Tag: David Bowie (Page 2 of 6)

Missing In Action: MARK WHITE & STEPHEN SINGLETON

While ABC continues today as a live entity under the captaincy of Martin Fry, that longevity might not have been possible without the band’s co-founders Mark White and Stephen Singleton.

White and Singleton had been members of the Sheffield experimental electronic act VICE VERSA who Fry joined after interviewing them for his fanzine ‘Modern Drugs’. As they absorbed wider influences, especially ones centred around the dancefloor, they morphed into ABC, eventually releasing ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ in Summer 1982 to great critical acclaim and commercial success.

The Electricity Club were extremely thrilled when Mark White and Stephen Singleton agreed to chat about their ABC days to give another perspective to the story…

VICE VERSA were a very manifesto driven band, were ABC the same?

Mark: It wasn’t manifesto-ish, but we did have a kind of plot. We wanted to have a really strong central character who was just ‘Mr. Heartache’ so that was the kind of plot.

So was that why Martin was on the sleeves and artwork, just him in a David Sylvian in JAPAN type of way?

Stephen: We felt it was really important to have a focal point like the way that Bryan Ferry was the focal point of ROXY MUSIC. That’s the way we went with the sleeves of ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ and ‘Poison Arrow’. In the same way that on ‘The Lexicon Of Love’, there’s Martin, the girl and the gun on the stage and then the reverse of that is the engine room of that with Mark with the flowers, with me sat there like the director and David Palmer like a caretaker.

Mark: We always had a strong sense of wanting it be filmic and even with the music, we just loved John Barry’s scores for Bond and we wanted the album to have that kind of scale.

Can you tell us about the role of Anne Dudley on ‘The Lexicon of Love’?

Mark: Anne was brought in as a session keyboard player, I think she did all of Trevor’s work with THE BUGGLES.

Stephen: Yes, she came in to do some keyboards on ‘Poison Arrow’ which was the first thing that we recorded with Trevor Horn. The next one we started to record was ‘The Look of Love’ and we liked that John Barry sound and the kind of pizzicato strings on Adam Faith. We wanted to use real strings but at first, Trevor was like “oh no, string players are a nightmare” and “I don’t want to do that, we can use a string machine”. So I took down an Adam Faith album and I said it’s never going to sound like this. So he said “ok, we’ll do it” and fortunately ‘Poison Arrow’ was a big hit, so the record company said “OK, you can do strings on ‘The Look of Love’.”

Mark: That’s a fantastic experience just being in the room when an orchestra is playing your song, it’s really moving, I genuinely felt moved to tears. It was “oh my God!”

Stephen: Anne did the string arrangements for that and we were totally blown away by it. Then it was “can we put strings on this one? Can we put strings on that one?”

Mark: Well to my shame, when we’d recorded ‘All of My Heart’ and it had all been done, I was like “yeah, that sounds great!”. But Trevor said “no, Mark, strings, strings on that one”. He literally said “it’ll be a Top 10”. I was dubious and wanted it in writing so I said “OK Trevor will you sign this then?” and he said “absolutely!” and he was right!

Going from ‘Poison Arrow’ to ‘The Look of Love’, there was definitely a move towards classic pop. Of course when you started ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ probably got lumped in with that New Funk thing that was going on. There was SPANDAU BALLET with ‘Chant No.1’, HAIRCUT 100 to a lesser extent with ‘Favourite Shirts’ and the more art funk stuff like 23 SKIDOO, A CERTAIN RATIO, that kind of thing.

Mark: I call it White Scratch Funk.

However with yourselves, SPANDAU BALLET and HAIRCUT 100, it was only one-off singles. It was a sound you didn’t really touch again?

Mark: You’re right, we didn’t take that any further. We wanted to be a lot more epic and on a much greater scale, you know this filmic idea.

I mean Trevor couldn’t understand why we’d approached him at all. He was like “but you’ve got this white funk record already in the charts, what am I going to do?”; so we played him a few things and he was like “oh, I can do that”.

Stephen: We’d got into this idea that we wanted to do this kind of James Brown thing and took the inspiration from that and that was the kind of first incarnation of ABC. It was that scratchy guitar and the brass and everything and we were playing gigs round London doing that style. And then people like HAIRCUT 100 came down to see us play our early gigs and then ran away and did the same thing!

It became a bit of movement and Spandau wanted to go in that direction as well. The first Spandau thing was more synth based with Gary Kemp on synth. I think everybody then was like “oh my God, we need to get on this particular sound”. We then wanted to move away from that… we met Trevor and he was like “why do you need me to produce you?”. We said that we wanted it to sound slick, we wanted it to sound amazing. We’d moved away from that funky, simple style…

Mark: We thought we sounded like CHIC and we so didn’t!

That comes later in 1987 doesn’t it when you work with Bernard Edwards on ‘The Night You Murdered Love’? ?

Stephen: CHIC were a big influence, me and Mark went to see CHIC play at the Sheffield City Hall and at the time were doing VICE VERSA. We saw them and it was like “oh my God, that is so amazing!” We went to the gig and everybody is sat down watching. Me and Mark had bought these tickets which were at the edge of the stage but restricted view, cheapy things and we were there and we’d watched about two or three songs and we were like “oh f*** this, we’ve got to f***ing dance! We can’t sit down!” And so we got up and we were like at the front of the City Hall and people were like “Sit down! Sit down!”.

Nile Rogers came to the edge of the stage and shook our hands and said “these guys know what CHIC is all about” and let everybody get up and dance. We were there and it was like (*int Northern accent*) “Move out of way! We’re trying to watch band!”

Mark: The concert was so good, they did two shows that evening….

Stephen: We went back to see the second show as well.

Mark: We came out of it, bought a ticket at the box office and watched it all again, it was that good!

Stephen: There was another thing, there was an ULTRAVOX gig like that in Sheffield, it was on the 21st of September 1978.

Mark: At The Limit….

Stephen: I know that because there’s this guy who is an ULTRAVOX completist and he wanted to know if they had played in Sheffield, so I was thinking “yes they did, they played at The Limit”. So I consulted my diary from 1978…

Mark: That black book, it’s incredible…

Stephen: The entry said “ULTRAVOX, Limit, very good! I may now go to Manchester to see them play”. Looking back on that period, the day before, THE STRANGLERS had played at the Top Rank and THE SKIDS were going to support, but THE SKIDS got on ‘Top of the Pops’ so THE HUMAN LEAGUE stepped up and did that gig. So one night I was seeing THE  STRANGLERS and THE HUMAN LEAGUE, you would have been there as well am sure. ULTRAVOX did the two gigs at The Limit because so many people wanted to see them, they were just becoming more noticed…

Mark: Was this the John Foxx era?

Stephen: Yeah. So they were scheduled to do one show, there were so many people outside that club that they filled the club, did the show and then said to everybody “you’ve got to go home to let in the second lot of people”.

I hid in the toilet so I that didn’t get thrown out! It was like (*knock, knock*) “Is there anybody in there?” and I’ve got my feet up… I’ve got a mine of information with the diaries of who we went to see. CHIC were a big influence, they said they saw ROXY MUSIC and wanted to be the black ROXY MUSIC and we saw them and wanted to be the white CHIC didn’t we?

Where do you stand on the two different versions of ‘Tears Are Not Enough”? The Electricity Club still favours the Steve Brown single version over the album version…..

Mark: I will be honest, I skip that track. It was really hard to make it fit on the album…

Stephen: We were trying to make it fit in on the album. Trevor didn’t want to re-record it, he thought that wasn’t the right thing to do. The best version of it that we did was a version that we re-recorded for ‘Swap Shop’. The weird thing was when we recorded ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ with Steve Brown, it took f***ing ages to do, we’d not been in a big studio before and we wanted it to sound perfect of course. We were in there and we didn’t have the ability to make it really sound like how we wanted it to sound.

Mark: We just wished we’d known about the Linn Drum…..

Stephen: We’d spent so long trying to record it, it took us ages and ages to get all the parts down…

Mark: It was nervous breakdown time wasn’t it?

Stephen: It wasn’t at all enjoyable. Then we got offered the chance to go on ‘Swap Shop’, re-recorded it and it took about half an hour to do and it sounded better than the 7” single version because by that time, we’d got David Palmer in on drums which made a huge difference.

We’d learned more, we’d gone through that process, that baptism of fire of being in a great big recording studio with the microscope over you and we went to RAK  Studios and did it in pretty much in one take. And then had the brass players come down and do their bits. It was all done really, really quickly.

But, originally recording ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ was not a lot of fun really for all of us. Apart from Mark, he was like “I’ll do my guitar now… chhk, chhk, chhk”, one take “I’ve finished!” It was a difficult, a learning curve for us. Steve Brown wasn’t really the best producer for us.

Mark: Up to this day, I don’t why we ended up with him. Do you?

Stephen: No, I think it was a recommendation from the record company.

He was known for some of the funk pop stuff, because he ended up doing WHAM!

Stephen: He did WHAM! Because George Michael was a massive ABC fan and wanted to sound like ABC, so then he went with Steve Brown.

Mark: We get a namecheck on a George Michael album don’t we? He was talking about London in that period and he namechecks ABC and maybe THE STYLE COUNCIL or something?

Stephen: THE JAM and that kind of thing… we had a friend called Mark Dean who had actually worked with WHAM! and we were down at Mark Dean’s house in Bushey and we met WHAM! who went to London clubs and they’d seen ABC and they wanted to meet up with us.

Mark Dean said “oh, my mates are going to come over and meet you”. So me and Martin met George and Andrew at Mark Dean’s house where we’d gone down to stay the night. Andrew said “George, play them that song we’ve been working on” and there’s a piano in Mark Dean’s house and George played ‘Careless Whisper’. And I was like “have you written that?” and he said “yeah, yeah” and I was like “are you sure?” *laughs*

I was thinking it was like a COMMODORES track that I’d not heard and he was going “no, no, I’ve written it!” and I was like “is that like one of the best songs I’ve heard or absolutely sh*te?!” I couldn’t really work it out, is he a genius or am I totally wrong on this?

Mark: He was famous for working really quickly though George, I worked with a keyboard player that he used, and George would say “just leave me alone, give me an hour” and he would come back and there’s practically a finished hit record there, a phenomenal speed of working…

What about the ABC songwriting process, was there a set method?

Mark: Jamming! Because it was band based then really….

Stephen: We were doing a VICE VERSA tour in Holland as our mate Mike Pickering had moved over to Holland. We stayed at Mike’s house and we met these guys who had a record shop and studio in Rotterdam and they were like “come with us to our studio…”

Mark: This was a key moment, because we’d got some unrecorded VICE VERSA songs that we’d been playing live… it came out as a single on Backstreet with ‘Stilyagi’ backed with ‘Eyes of Christ’.

Stephen: When we first went to the studio they were going “record something!” and we were like, “erm, well we use synthesizers and we can’t really do that”. But Martin was like “oh no, come on let’s make some music”, so I’d picked up a bass guitar and there was a little drum machine there. Mark picked up the guitar and we just started jamming round….

Mark: I remember we’d heard that Bowie had done some of the ‘Lodger’ album by just suggesting that everybody swapped their instruments and we thought ok we’ll do that. So it was like, Martin, why don’t you sing? We hadn’t heard him sing before and I don’t think he even knew he could and we just went “what the hell was that?!”

Stephen: He was just ad libbing things, vocal ideas, we were like, this is fantastic! And that was the kind of inspiration for Mark to step down from doing vocals.

Mark: This has never happened in pop I resigned as the lead singer! I’m still waiting for my OBE, it’s not forthcoming. As far as I know, it’s never happened before in history! *laughs*

Ah, Vince Clarke stepped down as vocalist for Dave Gahan in what became DEPECHE MODE…

Stephen: We’d met Martin who’d come to interview us and we kind of dragged him into being in the band. It was like “don’t worry about anything Martin, you stand at the side, you don’t have to do much. Just hit the keyboard, it’s a synthesizer, we’ll set it to white noise, and you go ‘Tish! Tish!’”.

Mark: He came to interview us for his fanzine ‘Modern Drugs’ but we both just looked at each other and said “we’re doing a gig in Middleborough in ten days time Martin, would you fancy just being in the band?” To which his reply was “but I don’t play an instrument!” *laughs*

Stephen: It doesn’t matter does it?

