Tag: A-Ha (Page 3 of 4)

25 FAVOURITE CLASSIC 12 INCH VERSIONS

NEON LIGHTS Luminous 12 - Rega2‘Is That The 12 Inch Mix?’ people used to ask…

“Sometimes you never knew what you were getting when you bought the 12 inch mix” says Rob Grillo, author of the same titled book tracing the history of the extended format, “Sometimes you got the 7 inch version and a bonus track, sometimes it was just the longer album mix, and sometimes you got the normal mix when the sleeve promised a ‘brand new mix’, occasionally there would be a gargantuan explosion of noise that heralded a completely new take on the song that would blow you mind away…”

ELECTRICITY CLUB.CO.UK itself has never been particularly big on remixes or 12 inch versions. They were on occasions, an unnecessary evil.

Just because a song can be extended and reworked to submission doesn’t mean it has to be… FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s bassist Mark O’Toole snorted to International Musician & Recording World in 1986: “A punter walks into the shop, wants to buy a single – and there’s half a dozen mixes of it! It’s a pain in the ar*e!”

12inch_bookComedian Lenny Henry summed things up best in a sketch where he entered a record shop to buy a single and was then offered a plethora of versions by the assistant… “I JUST WANT THE VERSION THEY GOT RIGHT!” he exclaimed.

In another stand-up routine, he commented that a 12 inch single could last longer than a marriage. But they could be tremendously passionate affairs as Rob Grillo remembers: “In essence, buying the 12 inch was more exciting than buying the 7 inch…”

With the restriction of tape, a razor blade and the mixing desk, the era often conspired to make more interesting, structured reworkings than the meaningless dance work-outs of today. When done well, the 12 inch extended version could totally surpass the original.

Each track on this list of classic variations was released as a 12 inch single with a corresponding original 7 inch release that was shorter (which thus excludes ‘Blue Monday’ by NEW ORDER); full length album versions that subsequently got issued as 12 inch singles are not included.

With a restriction one track per artist moniker going up to the period before remixes got a bit daft with the advent of rave culture, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 25 choices in chronological and then alphabetical order…


SPARKS Beat The Clock – Long Version (1979)

SPARKS Beat The Clock 12The shorter album take of ‘Beat The Clock’ was more basic and less epic. But in this longer, more powerful and percussive 12 inch version, the star of this ace collaboration with Giorgio Moroder was the ever dependable Keith Forsey with his rumbling drumming syncopating off the precisely sequenced electronic production. Russell Mael was at his best in fully fledged falsetto mode, while Ron stood even more motionless than usual, safe in the knowledge than he didn’t even have to play anymore.

Available on the album ‘Real Extended: The 12 inch Mixes (1979 – 1984)’ via Repertoire Records

http://allsparks.com/


DURAN DURAN Girls On Film – Night Version (1981)

DURAN DURAN Girls On Film 12At the start of their career, rather than just simply extend a song by joining together sections of tape, DURAN DURAN actually took time to rearrange and re-record their 12 inch singles. This they did on ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘My Own Way’, but the best of the early ‘Night Version’ trilogy was ‘Girls On Film’. From its opening Compurhythm beat and first instrumental chorus set to Nick Rhodes’ swimmy Crumar Performer to Simon Le Bon’s closing verse ad-lib, this marvellous arrangement formed the basis of their live version.

Available on the boxed set ‘The Singles 81-85’ via EMI Records

http://www.duranduran.com/


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Don’t You Want Me – Ext Dance Mix (1981)

THE HUMAN LEAGUE Don’t You Want Me 12Effectively an instrumental of the closing track on ‘Dare’, the quality of Martin Rushent’s production was fully showcased on this ‘Ext Dance Mix’. Each synth had its own voice and placed inside a precise lattice that formed a fabulous pop tapestry. It was also notable for featuring a guitar, albeit used obliquely by Jo Callis to trigger a Roland System 700. Even without its lead vocals, ‘Don’t You Want Me’ was a fine example of well-crafted, melodic electronic music.

Available on the album ‘Original Remixes & Rarities’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk/


SIMPLE MINDS The American – 12 inch Version (1981)

With the futuristic ‘Changeling’ and ‘I Travel’, SIMPLE MINDS had been heavily rotated by Rusty Egan in his DJ sets at The Blitz. ‘The American’ was the Glaswegians’ first single for Virgin and sounded like Moroder merged with NEU! Metallic motorik drumming from Brian McGee sans hi-hats provided an interesting rhythm construction and challenged the band into finding inventive ways of making people dance. With Mick McNeil’s pulsing synths coupled with Derek Forbes’ bass engine, this was prime art disco.

Available on the boxed set ‘X5’ via Virgin Records

http://www.simpleminds.com/


SOFT CELL Bedsitter – Early Morning Dance Side (1981)

SOFT CELL Bedistter 12SOFT CELL were quite unique in their 12 inch extended formats by often incorporating extra vocal sections like on ‘Torch’, ‘Facility Girls’ and ‘Insecure Me’. So instead of purely instrumental breakdown extensions, ‘Bedsitter’ added a marvellous rap from Marc Almond where he asked “do you look a mess, do have a hangover?” before taking a little blusher, pushing tea leaves down the drain and starting the night life over again. This literal kitchen sink drama to song concept won SOFT CELL many ardent followers.

Available on the deluxe album ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’ via UMC

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


SPANDAU BALLET The Freeze – Special Mix (1981)

SPANDAU BALLET The Freeze 12While the single version of ‘The Freeze’ was an enjoyable if polite slice of guitar driven disco, the 12 inch ‘Special Mix’ of SPANDAU BALLET’s second single fully utilised their Yamaha CS10 with a pulsing octave barrage that could have been borrowed from their Blitz Club contemporaries VISAGE. A closing cacophony of electronically processed percussion came over like a funkier KRAFTWERK but with the overblown vocal histrionics of Tony ‘Foghorn’ Hadley, this could only have been the Islington quintet.

Available on the album ‘The Twelve Inch Mixes’ via Chrysalis Records

http://www.spandauballet.com/


B-MOVIE Nowhere Girl – Version (1982)

B-MOVIE Nowhere Girl 12B-MOVIE were famously the band that Phonogram pursued to take on SPANDAU BALLET and DURAN DURAN. Managed by Some Bizzare’s Stevo Pearce, he stipulated that an unknown synth duo called SOFT CELL be part of any deal. Possibly the best single featuring the original line-up, the 12 inch version of ‘Nowhere Girl’ featured an extended intro with just a solid beat for company along with tinkling ivories that came over like ULTRAVOX in full flight before the pulsing bass and harp-like synths kicked in.

Available on the boxed set ’12” 80s Alternative’ (V/A) via UMTV

http://www.b-movie.co.uk/


CLASSIX NOUVEAUX Is It A Dream? – 12 inch Version (1982)

CLASSIX NOUVEAUX Is It a Dream 12The best classic 12 inch versions often retained the musical structure of the song but cleverly used the technique of breakdown to achieve dynamic highs and lows where appropriate. The 12 inch version of ‘Is It A Dream?’ effectively tagged the instrumental version of the song onto the beginning which provided a build towards the main act as the recognisable elements of the tune steadily kicked it. A final coda of thumping Simmonds drums and brassy synth provided the piece de resistance.

Available on the album ‘The Very Best Of’ via EMI Gold

http://www.salsolo.com/Classix_Fans.html


NEW ORDER Temptation – 12 Inch Version (1982)

NEW ORDER Temptation 12A different version altogether from the 7 inch, however the 12 inch version was actually recorded in one massive 14 minute jam session with the shorter version preceding it. The recording itself was marvellously flawed, with Stephen Morris’ overdriven Simmons snare panned too far to the right while band members can also be heard calling instructions and tutting. The final closing refrains and the iconic “oooh-oo-ooh” vocal hook to the drum breakdown made ‘Temptation’ both grand and magical.

Available on the boxed set ‘Retro’ via Warner Music

http://www.neworder.com/


GARY NUMAN Music for Chameleons – Extended Version (1982)

GARY NUMAN Music for Chameleons 12In 7 inch form, GARY NUMAN’s ‘Music For Chameleons’ sounded incomplete. Lasting almost eight minutes, with the fluid fretless bass runs of Pino Palladino and the stuttering distorted clap of a Linn Drum providing the backbone to some classic vox humana Polymoogs, the 12 inch version’s highlight was the windy synth run in the long middle section. The effect of this was ruined on the ‘I Assassin’ album version which clumsily edited this section out, thus proving occasionally that more can really mean more!

Available on the album ‘Exposure: The Best of 1977-2002’ via Artful Records

http://www.numan.co.uk/


VISAGE Night Train – Dance Mix (1982)

VISAGE Night Train 12Inspired by the burgeoning New York club scene, Rusty Egan brought in John Luongo to remix ‘Night Train’ much to Midge Ure’s dismay, leading him to end his tenure with VISAGE. But Luongo’s rework was sharper, pushing forward the female backing vocals to soulful effect in particular and replacing the clumpier snare sounds of the original album version with cleaner AMS samples. However, on this longer dance mix, Luongo isolated Rusty Egan’s drum break which unexpectedly saw him do his impression of Billy Cobham!

