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Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ turns 40: Iconic single gets rework and physical reissue

“ABSOLUTE. has kept a strong essence of the period and the song," says Jimmy Somerville

By Jamie Tabberer

The three members of Bronski Beat shot from above
Bronski Beat (Image: Provided)

London Records has released a special rework of Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ to celebrate the iconic single’s 40th birthday.

The track was released on 25 May 1984 and reached number three on the UK singles chart, and charted strongly throughout Europe.

The song, sang by frontman Jimmy Somerville, details a gay teenager leaving behind his narrow-minded community for the big city, and has become an anthem for queer liberation.

The rework comes courtesy of London-based DJ and producer ABSOLUTE. (Ant McGinley) known for reworks for the likes of Kylie Minogue (‘Padam Padam’).

“ABSOLUTE. has kept a strong essence of the period and the song,” said Jimmy Somerville in a statement.

”I was transported back to our first times writing – banging on a Pro One and a Moog – and me realising I never had to walk around vocally imitating a sequence ever again!”

“I was welling up while I was making it”

McGinley added: “When I got asked to rework ‘Smalltown Boy’ I was literally just screaming. And when I started work on it, it was such an emotional experience.

“I was welling up while I was making it, which is so rare to happen for me. This made me know just how much of a special track this was.” 

McGinley also said: “I was envisaging playing the track as my closing number in the main room at Drumsheds for False Idols, as well as DJing at Panorama Bar at 10am on a Sunday morning, with the sun coming up through the shutters and having a moment of pure, euphoric joy.” 

ABSOLUTE (Image: Charlie Whiteway)

To celebrate the musical milestone, London Records is also re-issuing ‘Smalltown Boy’ in several physical formats, including a numbered, coloured 7-inch, transparent CD single, a music box edition and a new range of ‘Smalltown Boy’ T-shirts. 

You can pre-order from today (29 May 2024) from the Official Bronski Beat store ahead of release on 26 July 2024.

Bronski Beat are also known for hits such as ‘Hit That perfect Beat’ and ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So.’