Mark: Literally, it was the punk age and it didn’t matter. Ok, look we’ve got a little oscillator, we’ll hook it up to a WEM Copicat and just make funny noises and it’ll be great! Am so glad we did that…

Stephen: So we did this tape in Holland and then thought this is really good and interesting, let’s work along that line and we looked for a drummer and bass player. Because we thought that Martin’s voice wouldn’t really suit the synthesized sound, we wanted that more organic sound and there was a house in Sheffield that Martin lived in with a guy called Disco John who was a DJ. The house was practically derelict…

Mark: …it was like a Coronation Street row of terraces…

Stephen: …which were due to be knocked down…

Mark: …in post-Industrial Sheffield, just all falling apart and there were just loads of places to rehearse and I’m sure that’s why so much came out of Sheffield in that period. You could get the most incredible rehearsal room for nothing!

Stephen: Martin lived there with John and in the dining room, there was his sound system and decks and we’d go into the other little room. And the way we started was just by going in there every day and just jamming around on ideas and learning to play whilst John would be practicing his DJ stuff.

Mark: The neighbours must have hated us! And then we’d go and watch THE HUMAN LEAGUE on ‘Top Of The Pops’ doing ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’… and we were like “Ooh! They’ve done alright haven’t they actually…..”

Stephen: That’s how it was. It was that kind of learning curve of playing around with ideas and thinking “this is quite a good idea, this could be a chorus” and then we’d write something else. It was like “hang on, the chorus of this song, this could be a verse” and we’d be like chopping and changing and fusing them together. We’d write lots of different things and go through this process of elimination; it was a learning process…

Mark: Teaching ourselves how to do it….

Stephen: We listened to a lot of Motown, the way they would put things together and Martin was a big fan of Smokey Robinson.

Mark: Around that time, we must have been crazy, we thought we’d be able to do both concepts at the same time; like continue VICE VERSA and the other side project that we’d already started calling ABC.

Stephen: We had different names, the first was RADICAL DANCE FACTION and there actually is a band called that now. I think it’s possible they stole that! Then Martin had this idea of music being a drug: “don’t take drugs, listen to music, don’t drink, don’t smoke, music should be the drug, music is a vitamin”, then we were thinking VITAMIN Z but there’s also a band that came out called VITAMIN Z.

Funnily enough, the singer of VITAMIN Z is now the manager of ARCTIC MONKEYS!

Stephen:  We were kind of like selling off these names to different bands so it was “let’s call it VITAMIN ABC”. And I was thinking, “it’s ok but why don’t we just call it ABC?”, then we’re not saying we’re a dance faction or whatever. We’re saying it’s just a name that would fit everything. Then we added the three stars to it, so it’s ABC, it’s got a logo, there’s three little stars, that’s the bands’ name and then it could be all encompassing, that’s how we did it.

The first gig we did was at Psalter Lane Art College, our friends came to see us and we’d been rehearsing the new band so we didn’t know what people would think.

But we knew when we did that first gig that it must be good, because our friends who before when we were VICE VERSA had being going “oh yeah, I like what you do”, were going “f*** me, this is f***ing amazing! It’s f***ing brilliant!”.

There were people screaming at the first gig. People were talking, “oh my God, they’re doing something different now and they’re playing guitars and it’s funky…”

Mark: Then all the record companies were chasing us, which is just the best situation you can have. You get the ridiculous situation of a massive black limo turning up, and it was the boss of CBS and Muff Winwood was there as well…

Stephen: …Dave Betteridge and Muff Winwood…

Mark: …outside this tiny little Coronation Street tumbling down house and this limo strolls up!

Stephen: At that point we’d got absolutely nothing, we were on the dole, no money whatsoever.

Mark: We would pay ourselves in cash, remember those old little brown envelopes? Where you got your wages. What were we on? £35 a week?

Stephen: When we signed the deal, we were like “we’ve got to make the money last…”

Mark: When we were on ‘Top Of The Pops’, we were getting £35 per week. Even when we went on tour after a couple of hits, we couldn’t afford the room service! *laughs*

Stephen: Yeah, we were on £50 a week then…

Mark: We gave ourselves a pay rise up to £50!

Stephen: When Muff Winwood came up to Sheffield and we played him ‘Poison Arrow’, he was saying “that’s a hit, that is, amazing!”, that’s we thought we’re really onto something.

Ok, so you’ve got your songs written for ‘The Lexicon of Love’ and you’re working with Trevor Horn. It was a happier time than working with Steve Brown?

Mark: Oh, absolutely fantastic… well I think Trevor would be the first to say that he needs songs to work with and I think that’s why he took the project on. He could hear things we couldn’t hear. But at that point, he’d not got into the habit of recording the whole thing and scrapping it and starting again. It wasn’t like that was it?

There’s a video of THE BUGGLES performing ‘Lenny’ with ABC as the backing band, how did that come about?

Mark: ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ had already been a hit and we were recording ‘Poison Arrow’ at that time. Trevor said “I’ve got a single out in Holland and they’ve asked me to appear, would you like to be a Buggle for a day?” and we were just up for a laugh. Stephen was doing a brilliant Mick Karn on that, check that out, the Mick Karn moves are all there! *laughs*

Mick Karn was your boy crush wasn’t he Stephen?

Stephen: Yeah, yeah, definitely, one of them! The song was called ‘Lenny’, the reason why it was a hit is because there’s a DJ in Holland called Lenny who made it his theme tune. I think we all wore sunglasses or something; that was a lot of fun. I don’t think the bass was plugged in though and what I was doing would bear any relation to the song! *laughs*

Mark: A short while ago by pure chance I met a girl singer, she said “Mark, we’ve got a connection! I sang on ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’”; I said are you the “woah, woah, woah” girl? She said “no, the other bit” when it all breaks down and she sings “…star, a radio star…”, so we were all sat on a sofa three ex-BUGGLES all in the room at the same time, it’s one for the books!

Trevor Horn is notorious, so how much does it become his album and how much control did you guys have?

Stephen: We’d got a lot of songs which we thought were going to make up the album and Trevor refused to work on them. There were a lot of songs that we’d been playing live and he was like “You know what? This just isn’t good enough”. We were going like “F*** you! What do you mean it’s not good enough?”.

But it inspired us and I remember him saying “You know what you need on this album, you need a ballad”. And we were going “A ballad? What do you think we are? We’re not going to do a ballad”. But we were inspired to go back… we were back in Sheffield for the weekend. We went down to our rehearsal room, then Mark came into the rehearsal room saying “You know he was going on about like he wants to write a ballad for us, well I’ve got this idea…”

Mark: ‘All of My Heart’…

Stephen: It was just the first little bit of ‘All of My Heart’, so we wrote it and went back to Sarm East and said “right, you wanted a ballad, we’ve written one”. There were a lot of things in the studio that were written and created in the studio.

‘Valentine’s Day’ was an entirely different song, it was called ‘Surrender’ and that went through a major overhaul. It was written in the studio and Martin heard the different direction of the way the music was going and wrote a totally different set of lyrics.

So it was very fresh and Trevor’s thing was the quality control on the songs. He pushed us up that notch, but things weren’t done over months, it was quick. Things changed for Trevor later on when he started spending a lot more time doing things.

With us, it was like “we’re going to put the piano on it, it’s done. We’re going to put some percussion on it, it’s done. We’ll do the vocals, they’re done”. It wasn’t a massively laborious process. It couldn’t, be there wasn’t much of a budget and time to do it.

The gestation time for all of this, from ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ to ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ coming out, it’s only about four months, something like that? That’s nothing today!

Stephen: The album was recorded over a period of about three months…

Mark: Mostly at Sarm East……

Stephen: And at that time when we were recording it, we were also promoting ‘Tears Are Not Enough’.

Mark: Everybody we were working with then was on top of their game, the studio team became THE ART OF NOISE; Trevor, Anne, Gary Langan and JJ Jeczalik the Fairlight programmer.

Stephen: The thing that Trevor could do… we’d say to him “we want to sound like something you’d hear in the American charts, like a DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES. We want it to sound incredible, we don’t want it to sound like some indie funk band, we want to take it further”.

Trevor as a producer knew these people who he could draft in. We didn’t know anybody did we? We didn’t know who the best person to play keyboards on it…

Mark: He knew really top quality musicians, he’d go “you want congas? Oh yeah, I know a guy!”

Stephen: In a way. it was a first for all of us because it was the first album apart from ‘Adventures in Modern Recording’ which was his own, he produced that album, that’s where he said how he learned his craft. It was a kind of a Trevor solo album in a way.

Mark: Before us, all he’d done was THE BUGGLES and DOLLAR…..

Stephen: …and he’d done THE JAGS…. ‘Back of My Hand’ was another one that he’d worked on, that he was very proud of. So it was a first for a lot of people and everybody was excited. These things happen where everybody is in the right place at the right time… boom!

Mark: We’d also had a really good A&R man, Chris Briggs, he just got it….

Stephen: Another important person at time was Jill Sinclair, who was Trevor’s wife. She would go in to Phonogram and say “look, you’ve got to do a video for this, this is going to be huge”.

Mark: She could kick butt…

Stephen: She kicked ass on behalf of us and on behalf of Trevor of course. I’d be going in there asking “can we have some badges made?” and they’d be saying “Hmmm, I don’t know, I don’t know if there’s a budget for that…” The problem was we were trying to manage ourselves at that time and we were going into Phonogram, seeing if we could get a budget to get a nice photographer or do a promo tour or whatever. So that was extremely useful.

The band very much embraced the video promo era, for ‘All of My Heart’, the director was more well known for his photography wasn’t he?

Mark: It was a guy called Brian Duffy who took the picture for Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’ cover….

What are your memories of that video, Centre Point is in it a one point?

Mark: That’s the star of the show really! *laughs*

Stephen: I think that video was pants, crap! *laughs*

The idea that we had was that we would perform the song on a revolving stage and that would be it. Duffy wanted to use it as a showreel for getting into commercials, so there’s a plug being pulled out of the wall and blood coming down and a rose…

Mark: The trouble is, it’s so bloody expensive to make film and we never had the budgets really.

Stephen: Duffy was a great person, a great personality, really interesting but I just thought it wasn’t very good…

Mark: The difference between video and film is with video, when you record it, if you don’t like it, you go “oh, wrong idea, let’s try again”. With film, you’re committed to it and often they’re coming up with these incredible treatments and oh boy, can they sell them! They make it sound like it’s going to be ‘Gone With The Wind’ and it never is! *laughs*


‘The Look of Love’ video is awful! What are your thoughts on that?

Mark: I think that caused Trevor to nearly have a nervous breakdown. In fact he’s on record as saying “oh, f***ing hell, I’m going to have to start my own record company!”.

Stephen: I thought ‘Poison Arrow’ was great…

Mark: Julian Temple did that one…

Stephen: That fitted in with the whole concept of the band, had a story to it and was executed correctly, the kind of Technicolor aspect to it, the whole style. It had some humour in it. With ‘The Look of Love’ it was like everybody was taking us really seriously, let’s do something that’s a bit fun and it turned out like an outtake from a Benny Hill show, and as Mark said, you’re committed, you do this stuff and then you see it and you think… oh, ok!

Mark: The way the treatment was presented to us, it made it sound like it was going to be like ‘An American In Paris’, that’s how it was sold to us.

Stephen: Martin loved ‘An American In Paris’ and he was going, “that will be great!” and it ended up being a joke…

Mark: It’s deeply upsetting and you can’t do anything about it, because it’s done and already cost you a fortune.

Stephen: The Brian Duffy one ‘All of my Heart’, I thought was going to be a little bit like THE POLICE one where they had all the candles and everything…

‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’?

Stephen: Yeah, the revolving dias, with us there, Mark playing piano and I think I was going to be playing tubular bells. That’s in there for like a millisecond and then it’s back to Martin walking under the bridge, and then some girl there holding a box of chocolates. It’s like “What the f***! What the f*** is this?” *laughs*

But that’s what happened. I think that what we did when we appeared on television programs for ‘The Look of Love’, we did the dance routine, we said “let’s do this, let’s give it THE FOUR TOPS treatment”, we loved all that stuff. That was more in keeping with what we were about and it probably worked better as a video. At the time, the costs of those videos, was like “I can buy a semi-detached house for that”.

