"Kiss And Tell" - Bryan Ferry
from the albums Bête Noire (1987) and Bright Lights, Big City (Original Soundtrack) (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #31 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 3
Today's song of the day comes from British singer Bryan Ferry, who comes from the northern English town of Washington. As one of the founders of the art rock band Roxy Music in the early 1970s, Ferry reached the top-40 on the American pop chart in 1975 with the seminal track "Love Is The Drug". Ferry also started his own solo recording career not long after, and bucking the norm, almost all of Roxy Music's works were written or co-written by the artists, while Bryan included a big chunk of covers for his solo work. In 1973, his version of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" reached #10 on the British singles chart. Four years later, with his Let's Stick Together album, whose title track went to #1 in Australia and his highest-charting British hit at #4, Bryan landed his first minor solo single in the U.S. at #86 with "Heart On My Sleeve".
After Roxy Music split in 1982, Ferry continued on with his solo path, releasing his first solo record in seven years with Boys and Girls, which went gold in America (selling over a half-million copies). On that album was the single "Slave To Love", possibly his most remembered solo track. That song returned him to the UK top 10 at #10. The second single from the set, "Don't Stop The Dance", dropped Ferry onto the Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart. After an appearance at the Live Aid charity concert bonanza, Ferry issued his seventh solo album Bête Noire in 1987. Co-produced by Ferry with Madonna producer/writer Pat Leonard, the album had more of a dance-pop sheen on it, as evidenced by the first single "Kiss And Tell". Also appearing in the dark (for him) Michael J. Fox movie Bright Lights, Big City, the song, with lyrics about an ex-lover who doesn't have discretion, had many people assuming it was about model Jerry Hall, who left Ferry for Mick Jagger in the late 70s, then wrote a tell-all book spilling the beans about their relationship. With acidic verses riding a fluid bassline that dominated the track, "Kiss and Tell" was as suave and cold-appearing as its singer...
"Kiss And Tell" became Bryan's sole (so-far) top-40 pop hit in America in April of 1988. The 12" remix done by the Latin Rascals (whom I saw live spinning this past summer) climbed to #19 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart. Internationally,while the song reached the top-40 in Australia (#38) and New Zealand (#26), it just missed the top-40 in Ferry's native Britain at #41.
After another five-year break which saw Ferry issuing a greatest hits set, he returned in 1993 with Taxi, another collection of covers, that had his two most recent UK top 40 hits with versions of "I Put A Spell On You" (#18) and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (#23). A year later, the title track from his Mamouna album popped in at #37 on the American Modern Rock radio chart in Billboard. He continues to record both solo, and briefly reunited with Roxy Music in the 2000s. Nominated for a Grammy in 1999, his image became more notorious in the naughties as seemingly Nazi-admiring statements (he claims it was about their style, not their policy, but yeah, right) and love for the Conservative Party (while still living a life of no angel).
[Sidenote: for you 80s fans, the soundtrack to Bright Lights, Big City is a MUST HAVE. With classic singles like "Pump Up The Volume" from MARRS, "Century's End" from Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, New Order's "True Faith", and producer Narada Michael Walden's "Divine Emotions" hitting the charts as well as "Kiss And Tell", a kick-ass song from Prince called "Good Love" appears here.]
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Here's Bryan performing the song live in concert in 1988...
....and the extended remix done by the Latin Rascals...
...and finally from his appearance at Coachella in 2014...
Have a Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate; tomorrow I'll have a special bonus to my year-end countdown of hits of 2015. On Saturday, I'll pick back up again with the Song of the Day with a new-wave group having R.E.M.s.