UPDATE: The Mysterious Voice of America–MYSTERY SOLVED!

Back late 1987, a 12-inch import came into the radio station.  It was from a British band who went by the name Voice of America.  The song, “Story of Love,” became a cult alt-rock hit, especially in Southern Ontario and Western New York.

I played the song countless times on the radio and in clubs.  Later, I wrote the liner notes for a series of retro CDs for EMI, parent company of Virgin Records, the home of Voice of America.  One volume featured “Story of Love.”

That’s when it dawned on me that I knew nothing about the band.  And I mean nothing.

I went back into the archives at the radio station.  No notes.  No press releases.  Just a simple black and white promo photo showing two unnamed guys (?) who looked vaguely Depeche Mode-ish.

I needed to write something for the liner notes so I asked EMI for help.  They went into their files and came back with…nothing.

The label rep was understandably frustrated.  “I know this band is on our roster and we hold the publishing rights–but no one seems to know a damn thing about who they are or where they’re from.”

“Story of Love” might as well have been recorded and released by aliens who then flew back to their home planet.

I’m reminded of this because Fabio sent me an email last night asking if I knew anything about this band or this record.  Fortunately, some information has come to light.

Front cover

Back cover.

Here are the particulars:

Title:  “Story of Love” b/w “V.O.A.”

Released:  1987

Label: Virgin Records VS 984-12

Members:  Joe Cerisano (ex of Silver Condor) and Sandy Farina (who played Strawberry Field that horrible Bee Gees movie about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band back in 1978).

Produced by:  Captain Sensible of the Damned.  (I think.)

And, er, that’s it. Can anyone anywhere shed any more light on this mysterious band from the 80s?

UPDATE! MYSTERY SOLVED!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the hunt for knowledge in the comments section. But here’s the winner:

Hey folks,
The trail ain’t completely cold..
I am Nigel, the keyboard player in the band and I co-wrote Story of Love with Dave Shaw.

The female vocal was Carroll Thompson, sometimes referred to as the Queen of Lover’s Rock, a British style of reggae music noted for its romantic sound and content (according to Wikipedia).

We met here in the Denmark St demo studio where we worked, in Soho, when she was singing backing vocals for Maxi Priest at the end of the 80s. Her voice was so damn good that we could hardly bring ourselves to speak during the recording, it was like being in the presence of an angel.

Nice to know the songs touched some people at least.

Being signed to Virgin was a frustrating experience because they were going through a period of massive expansion, with over 80 bands on the roster. So they didn’t really get behind the marketing. I didn’t find out the records were released anywhere but the UK for over 20 years, when a Canadian remix dj called me up out of the blue asking if i was really the Nigel Haslam from VOA.

I haven’t seen or heard from the other guys in the band for a long time. Live in Australia now and work in visual effects and animation. Life is sweet.

Thanks for your interest.

Cheers
N

 Well, that it, then.  Thank you, Nigel!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

20 thoughts on “UPDATE: The Mysterious Voice of America–MYSTERY SOLVED!

  • July 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm
    Permalink

    Also found this interesting bit on Hands Across America:

    "On the afternoon of Sunday, May 25, 1986, more than five million people joined hands to form a line that stretched 4152 miles — from New York City's Battery Park to a pier in Long Beach, California. This nationwide event, called "Hands Across America", was intended to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness. Stars that participated in the video: Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Raúl Julia, Yoko Ono, Glenn Close, Don Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jeff Bridges, Kenny Rodgers, Lili Tomlin, Philip Michael Thomas, Whoopie Goldberg, Dyan Cannon and others.

    Hands Across America

    Hands Across America was written to support the event on the 25 May 1986, when millions of Americans joined hands to form a line streching for thousands of miles, coast – to – coast. The song was written by Marc Blatte, Hohn Carney and Larry Gottlieb. The vocals on the track are the "Voices of America": Joe Cerisano and Sandy Farina. The musicians were: Jeff Porcaro – Drums Michael Porcaro – Bass Steve Lukather – Guitar Steve Porcaro – Programming David Paich – Keyboards "

    Note the vocals are VOA. makes you wonder why no one, including Joe and Sandy, seem to acknowledge this period of life.