OK, let’s talk about ‘Mantrap’? We’ll get our coats? *laughs*

Mark: Ok, turn the tape off! Can you shut them up? *laughs*

Was the link into ‘Mantrap’ as a result of Julien Temple working on ‘Poison Arrow’?

Mark: ‘Mantrap’ should have been left as a live video, simple, just film the concert… no, everybody’s got these, want to be a movie director ambitions. It’s my personal project, I’m trying to buy up all the copies!

Unfortunately it’s on YouTube in six parts…

Mark: The acting in that is so wooden, it should have a fire warning on it! It’s terrible! *laughs*

Stephen: We got a budget to film a concert at Hammersmith Odeon and then somebody had this idea, “I know let’s do a little story to go with it…”

Mark: You guys like Bond, let’s come up with some sort of absurd spy theme… it looks like I spend the entire concert tuning my guitar. It was an oscilloscope back in the day, that’s what they looked like.

Stephen: I don’t know how long it takes to write a film script normally, but the script for ‘Mantrap’ was written after a concert we did in Oxford, in a pub in half an hour. “We’ve cracked it now, I’ll get somebody to work out all the dialogue”. I still get people coming up to me and reciting my lines from the film, they come up and go “Oh Stephen, why don’t we try those string players? Oh yes, I’m sorry about that Tony, come on, get on the stage! Martin, it’s the first song, ‘Show Me’”. *laughs*

Mark: Oh dear, some things can’t be undone… sadly!

Stephen: Mark doesn’t like it, I like it…

Mark: You don’t!

Stephen: I like sh*t like that I really do. I watch Talking Pictures Television and there are loads and loads of films that are like that! *laughs*

Mark: It’s YouTube! I don’t get that…

Stephen: You’re going to have to complain and get it taken down Mark…

What do you think the enduring appeal of ‘The Lexicon of Love’ is after 37 odd years?

Mark: Well, all the songs are quality and it was groundbreaking production at the time. And there’s just something about that era, it struck a chord. That whole period now is a golden one isn’t it? It seems bizarre, it seemed to capture a spirit at that time, I think that’s why. We weren’t they only ones, a lot of other people did it.

Better than ‘Dare? ?

Phil Oakey thinks ‘Dare’ is the best album of the 80s, he’s so wrong! Jonathan Ross puts him straight on that when he was on his show, did you see that? Phil says “well, we did make the best album of the 80s” and Ross says “not even Phil, you know it was ‘The Lexicon of Love’”. That must have stung! *laughs*

John Taylor of DURAN DURAN was absolutely petrified of ABC and thinking “what are they going to come up with next?” There was this story about him buying ‘The Lexicon of Love’, taking it home…..

Mark: Doing voodoo on it! *laughs*

He literally saw you as a bigger threat than SPANDAU BALLET…

Stephen: I think that at the time, we were ambitious and there was a lot of competition out there and the idea was that we wanted to be the best, that was it. We wanted to make the best album, we wanted to be the best band, we wanted to write the best songs. We knew people, we knew SPANDAU BALLET, because there was that whole scene going on…

In Sheffield there were clubs. In London there was the club scene, we’d met up with Spandau and Steve Dagger. We’d been to play the Rum Runner, we’d met DURAN DURAN. We were all around the same age and influenced by the same people, you know Bowie, Bolan, Roxy. We were the next generation, we were inspired to form bands and it was very competitive…

Mark: Have you heard the Bowie and ABC story? Ok, well, we were recording ‘The Look of Love’ in Tony Visconti’s Good Earth studio. We were down in the basement recording and the phone rings “oh, hello, would you mind if David sits in on the session?” And we were like, “David who?” And it was Bowie! *laughs*

Stephen: He kind of blessed the whole thing…

Mark: He made a suggestion for the middle of the record, because at that point, there was just a big hole, nothing going on and he said “oh, how about having someone dialling an answerphone, you could have that in the middle”. But we couldn’t really tell him that we’d already done something very similar in the middle of ‘Poison Arrow’…

Stephen: We don’t like your idea! *laughs*

Mark: This is how utterly stoked I was. We bumped into him again coming in and out of the studio and apparently I had a very erudite conversation with Bowie about Bertolt Brecht.

He’d just put out the ‘Baal’ EP and I said, “oh, I studied Bertolt Brecht for A-Level German” and we apparently had this amazing conversation, but the trouble is I can’t remember anything about it! I was so nervous and I still don’t know whether Steve’s made the whole thing up!

Stephen: I was sat there nodding my head and thinking “what are you talking about? Bertolt who?”; Bowie was going “…that was his first play” and Mark was like “ha, ha, ha, yes, you can tell, ha, ha, ha!” and they were having these in-jokes about Brecht and Weill…

Mark: I probably did say that, but I have absolutely no memory of it! He was there at the door, I was talking to him, but I blanked out for like half an hour… no memory at all, tragic, that’s fandom! *laughs*

Stephen: Another funny thing about meeting David Bowie was that he did a great Sheffield accent. I remember him hearing me speak in my Sheffield accent and he said “Ohhh or, reight thas from Sheffield are tha?”

Mark: Didn’t Bowie reply “Me fatha wo from Donneh?”

Stephen: Yes ! Hahaha…

Mark: To translate. that means “my father was from Doncaster!” …anyway, he then came to see us at Hammersmith Odeon, thank God the roadies didn’t tell us until after. Bowie came and asked to sit with the sound engineer, imagine? I would have wet myself!

Stephen: My brother and sister had to the Hammersmith Odeon show and I’d arranged to get them tickets. We were just about to go on the stage and somebody came backstage and said “somebody claiming to be your brother has been trying to get into the venue and he’s not got a ticket”. And I was like, “was he with a little girl?” thinking “f***, that’s my brother and sister, they should have had tickets” and he said “they’re outside”.

So five minutes before I’m meant to go onstage, I’m running round the streets of Hammersmith in a glittery suit looking for my brother and sister! Then I find them and I’m like “where are the tickets?” and they go “we never got given them”, so I got them in and they stood at the side of the stage. I remember playing and then looking across and Bowie was watching the gig with my brother and sister. I was still so p***ed off that my brother and sister didn’t get their tickets for the concert.

Years later my brother was up in Sheffield and we were talking about ticket scalpers and he said “yeah, I remember when you played Hammersmith Odeon and you got us tickets and I sold them for so much money”. And I was like “What? You sold the tickets? Where’s the f***ing money then!”. So he’d sold the tickets and then tried to blag his way into the concert! *laughs*

Mark: Brothers eh? F*** ‘em! You know who else was at that gig? Debbie Harry! And she came to the afterparty. My brother was trying to chat up Debbie Harry, I was very proud of him! *laughs*


Moving onto the follow-up album ‘Beauty Stab’, it’s now rather unfortunately put into the category of career suicide and self-sabotage along with works such as FLEETWOOD MAC’s ‘Tusk’, OMD’s ‘Dazzle Ships’ and THE CLASH’s ‘Sandinista’….

Mark: Rock ‘n’ roll suicide…

If you could turn back the clock, and make a different follow-up, would you? You turned into SAXON didn’t you? *laughs*

Mark: I can’t remember why, but it just seemed the most natural thing on earth at the time. Trevor was down to produce it, but had already started work with YES and then moved onto working with FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. He had already started and scrapped about four different versions of ‘Relax’ and after about a year, we just went “look, we can’t wait”.

Gary Langan produced it, so it was still in the family?

Mark: I know, but Trevor is a different kettle of fish. Gary was a brilliant sound engineer and mix engineer.

But I honestly don’t know the answer to that, I don’t think we had a choice, that’s how it turned out.

I mean, you’re a guitarist, it’s quite natural for you. But for a saxophonist going rock is not so easy?

Mark: Well, ROXY MUSIC had a sax…..

Bowie too… I think of that as a kind of ‘art’ thing… you had the ROXY MUSIC rhythm section of Alan Spenner and Andy Newmark involved on ‘Beauty Stab’, but it didn’t quite have that kind of sound…

Mark: I’ve never been good at formulas, I can’t do them. God knows why, it might have been the influence of being on tour and playing live, possibly….

Did Martin want to rock out?

Mark: Yeah…

Was America a factor, because Billy Idol had become popular. That was always Rusty Egan’s excuse as to why VISAGE went rock as they were listening to too much Billy Idol!

Mark: I mean, Rusty Egan has done a lot of rock, hasn’t he? He was in the flippin’ SKIDS… yeah, it’s a strange period…

Were there other distractions?

Mark: Like?

Money or drugs or things like that?

Mark: No, never… we were all really clean living boys…

Despite all this, ‘S.O.S.’ is an absolutely sensational song. Can you remember the genesis of that because it does stand out like a sore thumb on the album?

Mark: Well I think the roots of that are very much in ‘Sexual Healing’. I mean it’s got an 808 drum machine pattern all through it and I just came up with some chords and it came out.

Stephen: The thing was, when we first started out as VICE VERSA, we were an electronic band. We then mutated into ABC.

Mark: Out and out pop…

Stephen: Yeah, before that there was the scratchy funky ABC. Then there was the sophisticated polished pop of ‘The Lexicon of Love’ and being kind of followers of the David Bowie school of philosophy which would go from one thing to another. We’d toured the world playing the tracks from ‘The Lexicon of Love’ over and over again and we reconvened to start on new songs and I think that we were then caught up in the music industry.

The first set of songs you write in your own little space, there’s no pressure. You do that, you get better at writing songs, so ‘The Lexicon of Love’ is distilled from lots of different songs and then you’re in a situation where you’ve had a No1 album, you’ve been on the tour, the record company are saying “we need the new album”.

Mark: It’s kind of second album syndrome, you put twenty four years into your first album and then you have six months to write the next one.

It’s a huge amount of pressure….

Stephen: Probably even less than six months… it was the next set of songs which were written. We weren’t David Bowie, people expected more of the same, but different… that’s what we did, we went in, we did those songs. We were in there with a brilliant engineer, we weren’t in there with a producer who would say “hey, let’s put the reins on this, let’s rein it back into some other place”. But I think when we were doing it, we believed in it.

Mark: Absolutely…

Stephen: We did it and we liked those songs and that’s what we were feeling like what we wanted to do at that time…

Mark: I do sometimes think about the multiverse thing, somewhere out there, there was a version of ABC that did a ‘The Lexicon of Love’ follow-up….

Stephen: Called ‘More Of The Same’…

Mark: …and we ended up being like DURAN DURAN and playing stadiums *laughs*

There’s often the question of how band dynamics get altered if just one person leaves. So did David Palmer leaving affect things?

Mark: Absolutely. He was a songwriter as well and always really into the next big thing and embracing technology as well.

Stephen: David is an incredible musician, that’s what he’s interested in, he’s interested in playing the drums. That was him and yeah, the dynamic does change if there’s four people, it’s different to there being three people.

Were you over-compensating in terms of you’re missing someone so much, you’re pushing boundaries, because you feel, “oh right, we almost need to prove ourselves more”?.

Stephen: When we were writing those songs and demoing them in Sheffield, David played on the demos and nobody was saying “oh, I don’t like what we’re doing now”. We wrote lots of different songs, we wrote songs in a country and western style, you know, songs which were more extreme pop songs…

Mark: When that album came out, we got a letter from Bono, a personal handwritten one and the gist of it was “you’re going to get ripped to shreds, but I think it’s really good and a really brave move”, which I thought was really nice at the time…..

When ‘That Was Then This is Now’ came out, there was a more expensive 12” single with a sticker which said “This record is exactly the same as the 7”. The choice is yours.” Who’s idea was that?

Mark: I think that would be our idea….

Stephen: The song didn’t really lend itself to be extended, it was as it was, that was the thing. It was like “buy whichever one you wanted”. We liked to play around with things like that, we were artists, a lot of what we did was artistic and the idea was “change is stability, change is strength, try different things”. That’s what we were about.

Mark: It doesn’t necessarily do your bank account any favours though! But I comfort myself with the multiverse idea, that in some other universe there’s an ABC that went on… *laughs*

Like a really good ‘Black Mirror’ episode where you have different pathways….

Stephen: Yeah, I’d be living in John Taylor’s house in Malibu or in Wiltshire, he’s got a very nice house I’m rather jealous of! *laughs*

Mark: What were you saying about Roger Taylor earlier?

Stephen: QUEEN’s Roger Taylor listened to THE HUMAN LEAGUE album and then wrote ‘Radio GaGa’….

Mark: How do you know this?

