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SFE 075T

CD 1

01. HERE I AM  04:15
02. LAY DOWN  04:01
03. DARK SKY  03:16
04. MY LIFE  04:33
06. THIS MUST BE LOVE  05:05
08. SOMEDAY SOON  03:35
09. EVE  03:49
10. STONE  04:22
11. ROLLING  02:59
12. BLAME  04:28
13. I BELIEVE  3:59
14. TEAR FOOL  05:41
15. MOVING ON  03:13
16. LAY DOWN (Almighty Radio Edit)  03:45
17. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (Sounds Of Life Full Vocal Radio Mix)  04:14
18. SAFE (Todd Terry 7”)  03:47
19. DARK SKY ’98  03:24

CD 2

01. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (Sounds Of Life Full Vocal Club Mix)  5:55
02. SAFE (Todd Terry Long Session)  06:47
03. DARK SKY (S&H Mix)  05:35
04. LAY DOWN (Sounds Of Life Remix)  05:54
05. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (WayneG’s Heaven Mix)  06:56
06. SAFE (DJ Tonka 12”)  08:04
07. DARK SKY (J&S 12” Peg’s Study Mix)  06:59
08. LAY DOWN (Almighty Vocal Club Mix)  06:37
09. SAFE (DJ Dovzki Extended Mix)  07:19
10. DARK SKY (Tony De Vit Mix)  08:07
11. SAFE (Todd Terry Dub)  06:16

CD 3

01. LAY DOWN (Hoop Laid Up Mix)  05:40
02. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (Extended Mix)  05:01
03. DARK SKY (Dillon & Dickins Mix)  06:49
04. SAFE (Get Far Mix)  06:36
05. LAY DOWN (Bonus Disco Mix)  08:12
06. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (Radio Mix)  03:33
07. DARK SKY (Only Child Mix)  05:43
08. SAFE (Todd Terry 12”)  06:24
09. LAY DOWN (Video Edit)  03:08
10. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (Sounds Of Life Dub Mix)  06:37
11. DARK SKY (Sure Is Pure Mix)  06:24
12. SAFE (DJ Tonka Instrumental)  08:02
13. SOMETHING TO LIVEFOR (with the Melbourne Gay & Lesbian Chorus)  04:08


MANAGE THE DAMAGE  1x 180gm Heavyweight white LP (Demon Music)

Side 1
01. HERE I AM  04:15
02. LAY DOWN  04:01
03. DARK SKY  03:16
04. MY LIFE  04:33

Side 1
01. THIS MUST BE LOVE  05:05
03. SOMEDAY SOON  03:35
04. EVE  03:49
05. STONE  04:22
06. ROLLING  02:59

jimmy Lyrics

Manage The Damage
Cherry Red / Demon Music
25.01.2019 / 20.09.2019
CD SFE 075T / Vinyl DEMREC494
CD 5013929848528 / Vinyl 5014797900424

"Here I Am" ,"My Life" ,"This Must Be Love" ,"Girl Falling Down" ,"Someday Soon" ,"Eve" ,"Stone" ,"Rolling" written by Somerville / Herbert , Produced by Howes / Somerville / Herbert , Nothing Hill Music / Monument Music  "Lay Down" written by Somerville / Herbert , Produced by Howes / Somerville / Herbert , Nothing Hill Music / Monument Music / Warner Chappell Music  "Dark Sky" written by Somerville / Herbert , Produced by Somerville / Herbert , Mixed by Weathley , Nothing Hill Music / Monument Music  "Something Fo Live For" written by Somerville / Herbert / Monaghan , Produced by Howes / Somerville / Herbert , Nothing Hill Music / Monument Music / Gut Music ( "Something To Live For - Radio Mix" ) Remix and Production by Flepps at Electro Island - Germany  Recorded in London at Peg's Study / Mayfair / Battery / Townhouse and RAK

It wasn’t, perhaps, the most amicable split with London Records
after the promotional cycle for Jimmy Somerville’s second bona fide  solo album "Dare To Love" in 1995.
Until then, Jimmy had been with London Records throughout his recording career with both of his former bands Bronski Beat and the Communards and for the first two albums of his solo career.  At the time, he mentioned in the music press that the label seemed to have, of late, little idea as to how to market him as a now older gay singer; Jimmy stated, “It was once easier to market me, but times have changed. Now I am an older gay man, I am more difficult.
The final straw came when they accused me of being too gay”. In theory, Jimmy could have shopped around for a new label,but he was well aware that times had indeed changed.  It had become possible, with the aid of new music production computer software, to produce and record his own songs in a home studio.  In Jimmy’s case, this was his guest room furnished with a Mac, ‘Pro Tools’ software and Sally Herbert! No longer the pressure of running up studio time, producer fees, technicians and engineers wages! All eliminated by investing in his own equipment,in turn freeing up the creative possibilities and affording himself the time to experiment and learn new skills. Experiment, produce and songwrite  he did in collaboration with his dear friend and flat-mate, Sally Herbert. Sally had collaborated with the Communards previously as one of the violinists in their four strong string section for both the ‘Red’ album and tour. Furthermore, she was also in her own right onehalf of the band The Banderas  who had two UK chart singles, ‘This IsYour Life’ (#16) and ‘She Sells’ (#41) in 1991,  both taken from their one and only album ‘Ripe’ (#40).

