FLR was started and run until 2003 by former DJ and record shop manager Russell C. Brennan who has been acknowledged as one of the most innovative record producers of his generation. His A&R skill was exceptional, resulting in the discovery of over 70 artists. For those who don't know what A&R is, it's discovering new talents and putting them together with the right material. Brought up in Brixton, London, Russell was a Mod, with a love of film soundtracks, pop, Motown, ska and alternative innovative music.
His first discovery, who he later married, was Mod icon Eleanor Rigby. He wrote and produced all her recordings, initially on the Waterloo Sunset label. Eleanor Rigby was a very influential figure in the indie pop world. Many said she could have been as big as Madonna. Her records still sell today even though she is not here to promote them and she attracts new fans daily. Check out more of her story on the Eleanor Rigby page in the Artists Section. (Photo left to right: Eleanor Rigby, Russell and Martha Reeves.)
However FLR is most known for the Cult Themes albums and Cult Themes trend. When Russell was working in a record shop as a young lad he noticed a big demand for singles and albums of cult TV and film themes. No singles were available at that time and any themes albums available were bland orchestrated easy listening affairs. Added to that none had the right track listings of the most popular themes all together on one album. He decided that if ever he got his own label he'd put out just the right album of only the very best cult themes.
Future Legend Records was launched at the start of 1993. The label has had an active impact on the music industry and is acknowledged and respected for setting new music trends and inventing new genres of music.
Russell decided to make a cult Themes album the first release on his new Future Legend label. Rather than license and release the original tracks he decided to help break new artists by making new and exciting versions of the themes. This release helped new acts get a much bigger profile. Fans said that many of the new versions were much better than the originals. Also many including the composer like John Barry were saying some Bond tracks were the best covers of his tracksl. The production and arrangements were innovative. But the key ingredient was the track listing. It was spot on.
Not only did the first album prove very popular it started the 90's cult themes music and life style trend. Eventually six albums were released - three volumes of '60s themes, two of '70s themes and one of '80s themes, all with track listings packed with the best of the decades. TV and film theme club nights sprang up at famous London club Madam Jo Jo's and many other venues all around the UK. People started dressing up as their favourite characters like James Bond, Lady Penelope and Napoleon Solo and a lot of fun was had by all. Many other labels started to release themes albums. Eventually the trend ultimately developed into an easy listening scene.
Many new artists made giant leaps in their careers after appearing on the cult themes albums.
Photos left to right: Glenda Collins, The Honeycombs.
FLR next released The Best Of Eleanor Rigby, a compilation of Eleanor Rigby's most loved tracks. When this first came out a DJ at London's famous Mod 'Blow Up' Club heard it and started playing it alongside many other Mod sounds. He coined the phrase Britpop to describe this music. (Mod Music still had a certain stigma attached to it whereas the term Britpop did not.) Britpop took a hold on radio airplay lists and in student bars and venues all over the UK. Acts Like Blur and Saint Ettiene sprang up, name checking Eleanor as an influence on their music.
As well as new trends and genres FLR kept things interesting with a series of Limited Edition releases & collectable vinyl, particularly of Eleanor Rigby, since fans were always interested in anything by this sexy Mod artist. Photos left to right: The Best of Eleanor Rigby Vol.2 vinyl picture disc, Eleanor Rigby vinyl single.
But although FLR sold releases well on mail order, distribution to the shops was ever a problem and after 10 years of constant difficulties with distributors like Sony/BMG and Universal, and with Russell wanting to concentrate on other artistic endeavors, a decision was taken to stop releasing any new records on the FLR label.
FLR's absence from the record scene seemed to add to its reputation and demand built up for its previous releases. Outside of the label, copies started changing hands for good money on the collectors market and eBay. The newer social phenomena of Myspace and YouTube encouraged a whole new generation of fans of artists on the record label, particularly of Eleanor Rigby.
Psykick Holiday was Russell's new band. Inspired by the success of the Psykick Holiday Bond themes he set about writing his first original material for some years. FLR's first Psykick Holiday release in 2008 was a downloadable dance single Sex On The Internet .
Finding the right lead singer for the band was a problem, but after several changes during 2009 and 2010, October 2010 saw the release of Psykick Holiday's debut album Forever Pop Noir with the lead singer Joannaa T. This was to be the label's first release in CD format for several years.
FLR's band Ministry of Ska (photo right) set a new genre in motion - that of Ska Surf. See Ministry Of Ska Page for further details.
After changing their name briefly to Pop Noir in 2001 they finally dissolved the band in 2002. The band Psykick Holiday has since taken up the Pop Noir baton on the FLR label.
For years Bond fans had asked if all the Bond themes on the label could be put on one album. Most of these themes had been produced by Russell and some were thought of as exceptional versions of the originals. FLR's new band Psykick Holiday also introduced new versions of A View To A Kill and The James Bond Theme. Both of these tracks get 10 out of 10 on iTunes UK for popularity. Indeed some fans called Psykick Holiday's Goldfinger-like version of A View To A Kill one of the best Bond covers ever.
60's hit band The Honeycombs made a guest appearance on the album with a powerful cover of Live and Let Die. Check out the track listing on the James Bond Page.
Exciting new music came to FLR in the '90s with Russell's band Box Office Poison which developed the new music genre Pop Noir. The early Box Office Poison line-up included Russell, Debbie Detroit, Ron Rage & Jo Sharp. Later Debbie & Jo were replaced by Mouse and Misty Woods and this line up is considered the definitive one. (Photo to left)
It took at least 5 years before bands like Goldfrapp and Mono caught on to Pop Noir. Artists like Portishead and Madonna were also influenced in certain parts of their careers by this dramatic music genre. More recent bands (eg The Blue Violets, Lowe, Blackroom, Pop Noir) have taken some Pop Noir influences either into their music (The Blue Violets, Lowe) or by name: Blackroom's first album is entitled Pop Noir and UK guitar duo Pop Noir broke the US market.
Mod album Mod Tunes: Three Button Legacy was released in late 2010. This features a superb selection of the best and rarest FLR Mod tracks for collectors of this genre.
in 2003 FLR was taken over by a new owner, the previous BOP vocalist Mouse. Music download companies had been courting FLR for many years because of their extensive back catalogue filled with popular products. This resulted in the labels back catalogue being made available for the first time for download via iTunes, e-music and popular download sites around the world. It also seemed to be the right time to start releasing new records via the download route, so giving fans choice and value yet not over stretching the labels finances. The first such release was the album The Themes Bond ......James Bond
The most popular track by far however was Bond theme You Only Live Twice, recorded by Eleanor Rigby, which hit the number one spot in Italy. In the UK a buzz was on for the single and it was getting lots of airplay. But FLRs distributors had no sense of urgency and delayed distribution of the single well past the critical time point. The fans were unable to buy it in the shops when they wanted it and finally lost interest. Eleanor had also bowed out of the music scene by that point which ended the chances of success in Britain.
FLR looks forward to continuing to find and present the best and most innovative music and artists for a long time to come, with the support of their loyal fans of past, present and future.
A fine Babysitars album My Two Minds Are Eight Miles High followed. Two very popular tracks from this album were Crazyhead (about Joe Meek) and She Sells Dynamite.
New albums and singles have been released regularly since then on download, giving fans the choice to buy both new material and deleted tracks that were previously unavailable due to the vinyl or CDs being sold out.