Available on the boxed set ’12″/80s/2′ (V/A) via UMTV

http://www.visage.cc/


BLANCMANGE Blind Vision – 12 Inch Version (1983)

BLANCMANGE Blind Vision 12Possibly BLANCMANGE’s most overt disco number, under the production supervision of New York club specialist John Luongo who had remixed ‘Feel Me’ to great rhythmical effect, ‘Blind Vision’ was punctuated by brass, extra percussion and slap bass as well as the trademark BLANCMANGE Linn Drum claps also thrown in. A steady build-up, vocal ad-libs from Neil Arthur and a prolonged coda extended the track to a hypnotic nine and a half minutes.

Available on the album ‘Mange Tout’ via Edsel Records

http://www.blancmange.co.uk/


DEAD OR ALIVE What I Want – Dance Mix (1983)

DEAD OR ALIVE What I Want 12With an edgy production from Zeus B Held, ‘What I Want’ was effectively a rewrite of ‘Blue Monday’, or even ‘Shake It Up’ by DIVINE, depending on your outlook. Combining a variety of musical styles, this HI-NRG / Goth hybrid was the last track Wayne Hussey would play on as a member of DEAD OF ALIVE before departing for THE SISTERS OF MERCY. “Listen blue eyes, shut up!” scowled Pete Burns with an aggression that showed he was a top rather than a bottom in this salaciously pounding affair.

Available on the album ‘Sophisticated Boom Boom’ via Cherry Pop

http://www.deadoralive.net/


JOHN FOXX Endlessly – 12 Inch Version (1983)

JOHN FOXX Endlessy 12After the mechanised dystopia of ‘Metamatic’ and the comparative romantic thawing with ‘The Garden’, JOHN FOXX started experimenting in psychedelic pop. With nods to ‘Sgt Pepper’, the original Linn Drum driven version of ‘Endlessy’ from 1982 had the makings of a good song, but was laboured in its arrangement. Reworked with Simmons drums, metronomic sequencers and grand vocal majestics, the Zeus B Held produced 1983 version was even more glorious in an extended 12 inch format.

Available on the boxed set ‘Metadelic’ via Edsel Records

http://www.metamatic.com/


HEAVEN 17 Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry – Extended Dance Version (1983)

HEAVEN 17 Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry 12Taking a leaf out of their old sparring partners THE HUMAN LEAGUE, HEAVEN 17 took off most of the vocals and played up the various instrumental elements of ‘Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry’ with a restructured rhythmical backbone. With a punchy retuned bass drum attack and Roland Bassline programming pushed out to the front, sequences and guitar synth solos were phased in and out. The chanty chorus remained while John Wilson’s funky freeform bass solo closed the show.

Available on the boxed set ‘The Luxury Gap’ via Virgin Records

http://www.heaven17.com/


FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD Two Tribes – Annihilation (1984)

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD Two Tribes - Annihilation Mix 12Sounding like SIMPLE MINDS, ‘Two Tribes’ was influenced by ‘I Travel’, itself inspired by right wing terrorism in Europe. While Holly Johnson’s original lyric referenced the dystopian drama ‘Mad Max’, it sat well within the Cold War tensions of the period. With mighty Fairlight orchestra stabs and masterful PPG programming for the iconic synth bass, the first 12 inch version entitled ‘Annihilation’ featured the poignant authoritative voice of Patrick Allen, reprising his real life ‘Protect & Survive’ commentary…

Available on the album ‘Frankie Said’ via Union Square Music Ltd

http://www.frankiesay.com/


KRAFTWERK Tour De France – Remix (1984)

KRAFTWERK Tour De France 12The original ‘Tour De France’ single in 1983 signalled the launch of a new KRAFTWERK album ‘Technopop’. Despite being given an EMI catalogue number, it was never actually released. However, ‘Tour De France’ took on a life of its own. This masterful remix by New York DJ Francois Kevorkian backed a key scene in the film ‘Breakdance’ which lead to a re-release of this rework. Much more percussive and less song based than the first version, it reinforced KRAFTWERK’s standing in the US Hip-Hop scene.

Available on the single ‘Tour De France’ via EMI Records

http://www.kraftwerk.com/


GIORGIO MORODER & PHILIP OAKEY Together In Electric Dreams – Extended (1984)

GIORGIO MORODER & PHILIP OAKEY Together In Electric Dreams 12One of the best 12 inch versions ever, it not only retained the essence of the original song but added enough extra elements to make it quite different too. There was more rock guitar from Richie Zito which actually enhanced the track and the false end after the guitar solo leading to a superb percussive breakdown that made the most of Arthur Barrow’s frantic Linn Drum programming. Of course, ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ wouldn’t have been any good without Moroder’s songcraft and Oakey’s deadpan lyricism.

Available on the album ‘Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder’ via Virgin Records

http://www.giorgiomoroder.com/


TALK TALK It’s My Life – US Mix (1984)

TALK TALK It's My Life US MixThe UK 12 inch extended version was a rather formless, dub excursion that never got to the point. However, taking a leaf out of DURAN DURAN’s specifically taylored remixes of songs from the ‘Rio’ album for America, EMI / Capitol commissioned Steve Thompson to construct a toughened up version of ‘It’s My Life’ to make it more MTV friendly. The song became an unexpected favourite in US clubs. One impressionable teenager who was no doubt listening was Gwen Stefani who covered the song in 2003.

Available on the boxed set ‘’12″/80s’ (V/A) via UMTV

http://spiritoftalktalk.com/


ULTRAVOX One Small Day – Special Remix Extra (1984)

ULTRAVOX One Small Day – Special Remix Extra 12One of ULTRAVOX’s more guitar driven numbers, there were eventually three different extended versions of ‘One Small Day’, the best of which was the ‘Special Remix Extra’ (also known as the ‘Extended Mix’) that was issued on the second of the 12 inch releases. With chopped up vocal phrases replacing a conventional vocal on this neo-dub mix, it allowed the instrumentation to come to the fore without Midge Ure’s shrill chorus acting as a distraction.

Available as the ‘Extended Mix’ on the album ‘Lament’ via EMI Gold

http://www.ultravox.org.uk/


A-HA The Sun Always Shines On TV – Extended Version (1985)

AHA Sun Always Shines on TV 12Despite being labelled a teenybop group, from the beginning A-HA were always so much more than just the catchy pop of ‘Take On Me’. ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’ revealed a lyrical darkness while the combination of synths and edgy guitar put them in the same league as ULTRAVOX and ASSOCIATES. This rarer first ‘Extended Version’ made the most of the powerful instrumentation and added more drama with a slow solemn piano intro. And just listen to that emotive string synth solo…

Available on the deluxe album ‘Hunting High & Low’ via Rhino Entertainment

http://a-ha.com/


PROPAGANDA Duel – Bitter Sweet (1985)

PROPAGANDA Duel – Bitter Sweet 12While  the Trevor Horn produced ‘Dr. Mabuse’ was very much a Fairlight-fest, PROPAGANDA’s second single ‘Duel’ with production by Steve Lipson was based around the Synclavier, PPG and Roland Super Jupiter. To add some syncopation, Stewart Copeland from THE POLICE rhythmitised alongside the Linn Drum while the ‘Bitter Sweet’ extended mix broke down the instrumentation to reveal a highly intricate arrangement. The programmed piano solo is still one of the maddest bursts of music ever!

Available on the album ‘Outside World’ via Repertoire Records

https://www.facebook.com/Propaganda-Band-135375113199791/


OMD Forever Live & Die – Extended Mix (1986)

OMD Forever Live & Die 12Not the better known but less fulfilled ‘Extended Remix’ by Tom Lord-Alge, John Potoker’s reworking did away with its daft skips and enhanced the song’s enjoyable instrumental elements largely hidden in the single mix. The wonderful end section with its wild rhythm guitar from Kamil Rastam and Malcolm Holmes’ reverbed drums also revealed that despite the song’s palatable Trans-Atlantic sound, the synthetic choirs that had been part of OMD’s sound since they heard KRAFTWERK’s ‘Radio-Activity’ still lingered.

Available on the boxed set ‘Maxi Singles 80 Vol 2’ (V/A) via Wagram Music

http://www.omd.uk.com/


PET SHOP BOYS Suburbia – The Full Horror (1986)

PET SHOP BOYS Suburbia 12‘Suburbia’ was a good if slightly underwhelming album track from ‘Please’ that got transformed into a more fully realised sub-nine minute epic. Produced in this new longer version by Sarm West graduate Julian Mendelson, it was effectively a two-parter. Complete with barking dogs, widescreen synths and thundering rhythms, the intro and middle sections saw a pitch shifted Neil Tennant monologuing about the evils of ‘Suburbia’ in a devilish ‘Meninblack’ tone.

Available on the album ‘Disco’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


DEPECHE MODE Never Let Me Down Again – Split Mix (1987)

DEPECHE MODE Never Let Me Down Again 12A merging of the album version with the Wasp driven bass heavy ‘Aggro Mix’ (hence the ‘Split Mix’ title), this sub-ten minute take on one of DEPECHE MODE’s classic songs was perfection. Other DM 12 inch versions were tiresome like the ‘Slavery Whip Mix’ of ‘Master & Servant’, but ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ took into account that the best 12 inch mixes usually had the actual song and an instrumental middle section before a reprise of the main chorus hook.

Available on the album ‘Remixes 81-04’ via Mute Records

http://www.depechemode.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Rob Grillo and Rob Harris
5th October 2015, updated 30th April 2018

A-HA Cast In Steel

“We are not getting back to stay together. We’ve agreed to come back for a set period: one album, one tour. It’s a great opportunity and allows us to write another chapter”: MORTEN HARKET

A-HA’s ‘Cast In Steel’ is the Norwegian trio’s tenth studio album, and the first new material since the group disbanded after the success of their ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ long player in 2009. The album was a triumph with the title track being one of the highlights on the subsequent tour while ‘Nothing Is Keeping You Here’ captured the combination of heartfelt melancholy and emotive melodies that A-HA have always done best.

