Paul Young Biography

Paul Anthony Young, 17 January 1956, Luton, Bedfordshire, England. Prior to his major success as a solo artist, Young was a former member of Streetband, who made the UK charts in 1978 with the novelty record ‘Toast’. He was then part of the much-loved Q-Tips, a band that did much to preserve an interest in 60s soul and R&B. As the Q-Tips collapsed from exhaustion and lack of finance, Young signed as a solo artist with CBS Records. Following two flop singles (‘Iron Out The Rough Spots’ and ‘Love Of The Common People’), his smooth soul voice captured the public’s imagination with 1983’s superb chart-topping cover version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)’. The following No Parlez was a phenomenally triumphant debut, reaching number 1 in the UK and staying in the charts for well over two years. Now, having sold several million copies, this album remains his finest work. It was a blend of carefully chosen and brilliantly interpreted covers including ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (Joy Division), the aforementioned ‘Love Of The Common People’ (Four Preps / Nicky Thomas) and ‘Come Back And Stay’ (Jack Lee). After touring to support the album, Young experienced a recurring problem with his voice which would continue to plague his career. It was two years before he was able to record The Secret Of Association, but the quality of material was intact. This album also topped the UK chart and produced three top 10 singles, cover versions of Ann Peebles’ ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’ and Daryl Hall’s ‘Every Time You Go Away’, and ‘Everything Must Change’. ‘Every Time You Go Away’ provided Young with his US breakthrough, reaching the top of the Billboard singles chart in summer 1985. He appeared at Live Aid, duetting with Alison Moyet, although it was obvious that his voice was once again troublesome. Between Two Fires was a below-par album, although his fans still made it a UK Top 5 hit.

Little was heard from Young for over a year, and while it was assumed that his voice was continuing to cause him problems, the singer was merely re-assessing his life. He made an encouraging return singing Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream Its Over’ at the Nelson Mandela Concert at Wembley in 1988, after which Young went into hibernation until 1990; this time by his own admission he was ‘decorating his house’. He returned with the Top 5 album Other Voices and embarked on an accompanying tour. Once again the choice of material was tasteful and included cover versions of Free’s ‘Little Bit Of Love’ and Bobby Womack’s ‘Stop On By’, while his reading of the Chi-Lites’ ‘Oh Girl’ returned the singer to the US Top 10. The following year Young reached the UK Top 5, duetting with Italian singer Zucchero on ‘Senza Una Donna (Without A Woman)’. His was one of the better performances at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in May 1992.

Young seemed destined for continuing success during the 90s, having proved that even with a sparse recorded output his sizeable following remained loyal and patient. Although his voice lacked the power and bite of old he was able to inject passion and warmth into his studio albums. This was apparent on the 1993 hit ‘Now I Know What Made Otis Blue’ and his reading of several soul classics on Reflections, which demonstrated the area of music where he has the closest affinity. Versions of ‘Until You Come Back To Me’, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and ‘Reach Out, I’ll Be There’ highlighted a man who truly has soul even though his voice is leaving him. Following the relative commercial failure of his self-titled 1997 release, Young was dropped by EastWest Records. Two years later he embarked on the well-received Intimate tour, playing at small venues throughout the UK.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.