    Reply
  • July 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm
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    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Joe Cerisano, (born March 28, 1951), is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and President of Outta' the Woods Records. He is often referred to as "possibly the most famous anonymous singer in America".
    Early life
    Cerisano began performing professionally at the age of 14, singing with a succession of regional bands in the north central West Virginia area, including Elderberry Jak. He later moved to New Jersey and then to California. While in California in 1980, he and guitarist Earl Slick formed the rock band Silver Condor under the Columbia Records label. Silver Condor had the Top 40 hit "You Could Take My Heart Away" in 1981.
    Early career
    In the late 1970's, Joe Cerisano and his guitarist/co-leader Lee Fink had one of the top original groups in a sea of cover bands in the New Jersey rock club scene. R-Band drew large crowds due to their original songs, which was rare for the time. Playing seven nights a week took it's toll on the band so in December 1979, after a call from Earl Slick, Joe left the band to return to California. Six months later Silver Condor was formed, who played all the songs that were written for R-Band. After the breakup of Silver Condor, Joe returned to NYC in 1984.
    In the mid 1980's, Cerisano's music career began to evolve into his becoming one of the most successful studio session singers in the United States. His commercial work in television and radio singing includes spots for Coca-Cola, Chrysler/Plymouth, General Electric, Miller Beer, the United States Army, the United States Navy and numerous others.
    During this period, Cerisano also did backing vocals on several albums by Michael Bolton, and he was the singer of the 1986 song "Hands Across America". The video was featured on MTV and still is being played on Pop-up Video and VH1.
    On their Imaginos album, Blue Öyster Cult featured Cerisano as the lead singer for the song, "The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria". He and Gloria Estefan appeared together on the soundtrack of the 1988 musical, Goya; A Life in Song. And in 1998, Cerisano was one of the lead vocalists chosen by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to be featured on their album, The Christmas Attic.
    Cerisano sang backup for the rock band Korn in November 1999, as they introduced their new album, Issues. A concert was staged live in New York City at the Apollo Theatre. Broadcast of this event was carried on more than 100 radio stations around the world, as part of the album's global debut.
    In April 2000, Cerisano appeared on West Virginia Mountain Stage at Fairmont State College in Fairmont, West Virginia. Other invited guests on stage that evening included Eric Weissberg, who performed with Cerisano. Mary Black, Mick Moloney, Dee Carstensen and Dave Mallett also entertained the audience. The live performance was taped and later broadcast.
    Many other renowned artists have also called upon Cerisano's talent during the span of his career; Felix Cavaliere, Richie Havens, Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson and Jack Scarangella are just a few of them.
    External links
    http://www.cerisano.com/
    http://www.trans-siberian.com/index-main.php
    http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/cerisano_joe/bio.jhtml
    http://mainstreetfairmont.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=37
    http://ubl.artistdirect.com/nad/music/artist/bio/0,,413389,00.html#bio
    http://www.answers.com/topic/elderberry-jak
    http://www.tenorissimo.com/domingo/cdpop.htm#Goya%20-%20a%20Life%20in%20Song
    http://www.music.com/person/joe_cerisano/1/
    http://singer-songwriter.com/artist.php?id=2337
    http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:5fq8g4httv2z
    http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:55rb284c053a
    http://www.trans-siberian.com/about/family.shtml
    http://gearfab.swiftsite.com/Catalog_List/catalog_21.html
    http://www.towerrecords.com/Music/Default.aspx?search_in=Artist&oft=Joe+Cerisano&artist_free=Joe+Cerisano
    http://www.allmusicguide.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:r909kext7q7m
    http://www.answers.com/topic/joe-cerisano
    http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:f_OVoUSUSeMJ:www.mountainstage.org/html/Guest%2520Artist%2520List.doc+cerisano+mountain+stage&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 at 2:18 am
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    I have emailed Joe Cerisano regarding Voice of America. Here is the email trail.

    Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2012 14:42:44 -0400
    Subject: Re: Bandzoogle.com form: Voice of America

    Hi Fabio,
    When I sang the solo for "Hands Across America" the name for the group the promoters used was "Voices Of America", which is plural not Voice Of America so it's probably not me singing.

    Here is the youtube link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZorfXa5pBc

    Thank you for your interest. Joe

    On Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM
    Dear Joe:

    I have come across a 12 inch record from Voice of America. I understand that you may have been the singer on this record. Is this true? Was Voice of America your project? How did it come about? What happened to Voice of America?

    I hope i am not prying or making this in any way uncomfortable for you. Any info you share would be appreciated?

    Many thanks

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 at 3:11 am
    Permalink

    ALAN! DAMN DUDE!!! I LOVE THIS SONG.
    This is by far my favorite ONE OFF/ONE HIT WONDER TRACKS from the 80s that I periodically bust out to destroy anyone who thinks they have the Music Trivia upper hand on me!!
    I swear to you not a month ago I was talking about it!
    You, and I think Brother Billy, used to spin this track on CFNY all the time…for many years I might add.

    The compilation you mention was Hardest Hits and the track was on Vol #5 if I remember correctly!

    Seriously man, I just freaked out when I saw this post, I was so excited!
    And Thanks to everyone else who posted on this. Super cool that I just learned all that after all these years!

    One more reason I say that YOU my friend are perhaps the single most influential musical influence I have had and that you are responsible for the sound of Drowning Susan!

    Ha! Love it! Be well sir!

    -Mark from Drowning Susan

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 at 11:27 pm
    Permalink

    I know the guys from Voice of America and can assure you that neither Joe or Sandy were ever members of the band.
    VOA was comprised of David Shaw and Nigel Haslam. They released two singles, 'Story of Love' (produced by Phil Ward Large) and 'I Will Tell' (produced by Mike Howlett)
    Both are still around but are no longer involved in music.

    Reply
    • April 15, 2021 at 9:08 am
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      I wonder if Dave spent a few months around 1991 with myself on drums, Tony and Simon? Played the Borderline and a few dates in London.

      Reply
  • July 8, 2012 at 12:20 am
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    An interesting puzzle indeed. I was never a big fan of the song and my feelings haven't really changed on a relisten but i do like a good mystery so I've done some digging. Giles Smith, a journalist with the Times of London, wrote a book called "Lost in Music" and included some references to VOA. Smith is a former musician and may in fact have been a labelmate of the mystery duo on An Ammunition Communication before they moved to Virgin. At any rate, I have emailed him and will report back with any news. In addition, I learned that VOA released another record called "I Will Tell" which was produced by one Mike Howlett who produced a gazillion records by acts like Flock of Seagulls, Martha and the Muffins, OMD and Teardrop Explodes. I've sent him a note as well and, knock on wood, perhaps we can solve our mystery.

    Reply
  • July 8, 2012 at 12:23 am
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    Or Alex may just pop in and do it. 🙂

    Reply
  • July 10, 2012 at 7:28 am
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    The song, "Story of Love," became a cult alt-rock hit, especially in Southern Ontario and Western New York.

    Reply
  • July 13, 2012 at 7:32 am
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    Voice of America. The song, "Story of Love," became a cult alt-rock hit, especially in Southern Ontario and Western New York.

    Reply
  • February 11, 2013 at 3:08 am
    Permalink

    Mystery Solved!
    The comment on this page from July 7, 2012 by Alex is correct.

    Read my whole message if you want to get the whole story. I tried to make it as brief as possible.

