Tag: Ian Anderson

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

Missing In Action: WHITE DOOR

Hailing from Stoke-on-Trent, WHITE DOOR formed from the ashes of prog rock combo GRACE.

Led by the sensitive vocal presence of Mac Austin, he was ably backed by the Davies brothers Harry and John on synths.

Coinciding with the sinewave of Synth Britannia, the trio began to gain artistic momentum and signed to Clay Records, the independent that had put out GRACE’s swansong live album.

WHITE DOOR released one critically acclaimed album ‘Windows’ in 1983, produced by Andy Richards who was later to find fame and fortune working with the likes of FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, GEORGE MICHAEL, PROPAGANDA, GRACE JONES and OMD.

Despite press support and national radio airplay, being signed to an indie label with limited financial resources meant that any initial promotional momentum was unable to be sustained.

The record also proved to be difficult to find in the shops. In a competitive market, WHITE DOOR thus suffered the same fate as other new acts of the period such as THE MOOD, FIAT LUX, B-MOVIE and FATAL CHARM, reaching only a limited audience despite the quality of their music.

Although sounding of its time, with songs such as ‘Love Breakdown’, ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘School Days’, ‘Windows’ still stands up as a long player, so much so that in 2015, Swedish synthesist Johan Baeckström covered the latter two tracks as B-sides to his solo single releases.

Baeckström went one step further when he and DAILY PLANET bandmate Jarmo Olilia invited Mac Austin to provide lead vocals on ‘Heaven Opened’, a tune from their new album ‘Play Rewind Repeat’.

With renewed interest in WHITE DOOR, Mac Austin kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about the band’s brief flirtation with the pop charts and more.

GRACE were a prog rock band before things mutated into WHITE DOOR becoming a synth based ‘New Romantic’ act? What led to you heading in this direction?

Myself and Harry studied Graphics at Art College together where we formed a band called JIM CROW and spent most of our time learning to play our instruments and how to write songs until we finally finished college and all went our own ways.

We then went on to form a second band called GRACE with some of our musical friends. GRACE was a massive leap up from our first band and was after a few years of playing the circuits signed by MCA Records and released a debut album ‘Grace’. The band was put in the prog rock or folk rock categories, I think because our songs were long and like GENESIS while like JETHRO TULL we had a flute player.

GRACE played live constantly, did some TV with TOYAH and released a live album which was very well received but the band was caught in the massive punk movement which was sweeping the country at the time. The record companies signed bands with little ability but loads of attitude and ditched the old school bands like GRACE etc who were out of fashion and a lot more expensive to produce and record.

We were all frustrated with the lack of support and PR from MCA and they said only punk was selling now so GRACE folded.

We had been listening to some of the new electronic bands which were coming through from the introduction of new synths and drum machines been invented by Roland etc. John, Harry’s brother had a synth and so we got together and started to write songs with this new sound.

Were there any acts that were specifically influencing WHITE DOOR?

I particularly liked OMD, TALK TALK, JAPAN, TEARS FOR FEARS, PROPAGANDA, JOHN FOXX and CHINA CRISIS. These were the influences on WHITE DOOR plus we still loved the big melodic sounds coming from GENESIS, YES, ELP, JETHRO TULL etc.

I have always loved the songs and melodies of 10CC, THE MOODY BLUES and THE BEATLES. Like
these bands, I feel WHITE DOOR produced songs with good melodies which could be reproduced on an acoustic guitar and still be a good song.

Of course, when you listen to say OMD, JAPAN, ULTRAVOX, THOMAS DOLBY or TEARS FOR FEARS, there is a link to prog aesthetics don’t you think?

Absolutely, there is the dressing up, dramatic chorus, keyboard heavy sound and showmanship that was a big part of prog. It was a progression from prog rock and glam rock. Holly Johnson from FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD said the best live concert he ever saw was GENESIS’ ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, I think there was a big influence on the New Romantics from the progressive bands, though some may say there wasn’t.

