It’s supposedly based on the experiences of lead singer Jimmy (Jimi/Jimmi) Somerville, who quit the Scottish city of Glasgow in search of a better (and safer) life down South.
The video (below) was actually quite radical for its time, given its unambiguous and unapologetic portrayal of boys lusting after other boys. Even though it goes on to show a bit of gay-bashing and the family tensions arising from that, it would have provided an important bit of validation to tens of thousands of isolated young gays when they saw it on TV.
Somerville became actively involved in the Gay Teenage Group on his arrival in London and made his first public appearance singing Screaming in the pre-Bronski video Framed: Revenge of the Teenage Perverts. I always found his falsetto singing voice quite remarkable given that he actually has quite a deep speaking voice.
He joined up with Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek to form Bronski Beat. The band were very much upfront about being gay; their logo incorporated the pink triangle and many of their songs unambiguously addressed the issues around being gay – even their album was entitled Age of Consent.
They ran into a bit of controversy in 1985 when they recorded a version of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. Disco-queen Summer had been slated for allegedly making anti-gay comments at one of her concerts and the gay community was encouraged to ‘Trash Donna’ by boycotting her records. I seem to recall Somerville justifying their decision to record the song by saying it’s overtly gay slant was their way of giving Summer the finger.
Shortly after performing a benefit concert for Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in 1985, Somerville left the group. Bronski Beat recruited new members and have carried on ever since. In 1987 the original trio re-formed for a one-off concert for World AIDS Day in London but they haven’t performed together since that time.