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Hippychick

by

Soho



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Soho were a collective made up of core members guitarist/songwriter Tim London (real name Timothy Brinkhurst), his girlfriend, Jacqueline Cuff, and her identical twin sister, Pauline. In 1987 the Cuff sisters resigned their jobs as psychiatric nurses to commit themselves fully to singing in the band. Tim London told us what this song is about: "Hippychick was written as a short blues based pop song, written from the perspective of a young woman arrested by her boyfriend (who is a policeman) on a demonstration. She is basically telling him it's over, because, as a cop, he supports an establishment she wants to get rid of. And if that sounds a bit pretentious now then it probably sounded less pretentious in the late '80s when it was written, when young people in the UK had been politicized by the very real threat of nuclear war, the miners strike, (which was practically a small scale war between the massed ranks of government forces - including the army, and the miners and their supporters in 1984), the anti-apartheid movement (against the evil fascists who controlled South Africa back then) and the defiance against the much hated Poll Tax."
The song opens with a sample of the opening guitar riff from The Smiths' recording of "How Soon Is Now." London explains: "Dukey D, Soho's drummer and programmer, sampled the break from a 7 inch single I had given him of The Smith's 'How Soon Is Now,' a one bar break he would trigger at the odd gig as a wind up for the rabid Smiths fans we often encountered. He discovered the break went well with a 'Soul To Soul' beat, a rhythm made famous by the UK soul/funk/hip hop outfit of the same name, who had sampled it, in slightly different variations from several different old soul or funk records. This beat was later picked up by the so called 'baggy' movement in the UK and used on a few tracks as it was good to hang a more traditional rock structure on, as the beat was mid-paced but sounded nervy and energised because of the slight shuffle and skip to the bass drum and snare pattern, so it fitted in to the more adventurous DJs sets which were dominated by acid house in the very late 80s.

Contrary to rumour, The Smiths didn't sue Soho - they didn't need to as Johnny Marr, The Smiths guitarist, was happy to receive 25% of the song's royalties. The 'Hippychick' riff was originally recorded by Bo Diddley (on a track called 'Hey Mona') but Marr ripped off the Rolling Stones' version of the song, although neither were credited on The Smiths' version.

Eventually the track was recorded, then remixed with some extra breaks by DJ Graham Dove (including a shuffling percussion break that made it irresistible to dance to) and an instrumental version was also mixed, a happy accident when a break from UK Asian singer Najma was triggered randomly over the top of the drums and bass, making the whole thing sound very trippy. This was the version that had an impact at the Balearic clubs on the Med in 1990 amongst the more hard core UK ravers, still in acid house mode. The DJs brought the track back to the UK, flipped the 12 inch to the A side and started playing the proper version.

Hippychick moved into the lower reaches of the charts, although it hit #1 in most of the general dance charts at the time. A woman at Savage/Tam Tam, our record company at the time, sent a hundred copies to various radio stations in the USA, including one to a big station in Houston, Texas, where a DJ played it once and had such a good response from listeners, he played it again, eventually being inundated with requests and, over a couple of weeks Hippychick became a big hit in, first Houston, then Texas, until it had spread around the States. At that time, The Smiths were a fairly unknown group in America, beloved mainly by Anglophiles. Hippychick, with its bizarrely UK-centric lyrics was an unlikely hit, but it eventually sold the best part of a million, at the time outselling Deee-Lite's 'Groove Is in the Heart' which was #1 (due to the charts depending on radio-play, not sales, in those days in the USA) and often being lumped in with the groovy New Yorker's single as another kooky, almost new agey-hippy thing, when it's message was something far tougher.

The record was re-released in the UK and became a hit. We played Top Of The Pops just as the first Gulf War was kicking off, despite being told we wouldn't be allowed on unless we removed an anti-war sticker (on my guitar) and singers Jacqui and Pauline's dresses, which featured huge CND peace signs. The producers relented and, remarkably we were invited back again the following week when J & P wore dresses with huge 'censored' signs. Small statements, but satisfying when you consider the BBC forced Massive Attack to remove the 'Attack' from their name before they would allow their music to be played and when they had a list of banned songs, including 'Boom Bang a Bang' by Lulu...

All of which is a lot to write about a one hit wonder, but Hippychick remains an unusual hit, from an unusual pop group who still exist and who are still very proud of the song."
Soho has a long and often misunderstood history. London explains:
"Soho's first release was a limited edition flexidisc of 'Spend Some Time/Black Is Black' (as reviewed by Steven Wells in the NME). Soho were eventually signed to HEDD/Virgin Records. Of the first three albums recorded by Soho, two have been released, one of which (Noise) has been disowned by the group, the other (Original Noise) is considered by the group to be their proper debut. HEDD (a subsidiary label set up by Virgin to capitalise on the growth of 'proper' indie labels in the mid to late eighties) collapsed due to financial mismanagement (the accountant stole the money!). Consequently, Soho ended up on Virgin (because of a contractual clause) where they were not considered part of the official roster and confused with Soul To Soul, another UK group with black members.

Soho escaped from Virgin and signed with independent label Savage/Tam Tam in 1989. Their first release on Savage/Tam Tam was 'Boy,' with a remix by Youth (bass player with Killing Joke). 'Hippychick' followed.

Soho recorded two albums for Savage/Tam Tam (Goddess and Thug) before the label suddenly closed UK operations and moved to the USA where they eventually shut down after court cases involving David Bowie and claims for missing payments.

After recording two more self-financed albums Soho were signed to Magnet/Warners by Mark Dean ('the man who discovered Wham') but managed to escape this deal after the label refused to release the albums they had bought for eighteen months. One of the albums, Yard, has finally been released in 2009.

Soho actually recorded nine albums in total. Most of the albums are now available online (iTunes/Amazon etc) in the UK."
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Comments (1):

This song was featured in an eppisode of Beverly Hills 90210, don't remember the specific epp but it was when Brenda, Donna and Kelly were at the Walsh's helping Brend get ready for a date. With Dylan? I am not 100% sure. LOVE this song.
- Betj, Lima, OH
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