Pele began in 1990 in Liverpool, formed by Ian Prowse (vocals/ guitar) and Andrew Roberts (keyboard), the band were soon joined by James McCallister (bass), Andrea ‘Nico’ Nicholson (violin) and P ‘Dally’ Dallison (drums).
The band gigged in and around the Liverpool area and were soon spotted by a new label called M&G Records after a rough copy of Megalomania fell into the hands of the head of A & R at the label, Steve Kutner.
The record company promptly sent the band to London to begin recording their first album at the cities Metropolis studio.
Signed by M&G Records
The label, M&G Records, decided to release an early track Raid the Palace as soon as it was finished and before the rest of the album had been completed.
This led to BBC Radio 1 placing the track in their playlist for six weeks, presenting the band with a chance of exposure to a national audience.
The bands explosive and rebellious lyric meant that the band were taken aback at this but were certainly not complaining.
However, despite what looked like the bands big break, the record company were not prepared for this unexpected success and failed to capitalise on it, marking an already growing disillusionment with the bands new label.
The result was that a great many people knew the band and accepted their melodious pop sound but could not purchase any material.
This lack of capitalisation on this marvellous promotion was not taken and the hit single the band deserved eluded them.
Pele’s second single Megalomania (#73 UK singles chart) was released in February 1992, and became the second song from the new LP to be playlisted by BBC Radio 1 with the song hitting the #1 spot in South Africa.
The bands debut album was then released in April 1992, called Fireworks the band gigged this LP furiously, both in the UK and Europe.
The album also drew some positive critical opinion being likened to bands such as Dexy’s Midnight Runners while the songs on the album were considered as being extremely uplifting and boisterous with a definite Irish influence – most likely due to the presence of a violin in the line-up.
All the while the band gigged (and would not stop for another three years) and it was performing live that really forged the band and these performances began to cement a reputation between the band and their fans, guaranteeing a riotous good time.
June 1992 brought the bands third single from the Fireworks LP Fair Blows the Wind for France which charted at #62 in the UK and became the bands biggest selling single release to date.
The tail end of 1992 brought massive support slots touring with The Proclaimers and Del Amitri while an EP called Fireworks Celtic Rumour was released, backed up with their biggest headline tour to that date.
The band came back after that tour to record their fourth album in Rockfield studios in Wales working with American producer Jon Kelly, who had previously worked with Kate Bush on The Kick Inside.
The resulting album, called The Sport of Kings, was a more polished effort than Fireworks had been and was an answer to mounting criticism that the bands work thus far had perhaps been too relentlessly optimistic.
Pele therefore included some ballads on the record and the first of these, the depressingly titled; Fat Black Heart (UK #75) marked a change in direction for the band when it was released as the albums first single in July 1993.
Meanwhile the James McCarthy was replaced on bass guitar by Wayne Morgan before the band released their sixth single in Don’t Worship Me and became a hit in Germany and Holland but did not chart in the UK.
UK chart disappointments
Despite continuing UK chart disappointments, M&G Records took the band up on the option of a third album but A&R man at M&G Kutner then left the label while his replacement Jack Stevens was adamant that guitar bands were on their way out and had had their day (the year was 1993).
This left the band in an extremely difficult situation and when the label tried to sign Prouse as a solo artist relations between the two camps soured enormously.
The problem now hinged on the fact that the record label were legally obliged to make an album they did not want to fund. As a result the band allowed the release of a live mini album, A-Live A-Live-O which was given no promotional backing and was sold as a mail order release only.
The record label then managed to drop the band with a legal technicality and also shifted the financial obligations of the band onto the musicians themselves.
In a final kick to the musicians the record label managed to obtain injunctions meaning Pele did not own the band name nor did they own any of their songs effectively paralyzing the group as musicians.
However in 1998 M&G Records folded meaning that these injunctions were lifted freeing the band to perform and record again. The result of this was 2001’s release This Time Next Year a selection of demos recorded songs from the bands 1994/1995 period available to order from the official website.
However the band ended when Ian Prouse formed his new project Amsterdam in 2005 but the band did reunite in December 2009 for a special one-off gig at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.