Strangelove were an English alternative rock band, formed in Bristol in 1991 and led by singer Patrick Duff. They released three albums before splitting up in 1998.
Strangelove formed in Bristol, in 1991, after David Francolini (drums, of Levitation) spotted singer Patrick Duff, who at the time was a street busker. According to Duff, Francolini's words were "Get in the car, you're going to be a pop star." Francolini then got together various musicians he knew throughout the area; Alex Lee (guitar, formerly of The Blue Aeroplanes), Julian Pransky Poole (guitar, formerly part of The Jazz Butcher's band), and Joe Allen (bass guitar). With Francolini on drums, the quintet played their first gig at Bath Moles Club on 9 October 1991. Francolini took on the role of drummer for only two gigs, before being replaced by John Langley. The first song Duff wrote for Strangelove was titled "Zoo'd Out", in 1991, and released two years later as seven-inch Rough Trade single. Duff's tales of despair and sorrow struck a chord, and his impressive, emotionally charged vocals were described by Tom Doyle in Q Magazine's World of Noise compilation as "evoking thoughts of Morrissey as vocally-tutored by Scott Walker"
Following an early morning set on the NME Stage at Glastonbury 1992, the band were approached by John Peel to record a BBC Radio 1 session at Maida Vale, on 30 June. The band then released their first EP Visionary in October 1992 on Sermon Records, in which the title track was made 'single of the week' by Cathi Unsworth in Melody Maker. Another Peel session followed, on 5 January 1993. Their second EP, Hysteria Unknown, in February 1993 earned them a support slot on Radiohead's Pop Is Dead tour. Ed O'Brien said of Strangelove; "We toured with them and changed quite a bit after. They were inspirational. Apart from their trousers."
Critical acclaim of their early singles led to major-label interest and they were signed to EMI label Food Records in 1993. Strangelove released their first album, Time for the Rest of Your Life in August 1994, produced by Paul Corkett, who would go on to work on Stangelove's later albums. Time for the Rest of Your Life made numerous top albums of 1994 polls, and brought them to the attention of Suede who invited them to support on their Dog Man Star European tour in 1995. Manic Street Preachers' Richey Edwards was also a fan, inviting them to support at the London Astoria on the penultimate gig before his disappearance in 1995, while Nicky Wire commented that Time for the Rest of Your Life, "fits staring out of the window and watching the rain in a small valley town". Suede and Strangelove bonded, and covered each other's songs at Sala Multiusos Zaragoza on 16 May 1995. Strangelove played Suede's "Killing of a Flashboy", whilst Suede played "She's Everywhere" (then under the working title "Spacey Vibe Thing"). Brett Anderson and Richard Oakes would later guest on this song in studio, providing backing vocals, as well as Richard playing guitar on the single "Living with The Human Machines", for Strangelove's second album, Love and Other Demons (1996). The second single from the album, "Beautiful Alone", went to number 35 in the UK Singles Chart.
For singer Patrick Duff, internalised struggles and a heavy addiction to drugs and alcohol threatened to take his life. His battle with depression and excess were highlighted in one vaguely suicidal Melody Maker interview in 1994, and an aborted NME interview, during which Patrick kept falling asleep due to drugs and alcohol in his system. After the second album's recording finished, Duff was booked into a rehabilitation clinic to finally kick his habit, and confront the demons within. He wrote about this difficult journey to getting clean for The Guardian in 1996: "I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My personal life was now in tatters – and I decided my last chance was to throw what was left of me into our album. Something was left in me that wanted to do something positive. Thank God."
By this time, Nick Powell had joined the band to play keyboards, expanding their sound. A third, eponymously titled album was released 29 September 1997. Written in Bethlehem, South Wales, and recorded at Abbey Road Studio Two, this album was seen as significantly lighter than Strangelove's previous records, with Duff choosing to write less directly introspective. "I've just got a lot of crap in my head, and I've made the choice to get rid of it, to keep it out of my work. I'm trying as hard as I can to do something about it." The album yielded another UK Top 40 single, "The Greatest Show on Earth", and sell-out shows at the London Astoria and Shepherds Bush Empire. However, seemingly on the point of a major breakthrough, Strangelove split up on 20 April 1998. In later interviews, Duff acknowledged how "unfocused" he was on music while in Strangelove, that he could sense the band had run its course, and he needed to get away from the fast-paced life of touring to truly recover, and discover his calling as an artist. When asked about the possibility of a Strangelove reunion, Duff explains that while everyone in the band are still friends, and is not completely opposed to the idea, the chances of it are very slim. As a solo artist, Duff has played stripped down, acoustic versions of Strangelove songs, sporadically.
