Jimmy Somerville to reissue debut solo album Read My Lips
By Classic Pop | June 15, 2023
Jimmy Somerville’s debut solo album Read My Lips will be re-issued by London Records in a variety of formats and featuring rarities and new remixes on 1 September 2023. It’s available to pre-order here.
Originally released in 1989, Read My Lips garnered Gold status, with three UK Top 30 hits and a Top 5 Hit for Jimmy’s version of Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real). As frontman for Bronski Beat and later with The Communards, in five short years Jimmy had become internationally renowned to the tune of over five million album sales, his music recognised worldwide for its themes of celebration, protest and advocacy.
By the end of the decade, Jimmy focus had turned full beam to the HIV crisis of the time. As writer and activist Paul Burston explains in his new sleeve notes for the album: “Five years have passed since Smalltown Boy. Jimmy has spent much of that time in New York, where he’s seen the devastation of AIDS first hand. He’s lost friends and lovers. In his own words, Smalltown Boy was “much more subtle, emotional, a more considerate plea, whereas Read My Lips was like, ‘This time the gloves are off’.”
The title Read My Lips was a phrase adopted by NYC queer collective Gran Fury, an affiliate of ACT UP, a platform Jimmy was a committed member of. Members of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) – a political group working to end the AIDs crisis – regularly risked arrest as they stormed office buildings, blocked traffic “united in anger” at the lack of understanding and support for AIDS sufferers.
In the lead up to and during the album’s campaign Jimmy and his ACT UP T-shirt were ubiquitous, from his ‘mainstream’ Top of The Pops performances and participation in Band Aid II, through to the World AIDS Day demonstration where he and his cohorts were chained across Westminster Bridge, a forced sit in at the Australian Consulate (for which he was arrested) and pressing an ACT-UP T-shirt into the hands of then French President Chirac of France.
At a time when the British media were hellbent on demonizing the lives of the LGBT community Jimmy’s response was to create an album of love songs for gay men – “I refused to let the media dehumanise us.”
Read My Lips is re-issued as a single LP (the original 10 track album on blue vinyl) and as a deluxe double LP on transparent vinyl with remixes from William Orbit, AMYL and B-sides and rarities such as From This Moment On (from Red, Hot + Blue) and I Believe In Love (with Arthur Baker and The Beat Disciples). The double CD version contains further remixes from Gerd Janson and Arpeggius; as well as unreleased demos, B-Sides and rarities.
To celebrate the upcoming release of the expanded and remastered versions of Read My Lips, ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ is revisited by esteemed Running back label head Gerd Janson, who gives the track a thrusting, propulsive re-rub. Listen to it here.
Read My Lips, says Burston, “isn’t merely a time capsule or an exercise in nostalgia. It’s both of its time and timeless. Listening to it again now, I’m struck not just by the memories it evokes but also by the myriad of emotions it stirs up in the listener – defiance, joy, sadness and, yes, anger. They’re all there in Jimmy’s voice – one of the most distinctive in the history of pop.”