Dave Johnson (b. 23 May 1977, Darley Dale, Derbyshire, England; guitar, keyboards, electronics, vocals) and Vanessa Robinson (b. 16 March 1972, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England; guitar/vocals) began working together as Grandadbob in the late 90s, with their first single of melodic house, ‘Mudwiggle’, appearing on Toko Records in 1999. Johnson worked as a sound engineer in a Sheffield-based studio that was owned by an ex-member of 80s electro pop pioneers ABC, and took to Robinson’s classically trained vocals when she arrived to do some session work. The two shared a love of classic pop and began to write and demo songs as Grandadbob, a name inspired by Robinson’s grandfather. Early interviews and press suggested that Grandadbob was Johnson’s DJ alias. However, by the time of the release of Waltzes For Weirdoes in August 2004 it was clear that the name represented a duo. The album was issued on Norman Cook’s Southern Fried label, and the duo was subsequently taken on tour to support Fatboy Slim in Japan. The sound on the album was inspired by French house duo Daft Punk, and Robinson’s vocals recalled Beth Gibbons of Portishead fame - particularly on the trip-hop track ‘Killed By Sweets’. Many drew comparisons with Sheffield-based dance pop outfits of such as Moloko and I Monster, but the kitsch ‘Kenny’ would have fitted well on Foxbase Alpha, the 1991 debut by the London-based Saint Etienne. Written and recorded in the Derbyshire countryside, 2006’s Garden Of Happiness was a much stronger, pastoral and eclectic, less dancefloor-orientated set. While lavish production came from Liam Howe of Sneaker Pimps, Johnson now brought his vocals to the forefront. Although unfairly derided by some critics as being too similar to that of Ben Ottewell of Gomez, his voice perfectly counterbalanced Robinson’s angelic tones. This was particularly evident on the country-inspired opener, ‘Come With Me’ and the folk-based ‘English Summer’, two of the finer tracks on the album.Portions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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