Bands from the New Romantic movement became closely associated with the use of synthesizers to create rock and pop music. This synthpop was prefigured in the 1960s and 1970s by the use of synthesizers in progressive rock, electronic art rock, Roxy, Bowie etc.

Did of you ever get into Ian Anderson of JETHRO TULL’s synth heavy ‘Walk Into Light’ album?

JETHRO TULL was a massive influence on us all from the GRACE days, we all saw the live ‘Aqualung’ tour and were amazed. Harry was a particular fan with playing the flute so his writing, playing etc always leaned to a ‘Tull‘ feel.

‘Walk Into Light’ was as you say a very heavy synth sounding album and strong instrumentally, though I don’t think it was his best lyrically, I think he had been influenced by the new synth bands around at the time. Still a very album good though.

You had the benefit of Andy Richards producing and Julian Mendelsohn engineering ‘Windows’ which does explain the high quality of the production. How did this come about because both became quite ubiquitous not long after they worked with WHITE DOOR?

Memories differ on how Andy became to be involved in the project. He was a friend of the band having been playing in bands at the same venues as GRACE and living close to us in Stoke.

He had played in SAD CAFÉ, a fairly successful Manchester band and THE STRAWBS taking the keyboards where earlier Rick Wakeman and Blue Weaver had sat, quite a responsibility.

We would turn up at Andy’s house with very basic demos and spend long days with him on his mini grand piano working out the arrangements and programming. Once the melodies were in place, Andy would add his magic to it. We also did the same with the ‘Flame in Your Heart’ single which was recorded twelve months after the album.

‘Windows’ the album was recorded in Manchester, then Andy insisted we use Sarm studios for mixing and post-production where Julian Mendelsohn, an Australian record producer, audio engineer and mixer who worked with Elton John, Jimmy Page, Bob Marley, INXS, LEVEL 42, Nik Kershaw and Paul McCartney took the album to another level. A good decision for WHITE DOOR and Andy, who after impressing everyone at Sarm with his skills became a regular there, assisting them on FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD and many more great artists.

Andy, I believe, has been involved with film scores of the last 10 years including a few Tim Burton ones. Julian was the house producer at the great Sarm West so for the next few years after they produced music for big artists from different styles, never really having a genre of their own.

The pace that technology was moving at during this time was staggering, so what sort of synths and instruments were WHITE DOOR using?

The synth on the WHITE DOOR album was the Jupiter 8… the drum machine was an Oberheim DMX. I don’t know the sequencer, I just know it was analogue.

I recall a Fender Rhodes piano on one track. There was Simmons drums and various bits of acoustic percussion like tablas and shakers. Fretless bass of course, alto and tenor sax… flute. I don’t know if there was anything else used at Sarm, but I am sure stuff was added there which I have forgotten. It was state of the art technology then, so we thought it was amazing, but it’s a lot better now I think.

The ‘Windows’ single got BBC Radio1 airplay but wasn’t a Top40 hit. How do you look back on how that all played out?

All the singles got some BBC airplay, but ‘Windows’ the single was picked as the Simon Bates show’s ‘Record Of The Week. It was the top BBC Radio 1 show, so it got played every morning at 10am, getting it to 60-something in the UK charts. It was amazing exposure from which we got interviews, magazine write-ups, and fan mail and with a couple more weeks of plugging would we believe have easily made the Top 40.

Unfortunately Clay Records had run out of money so could not carry on plugging the single so the airplays stopped. We were told we needed a major label and a couple were very interested and we were about to sign to one major label when it was revealed that Clay had signed us to an American label, Passport Records, for a couple of years, so the deal was off because major labels always want worldwide rights.

The beautiful synthpop of ‘Jerusalem’ is almost choir boy like, what inspired that?

‘Jerusalem’ was written after I saw a small film of young Jewish children praying for the return of their sister who was being held in Palestine.

Is the subject matter of ‘School Days’ veiled in metaphor?

