Friday, 31 December 2010

I Love 1980 - 30

Abba - Happy New Year

Although there are doubtless many other singles and albums from 1980 that deserved a mention in the I Love 1980 series, I can't think of a more appropriate way to wrap up the 30 year anniversary (the 30th in the series too, get it?) than benny & Bjorn's hogmanay croon-choon off the Super Trouper album. So after all the new wave sounds, the Gary Numans, the New Musiks and the like, ABBA were the ones who came out on top at the end of the year (save for John Lennon's posthumous chart success) with the Super Trouper album and single.

That said, it was the beginning of the end for Sweden's top export commodity: Trouper was their last UK number one single and except for 1981's disppointing The Visitors they only reached the number 1 album position with the various Greatest Hits, Singles and Golds compilation albums afterwards.
But no matter, their legacy has been strong enough to overcome various fashions, trends, electro-pop, SAW-pop, Brit-pop, and all the rest, right up to the mega-musical Mamma Mia in the noughties.

Happy New Year to all our readers. See you in 1981.............

Thursday, 30 December 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 7

The ones that got away...

Just before the final instalment in the I Love 1980 series here's a few tracks (and albums) from 1980 which for one reason or another didn't quite make it to the prestigious top 30.

I'd also like to thank all our readers and those who've commented on the series over the past year, and also the numerous internet sites which have been invaluable in my research, particularly Like Punk Never Happened - the Smash Hits archive which came along to inspire me just as I was flagging a little; whoever is behind the wonderful Chart Stats site, the many Wikipedia pages and the various official or fan-based (usually the better ones) band and artist sites.

Here we go, 2-3-4...

  • Jon And Vangelis - I Hear You Now
  • Martha And The Muffins - Echo Beach
  • Genesis - Turn It On Again
  • The Undertones - My Perfect Cousin
  • Sky - Toccata
  • Mike Oldfield - QE2 (album)
  • Lipps Inc - Funky Town
  • Electric Light Orchestra - I'm Alive / Xanadu (with Olivia Newton John)
  • Splodgenessabounds - Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra - Firecracker
  • Adam & The Ants - Ant Music
  • Madness - Embarrassment
  • Robert Palmer - Looking For Clues
  • Visage - Fade to Grey*
(* more of them in 1981....)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

I Love 1980 - 29

Jona Lewie - Stop the Cavalry
As good a track as any to celebrate the festive season, which quite by chance first came out in 1980.
We've already come across Mr Lewie earlier in the year with his marvellous Kitchen at Parties, and after the less successful Big Shot - Momentarily this excellent number, combining a seasonal brass band, faux-reggae synth-chug and anti-(nuclear) war sentiment, went to number 3 as early as 13th December and marched on the spot for an incredible five weeks, kept off the number one spot by mega-stars Abba, John Lennon (deceased) and St. Winifred's School Choir. About as great an injustice as Midge-Vox being kept of the top spot know who.
Anyway, don your paper hats, put aside the wrapping, grab yer Granny and slip this one into your Christmas stocking-playlist.

Jona Lewie official
Jona Wikie

Saturday, 18 December 2010

I Love 1980 - 28

UB40 - King/Food For Thought

As the year draws to a close, just time to mention one that nearly got away. UB40 came onto the charts scene (ergo public awareness) back in March 1980 with this cracking double A side which actually reached number 4 a month later. Not bad for a record which one one side tackles the subject of famine in Ethiopia and on the other the late Martin Luther King, "questioning the lost direction of the deceased leader's followers and the state of mourning of a nation after his death". Not to mention the name of the band itself which came from the 'unemployment benefit' form used when signing up for the dole, an increasingly common thing in those early Thatcher years. Neat.

Actually I'm not quite sure whether understood the message behind Food For Thought which was a rather jolly danceable-reggae thing, whereas King is a lot more obvious, and thus was played much less (banned?) on Radio 1 and I personally prefer it with all that skanky dub thang going on.

Brum's UB40 were certainly one of the UK's first 'mix race' bands and came up with some damn good music with their first two albums (My Way of Thinking, The Earth Dies Screaming, One in Ten..) combining social issues with a very pleasant bit of reggae, which could even get yer Granny's toes tapping. Pity they went too soft and commercial after that with the Red Red Wine kind of dross. (Why did that seem to happen with so many interesting bands back then?) Get their 1982 Singles Album for the better stuff (even though I am rather partial to 1986's Rat in Me Kitchen..)

Totally pointless "video" for King here but just sit back a bit and enjoy da sound...

