Re-Flex "The Politics Of Dancing"
By Mark Nobes
If ever there was an underrated band, then it has to be Re-Flex. They were undeservedly 80s one hit wonders, and "The Politics Of Dancing" only reached #28 in the UK, which really has come as a surprise to me, as I was convinced it was a top 10 hit, as it's such a well-known song. Nonetheless, a #28 placing in 1984 would have provided far greater sales than a song reaching the same position in today's charts, so they can be grateful for that.
The single entered the UK singles chart at #63 on 22nd January 1984, reaching #28 for two weeks on 26th Feb, spending a total of nine weeks in the Top 100. You can view the lyrics to the song at the end of this post.
Thankfully, the song did perform better in Canada, reaching #9 on the Canadian Hot 100, and also reached #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., and that chart was notoriously difficult to break into, with quite a number of British pop acts never achieving success in the U.S. during the 1980s.
The song is the title track from the new wave band's debut album, and was released as the lead single. It was penned by the band's co-founder and keyboard player Paul Fishman, who also provides backing vocals. He formed the band with singer and lead guitarist John Baxter in 1981.The song was produced by John Punter and engineered by Pete Smith.
Despite it's lowly performance in the charts, "The Politics Of Dancing" has featured in many films, introducing it to a whole new generation of pop fans, including the 1998 romantic comedy Edge Of Seventeen. It was also included on the soundtrack album for the 2017 action thriller Atomic Blonde.
The original 12 inch vinyl sleeve front from 1983
Back in 1984, the track was used in the U.S. drama film Firstborn, which was released as Moving It across Europe.
Several tracks were released from the debut album, including "Praying To The Beat", which reached #95 in the UK, and "Couldn't Stand a Day", which reached #97.
In 1985, the band released their final single "How Much Longer", which was the lead track from the second album Huminication (which wasn't released until 2010), reaching #59 in Germany, but not charting in the UK.
The B-side, "Cruel World", was produced by Re-Flex themselves. I've just listened to the 12 inch for the first time (see the video below), and with its funky bassline and very 80s percussion arrangement, it reminded me very much of a Trevor Horn production, and I've listened to plenty of those in my time. I'm not a fan of the quirky synth brass intro, but it's still a really decent track, nonetheless.
UK12 Inch Vinyl - Flex 2 (EMI)
A. The Politics Of Dancing
B. Cruel World
UK12 Inch Vinyl - 12 Flex 2 (EMI)
A. The Politics of Dancing
B. Cruel World (Extended Mix)
Due to budget restraints, no official video was made for "The Politics Of Dancing", and the band had to perform on music TV shows, including Top Of The Pops in the UK.
During the band's early years (1981/82), the line-up included Phil Gould on drums, who was replaced by Mark King, both of whom went on to form a band you will definitely of heard of, Level 42. King was replaced by Roland Vaughn Kerridge. Bassist and vocalist Francois Craig also left the band, and was replaced by Nigel Ross-Scott, as did guitarist John Hodges, who wasn't replaced, leaving the best-known four-piece line-up of Baxter, Fishman, Kerridge and Ross-Scott, from the latter months of 1982 until 1985.
Reformation and New Albums (2010-2023)
The band never officially broke-up, but apart from a very brief reformation in 2012 (which I'll come to in a moment), and they never worked together again after '85. However, in 2010, Fishman and Kerridge started re-mastering unreleased material and promoting it on their official Re-Flex website.
Five albums of material were released in 2010, including the long-awaited Huminication, the band's second album, which was initially scheduled for release in February 1985 - better late than never, as the old saying goes!
In 2022, a remix album entitled Vibrate Generate (also including more unreleased material) was released. None of the band's albums charted in the UK. However, The Politics Of Dancing album reached #53 in the U.S., #58 in Germany, #34 in New Zealand and #77 in Australia.
As mentioned, the band briefly reformed in 2012 to record a new song, an energetic synth rock number entitled "Vibrate Generate", for the remix album of the same name, although without bassist Nigel Ross-Scott, which wasn't released until 2022. Shortly after recording the track, in February 2012, drummer Roland Vaughn-Kerridge died from a brain tumour.
The band released a video for the song with Kerridge's son, James, who is also a musician. The line-up included Francois Craig, John Baxter and Paul Fishman.
The 12 inch rear sleeve (1984)