Monday, 31 May 2010

I Love 1980 - 12

Telex - Eurovision

Well as it's Eurovision weekend I had to bring in this wonderful entry from Belgium in 1980's Song Contest.
Telex were one of the first all synth-bands and had already had a minor hit in the UK in 1979 with their cover of 'Rock Around the Clock', so seeing them up for Eurovision got me really excited, I loved it to bits instantly and of course it came last (not sure if it was un point). Europe still wasn't ready for the syth-pop invasion...

Friday, 28 May 2010

New John Foxx album - DNA

The Quiet Man has announced the rush release of new John Foxx material on CD and DVD next week.

DNA, available exclusively through Townsend Records from 2nd June, features unique collaborations between Foxx and some of his favourite film-makers, with all of the short movies on the DVD being made especially for this project.

The CD features all the music for the films, plus tracks that Foxx had recorded as 'possibilities' for soundtracks. Some of the tracks were created in collaboration with other artists such as Harold Budd, Steve Jansen andSteve D'Agostino. Artwork for the project has been designed by Jonathan Barnbook, see his blog for more previews.
Says Barnbrook:
"The design draws inspiration from the elaborate title sequences of early twentieth century cinema, whilst evoking the black-and-white stylistic expressionism of Film noir."

DNA - out 2nd June, 2010.

Modern talking

OMD will be special guests on BBC Six Music's Back to the Phuture with Mark Jones on Monday May 31st.

Humphreys & McCluskey will be discussing their major influences and at 9pm you they will be giving an exclusive play to one of the new tracks on the upcoming album ‘History of Modern'.

Monday's show also acts as a prelude to John Foxx's Short Circuit electro-bonanza to be held at the Roundhouse in London on Saturday 5th June, where Back To The Phuture will be playing a very electronic set with a VJ and the screen and stage set after the show - "from Fad Gadget to Leftfield and a number of points in between..."

Sunday, 16 May 2010

I love 1980 - 11

The Human League - Rock n Roll / Holiday '80

Going back to that classic TOTP show in May I can't really begin to describe how I felt at the end of it. All I know is that by the end I still had both Messages and The Human League's fab version of Gary Glitter's Rock n Roll ringing in my head...I mean how brilliant were the League at this time?
The song was only 'bubbling under' that week and was typically used as opening number to the show... but it just blew this impressionable 16 year old away.
Visually they were someting just out of this world...Just four blokes some synths, a tape recorder plus a singer with 'funny hair' and the backing singer with a blue glittery tie..magic! Even Gary Numan had never been this good with the full on electronic stuff . .he still used drums and guitars and didn't see and to be having as much fun! But Phil Oakey and the lads were something else... A proper electronic rock band!
Naturally I went out an bought the single (b7w Being Boiled / Dancevision - not the double 7", sadly) and played it to death. I would confound my friends at parties that summer with..a brand new sound, which of course only i seemed to dig.
The single never made the top 40 however (not even thanks to my contribution) and despite a relatively successful and critically accalimed album Travelogue, the band would split within the year.
Philip & Adrian (slides and occasional synthesisers) would be back a year later though and quite a different League. The Human adventure was just beginning....

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

P&P included

Heaven 17 are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Penthouse & Pavement album a year early (it's not 1981 yet!) with a special tour and no less than two documentaries on BBC2.
The tour will feature H17 members Martyn Ware and Glen Gregory preforming the seminal album 'in it's entirety' for the very first time, together with loads of special artists and guests you can read about here.
Two separate documentaries about the making of P&P, and the 30th Anniversary show, are confirmed for transmission Sunday 16th May on BBC2 at 11.20pm (concert) and Monday 17th May (making of), same time same channel.
The album which effectively mixed electronics and funk, perhaps for the first time, was only luke-warmly received when it was originally issued. Apparently misconstrued, and perhaps not unsurprisingly, as a 'yuppie' kind of album with it's business-like image and approach, despite the opening (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang and digs at the new money-centred society, war-mongering and other subjects such as organised religion.

the 'Penthouse' A side provided the more poppy singles (none of which even reached the top 40), I was fonder of the 'Pavement' B side which was more akin to the full-electronic former-Human League sound (you can imagine Oakey singing some of those). Particulary good was the repeated 'for a very long time' on the vinyl run-out which didn't always work (damn those automatic turntables) and which no way could be converterted to digital / CD format..hurrah foy vinyl!