King/Food For Thought - chart stats:
UB40 official site

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Coldplay - Christmas Lights

I Love 1980 - 27

(Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon

In October 1980 John Lennon's comeback was about as warmly received as Yoko Ono's presence in a Beatles recording studio in the late 60s. Amongst the emerging new wave sounds in the shiny new decade, Lennon's anachronistic (Just Like) Starting Over with it's rock n roll ballad style, faux-Elvis/Orbison vocals and "doo-wap" backing just spelt out "boring old fart". Lennon & Ono had left the UK in 1971 to settle in New York effectively 'betraying' Blighty and British fans. And while contemporaries such as Bowie, Brian Ferry and Elton John had all moved on and progressed, for many Lennon's recluse since 1975 had meant out of sight out of mind.
That said, the comeback single made a decent enough entry into the UK charts in November, gradually creeping up to the top 10 before dropping heavily after just 4 weeks. It was radio-friendly and Lennon's enthusiam for his return and the new album trickled through in the odd press interview. David Hepworth's 3 out of 10 review in Smash Hits was both scathing and brutally honest, ominously commenting that "Lennon needn't bother about a follow-up til 1999".

After Mark Chapman brutally shot and killed John Lennon on 8th December 1980, sales of the single and parent album rocketed and the opening "our life together is so precious..together" took on a whole new meaning.

Whatever you thought of of Lennon, Yoko or their Double Fantasy, (Just Like) Starting Over was, in hindsight, a cracking comeback single and a fine example of the Lennon genius. The tinkling bell at the start echoes and lighten up the opening chimes of "Mother" (bringing it all "full circle" in Lennon's own words), the 'let's start again' message is universal and multi-purpose, the rock n roll pastiche is note perfect and the treated voice of Yoko reciting poetry in the coda makes it just that little more interesting and modern.

The single became the UK Christmas Number One.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 6

John Lennon
shot dead 8th December, 1980

(yes, there are also some reasons why I don't love 1980...)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 5

Streisand album, 1980

Streisand single, 2010


French electro-musos-cum-robots-cum-men-in-helmets Daft Punk (left) have done the soundtrack for the new Tron Legacy movie, out soon.

Although their robotic image would be well fitted to such a soundtrack, musically, it's perhaps not quite what you expect from les Dafts, and is more of an epic Vangelis meets Emerson Lake and Palmer sort of affair, with odd bits of Vivaldi and, er, Daft Punk thrown in. Unlike, say, the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire by aforementioned Greek maestro, the Tron Legacy music doesn't really mean much without an film attached to it, especially as most of the album's 22 tracks are scene-sized short pièces, which barely hold out on their own.

Anyways here's one the most Daft Punk-y sounding tracks, the brief "Derezzed", complete with movie visuals.

Partial as I am to a bit of gorgonzola now and then, the original Tron was a little too cheesy for moi, and perhaps came a little too late, or too early depending on how you look at it. The tale of "former employee of the software corporation ENCOM, now running a arcade" who gets swallowed up by a computer didn't really fit in with the more analogue 70's /80's sci-fi of my childhood/youth. Anyway now the time may be right to catch up on the deliciously retro original, and the soundtrack which I see was done back then by one Wendy Carlos...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

I Love 1980 - 26

Spandau Ballet - To Cut a Long Story Short
And yes it was 30 years ago this week, about, that five grown men in kilts, tablecloths and floppy fringes made their way onto Top of the Pops to perform their first single. Emerging from The Blitz scene which had been bubbling in London's underground clubs and things during the past year or so, this was the first hit single of the genre generally known as New Romantic, whatever that means, meant or was meant to mean. Some may argue the re- vamped Ultravox preceded and indeed inspired everyone else and Bowie's Scary Monsters album simultaneously drew from and fuelled the movement both in fashion, attitude, ....oh and the music, although Spandau Ballet are generally considered to be the first of their kind to hit the big time with several others to follow, including Brummy rivals Duran Duran who were still sweating it out in frilly blouses on the Midlands club circuit.

Sad in a way that the Spans soon abandoned the dish-cloth style and bold, rhythmic, electro-based music which first brought them onto the scene, preferring a more MOR "soul boy" approach within a couple of years with True and all that, suited though it was to the upcoming wine bar culture (itself the logical consequence of the Blitz scene?).
We immediately loved 'em just as they were, bringing in something new and exciting, and - as far as I was concerned more importantly than the kilts - vaguely electro (even tho the driving synth line had been mixed down vis à vis the original demo versh). It was foppish but laddish at the same time, a pint of lager with lipstick on the rim, epic poetry for the dancefloor ....listen to the sound of the Spandau Ballet..

