A new record contract is finally signed with Island Records and the group is now a five piece consisting of Andy, Billy, 'Flid', Paul and new bass player Leonardo Chignoli.
The first single on Island Mr Solitaire is released in August and Animal Nightlife finally break into the top 40 with appearances on BBC’s Top of the Pops and Channel 4’s Earsay. The single becomes their biggest hit at number 25.
Preacher Preacher is rumoured to be the next single in November but they decide against releasing it and instead travel to Philadelphia to begin work on their debut LP.
Flid in Philadelphia
With work on their album complete, Animal Nightlife return from Philadelphia and announce a live date at London’s Hammersmith Palais and a new single in June. Love Is Just The Great Pretender ’85 is a re-recorded and updated version of their debut single. Andy reveals that they recorded a new version because lack of promotion from Innervision was the reason why it wasn’t a hit first time round. A chart position of 28 seems to confirm that.
The group perform their hit on Channel 4’s Soul Train.
In August the group follow up the success of the single with the release of their debut album Shangri-la.
The LP contains 10 tracks recorded in London and Philadelphia with a number of producers including Bobby Eli, Mike Forte and Donald R. Robinson. It includes the recent hit single and a re-recorded Native Boy but not Mr Solitaire (which only appears on the cassette version).
All tracks on the album are written by the group except Perfect Match, which is written with McKinley Horton (a member of Cashmere and co-songwriter of Eugene Wilde's 1984 hit 'Gotta Get You Home Tonight'). Producer Bobby Eli was one of the founding members of the famed Philadelphia label studio band MFSB who played on records by The Stylistics, The Spinners, The O'Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and many more.
Reviews of the album are positive and Shangri-la reaches number 36 in the album charts.
A major tour is organised for September and October to promote the album.
Cancelled from last year, Preacher Preacher is finally released as a single in September but only makes number 67.
Production on the single is by Stephen Street, an engineer on The Smiths’ album Meat is Murder. He goes on to work as producer on albums by The Smiths, Morrissey solo, Blur, The Cranberries and The Kaiser Chiefs
(Record Mirror 15 March 1986)
The New Year sees the group leave Island Records and touring in Europe. Without a record contract, they concentrate on writing new material and playing live.
A one off gig at London’s Ronnie Scott’s in October sees the group showcasing the new songs.
A new record deal is signed with Ten Records and work begins on the second album.
First release on the new label is the single Boys With The Best Intentions in September but it fails to chart.
The group is now a four piece of Andy, Billy, Flid and Leonardo.
(promo picture 1988)
A follow up single finally appears in May, Always Your Humble Slave but again fails to reach the top 40.
July sees the second album Lush Life released. Recorded in New York with Lenny White producing, it has 10 tracks including the last two singles.
As the group decide to call it a day, the farewell concert of Animal Nightlife is played at London’s Town & Country Club on 28 October.
(Record Mirror 29 October 1988)
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