In late 1998, Duff formed the short-lived band Moon, who performed a handful of gigs in England, and released a 7" single. After the swift dissolution of this band, Patrick then spent two introspective years living in the forest outside Bristol, a move which he explains he did out of fear, and the shame of "not being 'somebody' anymore". He was discovered in this forest by Thomas Brooman, the head of WOMAD Festival, where he was asked to perform. At this festival, Duff watched and met 81-year-old veteran South African master storyteller and musician, Madosini, whom he would go to Langa, Cape Town to live with, to write songs. In 2003, they went on to perform a number of successful concerts together around the world.
Duff released a solo album on 21 June 2005, Luxury Problems on Harvest Records produced by Alex Lee and Adrian Utley. In 2007, Patrick was commissioned by Bristol City Council to write a Christmas choral symphony, intended for a one-off exclusive performance at Bristol Cathedral. Recorded over six-weeks in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Adam Coombs, and Dave Francolini, what resulted was a 90-minute piece, consisting of seven spoken word pieces, and one song. Duff released this as Seven Sermons to the Dead, in December 2013. His second solo album, The Mad Straight Road was self-released in early 2010. In the 2011 promotion of this album, Patrick toured throughout Europe on the Songs & Whispers tour, where he began the ritual of telling his life story to the audience. The audience proving receptive, allowed for Duff to continue to do this at every gig thus far. After a successful campaign on Pledge Music, set up by his then manager, Patrick unleashed his third solo album, his most intimate offering to date, Visions of the Underworld. Released 9 August 2013, he recorded this album, produced by Rich Brown, in a cottage in the wilderness of Dartmoor, consisting of live takes, and little to no overdubbing. It has been warmly received throughout the United Kingdom, and the wider world. Duff then proceeded to tour extensively throughout the UK, and Europe, appearing more frequently on radio shows, and in magazine articles. A song from the album, "Thought Birds", was released on Record Store Day, 2014, as a limited, 7" white vinyl split-single, with Duff on side A, and "Mr. Manners" by Aberdeen singer-songwriter Craig John Davidson on side B. A music video for the single, directed by Jason Baker, followed afterwards; Duff's first, in 15 years. Patrick also collaborated with Massive Attack's producer Neil Davidge contributing words and melodies to songs on Neil's first solo album released in February 2014. Patrick plans to release a five-track EP, containing two spoken word pieces, and three re-worked songs, including the epic gig-staple "Maria". He is currently working on his fifth album.
Alex Lee joined Suede between 2001 and 2003; toured as an extra keyboardist and guitarist with Placebo on the Meds World Tour in 2006 and 2007; played guitar on Goldfrapp's 2008 album Seventh Tree and their 2013 album Tales Of Us and he toured both albums in the Goldfrapp live band as guitarist. He also continues to produce television and film soundtracks with Nick Powell, who has produced two albums with his own band OSKAR on Incarnation Records. Allen, Pransky-Poole and Langley formed Saturation Point. Their fourth album, Mechanisms, was released in 2009 on Invada Records. Powell was Music and Sound Designer for the theatre company Cheek by Jowl's 2011/12 production of John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore.
A Strangelove B-side compilation album appeared retrospectively in 2008 on EMI. In 2009, Strangelove's 1994 session on The Black Sessions was released on CD.
The band's main line up was:
Patrick Duff – vocals, guitar
Alex Lee – guitar, keyboards
Julian Pransky-Poole – guitar
Joe Allen – bass
John Langley – drums, percussion
David Francolini – played two gigs with the band, before being replaced by John Langley.
Nick Powell – keyboards from late 1996, and onwards.