To Cut a Long Story Short - chart stats
Spandau Ballet's first mention in Smash Hits (p.15)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Night night people

"..get around town, get around town, where the people look good, where the music is loud.."

The Human League present Night People .. and it's 1981 all over again.. Add your voice..

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

No files on me

I was horrified to discover that those "nice" people at fileden had suspended (ie. exterminated) my account over there without even a word of warning. This means that not only do I lose my files on there but also the player and relativetracks which I painstakingly incorportaed into this 'ere blog no longer werk .. Lost in Music is now lost without music.
I suspect this all came about after somebody requested that a post of mine featuring the new David Sylvian and Ingrid Chavez albums on Samadhi was also "suspended" because it contained an "offensive" link .. wtf??? I can only take that as referring to the fact that there was the Sylvian track "Therapy" in the player at the end of the post, the file of which was duly hosted by...fileden.
So all this beacuse I went out of my way to give a free plug to Samadhi bleed' Sound and the bloomin "new" Sylvian and Ingrid Chavez albums.
Gah! So much for free advertising..
Seriously considering giving up on blogger next year.

PS this post contains no links or files whatsoever ..

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I Love 1980 - 25

Organisation - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Organisation. An album from a faraway age when a band could be obscure, enigmatic, industrial, experimental, interesting, moving and still get to number 6 in the charts. Although it had come just months after their debut, Organisation was light (or dark) years away from the garage prototype synthpop of OMITD. The move to Advision Studios, the conscription of prog-musician Mike Howlett as producer , a "good haircut" and radical change of wardrobe did wonders for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, making them one of those rare outfits which suited both NME and Smash Hits.

It's hard for me to be objective about Organisation, such was its impact way back in the dark winter of 1980. To paraphrase others, men of mystery and imagination came crashing into my little world and nothing would ever be the same again.
But let's try.......The grey and black sleeve, the bleak cover picture, the semi-dark portrait on the back all served to give an indication of what this record was going to be like. You felt angstful just owning the thing.
The upbeat, already-a-hit single Enola Gay, albeit with a darker message, was there sure enough as the opening track but with its placing at the beginning of the opus the message was clear: Ok, that's the hit out of the way, let's get on with the album proper.
Indeed, it's the gloomy chimes of 2nd Thought which really get the Organisation ball rolling. "The order in our lives left some time ago, along the way" softly sings McCluskey to a steady electro beat and synthetic choral track which was to become their trademark. It’s typical of the album: soothing yet disquieting at the same time. Angst you can dance to.
The more angular VCL XI (get the hidden Kraftwerk reference?) brings us back to the Manoeuvres' more experimental mode with treated piano, irregular thrashing electronic percussion and lyrics which, to this day, remainincomprehensible . With Motion and Heart - briefly considered as a single - we're back in the pop mode and, although a more disciplined affair compared to it's Peel Session predecessor, it remains one of their most mysterious tracks.
The melancholic and heart breaking Statues closes side 1. Allegedly a tribute to Ian Curtis RIP ("The way you, move, I can't explain"), his suicide and the Closer album are said to be heavy influences on Organisation. Statues goes beyond that and lines like "I tried to care and understand" and the final cry "I can't imagine how this ever came to be" and fade-out have as much anguish and suffering as the Mancunian's "When routine bites hard" or "..people like you find it easy". Warning: this song may make you cry.

End of side one.

Side Two fades in with The Misunderstanding, a track rescued from McCluskey & Humphrey's The Id days and dutifully darkened for Organisation. Anger, confusion, frustration. It's all there.
The cover version of Warren & Gordon's The More I See You is often seen as the black sheep of the Organisation herd, a track which both McCluskey and Humphreys have since derided and regretted, but the dark twist on the original is perfectly in line with the album, and its minimal synth and drum pads make for top geeky dancing and air-drumming. Believe me.
Humphreys' atmospheric Promise (singled out by OGWT to promote the album) is a hardly an adequate match to McCluskey's solo efforts, (he would fare better with Souvenir the following year), but it's a perfect lead into the final, over-six-minutes long Stanlow, the album's crowning glory; moving, industrial, masterful, majestic and, yes, it's a love song about an oil-refinery on the Wirral.

End of Side Two... end of Organisation.

