Wednesday, 30 June 2010

..and some 30 years later

I quite like the sleeve actually . .sort of a cross between the colours of the first album and Dazzle Ships. Sort of has a geeky textbook feel to it as well.

details (via Pitchfork):
Release Date: October 4
Label: 100% Records

01 New Babies: New Toys
02 If You Want It
03 History of Modern (Part I)
04 History of Modern (Part II)
05 Sometimes
07 New Holy Ground
08 The Future, the Past, and Forever After
09 Sister Mary Says
10 Pulse
11 Green
12 Bondage of Fate
13 The Right Side?

OMD myspace

Friday, 25 June 2010

Ballet Dancing

For those brave enough to venture into post-Diamond territory Spandau Ballet have released expanded and remastered editions of their 'True' and 'Parade' albums this week.
'True' is released as a three disc edition featuring a CD of the original album, remastered; a CD of bonus material including previously unreleased remixes and live tracks and a DVD of the band playing live at London's Sadlers Wells theatre in 1983. 'Parade' appears as a 2-CD edition, featuring the remastered album and a number of bonus tracks on one disc and a BBC In Concert show recorded at Wembley Arena in 1984 on the other.

We're very much in mid-80s territory here so the uninitiated please beware . Gone were the days of eccentric clothing and Blitz-era dance classics such as To Cut a Long Story Short and The Freeze and even the spruced up Beat-Route boys of Chant No. 1 or Instinction. Communication, Gold and Lifeline off 1983's number one album True (knocked off the top spot by Thriller) are still bearable although the sickly sweet sleeze of the title track was the shape of things to come. Only When You Leave, I'll Fly For You and Round and Round off Parade a year later were very much the soundtrack of wine bar smooching and such like up and down the country ....

Oddly The Spans' success hardly went much further than this, with later albums Through the Barricades and Heart Like a Sky producing relatively modest sales. The courtroom was just around the corner...

Spandau Ballet circa 1984 . we look mid-eighties in this? Oh dear..

Spandau Ballet chart stats

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Wake up, wake up...

Well, woke up this morning after not enough hours of sleep to three big news items:

1. England are still in the World Cup (amazingly) and will face Germany in next match.. (should be a laugh)

2. John Foxx has put up T shirts and limited edition prints and wotnot up for sale on the Townsend site. Call me old fashioned but £20 still sems like a lot of money to me for a T-shirt. I might go for the limited edition 'art prints' (postcards) and Cathedral Oceans book though. Anyway if you're interested roll up roll up and click for details / orders.

3. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have released details of the new album History of Modern to be released on 20th September 2010. There is also a Sounds-of -the-Universe style box set with T shirt, book, vinyl, DVD, Peter Saville stuff, etc etc. Fifty quid. Let's hope the music's good too.
The official website has also undergone a welcome facelift with HoM graphics (sort of a mixture of debut album and Dazzle Ships) and a Facebook/Twitter friendly design. McCluskey and Humphreys have both contributed to the blog.
Throroughly Modern.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

I Love 1980 - 15

The Human League - Empire State Human / Introducing

Scouring through the thirty-years-ago-today charts for a worthy subject of the 'I Love 1980' series I was amazed that there wasn't really much exciting going on at that moment in time and was wondering why on earth had I got so excited about 1980 anyway? I've already featured the best chart singles of the moment, OMD's Messages and Gary Numan's We Are Glass (Already on the way down), Kitchen At Parties... and OK I could stretch it to Lipps Inc.'s electro-disco hit Funky Town, Splodgnessabound and their wonderful Two Pints of Lager.., no doubt a rare 'indie' representative in the mainstream chart, or even ELO and their rousing I'm Alive, but...wait ..what's that single there coming in at no. 62??? Why, it's The mighty Human League with Empire State Human! That's more like it...

Although the song had already been released as a single in 1979 from debut album Reproduction, it had of course failed to get anywhere and was now being 're-purposed' by Virgin as a double 7" package with Only After Dark off the brand-new Travelogue album, wishing to ape the previous near-success of the Rock n Roll double pack. Good idea!

It's a classic early League song combining a sci-fi B movie scenario (some 'bored kid' who wants to be as tall and as big and as strong as the pyramids and the Empire State Building and stuff) with stomping electronics (recently remixed for this) and is still performed live by what's left of the League today. Its infectious and anthemic 'Tall tall tall..I wanna be tall tall tall..' is a well-known refrain among fans and non-fans alike, the difference being that of course us real fans knew it was a fantastic record. In fact in 1980 I went out and bought it (much to my chagrain finding only single 7" format), also on the back of a Smash Hits feature which appeared a couple of weeks later. It got several plays on my stereo that summer and I continued to confound friends at parties...

The B side 'Introducing..' is a curious track expressing the band's more experimental side from their Future roots. Sort of hard to explain how it goes (you can't whistle it) so here's a video I put together to go with it...a sort of fantasy live performance of the track which of course never happened.

Although the single did get The League more widespread recognition (despite not being a hit) it was their last one in the Oakey/Ware/Marsh/Wright formation and after the tour that summer the (Bob-Last engineered) split was imminent.
We all know that the shiny new Human League and indeed Heaven 17, went on to bigger things, but you often wonder what else they could have created if they'd stayed together.

get Empire State Human and Introducing.. here: on amazon

The Human League - Empire State Human

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

John meets Jean*

*that's pronounced in the Frenchie way of course as we are referring to none other than electronic music pioneer and handsome French chap Jean Michel Jarre, who was awarded the Mojo Lifetime Achievment Award last week in Londres ... by none other than the quiet man himself John Foxx.
The Foxxy one had some interesting things to say about Monsieur Jarre and his music of course not least that he was jealous of him (in 'nineteen seventy-something') cos he had a flat (apparte-ment s.v.p.!), his own recording studio and beautiful wife (erm, that would be Charlotte Rampling, who he divorced in 2002..).
Anyways good to see two of my (musical) heroes together and here's the video immortalising the moment..