It is a truism that we are the sum total of all of our life’s experience. The idea behind the album’s title ‘Manage The Damage’ is that maturity affords a degree of reflection to grapple with and confront the emotional and psychological scars that define one’s fears. Self-awareness allows us to liberate ourselves from,
or at least achieve a greater understanding of, the personal battlefields of life that we’ve survived; through such knowledge, festering hurt can be ‘managed’. Aspects of Jimmy’s life had been problematic and he dealt with themin a revealing and thought provoking fusion
of tragic and optimistic lyrics on ‘Manage The Damage’.

Jimmy’s first independent release after his London Records era had been the remake and remixes of
"Safe", a favourite song of Jimmy’s from his previous album ‘Dare To Love’ that he had originally recorded or London Records as the album track
"Safe In These Arms". There is a sense that his re-appropriation of the song was a statement that there had been unfinished business from and, creatively, a closure needed to the ‘Dare To Love’ era in that he chose to re-record the song of his choice and preference from an album that, perhaps,
didn’t get the promotional attention it deserved at the time. Released in 1997 in selected European territories (though excluding the UK),
it functioned discographically as the bridge to his first album of entirely new material, ‘Manage The Damage’.

The build up to his first all new single ‘Dark Sky’, also released in 1997, and its eventual parent album "Manage The Damage"  aligned with the aforementioned wider accessibility of music technology. The creation of new material was now much more possible for an independent artist, as Jimmy had found himself, outside the strictures of, the conditional and recoupable financing from, and theoften unrealistic expectations of the major labels.

"Dark Sky" is a song, almost an atmospheric pop mantra, that is redolent of the aftermath of a crushingly thwarted love in both its artistic repetition of musical structure and in its heartfelt lyrical content. It is arguably the first display of the ‘Damage’ to be ‘Managed’, the first discernible hint of one of the themes that would run through the album; a coming to terms with past hurts and the methods of coping with and transcending them. This would, on
the broader canvas of the whole album, be balanced by shards of optimism for a brighter new future. To me, the dynamic tension between these two themes reflects perfectly this historic point of transition in Jimmy’s career.  For example, the song "My Life" is also something of a statement of intent, an openness to new beginnings in that we are told;

It’s so violent
When you are silent
I’m so easily frightened
I can smell the changing
Stinks of something rotting
Not so pretty now, my dear

We can discern that a transformation is in motion in that the indifference and fear that had been endemic in the unsatisfactory relationship being sung about was coming to an end. We learn in a following chorus, that this could herald a new beginning by the redemptive defiance implied in;

My life
More than it ever was.

Positive personal transformation also seems evident in the song "Someday Soon"; there’s a kind of a ‘change-is-gonna-come’ vibe lyrically; art reflecting real life, perhaps,  in terms of the personal demons Jimmy was battling and exorcising just as he was taking control of his artistic destiny;

More than this
I want something more than this
I want more than this
Someday soon -
I’m gonna be somebody
Someday soon -
I’m gonna show somebody
Someday soon -
I’m gonna be the lucky one
Someday soon - oh, yeah!

The song "Stone" seems to be immensely soul searching; a depiction of a man in emotional stasis;

Heavy like stone,
Heavy like stone
I’m going nowhere
‘Cos I’m heavy like stone

And, yet, the sentiment finds its proactive opposite in the following track "Rolling";

I’m taking chances, no regrets
and holding on
Because I know what to do
I’ve got to keep on pushing
Got to keep on rolling
Keep on rolling

Perhaps, to be human is to employ coping strategies, to do the best we can in moments of adversity. The women depicted in Jimmy’s songs "Eve" and
"Girl Falling Down" can be seen as souls trapped in an oppressive patriarchy, the same patriarchy that often discredits gay men. "Eve" seems to inhabit a false paradise as a means of denying her impoverished situation; Jimmy stated of this song, “Eve" is more about prostitution. It is also the case, as with many unhappy women, that it ends up in a tragedy. The spiral revolves around drugs and exploitation. And there are men behind the abuse of these women prostituting themselves”.