An interesting addition to the LP however was a four-track EP of a live performance of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at Eric's Club in 1978. The unique performance's experimental instrumentation and atmospheres are well suited to Organisation, like Electricity, Messages and Enola Gay had never happened. Titles like Introducing Radios and Distance Fades Between Us again give us an idea of the band's combined ethos: the experimental and the sentimental.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - a decent haircut did them a world of good

Friday, 5 November 2010

Human Monster People

The Human League have finally got the ball rolling on new material with an official site, mailing list, and a countdown to the release of the new single "Night People". The track was premièred in Berlin on 4th November at the Electronic Beats Festival. (spoiler video here)

The new album Credo is out "early next year" has been produced by fellow Sheffield electro-citizens I Monster.

IMonster myspace

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Blancmange are back ..

something else to look forward to in 2011 ..

New Blancmange album Blanc Burn (geddit?) due in February 2011, with live dates in March.

mange-space: blancmange2006
mange-face: blanc-book
mange-twit: blanc-tweets

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I Love 1980 - 24

Enola Gay - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
"Many people simply don't know what it's actually about. Some even thought it was a coded message that we were gay. We were both geeks about WWII airplanes. The most famous and influential single bomber was Enola Gay. Obvious choice for us, really." Thus Andy McCluskey, OMD frontman and writer of this seminal 'eighties' song which started to climb the charts thirty years ago this week.
It may seem incredible after all this time people still don't know what the song's about, although to be fair there never was any direct reference to the first atom bomb used in warfare and the plane that dropped it on Hiroshime, either in the video, the cover or perhaps in the up-tempo happy go lucky music itself. (Was there something immorally wrong about a bouncy, electro-poppy dance tune which almost seemed to celebrate the plane and its doings?). But that's those geeky OMD boys for you ...they write a good song and you can whistle it, dance to it, and even please your parents with it but the lyrics almost always have a deeper meaning.
"It's 8.15, and that's the time that's it's always been" it's not about what time you get up in the morning but it's the hour at which the bomb was actually dropped. "Is mother proud of Little Boy today?" isn't about little Johnny coming top in maths it's the code-names used for the plane and the bomb respectively. "This kiss you give is nevr gonna fade away" isn't about the smacker your grlfriend gave you last Saturday night, it's the impact of the first atomic bomb falling to earth and how it affected the rest of history. Geddit now? Oh and's nothing about being gay either.

The song was of course the band's breakthrough into the top ten and a wider audience, even after the success of Messages earlier in the year. Although it was the only single off the Organisation album (more of that later..) the track was strong enough to see them into the even more successful Architecture & Morality period almost a year later. Big hair was out, smart shirt n ties and granny-knit tank-tops were in in.

Whatever you may think about OMD's Enola Gay - cheesy, annoying, superficial, immoral, ace, totally brilliant, life-changing (ahem), - it's certainly one of those tunes that has entered into the public conscious worldwide; you can't mention "Enola Gay" in a historical context without feeling the urge to whistle a bar or two, and you can't hear it come on the radio without wanting to sing or hum along or even air-synth or do a funny dance to. No you can't. Just try.

Enola Gay chart-stats:

geeky video: OMD Andy McCluskey breaks down the structure of Enola Gay

Those wishing for something other than the tried and trusted hit version should give the more downbeat pre-Mike Howlett Peel Sessions version a listen or two, recorded earlier in 1980, and featured here. Avoid the dreadful 1998 Sash! remix like the plague..

Listen: OMD - Enola Gay (early version)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

You remind me of....

Darkstar: Gold - Taken from the album North, released on Hyperdub on 18th October 2010.

original gold.....

Thursday, 7 October 2010

I Love 1980 - 23

John Foxx - My Face (flexi disc)

Not so much a tribute to the song (you've had your share already John Foxx!) more a homage to the format itself. Smash Hits, and others, occasionally gave a way a free coloured flexi disc with their fornightly magazine, which was a pioneer publication in covering music trends in a unique style. The Foxx track was released in such a format 30 years ago this week.
Smash Hits flexis seem to have been mostly by artists on Virgin - Squeeze, XTC, Skids, OMITD; Foxx - a label which, as already mentioned, was particularly aware of new sounds and new means of distributing music to the kids., although later other labels took up on the idea and occasionally issued pieces of wobbly plastic via SH and other mags too. The Flexi-Pop! magazine was lanched in 1980, and had a free flexi disc each issue, often with exclusively recorded songs by bands of the moment (Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, The Jam, Haircut 100..)
The sound quality of the track(s) on the discs were never excellent of course, even by vinyl standards, and more than often you had to put a 10p piece on the needle or on the centrre of the disc itself to make sure it played properly on yer record player. But this was 1980, we didn't worry too much about scratches and, hey, they were free!

This particular track by Foxx remained exclusive to this release right up until the year 2000 when it finally saw the light of day in non-flexi form on the Modern Art compilation. Its total electronic style was in keeping with the year's Metamatic, although according to SH blurb the song "is just one of the forty or so tracks that the man has been working up while preparing for his second solo album". Ironically it was his last 'electronic' song to be released before moving on (or back) to a more 'organic' sound with drums and guitars with The Garden and susbequent 80s albums. Foxx would return to electronics some ten years later with the Nation 12 project with Tim Simenon in 1991 and again from 1995 with Louis Gordon. He is currently working on electronic music with producer and all round analogue geek Benge as John Foxx & The Maths.

read Ryan Foley's History of the flexi disc here.
flexi-pop facebook group here
thanks, as ever, to Brian McCloskey's SH archive

Listen: John Foxx - My Face

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Get set for Yazoo

Yazoo issue their live album Reconnected Live this week. The recording documents the live performances by Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke who got back together again in 2008 to perform tracks from their 80s albums, Upstairs at Eric's, You & Me Both and a few others. Click here to hear samples and order from the usual places.

Curiously the album features a bonus track of Yazoo's forgotten title music to the even-more-forgotten BBC Saturday morning kids' show Get Set For Summer. The live show was presented by 80 s Radio 1 DJ par excellence Peter Powell and one Mark Curry (later of Blue Peter) and was on telly in the "summer" months between 1981 and 1983, apparently, although here at LiM we have very little recollection of it. See here for a bit more info.

Peter Powell: now manages "talent".

Monday, 20 September 2010

Human Creed

Unofficial sources on Facebook today have announced that the new Human League album is to be called Credo. The Electricity Club has posted the news on the social network this morning (although not on its site yet) and "Phil Oakey" (is it really Phil talking?) has also posted "The album is called CREDO to be released early 2011 - The tour is THE NIGHT PEOPLE TOUR 2010 - The first single will be NIGHT PEOPLE released before the start of the tour". No album this year then.
Human League label Wall of Sound have yet to give any offical announcement on the artist page, and what is supposedly the League's "official site" still remains untouched.

What's "credo"? I hear you ask .. simply a statement of belief (from the Latin word credo meaning "I believe"), usually in a religious sense, and commonly translated into English as "creed". Maybe Pope Benedict's recent visit to the UK had some beneficial effects?

Pope in the UK .. the visit to Sheffield remained a secret from the press

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Downtown with the mob..*

(* with thanks to RadioBeach ...)

Heaven 17 /BEF leading person Martyn Ware (left) has announced on his blog that he is "off to Abbey Road today" to master the Collector's Edition of 1981's Penthouse and Pavement 2CD plus DVD box set due out in November.

Even more tantalising is that the bonus CD is a "56 minute 20 track CD of unearthed demos from 1980" which even he and Glenn Gregory had not heard for 30 years and had forgotten still existed! If they're along the lines of Music For Stowaways then should be well worth having. Let's just hope Hot Gossip are not involved.

Hot Gossip and BEF: a marriage made in hell.

I Love 1980 - 22

XTC - Generals & Majors

I was quite surprised to see this one lurking in the lower reaches of the Top 40 of 30 years ago; firstly because I thought it came out much later (81?82?) and also because it's one of those songs and bands I've never stopped listening to since they first started having hits back then . .has it really been thirty years? Gor blimey.

Anyway here they be: Swindon's (and indeed the West Country's) finest having their taste of success, day-time radio play, charts, Smash Hits, Top of the Pops and all the rest of it with what is essentially and anti-war protest song. Perhaps it's 1980 timeslot is all the more surprising with it's "generals and majors always seem so unhappy unless they got a war" punchline sounding more like it was written for the Falklands/Malvinas crisis a couple of years later, not to mention more war-mongering in the Middle East in the decades to come. After 35 years of (relative) peace, Moulding, Partridge and friends reminded us only too well that said military chiefs "like never before are tired of being actionless".
Prophetic words indeed. One can only but shudder at the thought that General Leopoldo Galtieri et al may have been inspired by the song to launch their invasion on the up to then little known British islands far far away. Shudder also at the thought of British squaddies whistling and singing along to the track in a 'riding along in an army truck' fashion as they headed for the chilly South Atlantic. Brrrr.
Perhaps surprisingly Generals & Majors was the least successful of XTC's heyday singles - after going top 20 with Making Plans for Nigel, even the 'Majors' follow-up Towers of London faired slightly better and the reached their chart zenith with the military-metaphoric Sgt Rock in January 1982 and the marvellous (1-2-3-4-5!) Senses Working Overtime a year later.
XTC certainly deserved better although perhaps much of their charm and appeal lies within that 'never quite made it really big' status. They had all the backing of the Virgin label (Richard Branson appears in the G&M video) and a top producer in Steve Lillywhite. I regret not seeing them live back then although I read recently that they stopped playing live after the Black Sea album (why so?).
Generals & Majors was released as a limited edition double 7" pack, a tactic often used by Virgin at the time to boost initial sales. The three other tracks are now available on the Black Sea CD re-issue.

