-ditch effort to rekindle the fire by relocating to Germany, where they supposedly recorded an entire album's worth of material -- as yet unreleased -- the Scrimshaw brothers have since moved on to other professional endeavors, only gathering with Coleman for the occasional small-time reunion gig.