The Ottawa Valley duo of Louise Reny on vocals and multi-instrumentalist and producer Leslie Howe were in the rock cover band Mainstream, which began on the local circuit in the mid 70s, then graduated to the rest of eastern Canada and the US. But by 83 the two were growing disenchanted with the direction the band was gowing and decided to try it on their own, sending out demos by the dozen as One To One.
Impressed with the keyboard-oriented pop augmented with the rock guitar riff undertones, Bonaire Records out of England signed them to a two-album deal, who also happened to be the label for Saga. They were taken to West Germany in ’84 for some recording sessions, and FORWARD YOUR EMOTIONS was released in the summer of ’85. The progressive rock debut was an instant dance market winner, layered with synthesizers, slick production, and tight guitar hooks.
The first single “There Was A Time” quickly climbed the charts, cracking the top 10 at home and the top 20 in various European markets. A video was shot, but Warner USA didn’t like it, so it was re-shot as a supposed live performance. With Bob Moffatt on bass, and Rick Goodman on drums, it also featured Saga‘s Jim GIlmour on keys.
“Angel In My Pocket” soon followed, riding the new wave trend and topping Phillipines’ new music chart. By the time “Black On White” followed its predecessors early in ’86, the band was a huge hit on the dance floors across Canada, in pockets in the US and throughout Europe – despite never touring. Other noteable tracks included the quirky “Boys Will Be Boys” co-written by Ed Eagan. They were given the nod for three Juno nominations in ’86, including most promising group of the year and two for Howe’s production and engineering.
They returned to Europe to record their follow-up, 1988’s 1-2-1. It didn’t break any new ground, but was slightly more aggressive with the guitar work, and still produced another pair of singles which found their way into various 7 and 12″ remixes – “Hold Me Now” and “Do You Believe,” which was co-written with Lisa Erskine. Both singles cracked the top 20 at home, but with Bonaire facing closing the doors, they were looking for a new label within a year. Herb Alpert of A&M Records came calling.
Now going by the name One 2 One, they underwent a dramatic sound shift, and made a drastic shift to more of a contemporary, new country attitude for IMAGINE IT in 1992, the first record recorded at home. “Peace of Mind” and “Memory Lane” (which was featured on an episode of “Melrose Place”) gave the band a pair of crossover hits, and were followed with “Friends,” which featured Alanis Morrissette‘s backing vocals. They took a break afterwards, with Howe lending his expertise to developing Morissette’s early dance/disco sound, as well as her first couple of forays into the regular pop phase.
But in the middle of an ever-changing musical landscape, Reny and Howe reinvented themselves, forming the grunge act Sal’s Birdland, recording NUDE PHOTOS INSIDE in ’94 on Howe’s own Ghetto Records label. They were signed to MCA for the follow-up SO VERY HAPPY a year later, but neither performed particularly well, despite the duo forming an actual touring group to support the records. As grunge burned out, they looked to the female-led alternative sound of groups like Hole and Garbage for inspiration, and became Artificial Joy Club, releasing their debut MELT in ’97 on the Interscope label.
But again, they couldn’t keep up with the changing music scenes and called it quits before the end of the decade, despite their first single “Sick and Beautiful” cracking Billboard’s top 20. Howe would end up spending his time as a producer, while Reny would go on in the ’00s to form Bubbles Cash and the Rhythm Method, performing covers from the ’60s through the ’80s.
In 2010 Wounded Bird Records re-released One To One’s debut album on CD, although it featured no bonus material.