A London-based new wave group that managed to sustain a successful career in America for several years in the mid-'80s, the Fixx always flirted with the mainstream with their catchy, keyboard-driven pop.
Formed by college friends vocalist/keyboardist Cy Curnin and drummer Adam Woods in the early '80s, the pair advertised in the music press for additional members; the remaining members of the group -- guitarist Jamie West-Oram, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, and bassist Charlie Barret -- all responded to the ad. Taking the name the Portraits, the band recorded a single for Ariola Records, "Hazards in the Home," which failed to gather much attention. Within a year, the band had changed its name to the Fixx and recorded "Lost Planes," the single that led to a record contract with MCA.
The Fixx released their debut album, the Rupert Hine-produced Shuttered Room, in 1982. The record spawned two minor U.K. hits, "Stand or Fall" and "Red Skies," and spent a short time in the charts. In America, none of the singles were hits, yet the album stayed on the charts for nearly a year. After Shuttered Room, Barret left the group and was replaced by Dan K. Brown. Reach the Beach, released in 1983, established them as a hitmaking force in the U.S. The terse, pulsating "One Thing Leads to Another" became a number four hit, sending the album into the Top Ten. Reach the Beach would go platinum by the end of the year, launching two more Top 40 singles -- "Saved by Zero" and "Sign of Fire." Despite all of their American success, the Fixx failed to break back into the British charts with Reach the Beach; in fact, they never had another British hit in their career.
The Fixx returned in 1984 with Phantoms. While it performed well -- it peaked at number 19 and went gold -- it didn't match the success of Reach the Beach; after it launched the number 15 single "Are We Ourselves?" the record fell off the charts. Although their audience was shrinking, the Fixx kept their basic, synth-driven sound intact for 1986's Walkabout, which featured the hit "Secret Separation." After Walkabout, the band stopped working with producer Rupert Hine, which resulted in a harder, more guitar-oriented sound for 1988's Calm Animals. The album charted at number 72, but it spawned no hit singles. Ink (1991), their next album, didn't reverse their declining fortunes, even though they tried to update their sound with an emphasis on guitars and slick, dance-ready beats.
After the record failed to recapture their mainstream audience, the Fixx seemed to fade away before resurfacing in 1998 with Elemental, an album that found Brown replaced by bassist Chris Tate. A year later, they returned with 1011 Woodland, a collection of re-recordings of their greatest hits. Former Roxy Music and Adam & the Ants bassist Gary Tibbs would join the band for 2003's Want That Life. Five years later, Brown returned for a world tour and remained with group for the 2012 release Beautiful Friction. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi