On the surface, the music of Dave Stewart couldn’t have been more at odds with the style of Stiff. Working as a solo performer in the early 80s, he had come from the prolific Canterbury music scene, working with bands like Gong, Egg and Hatfield and the North. He’d also played keyboards with the most progressive of all progressive rock artists, Steve Hillage, in his bands Uriel and Khan.
For Stiff, Stewart delivered two successful, post-prog pop singles. What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted, which reached number 13 in 1980 and It’s My Party, which hit number one in both the UK and Germany a year later. The lilting vocal on Broken Hearted was delivered by Colin Blunstone, also known for the US-breaking early 60s act The Zombies, with Rod Argent, and his captivating performance on the classic Alan Parsons Project album, Eye In The Sky. The single was the first release on Stewart’s own Broken imprint – still active to this day – bearing the catalogue number BROKEN 1.
BROKEN 2 was the follow-up, this time featuring the vocals of Stewart’s long term musical partner Barbara Gaskin. Also ex-Hatfield and the North and, having spent time with folk-proggers Spirogyra, Gaskin was the perfect front-woman with the pair cooking up a striking visual image. The single was turned down by all the labels Stewart approached, so he released it on Broken again himself, under the wing of Stiff. And what a Stiff the majors turned down this time – It’s My Party spent four weeks at number one and sold 750,000 copies, 40,000 of which went in a single day.