Having played what appeared to be their farewell concert at the Oslo Spektrum in December 2010, Morten Harket, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Magne Furuholmen embarked on a variety of separate activities. Harket’s own solo career, while moderately successful, had the identifiable ingredients of A-HA but lacked the unique songwriting panache of Waaktaar-Savoy and Furuholmen. Like many groups, the sum proved to be greater than the individual parts.

With no record deal in place, no pressures and no touring commitments, A-HA reunited in a relaxed manner that recalled their days as a fledgling band seeking fame and fortune. The new album sees trio reunited on a number of songs with Alan Tarney, the noted producer who produced many of their biggest hits including ‘Take On Me’, ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’, ‘Cry Wolf’ and ‘Stay On These Roads’. Meanwhile, the ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ production team of Steve Osborne and Erik Ljunggren also return.

Set in stone, the ‘Cast In Steel’ title track is a classic string laden midtempo ballad written by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, a fine example of the sort of songs that have allowed A-HA to continue their career into the 21st Century. Following on, ‘Under The Makeup’ features those characteristic Bond Theme elements that have sat in A-HA’s work since ‘The Living Daylights’. It’s another soaring offering from Waaktaar-Savoy that signals the album’s artistic intentions; a maturer but still melodic A-HA playing to their strengths as an adult pop combo.

Morten Harket’s solo career has had mixed reactions and his songs on A-HA albums have sometimes gone down the way that a certain Richard Starkey’s used to. But ‘The Wake’ takes a leaf out of Waaktaar-Savoy’s songbook with a wonderful chorus supported by cinematic overtones and muted guitar. Meanwhile the faster paced pop of ‘Forest Fire’ will remind those who left behind A-HA after ‘Stay On The Roads’ why they should return to the fold and not to be left out, Magne Furuholmen’s ‘Objects In The Mirror’ is something of a beauty.

a-ha-pressThe first of the Alan Tarney comes with ‘Door Ajar’, buzzing with sequenced synths and driven by a drum machine while syncopated with choppy guitar. ‘Living At The End Of The World’ sees lighters (or rather smart phones) aloft; this is a swaying anthem with gently pulsing synths, sparring guitar and those Barry-esque orchestrations. It’s one of Morten Harket’s too, confirming his development as a songwriter.

But ‘Mythomania’ misfires and is a bit of a let-down, but it had to happen at some point. Predictably, this one is of a rockier disposition… ‘She’s Humming A Tune’ has hints of ‘Scoundrel Days’ in a lower key with sweeping synths, bottle neck six string and live drums moulding the chilling soundscape with that exquisite Nordic allure. A slight offbeat provides the backbone to ‘Shadow Endeavors’ while the catchy beat laden ‘Giving Up The Ghost’ soars with dramatic strings and synths as with many of the key tracks on this enjoyable album. The loose drum driven ‘Goodbye Thompson’ closes ‘Cast In Steel’ with subtle snatches of RADIOHEAD’s ‘No Surprises’ creeping in.

As is standard now with the modern album format, there are a number of bonus tracks which are interesting rather than essential, although the crystalline ‘The End Of The Affair’ should have been part of the main act of ‘Cast In Steel’ instead of ‘Mythomania’.

The other tracks have been culled from the early ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ sessions circa 2008-2009 and give an insight into how A-HA’s songs develop. Although often almost fully formed, they go up a level once rearrangements and synthetic enhancements away from conventional traditions are allowed to be nurtured. So ‘Mother Nature Goes To Heaven’ is merely a plodding rock ballad in its original form compared to a thumping DEPECHE MODE styled number it became.

A-HA rio-press

Meanwhile the acoustic demo of ‘Nothing Is Keeping You Here’ here was turned into a pièce de résistance by Steve Osborne’s electronic reworking for the UK Radio Edit. A not particularly good Mark Saunders remix of ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ does the deluxe package few favours, but the customer has their choice at the end of the day.

‘Cast In Steel’, like ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ before it, is classic A-HA and not the threesome trying to be CROSBY, STILLS & NASH like on 2005’s Marmite offering ‘Analogue’. It balances between synthpop and filmic orchestrations, with Morten Harket’s trademark vocal taking centre stage. The only person who perhaps ever exceeded his capabilities is the late Billy Mackenzie and Harket’s crying falsetto makes its presence felt throughout ‘Cast In Steel’.

But while A-HA are inherently melancholic, like with all good Nordic pop, there’s that contrasting glorious optimism which gives the songs that vital all-embracing lift. If this is to be the last A-HA album, then ‘Cast In Steel’ is a worthy one.


‘Cast In Steel’ is released in CD, deluxe 2CD, metal fan box 2CD, vinyl and download formats by Universal Music

A-HA 2016 live dates include:

Manchester Arena (25 March), London O2 Arena (26 March), Glasgow SSE Hydro Arena (28 March), Birmingham Barclaycard Arena (29 March), Stuttgart Schleyerhalle (3 April), Zurich Hallenstadium (4 April), Munich Olympiahalle (4 April), Leipzig Arena (7 April), Nürnberger Versicherung (9 April), Vienna Stadthalle (10 April), Berlin O2 (13 April), Hamburg O2 World (14 April), Bremen ÖVB Arena (16 April), Hannover TUI Arena (17 April), Halle Gerry-Weber-Stadium (19 April), Oberhausen König Pilsener Arena (20 April), Mannheim SAP Arena (23 April), Frankfurt Festhalle (24 April), Cologne Lanxess Arena (26 April)

http://a-ha.com/

https://www.facebook.com/officialaha


Text by Chi Ming Lai
6th September 2015

LIKE LUKEWARM WATER… Poor Singles by Great Acts

Spinal Tap - lukewarm water - CopyArtists are not infallible creatures and even on great albums, there’s often a duff song that somehow gets released as a single and becomes a hit. 

Some of these inferior singles though get found out early on and deservedly fail to capture the public’s imagination.

However, sometimes the artists themselves will realise the errors of their ways with these less than satisfactory offerings.

They might quickly drop the track from the live set or rewrite history by excluding the said offending item from greatest hits packages. As a singular follow-up to the ‘We Hope You Enjoy Our New Direction’ albums article, here are twenty singles by your favourite acts who really should have known better.

Arranged in chronological and then alphabetical order with a restriction of one release per artist, these singles are, in the words of SPINAL TAP’s Nigel Tufnel, “like lukewarm water…”  – a Spotify playlist is therefore not required 😉


JAPAN Don’t Rain On My Parade (1978)

JAPAN Don't rain on my paradeWas this really the band who were to record ‘Ghosts’ four years later? You certainly wouldn’t have put your money on JAPAN becoming chart regulars by 1982 based on ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’, a cover of BARBRA STREISAND’s set piece from ‘Funny Girl’ This hilarious two fingers rock thrash, with an unrecognisable David Sylvian snarling away, found an audience in Japan itself, which subsequently allowed them to develop into the artful combo they are better known as.

Available on the album ‘Adolescent Sex’ via Sony BMG Records

http://www.nightporter.co.uk/


TEARS FOR FEARS The Way You Are (1983)

TFF_The_Way_You_AreAfter achieving success with their angsty debut ‘The Hurting’, TEARS FOR FEARS’ label wanted an interim release. But after several months exploring their artier aspirations, the resultant single was poor. ‘The Way You Are’ was Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal trying to be JAPAN, only they weren’t very good at it! Smith said it was “probably one of the worst recordings I think we’ve done”. The change of direction to produce the rockier, more MTV friendly opus ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ proved to be far more fruitful.

Available on the album ‘Songs From The Big Chair – Deluxe Edition’ via Mercury Records

http://tearsforfears.com/


VISAGE Beat Boy (1984)

VISAGE Beat Boy

The lack of input from departed founder member Midge Ure as producer really exposed itself on VISAGE’s third long player ‘Beat Boy’. Most of the songs went on for far too long while Steve Strange’s flat, tuneless vocals and banal lyrics were allowed to run riot. Running for a painful six minutes on the album, even in edited single form, the title track really needed a ‘Go Faster’ stripe as the attempt to merge rock guitars with Fairlight stabs, vocal sampling and industrialised percussion failed miserably.

Album version available on the album ‘Beat Boy’ via Cherry Pop

http://www.visage.cc/


BRONSKI BEAT & MARC ALMOND I Feel Love / Johnny Remember Me (1985)

BRONSKI BEAT & MARC ALMOND‘I Feel Love’ looked like a dream combination for Jimmy Somerville’s swansong with BRONSKI BEAT to be paired with the one-time SOFT CELL front man. But despite iconic songs such as ‘Love To Love You Baby’ and ‘Johnny Remember Me’ segued onto the main act, the well intentioned recording ended up a total cut ‘n’ paste mess with the poor stop / start edit into ‘Johnny Remember Me’ being particularly embarrassing. Meanwhile, the screaming match between Somerville and Almond was painful to the ears.

