Which artist sang the song Smalltown Boy

Re-issue of the first Bronski beat albumMore than just "Smalltown Boy"

A boy runs away from the confines of his parents' house. Above all, however, the intolerance of an environment that does not accept being gay. Bronski Beats synth pop track "Smalltown Boy" became an international hit for the Glasgow band in 1984, and the record on which it can be found is a key album not only for gay listeners. "The Age of Consent", which has just been remastered and reappeared with additional, previously unreleased bonus tracks, offers stunning dance quality to substantial lyrics even after 35 years.

It was the first time that pop music clearly addressed homosexual rights. And not even in a fumble, but in a bomber jacket, jeans - and in falsetto. The now 57-year-old, very media-shy singer Jimmy Somerville recalled in 2015: "I knew that I had this voice before I even started singing, but because I couldn't cope with my sexuality during that time and thought it didn't sound like it Masculine enough, unmanly, I was a bit scared. As a kid I never wanted to become famous or a pop star, so I used it all as a vehicle for my political intentions. And when we got famous, I couldn't go back. "

Hymns for tolerance, justice and freedom

But not only "Smalltown Boy" dealt with politics and society. In "No More War" Sommerville sings against the war. And the opening song of the record, "Why?", Which became Bronski Beat's second international top ten hit, with its unmistakable brass section and the touching line, "You and me together fighting for our love", is a glowing, dance-mad hymn for Tolerance, justice and the freedom to live one's sexual orientation. Contrary to prevailing opinions or laws.

"The age of consent for homosexual sex was 21 in England at the time, five years different from so-called normal sex. And in Scotland, where Jimmy Somerville, the singer of Bronski Beat, comes from, from Glasgow, gay sex was still illegal until 1981. This band formed two years later, formed, and released this album three years later, and it really was actually a totally proud political gesture. " That's what the Berlin music journalist Jan Kedves says.

The British band Bronski Beat: Steve Bronski, Larry Steinbachek and Jimmy Somerville (from left to right) (imago stock & people / Horst Galuschka)

1984, the year in which "The Age of Consent" was published for the first time, the title of which of course means the age of consent mentioned, was also the year in which the HI virus was identified as the cause of AIDS. All over the world, homosexual men were branded as bad luck charms and the immune deficiency disease was called "gay disease" contemptuously. The attitude of the heteronormative society changed only slowly. In 1988, Jimmy Somerville said in a television interview: "The media has left the people who have died of AIDS - seen as junkies or fagots. Only people say that who do not see us as human beings. I want to make that clear really people are dying, no statistics or numbers. These are people who are dying. "

But it wasn't just the political relevance that made "The Age of Consent" such a special, courageous, eternal record. The sound, programmed and produced by Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbacheck, who died in 2016, was also new - tender and hard at the same time, full of longing, but also full of straight, cool beats. Hold together by Somerville's unusually high vocals and an unmistakable love for the disco. To Donna Summer anyway.

Hymn of otherness

Jan Kedves: "What I find really interesting is that musically it also refers to the 70s and disco, the faster songs on the album would be called 'High Energy', the fully synthetic advancement of disco music from the 70s. The music actually has a total harshness, and that rubs against this almost fragile falsetto singing - so I think that also creates the appeal beyond the lyrics and beyond the political message, that is what makes this music so attractive. "

How much Bronski Beat and "The Age of Consent" reverberate to this day can perhaps be seen in how deeply the pieces penetrated our collective musical consciousness. Whether gay, straight or anything else: parties, dance floors and parades still feed on the songs, the sound and the message. Jimmy Somerville left the band after "The Age of Consent" and was initially successful with the Communards, but then remained more in the insider tip corner as a solo artist. One of his many cover versions can already be found on "The Age of Consent": "It ain't necessarily so" from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess". With Bronski Beat it is - of course - a hymn of otherness - in pop music as in life.