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About The Maisonettes

The Maisonettes were an odd one-hit band of the early '80s, the oddness lying not so much in their hit as their combination of maverick indie label beginnings with a semi-manufactured image that some indie purists might find crass. Their hit, "Heartache Avenue," entered the U.K. charts in late 1982 and rose all the way up to number seven. Like most of the music they'd record over the next year or two, it was fairly mainstream pop/rock with period early-'80s synthesizer-abetted production and a notable (but not overwhelming) '60s soul-pop influence, with a particularly audible debt to Motown. The song was discovered by David Virr in a pile of demo tapes in his office, and had been recorded in Birmingham by singer Lol Mason, guitarist Mark Tibenham, and session drummer Nick Parry. Virr decided to put it out on his own label, which he named Ready, Steady, Go! To fill out the band, two teenage models, Denise Ward and Elaine Williams, were recruited as backup singers (though "Heartache Avenue" had been recorded with entirely different women session vocalists). As it turned out, however, Ward and Williams couldn't harmonize well enough to sing with the band live or in the studio, though by the time this was decided, they'd already appeared often with the group in media photos and miming on television. They were replaced by two more capable young women singers, but by this time Ward and Williams were well known to the public, and the Maisonettes' sales and career evidently suffered with the personnel change. The Maisonettes never did get to the chart again, though they released an album in 1983 and a few more singles. Their career is summarized by the 2004 CD reissue Heartache Avenue: The Very Best of the Maisonettes, a 19-track set that included some previously unreleased material. ~ Richie Unterberger

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