The Christians (band)

The Christians (band)

Infobox musical artist | Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Alias =
Born =
Name = The Christians

Img_capt =
Died =
Origin = Liverpool, England
Instrument =
Genre = Sophisti-pop
Occupation =
Years_active = 1985 to present
Label = Island Records
Associated_acts =
URL = [ The Christians’ Official Website]
Current_members = Paul Campbell
Garry Christian
Russell Christian
Henry Priestman
Past_members = Paul Barlow
Mike Bulger
Roger Christian
Tony Jones
Notable_instruments =

The Christians are a soul-influenced Sophisti-pop band from Liverpool, England, who scored several UK and international chart hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Band biography

The name of the band refers to the surname of the three brothers that were originally in the line-up, and is also coincidentally guitarist Henry Priestman's middle name.

Garry Christian (born 27 February 1955, in Liverpool) (lead vocals), Roger Christian (born 13 February 1950 - died 8 March 1998 from brain tumour) (vocals, instrumentalist), Russell Christian (born 8 July 1956) (keyboards, saxophone, vocals), and Henry Priestman (born Henry Christian Priestman, 21 July 1955, in Hull. Brought up in Liverpool) (keyboards, guitars, vocals) formed the band in 1985. Because of a reluctance to tour, Roger left in 1987.

Allmusic describes The Christians as ‘Blue-eyed soul’, i.e. “soul and R&B music performed and sung by white musicians” [ [ The Christians’ page on AMG] ; ] . The Christian brothers are members of a large family born to a black Jamaican immigrant father, an engineer by trade, and a white Liverpudlian mother [ Du Noyer, Paul (2002) “Liverpool: Wonderous Place”, Virgin Books, London, p.176;] . They can be described as a “combination of soul and pop” or ‘Sophisti-pop’ [ Larkin, C. (1992) “Indie & New Wave Music”, Guinness Publishing, Enfield, p.60;] .

The band were one of a number of soul-influenced groups in the 1980s that had strong links to UK punk rock, New Wave music and post-punk. Whereas Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall started out with punk-rockers The Frantic Elevators, and two of the Fine Young Cannibals were former members of post-punk Ska revivalists The Beat, The Christians’ principal song-writer Henry Priestman cut his musical teeth with new wave hopefuls Yachts. Also, the band’s manager, Pete Fulwell, was the co-owner of the legendary Liverpool punk club Eric's and also managed post-punk luminaries The Mighty Wah, Black and It's Immaterial.

In terms of their politically-conscious lyrics, the band had similarities with groups like The Blow Monkeys and were labelled "socially-aware soul". Musically, they had more in common with classic black harmony groups such as The Persuasions.

In ‘Rock: The Rough Guide’, one amateur critic, Charles Bottomley, described the band as “The Temptations in ripped jeans, producing gritty-centred songs in a sugary vocal shell” [ Buckley & Ellingham (ed.) (1996) “Rock: The Rough Guide”, Rough Guides, London, p.164;] . Bottomley further argues that this “grumpy soul” worked well but, over time, “butterscotch harmonies and acrylic funk” came to “represent a middle-class lifestyle at odds with Priestman’s Marxist conscience” [ Buckley & Ellingham (ed.) (1996) “Rock: The Rough Guide”, Rough Guides, London, p.165;] .

Chart history

Their first three singles all made the Top 40 in Britain, and their eponymous 1987 debut album entered the UK Albums Chart at number 2, and eventually sold over a million copies. The highest placed single from this album was "Ideal World", which reached number 14 in the UK Singles Chart.

In 1988 they released a cover of the Isley Brothers' "Harvest For The World", with all proceeds going to charity. The video for the track was an animation, created by four leading animation companies, including Aardman Animations of Wallace and Gromit fame. The video won several awards, and the single reached number 8 in the chart.

1989 saw another charity single success, this time as performers on a version of "Ferry Cross The Mersey", released in aid of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster, which stayed at number one for several weeks (#5 in Germany).

