"Never Can Say Goodbye" - The Communards
from the album Red (1987)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #51
This week's "robbed hit" comes from the British new-wave duo the Communards, led by former Bronski Beat singer Jimmy Somerville along with multi-instrumentalist Richard Coles. While their self-titled debut album in 1986 contained a ton of political and social issue lyrics, as well as Eastern European design and music style (like on their first single "So Cold The Night"), it was a campy cover of the disco classic "Don't Leave Me This Way" that got them to #1 for a month in the UK and the top-40 in America. A year later they released Red, an even more advanced and complete take on issues, specifically gay rights, but they didn't forget to include another club classic. After the first British single "Tomorrow" (a delve into the domestic abuse problem) peaked at #23 in the UK (and top-40 across much of Europe), the pair put out a version of the Jackson Five by way of Gloria Gaynor song "Never Can Say Goodbye". With Jimmy's soaring falsetto and frenetic tempo, gay dance clubs took to this like a duck to water, as this even tops the energy of their previous top-40 hit, especially with the defiant way he delivers the "boy" at the end of the title verse...
While the Communards' version of "Never Can Say Goodbye" went all the way to #2 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart, the single stopped just under the halfway mark on the American pop Hot 100 chart at #51 in February of 1988. In England, the record did much better, becoming their third top-10 British hit at #4, while also reaching the top-10 in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The duo would have a couple more top-40 hits from Red in the UK, with the groundbreaking equality creed "There's More To Love (Than Boy Meets Girl)" their final hit at #20. They split shortly thereafter, with Coles going on to be an Anglican priest and TV presenter while Somerville went solo, scoring two more British top ten hits with covers, of "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" (#5 in 1990) and "To Love Somebody" (#8 in 1991). He just released an amazing retro disco album Homage this past year.
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