Lost Bands Of The 80’s (1): Nu Shooz

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Despite its odd name, Nu Shooz hit the big time in 1986 with I Can’t Wait, a synth-pop song with an irresistible hook made of sampled voices (it was the dawn of the sampler era then. A sampler is an electronic instrument that can record any sound. The sound can be then played with a synthesizer).

The Beginnings

The name of the band means of course “New shoes.” According to founder member John Smith, the bizarre spelling is due to the band’s original bass player Jim Hogan. As a rocker, he thought it looked more “rock.” The name was chosen “in desperation because we needed something to put on the poster.”

Nu Shooz originally formed in 1979 as a 12 members lineup. They released their debut album, Can’t Turn It Off in 1982 with limited success. They continued on touring though, slimming down to seven members.

In 1984, Nu Shooz was reduced to a duet, comprising husband and wife John Smith and Valerie Day. They released the single I Can’t Wait in April 1985 on Poolside Records. The song was featured on the album Tha’s Right, released in March 1985.

Rise To Fame

Nu Shooz - I Can't Wait
Nu Shooz – I Can’t Wait

The song was remixed by Dutch DJ Peter Slaghuis and then got the attention of Atlantic Records, which signed the band to a contract in January 1986.

They were on their way to success: I Can’t Wait climbed to #2 on the R&B charts and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 1986 and spent 15 weeks in the Top 40. It also hit #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart earlier that year. Its follow-up, Point Of No Return, was remixed by Shep Pettibone and also topped the dance chart in September 1986; the song peaked at #28 on the Hot 100 and #35 on the R&B charts. Both singles were on the album Poolside, which charted on Billboard’s 200 chart at #27 and sold a half million copies in the U.S., garnering gold record RIAA certification on October 2, 1986.

In 1987, Nu Shooz was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category, based on its breakthrough success the previous year. The group lost to Bruce Hornsby & the Range.


Nu Shooz Now
Nu Shooz Now

They released another album in 1988, Told U So, that only reached #93 on the US charts.

The album Eat & Run is completed in 1992 but never released. The band then split up. Valerie Day continued her career as a session singer. She has recorded or performed with numerous artists, including pianist Michael Allen Harrison or African drummer Obo Addy.

In 2007, Smith and Day reformed the group as the Nu Shooz Orchestra, which featured a more cinematic approach. The band released an album, Pandora’s Box in 2010 along with a music video titled Spy Vs. Spy.

They released a new album, Kung Pao Kitchen, in 2012. They still continue to perform.

American hip hop artist Mann sampled I Can’t Wait in his song Buzzin’ in 2010.

Official Site: www.nushoozmusic.com

N&B & Color Photo: Nu Shooz Music
I Can’t Wait Single: Wikipedia


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