Their second album, "Colour" released in 1990, reached number one in the UK Albums Chart and yielded the international hit "Words" which was #18 in the UK and Sweden, #5 in the Netherlands (for two weeks), and #1 in France (also for two weeks). In this country, the second single from the album, "I Found Out", reached #22 (#56 in the UK). In 1992, the following LP, "Happy in Hell" charted at number 18, its single "What's In A Word" entered the UK Top 40, and was a Top 20 hit in France (with there an impressive total chart run of 19 weeks); it also entered the German Top 75 reaching #60.

The early 1990s saw the band continuing to tour, but declining in popularity. A "Greatest Hits" album, "The Best of the Christians" was released in 1993, and peaked at number 22.

After the long break, a new album was released in 2003 entitled "Prodigal Sons" featuring Garry and Russell Christain with Henry Priestman. The musical direction is updated but still adopting the harmonies led by Garry that created originally so much success.

Break up and reformation

Garry Christian moved to Paris in 1995 to record a solo album, effectively breaking up the band, although no formal announcement was made, and the door was open to future reformation. In 1998 founding member Roger Christian died from a brain tumor. In 1999 The Christians began to perform together again in an "unplugged" acoustic format. They carried out a thirty six date tour of the UK, with a similar tour undertaken in 2000, with guitarist and songwriter Paul Campbell who accompinied them on all of their tours until 2003.

By 2001 The Christians began to write songs for a 'comeback' album, "Prodigal Sons", which was released in 2003. This was supported by a UK tour in October 2003, and further promotion in France, Spain and UK throughout 2004.

In 2005 Russell Christian decided he no longer wished to tour, and a decision was made to return to a full band format, rather than the four-man “unplugged” line-up that had been touring since 1999.

This new 'band' comprising Garry Christian (vocals), Jay Ankrah (acoustic guitar/backing vocals), Stewart Boyle (electric guitar), Bobby Kewley (bass guitar), and Jay Iving (drums) was unveiled on the 2007 tour.

The 2008 tour took on more intimate venues creating a really close engagement with the audience, and featured some classic Beatles songs in addition to the classic Christians numbers the audience demands!


UK Top 75 singles

*"Forgotten Town" / "One in a Million" / "Man Oh Man" / "Look Around" (Island Records, IS 291, January 1987) UK #22
*"Hooverville (They Promised us the World)" / "No Reason" / "The Losing Game" (Island, IS 326, June 1987) UK #21
*"When the Fingers Point" / "Rebecca" / "Every Town Waltz" / "Throw a Farewell Kiss" (Island, IS 335, September 1987) UK #34
*"Ideal World" / "Say It Isn't So (Part one)" / "Rocking Chair Blues" / "Ideal World" (TR 808 mix)" (Island, IS 347, December 1987) UK #14
*"Born Again" / "Forgotten Town" (U.S. version) / "A Lovers' Question" / "Undecided (a cappella)" (Island, IS 365, April 1988) UK #25
*"Harvest for the World" / "Harvest For The World (remix)" / "Small Axe" (Island, IS 395, October 1988) UK #8
*"Ferry Cross the Mersey" (with other artists including Paul McCartney, PWL, PWL 41, May 1989) UK #1
*"Words" / "Long Gone" / "Funny Money" (Island, IS 450, December 1989) UK #18
*"I Found Out" / "Save Us From Our Friends" / "Sent Here to Shine" (Island, IS 453, April 1990) UK #56
*"Greenbank Drive" / "Nomad soul" / "Laurie Latham" (remix) / "From The Water's Edge" (Island, IS 466, September 1990) UK #63
*"What’s In A Word" / "Happy in Hell" / "You Never Know" (Island, IS 536, December 1992) UK #33
*"Father" / "World" / "Forgotten Town" / "Ideal World" (remix) (Island, IS 543, November 1992) UK #55
*"The Bottle" / Group Corporation vocal mix / Ray Haden sugar free mix / Sound foundation dub mix (Island, IS 549, March 1993) UK #39

tudio albums

* "The Christians" (1987) - #2 UK
* "Colour" (1990) - #1 UK
* "Happy In Hell" (1992) - #18 UK
* "Prodigal Sons" (2003)


* "Best of the Christians" (1993) - #22 UK


External links

* [ The Christians on AMG]
* [ Official website]

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