Stephen: Somebody told me! But I can’t really name names, it’s not fair on that person. It was a personal friend of Roger Taylor, but that’s what happened! *laughs*

Mark: I can see the connection…

Stephen: I thought Martyn Ware would know that? I thought everybody knew it, but obviously they didn’t!

Mark: I nearly dropped me phone when I heard about that…

Stephen: I left the band after ‘Beauty Stab’ and then Mark and Martin went off in a different direction with ‘Zillionaire’. In fact they didn’t go “hey, you know ‘Beauty Stab’ hasn’t really sold as many as the first album, let’s go back and do ‘Lexicon of Love Part Two’. Let’s do something different”.

Mark: You have to do something that means something to you as an artist…

Stephen: That’s how we were as people….

Mark: You may as well be working in a fish finger factory…..

So Stephen what were you reasons for leaving?

Stephen: I preferred the other universe… slightly. I went off and lived in that and the fell back to it a few years later, there’s lots of reasons… *laughs*

And Mark, how did you feel about it when he went?

Mark: It was a very stressful time. I really blame the tour, because I think we all individually went mad in our own ways. It’s what a friend of mine refers to as ‘altitude sickness’, you think you really want to be there, but when you are, it’s a different matter to deal with it. It’s tough!

Stephen: Why I left is, it wasn’t as much fun anymore. David Palmer had gone and to me it didn’t really feel like a band anymore, it felt like three individuals that through no fault of anybody’s, we’d been through so much.

You know, one minute we were rehearsing in a little room in Sheffield, working in one particular way and then we’d become famous and then we started earning some money. It changes things, fame changes people, money changes people, it can’t be helped. David had gone, the dynamic of the whole thing had changed…

Mark: In retrospect, I wished we’d all taken a year off, because we were f***ing knackered primarily and just to recharge, think about getting excited about influences and music again.

But then you got into doing ‘How To Be A Zillionaire’ quite quickly, comparatively after ‘Beauty Stab’?

Mark: I don’t know, chronology is all very blurred in my mind… I did take a bit of time off and I was going to America on holiday. I was very influenced by what I was hearing on the radio then and that’s how it percolated through. I remember hearing ‘Blue Monday’ and it was life-changing to me, I was in Austin Texas, I can remember it clearly…

You got immersed into your Arthur Baker and Shannon which comes out in ‘How To Be A Millionaire’…

Mark: Absolutely, the beginnings of freestyle…

How did you first come across that style of music then?

Mark: Because we’d always, all separately been interested in dance music from Motown through to CHIC, it just evolved into that. I remember when we played New York, putting the radio on WBLS, a really crucial dance music station back then. They were playing ‘Planet Rock’ by AFRIKA BAMBAATAA and ‘Scorpio’ by GRANDMASTER FLASH and then they played ‘The Look of Love’ remix, and I was like “oh my God, they’re actually playing it!”. I didn’t think that would really happen. Out of all that music, ‘Planet Rock’ was just so good.

Stephen: ‘Planet Rock’ was out when we were touring ‘The Lexicon of Love’, after gigs we would go to clubs in different places and that track was just starting to happen and it was so f***ing good, then GRANDMASTER FLASH with ‘The Message’ and ‘White Lines’ came out. I think we’d been in America promoting ‘Beauty Stab’, we were in New York watching the kids breakdancing on the streets and thinking this was so happening;

Mark: We saw it happening in Times Square, there were B-Boys doing that whole thing to KRAFTWERK which was just amazing.

Stephen: We went to The Paradise Garage with AFRIKA BAMBAATAA DJing and all those other heavyweight characters. That’s why I think ABC (although I wasn’t in it anymore) moved on and went in that direction; get the drum machines out, get the synthesizers out and get the samplers going.

Mark: Also, we’d worked with the Fairlight on the first album and it was obviously the future. Mind you, the minute the Emulator II came out, we bought one. No need to pay a Fairlight programmer £750 a day!

Stephen: We had the Emulator on tour along with its own roadie to repair it at every gig *laughs*

Mark: Five inch floppy disks…

Stephen: There was a lot of Emulator on the demos for ‘Beauty Stab’, Mark had played the guitar and putting it through the sampler, making the sounds up. It was primitive… did we have a Linndrum?

Mark: No. We had an 808, we also had the 303s. We bought three 303s…

Did they all get nicked? *laughs*

Mark: I repatriated them, I sold one to a German teenager for £500 or something, which looking back now is insane…

You mention NEW ORDER, there is a connection between you both. The opening track on ‘Zillionaire’ is ‘Fear of the World’, how did you do the rhythmical passage on it?

Mark: That was Fairlight…

Did you know ELECTRONIC sampled that for a B-side called ‘Lean To The Inside’?

Mark: No! David Palmer was in ELECTRONIC…

‘Get The Message’ sounds very much like ‘All Of My Heart’ if you compare the two verse parts…

Mark: I’ve heard through our Manchester connections but we’ve not been told directly that Gillian from NEW ORDER was a bit of an ABC fan.

Stephen: We were all roughly around the same age and had the same influences and stuff…

Mark: Stephen, you used to go over to Manchester a lot….

Stephen: I used to go to the original Factory club in Hulme. One night I was out in Sheffield and there used to be a band called MANICURED NOISE. I’d been to see them play in Manchester and then I was on this street in Sheffield, there was these lads there and then this girl from MANICURED NOISE and I was like “oh hang on, I saw you play in Manchester, last week, you’re in that band MANICURED NOISE!” And the other lads were laughing going “ooh, she’s got recognised but we’ve not!”.

And I went, “well, who are you?” and they were like “we’re in a band, we’re playing Sheffield tonight, we’re called JOY DIVISION, we’re playing at The Limit Club…” , so I went down to see JOY DIVISION play there with about twelve other people, although since there’s been about twelve thousand that said they were there!

Mark: Like the infamous SEX PISTOLS at the Manchester Free Trade Hall. Everybody was at that…

Stephen: Martin Fry was at that and Mike Pickering. There was people in that era, all going to the same kind of clubs. I used to go across to Manchester to Pips and The Ranch. There was a great scene in Sheffield and this was like when I originally met up with Mark, we used to go to a club called The Crazy Daisy and The Top Rank Suite. It would be us, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and HEAVEN 17, a very small number of people… all the people that then formed bands. The same thing happened in Manchester with JOY DIVISION, THE SMITHS, MAGAZINE and BUZZCOCKS.

Mark: I was too young to be going over to Manchester then, he’s a bit older than me!

Stephen: I’m slightly older than Mark and I was a completely bad influence on him when we actually met. I steered him down another path of life really….

Mark: When you’re that age, just a few years can seem an immense difference…

Stephen: THE HUMAN LEAGUE were older than us and I remember when we first met them, Phil Oakey was married and I was a f***ing virgin! It was like totally different…Martyn Ware had a beard! *laughs*

Mark: More importantly, they had jobs, could afford to buy very expensive Roland synths…

Stephen: We had Korg MS20, a Micropreset and a Minipops drum machine and we were influenced by the same things. But we were younger and poorer and they had jobs and wives and girlfriends and things! *laughs*

Mark: I was still school!

Stephen: He was still at school with his copy of ‘Warm Leatherette’ and Thomas Leer’s ‘Private Plane’…

Mark: There was a book that came out ‘Beats Working For a Living’ by Martin Lilleker and he interviews Jarvis Cocker in it, well he went to the same school as me.

There’s a bit where Jarvis says:“I remember going past the sixth form block and the strangest electronic noises coming out, I later discovered it was Mark White playing ‘United’ by THROBBING GRISTLE” *laughs*

Stephen: Jarvis was from the next generation and a little bit younger than us.

Mark: PULP were playing gigs when VICE VERSA were playing gigs….

Stephen: They started when they were really young!

Are we on ‘Alphabet City’ now? At this point there seems to be a conscious decision to do an ABC pop album again…how calculated was it?

Mark: The lead song on it was ‘When Smokey Sings’, we enjoyed writing that and even just from the demos people were going “that is a hit”, so we did more like that….

So Stephen, were you missing it when the guys started having hits again? Did you ever feel like “I wish I was part of this again”? What was your feeling?

Stephen: What kind of happens is you leave a band, but you’re not going to NOT listen to what they’re doing, you can’t avoid that. I thought ‘When Smokey Sings’ was great, I really liked the ‘Zillionaire’ album as well. I’m a music fan, I am not going to go “Oh, I don’t like that” because I was once in it and now I’m not. I didn’t think “Oh my God, I want to rejoin ABC!” or whatever because I was just doing my stuff at that time.

I didn’t really think about it that much. I was happy to be working in studios and doing things, productions, writing and stuff. Doing my thing as it were.

Mark: Mr Singleton, I wish to inform you that your interview to work in the diplomatic service has been successful! *laughs*

Stephen: Put it this way, I don’t think Mark and Martin would have been going “Oh my God, what’s Stephen up to?”.

Mark: I mean you wouldn’t if had been like all Top 10 records all the way, I’m sure I’d have a thing to say about it as well!

Stephen: “Oh hi Mark, how you doing? I’ve just done a song for MADONNA”. That’s the way it was, I was doing a different job, you know, you change your job or whatever, your vocation.

You don’t then go “I wish I was I back at this place doing that job”, you’re in a new job, you’re living in that particular moment.

Mark: But, factually with ‘How To Be A Zillionaire’, it totally bombed in England, but was quite successful in America. ‘How To Be a Millionaire’ was a Top 40 hit, ‘Be Near Me’ is still the biggest ABC hit in America we ever had. So that took away the pain of that a little bit, I couldn’t believe it.

You know this thing that people say “Ooh, you’ve got to slog around America playing live”, you don’t! We just got a phone call, “guys you’ve got to come to L.A. They’re playing your record on the radio, it’s a top 10 radio hit”. I had no idea and that was good. There was a bit more continuity to it for me, it was really nice that the Americans liked ‘When Smokey Sings’ as well.

So you’re high on all of this and of course there’s a game changer in the world, which is House Music and effectively you dump your guitar for this new form….

Mark: I loved all the really seminal early stuff, it was so minimal…

What were your views on things like Acid House?

Mark: It was just Year Dot, it was Year Zero and it came along. The North was playing this stuff a lot before the South and there were great clubs in Nottingham, The Haçienda in Manchester and Jive Turkey in Sheffield. They were playing all this stuff in ‘85/’86 and it was quietly bubbling away.

It was actually David Palmer who said there’s this great club called ‘Shoom’, “You’ve got to go! It’s in a fitness centre in Southwark”. So I was into that in the beginning, it was incredible scene, the energy in it was fantastic. It changed everything for me and it’s really when I stopped listening to pop music completely.

But the 90s rather passed me by, I call it my musical coma period. I didn’t get Britpop at all, was never into any of it and the Indie sort of stuff.

Did you like the House thing Stephen?

Stephen: I’m into dance, going out dancing and clubbing. I think that scene though is like you had to be there, that’s what it was about. I think if you were listening to it on the radio, it doesn’t quite work quite the same. You had to be in those clubs and taking those drugs, whatever, to appreciate it and feel it. It was a movement…

Mark: I think it was the last movement really. We’ve gone into complete stasis and stagnation, I don’t really understand…

What is your opinion on the music industry now, positive and negative?

Mark: It’s over, the big mistake is very little new talent is getting signed and developed.

Worse than that, it’s actually now messages from accountants and focus groups in the head offices of wherever to the A&R department saying “create that for us, we want something that sounds a bit like Taylor Swift or whatever, who’s this age and is going to appeal to that”. It’s literally the accountants have taken over.

Pop music by algorithm or design committee…

Mark: It is, when we were signed it was because somebody got to hear about you. “There was a hot new band in Manchester, there’s a lot happening in Sheffield at the moment” and the word would get out and it was real and people found out about it. I don’t think that’s happening…..

Stephen: Well the world’s changed beyond recognition….

Mark: It’s the internet isn’t it?

Stephen: When we were making music, we did that because there was nothing else to do. There was like three television channels, television would go off air, like goodnight, here’s the national anthem. On Sunday, shops in the cities were closed. It was a totally different thing, and that’s what we did, we created our own world and that world was between us.

