In some ways, it may not be much of a surprise to hear that ex-It Bites vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Francis Dunnery has returned to the music of his old band, one of the great British units of the ‘80s.
He met up with the other three members – keyboardist John Beck, bassist Dick Nolan and drummer Bob Dalton – during a London Union Chapel gig in 2003, and for a while a full-scale reunion looked to be on the cards. But it wasn’t to be.
Then Dunnery recorded various ‘reversions’ of It Bites songs on his 2011 album There’s A Whole New World Out There, and he has frequently performed the old material in concert (check out this amazing version of Once Around The World’s title track from a few years ago). So he’s never exactly been averse to revisiting former glories.
But Vampires is different. It goes the whole hog: he’s re-recorded not just one album but 100 minutes of It Bites classics, singing all the vocal parts himself (with much-improved body and range, though his vocals weren’t exactly shabby in the old days) and enlisting various musicians including ex-Go West drummer Tony Beard to navigate the musical twists and turns.
Two years in the making, the album is also a blast from the past in terms of its audio qualities – it was recorded without EQ or compression, only a small amount of the latter being added at mastering stage.
Francis discusses the new album and the It Bites days in this excellent interview for The Mouth magazine.
He reveals – for the first time, as far as I’m aware – the full story of how the band got signed to Virgin, Dunnery’s period squatting in South London, his relationship with John Beck, his favourite It Bites songs, the band’s split and loads more. It’s a must-listen for any fans.
You can also hear many excerpts from Vampires and make your own mind up about whether his new versions improve on the originals.
And, in other Dunnery-related news, who knew that we would be able to add ‘radio presenter’ to his list of abilities?
Yes, his new Progzilla show is by turns hilarious, controversial, infantile, informative, philosophical and troubling. He’s a natural, but the show’s not for everyone…
4 thoughts on “Francis Dunnery: Back To It Bites”
Played the whole thing at his website last month and still considering buying the vinyl version, although I’m not sure how many times I’ll listen to these re-recordings of songs I love in their original incarnations. Thanks for shining a light on a great artist who deserves wider recognition. I was fortunate to see him on his early solo tours in small NYC clubs, and those were some of my all-time favorite live shows.
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Great, Rich. I know what you mean about the re-recordings. I envy you seeing those early solo gigs in NYC. I hope you can find the time to check out his radio show, it’s really something…
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Thanks for the link to my YouTube clip! – Still amazes me how popular this video has been. But then again it was (he said at the time) the last time he would perform with a full electric band again in the UK, and this was the last song of the last gig.
Hey Paul, thanks for dropping by, and thanks for your clip – it really is a great version. I wish I’d been there!