Here’s one of those songs that I absolutely did not like when it was originally released, but grew to enjoy and love. Manchester, England is the birthplace to many great bands and artists like New Order, The Smiths, Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Buzzcocks, The Chameleons, Happy Mondays, The Outfield, Tim Booth, Electronic, The Stone Roses, David Gray, Oasis, Bee Gees, Simply Red and Joy Division. Manchester, England is also the birthplace to the Brit-Pop band, Swing Out Sister (fashion designer-turned-vocalist Corinne Drewery, keyboardist Andy Connell, and at first, drummer Martin Jackson).
Swing Out Sister’s debut album, IT’S BETTER TO TRAVEL, was released this week in 1987, and was the band’s first of nine studio albums released through 2008. And, from that album, was the band’s breakout song, titled appropriately enough, “Breakout.”
Released in early October 1986, “Breakout” was a refreshing Brit-Pop treat with Jazz influences, unlike anything else on radio at that time. A month later, “Breakout” reached its No. 4 peak in the U.K., but it took awhile longer for the single to break out here in the U.S., debuting on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-August 1987.
“Breakout” went on to spend two weeks at No. 6 on the Hot 100 in November 1987, a whole year after its peak on the U.K. singles chart. “Breakout” stuck around through January 1988, nearly spending a half-year on the Hot 100, ending up as one of the biggest hits of 1987, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (Swing Out Sister was also nominated for Best New Artist).
Around the globe, “Breakout” also reached No. 4 in New Zealand, No. 6 in Ireland, the Top 20 in Australia, Belgium and Canada, and the Top 30 in Germany and Holland.
The follow-up single to “Breakout,” the lovely “Twilight World,” was already climbing the Hot 100 when “Breakout” was still on the chart, and peaked at No. 31 in late February 1988. The band would make two more appearances on the Hot 100 – “Waiting Game” (No. 86, 1989) and “Am I The Same Girl” (No. 42, 1992).
In 2014, Swing Out Sister started a crowdfunding project through PledgeMusic titled “A Moveable Feast,” saying, “We’re making a thing, don’t know what it is yet. Come along for the ride and we’ll find out together.” The result was the album, RUSHES, released in 2015, which was sent out to those who had pledged.
Whenever I think of Swing Out Sister, I think of their charismatic style, with equal parts Pop and Jazz, and a hint of something I wasn’t hearing anywhere else. “Twilight World” remains my favorite song by them, but I’ll never forget about their big “Breakout…”