    I found an account named Dave Shaw on youtube with only 4 Voice of America videos here:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/maestro9565/videos?view=0

    In the upload comments for the Story of Love video, he says they were 3 music videos for V.O.A.

    By the way there is a longer version or maybe complete version of Story of Love that runs 5:37mins. You can keep it by downloading it with a youtube video downloader by the way. I don't think you can buy the song(s) anywhere I think.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HNu8bVfm64

    Last and more importantly, Dave posts a link to a myspace account for a band called Dansin Obscure. He was in this band before V.O.A. There is bio on that myspace account explaining that band and V.O.A. Also, one of the V.O.A. songs was originally recorded by Dansin Obscure and you can hear it.

    youtube link
    https://www.youtube.com/user/maestro9565/feed?filter=1
    Myspace link
    http://www.myspace.com/httpwwwmyspacecomdansinobscure

    cheers,

    Music fan of all ages

    Reply
  • July 1, 2014 at 5:40 pm
    Permalink

    It amazes me that:
    A) I never heard this song until about 2003 (I was IN Hands Across America, not that the HAA is relevant anymore to the story since the VoiceS of America link was broken, but just to say I’m old enough to have been around when Story of love was on the air)
    B) A song so amazing, at a time when Animotion, Katrina and The Waves, etc ad infinitum were popping off cool but no cooler songs than VOA, could leave it’s creators anonymous…
    C) I’m not the only person who was intrigued by this mystery.

    I almost wish the trail would have gone completely cold. That said, the interwebs are awesome.

    Reply
  • August 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm
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    I have the extended version (5:41) on CD. It is included on “The Ongoing History of New Music Volume One”

    Reply
  • August 6, 2014 at 5:53 pm
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    BTW…I would love to find out who the woman is signing in the song…love her voice!!!

    Reply
  • October 8, 2014 at 8:02 am
    Permalink

    Hey folks,
    The trail ain’t completely cold..
    I am Nigel, the keyboard player in the band and I co-wrote Story of Love with Dave Shaw.

    The female vocal was Carroll Thompson, sometimes referred to as the Queen of Lover’s Rock, a British style of reggae music noted for its romantic sound and content (according to Wikipedia).

    We met here in the Denmark St demo studio where we worked, in Soho, when she was singing backing vocals for Maxi Priest at the end of the 80s. Her voice was so damn good that we could hardly bring ourselves to speak during the recording, it was like being in the presence of an angel.

    Nice to know the songs touched some people at least.

    Being signed to Virgin was a frustrating experience because they were going through a period of massive expansion, with over 80 bands on the roster. So they didn’t really get behind the marketing. I didn’t find out the records were released anywhere but the UK for over 20 years, when a Canadian remix dj called me up out of the blue asking if i was really the Nigel Haslam from VOA.

    I haven’t seen or heard from the other guys in the band for a long time. Live in Australia now and work in visual effects and animation. Life is sweet.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Cheers
    N

    Reply
    • October 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm
      Permalink

      Holy crap! THANK YOU SO MUCH! This solves and ancient riddle for so many of us in North America! I really appreciate it.

      Reply
      • October 9, 2014 at 8:15 am
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        This deserves a separate post!

        Reply
      • April 24, 2015 at 12:52 pm
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        Hey Alan, I just wanted to mention that I was the nice guy that donated a copy of the 12′ and 7″ version of “I will tell” to the radio station, back when it was the spirit of radio. Back then, people still didn’t know there was another release by them. A lot like the stories of people finding their copy of Endgames “first,last and everything’ in the bargain bin, that’s where I found my 7″ and 12” versions of both songs.

        Reply
  • December 9, 2016 at 9:02 pm
    Permalink

    Amazing that you got an update on this mystery … though not too surprising with the far-reaching InterWebz. 🙂 Such a brilliant song and probably one of my favs from the 80s (even if I didn’t ‘discover’ it until the late 2000s via Toronto station The Edge’s 80s night.)

    Reply

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