The desperation is dramatically most palpable in ‘Girl Falling Down’, the woman protagonist in which is seemingly giving up on her dead end life which Jimmy, with the empathy of the great social activist he is, depicts as a nihilistic vision of battered hell;

Her life is coloured black and blue
She lives in fear of him
That next time he might go too far
This isn’t how she thought that it
would be Her only love in life
The child he said he’d take away
The thought of losing her was
just too much

So she took her life
Intending she would do the
They found her trying in the
pouring rain

Whereas an earlier lyric of Jimmy’s that dealt with domestic assault and battery, the Communards’ hit single "Tomorrow", held out hope in its refrain,
“I’m leaving tomorrow, I’ve had all I can take”, in "Girl Falling Down", we are not dealing with a battered woman  who is blessed by such a eureka moment of resolve and awareness. Here she is mentally broken and has neither the emotional wherewithal left nor, perhaps, the financial means to extricate herself from a cycle of abuse. Jimmy stated in an interview on the German fan-site that, “The song is about a girl whose story I read in the newspaper. The girl was arrested by the police when she tried to commit suicide after killing
 er baby… Her life was constant abuse… She did not want the baby to be taken away from her and she thought, in her head, that by killing
her and her own death, they would be together forever. For me, it was a very sad story. The saddest thing I’ve ever read, so I wrote a song about it. It also made me angry that nobody saw it. In the refrain is ‘girl who falls, but no one sees it’. I do not understand that something can go that far without anyone seeing it or everyone ignoring it. It just makes me angry”.

The anger of such injustice has its corollary in Jimmy’s challenge to the ideal of a virtuous and caring god. In "Here I Am", Jimmy sings;

“If I should die before I wake,
I pray from god my soul escapes”.

This bright and bold statement is infused with a sense of a rejection of the imposition of the morality, judgement and oppression from organised religions and their, arguably, fictional yet dictatorial pick ’n’ mix of sky gods. Religion and the morality it deftly peddles has, historically, so often been experienced by gay people as a means of justifying, even motivating, prejudice against them. Again, Jimmy does not shy away from tackling this bigotry and touches on this again in the song "Rolling" in the line, “I don’t believe in the mystery of destiny”; an implicit rejection of such ‘faith’ and its fictional edicts of determination and damnation.

Jimmy does believe in love though! His album track "This Must Be Love" celebrates the ideal of it while acknowledging its elusive nature;

You know that I know that
I want you
To know that I know that
I want you too
This must be love

Jimmy has stated, “Yes, I believe in something called love. It is a word that is used internationally, and it is also used in the sense that we try to express how we feel. It can be something strange.  I firmly believe in the chemistry between people, and if that is called love, then yes!”

Again, harking back to the refutation of religious diktats that proscribe gay love as ‘sinful’, the definition of such ‘love’ does not always fit with the heteronormative, romanticised, monogamous ideal. From whose perspective ‘love’ is defined can, therefore, be used as a weapon of morality against gay men who largely aren’t monogamous. It’s not so much that ‘love’ is an undefinable ideal than the case that, as a term, it can be co-opted in a battle of
‘morality’ against gay men who in their often multi-partnered lives have it levelled against them that they  are not capable of ‘romantic love’. The persistence of the stereotype that ‘love’ evades gay men who don’t readily identify with  a monogamous ideal is, perhaps,
'why Jimmy proceeds with caution in not unequivocally embracing the term. He has stated;

“I’m not suitable for love. I’m
too selfish, too greedy for it.
Monogamy? No! But, for others it
works and if they want to spend
their time like that, that’s a good
thing! But, for me, it is a foreign

And what of the appropriation of football imagery for the album and singles sleeves? Perhaps there’s more here than merely blurring the lines of macho masculinity and the homoerotic. Drawing on the hyper masculine iconography of football and elucidating its arguably tenderest moments of care for the injured, team celebrations or a depiction of the comradeship of fans, the images create a deft dynamic tension on many fronts. Is it homoerotic fetishism? But, equally, is it homophobic to think that gay men don’t like football? Or, is the comradeship alluded to
in the shots suggestive of the ideal of socialism in a game that itself is adored by the masses. Jimmy stated at the time that, “Since I’m gay, people think first, it has something to do with homosexuality. That may be the case, but if you’re heterosexual and a football fan, it has nothing to do with it.” It certainly could be seen as provocative artwork for a gay artist to have co-opted such symbolism in 1999, albeit with the genius that the comeback to that assertion is that it really,  really shouldn’t be seen as provocative! Even the thought that it is off-limits for a gay artist to celebrate football,
is itself reductively homophobic!

