There are many people who casually presume that because famed physicist Brian Cox was a member of the band D:Ream that he played on their biggest hit, Things Can Only Get Better, but he didn’t!

The first time the great British public had really heard of the physicist Brian Cox was in 2005. Well only those who watched a BBC’s Horizon episode entitled Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony. The next Television appearance from Brian Cox came in another Horizon episode two years later. In the years since, Brian Cox has been seen more and more on Television extolling the virtues of all thing physics and he is now a bona fide star! (Which is somewhat ironic seen as he is the Co-Presenter of a programme called Stargazing!)

(Brian Cox: Image via Wikipedia)

An interesting thing about physicist Brian Cox is that he was a one time member of the early to mid 90’s ‘dance’band D:Ream. Mention of this fact is, predictably, on the Wikipedia page for Brian Cox where it says:

“He (Brian Cox) studied physics at the University of Manchester where he joined D:Ream, a group which had several hits in the UK charts, including the number one, ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, later used as a New Labour election anthem.”

That is factually correct. Brian Cox did join D:Ream and D:Ream did have several hits in the UK charts, including the number one ‘Things Can Only Get Better’. However Brian Cox did not perform on that number one hit at all – yet there are plenty of people out there who maintain that he did.

In the summer of 1992 D:Ream released the song ‘U R The Best Thing’, it slipped in to the charts at number 72 and dropped out the charts the following week. Early the following year they released ‘Things Can Only GetBetter’, and indeed they did as this one managed to hit a peak of number 24 in the UK charts. They followed it up with a remix version of ‘U R The Best Thing’ and hit a peak of number 19. Follow up single ‘Unforgiven’reached a peak of number 29 and the double A-side ‘Star’/’I Like It’ hit a peak of number 26. Then D:Ream hit the big time.

D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better


Early 1994 saw a re-release of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ and it raced to the number one spot for a total of 4 weeks. They then re-released (again) ‘U R The Best Thing’ and hit number 4 in the UK charts. Later that year they released ‘Take Me Away’ which hit a peak of number 18. The year of 1995 saw D:Ream release another 3 songs, ‘Shoot Me With Your Love (7), ‘Party Up The World’ (20) and ‘The Power (Of All The Love In The World'(40). And that was that for D:Ream. Apart from May 1997 when the Labour party under Tony Blair ‘hijacked’ the D:Ream song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ for their election campaign – the song returned to the charts at number 19.

D:Ream were the brainchild of Peter Cunnah, who wrote all the bands tracks and Scottish musician Al Mackenzie. The debut album from D:Ream, called D:Ream Volume 1, contains all but one of their hit singles. In the liner notes of the album it mentions all the people who played on each of the tracks. This is what it says:

All tracks performed by Peter Cunnah with :Take Me Away Backing Vocals Linda Duggan . U R The Best Thing Backing Vocals D’Borah Asher . Unforgiven Backing Vocals Linda Duggan . I Like ItBacking Vocals Linda Duggan . Glorious Voice by Liliana Chachian . So Long Movin’ On TrumpetGerry Ruddock, Backing Vocals Donna Gardier, Additional Programming Gaetan . Blame It On MeHammond Organ Tom Frederikse, Original Piano Raine Shine, Backing Vocals Linda Duggan & Jamie Petrie, Congas Wendon DavisThings Can Only Get Better Additional Keyboards Al Mackenzie, Additional Piano Tom Frederikse, Hammond/Piano Gary Meek, Backing Vocals JamiePetriePeter Crooner, Kathleen Pearson-ThomasDylis Duku & Delphi Newman . Star PianoBrian Cox, Congas Wendon Davis.

As those line notes attest, the piano part on the D:Ream track ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ were played, in part, but Al Mackenzie, Tom Frederikse and Gary Meek. So no Brian Cox on that track then! In fact, the only D:Ream track on the album that does feature Brian Cox on piano is the song Star.

D:Ream – Star


So Brian Cox may well have been a member of D:Ream, who had a number one hit with ‘Things Can Only GetBetter’, but he never played on it. The only chart hit by D:Ream Brian Cox did play on was Star, which hit a peak of number 26 in October 1993.

It wasn’t actually the first time though that Brian Cox had been in the UK charts though because in the late 1980’s he was a member of the band Dare. He was a member of the original line up of Dare and stayed for the recording of their first album ‘Out Of The Silence’ before leaving the band after receiving his degree in Physics. From that debut album from Dare two songs were released in the UK that hit the charts – The Raindance andAbandond – both in 1989. The two songs, featuring Brian Cox on keyboard failed to set the charts alight though, only reaching peaks of number 62 and 71 respectively.

So there you have it! One time ‘pop star Brian Cox, whose only taste of the top 40 in the UK charts was playing the piano on a song called Star, is now a physicist who has become a Television star and co-presents a show called Stargazing. How apt!

P.S. This article was originally published by the same author on Triond on the 26th of January 2012 and can be found by clicking HERE.