When tapping into the history of The Fixx and the top 10 songs from their discographic portfolio, there are some hits that come to mind that broke into the top twenty of the US Billboard music charts. Despite their British roots as a rock band that hailed from London, England, they achieved even greater popularity in the United States than they did in their own homeland.
Portraits & Fixtures
While they were in college, Cy Curnin and Adam Woods formed a rock group known as Portraits. Together, they recruited a keyboardist named Rupert Greenall and a guitarist named Tony McGrail. They also brought Russell McKenzie as their bassist before he was replaced by Charlie Barrett. As Portraits, the group released “Little Women” and “Hazards In the Home” as singles in 1979 and 1980, respectively, while they were signed to Ariola Records. After this, McGrail left to pursue his own endeavors and was replaced by Jamie West-Oram. It would be at this time the band would also undergo the name change from Portraits to The Fix.
Now with a new band name, The Fix signed up with 101 Records and released “Lost Planes” as its first single in 1981. After the group’s music received some radio exposure, a recording contract was offered by MCA Records. However, there was a proposal for a name change as the label was concerned about The Fix’s name association with substance abuse. The end result simply had the band tweak the name from The Fix to The Fixx. From there, the group recorded its debut album, Shuttered Room. After it was released in 1982, Barrett left the lineup and was replaced by Alfie Agius, just in time for The Fixx’s promotional tour.
After Shuttered Room, The Fixx recorded and released its second album, Reach the Beach. After it was released in 1984, it became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, as well as Music Canada. As for Agius, he moved on and was replaced by Dan K. Brown. Unlike Agius, Brown officially became a full-time member of The Fixx after the group enjoyed a successful tour, promoting their second album. Once again, the popularity of The Fixx captivated American and Canadian audiences while they were at the peak of their career. Their popularity remained going into 1984 with the release of Phantoms, as well as working with Tina Turner and her album, Private Dancer. Phantoms became certified gold in Canada and the US, once again establishing The Fixx as one of the most popular rock musicians at the time.
After this, Walkabout was recorded and released in 1986. Yet again, the group was able to produce hits that helped them maintain their popularity as a new wave rock group in North America. While still with MCA Records, they also recorded new material for the 1987 compilation album, React. In addition to studio recordings, it also featured live musical performances by the band. When their contract with MCA came to an end, The Fixx signed up with RCA Records and released Calm Animals in 1989. After this, they returned to MCA Records for 1991’s Ink. Both of these albums continued to produce hits that would earn their way on both the American and Canadian music charts.
Going into 1994, bassist Dan K. Brown felt it was time to take a break. He wouldn’t officially return to the lineup until 2008. In the meantime, The Fixx mostly relied on session musicians between their recordings and concert tours. Happy Landings & Lost Tracks became the group’s second compilation album, which was released in 1996. In 1998, they recorded and released Elemental, then in 1999, 1011 Woodland. In 2002, The Fixx covered a series of popular songs spanning from the 1960s to the 1990s for their next album, When Pigs Fly. This was followed by another album, Want That Life, which was released in 2003. When Brown returned, The Fixx celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary as a rock group with the compilation album, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Anthology. Four years after reuniting with Brown, The Fixx recorded and released their tenth studio album, Beautiful Friction.
In 2022, The Fixx demonstrated retirement was not yet in the cards for them as they recorded and released their eleventh studio album, Every Five Seconds. In addition to the studio recordings, The Fixx has a total of four live albums, ten compilation albums, and three video albums. As the band’s founder and lead vocalist, Cy Curnin was also the main songwriter. His musical genius wasn’t just limited to what he contributed to his own rock group. It also extended into solo projects that had him record and release five studio albums and two EPs. Between recording sessions and concert performances, there hasn’t been much sign of the man, nor The Fixx, calling it quits anytime soon. Speaking as a fan, this is a good thing.
Top 10 The Fixx Songs
#10 – The Sign of Fire
From the album, Reach the Beach, “The Sign of Fire” was a synth-heavy gem that The Fixx became so popular among North American fans. As new wave rock music became more mainstream, The Fixx were able to apply their brand of music that would trigger their second studio album to become certified gold with Music Canada and the RIAA. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, “The Sign of Fire” peaked as high as number twenty. It was a number thirty-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Like much of The Fixx’s music material, “The Sign of Fire” was powered by Cy Curnin’s incredible vocal talent, as well as the dark and edgy music that made the listener feel as if immediate danger was imminent.
#9 – How Much Is Enough
“How Much Is Enough” was a single released from The Fixx’s eighth album, Ink. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it became a number eleven hit. On the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, it peaked as high as number ten. The US Billboard Hot 100 charted this song as high as number thirty-five. In Canada, it peaked at number twenty-seven. This was a song that critiqued human greed, which served as a great follow-up behind the explosive opening track, “All is Fair.” As a songwriter, Cy Curnin was keenly observant of political and social trends. He often poured his observations into his music, both as a solo artist and as the frontman of The Fixx. Among the fan base who shared a love of the group’s music, “How Much Is Enough” was a song that brought out the maturity of Curnin and his bandmates. It was a break away from the jittery rock classics they were known for in the 1980s.
