|Also known as The Enjoyment Club|
Labels Mercury, Virgin, MCA
Genres New wave, Synth-pop
|Years active 1980–1985|
Active until 1985
|Associated acts Berlin Blondes, Simple Minds|
Past members Paul Wishart David Murdoch Douglas Muirden Willie Gardner David Wilde Brian McGee
Origin Glasgow, United Kingdom (1980)
Albums Building Beauty, More Beauty: B-Sides and Rarities
Members Brian McGee, David Rudden, Willie Gardner, Paul Wishart, Douglas Muirden, David Murdoch
Similar JSD Band, Eclection, Help Yourself, Cado Belle, Eggs over Easy
Endgames was a Scottish pop band, who had some success in the 1980s with singles such as "First-Last-For Everything", "Waiting for Another Chance", and "Ecstasy". Not being among the power players in their day, they are still a charming reminder of the new wave heyday.
Origins and early years
Endgames were formed in Glasgow by David Rudden. He was a bass player in the "futurist" band Berlin Blondes. In late 1979 they were signed to EMI Records and moved to London, while Rudden left/was sacked and went on to form his own group, becoming its vocalist and bassist. He was joined by his school friends Paul Wishart (Guitar, Saxophone, Flute) and David Murdoch (Keyboards), while for rhythmic backbone a rhythm box was used (in parallel with Berlin Blondes).
The new band started to gig clubs and colleges in Glasgow - one of their first public appearances being a support act to Simple Minds in late December 1979, for which they received a rather lukewarm mention in the "New Musical Express" ("Pleasant rather disturbing, End Game [sic!] have some good, if half-formed ideas... but at least they don't sound like the Berlin Blondes"). During the second half of 1980, Endgames started playing in London area. By that time they were joined by the drummer David Wilde. Their early style is represented on several various artists compilations released during 1980–1981: Beyond the Groove and Live Letters (both on Polydor Records), which documented bands that played in the well-known South London club 101; and Heat from the Street (on Charisma). They also attracted interest of the famous BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel and recorded their first session for his show (which was broadcast in March 1981). Recordings were done not only in London, but in Glasgow, too - for example, Endgames were the last band to do a recording session at the second home of Ca Va Studios in May 1981. During this time they played synth-rock characterised by cold-sounding synths, stiff rhythms and dark, brooding vocals reminiscent of Philip Oakey. This didn't sit well with the labels searching for the "next big thing" or the press, generally not very supportive of the "futurist"/electronic movement. Various commitments and endeavours of its members during this time (Wishart, for example, guested with Simple Minds on their "Empires and Dance Tour" in 1980 and with Skids on their 1981 tour and album Joy) also slowed down the band's progress.
Soon, however, their music started to show a much more commercial approach, with them rediscovering their youth influences in disco music of the 1970s (Boney M., Barry White, Marshall Hain). The record companies, indifferent to their earlier style, quickly showed an interest in the wake of success of such bands as Haircut 100 and ABC. First Endgames signed with Warner - "for a week then they decided they didne want us". But they were quickly taken on board by Mercury (a subdivision of Phonogram), with which the band signed a basic two singles deal in Spring 1982. "Our aims are to make aggressively commercial music - that means aggressive and commercial in equal measures", - commented Paul Wishart. By that time the line-up changed and expanded, with Wilde being replaced by Brian McGee (who left Simple Minds in mid 1981), and classically trained Douglas Muirden (Saxophone, Keyboards) being added.
In April, their debut single "We Feel Good (Future's Looking Fine)" was released. With its writing credited to The Enjoyment Club (their short-lived moniker), it was produced by John Leckie (famed for his work with Simple Minds, Magazine, Bill Nelson, XTC etc.). The single received support from ABC's Martin Fry who commented on its "tremendous potential that might borrow from Chic's "I Want Your Love" but maintains interest from start to finish... when Endgames get a mix that gives them more clarity they'll enjoy chart success". The band also recorded the second "Peel Session", showcasing their new direction.
October saw the release of their second single, catchy synthpop "First-Last-For Everything" (featured in the recent "Peel Session"), produced by Steve Levine (soon famed for the production work with Culture Club). It found success in clubs in Europe and North America, receiving significant airplay in Canada, especially on the "alternative" radio station CFNY-FM (Toronto), while in the US it was a club success, with the DJ-oriented remix service Disconet choosing it for a dance edit treatment. Eventually it charted in the Billboard magazine Disco/Dance Chart, peaking at No. 31.
Still, the hoped mass commercial success wasn't forthcoming and Mercury chose not to continue with the band. Soon offers came flooding in from other major record companies, creating a "bidding war". It was won by Virgin Records, with which Endgames signed for the UK and Europe. The US labels also sought to contract the band - among the "power players" that showed enough interest to travel to Glasgow to meet the band were Tommy Mottola (then of The Champion Entertainment Organization, later president of Sony Music), Ed Leffler and Bill Aucoin (manager of Kiss and Billy Idol). Eventually MCA Records succeeded in signing them for the North-American market with Aucoin becoming their manager. By that time the line-up officially expanded to sextet with the addition of Willie Gardner (Guitar, Vocals) - former leader of the promising Scottish power pop/new wave band Zones, who also released a couple of solo singles and helped Endgames with their Mercury songs.
Commercial semi-success and break-up
The first single in this third phase of the band's carrier was "Waiting for Another Chance", released in July 1983. It became a substantial hit in Scotland, but didn't appear on the UK charts (Scotland is treated as a regional market so anything that sells strongly there but has little success elsewhere isn't allowed to appear on the national chart). However, the song was well received in West Germany where, after the appearance on the TV music show "Formel Eins" and aided by a colourful videoclip (modelled after the UK 12" cover with the Japanese fan motif), it became a sizeable hit (No. 21 in September). The song also briefly charted in Switzerland.
