“State your peace tonight”: The Fixx critiqued hawkish Thatcheresque policies in “Stand or Fall”

By on April 11, 2019

“The Fixx are based in London, and their video, ‘Stand or Fall,’ makes a pointed comment on the wastefulness of war in any form,” says Night Flight Pat Prescott during her introduction to Night Flight’s look at “Politics in Music Videos,” a special “Take Off” episode which originally aired sometime in 1984, and you can now watch anytime you want on Night Flight Plus.

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If you’ve read Night Flight creator Stuart S. Shapiro’s recent book Identifi Yourself — where he reminisces about his time as “one of the go-to concert organizers from D.C. to Boston for the anti-war movement” — then you likely already know that Night Flight was born from the inextricable connection between art and politics.

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“Stand or Fall” was one of several singles from the British synth-powered angular modern rock band’s MCA Records debut album, Shuttered Rooms, released in the spring of 1982.

Thematically, the song was crafted as a protest tune borne out of the band’s harsh feelings toward British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher‘s hawkish military policies, particularly when it came to the subject of war.

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Blonde-tressed lead singer Cy Curnin never hesitated to point out in interviews, however, that the lyrics were actually penned by Jeannette-Thérèse Obstoj — the girlfriend of their record producer, Rupert Hine — who also directed this video as well.

Obstoj also directed the videos for the Fixx’s “One Thing Leads to Another,” “Are We Ourselves,” and “Less Cities” too, and she also wrote songs for Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Phillips and boyfriend/husband Rupert Hine (she died in 2015).

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We didn’t know about it at the time, but have since learned that beautiful white horse named “Harrow” was a circus performer who, when slapped on his butt by his trainer off-screen, was trained to instantly fall to the ground, although the band have said that what they remembered most about the video shoot — shot in bitter cold during February of 1982 — was that Harrow farted constantly.

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Ultimately, Harrow refused to perform the necessary task he’d been given and had to be pulled down to the ground with a rope, which is probably what led to the BBC banning the video from being shown in the UK, for its “cruelty to animals.”

We suspect that the song’s anti-war/anti-Thatcher message might have been another reason for the BBC ban as well.

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Shortly after the video was shot, in early April of ’82, Thatcher’s government dispatched he Royal Marines, the amphibious troops of the Royal Navy, to engage with Argentina’s navy and air force, who had invaded the Falkland Islands in a government-led military junta.

That conflict — which lasted 74 days, resulting in the deaths of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors and airmen — ended with the return of the Falkland Islands to British control.

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“Stand or Fall” became the Fixx’s first minor hit, landing outside the Top Forty in the UK Singles list (#54), and in the U.S., the single peaked at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100, although it did chart at #7 on the magazine’s Top Rock Tracks chart.

Read more about the Fixx below.

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The Fixx can be traced back to as early as 1974, when school chums Cy Curnin (vocals/guitar) and Adam Woods (drums/percussion) originally began as a duo called the Woods Band.

By 1978, while they were still in college, they were adding members to fill out their lineup, eventually ending up with Rupert Greenall (keyboards/synths) and Charlie Barratt (bass).

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Changing their name to the Portraits, they issued their first single, “Hazards In The Home,” on Ariola Records in 1980.

Within a year they were playing regularly on the South London club circuit, often appearing at the 101 Club, the Marquee, the Bridge House and other local music haunts.

By the end of 1980, they’d added lead guitarist James “Jamie” West-Oram and made the debut under a new moniker, the Fix, on the 101 Club’s compilation album with a live version of their song “Lost Planes.”

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The track was produced by Rubert Hine, who would continue to produce the band’s recordings after they’d signed with MCA Records by the end of ’81.

The label asked the band to add another “x” to their name, however, because they wanted to avoid evoking the idea of needle drug use among the band’s membership.

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“Stand or Fall” was one of two songs — “Red Skies” was the other — that the Fixx performed on the BBC’s “Riverside” TV program, promoting the release of Shuttered Room. We couldn’t find a clip of that performance, however, but here’s the band playing the song live at the Rainbow Music Hall in 1983:

The Fixx spent much of 1982 touring America, opening for both the Police and A Flock of Seagulls, with bassist Charlie Barratt departing the band (replaced by Alfie Agies for the tour, and more permanently by Dan K. Brown).

Shuttered Room stayed on the charts for nearly a year, but even more success came their way with subsequent albums — the multi-platinum selling Reach the Beach arrived in May of ’83 — and several MTV-powered Top Forty U.S. hits like “”One Thing Leads To Another” (#4 U.S.), “Saved By Zero” and “Sign of Fire.”

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The Fixx may have peaked with their second album, however, as the band failed to achieve the same commercial or radio success with their subsequent albums, particularly in England, where they never had another British hit during their career.

Watch Night Flight’s 1984 salute to “Politics in Music Videos” — which also features videos by John Lennon, Nena, U2 and Men at Work, among others — on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.