Generals & Majors on Chart Stats
XTC discography on
Black Sea in The Lost Classics series

XTC: deserved better

Listen: XTC - Generals and Majors

Monday, 13 September 2010

The new Plastic Age

Trevor Horn's official site has confirmed a special one-off live performance by The Buggles "a mere 30 years after their international #1 hit single Video Killed the Radio Star kick-started a generation of electronic pop".
Horn will reconvene the original Buggles line-up, to preform their début album - The Age of Plastic - in full. No post-gig DVD or live CD will be released we are told so the gig at London's supperclub on 28th September looks set to be very special indeed. All proceeds from The Lost Gig will be donated to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have also been confirmed as support band with a special set featuring the original McCluskey/Humphreys two-piece set-up. Says Horn of the Orch-men: ""I think what Orchestral Manoeuvres have achieved over the last few decades - that fusion of pop and electronic experimentation - is unique. Both OMD and The Buggles released their début singles in September 1979, so there's another symmetry for them joining us on the 28th"

LiM wonders whether Winston will also feature!

Although the influence of The Buggles and their 'plastic synthpop' blueprint is undisputed, their success hardly went beyond their hit Video Killed the Radio Star which reached number 1 in the UK in October1979. The album The Age of Plastic remained in the Top 40 for a mere three weeks peaking at number 27 in March 1980 helped along by a second single, the lesser known Living in the Plastic Age which reached number 16. Two further singles and a follow-up album Adventures in Modern Recording all flopped.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Wikileak for The League

Speculation over the new Human League album reached a peak last week as a Wikipedia page cataloguing the album appeared on the global encyclopedia site.
Entitled "Decades (album)" the page takes links its main source as feature in popinstereo which gives song titles with a possible tracklisting.
The dubious Wikipedia entry gives its reasons for the alleged album title Decades, - studio album number 10, three decades of activity etc. - and states the release date as 10/10/2010 on digital download only. The page is well written yet carries a slightly polemical vein citing "the bands (sic.) limited aging fanbase" and Oakey's alleged egocentricity, and attacks the League's non-internet participation policy: "Unlike every other serious pop group the Human League does not even have its own website". It also declares that the album is a 'flop in the making' condemning it as an "Oakey vanity project".
The page has now received a possible deletion notice from Wiki-watchdogs but in line with policy the page will not be "blanked...until the (page) discussion is closed."..which will obviously not be until the album has actually seem the light of day.
Keep feeling anticipation...

No hyper-link to the Wiki page is included in this post.

Listen: The Human League - Get It Right This Time

Monday, 6 September 2010

I Love 1980 - 21

Let's face it, any album that opens with the words "and what if God's dead?" is never going to be a bundle of laughs. In fact this album turned out to be Numan at his most miserable, but I just loved it.
We'd already had the singles We Are Glass and I Die:You Die, leading up to the new album, but as the adverts said, neither of these were going to be on the highly anticipated Telekon.
A richer, fuller sound compared to the starker synthetic sounds of the previous Pleasure Principle, was also on the cards and as it turned out the guitars were very much back in, although the more traditional drums of TPP were in part replaced by drum machines and other electronically generated rhythm things. With new technology and plenty of cash to invest, a beefier, layered sound was what we were getting this time. Gazza had a Roland Jupiter 4 and he was gonna use it.
But what of the songs? Numan has basically two angst-ful themes running through the opus; firstly his preoccupation with the new found stardom and unease at al the attention from press and fans alike (Sleep by Windows, Remind Me to Smile, Remember I Was Vapour) and the usual dystopian vision of the future continuing from Replicas and The Pleasure Principle (I Dream of Wires, Telekon, The Aircrash Bureau). Our Gary of course was never happy in either of these scenarios. I Dream of Wires is the story of “the last electrician alive” looking back nostalgically on the days he actually could “wire” things, and The Aircrash Bureau is Ballardian both in title and gloomy content.
“Remember I could end all this” Gazza warns fans in “Vapour” and duly announced on Radio 1 during an interview with Peter Powell that after this album and tour he would be giving up live work. The Japanese lyrics on This Wreckage meant "I leave you now" or something and in fact said track which opens the album was his manifesto: "This wreckage I call "me" would like to leave you soon". No! cried the fans, and in fact a few years and a couple of albums later, Gazza was back on the "joy circuit" in all his pomp and glory.
No matter though; Numan's paranoia was excellent food for some of his best songs which appeared here on Telekon in September 1980. There was no hit single Cars here or even anything to follow up We Are Glass and the rather pretentious I Die:You Die but just one big black and red album whose tracks were basically inseparable (the CD issue with "Glass" inserted in the middle is both crass and unnecessary). A thicker soup than any of his previous work, it still has no equal in Numan's discography.

