(From Sounds, UK music paper, 23 June 1984.)
BRILLIANT IS a name you may well have heard before -after all, it's a name that's been knocking around for a couple of years, harbouring a succession of refugee musicians.
Duelling bassists Youth and Stephan started the ball rolling in early 1982, to be joined a year later by percussionist Chester and singer June. In their various incarnations two singles, 'Push' and 'Colours', have been released but the band's history has been a saga of false starts and frustration.
Youth: "It's just like we've had to start all over again, but with the same basic idea."
They have a new agency, new management, a new line-up and a new label in the shape of Food. The big labels nibbled but were reluctant to bite and it was Food who were prepared to put their money where other people's mouths were.
The initial steps having been taken by munching supremo and ex-Teardrop Explodes man Dave Balfe's new venture, Brilliant have now lined up a major distribution deal, through WEA.
The Chaz Jankel production of 'Soul Murder' has rapidly established them in a dance-class of their own on record, a reputation they intend to underline with an album of funk for all the family, to be recorded sometime later this summer after a short stint in America playing the New York club circuit.
And the single has been well received in the States.
Youth: "Sometimes we get more feedback from America than we do over here. The latest record's being played a lot on the East coast -even Milwaukee!"
Chester: "Well, it's a dance record, isn't it? If you can't dance to 'Soul Murder', you can't dance to anything!"
The debut of the new-Iook line-up at the Venue earlier this month hinted strongly at what Brilliant are capable of. After a shaky opening they got into something approaching top gear as exemplified by the animated antics of drummer Pedro.
"He's very emotional - he's Mexican," explains Youth. To emphasise the point the Latin exploded into a lively impersonation of a jumping bean.
How come two basses? Stephan: "It's a good formula -James Brown, Miles Davis, they both did it, why not Brilliant?"
Youth: "The bass is a much more prominent instrument these days. I don't feel it's any different to having two drummers or two guitarists in a band."
There's not been too much about Brilliant in the music papers for a while -- after an initial splutter they seemed to sink without trace -- do they consider that they've been unfairly treated by the media?
Stephan: "We've had a terrible response from the press. For some obscure reason they seem to hate us."
Youth: "I've generally got a bad reputation with the press anyway."
But the man is a genuinely friendly individual (honest!) with a house full of cats as testimony to his cuddly nature.
June describes Youth as "a lovely Teddy Bear with a Teddy Bear face" -surely this is no way to talk about somebody who is supposedly a mean man of rock.
Youth: "I don't know if I like being described as a Teddy Bear, actually."
But there's a distinct lack of conviction in his voice, for , like it or not, underneath it all, he's a real cutey.
Youth apart, Brilliant consists of Chester the intense Geordie; Stephan, the garrulous Gaul; and the charming June, she of the (keep it quiet) Hampstead upbringing. With the addition of Jimmy, Brendan and Pedro, the group has stabilised as a seven-piece collection of individual personalities with strictly no stars permitted.
So, maybe it's time the press buried the hatchet, no more verbal assaults on the band who save their aggression for the stage. What other people are doing in the studio, Brilliant intend to perform live.
Youth: "I think people are scared. After being in a studio, where everything is perfect and you can do edits etcetera, they think 'Oh God, we can't go back to playing live now, because it can't possibly be anywhere near as good'. But I reckon it's better in a way because you get that instant feel live."
But aren't they just the teeny-weeniest bit afraid of laying themselves on the line live? Things can go wrong, as was the case at the Venue.
Youth: "We've got nothing to hide -we're not that embarrassed by tiny mistakes. Some bands are so slick nowadays! "
Brilliant are determined to reinstate the human element, unfashionable in an age which installs the machine as king.
Youth: "These bands take themselves so seriously, when all they're doing is making bits of plastic. It all seems so trivial in comparison with people getting killed in the Lebanon -that's serious."
Well said that man.
Brilliant know what they're about, Dance Music as Therapy. God speed June and her boys, for it's well within their scope to live up to their name -Fab!