‘School Days’ was inspired by a classic British book ‘ Goodbye Mr Chips’ by James Hilton, the story of a tutor in private boys school during the years of the First World War. Boys in their black gowns and ties seeing their older friends leaving to go to war and most never returning was a very emotional but true story.

‘Where Do We Go (From Here)’ was quite a frantic and inventive take on synthpop, might that have made a good single?

Yes Chi, I agree ‘Where Do We Go’ is a very catchy instant tune and it would have made a good single. I think it would have been the next single after ‘Windows’ if we had carried on.

‘Windows’ only had eight tracks on it, but WHITE DOOR recorded a host of non-album singles and B-sides that seem to explore a variety of styles. ‘New Jealousies’ sounds like SPARKS and ‘Kings Of The Orient’ recalls a more synthy ROXY MUSIC. Did it take a while to settle on a sound or was it your intention to be as diverse as possible?

I don’t think it was our intention to be that diverse, it was a bit of finding our sound from all the influences that we were listening too.

You did one more single ‘Flame Of My Heart’ with Andy Richards which sounded like BLANCMANGE running into FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. It’s quite mighty but just as WHITE DOOR were finding their stride, you disbanded. Do you have any regrets?

Yes, a few regrets but Clay Records closed and we were without a record company with no-one wanting to sign a band who were tied to a contract in America, so could not offer world rights. We thought let’s start again and GRACE was reformed, producing 4 albums in the ‘90s.

How do you look back on WHITE DOOR now? Is there anything you would have done differently in hindsight?

Our one regret is if we had received better advice before we signed that American contract, that major deal would have been signed and who knows?…

‘Windows’ has attained cult status over the years and got a CD reissue on Cherry Red in 2009. But when did you first get the impression that the album might have reached a bigger audience than you first thought?

The feedback on the album was mostly very, very good so we knew it was a good product, we lacked the investment to promote it the way it needed so we hoped that word of mouth and reviews would get it out there. Maybe if we could have toured the album, it may have gone more mainstream, but unfortunately we did not have the backing for that.

I remember being told by some record producer that Andy Warhol’s famous New York club Studio 54 were heavily playing ‘Love Breakdown’ which gave me hope that it may become a cult album and grow to a bigger audience. In the last 10 years, we have had more feedback on the album and WHITE DOOR than ever, obviously the Cherry Red release helped.

So what did you think when this Swedish guy Johan Baeckström starting covering your songs?

We’ve had quite a few people doing remixes and alternate versions of the songs but when Johan messaged me about covering our song and played the track, it was “wow this is more like White Door than White Door”. Johan had got this off so well, it brought tears to my eyes… then when I heard Johan and Jarmo’s own material as DAILY PLANET, I realised these guys were real talented people and into the kind of melodies and music we were into with WHITE DOOR. I was so pleased, it re ignited the flame (in my heart).

You sang ‘Heaven Opened’ on the new DAILY PLANET album ‘Play Rewind Repeat’, how was it to work with Johan and Jarmo?

It was a real honour to be part of this album with these lovely guys and ‘Heaven Opened’ is such a great song, I can’t thank them enough. This is such a great album and everyone I play it to loves it, I have a couple of WHITE DOOR fans who swore it was WHITE DOOR.

Has there been any renewed interest in WHITE DOOR since ‘Heaven Opened’ appeared on the DAILY PLANET album? Would you ever consider doing anything under that name again?

There are people now asking about WHITE DOOR reforming, we are working on new material and with the help of Johan and Jarmo, there will be a White Door product next year.

What else have you been up to musically?

We are still playing occasional gigs with GRACE, who still have a good following, while also I am also doing some semi-acoustic sessions with Harry, John and Dave Edge (GRACE guitarist) which we really enjoy.

The new WHITE DOOR material is sounding great so hopefully that will open up some live shows next year.

I’m looking forward to going over to see Johan and Jarmo when we finally finish this project.

And what sort of music are you into now?

I’m into all music really but I do love melody and good lyrics, from folk to heavy rock… if it has a good tune and lyric, I will listen to it. Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, OMD, Paul Simon… these are some of the people that inspired me to be in music.


