Today is the 31st birthday of James Atkins, frontman for dance-rock band
EMF. Best known for their hit "Unbelievable," EMF pre-dated electronica's
mix of rock 'n' roll swagger with dance beats by about five years. Born and
raised in Cinderford, England, Atkins and his EMF bandmates -- guitarist Ian
Dench, keyboardist Derran "Derry" Brownson, bassist Zachary Foley and
drummer Mark Decloedt -- all met as a
result of frequenting the same clothing boutique in Cinderford. They
formed EMF (Epsom Mad Funkers or Ecstasy Mother Fuckers, depending on
whom you believe) in 1989 and were quickly associated with the exploding
rave scene in London and Manchester, England, even though they started out
as a straight-ahead rock band and added samples and loops as an afterthought
after picking up a cheap sampler/sequencer. Their debut, 1991's Schubert
Dip, hit #12 in the U.S., fueled to that position by their #1 hit,
"Unbelievable." A follow-up single, "Lies," also was a modest hit.
EMF followed the rock-flavored dance music of their debut with
Unexplained in 1992, a darker-sounding EP that many viewed as an
effort by the group to distance itself from its new-found fans. This
trend continued with 1992's Stigma and 1995's Cha Cha Cha
(which was never released in the U.S.), both of which didn't come close to
the success of the band's debut. EMF was dropped by EMI after Cha Cha
Cha failed to chart, and the group broke up soon thereafter.
Other birthdays: John Evans (Jethro Tull), 50; Milan Williams
(Commodores), 49; and Steve Turner (Mudhoney), 33.