Available on the album ‘The Singles Collection 1984/1990’ via London Records

http://www.jimmysomerville.co.uk/

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


JOHN FOXX Enter The Angel (1985)

JOHN FOXX Enter The AngelAn attempt at crossing ‘Endlessly’ with ‘Like A Miracle’, the lukewarm ‘Enter The Angel’ from the ‘In Mysterious Ways’ album had none of the electro innovation of ‘Metamatic’ or the neu romance of ‘The Garden’. Featuring Eddi Reader from FAIRGROUND ATTRACTION on backing vocals, Foxx had gone all conventional and no longer stood out from the crowd like he once had. And the result was that the quiet man effectively retired from music until his 1997 re-emergence.

Available on the album ‘Modern Art: The Best Of’ via Music Club

http://www.metamatic.com


HOWARD JONES Look Mama (1985)

HOWARD JONES Look MamaHOWARD JONES did much to further the cause of electronic music with his one-man synth act. But ‘Look Mama’, the second single from his second album ‘Dream Into Action’ was a tedious narrative about an interfering mother that was one of the weakest songs on the collection. Featuring a plethora of state-of-the-art digital sounds, their prominence was quite obviously to cover a weak tune. Amazingly, this one got into the UK Top 10!

Available on the album ‘Best: 1983 – 2017’ via Cherry Red

http://www.howardjones.com


THE HUMAN LEAGUE I Need Your Loving (1986)

HUMAN LEAGUE Need Your Loving

THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s fifth album ‘Crash’ was largely rotten, save ‘Human’ and ‘Love Is All That Matters’, two Jam and Lewis numbers that were totally unrepresentative of Da League’s own sound. ‘I Need Your Loving’ had a crew of six on the writing credits, none of them members of the band! This had to have been a JANET JACKSON cast-off from ‘Control’… Phil Oakey has been many things but ALEXANDER O’NEAL he certainly wasn’t while Joanne and Susanne combined could never sound like CHERELLE!

Available on the album ‘Crash’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


GARY NUMAN I Can’t Stop (1986)

NUMAN I Can't StopA toss-up between this and ‘This Is Love’, these two singles from the distinctly below-par ‘Strange Charm’ both actually got in the UK Top 40… quite shocking when far superior songs from previous album ‘The Fury’ failed to make any chart impact as 45s. By 1986, Numan wasn’t really sure if he wanted to be THE POWER STATION or PRINCE so ‘I Can’t Stop’ was frankly, all over the place! Whatever, flying took more of an interest in his life, GARY NUMAN’s career dip would not be reversed until 1994’s ‘Sacrifice’.

Available on the album ‘Strange Charm’ via Eagle Records

http://www.numan.co.uk


ULTRAVOX Same Old Story (1986)

U-VOX Same Old StoryThe signs had not been good when drummer Warren Cann was fired from the band for preferring to use programmed percussion. With the success of his solo career, Midge Ure was dictating a more conventional back-to-basics approach. But while the soulful backing vocalists, live drums and brass section on ‘Same Old Story’ kept ULTRAVOX sounding with the times, the bland played on. The poor title of the parent album ‘U-Vox’ summed it all up… a band with something missing!

Album version available on the album ‘U-Vox’ via EMI Music

http://www.ultravox.org.uk


A-HA Touchy! (1988)

A-HA TouchySuch is life, the brilliant predecessor ‘The Blood That Moves The Body’ only reached No28 in the UK singles chart. Instead, the public took its rather ordinary and annoying follow-up ‘Touchy!’ to No11! Devoid of the usual emotive but melodic melancholy that had made songs such as ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’ and ‘Hunting High & Low’ so dramatically appealing, the lead synth brass line, which ubiquitous for the time, was particularly annoying!

Available on the album ‘Stay On These Roads’ via Warner Music

http://a-ha.com/


HEAVEN 17 The Ballad Of Go Go Brown (1988)

H17 Ballad of GoGoWhen Glenn Gregory appeared on the single sleeve wearing a Stetson, the writing was on the wall. ‘The Ballad Of Go Go Brown’ with its slide guitar and harmonica was the antithesis of the funky modernism that HEAVEN 17 had previously stood for. Martyn Ware’s success as a producer for artists such as TINA TURNER and TERENCE D’ARBY around this time proved he hadn’t lost his creative nous… but for now, the once innovative trio had run out of steam.

Available on the album ‘Play To Win: The Best Of’ via Music Club Deluxe

http://www.heaven17.com


NEW ORDER Fine Time (1988)

NEW ORDER fine timeNEW ORDER had largely been acknowledged as a supreme singles act… until this! ‘Fine Time’ spoilt an otherwise brilliant album in ‘Technique’. A sly send-up of the acid house scene, even Bernard Sumner admitted it was “a novelty record”. A pitch shifted vocal was made to sound like an inebriate jackmaster impersonating Barry White, while the messy backing track was complimented by some bleeting sheep. One thing good about the single edit though is that it’s one and a half minutes shorter than the album version!

Available on the album ‘Singles’ via Rhino Records

http://www.neworder.com/


EURYTHMICS Revival (1989)

eurythmicsrevival1987’s ‘Savage’ album was a laudable attempt by Annie Lennox and David A Stewart’s to get back to their electronic roots after their overt flirtation with America for their previous two long players ‘Be Yourself Tonight’ and ‘Revenge’. But to launch the 1989 album ‘We Two Are One’, EURYTHMICS got all bland again on ‘Revival’. The squelchy synth bass could not disguise a lifeless tune that ironically, despite its rhythm ‘n’ blues influences, was lacking in soul.

Available on the album ‘We Too Are One’ via RCA / Sony BMG Records

http://eurythmics.com/


DURAN DURAN Violence of Summer (1990)

violence_of_summer_duran_duranDURAN DURAN’s cover of ‘White Lines (Don’t Do It)’ is more comical than awful! But ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’ was a poor relaunch of their classic five-piece band format with guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and drummer Sterling Campbell joining the fold, following two albums as a trio. What they forgot to add to the line-up though was some tunes… unsurprisingly, ‘The Violence Of Summer’ has never made it onto any DURAN DURAN compilation CDs, even the budget ones!

Available on the album ‘Liberty’ via EMI Music

http://www.duranduran.com


SIMPLE MINDS She’s A River (1995)

SIMPLE MINDS She's A River

For SIMPLE MINDS’ worst commitment to the singular format, it was tempting to list ‘Belfast Child’ or their cover of PRINCE’s ‘Sign O’ The Times’, but ‘She’s A River’ wins out. With overblown guitar histrionics, big drums and a virtually anonymous verse with no hook, this plodding number surprisingly reached No20 in the UK charts. Bizarrely,  pop duo HURTS revived the template of ‘She’s A River’ for the even more appalling ‘Miracle’ in 2013!

Available on the album ‘Good News from the Next World’ via Virgin Records

http://www.simpleminds.com


PET SHOP BOYS New York City Boy (1999)

PET SHOP BOYS New York City BoyPET SHOP BOYS are as perfect singles act as you can get, but even they were not flawless. For their worst offering, it was a close race between the inappropriately titled ‘Winner’ and the camp OASIS of ‘I Get Along’. But ‘New York City Boy’ has to be Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s least convincing single. While ‘Go West’ took a VILLAGE PEOPLE song and applied an elegiac PET SHOP BOYS template, ‘New York City Boy’ was misguided attempt to try and actually be New York’s favourite disco queens.

Available on the album ‘Nightlife’ via EMI Music

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk


KRAFTWERK Expo 2000 (2000)

KRAFTWERK Expo 2000In a scandal equivalent to the UK’s Millenium Dome project, KRAFTWERK pocketed 400,000 Deutsch Marks for a five syllable processed voice jingle for (yes you’ve guessed it) Expo 2000! At the time, it was KRAFTWERK’s first new composition for 14 years. Lacking the percussive drive that had been previously provided by the now-sadly absent Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür, ‘Expo 2000’ was a meandering, formless ditty which lacked the rich, klassik melodicism that made KRAFTWERK great.

Available on the single ‘Expo 2000’ via EMI Music

http://www.kraftwerk.com


DEPECHE MODE Peace (2009)

Depeche-Mode-Peace‘Sounds Of The Universe’ is such a dire body of work. So surreally imagine as a diversion from its uninspired electro blues rock, John Lennon trying to write a KRAFTWERK song during THE BEATLES sessions that produced ‘Across The Universe’? Sounds interesting doesn’t it? DEPECHE MODE worked on the concept but came up with the ghastly ‘Peace’. No pleasures remained as the strained and nauseating chorus, attached to a lame verse, was more likely to harm diplomatic relations.

Available on the album ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ via Sony Music

http://www.depechemode.com


OMD If You Want It (2010)

OMD_If_You_Want_It_single_coverFor anyone who had loved OMD’s pioneering early catalogue, ‘If You Want It’ was horrid. An attempt at a soaring OASIS styled anthem, ‘If You Want It’ was certainly not what fans were expecting. With an excruciatingly high key and a joint compositional credit to Tracey Carmen, who had worked with Andy McCluskey’s girl group creation ATOMIC KITTEN, its true origins can only be guessed at. But thankfully, OMD managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with 2013’s ‘English Electric’ opus.

Available on the album ‘History Of Modern’ via Blue Noise

http://www.omd.uk.com


ERASURE When I Start To (2011)

ERASURE When I Start

On paper, things were not promising as the severely over rated FRANKMUZIK was recruited to apply his modern dance production aesthetic to Andy Bell and Vince Clarke’s classic synthpop on the ‘Tomorrow’s World’ album. But its first single ‘When I Start To (Break It All Down)’ sounded like a rather anodyne TAKE THAT ballad and Bell’s voice was strained to an auto tuned flatness, lacking power and soul. Luckily in 2014, Richard X came on board for ‘The Violet Flame’ and saved the day.

