WITH RARITIES AND REMIXES
– OUT 1 SEPTEMBER, VIA LONDON RECORDS –
“YOU MAKE ME FEEL (MIGHTY REAL) (GERD JANSON REMIX)”
Jimmy Somerville’s debut solo album ‘Read My Lips’ will be re-issued by London Records in a variety of formats and featuring rarities and new remixes on September 1st, 2023.
Originally released in 1989, ‘Read My Lips’ garnered Gold status, with three UK Top 30 hits and a Top 5 Hit for Jimmy’s version of Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”. As frontman for Bronski Beat and later with The Communards, in five short years Jimmy had become internationally renowned to the tune of over five million album sales, his music recognised worldwide for its themes of celebration, protest and advocacy.
By the end of the decade, Jimmy focus had turned full beam to the HIV crisis of the time. As writer and activist Paul Burston explains in his new sleeve notes for the album: “Five years have passed since ‘Smalltown Boy’. Jimmy has spent much of that time in New York, where he’s seen the devastation of AIDS first hand. He’s lost friends and lovers. In his own words, ‘Smalltown Boy’ was “much more subtle, emotional, a more considerate plea, whereas ‘Read My Lips’ was like, ‘This time the gloves are off’.”
The title ‘Read My Lips’ was a phrase adopted by NYC queer collective Gran Fury, an affiliate of ACT UP, a platform Jimmy was a committed member of. Members of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) – a political group working to end the AIDs crisis – regularly risked arrest as they stormed office buildings, blocked traffic “united in anger” at the lack of understanding and support for AIDS sufferers.
In the lead up to and during the album’s campaign Jimmy and his ACT UP T-shirt were ubiquitous, from his ‘mainstream’ Top of The Pops performances and participation in Band Aid II, through to the World AIDS Day demonstration where he and his cohorts were chained across Westminster Bridge, a forced sit in at the Australian Consulate (for which he was arrested) and pressing an ACT-UP T-shirt into the hands of then French President Chirac of France.
At a time when the British media were hellbent on demonizing the lives of the LGBT community Jimmy’s response was to create an album of love songs for gay men – “I refused to let the media dehumanise us.”
The title track “Read My Lips” demonstrates Jimmy’s ability to carry a message through the medium of pop: poignant, angry and joyous, with Jimmy’s trademark counter-tenor expressing both heartache and pure euphoria. The album also features his take on “You make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” a tribute, remembering its disco icon originator Sylvester, who’d passed of an AIDS-related illness in December 1988 and an anthem celebrating sexual freedom and being true to yourself. As Jimmy explained in an interview with Billboard at the time: “During the ’70s, we had all of these gay men expressing their emotions by writing music, and then using women vocalists as a front. We can now front these songs ourselves. It’s an important thing to do.”
Nowhere is the pain more apparent than on one of his personal favourites, “My Heart Is In Your Hands”, about the breakup of a romantic relationship. Elsewhere, the track “Rain” with the lyric ‘did you know, that the rain it could kill, here comes the rain’ forebodes an early call to climate change activism.
‘Read My Lips’ is re-issued as a single LP (the original 10 track album on blue vinyl) and as a deluxe double LP on transparent vinyl with remixes from William Orbit, AMYL and B-sides and rarities such as “From This Moment On” (from Red, Hot + Blue) and “I Believe In Love” (with Arthur Baker and The Beat Disciples). The double CD version contains further remixes from Gerd Janson and Arpeggius; as well as unreleased demos, B-Sides and rarities.
To celebrate the upcoming release of the expanded and remastered versions of ‘Read My Lips’, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” is revisited by esteemed Running back label head Gerd Janson, who gives the track a thrusting, propulsive re-rub. LISTEN / WATCH here.
“‘Read My Lips’” says Burston “isn’t merely a time capsule or an exercise in nostalgia. It’s both of its time and timeless. Listening to it again now, I’m struck not just by the memories it evokes but also by the myriad of emotions it stirs up in the listener – defiance, joy, sadness and, yes, anger. They’re all there in Jimmy’s voice – one of the most distinctive in the history of pop.”
JIMMY SOMERVILLE – ‘READ MY LIPS’ (RE-ISSUE)
– OUT 1 SEPTEMBER 2023, VIA LONDON RECORDS
AVAILABLE AS SINGLE LP, DOUBLE LP, AND DOUBLE CD (EXPANDED)
LISTEN TO THE “YOU MAKE ME FEEL (MIGHTY REAL) (GERD JANSON REMIX)” – OUT NOW
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