One of the 1970s’ most prolific pop groups have announced that they are reuniting, over 30 years after their last performance.
The group released six top 20 singles over an eight-year tenure, before going their separate ways in 1974.
It also faced controversy in later years when their signature song Melting Pot was banned by Ofcom for containing ‘derogatory references to particular ethnic groups,’ despite receiving just one complaint.
The band has reunited in the past, but two of its members are set to reunite for a one-off show at London’s Cadogan Hall on April 13.
Do you recognise the group?
One of the 1970s’ most prolific pop groups have announced that they are reuniting, over 30 years after their last performance – do you recognise them?
It’s Blue Mink!
Originally formed of Madeline Bell, Roger Cook, Roger Coulam, Alan Parker, Herbie Flowers and Barry Morgan, the band’s debut track Melting Pot was released in 1969 and reached number three in the charts.
At the time, there were few British pop groups with a female singer and even fewer where the singer was black. If the band had a novelty feel, then that may have been deliberate.
Until then Madeline, who was a backing singer for Dusty Springfield and sang on Joe Cocker’s cover of The Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends, had enjoyed limited success.
After the success of Melting Pot, Blue Mink hit the top 10 again in 1971 with their song Banner Man, before reaching number nine with 1973’s Randy.
Later songs failed to find an audience and they split in 1974. Elton John announced them on stage for their final appearance in America.
The band reformed in 1976 featuring featuring Mike Mordan, and recorded several other singles before splitting again the following year.
But now lead vocallist Madeline is set to reunite with fellow vocalist Roger for a one-off show in the coming months.
It’s Blue Mink! Two members of the legendary group will join forces for a one-off show at London’s Cadogan Hall on April 13
After getting rave reviews of last year’s sell-out concert marking Madeline’s 80th birthday, she is set to play London again with the English Chamber Orchestra
After getting rave reviews of last year’s sell-out concert marking Madeline’s 80th birthday, she is set to play London again with the world’s most recorded orchestra of its kind: the English Chamber Orchestra.
Whilst keeping in the staples, conductor and arranger Matthew Jones is delving deeper into Bell’s as-good-as-endless discography to present a new programme featuring his celebrated choir.
The show will take in her gospel beginnings and time as a much sought-after session singer for the likes of Dusty Springfield, Joe Cocker and The Rolling Stones, as well as her solo career, dating back to albums such as Bell’s a Poppin’, Doin’ Things and This Is One Girl.
Roger remains one of the most prolific songwriters of his generation, having penned, among many others, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony), You’ve Got Your Troubles and Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart.
While Blue Mink’s most famous track was originally penned as a plea for racial harmony, in recent years its taken on a wholly different meaning after being banned by Ofcom in 2019 for lyrics deemed ‘offensive.’
Ofcom said references to ‘curly Latin kinkies’ and ‘yellow Chinkies’ were too extreme for modern audiences.
The media watchdog said ‘Chinky’ was an unacceptable anti-Chinese slur and was exacerbated by the use of the word ‘yellow’.
Other words deemed unfit for the ears of easily offended modern listeners included ‘Red Indian boy’ and ‘coffee-coloured people’ because of the risk of hurt to minority groups.
The ruling means the hit cannot be played without providing contextual justification and is, consequently, banned by multiple radio stations.
It also faced controversy in later years when their signature song Melting Pot was banned by Ofcom for containing ‘derogatory references to particular ethnic groups’
Speaking to The Daily Mail about the ban in 2019, bass guitarist Herbie admitted he was bewildered by the row that was triggered by a single complaint to Ofcom
Speaking to The Daily Mail about the ban in 2019, bass guitarist Herbie admitted he was bewildered by the row that was triggered by a single complaint to Ofcom about the song’s broadcast on golden oldies radio station Gold.
‘I suppose we were just rather naïve musicians. Racism and sexism were not part of our consciousness then,’ he says.
‘I don’t think it occurred to any of us there was anything wrong with it. People didn’t say ‘what terrible lyrics’, they thought it was rather catchy.
‘Of course, I can see why it wouldn’t be very acceptable now, but as it is there are far worse things played on Radio 1 these days, songs full of obscenities and violence.’
For Herbie, the dispute resembles a similar row over the Lou Reed song, Walk On The Wild Side, on which he played and which was banned from the airwaves because of its references to ‘coloured girls’.
‘I think there are far more important things to be worried about these days than musical lyrics, such as the speed lorries drive through our village and the lack of a zebra crossing,’ he said.
At the time, Blue Mink’s sound was described as ‘white soul’.
For her part, Madeline said of the lyrics: ‘They have caught the mood of the moment, I suppose.
‘They were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but a lot of people are taking them seriously. Obviously, the idea of mixing up all colours, races and religions is quite ridiculous.
‘And even if we were all green with blue hair we’d still find something to argue about.’
Madeline Bell with the English Chamber Orchestra: Encore!, hosted by Paul Gambaccini, takes place at Cadogan Hall on 13th April. Tickets are on sale now.