Available on the album ‘Tomorrow’s World’ via Mute Artists

http://www.erasureinfo.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th January 2015, updated 22nd January 2018

A Beginner’s Guide To STEPHEN HAGUE

STEPHEN HAGUE-01Portland born Stephen Hague first came to musical prominence in 1984 with his production of Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Madam Butterfly’, an incongruous blend of opera, soul, hip-hop and electropop.

Although an experienced hand having already notched up a hit with the breakdancing novelty record ‘(Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew’ in 1983, the cinematic arthouse resonance of ‘Madam Butterfly’ allowed Hague to be taken more seriously musically.

As one of the first advocates of digital recording, he was seen as someone who could helm a modern polished sound to maximise the dynamics of the then new compact disc medium.

Two acts who were listening closely were OMD and PET SHOP BOYS. Hague’s first full album production was OMD’s ‘Crush’ in 1985 but it was with his re-recorded version of ‘West End Girls’ that PET SHOP BOYS hit No1 in both the UK and US in 1986.

Interestingly, the character of its distinctive bass synth was achieved by Hague coercing a reluctant Chris Lowe into hand playing the riff while the track fulfilled Neil Tennant’s concept of the duo sounding “like an English rap group”. Hague’s work on ‘West End Girls’ made him a producer-in-demand and started an imperial phase which mirrored that of PET SHOP BOYS themselves.

Although Hague was not involved in OMD’s massive American hit ‘If You Leave’ from the John Hughes teen flick ‘Pretty In Pink’, he was the music supervisor of Hughes’ next film ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ which included PROPAGANDA and FURNITURE in the soundtrack. He then went through a particularly prolific period with a variety of synth flavoured acts such as NEW ORDER, ERASURE and COMMUNARDS, while also working with artists as diverse as PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, ONE DOVE, BROTHER BEYOND and THE MODERN.

One of the main criticisms of Stephen Hague’s sound was that his wash of digital synths and smoothed over percussion lacked edge. But as Hague would argue, pop music “carries certain traditions of structure and expectation”. Thus his work made considerations to the placement of instruments and voices, while giving any new technology an organic touch that still sounded positively futuristic.

Hague later got his foot in the door occasionally during the Britpop era with productions for DUBSTAR, BLUR, JAMES and even MANIC STREET PREACHERS. But it is electronic pop that Hague is best known for and his best work has certainly pointed to an affinity with synthetic textures.

So quite why REM asked him to produce a demo, only for them to then complain that the results were too synth heavy, remains a mystery.

When ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first acquired a car, a mix tape conceived around Hague’s various productions was the first cassette created for its incumbent entertainment system. In effect, this was a various artists compilation but with a wonderfully cohesive sonic core.

So what eighteen songs would go on an imaginary compilation today as an introduction to the work of this under rated, but very gifted producer? Listed in chronological order with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are our choices…


MALCOLM McLAREN Madam Butterfly (1984)

MALCOLM McLAREN Madam ButterflyBased on Puccini’s iconic work, ‘Madam Butterfly’ became Stephen Hague’s production showcase with DX slap bass and a reverberating drum machine sitting next to haunting synth motifs and a highly emotive aria. With the late McLaren in the role of Colonel Pinkerton, the beautifully soulful vocal of Deborah Cole as Cho-Cho San and operatic stylings from Betty-Ann White provided a refreshing sound that was in its way, quietly subversive as one of the most beautiful records from the early digital era.

Available on the album ‘Fans’ via Charisma Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/24495-Malcolm-McLaren


OMD (Forever) Live & Die (1986)

OMD ForeverInspired by the steadfast groove of Grace Jones’ ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, ‘(Forever) Live And Die’ had been written alone by Paul Humphreys about missing his then wife Maureen who was away working on a ballet. A hit in both the UK and US, while the song pointed more towards the Trans-Atlantic aspirations of OMD following the success of ‘If You Leave’ in America, it still possessed elements of their Kling Klang inspired roots with KRAFTWERK’s melodic sensibilities and Vako Orchestron derived choirs looming in the mix.

Available on the album ‘The Pacific Age’ via Virgin Records

http://www.omd.uk.com/


PET SHOP BOYS & DUSTY SPRINGFIELD What Have I Done To Deserve This? (1987)

PET SHOP BOYS what have i doneOriginally slated for ‘Please’, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’ sounded like three songs morphed into one, but that was because it actually was. Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant did their respective pop art sections while Allie Willis who co-wrote ‘Boogie Wonderland’ came up with the rather blissful chorus. The song went into another sphere once Dusty Springfield was brought out of semi-retirement to add her voice and ad-libs. The smoothness of Hague’s production provided the perfect backing.

Available on the album ‘Actually’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


NEW ORDER True Faith (1987)

true faith‘True Faith’ was a superb indicator of how Hague could transform a band without necessarily hindering their ethos. During recording, Hague insisted that Bernard Sumner laid down his lead vocal early on in the session so that the instrumentation could be built around his voice. The result was that there was a more subtle dynamic space in the finished track with the occasionally messy wall of sound effect that had been a characteristic of NEW ORDER’s self-produced recordings reduced.

Available on the album ‘Singles’ via WEA Records

http://newordernow.net/


CLIMIE FISHER Love Changes (1988)

CLIMIE FISHER Love changesIf a young Rod Stewart had joined PET SHOP BOYS, what would the end result have sounded like? It might probably have been like CLIMIE FISHER. The late Rob Fisher had Stateside success in NAKED EYES while Simon Climie had proved his worth with his No1 song ‘I Knew You Were Waiting’ for Aretha Franklin and George Michael. ‘Love Changes (Everything)’ continued that latter tradition, but with slightly more synthesized backing.

Available on the album ‘Everything’ via Edsel Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/112925-Climie-Fisher


ERASURE A Little Respect (1988)

ERASURE A Little RespectProbably Hague’s best known production worldwide, ‘A Little Respect’ was perfection from the off with its combination of Vince Clarke’s pulsing programming and strummed acoustic guitar. As the busy rhythmical engine kicked in, Andy Bell went from a tenor to a piercing falsetto to provide the dynamic highs and lows that are always omnipresent in all the great pop songs like ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ and ‘Careless Whisper’.

Available on the album ‘The Innocents’ via Mute Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


HOLLY JOHNSON Heaven’s Here (1989)

hollyjohnson-heavens-hereThe former FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD front man’s first hit ‘Love Train’ had been mixed by Hague but the producer was fully involved in the recording of ‘Heaven’s Here’, a stand out track from the ‘Blast’ album which also later came out as a single. A lush love ballad, ‘Heaven’s Here’ took a leaf out of ERASURE’s vocal sensitivity to allow Johnson to present a less in-yer-face vocal style that perhaps he had not really visited since ‘The Power Of Love’.

Available on the album ‘Blast’ via Cherry Red Records

http://http://www.hollyjohnson.com/


JIMMY SOMERVILLE Heaven Here On Earth (1989)

Jimmy-Somerville-–-Read-My-LipsHaving worked on COMMUNARDS’ ‘Red’ opus which spawned a rather fabulous cover of ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, Stephen Hague was often a willing conspirator in aiding Somerville’s reputation as a falsetto Karaoke machine. However, ‘Heaven Here On Earth’ was a beautifully sumptuous layered self-composition from Somerville that was one of the best tracks on his debut solo offering ‘Read My Lips’. The staccato voice samples towards the song’s conclusion provided an enticing lift.

Available on the album ‘Read My Lips’ via Polygram Records

http://www.jimmysommerville.co.uk/


MARC ALMOND A Lover Spurned (1990)

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWith an epic orchestration and the ghost of Brel deep within its arrangement, ‘A Lover Spurned’ could only have been a single by Marc Almond. A forerunner to the Trevor Horn assisted second side concept of ‘Tenement Symphony’ that was to come a year later, ‘A Lover Spurned’ was Almond at his narrative best with ‘The Life & Loves Of A She-Devil’ actress Julie T Wallace giving a stern spoken cameo as the title character that added a ‘Fatal Attraction’ menace to proceedings.

Available on the album ‘Hits & Pieces’ via Universal Music

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


BANDERAS This Is Your Life (1991)

BANDERAS This is your lifeBANDERAS were vocalist Caroline Buckley and instrumentalist Sally Herbert and ‘This Is Your Life’ with its sample from Grace Jones ‘Crack Attack’ had a distinct Pet Shop Girls behavioural vibe to it. There was also the added bonus of Johnny Marr on rhythm guitar plus a terrific middle eight section featuring Bernard Sumner on backing vocals before an emotive synth solo. “There is no rehearsal, no second chance” sang Buckley and Sumner rather prophetically as there were sadly to be no more hits…

Available on the album ‘Ripe’ via London Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/31185-Banderas


SIOUXIE & THE BANSHEES Kiss Them For Me (1991)

SIOUXSIE Kiss Them For MeIt seemed a strange pairing but what Stephen Hague brought to The Banshees was an exotic Middle Eastern sheen driven by synthesizers that was complimented by some sparkling rhythm guitar. Long standing fans were outraged but ‘Kiss Them For Me’ possessed an accessibility that prised away some of the perceived threatening spectres of their previous work. Siouxsie Sioux may have been unhappy with the ‘Superstition’ album overall, but it yielded a huge US hit.