Jean on John:
John Foxx also had an interesting view, he said that in England, he was feeling that the style of british pop and rock music was initially coming from America. When he listened to Oxygene, he felt that this music was totally european and had nothing to do with the US, and for him it was the signal that something totally different was happening. John is a delightful man and a great artist I always admired and receiving this award from his hands was really special for me.

Jean Michel Jarre - Equinoxe Pt. 4

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Ghost Box

Just discovered this whole Ghost Box thing while mooching around various blogs. I really like the look and sound of all this stuff, sort of vintage 1970s electronic music and accompanying visuals but made... in 2010.
Here's one of their 'idents' which are sort of like those things we used to see before the start of BBC schools programmes back in the 70s.

Have a butcher's at their look and listen page for more delights.

Monday, 14 June 2010

OMD in China crisis

The Liverpool Daily Post reports that the proposed "Liverpool Day" at the Shangahi World Expo in October of this year is in jeapardy due to lack of funds. The proposed Liverpudlian musical bonanza involving the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, the Wombats, and the Pagoda Youth Orchestra may be scrapped because of a £400,000 hole in the budget.
Phil Southward, director of operation for Shanghai Expo, said Liverpool’s Expo presence would end up costing around £2.8m if the £400,000 for "Liverpool Day" were included and that the city council would have to approve for the additional money to be spent on the showcase finale.
Around 115,000 people have visited Liverpool's hi-tech stand at the Expo since opening two months ago.
It features a video greeting from Sir Paul McCartney, football, maritime and a 3D film of a Chinese dragon and a Liver Bird flying over the North West.
The investment is forecasted to bring a £5.5m to £47.5m benefit over the next 10 years in increased tourism and student intake as well as boosting exports and foreign investment.
OMD, busy with the preparations for their new album, History of Modern, and tour in the autumn, have yet to comment .

The Liverpool delegation in China: "Whaddya mean la you can't pronounce Orchestral Manoeuvres?"

Thursday, 10 June 2010

I Love 1980 - 14

Gary Numan - We Are Glass

The advert in Smash Hits had already announced that neither We Are Glass or the B side, Numan's re-working of Erik Satie's Trois Gymnopedies, would be available on the 'forthcoming album' making this sixteen year old even more excited about what was to come from the alreay legendary Gazza.
The new single effectively brought in a brand new Numan style after the sparse synthetic sound of The Pleasure Principle just a few months hence. This time it was belting pumped-up drums, a thrashing guitar and a richer, more beefy synth line (with new stae-of-the art synths) that made it more rock than the previous material (even compared to Replicas) and yet still remaining fresh and exciting, effectively consolidating the 'synth-rock' sound which Numan had picked up from John Foxx's Ultravox and which would be re-copied by the new Ure-Vox and many others.
Lyrics are typically enigmatic although with the 'glass' idea I believe Gazza was already lamenting his fragility with respect to his public and in particular his critics, a letitmotif that would remain in the subsequent single I Die : You Die and the subsequent Telekon album.
Oh yes, and the new look - gone was the smart black suit with matching shirt and two-colour tie in favour of a futuristic shiny new Tomorrow People like space suit (soon to be replaced by the characteristic black boiler suit with red stripes - see video) with some kind of, er, tube in his hand. Numan may have been ridiculed by the press but he was just about the only one who could pull this kind of thing off, and the fans (like moi) loved it.
Going back to the single, it's chart progress was pretty typical making its entry into the Top 40 at no. 10, peaking at no. 5 a week later and then disappearing again within a month, ie. the fans rushed out to buy it (also in virtue of the non-album track idea), then the general record buying public let it slip by also due to the fact that it recieved little airplay (although I do remember the more mellow Trois Gymnopedies being played on Radio 2) and the video was banned by the BBC after being shown once on TOTP (I think). The only thing that irked me was the in-your-face use of his beloved guitar which meant he was already trying to shirk off the 'synth-artist' tag (cf the synth / keyboard heavy Cars video). It already seemed something to be 'ashamed' of.

Gary Numan - We Are Glass (live 2007)

Gary Numan , 1980. He was so fragile.

John Foxx / Short Circuit Roundhouse setlist

John Foxx Setlist Roundhouse, London, England 2010

Friday, 4 June 2010

I Love 1980 - 13

New Musik - This World of Water / Living by Numbers

Crumbs .. nearly forgot this excellent, yet short-lived little combo who had a few hit singles end 79 / beginning 80 most notably Living By Numbers and This World of Water.
New Musik always seemed to be on the radio and on Top of the Pops and were also Smash Hits darlings for as long as they lasted.
Not much to say about them as a band since they seem to have been just a bunch of unassuming session musician types, led by producer Tony Mansfield, who got together, formed a group, had a few hits, made a couple of albums and then disbanded..ah those were the days.
Although they fit neatly into the 'new wave' category New Musik were just a little bit ahead of the rest, using quite a lot of technology what with being very technically minded, producer types and so hence the band name I suppose. Look out for their excellent debut album From A to B which contains all four hits and a few other gems. Second album Anywhere fared less well - but still has a few good ones such as Churches and Areas.
1982's Warp is harder to come by and definitely comes into the 'difficult third album' category, and includes a song called All You Need Is Love, self-penned, followed by a cover of the Beatles' song of the same name. Weird!

This World of Water - video

Unofficial site here with interesting If You Like NM .. feature

New Musik - chart stats