The Farm

Antiwar songs by The Farm
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The FarmOne of the stranger overnight success stories in pop history, the chameleon-like Farm was formed in Liverpool, England in 1983 by singer Peter Hooton, a onetime youth worker searching for a musical outlet to voice his political concerns. Rounded out by guitarist Stevie Grimes, bassist Phil Strongman and drummer Andy McVann, the first incarnation of the Farm recalled both the leftist identity and horn-powered sound of the Redskins; dubbed "the Soul of Socialism," the group promoted its music not only through live appearances but also via The End, a soccer fanzine published by Hooton.

Despite a handful of independent singles and the addition of a full-time brass section comprised of Anthony Evans, Steve Levy, George Maher and John Melvin, the Farm found little interest in their pop-flavored northern soul. Still, they soldiered on, even weathering the 1986 death of McVann, who perished in a car crash after attempting to outrun the police. With drummer Roy Boulter installed as McVann's replacement and bassist Carl Hunter substituting for the newly exited Strongman, the Farm dropped their horn section and added keyboardist Benjamin Leach and second guitarist Keith Mullen, resulting in a move toward synth pop; 1988's "Body and Soul," their fourth overall single and the first from their new lineup, became a minor club hit.

Still, the Farm struggled; finally, in 1990 they approached dance producer Terry Farley, who agreed to produce a sample-heavy cover of the Monkees' "Stepping Stone." The single fell just shy of the Top 40, and suddenly the group found themselves aligned with the baggy pants club culture movement promoted by the likes of Happy Mondays and the Soup Dragons. The Farm's next single, "Groovy Train," hit the U.K. Top Ten, while the anthemic follow-up "All Together Now" -- based on the melody of Pachelbel's Canon -- landed in the Top Five and sold over 500,000 copies.

Eight years after their inception, the Farm finally issued their debut LP Spartacus in 1991; the album entered the British charts at number one, and international deals with Sony and Sire quickly followed. The band's moment in the limelight was a brief one, however; their next two singles, "Don't Let Me Down" and "Mind," both failed to penetrate the Top 30, and 1991's quickly produced follow-up LP, Love See No Colour, sank without a trace. Aside from a Top 20 cover of the Human League's "Don't You Want Me?" in 1992, the Farm essentially vanished from sight, releasing 1994's Hullabaloo to minimal notice. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide