Steve Jolley & Tony Swain

Steve Jolley & Tony Swain
Steve Jolley (b. 1950) (left) & Tony Swain (b. 1952)

The sleazy tribal electro camp of the group Imagination in the 1980s was slightly shocking for some when it first emerged. Through album after album the goods were delivered: Body Talk (1981), In the Heat of the Night (1982) and Scandalous (1983). Favourite tracks: Body Talk, Flashback, In the Heat of the Night, Music & Lights, Just an Illusion, Changes, New Dimension, State of Love and Looking at Midnight. You’ll recognise the album Scandalous: the group dress themselves in fetching bin liners. Later I saw video of Imagination playing live: they’re proficient musicians.

Based at Red Bus Studios, 34 Salisbury Street, Marylebone London, behind the trio were producers Steve Jolley and Tony Swain, who went on to build Alison Moyet’s album Alf (1984), also terrific (listen to the song Invisible).

Buying the ‘Best of Imagination’ CD after wearing down my vinyl, I found that only 7″ edits had been included. This taught me the extent to which Jolley & Swain’s production depended on repetition and build-up, to entrance the listener through longer mixes. The analogue synth bass lines are wonderful. Check out their own album: Backtrackin’ which is more traditional, but still sweet.

I learned later that like me, both Tony Swain and Daniel Miller began working at the former ATV studios in Elstree.

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