LOOSE ENDS  

Carl Macintosh

Jane Eugene

Steve Nichol

 

Loose Ends was formed at the beginning of the 1980s with Carl Macintosh, a bass player and vocalist from South London who went on to produce and co-write many of their songs. Vocalist Jane Eugene, and trumpeter-cum-pianist Steve Nichol joined him, after being introduced through mutual friends. As Loose End, a name which Eugene borrowed from a hair salon, they signed to a relatively new label called Virgin and released their debut record We’ve Arrived. Nichol wrote their second single, In The Sky, which covered a very sensitive subject, and it was produced by Chris and Eddie Amoo from The Real Thing, a group with whom they shared the same management. Once an additional S was added to their name, their other releases were, Don’t Hold Back Your Love, and then a year afterwards Tell Me What You Want. Alas, these singles failed to make a major impact on the UK charts, and a more commercially viable sound was required for the group, which still maintained a souful edge. Therefore, the renowned Nick Martinelli was called upon to produce a remix of their next single, (Emergency) Dial 999. This proved to be the breakthrough track that they required. Martinelli was also enlisted to take the reins of the Choose Me 12 inch mix slated for release in June 1984, and their forthcoming debut LP, which meant that the trio had to travel to America in order to facilitate this. Martinelli, a Philadelphia native, had already worked with soul divas like Phyllis Hyman, who Loose Ends eventually met during their time in the US recording their second album. His inclusion explained the highly polished nature of their next crop of singles, So Much Love, and the title track of their debut LP A Little Spice.

Martinelli was also involved in the production of their So Where Are You album in 1985. This set was a highly accomplished and commercially successful record, and earned the group well deserved critical acclaim. It contained a number of tracks which raised their profile significantly, especially in the highly sought after American market. This was undoubtedly due to Hanging on a String (Contemplating), which reached number 13 in the UK, and reigned supreme at number 1 in America's black music chart. With this track, Loose Ends had totally captured the essence of American soul and rhythm & blues, from which they had garnered their influences. They were the first British soul group to achieve this level of success in America, and some of their fans there even thought they were US natives. In later years, the song was sampled many times by rap artists such as Digital underground, and Pete Rock. They even appeared on Rock's single and video for Take Your Time in 1998. Magic Touch, the title track, and two cover versions of David Bowie's Golden Years, and Dexter Wansel's The Sweetest Pain followed in the proceeding months. Wansel, a respected writer and producer for American soul acts like The Jones Girls and Jean Carn, even produced two tracks on the LP, and in the 1970s his Life On Mars album was very popular within the UK's jazz-funk nightclub scene. Much to the groups delight, jazz-funk legend Roy Ayers played vibes on a Magic Touch remix, while Tom Browne's trumpeting skills adorned another song. Unreleased tracks such as A New Horizon, and You Can't Stop The Rain, were very classy components of a solid album.

Eventually Loose Ends were in a position to discover and produce acts themselves; Five Star, Joanna Gardner, and Julie Roberts are among the artists they helped and wrote material for during the early stages of their careers.

Another album was inevitable, and while taking stills for the cover in Morocco, they became stranded in the desert after the vehicle they were travelling in brokedown. Fearing for their safety in the stifling heat, they were very relieved when some locals in the vicinity helped them reach the nearest town, which was called Zagora. As a tribute to their saviours, they named the LP after their sanctuary. The single Stay A little While Child also had an evident North African influence, and with it's B side Gonna Make You Mine, a track not included on the album, became another popular release. Nights Of Pleasure, Ooh You Make Me Feel, and the hit Slow Down continued what the previous LP had begun.

Their success in the USA, meant that the trio spent long periods touring the continent. They appeared on MCA's roster while there, and 1988’s The Real Chuckeeboo LP was yet again highly polished, but slightly out of step with the current musical trends. Despite some great tracks such as Mr Batchelor, Life, Remote Control, What Goes Around and Watching You, the album was overlooked as Britain's youth caught onto the new wave of dance, rap, and house music acts. Ironically, the LP sold well in America.

Carl Macintosh wanted a much more urban sound for the next LP. So he decamped from the USA with the production skills he had gained, to his own studio in South London. Alas, not everyone agreed with his decision to move back to England, and the Look How Long LP shocked their fans, because Eugene and Nichol were absent from it. New members Trish Lewin, Linda Carriere and Sunay Suleyman, who were acquaintances just as the band's original members were, collaborated with Macintosh on songs which fortunately still had the essence of Loose Ends' sound. And just like their previous recordings, session musicians were also utilised. Both Don’t Be A Fool and Love’s Got Me fared moderately well in the UK charts, and LP tracks such as Don't You Ever (Try To Change Me) proved to be popular too. But things had changed irrevocably. Apart from the release of compilations and remixes, and despite rumours of an unreleased LP which have abounded for years, this was to be their final album.

# Updated 27 October 2017

Their debut album

Their classic single

Their classic album