Mania – The Lucy Show (1986)

Mania album cover
Mania album cover

The English music that once passed for alternative had suddenly become pop material in America, thanks in no small part to MTV. While the David Bowies and Duran Durans of the airwaves had lost their underground street cred, there were new English bands that were sharing the airwaves on American college stations with the likes of REM and the Replacements.

Many of these bands on the tail end of the Second British Invasion were more likely to wield guitars than keyboards. They also had much in common with the jangle pop trends that were coming out of America.

One of those bands was The Lucy Show. Despite their English heritage, they were indebted to REM for their initial exposure to the American market. They in fact became bigger here than in their native England (thanks in part  to being dropped from their record company back home).

After touring with REM, the Lucy Show followed up their debut with Mania on a new label. The reinvigorated band had a bright sound compared to the dark guitar music on their debut. They had gone from a mix of REM meets the Cure to a straight up jangle rock band in the mode of Mitch Easter, but with an English accent. Not that the “Southern” American bands like Let’s Active and Tommy Keene didn’t already sound English anyway.

Mania would eventually surpass their debut album with two hits. The perky MTV hit “Million Things” and “New Message”, would both become big college radio hits. Interestingly the makeover of The Lucy show corresponded with the rise of a similar sounding American band The Connells. Both bands featured a slightly different take on the same ’60s power pop rock that Mitch Easter and Don Dixon made so popular in the first half of the ’80s.

While Mania was popular and full of great songs beyond its two hit singles like “Shame” and “Sojourn’s End”, the positive reviews and modest sales were not enough to save them from their record company’s bankruptcy. Despite a strong collection of songs that would have made anyone from The Church to Let’s Active jealous, The Lucy Show  never recorded a follow up during what looked like the peak of their popularity. Before long The band finally called it quits. A compilation album of basically their two studio recordings was released in 2011.


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