Kicking off a new series looking at some of the best (and some of the worst!) one hit wonders of all time, we take a look at how a 31 year-old one-man band came out of nowhere to have one of the biggest, most memorable hits of 1997.
Jyoti Prakash Mishra doesn’t look like a pop star. He looks like a geek who works 9-5 in I.T. or accounts and possibly plays lots of WoW in his spare time. He is in fact a career musician and songwriter who first formed White Town as a band in 1989 after he had seen the legendary Pixies live. It was shortlived though and within a year or so White Town (named so because Mishra, an Indian immigrant, grew up in a predominantly white towns in the UK) had become a solo act, with Mishra enlisting the help of local musicians to help him record.
His first album Socialism, Sexism & Sexuality was released in 1994 on the American indie label Parasol and was recorded at Mishra’s home on an 8-track recorder. Whilst it didn’t do much commercially it was enough to land him a transatlantic deal with EMI/Chrysalis and in 1997 his second album Women In Technology was released in 1997 preceded by ‘Your Woman’ as the lead single. Featuring a looped trumpet sample taken from Al Bowlly’s ‘My Woman’, a popular (at the time) 1920’s jazz single, and lyrics written from a woman’s perspective it’s hard not to imagine that his new label had a bonafide hit record on their hands judging by the push they gave it.
Within weeks it had done the 90’s equivalent of going viral, going to number 1 on the week of release thanks to a couple of months of heavy pre-release airplay. If you were there at the time, as I was, it’s hard to get across just how ubiquitous ‘Your Woman’ was in 1997, pumping out of every radio, TV, jukebox, car stereo, and even club sound system. And this was the case not just in the UK but in Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and New Zealand where it was also a top 10 hit, and even the US where it reached a very respectable number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It would prove to be Mishra’a sole top 40 single. Friction between him and EMI would lead to them parting company shortly after and despite releasing three more albums since, the last being as recent as 2011’s Monopole he’s never managed to replicate that burst of success that briefly engulfed him and made ‘Your Woman’ the memorable slice of pop magic it surely is. In this series we’ll be exploring all kinds of one hit wonders – the good, the bad, and the weird – but we maybe won’t cover as many that still sound as utterly cool and contemporary as this one.