The Escape Club

Topping the charts with their first single in America, England's Escape Club were hardly an overnight sensation, having been together for five years before their breakthrough. The group formed from the remnants of two groups, the Espressos and Mad Shadows, which had both been gaining momentum in London clubs before suffering personnel changes. Lead singer Trevor Steel and lead guitarist John Holliday were members of Mad Shadows, but when their drummer left, Espressos drummer Milan Zekavica was invited to join. By 1983, bass player Johnnie Christo had also been recruited by Mad Shadows and the group, renamed as Escape Club, began to play shows. Escape Club soon released a single, "Breathing," through a small independent label, but it had little commercial impact. As a live act, though, the group's growing popularity led to a record deal with EMI. Their debut album, White Fields, was recorded with noted producer Scott Litt, but, despite garnering slots supporting tours with China Crisis and the Alarm, the band again failed to make any inroads commercially. They reentered the studio (this time with producer Chris Kimsey) and chose to pursue a direction that would integrate more dance elements into their sound. When the record was rejected by EMI, Atlantic signed Escape Club, releasing their album Wild Wild West in 1988. The title track, aided by heavy play of the accompanying video on MTV, climbed the charts in the States, ultimately topping it that fall and going gold along with the album. They managed to notch another Top 40 single with "Shake for the Sheik," and a minor hit with "Walking Through Walls." In 1991, they released Dollars & Sex, opting for a more rock-oriented sound, but the lead single, "Call It Poison," which featured a sample from Deep Purple's Ian Gillan, stalled at number 44. More successful was the next track, "I'll Be There." Written in reaction to the death of a friend's wife, the song built momentum through listener requests and climbed into the Top Ten, earning Escape Club a second gold single. However, faced with heavy debts despite having two fairly successful records, the members of Escape Club drifted apart. Christo and Zekavica went on to pursue other projects, while Steel and Holliday became involved in writing and producing for others. Although they wouldn't record again as Escape Club, the band remained a known entity as '80s revivalists continued to embrace "Wild Wild West" into the new millennium. ~ Tom Demalon

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