Say It's Your Birthday: Modern English's Robert Grey

Robert Grey, who, coincidentally, is celebrating his

birthday today, fronted the pop band Modern English, one of the most successful

groups to come out of the early '80s British post-punk pop/soul movement.

Although the band never achieved widespread success, it's single "I'll Melt

With You" (from 1983's After the Snow) still stands up today as a great

pop song, with its brooding tone, pounding drums, and subtle emotional shifts.

"I'll Melt With You" came out two years after the introduction of MTV, and its

obliquely shaded and simultaneously intense and relaxed video became a staple

of early MTV programming. Formed in 1979, none of Modern English's five albums

charted particularly well‹After the Snow, which reached #70 on

Billboard's Top 100 albums in '83, was their best selling album, and the others

either failed to chart or hovered in the low 90s. People whose familiarity with

Modern English consists only of "I'll Melt With You" will be surprised by the

sound of their debut album, 1980's Mesh and Lace, which was a

pessimistic, dour effort with shades of Joy Division. In 1986, after Stop

Start failed to chart, the band broke up (by this time Grey was one of two

original members that remained in the band); in 1990, they regrouped for

Pillow Lips. When that album also failed to chart, the band called it

quits for good. Other birthdays: Lynval Golding of the two-tone ground

breaking group The Specials (1951); The Tornadoes Heinz Burt (1942),

Marmalade's Alan Whitehead (1946) and former Japan bassist Mick Karn (1958).

--Seth Mnookin