In the mid 1970’s, a group made up of session musicians KevinWells (drums) and Mike Nelson (keyboards) and vocalists Martin Jay and Tina Charles began recording disco/pop records using the name Airbus. They didn’t have any success in the UK but had a hit in Europe with “Fly Away”. A follow-up was recorded called “Bye love” with “I’m On Fire” as the B side. Again they had a hit in Europe and the UK record company liked the B side much more and flipped it over as an A-side. The name of the group was changed to 5000 Volts and duly became a UK hit single.
The group’s name was also changed from Airbus to 5000 volts on the European pressings culminating in “I’m On Fire” becoming one of 1975’s biggest European hits reaching the top ten in Switzerland, Norway, Austria, The Netherlands, and peaking at #1 in at least 15 countries including Germany (selling over one million copies), Sweden and Belgium. In the UK the single reached #4 in September with a chart run of 9 weeks. In the US, a version of the song by Jim Gilstrap reached #78, at the same time 5000 Volts climbed into the top 40 peaking at #26.
The record was produced and arranged by Tony Eyers. He expanded the group to include Martin Cohen (bass and vocals). The B-side is an instrumental version called “Still On Fire”. There was no acknowledgment of Tina Charles’ vocal at the time and song was promoted via another female. Tina left the group to pursue her solo career and a new female vocalist Linda Kelly was added to the band. They went on to record more records but didn’t find similar success. They disbanded in 1978.
Tina and Martin recorded an album in 2012 using the group name of 5000 Volts.
Tina Charles is a British vocalist born London in 1954, who’s main hit making era was the 1970’s. Originally she was a backing singer and session musician. Unsuccessfully she released some solo singles from 1969, and later appeared on television as a resident singer for the first series of The Two Ronnies Show and similar variety shows of the era. Her career took off by being featured as a backing vocalist on the 1974 #1 UK hit “Come Up And See Me” by Cockney Rebel. In 1975she was part of a Massive European hit “I’m on Fire” when part of a group called 5000 Volts. Although it was her voice, she wasn’t the vocalist who appeared on television with the song.Whilst being no stranger to featuring uncredited on these big records it was ultimately the disco/pop genre with help of producer Biddu which would help strike gold for her when “I Love To Love” became Tina’s only UK and Ireland #1. After a slow start the song leaped from #23 to #3 and eventually stayed at #1 for 3 weeks in March 1976 for a total of 12 weeks on the chart. It also made #2 in France, The Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. She appeared on several European television shows with the song.
Tina’s follow-up made the top 40 and later on at the end of the summer she had another top ten hit with “Dance Little Lady Dance”.
My copy has the pushed out centre that came with a plastic insert for playing. That has long since gone, but I have a centre block with my record player, so it is playable as the video below shows.
Tina continues to be active both by recording and doing live performances. In 2012 an album was released with 5000 Volts partner Martin Jay called Reunited.