The Electricity gives its grateful thanks to Mac Austin

Special thanks also to Johan Baeckström

‘Windows’ is still available as a CD from Cherry Red Records at https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/windows/

https://www.facebook.com/whitedoorband/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
5th July 2017

Lost Albums: IAN ANDERSON Walk Into Light

“In 1981 or 1982, this digital technology was creeping in and it was clear a sea change was occurring. It would roll over everything and everyone, so you had to be part of it or not. I wanted to give it a go, but no-one else in the band did. It was exciting, musically enjoyable and very quick, but it wasn’t what people expected of JETHRO TULL. I was influenced by THOMAS DOLBY. He fitted the bill perfectly. He had that credibility… That electronic world was very exciting. HOWARD JONES was good and GARY NUMAN was amazing. He nailed it… I saw him on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and wanted to hate him, but I realised how important he was. And he was British!” – IAN ANDERSON, Word Magazine (April 2012)

IAN-ANDERSONWalkIntoLightRight, first things first, in the interest of full disclosure: I am the token Team TEC rocker.

I love metal (it will always be Maiden before Mode for me), grunge, AOR and most of all Progressive styles of the genre.

I say this happily; not for me hiding in a darkened room listening to ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ or ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, though parties at my house tend not to be as filled with joyous dancing as say those at TEC co-founder Chi Ming Lai’s…

People sneer at Prog due to the, I will agree in places, ludicrous song subjects and lengths, the dressing up and noodling of the players. However also note that the punks that kicked against the musical systems of the mid 70s of which Prog was a cornerstone had as many GENESIS albums in their collections as releases from MC5.

But after punk, many of the classic Prog bands had changed significantly from their heydays. ELP had spectacularly imploded (it’s doubtful though if any band could survive the horror of the sleeve of ‘Love Beach’, let alone the contents of said album), GENESIS and PETER GABRIEL had parted company in 1975 and were further dividing with the ongoing solo success of PHIL COLLINS. This would lead to all individual GENESIS parts having their most successful period sales wise and with a move towards the ultimately more commercial sound of the monster selling ‘Invisible Touch’.

YES were once again a bit of a rudderless ship that would come roaring back as a straightforward rock outfit with former member, a certain Mr Trevor Horn at the production helm by the middle of the decade and in the interim JON ANDERSON would write and record with fellow Prog musician VANGELIS, no mean shakes at creating the odd synth tune himself, with a certain amount of success.

Another Anderson, JETHRO TULL’s Ian, was looking to move in another direction in the early part of the decade too. In 1980, Anderson had been persuaded to release his planned solo album ‘A’ as a Tull album. The album and resulting tour featured Eddie Jobson, who had replaced ENO in ROXY MUSIC, on keys and was an altogether more current sounding offering. The live video ‘Slipstream’ showcased this perfectly not just on ‘A’ material but also classics such as ‘Locomotive Breath’.

The pieces which lead to the album being examined here fell into place when JETHRO TULL recruited Anderson’s fellow Scot Peter John Vitesse for the 1982 album ‘The Broadsword & The Beast’. This was a more conventional album than ‘A’, albeit with a fair amount of synthesizer work across its tracks.

Anderson was fascinated by the possibilities offered by the technology PJV had at his fingertips and began work with him on what would eventually become 1983’s ‘Walk Into Light’.

‘Walk Into Light’ is a bit of a weird album, even for one both from the period and also from the bonkers musical mind of Anderson. As an electronic album from 1983, there are the usual tropes in place (the loneliness brought from technology, disaffected youth and the colourless aspects of that Winter Of Discontent era) but also much that fans of Tull would recognise, some weird time signatures, a smattering of guitar and yes flute!

I bought the album on its release back in 1983 on the strength of an interview with PJV in ‘Electronic & Music Maker’ magazine where he discussed using the Rhodes Chroma and Roland MC-202 sequencers extensively. This very much sounded like my sort of thing and was not disappointed. Opener ‘Fly By Night’ kicks on with arpeggios and sequenced strings before settling into a Linn driven groove complimented by trade mark Anderson flute. With dramatic piano chords and insistent strings and sampled vocal loops this is both accessible and edgy.

