Hitman Julian Hitman Julian
wipes the slate clean

Jewish Telegraph, June 2005

TOGETHER AGAIN: Julian Marshall and Deborah Berg of Eye to Eye

JULIAN Marshall is making a fourth stab at chart success. The Exeter-born keyboard player first hit the charts in June 1978 with partner Kit Hain.
The pair, going under the name Marshall Hain, reached number three with the classic Dancing in the City. The song spent 15 weeks in the charts and was a huge hit around the world.
The follow-up single, Coming Home, limped to number 39 in October 1978.
Julian then played on the Flying Lizards’ number five hit Money in August 1979.
He followed this by forming Eye to Eye with American singer Deborah Berg in the 1980s. The group released two albums on Warner Bros before going their separate ways.
Now, Julian and Deborah have got back together to reform Eye to Eye and release the comeback album Clean Slate (12th Street) in August.
But let’s go back to the beginning. How did Julian end up in Devon?
“My parents, Ben Marshall and Dulcie Rapaport, moved to Devon at the start of the war,” he said. “They loved it and stayed.
“Exeter is a solid Jewish enclave. It has one of the oldest synagogues in the country. My street is like Highgate with lots of Jewish people.”
Julian describes himself as a “non-practising” Jew. He said: “My parents were appalled by their upbringing that they didn’t want to do anything. When my mother died I became more interested in the religion.
“I enjoy some ceremonies. I passingly practise.”
Julian was always destined for a career in music. His grandmother Daisy Rapaport believed her three daughters should be good at the arts.
“Everyone in the family was a musician,” he said. “ My father is a conductor and my mother is a cellist. I was born into the culture of music. I would listen to anything when I was two.”
After graduating from the Royal College of Music, Julian joined forces with Kit Hain, an old school friend from Dartington Hall School.
“It was my first professional writing partnership,” Julian said. “It all felt ridiculously easy. One minute we were unknown, the next we were getting all this attention.
“It really happened too quickly. But there was nothing else on the record that sounded like Dancing in the City. We were under so much pressure to write another song like it. After six months the conflict was too much, so I quit.”
Despite this disappointment, Julian was soon experiencing life at the top again.
“Flying Lizards was fun,” he said. “It was not my own thing so I could be slightly removed. And once again I was amazingly fortuitous.
“David Cunningham (who was behind Flying Lizards) asked me to record the piano part. I recorded it on my own piano with a metronome in three takes. David gave me the choice of either a session fee — around £30 — or a percentage of the profits.
“I thought £30 would be ripping him off as I didn’t think the song would do anything. So I said I’d take the percentage. Within two years I had made £12,000 which I used to buy a house. I love the song now and it still gets played a lot and included on film soundtracks.
“All credit to David who had a vision for the song.”
In 1980, Julian met Deborah Berg while on holiday with wife Arabella in San Diego. Deborah was part of an all women’s dance troupe but had damaged her knee so she sang instead.
“We met after the show and exchanged phone numbers,” he said. “When I returned to England, my producer said to call her. She had hardly written a song at the point. We then found ourselves signed to Warners.
“The first bit was remarkable but when we started recording it got harder.”
In 1982, Eye to Eye released their first self-titled album, produced by Steely Dan producer Gary Katz.
The first single, Nice Girls, hit the US Billboard Top 40.
“We were pleased with the results,” Julian said. “It was a rewarding experience but Warner Brothers were not pleased about the money they’d spent and they couldn’t hear a single.”
He added: “It sold between 80–100,000 copies. The second album, Shakespeare Stole My Baby (1983) did little.
“Warners didn’t get behind it at all. We were offered the Fleetwood Mac tour but it would have cost $100,000 to buy us on and Warners wouldn’t pay for it, so we went our own way.”
Julian returned to England and worked for Polydor before deciding to lecture in music in Devon.
“I enjoyed it until I realised I was missing something — my own creative process,” he said. “I called Deborah and said, ‘how about a jazz quartet in New York’. So we got together and listened to the old songs.
“We realised we were a good writing team. Deborah’s voice sounded fantastic. It was time to do it again.”
The resulting album, Clean Slate, has been produced by old friend Rhett Davies.
“The title is more about the future than the past,” Julian said. “Deborah really liked the image of walking across sand and the waves wiping away the footprints.”
Eye to Eye are hoping to tour the album, although Julian says: “We will take it a step at a time. To start with we just want enough record sales to create a future for ourselves.”
Of sharing a publicity company with Crazy Frog, Julian said: “It’s compellingly awful. But you have to remember that Dancing in the City was kept off the number two spot by The Smurfs!”
Eye to Eye are planning a one-off concert in London on July 22.
Clean Slate, which features 11 new tracks, is available from www.amazon.co.uk

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mike Cohen

Jewish Telegraph deputy editor and arts editor. Email Mcohen@jewishtelegraph.com with your Jewish arts stories