The subsequent Teletour was a massive sellout success, fuelled by Numan's pledge to stop live work after this tour was done, save for three nights in London a year later as a final "farewell". Both are well documented in Living Ornaments 80 and 81 respectively.
Telekon was also revived in 2006 for a new live performance (pic. left) of the album in its entirety with associated singles and b sides. Again, an excellent live recording is available, but somehow nothing can quite match listening to your original vinyl LP on your record player in a darkened bedroom. And I know all about that...

Listen: Gary Numan - Remind Me To Smile

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Dazzle shirts

Well while Chelsea get the garish Dolce & Gabbana in to do their new clobber (see Italo-British post), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that England and Umbro have had a bit more taste and got graphic art guru Peter Saville in to design the new home shirt (detail left).

Turning over a new-ish leaf from the 2010 World Cup disappointment the shirt - and rest of kit - will be adorned by England this Friday when they play Bulgaria in a Euro 2012 qualifying group match.

Famous for his record cover designs this is actually Saville's second brush with the England team having designed the cover for England's official World Cup song 'World in Motion' in 1990.

See Saville talk about it here: umbro on youtube

Listen: England/NewOrder - World in Motion

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Torch songs

Steve Jansen's official site gives news that the new Blackberry Torch released in the US this month features sound design elements created by Steve. "Key elements" include ringtone themes 'zen' and 'zen spirit' (said to be default ringtone on non at&t models out later this month), and alarm compositions 'Tokyo morning' and 'Morning blues'.
$199 with two year contract from AT&T if you want to hear them.

Meanwhile Jansen continues to raise funds in favour of Mick Karn through sales of his photographs as shown in his on-line imageshop.
A selection of these photographs will also be on show and for sale at a musical event in favour of Mick Karn in Italy this weekend. Il Cuore della Musica will take place at Villa Benzi Zecchini nr. Treviso, North-East Italy and will feature Italian bands and artists close to the music of Mick Karn, Japan etc. including local chanteuse Alice who has played live and recorded with Jansen info.

Listen: Steve Jansen - Gap of Cloud

Station (re)master

David Bowie's classic 1976 album Station to Station is to be re-released on 20th September. There's the by now practically obbligatory ueber-expensive deluxe edition containing 5 CDs, audio DVD, vinyl, books, press kits etc. etc, all for just 80-odd quid or so. Details here:

Fortunately for mere mortals there's a cheaper CD edition (pic left) with the original album remastered plus 2 bonus CDs with previously (officially) unreleased Live Nassau Coliseum '76 concert, plus a couple of postcards and booklet. Details and order here

Fans need no introduction to the music of course, but for the uninitiated this is really is a marvellous Bowie recording after the glam-era Ziggy Stardust stuff and prior to the more miserable 'Berlin' albums, Low etc.. The original album contained just six tracks of which Golden Years is the best known ,although the gorgeously sloppy Wild is the Wind is perhaps one of Bowie's best and most moving vocal performances. It was also released as a single in 1981 on the back of the Scary Monsters/Ashes to Ashes renaissance success and Changestwo compilation LP.
News to me was that the track was also recorded by Nina Simone, whose version actually inspired Dave to record it himself. The song originally comes from a 1957 Italo-American film of the same name starring the marvellous Anna Magnani.
Anyway I'd love to hear the Nina Simone version, or even the original Johnny Mathis one, if anyone can help.

Listen: David Bowie - Wild is the Wind

Friday, 27 August 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 4

Looking through the BBC archives (as you do) I came across this Tomorrow's World 'review of 1980' which was broadcast "before the summer break" not actuallt at the end of the year. Tomorrow's World was a kind of science and technology for non-geeks programme (and you had to be a geek in those days if you had anything to do with technology) which was always on before TOTP on a Thursday night, which is probably why I only ever used to see the end of it.

Anyways here's the aformentioned review which is a tad boring but bear with it until the end (17:00 mins in..) for the seminal feature where our man Prendiville (usually had the 'funny' bits) demonstrates some "electronically created sounds"...fascinating!

