Transvision Vamp were a British alternative rock group. Formed in 1986 by Nick Christian Sayer and Wendy James the band enjoyed chart success in the late 1980s. James, the lead singer and focal-point of the group, attracted media attention with her sexually-charged and rebellious image.
The band's original lineup was James, Sayer, Dave Parsons (bass), Tex Axile (keyboards) and Pol Burton (drums). Parsons and Axile had both been in punk bands prior to joining the band: Parsons in The Partisans, and Axile in various bands, most notably The Moors Murderers and X-Ray Spex offshoot Agent Orange.
The band were signed by MCA in December 1986 and released their first single "Revolution Baby" the following year. It was considered a flop by their label so they released a cover single of the Holly and the Italians' song "Tell That Girl to Shut Up" in April 1988, but it only reached number forty-five on the UK Singles Chart. It did however, receive international attention in Australia where it charted at number forty-four. The song also made its way over to the US where it managed to chart at number eighty-seven on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. A month later the follow-up single "I Want Your Love", with its pop/punk crossover appeal, entered the top ten, peaking at number five in the UK. The song was a major success in Australia where it also made the top ten, peaking at number seven and spent a total of twenty-two weeks in the top fifty. Moderate success was achieved with the third single, the re-released "Revolution Baby" which peaked at number thirty in the UK and number twenty-four in Australia. Fourth single "Sister Moon" had minor success reaching number forty-one on the UK Singles Chart, but proved to be unsuccessful in Australia, only peaking at number ninety-one. The band went on to release the hit album Pop Art in October 1988. It was a major success in the UK where it stayed on the album chart for thirty-two weeks, peaking at number four. The album was equally successful in Australia. It peaked at number thirteen and remained in the top fifty for forty-five weeks, eventually becoming the twenty-fifth most successful album of the year 1989.
1989 proved to be the band's most successful year, with the release of the single "Baby I Don't Care". The song peaked at number three in both the UK and Australia, making it the band's most successful single in both countries. In Australia, the song spent twenty weeks in the top fifty and became the twenty-fifth best selling single of the year. The hit album Velveteen was released shortly after and entered the UK Albums Chart at number one and stayed on the chart for twenty-six weeks. Velveteen also reached number two on the Australian Albums Chart, spent sixteen weeks in the top fifty and became the thirty-ninth best selling album of the year. The second single from Velveteen was "The Only One", which peaked at number fifteen in the UK and number thirty in Australia. The next two singles, "Landslide of Love" and "Born to Be Sold" were fairly successful in the UK peaking at number fourteen and twenty-two respectively. In Australia however, they both failed to make the top fifty, with "Landslide of Love" peaking at number sixty-five, and "Born to Be Sold" at number ninety-seven.
In June 1991 MCA refused to release Transvision Vamp's third album Little Magnets Versus the Bubble of Babble in the UK, reportedly disliking the mellower direction of the music and after two heavily-promoted singles stalled early. In Australia, the album was released and it peaked at number twenty-five, spending nine weeks on the ARIA Albums Chart. The first single "(I Just Wanna) B with U" made the top twenty in Australia, peaking at number sixteen, while in the UK, the song peaked at number thirty. Second single "If Looks Could Kill" was not successful, peaking at number forty one in the UK and fifty-one in Australia. It proved to be the band's last single release before their split. On the third album, Wendy James has stated "...it came out in America. But then we decided to split up, during which time the English record label had said they weren't convinced about this record, we're going to hold off on it and see how well it does in other countries first. By the time they were ready to release it, we'd already decided to split up, and so it never came out."
The group officially disbanded in February 1992 following a statement from MCA. Wendy James launched her solo career in 1993 with the Elvis Costello-written album Now Ain't the Time for Your Tears. It was not a commercial success, only peaking at number forty-three in the UK The lead single "The Nameless One" reached number thirty-four on the UK singles chart, while second single "London's Brilliant" signalled the failure of the album by only peaking at number sixty-two. MCA and James parted company in August 1993. James later relaunched her solo career in 2004 as an independent.