Hailing from Glasgow, Jimmy would have been well aware of the religiously motivated tribal rivalries between Celtic and Rangers. Rivalries that often become godlessly violent. The provocation, therefore,  in the use of football imagery is that it punctures the idea of this hypocrisy of religion and violence and tribal hatred.  Football being elevated to an arguably false God status by sections of the teams’ respective fanbases. Supporting a rival team itself is considered a knuckle-dustable sacrilege! There is, I feel, an enlightened motivation in using the universality of football to explore the conflicted nature of such fraternity, and deliciously with interventionist intent when done so from a queer perspective. I remember, when I bought the album in 1999, looking at the imagery andthinking, “What the fuck is that?” as, of course, was the artist’s intention!

In the case of the image used for the German only "Something To Live For" single of the cheering and,simultaneously, commiserating football fans in the pub, Jimmy’s idea was to emblazon the football shirts with a list of the names of drugs that were used for the emergent ‘combination therapy’ treatment for HIV / AIDS. Replacing the usual commercial sponsorship of shirts, this list takes on the appearance of a team-sheet, furthering the metaphor that victory
is achievable through co-operation, both between individuals on the sporting field in securing their team’s victory and between drugs and victims in defeating the spectre of HIV / AIDS. Football fans’ passion for their respective teams give them ‘something to live for’  and, in parallel, new drug regimens now gave HIV / AIDS victims ‘something to live for’. In this sense, "Something To Live For" is a eulogy to the dawn of combination therapies that enabled a cautious optimism for a future that many victims really thought would not come to pass. Such drugs provided the chink of light that bookended an era of absolute
emotional desolation and physical dereliction. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the lyric is very specific to the precise historical moment in which it was written.

Musically, the song itself was perhaps the track that was most fully imbued with the character and style of Jimmy’s hitherto repertoire. In short, it sounded the most likely contender for a hit and the German licensee certainly thought so releasing it there on CD single and Maxi single formats in the June of 1999. That the song sustained a single week at #100 in the ‘Offizielle Deutsche Charts’ provides one of the only two chart positions for anything related to the whole "Manage The Damage" era.

But, interestingly, the choice of single for the UK market didn’t chart at all. ’Lay Down’ was, from a radio play perspective,  a provocative choice for a single with its implicit lyrical sexual suggestiveness. But, what a deliciously political act to deftly throw that single out there knowing full well that there existed a complete lack of parity between the acceptability of straight as opposed to queer desire. That deliberate choice of single, then, can be seen to have confirmed that the gatekeepers of such radio playlist decisions were still sat full square in their usual heteronormative stew of prejudice! Many of them furiously wanking under the frothy waterline no doubt!! Insisting on its release could clearly be seen as a politically motivated act of defiance
- throwing into sharp focus the inequity of the decision making process of what radio stations play. Confrontin the prejudiced  playlist committees with the bigotry of their skewed reasoning, the release of the single made explicit the graded valuations of human worth of gay as opposed to straight sensibilities that informed their repertoire choices! To them all,  the presence of such a single being released by a household name was a wonderfully challenging ‘fuck y’all’!  he songwords, joyously, leave little to the imagination;

I can’t help but emphasise
Heaven lies
Between your thighs
I prefer to be on my knees
It’s the only way to receive
To my lips you come liquified

And although there was a less blowjob suggestive alternative lyric, most subversively of all, it wasn’t used;

I do all I can just to please
You in every way
Just one look brings me to
my knees

In being so candid about the nature of sexual desire, Jimmy’s intent is to normalise gay sexuality. Such lyrical openness takes it out of the margins, humanises it, challenges the listener in the sense that if it does shock, tough shit, it shouldn’t!

This expanded three disc celebration of Jimmy’s first flush of artistic independence includes the B-sides to the associated singles as well as the very best of the wide diversity ofpromotional dance remixes. Jimmy’smore overt political activism and campaigning zeal was alive and kicking in the included B-side "I Believe" in its critical lyrical swipes at both corporate drug companies and the fake nature of democracy. But, it is, perhaps, "Moving On" of all the included B-sides that is especially emotive.  'It’s a resigned electro-lullaby that has echoes of the seminal Bronski Beat B-side "Memories", the timeless appeal
of which was employed to such stunning effect as the soundtrack to designer Christopher Bailey’s final fashion show as the chief creative office for the Burberry fashion house in early 2018. "Moving On" betrays a lyrical fatalism in that it is a hymn  to the possibility of a brighter future. Looking back from the stand point of the time of writing this essay in 2019, "Moving On",  seems an understated yet powerful track that was, perhaps, prophetic of the very much brighter future that did come to pass or Jimmy on many a personal and creative level in a career that has endured, thus far, for very nearly four decades!

Barney Ashton, 2019.
SFE Label Curator and
‘Andy Bell is Torsten’ playwright.


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