(click pic for link .. BBC vids don't embed . boooo!)

Dog barking sounds aside, TW also had a pretty cool electro-theme tune as from the beginning of 1980 too..thoise guys were always so ahead of their time.

Tomorrows World - 1980s Theme Song

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Christmas is coming..?

Good Lord .. hardly time to put the deck chairs away and some folks are already talking about Christmas. That Annie Lennox for one!
The former Tourists & Eurythmics singer has gone and left Sony and will release her next album, “A Christmas Cornucopia” a collection of "dark" covers of Christmas carols, through Island Records on 22nd November. "I want to make timeless music that people will love in many years to come...and I’d like to think that “A Christmas Cornucopia” is going to be of those recordings,” says Ms Lennox on her official website. The album will also feature an original composition entitled, “Universal Child.” Ho ho ho!
Lim asks: But wasn't she a Buddist at some point?

Annie Lennox looks for inspiration as to what to get for her Granny this year.

sorry, no Annie Lennox music available atm ..

Mirror men

Brighton band Mirrors release their new single Ways To An End this week, their first on their label, Skint of Brighton. Tracks can be downloaded via usual i-tunes etc. and even 7" vinyl (yes, seven inch vinyl!) can be purchased in good record shops or here.
Mirrors will be supporting OMD on their European live History of Modern tour dates. Not surprising really as their tough yet melodic electro-sound often out-OMDs even OMD: listen to Look at Me or Fear of Drowning for the proof. They even do experimental type 'B sides' in the style of I Betray My Friends or 66 & Fading. Check out Of The Night And The Light And The Half-Light below.
For those who won't be at an OMD European "gig" the band's newsletter has informed that Mirrors will be also be "gracing the stages" of Camden's KoKo, and Brighton's Audio this Friday and Saturday respectfully. "Please join them for two splendid evenings of loud pulsing synthesizer-based sound and song." We wish!

Mirrors: "do we look like Kraftwerk in this? Good!"

Listen: Mirrors - Of the Night and the Light and the Half Light

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Bon Anniversaire

..that's French for Happy Birthday as it's Jean Michel Jarre's reaches 62 years of age today. (and still annoying good looking in a French kind of way..)

Good old (ooops) Jean Michel has been active on the popular music front for over 30 years now since shooting to fame with the pioneering all electronic instrumental suite "Oxygène" which entered the album charts this week in 1977.

Despite being largely ignored by the press as being unfashionable, eccentric and (probably) French over the years Monsieur Jarre recently received the Lifetime Achievement award from UK music monthly Mojo.
A mammoth European tour continues into 2010

that was then...

Monday, 23 August 2010

OMD - If You Want It - Official Video

to be honest, not as bad as we thought (although sonically LiM prefers the Villa Nah mix... )

Sunday, 8 August 2010

I Love 1980 - 20

David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes

Over half way into 1980 and we've had new wave, new music....then we had David Bowie with Ashes to Ashes....

Smash Hits described it as "a strange choice for a single", understandably perhaps on first listening.
But just as there's no-one else like David Bowie there's nothing else quite like Ashes to Ashes. No you can't dance to it, you can't whistle it and you can't really seriously sing along to it, but that's where the beauty lies in this monumental single. It's originality, it's uniqueness...and it's David Bowie-ness

After the heady 70s, the Berlin trilogy and all the rest of it, Bowie was effectively reinventing himself, celebrating the funeral of Major Tom (a guy that's been in such an early song) and his recent past (I've never good things, I've never done bad things..), and his desire to get away from his past (want an axe to break the ice, wanna come down right now), with the famous closing hook-line "My mamma said..." effectively cutting all ties with the Major Tom character.
This is Bowie learning from the past (as a person and as a musician) and clearing it away with his big Scary Monster bulldozer, opening up the road for sounds, new styles, new shapes.... It's no coincidence that Steve Strange and Darla Jane Gilroy are among the mysterious black-clad cohorts in the video..

And yes, the video. Almost as complex as the song itself, costing a fortune and using all the latest techniques and again showing the way for the new decade, with the costumes, the make-up, loud new colour combinations.

Goodbye seventies. With Ashes to Ashes the 80s may now officially begin.

Ashes to Ashes chart stats
Scarey Monsters on Unmann Wittering

Listen: David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes
(and sing-along if you can)

thanks to Brian Damage for Smash Hits pages

Ashes to Ashes was first released on 08.08.80 - this post will be published on 08.08.2010 at 08:00.