Best remembered for their 1990 hit "Every Beat of the Heart," the Railway Children also produced two somewhat forgotten and hard-to-find gems of late '80s indie pop that deserve to be reissued.
Starting out as Factory Records wunderkinds, the Railway Children had little in common with the sound of their labelmates New Order and Happy Mondays when they signed to the iconic label soon after forming in 1984. Fronted by singer/songwriter and matinÃ©e-idol looker Gary Newby, the band were less Madchester ravers and more Smiths-influenced indie kids with a bit of a New Romantic flair that was often obscured by an inclination toward thoughtful, melancholic anthems.
Combining melodic guitar-based indie-pop with a bit of blue-eyed soul, their 1987 debut Reunion Wilderness and the 1988 Virgin Records sophomore effort Recurrence fit comfortably next to the work of such like-minded contemporaries as the influential Scottish ensemble Orange Juice, as well as more theatrical outfits like Haircut 100 and ABC. However, it was just such comparisons -- combined with the misconception that Newby was nothing more than a lightweight teenbeat idol -- that dogged the band throughout their career, and they never quite gained the respect they deserved.
In a kind of bittersweet twist, the band's 1990 effort Native Place brought them not only their biggest hit with the dance-oriented "Every Beat of the Heart," but also increasing label pressure to go for a more commercial sound. Ironically, a corporate takeover of Virgin by EMI in the early '90s left the band without a label and, facing the oncoming tsunami of grunge, Newby simply decided it was time to take a break.
Although Newby did release the 1997 album Dream Arcade under the Railway Children moniker, he eventually moved to Japan and began focusing on production work.
Unfortunately, barring several compilations and a 2002 U.K. bonus track edition of Reunion Wilderness, the Railway Children catalog is out-of-print.
Visit Gary Newby's website.
Check out the Railway Children's gentle pop sound:
"The First Notebook" (Reunion Wilderness)
"Brighter" (Reunion Wilderness)
"A Gentle Sound" (Reunion Wilderness)
"Somewhere South" (Listen On: The Best of the Railway Children)
"Monica's Light" (Listen On: The Best of the Railway Children)
"In the Meantime" (Listen On: The Best of the Railway Children)
"Every Beat of the Heart" (Native Place)