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Cola Boy was a side project of English dance band Saint Etienne, who were made up of keyboardists Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, together with vocalist Sarah Cracknell. This song came about as a result of Saint Etienne spending much of late 1990 doing personal appearances in clubs. Their keyboardist Bob Stanley recalled to Mojo
magazine November 2008 that hearing the same popular records everywhere they went, they, "realized they were all structured similarly: Nomad's "(I Wanna Give You) Devotion," C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat
," DJH Featuring Steffi, so we thought we'd record this cod European song. But we knew we couldn't release it as Saint Etienne. Cola Boy was chosen as it sounded like pidgin English, slightly wrong. Later we pretended it was someone Japanese doing a Euro dance track."
The threesome originally recorded this as a white label for dance shops. Stanley recalled to Mojo: "It was a period when you could drive around to record shops in London, give them 20 and see what might happen. It worked. We went to a party and heard (leading 1990s UK club DJ) Andy Weatherall playing it."
The song's success in clubs led to record company interest and the trio signed a one-off deal with Arista. However Sarah Cracknell was bound by another contract, so she suggested former Wham! backing singer Janey Lee Grace to replace her. Bob Stanley asked a keyboardist friend of his Andrew Midgley, who was working in a tax office at the time, to become Cola Boy's other public face. As a result of the song's success, Arista wanted a follow-up and "He Is Cola," which sampled Suzi Quatro's "Can The Can
" was recorded. However the single flopped and Saint Etienne folded their side-project.
The single rose to #8 in the UK charts- ironically Saint Etienne never achieved a Top 10 single themselves. The closest they have got to date was "He's on the Phone," which peaked at #11 in 1995.
Janey Lee Grace was presenting a BBC Radio London gospel show at the time she recorded this song. She has since become a regular co-presenter on BBC Radio 2's Steve Wright show and has written a book Imperfectly Natural Woman.
One could easily be misled, because of Janey Lee Grace's Wham! connections, that her public face partner in Cola Boy was Andrew Ridgley of the '80s pop duo. However a careful perusal of their names will glean that the cola boy was called Andrew MIDGLEY not Andrew RIDGLEY!
Bob Stanley recalled to Mojo that when Janey and Andrew appeared on BBC's Top of the Pops show, the Saint Etienne trio went along to get into the audience. He added: "They wouldn't let us in. We got to the gates- your name's not on the list."
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