Available on the album ‘Superstition’ via Universal Music

http://www.siouxsieandthebanshees.co.uk/


ELECTRONIC Disappointed (1992)

ELECTRONIC DisappointedThe join between NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS became totally blurred with this Europop styled number inspired by the French pop hit ‘Désenchantée’ by Mylene Farmer. The nucleus of Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr were joined by occasional member Neil Tennant on lead vocals for this interim single. The effect of Stephen Hague’s input can be heard markedly on the two versions offered on the CD single; ELECTRONIC’s original mix was effectively a high quality demo. However, Hague’s pop sensibilities transformed ‘Disappointed’ into a fully functioning hit single.

Available on the album ‘Get The Message’ via EMI Records

http://www.feeleverybeat.co.uk/


THE OTHER TWO Selfish (1993)

The-Other-Two-Selfish-102742From the side project of NEW ORDER’s Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris, ‘Selfish’ was another exquisite Stephen Hague production with its rich synthetic strings and lively but unobtrusive machine driven rhythms. Gilbert’s resigned vocal about “someone I hate” added to the inherent melancholy. Meanwhile the simulated acoustic guitar solo could easily have been represented by some Hooky bass had this number been a NEW ORDER recording, such was its melodic but understated quality.

Available on the album ‘And You’ via LTM Records

http://theothertwo.co.uk/


BLUR To The End (1994)

BLUR To The EndImagine Marc Almond impersonating Anthony Newley with a Gallic twist? Like some obscure monochromatic Nouvelle Vague movie theme, the esoteric nature of ‘To The End’ needed a lusher orchestrated treatment than for BLUR’s usual mockney Britpop, so Hague was recruited to produce it. Given added authenticity by Laetitia Sadier from STEREOLAB’s sanguine “Jusqu’a la fin – En plein soleil” and Hague’s accordion playing, ‘To The End’ was popular with many casual listeners.

Available on the album ‘The Best Of’ via Food Records

http://www.blur.co.uk/


DUBSTAR Stars (1995)

DUBSTAR StarsGlorious string synths, rich bass and contemporary beats accompanied Sarah Blackwood’s girl-next-door vocal on DUBSTAR’s biggest UK hit single. The lyrical kitchen sink dramatics fitted well with the lush backing of ‘Stars’ as the trio stood on the bridge between synthpop and Cool Britannia. Hague produced a second album ‘Goodbye’ for DUBSTAR while he also continued his association with Blackwood later on when she formed CLIENT.

Available on the album ‘Disgraceful’ via Food Records

http://dubstarofficial.co/


TECHNIQUE You & Me (1999)

The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Kate Holmes, TECHNIQUE were a female interpretation of PET SHOP BOYS crossed with NEW ORDER’s post-punk edge. The usual Hague poptastic trademarks were present on ‘You & Me’ and while not a hit in the UK, it was in the Far East via a cover version by Coco Lee. TECHNIQUE were booked to support DEPECHE MODE in Europe but when singer Xan Tyler went left, DUBSTAR’s Sarah Blackwood was recruited… that duo morphed into CLIENT…

Available on the mini-album ‘Pop Philosophy’ via PopTones

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Technique


A-HA You Wanted More (2002)

a-ha_Lifelines-coverA-HA were undergoing a career renaissance following ‘Minor Earth:Major Sky’. Stephen Hague produced four tracks on the follow-up ‘Lifelines’, the best of which was ‘You Wanted More’. Morten Harket had actually worked with Hague previously on a cover of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ for the ‘Coneheads’ soundtrack. So with A-HA’s lush melancholic pop drama, the artistic union with Hague was particularly apt. Harket hit his marvellous falsetto in the chorus while a gospel sample added a strange twist.

Available on the album ‘Lifelines’ via WEA Records

http://a-ha.com/


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Thank You (2011)

CLAUDIA BRUCKEN Thank YouOne of two tracks Hague co-wrote and recorded for Ms Brücken’s ‘ComBined’ retrospective collection, ‘Thank You’ was like a Bond Theme reimagined by MASSIVE ATTACK, held together by a sumptuous percussive mood. The fruitful partnership led to a full album of reinterpretations entitled ‘The Lost Are Found’ which came out in 2012. Interestingly, it saw Hague revisit two of his original productions ‘Kings Cross’ and ‘The Day I See You Again’ for PET SHOP BOYS and DUBSTAR respectively.

Available on the album ‘ComBined’ via Salvo / Union Square Music

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th April 2014, updated 13th November 2018

MAD WORLD: An Interview with co-author LORI MAJEWSKI

MAD WORLD‘Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s’ is a brand new book that covers the music of the MTV Generation.

Written by New Jersey born Duranie Lori Majewski and LA based Glaswegian Jonathan Bernstein, ‘Mad World’ includes many of the bands that formed part of the post-punk British Invasion of the US which the Americans later referred to as New Wave. Very different from the British definition of New Wave which included acts such as BLONDIE, THE PRETENDERS, X-RAY SPEX and THE POLICE, the Stateside classification threw in Synth Britannia, New Romantics, Young Soul Rebels, Goths, Antipodean funk rockers and refugees from The Bromley Contingent!

Regardless of the seemingly incongruous acts being lumped together, what New Wave in the US did was enlighten a whole group of impressionable teenagers about a musical world that artistically and stylistically had more to offer than the turgid home grown rock of bands like BOSTON, REO SPEEDWAGON, STYX, TOTO and JOURNEY.

‘Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s’ features a foreword by DURAN DURAN’s Nick Rhodes and while not definitive, ‘Mad World’ delves into the spirit, the politics and the heartache behind some of the greatest songs in popular culture, regardless of genre.

With the publication of the book in North America and a UK edition scheduled for Autumn 2014, co-author Lori Majewski kindly spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to give a fascinating American viewpoint on Synth Britannia and much more…

I understand that this book was partly inspired by the advent of Grunge?

Jonathan Bernstein and I met during Grunge when we both worked at Spin Magazine which in the US, used to be a real competitor to Rolling Stone, although how it’s evolved now as Rolling Stone is more of a veteran magazine while Spin is more indie. But back then, it was neck-and-neck, a bit like how NME and Melody Maker were in the UK.

I was just starting out in the business and wanted to work on a music magazine. Unfortunately for me who grew up an Anglophile and liked electronic music, by the early 90s, electronic music was no longer in vogue and even a dirty word; it was really gauche to use synthesizers! Grunge with its guitars and feedback, it was dirty compared with the pretty electronic sound that we loved in New Wave.

I kept it to myself because I was at Spin, but then I heard Jonathan talking about ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ by ABC being his favourite record… it was like I could hear angels singing because I thought “OH MY GOD! Somebody understands that time in music!” because nobody wanted to talk about it anymore. We were kinda nerdy for even liking it, we weren’t cool at Spin. So we became best friends.

So how long has ‘Mad World’ been in the making and what has the journey been like?

It wasn’t until 18 months ago when we read an article with Gary Kemp from SPANDAU BALLET. He was talking about the song ‘True’, the story behind it, all the different influences and what the lyrics meant. We called each other and thought “Wow! Imagine if we could do this kind of article with all of our favourite songs?” That’s how ‘Mad World’ really evolved.

We were going to do the stories behind the songs but as we interviewed the artists, it turned into so much more… it was about the songs, the journeys to making those seminal tracks, how those tracks changed their lives and how sometimes the success strangled artists. Take A-HA; when I interviewed Mags, he said “everyone knows ‘Take On Me’ but I’m like a dad with lots of kids, don’t just like one of my kids, you have to like all of them!”

We also had a cultural conversation with these artists because they talked about The Cold War and Thatcherism. There were some bands like DURAN DURAN who said they “wanted to be the band that you danced to when the bomb drops”. Others like TEARS FOR FEARS wanted to explore that darker side and the psychological melancholy, which is why our book is called ‘Mad World’.

We wanted to do it decades ago, but we could only have done ‘Mad World’ now when these artists were ready to tell their stories of their careers. Plus we had to wait until a time when this kind of music was back in vogue, because no-one would have bought it even five years ago.

How would describe the way you and Jonathan’s very different dynamics combined to produce ‘Mad World’?

Jonathan is 10 years older… he’s 52, I’m 43; he’s Scottish so he was raised on the critical British music press so he’s much more curmudgeonly while during New Wave, I was a wide-eyed American teen who couldn’t get enough of MTV. So I was a fan and he was a critic… but where we meet is we both LOVE this stuff! He loves it from a critical view and he was like “Gosh, it took me a long time to realise it but this stuff is good and influential!” whereas I just bathe in it; I love DURAN DURAN and DEPECHE MODE and built my entire life around that *laughs*

I’m particularly fascinated about how Americans regarded the synthesizer as an instrument and this frequent reference to it being a keyboard, as if there was some kind of denial about it being a real instrument?

From where I sit, I think the synthesizer is essential to my favourite records. The first big record that used the synthesizer I ever heard was GARY NUMAN’s ‘Cars’.

At that time during the turn of the decade, ’79 going into ’80 here in America, I was listening to AIR SUPPLY, OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN and the ‘Grease’ soundtrack! My father was into WARREN ZEVON. The thing is, Americans really hated disco after a while so when I first heard ‘Cars’, it was unlike anything I’d ever heard. It sounded like the future, it sounded like the space age. You have to remember not everyone was that open and a lot of people I went to school with went “that’s not music”. And just the fact that it was called a synthesizer… it’s synthesized, it’s not real!

They thought it had no skill whereas the stuff we came up on like JOURNEY and FOREIGNER, they were bands that played guitars and it was real masculine stuff! So someone like GARY NUMAN comes along, he’s a one-man band thanks to a synthesizer and he’s wearing make-up!

