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Stephen Cummings: A Pop Life

by Louie Athanasiou

from Beat Magazine, 17 November 1993

Without a doubt, singer/songwriter Stephen Cummings has already proved his worth. As the one time flamboyant front man of the 80s pop sensation, The Sports, Cummings has gone on to further consolidate his already formidable contribution to the Australian music scene witht he release of his new album Rollercoaster.

After the unfortunate and untimely demise of The Sports, which notched up not less than eight Top 20 hits, Stephen Cummings was left bitter and disillusioned and decided to take a musical sabbatical from the whole business.

"When The Sports decided to call it a day in the mid 80s, I became sick of music. The group was essentially Andrew Pendlebury, Martin Armiger and myself. We engineered what power we had, but in the end - we all needed a break. Andrew was really interested in country music, which he went off to pursue. While Martin, before he started working on soundtracks, became a journalist for the National Times and The Age. As for myself, I was quite happy to do nothing for a while. But then, I found myself drifting back into it."

Stephen's motivation for returning was that he had a burning desire to have something to do with music.

"I allowed Martin to produce a first solo album because I thought I would never get too involved with music again. I made a conscious decision to write the material and allow Martin to produce it. My attitude then was; here are the songs, I'll just turn up and lay down the vocals. But it was ironic, because when I received the mixed album, I felt there was room for improvement. So I soon found myself back in it again, remixing and editing, until I was totally satisfied."

Soon after the release of Lovetown, Stephen went through a time of self doubt and indecision, until he finally concluded that if he was going to do it, he would do it properly. And as we have witnessed since with albums like Good Humour and Unguided Tour, he excels in two distinct genres of music: such as the dance/pop and soul, or as Stephen describes "the personal" acoustic styles.

Produced by Robert Goodge (Yothu Yindi, Underground Lovers), Rollercoaster is a mini compilation of previous Sports material in amongst the complete anthology of Stephen's solo albums. It is also indicative of this prolific singer/songwriter and the mixture of extremes that his energy and brilliance have created.

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