#8 – A Letter to Both Sides
In 1985, “A Letter to Both Sides” was a song recorded for the movie, Fletch. Even though it played only for five seconds, it left quite an impression on the fans who heard it. The soundtrack offers the opportunity to hear this song in its entirety. There is also another version of this featured on The Fixx’s 1999 compilation album, Ultimate Collection. Although not one of The Fixx’s most popular tunes, it ranks up there as Cy Curnin’s outcry against the abuse of authority exercised by political parties and social activists. Throughout the group’s recording career, there was a shared concern about the fate of humanity and its future. This song shares similarities to children caught in the middle of a custody battle between parents who focus too much on each other and not enough on those who they’re hurting. While the movie itself was technically a comedy,
#7 – Driven Out
On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, “Driven Out” peaked at number one after it was released as a single in 1989. It was the first of two singles released from the album, Calm Animals. On the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, it peaked as high as number eleven. It was a number fifty-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and a number forty-one hit in Canada. As a songwriter, Cy Curnin often criticized the greed of politicians and their lobbyists. He, along with The Fixx bandmates, delivered yet another powerful performance as “Driven Out” focused on the reality of humanity’s struggle to survive from one day to the next as they’re forced into conditions that have been deemed inhumane.
#6 – Red Skies
In 1982, “Red Skies” was a single that was released as a follow-up to “Stand or Fall.” From the album, Shuttered Room, it peaked as high as number thirteen on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. If fell just shy of breaking into the US Billboard Hot 100 but did manage to become a number forty-four hit in the Netherlands. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number fifty-seven. The content of the song focused on the threat of a nuclear holocaust. As a songwriter, Cy Curnin excelled at composing atmospheric music that felt haunting by nature. As a group, The Fixx performed captivating music that would set a certain mood. In this case, it felt ominous, thanks to the power behind Curnin’s vocals as he delivered yet another memorable performance.
The inspiration of “Red Skies” came after Curnin felt uncomfortable about the military-related decisions made by then-American President Ronald Reagan and then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Oddly enough, MCA Records felt “Red Skies” needed to be redone as they didn’t care for the darker direction The Fixx took. In order to appease them, Curnin and his bandmates recorded another version of this song in 1987, this time for the group’s sixth album, React. As Curnin suspected, the vision he and his bandmates had for “Red Skies” was deemed superior by the audience to what MCA wanted from them.
#5 – Stand or Fall
“Stand or Fall” was the first hit produced by The Fixx. Released as a single in 1982, it peaked as high as number seven on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and at number seventy-six on the US Billboard Hot 100. In Canada, it peaked as high as number thirty-seven. It was also popular in Australia, charting as high as number thirty-three. On the UK Singles Chart, “Stand or Fall” climbed as high as number fifty-four. This song served as a bit of a reality check that The Fixx were more popular in North America than they were in their home nation. Cy Curnin and his bandmates learned to capitalize on that as this began a career path that would turn them into one of the most popular new wave musical acts in Canada and the US. The album, Shuttered Room, marked The Fixx’s debut as a recording artist while under this particular band name. Before this, they were known as Portraits.
#4 – Secret Separation
From 196’s Walkabout, “Secret Separation” was a single that peaked as high as number nineteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. It became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, a number forty-nine hit in Canada, and a number eighty-three hit on the UK Singles Chart. “Secret Separation” focused on reincarnation as two soulmates kept meeting each other in separate time frames. In some cases, the two seemed to work as a couple while on other occasions it didn’t. Although not really regarded as a love song, it has become a popular favorite played at weddings.
#3 – Are We Ourselves
“Are We Ourselves” tapped into embracing a new personality and using it to explore a new world of possibilities. It was a 1984 single released from the album, Phantoms. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it became a number-one hit. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number fifteen. In Canada, the song climbed as high as number twenty-nine. It also was featured on the neo-noir rock film and soundtrack, Streets of Fire. As musicians, The Fixx shared a niche for thought-provoking music that often challenged listeners to tap into their own sense of spirituality. “Are We Ourselves” has become one of those timeless gems that keep loyal fans coming back for more while at the same time winning over a new audience.
#2 – Saved By Zero
“Saved By Zero” was a single that was released in 1983 from The Fixx’s second studio album, Reach the Beach. This became one of their most popular hits, sitting right behind “One Thing Leads to Another” as an all-time fan favorite. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it peaked as high as number nine. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it was a number twenty hit. In Canada, it peaked as high as number forty-five. This was a song that had Cy Curnin and his bandmates perform a ghostly-style approach to self-reflection. “Saved By Zero” laid out a somewhat spiritual experience, seeming to encourage the listener to start from ground zero as they engage in a personal journey to rediscover who they are. During the era of the Cold War, “Saved by Zero” was a song that felt like it was at the right place at the right time. Even today, as current events continue, this is a great song to turn to should there be a need for some soul-searching.
#1 – One Thing Leads to Another
If there is one song that stands out as The Fixx’s signature hit, it would be “One Thing Leads to Another.” Released as a single from the group’s second studio album, Reach the Beach, it became a number-one hit in Canada, as well as a number-two hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number four. In Australia, it charted as high as number thirty-eight. Despite The Fixx’s origin coming from the UK, this single was a minor hit in that nation as it only climbed as high as number eighty-six. As a song, this was Cy Curnin’s jab against politicians who were caught red-handed with their antics. Campaigning one thing in order to become elected, only to change their tune afterward, sparked The Fixx to record what became the biggest hit of their career.
From the opening riffs to the power behind Cy Curnin’s vocals, “One Thing Leads to Another” didn’t hold back as an edgy rock number. The popularity of this song once it was released in 1983 often graced radio stations, music video programs, and dance clubs. In 2000, there was a remixed version by J. Benitez that put this song back in the music charts, this time on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs. It peaked as a minor hit at number fifty-four. It’s still a popular favorite among dance clubs as a retro number, often requested by fans who can’t seem to get enough of what can be described as a cult classic.
Top 10 Songs From The Fixx article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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