You see, DAVID BOWIE was not as big in the US as he was in the UK at the time. So you put all that together and no-one here really knew Numan was pretty much born of the rib of Bowie. So people thought it was sissy stuff and uncool… and he’s wearing make-up and making synthesized sounds! So Americans were very suspicious of it.

How would you describe the impact of GARY NUMAN and THE HUMAN LEAGUE in the US during the first wave of UK synth artists?

In the Europe, you also had ULTRAVOX, OMD plus of course KRAFTWERK. GARY NUMAN was the first to really make it big and mainstream so in the US, he opened the door for all that.

But when THE HUMAN LEAGUE and EURYTHMICS came on the scene with ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ and ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’, I just felt “WOW! THINGS ARE CHANGING!”.

The reason we cover ‘Being Boiled’ in the book is an inconvenience of the fact that Phil Oakey didn’t want to talk to us, that was really disappointing. I was thinking “Do we even have a book without ‘Don’t You Want Me?’…?”; but then talking to Martyn Ware, he chatted about his beginnings with THE HUMAN LEAGUE. I realised ‘Being Boiled’ was the boiler plate for so many of the records that came afterwards; DURAN DURAN, OMD and Vince Clarke all talk about ‘Being Boiled’. So we may not have the story you expect with ‘Don’t You Want Me?’, but we have one of the beginning stories of the entire era.

Soft Cell 3 world of leatherThere was still a very macho rockist attitude at the time… I recall John Cougar making some quite homophobic comments about SOFT CELL in Smash Hits!

Really? It’s interesting, as a young girl I didn’t think straight or gay, I was just thinking love. Music has such an emotional impact on you anyway but especially if you are a young person.

I just felt that music opened up my eyes and heart to things that I hadn’t previously been exposed to. And that’s why I fell in love with DURAN DURAN… yes, it helped that they were good looking but they dressed so well and they were so interesting.

But you compare that to the guy at school who may be the equivalent of a John Cougar in the jeans and T-shirt. That may work on some girls but that’s your average guy to me, whereas you had DURAN DURAN on these exotic beaches, wearing these fantastic clothes and having these great accents. And BOY GEORGE, I didn’t think if he was straight or gay, I just thought he was beautiful. At the time, boys looked like girls and girls looked like boys but it didn’t necessarily mean they were gay. SPANDAU BALLET dressed up and sometime wore as much make-up as LIMAHL did. But he said at that time, you just didn’t talk about… but he was not in the closet either.

I think we were so much more progressive back then we are now. During the Grammys this year, we had MACKLEMORE standing up for gay rights. But back in the 80s, you didn’t need a straight white rapper to do that because you had gay pop stars in the charts.

OMD84OMD are an interesting conundrum as they were part of that first wave yet didn’t make it at the time, but they then made progress later when they supported THOMPSON TWINS and THE POWER STATION before ‘If You Leave’ was a hit?

OMD are a good example of where the difference between me and Jonathan is vast. Jonathan loved them right from the beginning and really understood their KRAFTWERK pedigree. Me? I happened by accident to get into OMD because I had tickets to see THE POWER STATION.

SPANDAU BALLET who were due to support had to pull out of the tour as Steve Norman had broken his leg! So I saw OMD with them instead and they played this song from a new movie called ‘Pretty In Pink’. I was thinking “who is this guy with the crazy dance moves?”, but I could see he was really into it and I loved the music.

So I went backwards from ‘If You Leave’ and discovered ‘Architecture & Morality’; I fell in love with the pair of love songs about Joan Of Arc and I was like “THIS IS JUST INCREDIBLE!”. To this day, OMD are definitely in my top three favourite bands. I saw them in concert this past summer and they were my favourite of the year. I still think record after record, they make fantastic music and I say in the book, if no other band existed in the genre of New Wave, I’d be happy to hang my hat entirely on just OMD and say they are a genre unto themselves because I think they are that spectacular a group!

prettyinpinkNow, with OMD’s early stuff compared with the later stuff, I think it’s apples and oranges because with ‘If You Leave’, it’s from ‘Pretty In Pink’ which is my favourite of the John Hughes films.

I have a soft spot for Ducky… which girl who grew up in the 80s didn’t? I grew up with freckles so I really loved the fact that Molly Ringwald was considered a really beautiful girl.

Until her, there were no pretty teenage girls I could look up to, so all of that is wrapped up in ‘If You Leave’. It’s definitely a part of the whole John Hughes nostalgia thing. But when I think of early OMD, I think of ground breaking seminal electronic music.

It’s interesting you feature THE NORMAL in the book, but not KRAFTWERK. KRAFTWERK seem to have made more of a cultural impact on the US urban dance scene rather than New Wave pop?

We look at KRAFTWERK as being a parent figure to this era rather then being a part of it itself. So when I think about who inspired all of these artists, it’s KRAFTWERK, DAVID BOWIE, ROXY MUSIC, T-REX and CHIC. Then you put it through the punk blender because none of these New Wave artists would have picked up an instrument if it wasn’t for punk. Bowie, Roxy and Bolan were too much on a pedestal, you could never imagine emulating them because they were true rock stars.

But when punk and KRAFTWERK came around, two things happened; punk made you feel you could do it with just three chords while KRAFTWERK taught you that you didn’t even need a band, just one piece of equipment which was the synthesizer. So that’s why there isn’t a chapter on KRAFTWERK, but they are mentioned many times throughout the book.

The chat with Peter Hook must have been quite revealing considering his Joyless Division with NEW ORDER?

Peter Hook was one of my first interviews for the book actually and he is one of my favourites, I probably talked to him about five times. He was very generous with his time, his memories and he was very candid. Some people think he’s overly angry about the situation but as he says in the book, he gave 30 years of his life to the band and he feels really burnt by it. He said it’s a divorce and as someone who’s been through one, I wasn’t married for over 30 years but I can’t imagine what it must feel like; he calls the new version of NEW ORDER “New Odour”. I really liked talking to Peter and one of the reasons is because he is proud of his legacy and loves his own music, both as JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER.

Now, when I talked to like Vince Clarke, it was really hard to get him to talk about his own music. But once I started asking him about his heroes, he completely opened up about people like SIMON & GARFUNKEL and THE CURE. So he had no problem talking about that, but had a problem talking about his own music because it’s too close to him. Peter Hook is not like that, he is enjoying preserving his legacy and you can see that; he’s written two books on his career so far and has another on the way about NEW ORDER. I think he’s a great storyteller.

Photo by Donald Christie

Did you talk to Bernard Sumner as well?

Yes, I also interviewed Bernard but he really avoided as much as possible talking about Peter Hook and the problems they had. He said NEW ORDER’s music, particularly ‘Blue Monday’ has been passed down through the family like a gold watch, meaning people who are in their 40s and 50s have passed the music down to their teenage kids who now find it cool. The JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER chapters are two of my favourites.

My heart hurts for Peter because I’m a very sensitive person too and I can tell that this whole situation with Bernard has broken his heart. However, this is not something that happened recently, this has been a slow boil for many years. Peter said they only shared one phone call over 35 years and that was because Bernard’s car had a flat battery and he need a lift to a gig!

This first wave paved the way for prettier bands like DURAN DURAN and DEPECHE MODE plus electro-soul hybrids like HEAVEN 17, EURYTHMICS and YAZOO in the US. Was there a big difference in these acts that made them more appealing to Americans? Was it really just down to videos and MTV?

A good video is a good video, but a great video can’t rescue a crappy song! So it was much more than that… the truth of the matter is, DURAN DURAN became as big as they are in the United States because they spent many months touring here. In 1984 on their biggest tour, they spent half the year here. So America got used to these bands whereas HEAVEN 17 never set foot here.

Martyn Ware talks about HEAVEN 17 never coming to the US and thinks that hurt them. HEAVEN 17, YAZOO and a few of the others, they appeared on video and it was so new, it got them all around the world at once. So they thought “MTV in America play videos, why do they have to see us live? We don’t need to go to Australia, we’ll send them the video!”

If HEAVEN 17 had toured and put in the time, they had the songs that would have made them big here… ‘Temptation’ had a lot of potential in the US. YAZOO were sizeable here and not just with ‘Only You’. When I was in High School, everyone loved ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ and they played ‘Situation’ to death.

Photo by Virginia Turbett

Photo by Virginia Turbett

What about DEPECHE MODE?

DEPECHE MODE are interesting in that they’re really two bands… in this book, we talk about the early Vince Clarke Depeche that was really, a different group to the one that came over towards the end of the decade and sold out the Rose Bowl. And when Vince Clarke left, they really didn’t know what was going to happen because he wrote all the songs and produced.

It took Martin Gore a few albums to step up; ‘People Are People’ was a slight hit here but it wasn’t until they really put the time in to breaking in America that they made it. In fact, their first huge hit here wasn’t until ‘Enjoy The Silence’ in 1990. To me, DEPECHE MODE and THE CURE are the Holy pair of New Wave graduates who then went into the alternative music scene and started playing stadiums. I believe if THE SMITHS has stuck it out, they would have been doing so too.

With DURAN DURAN and their sound particularly, were their disco and rock elements also a factor in their American appeal in that they were not a pure synthesizer group?

