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Whatever happened to... Babylon Zoo

Whatever happened to... Babylon Zoo

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Last Edited by: Jack Stovin April 22nd, 2011.

Hands up, who remembers Babylon Zoo? Just the three of you? Hmm...this could be harder than I thought.

Allow me to take you back, not too far but around 15 years in fact. Its 1996 and the world is addicted to Levi's jeans. A little known band called Linkin Park have just formed, the Nintendo 64 has just been released and cyclist Lance Armstrong has just been diagnosed with cancer. Meanwhile, the rest of the world are being hit by one of the finest rock songs of the decade; one which would go on to be sampled and remixed by the likes of Katie Melua, The Kovenant, DJ Hixxy and Cinema Bizarre!

When Babylon Zoo, fronted by Wolverhampton (UK)-born Jas Mann, first released their hugely successful debut single Spaceman, nobody really knew quite where the band had come from - ironic considering the song reached number in one in an incredible 23 countries! At the beginning of 1996 - January 21 to be exact - Spaceman hit the top of the charts, selling 418,000 copies in the first week of release - the fastest selling single of all time (back in 1996, of course!) Known for its heavily distorted guitars and metallic, robotic-sounding vocals, Spaceman became the song of the decade and many hoped, the track that would see Babylon Zoo really tighten their grip on the music world.

Picked up by Levi, the song was remixed by Arthur Baker, speeding up the vocals at the beginning and end of the track to showcase their new line of clothing - blimey! Levi's - remember when they were cool?! I wonder if they are still 'twisted to fit.....' The song was a revolution and so was Babylon Zoo.

As one of the very first rock bands to feature a Sikh frontman of Indian descent, Babylon Zoo were breaking all the boundaries in the music scene. And what a frontman Jas was - dressed in tassles, white cloaks and with his long black hair and dark shades, Jas Mann was the epitome of cool and everything a front man should have been in the mid-90s.

An album followed for the band the very same year and hot-on-the-heels of 'Spaceman fever,' The Boy With The X-ray Eyes was snapped up worldwide and peaked at number 6 in the UK albums chart - not bad for a band that had only just come onto the music world's radar! This was seen as the beginning of a magical career for Babylon Zoo.

Unfortunately it was also the end. The next two singles released, Animal Army and album title The Boy With The X-ray Eyes, reached disappointing UK chart positions of 17 and 32 respectively. The band found even less success overseas, failing to chart in many other countries. In fact, by the time 1999 came around and Babylon Zoo had released their fourth single - the suitably named All The Money's Gone, the UK Top 40 was eluded and even the biggest music fans across the globe were asking 'Babylon Who?'

All The Money's Gone was the first single to be released from the band's second album King Kong Groover; an album that was described as "a slickly produced Machiavellian plundering of pop classics" by NME magazine, who also said it was "a clumsy effort to resurrect a career that was a fluke in the first place. " It seems they were right!

Babylon Zoo preceded to disappear off the musical radar altogether. Their next release, a cover of Mott The Hoople's Honaloochie Boogie did not get clearance for release in the UK and was distributed only in France, where it failed to chart. As times changed, the band's fan base shrunk dramatically and when they released Love Lies Bleeding in 2000, it was done via the Internet only and very few copies were actually purchased. In 2005, Babylon Zoo announced that a new album would be release entitled Cold Clockwork Doll. Today, the world is still waiting for that release.

So whatever happened to Babylon Zoo? The band that only impacted the music world once and will perhaps forever be known as one-hit wonders? Front man Jas Mann disappeared onto the dreaded chore of Channel Four for the UK's Brass Eye series of documentaries where he presented an episode on drugs. He was asked to write the theme music for the channel's Speedway Grand Prix programme that was used from 2000-2001; how many speedway fans were in the UK had must have been in the minority!

Bassist Carrie Melbourne went on to launch a hugely successful solo career as a Christian Artist, working with Mike Oldfield and appearing on the David Letterman Show. She has recently released her new album Et Spiritu Sancti, a collection of spiritually inspiring songs mostly based on re-workings of traditional hymns and songs. Like Babylon Zoo, the other two members Dave Goodes and Darrin Mooney disappeared into obscurity.

Jas protested during the release of All The Money's Gone that the song was not a reflection of his career and in fact, he would have been crazy to have lost all the money he made from Spaceman. He bought into a record company, Hub Records and released three songs under the name of Mariachi State in 2003 before starting up his own company, Immortal Features in 2006 - a company that has very little presence or information on the Internet. It is rumoured that the firm dissolved - but then, that's just Internet gossip!

Today, Jas is CEO of Indomnia Media Inc, an animated media company that produces and distributes motion pictures, television, music and interactive games. It is said that he continues to live in Wolverhampton and was even spotted teaching at a nearby school. No, not music but in fact mathematics! Again, this is just rumours.

What is fact, is that Babylon Zoo were victims to the 'one hit wonder' plague that has cursed many artists to find instant fame and success. Not much of the rest of the band's material will have even been heard in one country, nevermind 23 but what they did give us was a song that has never been forgotten. Spaceman has since been used to promote Ant and Dec's 2006 film Alien Autopsy, CBeebies children's show Lunar Jim and Network Ten's advertisements for Battlestar Galactia - not to mention the theme tune to Estonia Pop Idol - suggesting that Spaceman is a song that was a fluke, as NME suggested, but unforgettable nonetheless.

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