In October 1983, Virgin released their first album, Building Beauty, produced by Colin Campsie and George McFarlane of the dance-pop duo The Quick. It was a polished album with the sentimental but upbeat sound in vein of the "technologically enhanced blue-eyed soul and funk" of ABC and Heaven 17 (who themselves sought to update the classic Motown sound for the 80s), with vocal stylings recalling Michael Jackson at times. The album's liner notes reveal heavy use of the latest advancements in music technology to augment and enhance the "standard" instrumentation (like piano, drums, guitars and saxophone): electronic drums and drum machines (Simmons, LinnDrum), synthesizers (Korg Polysix, PPG Wave, Roland Jupiter 4, Mini Moog, Oberheim OB-Xa), computers (J.J. Jeczalik of The Art of Noise is credited with Fairlight programming). Building Beauty was greeted enthusiastically in some publications with Betty Page proclaiming in Record Mirror: "Endgames has come up trumps with a debut elpee every bit as spirited and accomplished as True".
Endgames went on two German tours - first as a supporting band to Depeche Mode (December 1983), then as "special guests" of Eurythmics (February 1984). Unfortunately, they weren't able to hold the public interest abroad for long - their next single "Love Cares" only hit No. 66 in Germany. The album was received rather indifferently, with "Musikexpress" magazine rating it as "no worse (or better) than Freeez, Wham! or The System" and concluding: "Here's the soundtrack for dance-loving beauties of this world". It sold modestly, reaching No. 48. Back in the UK, Endgames appeared on children's TV show "Hold Tight!" with "Love Cares" (September) and recorded a session for the radio DJ Janice Long (October). Otherwise promotion has been very limited (rarely anything more than adverts in the music papers); the third single, "Miracle in My Heart" (a British-only release), went unnoticed.
Building Beauty was released in the USA in February 1984 with a slightly different running order. "Waiting for Another Chance" and "Love Cares" were serviced to radio stations and clubs as promos, with their accompanying clips distributed through music video services like Telegenics and RockAmerica. Additionally, their songs "Desire" and "Ecstasy" received attention from the R&B radio (especially the latter - in the form of a "Centurion Mix", released on the B-side of "Miracle in My Heart" 12", which became popular as an import). "Love Cares" charted in Billboard, reaching No. 47 on the Disco/Dance Chart, but MCA didn't promote the band enough so the actual sales weren't strong with album failing to chart. Meanwhile, Endgames toured as a support to Howard Jones during his sold-out first tour of the UK in March–April 1984. But the single "Desire" (fourth off the album), released in March to coincide with the tour, failed to catch on.
The band then started work on the second album - by which time the problem arose. While retaining loyal following in Scotland and consistently selling out gigs there, low record sales and public disinterest elsewhere dampened their relationship with Virgin and led to line-up fluctuations. The LP Natural was recorded by a truncated crew of Rudden, Gardner, McGee and Murdoch. It was helmed by four different producers - Julian Mendelsohn, Stewart Levine, John Potoker and Ian Taylor, with several notable guests like drummer Mel Gaynor (then of Simple Minds) and Anne Dudley (The Art of Noise). The sound became a lot more organic after the high gloss of its predecessor. But the LP was only released in West Germany, preceded by its lone single "Shouting Out for Love". No real promotion efforts were made, so it sold poorly. Virgin then ended their contract and not long afterwards Endgames disbanded.
In 2006, the band's page appeared on Myspace maintained by David Rudden, who in the meantime pursued careers as a music producer, artist, actor and clothing designer. An unconfirmed rumour had it that the band was working on a new album featuring some of its original members; CD reissues of the back catalogue were also touted, but to this day nothing came out of it. Still, Rudden continues to produce music and remixes under the Endgames alias.
Of his fellow band members, Gardner now resides in Scotland; after the demise of Endgames he tried his hand at producing other artists, but currently works as English teacher. Wilde played with Altered Images in 1983 (interestingly, that band featured Rudden's one-time colleague in Berlin Blondes, keyboard/guitar player Jim McKinven aka Spender). McGee joined Propaganda in 1985 - first as a session and live player, next as a full-time member (there he was reunited with his Simple Minds colleague Derek Forbes). Muirden played with the alternative rock band Bloomsday. Wishart joined Fiction Factory for their second (and also German-only) album Another Story.
The band's most enduring song proved to be "Waiting for Another Chance", which regularly appears on various European compilations of '80s pop and new wave. Another favourite is "First-Last-For Everything", now considered a cult underground dance hit, meanwhile occasionally getting played by radio stations like CFNY during "retro" shows. "Ecstasy" endured popularity on R&B radio and turned into a source of samples in the field of hip-hop. In 1994, the song was sampled by rap group Heavy D & The Boyz on the title track of their album Nuttin' But Love, which became a noticeable hit (No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, Top 20 on R&B and Hot Rap Tracks charts), while the album reached No. 11 on the Billboard Top 200, topped the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and was certified Double Platinum. In 2007, "Ecstasy" was sampled by rapper Lil' Flip on his track "Flippin'" from the album I Need Mine (No. 15 on the Billboard Top 200 and Top 5 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop and Top Rap Albums charts).
Waiting For Another ChanceBuilding Beauty · 1983
First Last for Everything1982
Love CaresBuilding Beauty · 1983