Friday, 7 May 2010

It's Thursday night and it's Top of the Pops..

..and it's 8th May 1980. And my life will be changed. Forever.

No, not by Mystic Merlin (?), Johnny Logan, or Peter Powell's jumpsuit, or even by Dexy's Midnight Runners at number 1 .. but by Sheffield electronic band The Human League opening the show with their fantastic rendition of Rock n Roll (even though it never made the Top 40 but I knew that one day all music would be made this way) - and by Liverpool band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark performing the new version of Messages.
My jaw dropped and I never looked back.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I Love 1980 - 10

Jonah Lewie - You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties

Definitely reminds me of when I was revising for my O levels..a great bit of synth driven fun by Jonah Lewie who sort of specialised in 'novelty' records, this being his most successful. Witty lyrics, good tune and loved the dead pan faux-americano backing vocals too (kitchen at pardieeees..)..and I could relate to it!

chart stats: here

wiki page: here

alternative video: here

Monday, 3 May 2010

I Love 1980 - 9

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Messages

Electronic music worshipping and serious album buying start here..

Some people would describe their life changing moments as having their first baby, meeting the life-long partner for the first time or having a car crash or whatever...which are all true in my case but another one I'd have to add to the list is ..seeing OMITD (abbreviated for convenience) performing Messages on TOTP (abbreviated for convenience)..
I'd heard Electricity over the previous winter and most probably Red Frame / White Light earlier in the year and even a John Peel session, but the single version of Messages and even more so seeing the band on telly really brought the message home and, well, changed my life. As a band they were slightly geeky, they played synths (geekiness guarantee), the singer/bassist had an unfashionable natural perm (duly cropped within the year) the drummer only had one drum and they had a tape recorder (which also had a name, Winston) as part of the band.
Oh dear thought many but naturally I loved 'em, and the song was brilliant too. The doot doot doot doot doot doot that starts up the track (on tape) and continues throughout, the drums that come crashing in to drive it along with the guitar-bass line, the synth hook chorus (it didn't have a sing-along chorus), and the angstful lyrics (It worries me, this kind of thing..) about a finished, but not quite over, love affair strewn with coded messages and poison letters were all combined in sheer brilliance. The verse with "I'd write and tell you that I'd burned them all..but I've kept them anyway" says it all. Sort of like 10cc's I'm Not In Love "I keep your picture upon the wall, it to mess and stain just lying there.." the love was over but somehow preserved. A lover's lament, and an electro-classic was born.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – the album

Oddly, I decided not to buy the single but go straight for the album as this was a band I wanted to hear more of, plus I'd read about the stylish Peter Saville cover..the one with holes in, and felt it was a must have. Much to my chagrin I failed to find said artefact but only an erstaz sleeve edition which was still suitably mysterious and stylish. Bunker Soldiers, Almost (heard for the first time), Mystereality, Electricity, The Messerschmitt Twins...all brilliant even on first listening. But imagine my disappointment in hearing the album version of Messages! A lot more 'weedy' and primitive, not the one I'd seen on TOTP or heard on Kid Jensen at all...but of course I learned to love this version too, together with all the rest.

I love Messages, I love the album Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Messages chart stats: here

I Love 1980 - 8

Breathing - Kate Bush

Now trying to get chronologically back on track there's a bit of a lull in good 1980 single territory at the mo (the calm before the storm...) although I did notice that this single by Kate Bush was in the charts at this time of year thirty years ago.
And pretty 'wow amazing' stuff it was too; our Kate comes back from the luke-warmly received second album Lionheart with a slow, complex song ("my little symphony") about a foetus, and the perils of smoking and nuclear fallout. Wow.

Musically it's far from catchy let alone danceable or radio-friendly (over five minutes long) and in complete contrast to a lot of the pop pap that was going around (think Johnny Logan, Nolan Sisters) and even the post-punk pop of, say, Blondie, Undertones et al. Its chart success however just shows how well established Ms Bush' fan base was, and although Breathing hardly makes for easy listening the single is a classic in its own right and is a testament to Kate as a unique and 'who gives a toss about the rest' recording and performance artist. Released a full three months ahead of the Never Forever album (more of that later, readers) Breathing reached an amaaaazing number 16 on the British charts.

Kate Bush: "um, my next song is about a foetus and nuclear fallout. Sing along if you like.."