We were like a little gang and other people in bands were like that too. ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, ASSOCIATES, all little gangs making their own peculiar version of what they saw as being pop music, the image… we were the people that came up with the ideas, it wasn’t the record company saying “hey now guys I think you should etc…”

When we first were doing ABC, we were into cycling gear and sportswear. PET SHOP BOYS came to see us at The Embassy, their idea was to wear cycling gear and they came to see us and then just went “we’ll have to forget that idea!” *laughs*

We then dropped the cycling gear and went for the showbiz look with the gold lame suits and all that, these were ideas that didn’t come from the stylist or the record company. When Martin first had the gold lame suit made by Colin Wild just off Carnaby Street, the record company Phonogram were kind of like horrified… “you’re not going to wear that on Top of the Pops! What the f***?!”

They didn’t understand it, but they did understand it the next day when everybody was phoning up to do an interview with the guy who wore the gold lame suit. We were the people that came up with those ideas and concepts and sleeve designs.

Mark: I don’t think that’s happening now.

Stephen: We don’t know do we?

The creativity is spread thin, you made music to be your escape to create. The idea of creation for kids now is for them to have an Instagram account and do selfies…

Stephen: I also think in a record company nowadays that if they’ve got an act and they delivered a big hit album, they’re not going to let that act then go off in a completely different direction and say “we’ve done this now and the sleeve is going to look like that”. They wouldn’t allow it! It would be like, “no you’re not, you’re going to work with these people”.

When record companies were making enough money through the new acts that would emerge, they’d go “hey, you know what? Let them do what they want, they’re the artists”. And sometimes those off the wall projects would hit big. The world just isn’t like that anymore.

Mark: Also, the money’s gone out of it. Because everybody thought, “oh right, it’s all going to be about streaming”. Now, the amount of money I see from streaming… a friend of ours told me that ‘The Look of Love’ got five million plays one year on Spotify. So I got in touch with the accountant and said “what are the Spotify royalties?” and he said “Mark, we’ll look into it for you but it won’t be as much as we’d have to charge you for investigating it”.

In other words, Taylor Swift put it perfectly when she said that her Spotify royalties wouldn’t pay for a Sushi dinner once a month and she’s one of the most played artists out there. So, it’s not sustainable that, is it? We’re being ripped off!

Kids these days are expecting music for free and that’s quite sad….

Mark: My nephew who likes music, I was shocked to find that he’s never bought a record in his life. I said “what do you do then?” and he said “oh, I just make a YouTube playlist and stream it”.

Stephen: It’s the same with my boy, he doesn’t buy records, some of his friends do.

They’re buying vinyl like kids would build a kind of train set or whatever. It’s like a little hobby, it’s not the way when people do it and interact with music and artists anymore. It’s changed beyond all recognition.

Mark: It really has, I’m really worried about it. It’s not sustainable anymore as a career, so people will not be going into it, they’ll be choosing something else. You know, we were at least getting regular money weren’t we? It was a job…

Stephen: Yeah, that’s the way it worked and now it’s a different thing. Now a record company isn’t going to take a chance on a new act, they’re going to say “let’s do a fortieth anniversary edition of this and we’ll plonk it out on blue vinyl and we know how many fans this band has got. So we will press up a thousand and we know we’ll sell that, that’s it”. It’s nothing, it becomes something totally different to what it was. We’re dinosaurs, it’s sad to say…

On a more cheerful note, are you two into creating any music now that you’re sort of back in each other’s life again.

Mark: Absolutely! We’ve re-booted VICE VERSA and we’ve been writing. We do it because we love it.

What ultimately would you like to do with it to get it out to the public?

Mark: That is the problem, I don’t even know what constitutes a hit record these days? What do you look at? Which is the chart? It’s not clear anymore….

So you’re recording stuff and it may see the light of day at some point?

Stephen: We work just like we worked when we first met and we’re excited about making music. We’re the same people aren’t we?

Mark: The same funny old buggers as we were! I met Steve when I was sixteen, it’s incredible! *laughs*


The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to Mark White and Stephen Singleton

‘The Lexicon Of Love’, ‘Beauty Stab’ and ‘How To Be A Zillionaire’ by ABC are still available on CD via Mercury Records

https://www.facebook.com/Vice-Versa-Electrogenesis-806726912703189/

https://twitter.com/vvanthology

http://www.discogs.com/artist/248815-Vice-Versa-4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vice_Versa_(band)

http://www.sheffieldvision.com/aboutmis_bands_vv.html


Text and Interview by Paul Boddy and Chi Ming Lai
Photos courtesy of Mark White and Stephen Singleton
4th May 2019

The Electronic Legacy of EUROPE

Europe is the spiritual home of electronic music, inspiring it not just artistically but forming an important bond with the continent’s classical tradition through the romance of its historical imagery.

Continental Europe is defined as being bordered by the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Often considered to be separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas and the waterways of the Turkish Straits, it includes the part of Russia where Moscow and St Petersburg are located.

Mark Reeder was one of the first British music personalities to fully adopt Europe, making West Berlin his home in 1978 and subsequently releasing a number of themed compilation albums such as ‘European’ in 1995 and ‘Assorted (E For Europe)’ in 1999 on his MFS label. His fellow Mancunian and friend Bernard Sumner of NEW ORDER said to The European in 2016: “I feel European, I regard myself as a European… as a musician I’ve always been massively influenced by Europe and its people”.

From Paris to Vienna back to Düsseldorf City, Europe fascinated British musicians who having been open-minded enough to use synthesizers, now embraced many different mindsets, languages, cultures and cuisines, all within a comparatively accessible geographical land mass. Meanwhile, European instrument manufacturers such as PPG, Elka, Crumar, RSF, Jen and Siel found their products in the thick of the action too.

The Electricity Club stands proud of its Eurocentric focus. Esteemed names like Hütter, Schneider, Flür, Bartos, Moroder, Jarre, Vangelis, Plank, Rother, Dinger and Froese have more than highlighted the important debt that is owed by electronic music to Europe.

While the UK may have scored an equalizer with Synth Britannia, it was the Europeans who took that crucial half time lead. So to disengage with the European tradition would be betraying everything that The Electricity Club is all about.

Presented in yearly and then alphabetical order with a restriction of one track per artist moniker, here are The Electricity Club’s favourite twenty electronic tunes that were inspired, either directly or obliquely, by the legacy of Europe…


DAVID BOWIE Warszawa (1977)

‘Warszawa’ was named after the Polish capital city but accurately captured the Cold War tensions in Europe without the need for lyricism. At Hansa Studios where the sessions were being mixed, the watch towers in East Berlin could look into the windows of the building! Tony Visconti’s production only enhanced the collaborative drama between David Bowie’s enigmatic wailing over Brian Eno’s Minimoog and Chamberlain keys. This formed part of an all instrumental suite on the ‘Low’ album’s second side.

Available on the DAVID BOWIE album ‘Low’ via EMI Records

http://www.davidbowie.com


KRAFTWERK Europe Endless (1977)

With KRAFTWERK utilising a customized 32-step Synthanorma Sequenzer and a Vako Orchestron with pre-recorded symphonic string and choir sounds sourced from optical discs, if there was such a thing as a musical European travelogue, then the romantically optimistic beauty of ‘Europe Endless’ was it. This lengthy work influenced the likes of NEW ORDER, OMD and BLANCMANGE who all borrowed different aspects of its aesthetics for ‘Your Silent Face’, ‘Metroland’ and ‘Feel Me’ respectively.

Available on the KRAFTWERK album ‘Trans Europe Express’ via EMI Records

http://www.kraftwerk.com/


THE DURUTTI COLUMN For Belgian Friends (1980)

‘For Belgian Friends’ was written in honour of Factory Benelux founders Michel Duval and the late Annik Honoré. Although not strictly electronic in the purest sense, Martin Hannett’s technologically processed production techniques made Vini Reilly’s dominant piano sound like textured synthetic strings, complimenting his sparing melodic guitar and the crisp percussion of Donald Johnson. This beautiful instrumental was one of Reilly’s best recordings, originally on the compilation ‘A Factory Quartet’.

Available on THE DURUTTI COLUMN album ‘LC’ via Factory Benelux Records

http://www.thedurutticolumn.com/


FATAL CHARM Paris (1980)

Nottingham combo FATAL CHARM supported ULTRAVOX and OMD in 1980. Their excellent first single ‘Paris’ was produced by Midge Ure and could be seen reflecting the electronically flavoured new wave template of the period. Singer Sarah Simmonds’ feisty passion gave a freshly charged sexual ambiguity to the European love story written in the days before the Channel Tunnel. Instrumentalist Paul Arnall said to The Electricity Club: “we were able to use Midge’s Yamaha synth which gave it his sound”.

Available on the FATAL CHARM album ‘Plastic’ via Fatal Charm

http://fatalcharm.co.uk/


IPPU DO German Road (1981)

Did you hear the one about the Japanese band impersonating a German band and doing it rather well? Influenced by the motorik backbeat of NEU! and also heavily borrowing form its guitarist Michael Rother’s solo track ‘Karussell’, IPPU DO’s leader Masami Tsuchiya was something of a multi-cultural sponge, later joining JAPAN for their final ‘Sons Of Pioneers’ tour in 1982. Meanwhile IPPU DO are still best known in the UK for their startlingly original cover version of THE ZOMBIES ‘Time Of The Season’.

Remixed version available on the IPPU DO album ‘Essence: The Best Of’ via Sony Music

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/masami/london/


LANDSCAPE European Man (1980)

Electronic pioneer Richard James Burgess said to The Electricity Club: “I think we all embraced this new direction because of our raw excitement over the new technology…We discussed it in the band and everyone was on board so I started working on the lyrics that became ‘European Man’”. Colin Thurston was the producer assisting in realising this new direction and interestingly, the rear artwork of the first issue featured an early use of the term “electronic dance music”.

Available on LANDSCAPE album ‘From The Tea-Rooms Of Mars…’ via Cherry Red Records

https://twitter.com/Landscape_band


SIMPLE MINDS I Travel (1980)

“Europe has a language problem” sang Jim Kerr on ‘I Travel’, adding “in central Europe men are marching”. Aware of the domestic terrorist threats that were apparent in every city they were visiting on tour, SIMPLE MINDS captured a claustrophobic tension within its futuristic frenzy like a doomy disco take on Moroder. It was a favourite of DJ Rusty Egan at The Blitz Club where its shadier spectre was highly welcomed by its clientele, reflecting their own discontent closer to home.

Available on the SIMPLE MINDS album ‘Empires & Dance’ via Virgin Records

http://www.simpleminds.com


TELEX Eurovision (1980)

TELEX’s manifesto was “Making something really European, different from rock, without guitar.” Having previously visited a ‘Moscow Disko’ and with tongues firmly in cheeks, they entered the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest with a bouncy electropop song that had deliberately banal lyrics about the whole charade itself. Performing to a bemused audience in The Hague with the sole intention of coming last, unfortunately Finland decided otherwise! Who said the Belgians didn’t have a sense of humour?!

Available on the TELEX album ‘Ultimate Best Of’ via EMI Music Belgium

http://www.telex-music.com/


ULTRAVOX New Europeans (1980)

If there was a song that truly represents The Electricity Club’s ethos, then the synth rock fusion of ULTRAVOX’s ‘New Europeans’ is it! Noting that “his modern world revolves around the synthesizer’s song” in lyrics largely written by drummer Warren Cann, it all pointed to an optimistic way forward “full of future thoughts and thrills” that would later be opened up by direct train travel across the channel with freedom of movement to and from the continent for “a European legacy and “a culture for today”.

Available on the ULTRAVOX album ‘Vienna’ via EMI Records

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


VISAGE Moon Over Moscow (1980)

While in his dual role as DJ at The Blitz Club and VISAGE’s drummer, Rusty Egan had become inspired by the melodic interplay of Japanese trio YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA which had been European influenced: “I liked the album and played it along with TELEX and SPARKS. The sound was an influence on VISAGE. By the time we recorded ‘Moon Over Moscow’, that was to include Russia, Japan, Germany and France in our sound… the drummer was also using the same drum pads as me!”

Available on the VISAGE album ‘Visage’ via Alliance Import

http://rustyegan.net/


ASSOCIATES White Car In Germany (1981)

ASSOCIATES first musical signs of a fascination towards European influenced electronic music came with the funereal pulse of ‘White Car In Germany’. The swirling electronics, cold atmosphere and treated percussion were intended to sound as un-American as possible. Billy MacKenzie’s observational lyric “Aberdeen’s an old place – Düsseldorf’s a cold place – Cold as spies can be” accurately captured post-war tensions under the spectre of the bomb.

