I’ve been on a bit of flashback kick these last few days, exploring some of the more alternative glam, goth, and new wave romantic bands from the ’80s, and seeing where they are today. U.K. artist Gene Loves Jezebel is one such act, who were huge in the mid-to-late ’80s, with such singles as “Motion of Love,” “Desire,” “Gorgeous,” and “Heartache.” Funny … as I type this, I sense a theme going on with their song titles. Never really thought about that until now.
Anyway, the more fascinating part of Gene Loves Jezebel is their current status. First, some context. The band was formed by identical twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston, both sharing vocals and songwriting credits. Around 1990, Michael left the band to pursue a solo career, but later rejoined in ’97 for a reunion tour. Somewhere in the middle of all that, there was a falling out, and both brothers decided they each had a right to the name Gene Loves Jezebel. So like a rift in the fabric of space, two versions of the band were born. Jay remained with original member James Stevenson and longtime bandmate Pete Rizzo. And Michael teamed with remaining members from the reunion tour.
Now, to me, that’s all kinds of crazy … with a whole lot of confusion thrown in. So if you’re in the U.S., Jay’s band is referred to as Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. And if you’re in the U.K., Michael’s band is referred to as Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. But anywhere else, they’re both called Gene Loves Jezebel.
I saw both versions of the band perform in the last year, not actually realizing there were two totally different bands performing the same songs. Of course, they both looked different – Jay as a normal aging rock star … Michael and co. still costumed from their ’80s roots. But they sounded remarkably similar. One thing to note, which probably adds more confusion than not, is that they each have their own unique material as well.
It’s really fascinating to see how time affects talent. I’ve never heard of a band fracturing into two incarnations, such as this. But perhaps estranged twin brothers is the trick to making it happen, like stepping through the looking glass with a bit of a grudge.
Here’s a lesser known track by Gene Loves Jezebel, titled “Cow.” It was one of my favorites from the ’85 album “Immigrant. In addition, I’ve included live footage of both incarnations of Gene Loves Jezebel performing “Cow,” which is what originally inspired me to write this post.
“Cow” from the 1985 album “Immigrant.”
Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel …
Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel perform “Cow” at the Echoplex on 09.23.18.
Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel …
Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel perform “Cow” at the Echo on 01.29.17.
Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel:
Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel