July 1989: Fine Young Cannibals Hit #1 in America with "Good Thing"

NETHERLANDS - 1st JANUARY: English pop group Fine Young Cannibals posed in the Netherlands in 1991. From left to right: David Steele, Roland Gift and Andy Cox. (Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns)
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(Michel Linssen/Redferns)

As the Totally '80s were winding to a close, the UK band Fine Young Cannibals were on fire. Comprised of David Steele and Andy Cox from band the (English) Beat, with heartthrob Roland Gift on vocals, the group's second album, The Raw & the Cooked, was a worldwide smash. The album topped the charts around the world, including America.

“We all shared a love of the Stax sound in the Cannibals. That was the thing that brought us together and Otis was probably my favourite singer, and he still is, so those influences will definitely be there," Gift explained of the band's sophisticated soul-pop sound in 2017. "It’s funny, I used to have a neighbor, this woman who lived next door, and she and I didn’t really get on, she’d always be getting at me. But one day she gave me three records, Otis Blue, Otis Sings Soul Ballads and a Greatest Hits of Otis Redding. I’d heard him, when I was a kid – my sister was a fan – and to say it changed my life would be a bit dramatic, but it did have an effect on my musical development.”

Two singles from the album hit #1 in America: "She Drives Me Crazy," and the follow-up, "Good Thing," which topped the Hot 100 for the week of July 8, 1989. The song would be knocked off the top spot by fellow UK act, Simply Red and "If You Don't Know Me By Now," on the following chart.

The band and song featured in the 1987 comedy, Tin Men, starring Richard Dreyfus and Danny DeVito. With the film set in 1963 Baltimore, Fine Young Cannibals were cast as the local nightclub act.

The "Good Thing" music video featured UK scooter clubs cruising the streets of London. Given the tune's popularity, the band was inundated with sponsorship requests, including one from Honda that made band member David Steele just laugh: "The worst thing was they wanted us to remake the 'Good Thing' video with Hondas instead of Vespas," David Steele chucked to Q magazine in 1990. "I used to hang out with scooter kids, and to them the biggest joke in the whole world was the Honda scooter."

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