Available on the ASSOCIATES album ‘The Very Best Of’ via BMG

https://www.facebook.com/theassociatesofficial/


JOHN FOXX Europe After The Rain (1981)

Foxx admitted he had been “reading too much JG Ballard” and had thawed considerably following ‘Metamatic’. Now spending his spare time exploring beautiful Italian gardens and taking on a more foppish appearance, his new mood was reflected in his music. Moving to a disused factory site in Shoreditch, Foxx set up a recording complex which he named ‘The Garden’ and the first song to emerge was the Linn Drum driven ‘Europe After The Rain’. Foxx had now achieved his system of romance.

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

http://www.metamatic.com/


JAPAN European Son (1981)

Recorded as a JAPAN demo for the 1979 Giorgio Moroder sessions that produced ‘Life In Tokyo’, this sequencer heavy number was rejected by the Italian disco maestro. Left dormant in the vaults of Ariola Hansa, the song was finished off under the supervision of John Punter and later given a single remix by Steve Nye with redone parts by Mick Karn. ‘European Son’ showed David Sylvian’s vocals in transition from the catty aggression of earlier albums to the Ferry-ish croon most now associated with the band.

John Punter version available on JAPAN album ‘The Very Best Of’ via BMG

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


THE MOBILES Drowning In Berlin (1981)

THE MOBILES’ were from the sleepy shores of Eastbourne; while ‘Drowning In Berlin’ may have come across as a ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’ New Romantic parody on first listen, its decaying Mittel Europa grandeur was infectious like Hazel O’Connor reinterpreting ‘Vienna’ with The Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub. And like ‘Vienna’, ‘Drowning In Berlin’ was inspired by a holiday romance, in this case one that singer Anna Maria had while visiting the divided city.

Available on THE MOBILES album ‘Drowning In Berlin: The Best Of’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.discogs.com/artist/98916-Mobiles


BERLIN The Metro (1982)

Inspired by acts like ULTRAVOX and KRAFTWERK, Californian band BERLIN with their approach to synthesizers were a far cry from the way they were being used Stateside within rock. And in ‘The Metro’ with its frantic motorik drum machine and Teutonic pulses, songwriter John Crawford aimed to capture the tense filmic romance of Paris despite never having visited the city, a vibrant but detached feeling ably projected by partner and singer Terri Nunn in a similar fashion to FATAL CHARM.

Available on the BERLIN album ‘Best Of’ via Geffen Records

http://www.berlinpage.com/


DEPECHE MODE Oberkorn (1982)

Radio Luxembourg broadcasted pop music to the UK using the most powerful privately owned transmitter in the world. But when DEPECHE MODE played the country in early 1982, they were booked to perform in a small town called Oberkorn. With a glorious ambient instrumental on the B-side of the then soon-to-be-released single ‘The Meaning Of Love’ requiring a title, Martin Gore needed no further inspiration, unconsciously capturing the air of the Grand Duchy’s countryside and oceanic climate.

Available on the DEPECHE MODE boxed set ‘DMBX1’ via Columbia Records

http://www.depechemode.com/


THE MOOD Paris Is One Day Away (1982)

Before the days of the Channel Tunnel, young York based New Romantic trio THE MOOD noted the how long it took by boat and train to get to the French capital. ‘Paris Is One Day Away’ was the hit that got away; reaching No. 42, it secured a slot on ‘Top Of The Pops’. However, it was the 1982 World Cup and a match heading into extra time meant that a hasty edit was made. And it was THE MOOD’s performance as the new and unknown act that ended up on the cutting room floor!

Available on THE MOOD album ‘The Singles Collection’ via Cherry Red Records

http://www.themood.info/


RATIONAL YOUTH Saturdays in Silesia (1982)

After ‘Dancing On The Berlin Wall’, RATIONAL YOUTH mainman Tracy Howe turned his attention towards Poland. “What was it like to be young person behind the Iron Curtain? What did they do on a Saturday night anyway?” he told The Electricity Club, “Did they have clubs to go to? Probably underground ones. They’d probably break down the door. Apart from the fact that there are no ‘navy docks’ in Silesia, this record makes a jolly racket and may well be the first recorded instance of a Roland TR-808.”

Available on the RATIONAL YOUTH album ‘Cold War Night Life’ via EMI Records

https://www.facebook.com/RationalYouth/


IAN ANDERSON Different Germany (1983)

Fascinated by the likes of Thomas Dolby and Gary Numan, JETHRO TULL frontman Ian Anderson went synth in 1983. Assisted by Peter John Vitesse, ‘Different Germany’ embraced both the electronic and progressive sides of Anderson’s career perfectly with a marvellous middle section featuring a bristling keyboard solo. The end result sounded not unsurprisingly like Tull fronting ULTRAVOX; of course, the circle was completed when Midge Ure covered ‘Living In The Past’ in 1985.

Available on the IAN ANDERSON album ‘Walk Into Light’ via EMI Records

http://jethrotull.com/ian-anderson-bio/


THE STRANGLERS European Female (1983)

Born to French parents in Notting Hill, THE STRANGLERS’ bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel was a loyal European, even releasing a 1979 solo album entitled ‘Euroman Cometh’ where “a Europe strong, united and independent is a child of the future”. Taking lead vocals for the beautiful ‘European Female’, it possessed an understated quality with subtle Spanish guitar from Hugh Cornwell alongside Dave Greenfield’s sparkling synths and Jet Black’s electronic percussion to celebrate the allure of continental mystery.

Available on THE STRANGLERS album ‘The Very Best Of’ via EMI Records

http://www.thestranglers.co.uk/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th April 2019

GIORGIO MORODER Live in London

Since his return to making music again with ‘Racer’ in 2013, GIORGIO MORODER has been in demand as a DJ thanks to his glorious catalogue of productions spanning over five decades.

Despite this, the ever modest three-time Oscar and four-time Grammy Award winning Italian from South Tyrol has downplayed his role as an electronic music innovator and disco pioneer.

Having once stated that ’74 Is The New 24’, the 78 year old brought his first ever live tour to London’s Hammersmith Apollo for what was billed as ‘A Celebration of the 80s’, but which actually covered material from 1969 right up to the present day.

Leading a 13 piece ensemble comprising of a five piece band, a string quartet and four vocalists, the evening began senza il Maestro with the exotic if haunting overtones of ‘(Theme From) Midnight Express’, the 1978 track which as good as invented the currently fashionable Synthwave sub-genre.

But if that was an unexpected if welcome introduction to proceedings, when Moroder finally took his place on the stage behind a Minimoog, no-one was quite prepared for the amusing Schlager Kasefest of his 1969 million selling European hit ‘Looky Looky’! “It paid my rent for four years” he endearingly quipped, effectively preparing the audience for a fabulous glitterball evening that was firmly aimed at the populist vote and not intended to be taken too seriously.

As a producer known predominantly for working with female vocalists like Donna Summer, Chris Bennett, Debbie Harry, Irene Cara, Terri Nunn, Britney Spears, Sia and Kylie Minogue, a fine British threesome in Amy Diamond, Shanice Steele and Raya Clark had been assembled to do justice to vintage disco numbers such as ‘Love To Love You Baby’, ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘On The Radio’.

Steele was particularly impressive on the Donna Summer material and a rapturous ‘Flashdance… What A Feeling’ while Diamond held her own on ‘Right Here Right Now’ and ‘Take My Breath Away’, although the latter was slightly let down by the band with the song’s iconic synthetic fretless bassline virtually inaudible. But that was the only time the band faltered as they successfully grooved on DAFT PUNK’s ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ and kept a strict metronomic tempo on ‘Chase’.

Fairing less well however was flamboyant Dutchman Simon Feenstra; although he pulled off the rockier voice required on ‘Danger Zone’ from ‘Top Gun’, his conventional approach was unsuited to the unique monotone forever associated with ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ courtesy of Phil Oakey while perhaps surprisingly, he was underwhelming on ‘Never Ending Story’ with both tunes saved by enthusiastic crowd singalongs.

Moroder took his turn on the microphone again with the hypnotic throbbing electro of ‘From Here To Eternity’ with dazzling neon visuals to boot while for the rest of the show, he happily acted as cheerleader and watched his ensemble perform his work while occasionally banging a tambourine or phrasing on his vocoder.

He then gleefully told the story of how he invented “the sound of the future” as David Bowie and Brian Eno labelled it as he went through the component parts of Moog, white noise, Farfisa organ and bass drum that formed ‘I Feel Love’ with his band before a euphoric and powerful rendition of the song that indeed changed music and still sounds like the future over 40 years on!

The closing section of the show saw Moroder play tribute to his departed friends Donna Summer and David Bowie with their heavenly voices making their presence heard on versions of the Gothic drama of ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’ and Jimmy Webb’s heartfelt epic ‘MacArthur Park’. Appropriately ending the main set with ‘Last Dance’, Moroder wasn’t done yet as he left his pulpit to join his singers at the front of the stage for some ‘Hot Stuff’, before a rousing instruction to all those present to ‘Call Me’.

As far as hits were concerned, GIORGIO MORODER delivered, although those who were hoping for more “electronic live to digital” or cooler soundtracks like ‘Metropolis’ or ‘Scarface’ will have been disappointed, while ‘Love’s Unkind’ and ‘No1 Song In Heaven’ were notable absentees in a very crowd pleasing setlist.

Yes, perhaps proceedings occasionally bordered on cruise ship cabaret, but from the minute Moroder went “OOM-MOW-MOW, PAPA-OOM-MOW-MOW”  on ‘Looky Looky’, his intent was to entertain and have a lot of fun.

The man has nothing more to prove and is now touring because he really wants to, so mission accomplished. Appropriately for a gentleman totally free of ego, tonight it was Moroder’s songs that were the stars of his show.

Popular music has been effectively mining the Moroder legend since 1975, so it is only right for him to have a platform to remind the world where it all came from. And as the majority of those attending left the Hammersmith Apollo with big smiles on their faces, it was a truly enjoyable reminder.

Now ain’t that what it’s all about??


GIORGIO MORODER 2019 live dates include:

Brussels Ancienne Belgique (9th April), Brussels Ancienne Belgique (10th April), Berlin Tempodrom (12th April), Düsseldorf Mitsubishi Electric Halle (13th April), Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle (14th April), Amsterdam Paradiso (15th April), Moscow Crocus City Hall (13th May), Vienna Gasometer (14th May), Budapest Papp Laszlo Arena (15th May), Milan Teatro Ciak (17th May), Florence Nelson Mandela Forum (18th May), Rome Auditorium Parco della Musica (19th May), Amsterdam Paradiso (21st May), Paris Grand-Rex (22nd May), Copenhagen Store Vega (24th May), Odense Tinderbox Festival (29th June), Brussels Summer Festival (16th August), Biddinghuizen Lowlands Festival (17th August)

https://www.giorgiomoroder.com/

https://www.facebook.com/GiorgioMoroderOfficial

https://twitter.com/giorgiomoroder

https://www.instagram.com/giorgiomoroder/

https://soundcloud.com/giorgiomoroder

The Spotify playlist ‘TEC Gets Morodered’ compiled by The Electricity Club can be listened to at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/05D4jefsqlqNpDXs31gW1u


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
5th April 2019

The Electronic Legacy of AMBIENT

Ambient electronic music is a much misunderstood genre.

One is not talking about JEAN-MICHEL JARRE or VANGELIS who are far too comparatively lively to be truly considered ambient. And it is not ‘chill out’ that’s being talked about either, which seems to lump in any form of dance music that is under 112 beats per minute.

Modern ambient probably came to prominence with BRIAN ENO. While lying in a hospital room after a car accident in 1975, a friend visited him and put on a LP of harp music. However the volume had been set at an extremely low level and one of the stereo channels had failed. Unable to move to adjust this, Eno had a new way of listening to music forced onto him.

In recalling this story for the sleeve notes of his ‘Discreet Music’ album, Eno said the music now became “part of the ambience of the environment just as the colour of the light and the sound of rain were parts of the ambience.”

Eno may not have been the inventor of ambient, but he was almost certainly was its midwife. With its lengthy gradual processes and unpredictable changes, ambient can be listened to and yet ignored. Going against the Western tradition of music where vocals, melody and rhythm are essential components, ambient music is designed to accommodate many levels of listening without enforcing one in particular.