I think you’re right. I’m the world’s biggest Duranie and I have to say, I think the magic is that the five members made incredible music and were the best at what they did. Nick Rhodes was a great synthesizer player and a producer behind the scenes in putting these records together; Simon Le Bon has an interesting and unique voice;  John Taylor is a hell of a bassist who many contemporary artists look up to; you had Roger Taylor who Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers both talk about what a strong drummer he is; and then there’s Andy Taylor who Mark Ronson says gave “a Steve Jones element” to the band. So you have this confluence of disco and synth sound with the crazy rock guitar element, it was a unique combination. With DURAN DURAN, you had the best of all worlds. You didn’t have that in SPANDAU BALLET!

Photo of SPANDAU BALLET and DURAN DURAN

Photo by Virginia Turbett

It’s interesting you say that, I briefly spoke to John Taylor once and asked him when he realised DURAN DURAN were going to trump SPANDAU BALLET and he replied “To Cut A Long Story Short”…

…he said to me that he ran out and bought that record, listened to it and was like “alright, nothing to worry about”. A thing that come across in the book is how competitive all of these groups were. Duran were super competitive with Spandau and that gets a lot of ink.

But also, DURAN DURAN were worried about ABC and John Taylor says in the book how nervous he was when ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ came out. And ABC were looking over their shoulder at THE HUMAN LEAGUE. And GARY NUMAN was competing with OMD. Back then, there was a race and ABC’s Martin Fry talks a lot about that race to put out the freshest, coolest, newest sounding record. And they were all competing in it.

They were all very much trying to come up with the next sound. So it’s interesting with ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’; SPANDAU BALLET started as a New Romantic band, then they come out with this funk dancefloor hit ‘Chant No1’, AND THEN became much more of a ballads band with ‘True’.

Look at today’s music scene… no bands are blowing up the formula between records like they did then! That’s what made it so exciting and so interesting. John Taylor went rushing out to buy ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ because he had no idea what it was going to sound like; whereas today, when KATY PERRY puts out a record, you kinda know how it’s going to sound! And so many of today’s artists use the same producer so they do sound the same! *laughs*

=ultravox_5ULTRAVOX who are in the book never made it in America despite their cinematic videos. Were they just too European and too old for the MTV Generation?

It’s funny, with ULTRAVOX, I think Americans had no idea where Vienna even was, so they couldn’t get into it! *laughs*

But for us Anglophiles who understood and liked DURAN DURAN and SPANDAU BALLET, it opened up Europe to us. The first time I ever went to England was to see a DURAN DURAN concert.

Nick Rhodes said the same thing about Bowie, he had never even left the country but through Bowie, he felt he could understand what it could be like to go to Berlin or Paris. In general, only 2 out of 10 Americans even had a passport and that’s true to this day. Andrew Farriss of INXS said that people in America were getting them confused and thinking they were Austrian instead of Australian! The accents couldn’t be more different! *laughs*

But Midge Ure is one of those really important driving forces of the entire movement because not only was he in ULTRAVOX, but he was a big part of VISAGE and co-wrote ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ so he had to be in this book 🙂

How do you subscribe to the thought that a number of these British acts that made it huge in America were effectively softened versions of acts that came before eg DURAN DURAN with JAPAN, and PET SHOP BOYS with SOFT CELL?

I’ve never thought of PET SHOP BOYS ever as a softened version of SOFT CELL, but I can see where you’re coming from.

The first time I heard ‘West End Girls’, it blew my mind, I’d never heard anything like it before and I still haven’t. SOFT CELL’s ‘Tainted Love’ was a tremendous hit here, it’s up there with ‘Sweet Dreams’, ‘Cars’ and ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ but SOFT CELL never really followed it up here.

As far as DURAN DURAN and JAPAN went, it’s like GARY NUMAN and DAVID BOWIE. I didn’t know until years later about JAPAN because they weren’t big here. But I remember listening to them and thinking “Wow! I can really hear DURAN DURAN in this”.

Now Duran may have started out with that influence but let’s not forget about SPANDAU BALLET. DURAN DURAN may have blown them out of the water eventually, but they have Spandau to thank. If there wasn’t a Blitz Club, there wouldn’t have been a Rum Runner so if there wasn’t a SPANDAU BALLET, there wouldn’t have been a DURAN DURAN. But Duran kept it going and they’re the elder statesmen of the entire era.

japan-quietlifeI loved JAPAN but they were too bloody minded and David Sylvian was too arty to want to become pop stars…

DURAN DURAN never minded and wanted to embrace the mainstream.

They were huge and maximised every opportunity whether it was videos or their good looks or the fact that they were good songwriters and musicians. They were a team and shared songwriting credits on every song.

SPANDAU BALLET broke in two because Gary Kemp was being sued by three members of the band for royalties. DURAN DURAN never had to worry about that kind of thing. I’m really proud to be a Duranie because they’re survivors. Have you seen DURAN DURAN live?

Oh yes, several times. I didn’t see them until 1988 unfortunately, but I went to one of the 2004 shows at Wembley Arena and it is still one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to!

I was at every single one, I loved those Wembley shows! OH MY GOD! They blew me away!

This will make you laugh, one of the things about being a male DURAN DURAN fan, you didn’t admit it when you were younger. But you don’t have a problem with it when you’re older. So when me and my mate got to the Wembley gig, we thought “where shall we stand? Oh, let’s stand towards the left” because of course, that was where all the girls were… waiting for John Taylor! 😉

You’re right, guys did not admit to liking them when they were younger but now you go to a Duran concert and there tons of guys there… and they’re not just there to hold the wife’s handbag! *laughs*

Who’d have thought the majority of the acts that feature in ‘Mad World’ are still active as brands and live performers. So should these artists keep touring and how do you feel about them recording new material?

When we interviewed Andy McCluskey, he feels that a lot of bands from this era shouldn’t be doing new music because they have nothing new to say. He felt that when OMD made the last two albums, they had to dig deep to really challenge themselves to say it was not to make a quick buck off the audience. That’s why Tom Bailey has to this day not done an acoustic album of THOMPSON TWINS hits or a reunion tour because he feels he doesn’t have it in him… although for the first time, he’s going to be touring solo in the US with Midge Ure and Howard Jones.

But I look at a band like DURAN DURAN; Simon Le Bon said to me that they are “career musicians”, they would not know what to do with themselves if they did not have a tour to do or a studio to go into… they are driven to make new music.

Some people think the record ‘Red Carpet Massacre’ with Timbaland was a mistake, but it’s one of my favourites… I’m really look up to Duran because they take chances. I always say hats off to acts like them and U2 for trying new things.

Of course, I see why Duranies were so excited about the Mark Ronson produced ‘All You Need Is Now’ album because it brought them back to ‘Rio’ and that sound. As long as bands are inspired to keep going and can, they should. INXS cannot keep going; they called it a day last year and Andrew Farriss said he has a hard time writing with someone who isn’t Michael Hutchence. Imagine working with someone for so long and suddenly they’re not there anymore?

So the bands that do continue, by and large, none of them disappoint me. I like some records better than others but even if I don’t like what they produce, I love the spirit with which they produce it.

I guess the end result of this New Wave legacy in America is that there’s great cinema like ‘Donnie Darko’, but also terrible new bands like FUTURE ISLANDS…

…I’m not a huge fan of FUTURE ISLANDS either… I was on my way to do a radio interview and I could not remember what they were called, I was thinking “Fantasy Islands? No, that’s not right!” *laughs*

The thing is, when I saw FUTURE ISLANDS on ‘The David Letterman Show’, I thought it was a comedian doing a skit on what they thought an 80s New Wave band was like…

…really? That’s so funny, I can see that! *laughs*

So how do you view the long term cultural significance of New Wave?

What I do like is that the sound continues… I like CHVRCHES, I think they’re good. On ‘American Idol’ the other evening, it was ‘80s Night’ and they had DURAN DURAN on there. Even a lot of this EDM is really a direct descendant of New Wave and electronica. Daniel Miller of Mute said that he can’t stand that term EDM aka Electronic Dance Music, but it’s what New Wave sort of was.

So it continues and it’s cool that the artists we love are finally getting recognition for really paving the way 30 years ago. I mean, there was the 90s when nobody would give OMD or GARY NUMAN a record deal because people thought no-one wanted to hear that music. John Taylor said he would have crawled into a hole in the ground if it wasn’t for Nick Rhodes keeping DURAN DURAN together, because they felt so shunned by popular culture.

What’s nice, whether or not you like EDM, FUTURE ISLANDS or CHVRCHES, is they’re continuing the tradition of the artists we love and allowing them to get their proper due finally.

I really hope that in the next few years, DEPECHE MODE get inducted into The Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame. It’s about time one of these bands gets properly recognised for ushering in an entire era of amazing electronic music.

MOBY, who does the afterword in ‘Mad World’, said to you he’d have liked to have been in DURAN DURAN. I always wanted to be in OMD and still dress like Paul Humphreys circa 1981! Which New Wave band would you have liked to have been in?

This is a hard question… to me DURAN DURAN are so good at what they do, I can’t even imagine being a part of it. Do you know what I mean? Whereas I look at a band like BOW WOW WOW, they had a female singer Annabella Lwin and I talk a lot in the book about how she was my first girl crush. She had a Mohican and she was so freaking cool! It seems like it was a party to be part of BOW WOW WOW although you learn from the book that it was nowhere near a party and that she barely hung out with the guys! But from a distance, it looked really fun to be in BOW WOW WOW ?


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Lori Majewski

‘Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s’ by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein is published by Abrams Books

http://madworldbook.com

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
19th April 2014, updated 3rd February 2019

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