‘Made In England’ is the proggiest track on the album with time changes and guitars. Again the trademark flute is there and the vocal delivery is the most Anderson too, with multi-tracked parts and almost but not quite harmonies. Anderson himself is on record saying he feels the album was too cold and could have benefited from some live drumming. By and large I disagree, but do think that this could track could have come alive with some real percussion.

Title track ‘Walk Into Light’ is something ROBERT PALMER could have easily released around the same time, an excellent pop / rock track with some scat singing on it, now that’s something don’t hear that often, a man with a mighty beard getting his free form jazz vocal stylings on. ‘Trains’ and ‘End Game’ are a taste of what the next JETHRO TULL album ‘Under Wraps’, would sound like although lacking the latter’s guitars. Sequencer driven and spikily electronic, the heartfelt lyrics are sung in a style that work surprisingly well with the musical backing.

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The second half of the album is more knowingly electronic. ‘Black & White Television’ muses on modern living even warning that the Suzuki corner boys in the lyric “will still fade to grey…”

‘Toad In The Hole’ and ‘Looking For Eden’ continue the themes of the challenges of modern life underpinned by cold choral sounds and very European bass synth programming.

This accuracy that was brought by the technology at hand was part of the attraction for Anderson, as Vitesse explained in that 1983 interview I found so compelling: “The Roland MC-202 kind of frees my hands and we can have an absolutely accurate backing track done even within a few seconds… The way I do this is by writing the music, discussing the part that I should be playing with Ian then entering the pitch data, gate data and the step data and we’ll have an accurate and groovy bass track in the first take!”

Closing pair ‘User Friendly’ and ‘Different Germany’ hint at how the project could have developed if given another run out… ‘Different Germany’ especially embraces both the electronic and progressive sides of Anderson’s career perfectly with a marvelous middle section featuring a bristling keyboard solo. The end result is not unlike JETHRO TULL fronting ULTRAVOX; of course, the circle was completed when MIDGE URE covered Tull’s ‘Living In The Past’ in 1985.

So in the grand scheme of things where does ‘Walk Into Light’ sit? Certainly it’s a release anyone interested in synthesizer music should give a listen to, for the list of equipment featured on the sleeve alone (Rhodes Chroma and Expander, Yamaha CP80, Roland JP8, Roland Promars, MC202, Emulator, Linn Drum Computer) and also as a document of a time where the technology on offer was almost but not quite what it would be a year or so later with the advent of MIDI. This is the sound of a time where analogue and digital synths were crossing over.

I haven’t yet mentioned the obvious contemporary comparison, BUGGLES and their pair of releases from around the same time. They too had Prog credentials as former members of YES and harnessed the technology available to make Prog infused pop, to more commercial success. ‘Walk Into Light’ is similar in approach but sits separately in that it lacks the warmth of ‘The Age Of Plastic’ and ‘Adventures In Modern Recording’ that Anderson bemoaned. This does not do it down, as it is the sound of an artist reinventing and finding himself in a new decade.

Moving forward, the acts mentioned at the top of this piece would use the technology available and move their sound in new and exciting directions (I will argue that Tony Banks of GENESIS is the greatest exponent of the synthesizer the UK has produced and dare you to take me up on that!) that would give us classic releases such as YES’s ‘90120’ and PETER GABRIEL’s ‘4’ and ‘So’ Albums.

Anderson would continue with JETHRO TULL to ongoing success and return to his more folk roots as the decade progressed. As I say above, ‘Walk Into Light’ is a great might have been and deserves to be celebrated for what it ultimately is, a cracking album.


‘Walk Into Light’ is available on CD and download via EMI Records

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

http://www.discogs.com/artist/85485-Ian-Anderson


Text by Ian Ferguson
13th January 2015