One of the other beauties of ambient music is that the pieces are often so progressive that it becomes quite difficult to remember individual sections.

Therefore on repeated plays, the music can still sound fresh and rewarding. It was an approach that fascinated many and while they may not have released whole works, artists such as DAVID BOWIE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD, BLANCMANGE and RADIOHEAD recorded ambient pieces for album tracks or B-sides.

Comments about ambient music being “boring” are missing the point, because at points of the day where the state of near sleep looms, music with no vocals, no rhythms and not too much energetic melody is perfect.

Restricted to one album per moniker or collaborative partnership, here are the twenty long players presented in chronological and then alphabetical order which form The Electricity Club’s Electronic Legacy of Ambient. Acting as a straightforward introduction to the genre, it refers to many artists whose comparatively mainstream works may already be familiar.


KLAUS SCHULZE Timewind (1974)

A one-time member of TANGERINE DREAM and ASH RA TEMPLE, ‘Timewind’ was Schulze’s first solo album to use a sequencer, evolving as a longer variation on his former band’s ‘Phaedra’. Referencing 19th century composer Richard Wagner, Schulze transposed and manipulated the sequences in real time, providing shimmering and kaleidoscopic washes of electronic sound using equipment such as the EMS Synthi A, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, Elka string machine and Farfisa organ.

‘Timewind’ is available via Mig Music

https://www.klaus-schulze.com


TANGERINE DREAM Phaedra (1974)

‘Phaedra’ was the breakthrough record for TANGERINE DREAM which saw them using sequencers for the first time. Featuring the classic line-up of Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann and Chris Franke, the hypnotic noodles of EMS VCS3s and Moogs dominated proceedings while Mellotrons sounding like orchestras trapped inside a transistor radio. Organic lines and flute added to trancey impressionism to produce a fine meditative electronic soundtrack.

‘Phaedra’ is available via Virgin Records

http://www.tangerinedream.org/


CLUSTER Sowiesoso (1976)

The late Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius were CLUSTER. Having released their first long player together in 1969, their fourth album ‘Sowiesoso’ was CLUSTER’s first fully realised exploration into ambient electronics. With gentle melodic phrasing and unimposing rhythmical patterns, the title track was a wonderfully hypnotic adventure that welcomed the listener into the soothing world of the longer player’s remaining aural delights.

‘Sowiesoso’ is available via Bureau B

http://www.roedelius.com/


ASHRA New Age Of Earth (1977)

ASH RA TEMPLE’s Manuel Göttsching was looking to visit synthesized climes and explored more progressive voxless territory armed with an Eko Rhythm Computer, ARP Odyssey and what was to become his signature keyboard sound, a Farfisa Synthorchestra. An exponent of the more transient solo guitar style of PINK FLOYD’s David Gilmour, this template was particularly evident on New Age Of Earth’, a beautiful treasure trove of an album.

‘New Age Of Earth’ is available via Virgin Records

http://www.ashra.com/


STEVE HILLAGE Rainbow Dome Musick (1979)

One-time member of GONG, solo artist and an in-house producer at Virgin Records, Steve Hillage had a love of German experimental music and ventured into ambient with long standing partner Miquette Giraudy. Recorded for the Rainbow Dome at the Festival for Mind-Body-Spirit at Olympia, these two lengthy Moog and ARP assisted tracks each had a beautifully spacey quality to induce total relaxation with a colourful sound spectrum.

‘Rainbow Dome Musick’ is available via Virgin Records

https://twitter.com/stevehillage


HAROLD BUDD & BRIAN ENO The Plateaux Of Mirror (1980)

Mostly piano-oriented, its backdrop of shimmering synthesizer and tape loops of voices was conceived in a sound-world that Eno had created via his various instrument treatments. With Budd improvising live, Eno would occasionally add something but his producer tact was to step back if nothing extra was needed. ‘The Plateaux Of Mirror’ was a lovely work with resonating ivories of the acoustic and electric variety. A second collaboration came with ‘The Pearl’ in 1984.

‘The Plateaux Of Mirror’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

https://www.haroldbudd.com


BRIAN ENO Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983)

Recorded as a soundtrack to a documentary film about the Apollo Missions to the moon, one of the inspirations was to react against the uptempo, manner of space travel presented by most TV programmes and news reels of the day with its fast cuts and speeded up images. Eno wanted to convey the feelings of space travel and weightlessness. Although based around Eno’s Yamaha DX7, the album was quite varied instrumentally, featuring his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois.

‘Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

http://www.brian-eno.net


ROGER ENO Voices (1985)

The debut album from the younger Eno, ‘Voices’ captured a sustained mood of dreamy soundscapes and aural clusters with its beautiful piano template strongly reminiscent of Harold Budd’s work with brother Brian, who was also involved on this record via various electronic treatments although it was actually Daniel Lanois who produced.

‘Voices’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

http://www.rogereno.com


DAVID SYLVIAN & HOLGER CZUKAY Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability (1988 – 1989)

By 1986, the former JAPAN front man wanted to get away from singing as reflected by the ‘Gone To Earth’ bonus album of instrumentals. Sylvian found a willing conspirator in CAN’s Holger Czukay who had developed several unconventional compositional techniques using devices such as short wave radios and Dictaphones. Through a series of improvisations, the duo came up with two companion long players that conveyed a sinister yet tranquil quality drifting along in complex spirals.

‘Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability’ is available via Grönland Records

http://www.davidsylvian.com/

http://www.czukay.de/


HAROLD BUDD The White Arcades (1992)

Unlike the comparatively optimistic air of his work with Eno, Harold Budd’s solo journeys often conveyed a more melancholic density, probably best represented by the haunting immersive atmospheres of ‘The White Arcades’. An elegiac combination of shimmering synthesizers and sporadic piano  provided an austere depth that was both ghostly and otherworldly, it was partly inspired by his admiration of COCTEAU TWINS whom he collaborated with on the 1986 4AD album ‘The Moon & The Melodies’.

‘The White Arcades’ is available via Opal Productions

https://www.facebook.com/music.of.harold.budd/


STEVE JANSEN & RICHARD BARBIERI Other Worlds In A Small Room (1996)

With ‘Other Worlds In A Small Room’, Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri created an atmospheric collection of electronic instrumentals that they considered “Ambient in the traditional sense”. Alongside the three new pieces, there was an appendix of four suitably complimentary tracks from their 1984 album ‘Worlds In A Small Room’ had originally been commissioned by JVC to accompany a documentary about the Space Shuttle Challenger and its various missions.

‘Other Worlds In A Small Room’ is available via https://jansenbarbieri.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.stevejansen.com/

http://www.kscopemusic.com/artists/richard-barbieri/


VINCENT CLARKE & MARTYN WARE Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (2000)

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ was composed by Vince Clarke and Martyn Ware as part of an Illustrious art installation at The Roundhouse in a circular, white clothed room where the colours referred to in the titles of the six lengthy pieces were “programmed to cross fade imperceptibly to create an infinite variation of hue”. Using binaural 3D mixing techniques, the sleeve notes recommended it was best heard using headphones while stating “This album is intended to promote profound relaxation”.

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ is available via Mute Records

http://www.illustriouscompany.co.uk/


WILLIAM ORBIT Pieces In A Modern Style (2000)

Trance enthusiasts who loved Ferry Corsten’s blinding remix of Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ will have been shocked if they had bought its virtually beatless parent long player. Orbit’s concept of adapting classical works was that he wanted to make a chill-out album that had some good tunes. In that respect, a collection featuring lovely electronic versions of Beethoven’s ‘Triple Concerto’ and John Cage’s ‘In A Landscape’ could not really miss.

‘Pieces In A Modern Style’ is available via WEA Records

http://www.williamorbit.com


ALVA NOTO & RYUICHI SAKAMOTO ‎Vrioon (2002)

Alva Noto is a German experimental artist based in Berlin and ‘Vrioon’ was his first collaborative adventure with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA trailblazer Ryuichi Sakamoto. A beautiful union of piano, synth shimmers and subtle glitch electronics proved to be an unexpectedly soothing and  meditative experience that was gloriously minimal over six starkly constructed mood pieces.

‘Vrioon’ is available via Raster-Noton ‎

http://www.alvanoto.com/

http://www.sitesakamoto.com/


MOBY Hotel: Ambient (2005)

Originally released as part of the 2CD version of ‘Hotel’ in 2005, Moby couldn’t find his copy and decided on an expanded re-release. Inspired by the nature of hotels, where humans spend often significant portions of their lives but have all traces of their tenancy removed for the next guests, the ambient companion progressively got quieter and quieter. The emotive ‘Homeward Angel’ and the solemn presence of ‘The Come Down’ were worth the purchase price alone.

‘Hotel: Ambient’ is available via Mute Records

http://moby.com


ROBIN GUTHRIE & HAROLD BUDD After the Night Falls / Before The Day Breaks (2007)

Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd first collaborated on ‘The Moon & The Melodies’ album along with the other COCTEAU TWINS. ‘After the Night Falls’ and ‘Before the Day Breaks’ were beautiful experiments in duality but it would be unfair to separate these Siamese twins. Serene, relaxing, abstract and distant, Guthrie ‘s textural guitar and Budd’s signature piano were swathed in drifting synths and treatments that complimented each album’s self-explanatory titles.

‘After The Night Falls’ and ‘Before The Day Breaks’ are available via Darla Records

http://www.robinguthrie.com


JOHN FOXX & HAROLD BUDD Nighthawks / Translucence / Drift Music (2003 – 2011)

A sumptuous trilogy featuring two artists who had both worked with Brian Eno. ‘Nighthawks’ was John Foxx and Harold Budd’s most recent collaboration with the late minimalist composer Ruben Garcia and a soothing tranquil nocturnal work with tinkling ivories melting into the subtle layered soundscape with its Edward Hopper inspired title. Meanwhile, the earlier ‘Translucence’ from 2003 was a close relative and classic Budd, partnered with the more subdued overtures of ‘Drift Music’.

‘Nighthawks’ and ‘Translucence / Drift Music’ are available via Metamatic Records

https://www.facebook.com/johnfoxxmetamatic/


JOHN FOXX London Overgrown (2015)

‘London Overgrown’ was John Foxx’s first wholly solo ambient release since the ‘Cathedral Oceans’ trilogy. With the visual narrative of a derelict London where vines and shrubbery are allowed to grow unhindered throughout the city, the conceptual opus was a glorious ethereal synthesizer soundtrack, smothered in a haze of aural sculptures and blurred soundscapes. With ‘The Beautiful Ghost’, as with William Orbit’s take on ‘Opus 132’ from ‘Pieces In A Modern Style’, this was Beethoven reimagined for the 23rd Century.

‘London Overgrown’ is available via Metamatic Records

http://www.metamatic.com


STEVE JANSEN The Extinct Suite (2017)

“I like the effects of calm and dissonance and subtle change” said Steve Jansen to The Electricity Club. Not a remix album as such, the more ambient and orchestral elements of ‘Tender Extinction’ were segued and reinterpreted with new sections to create a suite of instrumentals presented as one beautiful hour long structured ambient record. A gentle blend of electronic and acoustic instrumentation including piano and woodwinds, ‘The Extinct Suite’ exuded a wonderful quality equal to Eno or Budd.

‘The Extinct Suite’ is available via https://stevejansen.bandcamp.com/album/the-extinct-suite-2

http://www.stevejansen.com/


PAUL STATHAM Asylum (2017)

B-MOVIE guitarist and pop tunesmith Paul Statham began his experimental music account with ‘Ephemeral’ and ‘Installation Music 1’. ‘Asylum’ was a more ambitious proposition and featured in an audio visual installation created with painter Jonathan McCree in South London’s Asylum Chapel. The eight compositions together exuded a cinematic, ethereal quality with some darker auras and an eerie sound worthy of the ambient pioneers Statham was influenced by, especially on the gorgeous closer ‘Ascend’.

‘Asylum’ is available via https://paulstatham.bandcamp.com/album/asylum

http://paulstathammusic.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd August 2018

A Beginner’s Guide To COLIN THURSTON

While Colin Thurston is perhaps not as lauded as Conny Plank, Giorgio Moroder and Trevor Horn, he undoubtedly helped shape the sound of a pioneering musical era.

