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Brian & Michael are a Britishmarker music duo best known for their 1978 UKmarker number one hit single, "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs". Without further chart entries, they remain one-hit wonders in the UK. They comprise of two members; Michael Coleman and Kevin Parrott.


The duo had originally been members of a Stax style soul band called The Big Sound, working mainly in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, but also touring Israel in 1967. The Big Sound had previously backed singer Karol Keyes, now known as the actress Luan Peters. In Denmark, the band were the backing group to the Danish singer, Rock Nalle.

The act Brian and Michael was originally called Burke and Jerk, a comedy duo comprising of Brian Burke and Mick Coleman, formed in 1976, some nine years after Coleman had left The Big Sound. During the intervening years Parrott and Coleman had stayed friends, and Coleman had followed Parrott's recording career as lead guitarist with Manchester rock band, Oscar, who were signed to DJM Records.

When Coleman first wrote "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs", he took the song to Parrott. The latter borrowed the estimated £1000 to produce the record which was recorded at Pluto Studios in Stockportmarker, in the same building as Strawberry Studiosmarker. Pluto Studios was owned by the former Herman's Hermits rhythm guitar player Keith Hopwood. The song was recorded over three sessions starting on 25 September 1977. The brass band on the recording was Tintwistle Brass Band, from the village in Derbyshiremarker where Parrott lived at the time.

Parrott tried without success to get a release with several record label, but eventually secured a recording contract with Pye Records. However, Brian Burke left the act just a couple of weeks after "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" was released on 25 November 1977, citing "family reasons".

Parrott left Oscar after 10 years, and teamed up with Coleman again, in the live act to try and keep up the promotion of "Matchstalk Men", and had to be billed as 'Brian'. The first run of records had already been pressed as Brian & Michael before Burke had left the act.

After their success, Brian and Michael released a follow-up single, "Evensong", and an album, The Matchstalk Men, followed by a second album named I Can Count My Friends on One Hand. Similarly, backing singers St Winifred's School Choir released an unsuccessful album entitled The Matchstalk Children.

Coleman and Parrott remain in the music industry as songwriters and record producers for themselves and other acts. Other chart success as writers/producers were with "The Sparrow" (The Ramblers, No 11 in 1979), and Claire and Friends' "It's 'Orrible Being in Love when You're Eight and a Half" (Number 13 in 1987). Coleman also wrote the hit song "Hold My Hand" for Ken Dodd.

St Winifred's School Choir had their own number one hit with "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" during Christmas time in 1980.

Recent times

In an article in The Guardian newspaper, Parrott said "we started performing together again in 2002, and are incredibly moved by the reception we get. We did a reunion concert at Manchester's Lowry Centremarker with the original St Winnie's girls, who are now in their 30s".

Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs

"Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" is a tribute to the artist L. S. Lowry, who had died two years previously. For the song, Coleman drew on his own memories of Salfordmarker and Ancoatsmarker as well as the paintings of L. S. Lowry. St Winifred's School Choir appeared on the record, singing the children's song "The Big Ship Sails on the Alley-Alley-O". The single spent three weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart. The b-side of the record was entitled "The Old Rocking Chair".

See also


  2. article
  3. overview

External links

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