The sun is out, there’s just enough breeze in the air to let your hair flow as you roll back the car sunroof and cruise just under the speed limit singing along to the Lighthouse Family’s 1995 (and 1996 re-issue) hit Ocean Drive.
Is that Monterey in the distance? And along the coast the San Francisco Bridge?
Well actually no. The radio playable hit by the easy sounding duo who notched up an enviable succession of hits between 1995 and 2002 is actually named after the drive from Roker Pier in Sunderland to Ocean Road in South Shields.
Sorry if that’s as disappointing as discovering Strawberry Fields aren’t really forever or the Yellow Brick Road has been pedestrianized – but to anyone not from Sunderland or South Shields it could still sound quite romantic.
This Ocean Drive (not the Duke Dumont song of the same name) was written and composed by keyboard-player Paul Tucker and sung by Tunde Baiyewu – aka the British duo Lighthouse Family for their debut album of the same name and was released as its second single.
Produced by Mike Peden, in October 1995 it reached the top 40 in the UK Singles Chart peaking at 36. It was later re-released, slightly remixed and with new vocals in May 1996 and this time reached number 11.
Their debut hit Lifted had a similar double life first peaking at 61 in 1995 then returning in February 1996 when it managed a number 4 spot.
Vocalist Baiyewu and keyboardist Paul Tucker formed the act in 1993 in Newcastle upon Tyne after meeting while studying at university and both working at the same bar. Their 1995 debut album Ocean Drive eventually sold more than 1.8 million copies in the UK alone and established them as a popular easy listening duo throughout Europe.
Familiarity bred content because their songs Lifted, Lost In Space, Ocean Drive, Raincloud and High all have a similar sound.
With their last singles chart entry, Happy, stalling at 51 in July 2002, Lighthouse Family scaled down their appearances in early 2003 because of what they called a “heavy promotional schedule” which led to both men pursuing individual projects.
In November 2010, the duo announced they were reforming Lighthouse Family and did a full UK and Ireland tour, in February and March 2011. It was the first performance of Lighthouse Family in eight years.
The duo had planned to release a new album called Blue Sky in Your Head on 3 May 2019, introduced by the single, My Salvation, on March 21. However, the album release has now been delayed until the 5 July 2019. It will be the duo’s first album in 18 years.
They have now also announced a multi-date UK tour commencing in November 2019.
As for Ocean Drive, lyrically it’s a little darker than its feelgood rhythm sounds. It might start out as: “Say it’s true, pink and blue
I can share your situation
Keeping hold on our emotions,
They will only make us cry
And you go, I know, but you know
It ain’t so serious anyway
When the clouds arrive we’ll live on Ocean Drive.”
The singer may reassuringly suggest: “Don’t know why you’re so blue,
The sun’s gonna shine on everything you do
And the sky is so blue
Sun’s gonna shine on everything you do.”
Then again: “He left you black and blue
Without a word of explanation
And he took your love for granted and
He left you high and dry.”
Not to worry (easy for him to say!), after all: “But you know someday,
Well you’ll wonder what you see in him anyway
When that day arrives we’ll live on Ocean Drive.”
Cheer up (hah!): “Don’t know why you’re so blue
Sun’s gonna shine on everything you do
and the sky is so blue
The sun’s gonna shine on everything you do.”
The pair had been nothing if not patient. After meeting via barwork, Baiyewu and Tucker recorded demos of a number of songs Tucker had written during the late 1980s and among them a demo of Ocean Drive attracted the attention of Polydor Records A&R director Colin Barlow, who, in 1993, signed the band to a six-month development deal. In the wake of an economic recession British record labels were primarily signing artists with the goal of short-term profit. In contrast, Barlow said he expected that the duo could last for “ten years or more”. At the time of the launch of the first album, Polydor’s investments in them totalled ₤250,000. Peden’s hiring as producer was described as a “big spend”, and music videos were filmed overseas in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The lead single, Lifted, received airplay on BBC Radio One as well as a number of BBC Local Radio stations, and The Chart Show aired its music video. But it didn’t translate to much single or album sales until it was re-released in 1996 and reached the top five with the album Ocean Drive (which had been deleted) rebounding to six-times platinum by the end of 1997, spending 154 weeks on the UK album chart in the process. Its follow-up Postcards from Heaven achieved similar sales status in 1997.
|27 May 1996