A jingle writer and jobbing musician, legend has it that he bluffed his way into audio engineering before securing a job with Tony Visconti.

Working alongside the legendary producer during his sojourn at Hansa Tonstudio in the Kreuzberg district of West Berlin by the Wall, he experienced a baptism of fire as he worked on what became two legendary albums, David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’.

He impressed enough to be recommended to Virgin Records signings MAGAZINE when they approached Tony Visconti as producer for the follow-up to their debut album ‘Real Life’. It was this connection to Virgin Records that also led Thurston to work with THE HUMAN LEAGUE on their debut album ‘Reproduction’.

Working together on classic League tracks such as ‘Empire State Human’, ‘Almost Medieval’, ‘Blind Youth’, ‘The Path Of Least Resistance’ and a stark cover of ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’, while the union was not a commercial success, Phil Oakey, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh gained valuable experience that would ultimately progress their music careers.

But it was Thurston’s work with DURAN DURAN that was to have the biggest worldwide impact. John Taylor said: “without Colin’s depth of vision, we would never have become the band we became” – under Thurston’s production guidance, DURAN DURAN grew from being a promising New Romantic band with a JAPAN fixation into becoming one of the UK’s biggest music exports to North America.

This was thanks in part to the striking videos accompanying songs such as ‘Girls On Film’, ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and ‘Save A Prayer’ directed by the likes of Godley & Crème and Russell Mulcahy, all gaining regular rotation on MTV, although DURAN DURAN’s willingness to undertake long periods of Stateside touring also helped their cause.

After working with DURAN DURAN, Thurston also produced albums by TALK TALK, KAJAGOOGOO, and CAMOUFLAGE, although a reunion with THE HUMAN LEAGUE in 1985 on what was intended to be ‘Crash’ came to nought when Virgin Records rejected the results of the recording sessions.

Thurston became an in-house producer for the Canadian label Brouhaha and latterly undertook only occasional production work. There had been talk of Thurston working together again with DURAN DURAN when the classic line-up of Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor reunited in 2001, although this came to nothing. Sadly after a long illness, he passed away in January 2007, aged 59.

His portfolio indeed reads like a Who’s Who? of popular music; an under rated figure in the successful application of electronic instrumentation within a studio environment, The Electricity Club looks back at the career of Colin Thurston via eighteen tracks presented in chronological order, with a limit of one track per album project.


IGGY POP Tonight (1977)

Featuring Bowie on ARP Solina and providing his very distinct backing vocals to compliment Pop’s brooding baritone, ‘Tonight’ was a reflective number dealing with the spectre of heroin addiction. Recorded in Berlin, Thurston co-produced and engineered the parent ‘Lust For Life’ album under the collective name of Bewlay Bros with his two star performers.

Available on the IGGY POP album ‘Lust For Life’ via Virgin Records

http://iggypop.com


DAVID BOWIE Heroes (1977)

Engineering alongside producer Tony Visconti, Thurston found himself working with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp to help fully utilise the Frippertronics tape looping technique that provided the celestial triple guitar signature. Melting in alongside swooping EMS Synthi AKS, stabbing Chamberlain brass and swimmy ARP Solina string machine textures, coupled to a most passionate vocal performance, the train ride that was ‘Heroes’ became one of the most iconic David Bowie recordings.

Available on the DAVID BOWIE album ‘Heroes’ via EMI Records

https://www.davidbowie.com


THE MEN I Don’t Depend On You (1979)

As a disco flavoured experiment helmed by Thurston, THE HUMAN LEAGUE recorded ‘I Don’t Depend On You’ under the pseudonym of THE MEN using a drummer, bassist and female backing vocalists, planting the seed for HEAVEN 17 when Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh left in 1980. Released before the ‘Reproduction’ album, while the single wasn’t a hit, a certain Nick Rhodes was listening and included it in his DJ sets at The Rum Runner.

Available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘Travelogue’ via Virgin Records

https://twitter.com/martynware


MAGAZINE Rhythm Of Cruelty (1979)

Howard Devoto and co had initially suggested Tony Visconti as producer of their second long player, but were very happy to have his engineer as a substitute. But nervous about his credentials, Thurston did not reveal this was his first full album production. ‘Rhythm Of Cruelty’ captured the art rock virtuosity of Barry Adamson and John McGeoch, while allowing Dave Formula’s keyboards to shine.

Available on MAGAZINE album ‘Secondhand Daylight’ via Virgin Records

https://www.facebook.com/magazineofficial/


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Circus Of Death (1979)

With a manifesto of “synthesizers and vocals only”, Colin Thurston was the man behind the desk for THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s eagerly awaited debut album. Eerily intro-ed with a taped announcement from Peter Lewis of London Weekend Television that Steve McGarrett from ‘Hawaii Five-O’ was about to arrive on a Hawker Siddeley Trident, the clattering synthetic dystopia and narcotic doom of ‘Circus Of Death’ was delivered with a charismatically sombre baritone by Phil Oakey.

Available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘Reproduction’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


LANDSCAPE European Man (1980)

Electronic pioneer Richard James Burgess said to The Electricity Club: “I think we all embraced this new direction because of our raw excitement over the new technology…We discussed it in the band and everyone was on board so I started working on the lyrics that became ‘European Man’”. Colin Thurston was ideally the man to assist in realising this new direction and interestingly, the rear artwork of the first issue featured an early use of the term “electronic dance music” while the catalogue number was EDM1.

Available on LANDSCAPE album ‘From The Tea-rooms Of Mars To The Hell-holes Of Uranus’ via Cherry Red Records

https://twitter.com/Landscape_band


CLASSIX NOUVEAUX Never Again (1981)

Led by the striking evangelical presence of Sal Solo, CLASSIX NOUVEAUX flirted with New Romanticism and while the eventual third album ‘La Verité’ was self-produced by Solo, the Colin Thurston steered ‘Never Again’ was the lead single. Written by bassist Mik Sweeney, it showcased Solo’s passionate falsetto amongst a barrage of period Simmons drums, synths, octave bass and flanged guitars. While just missing out on being a Top 40 single, it paved the way for ‘Is It A Dream?’ to reach the No11 spot six months later.

Available on the CLASSIX NOUVEAUX album ‘La Verité’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.salsolo.com


DURAN DURAN Planet Earth (1981)

After seeing the promising support act for Hazel O Connor’s 1980 tour, Colin Thurston found his perfect band, one that appealed to both his electronic and art rock sensibilities. Combining the disco sequencer drive of Giorgio Moroder, the funkier groove of CHIC and the anthemic qualities of glam rock, Messrs Le Bon, Rhodes, Taylor, Taylor and Taylor were to be the new romantics who moved beyond “looking for the TV sound” as they became one of the biggest bands on ‘Planet Earth’.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Duran Duran’ via EMI Records

http://www.duranduran.com


OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING Target For Life (1981)

“We were proud of our musicianship, that we could play complicated parts with precision and speed” said Scott Simon of OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING to The Electricity Club and having supported DURAN DURAN, they summoned the services of Colin Thurston for their ‘Digital Cowboy’ EP . Utilising a live drummer in Simon Phillips who played on Thurston’s session with THE MEN, ‘Target For Life’ was the frantic highlight from the five track offering.

Available on the OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING album ‘Nightlife – The Collection’ via EP Music

https://www.discogs.com/artist/106443-Our-Daughters-Wedding


TALK TALK Talk Talk (1982)

It’s bizarre to think now that when TALK TALK first appeared, they were dismissed as nothing more than DURAN DURAN copyists, thanks to their double name, patronage by EMI and production on their debut album ‘The Party’s Over’ by Colin Thurston. Utilising synths and Simmons drums, their eponymous signature song was not actually a hit first time round and following a number of disagreements, Thurston’s name was taken off the credits of the album.

Available on the TALK TALK album ‘The Party’s Over’ via EMI Records

https://www.discogs.com/artist/60480-Talk-Talk


DURAN DURAN Rio (1982)

Based around a frantic arpeggio sourced from Nick Rhodes’ Roland Jupiter 4, ‘Rio’ is possibly Colin Thurston’s finest moment as a producer. From utilising a reversed slowed down tape of metal rods being dropped on a grand piano’s strings for the intro and capturing some amazing funky bass work from John Taylor, to the quintet locked in full flow with a rousing chorus and sax driven middle section, it was to become an iconic work both musically and visually.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Rio’ via EMI Records

https://www.facebook.com/duranduran/


KAJAGOOGOO Too Shy (1983)

Look past the silly haircuts and what you see in ‘Too Shy’ is a very well-produced and well-written pop tune. Limahl had handed over a demo to Nick Rhodes while working as a waiter at London’s Embassy Club. Curious, he took the tape to Colin Thurston and when the band signed to EMI, they were embraced by a teenybop audience. Less happy were the other members of KAJAGOOGOO who had been the more serious ART NOUVEAU and the result as a coup d’état with Limahl ousted as lead singer.

Available on the KAJAGOOGOO album ‘White Feathers’ via EMI Records

http://limahl.com


KISSING THE PINK The Last Film (1983)

A catchy militaristic tune with a profound anti-war statement, London-based combo KISSING THE PINK had wanted Brian Eno as producer, having worked with Martin Hannett on their debut single ‘Don’t Hide In The Shadow’. But their then-label Magnet Records suggested that Colin Thurston would give a more commercial sound and they were proved right when ‘The Last Film’ become a UK Top 20 single, although it was to be the band’s only hit.

Available on the KISSING THE PINK album ‘Naked’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.facebook.com/kissingthepink/


HOWARD JONES New Song (1983)

Notably High Wycombe’s most famous son, Howard Jones told The Electricity Club of working with Thurston on his debut single: “Warners wanted me in the studio as quick as possible to get something going and Colin was doing very well with DURAN DURAN and KAJAGOOGOO”. With a catchy new song that sounded like a synthpop version of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill’, Jones got that first hit twhich his label desired although he and Thurston were not to do any further work together.

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

http://howardjones.com


KAJAGOOGOO Big Apple (1984)

With Limahl gone and working with Giorgio Moroder, Thurston stuck with KAJAGOOGOO, now led by bassist and Chapman stick player Nick Beggs. ‘Big Apple’ was a rousing funky pop punctuated by brass section that allowed the band to show off their musical virtuosity. Interest in KAJAGOOGOO waned afterwards, although Beggs was to become a noted sessioneer, working with Gary Numan, Howard Jones, Steve Hackett and Steven Wilson.

Available on the KAJAGOOGOO album ‘Islands’ via EMI Records

http://www.kajagoogoo.com


GARY NUMAN Your Fascination (1985)

Having not had a happy experience working with Bill Nelson on the ‘Warriors’ album, Gary Numan was open to sharing the studio with an outsider again when the name of Colin Thurston was suggested. The first fruit of labour was the excellent and uncluttered PPG dominated ‘Your Fascination’. However, there was to be no further productions with Thurston as he was in the middle of working with THE HUMAN LEAGUE on the first version of ‘Crash’, which was subsequently scrapped.

Available on the GARY NUMAN album ‘New Dreams For Old’ via Eagle Records

https://garynuman.com


FLIP That’s What They Say About Love (1986)

As synthesizers became more passé with the advent of MTV and a desire for American success, Thurston found himself working with more guitar oriented acts like IMMACULATE FOOLS, WESTWON and ATLANTIC while adding his modern studio sheen. One of his more successful productions in this period was with Aylesbury AOR band FLIP whose appealing FM friendly number ‘That’s What They Say About Love’ was a minor hit in The Netherlands.

Originally available on the FLIP album ‘Flip’ via CBS Associated Records, currently unavailable

https://www.discogs.com/artist/878940-Flip-17


CAMOUFLAGE Heaven (1991)

In order to move away from the DEPECHE MODE derived sound of their first two albums ‘Voices & Images’ and ‘Methods Of Silence’, Marcus Meyn and Heiko Maile enlisted session drummer Gavin Harrison and Thurston to capture more of a live feel to their music. ’Heaven’ was certainly looser than previous CAMOUFLAGE recordings although like with DEPECHE MODE not long after, the use of live drums ironically took some of soul and tension out of the band’s sound.

Available on the CAMOUFLAGE album ‘The Singles’ via Polydor Records

http://www.camouflage-music.com/en/News


In Memory of Colin Thurston 1947-2007

https://www.discogs.com/artist/60619-Colin-Thurston


Text by Chi Ming Lai
6th April 2018

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