I always like a song with a good story behind it. Playing Charles & Eddie’s worldwide hit single, 1992’s ‘Would I Lie To You?’, on low last night having already been blasted the bejesus out of by the sensational Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at the Opera House, J walked past and confessed that he too had just rediscovered the track – a guilty 90s pleasure and subliminal soundtrack to our youth on the level of Ace of Base and The Corrs. As toddlers of the first Bush era we are every bit as motivated to stay up with the times as those digital natives of my younger sister’s generation but at the same time, given to collapsing in a heap of nostalgia whenever any of those carefree beats from our childhood come warbling over the airwaves. Charles & Eddie’s track, which got them to #1 in the UK, #3 here in Aus and a lowly 13 at home in the States, is of just that brand of sepia-toned bliss, equal parts smooth RnB crooning, day-time TV soap intro and desperately good pop song.
So yeah, the story. Charles Pettigrew started out in Philadelphia, studied at Berklee music school in Boston and eventually made his way onto a subway in New York. Eddie Chacon grew up in Castro Valley, California and started his first band at age 12 with neighbourhood friends Cliff Burton (Metallica) and Mike Bordin (Faith No More) before moving to Miami to pursue his singing dream and then on to New York to produce rap where he too, got on a subway. Charles and Eddie’s chance meeting underground spawned the RnB duo and it was shortly thereafter that they were signed by one of Capitol Records’ up-and-coming A&R’s Josh Deutsch. Deutsch went on to start up Downtown Records (Gnarls Barkley, Justice, Miike Snow, Mos Def). The kid clearly had a good ear. Anyway, with all that history still ahead of them, Charles and Eddie did what came naturally and wrote great songs. Along with ‘Would I Lie To You?’, they had four Top 40 singles in the UK before the group broke up, Charles died of cancer in 2001 and Eddie went on to write and produce for S Club 7 (swoon) and a whole swag of strange-sounding Scandinavian artists.
And after all of that, all that is left as a legacy to Charles & Eddie’s significant 1992 release ‘Duophonics’ is the alternate electronic group Eddie’s set up with wife Sissie Sainte-Marie that puts out some weird-ass videos and this absolute gem of a song. ‘Would I Lie To You?’ is soulful, chorus-driven and surprisingly dynamic music. Built almost entirely around the fidelity-affirming refrain, Pettigrew’s faultless falsetto transforms what could have easily been a self-interested, derivative love song into a fantastic example of making something out of very little. While there is an attempt at a breakdown around the 3′ mark, it really only serves to make way for a heartening glissando and a triumphant return to those very words J and I plugged into our respective Googles a few days ago searching out this track. Now when someone asks you ‘Who sings that ‘Would I lie to ya’ song?’ you can answer, confidently, ‘Why, Charles & Eddie – and I’ve got a whole lot of trivia on them too!’
Charles & Eddie – Would I Lie To You?