Tag: Jaki Liebezeit

JAH WOBBLE Interview

JAH WOBBLE was just 18 years old when he co-founded PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED with John Lydon, Keith Levene and Jim Walker. Real name John Wardle, he was given his nickname and first bass guitar by a drunken Sid Vicious. After two albums ‘First Issue’ and ‘Metal Box’, he left the band in 1980.

Despite this, his creative mind and distinctive hypnotic bass style was now freed to work with a diverse range of artists and producers over the next four decades.

These included François Kevorkian, The Edge, Brian Eno, Winston Tong, Alan Rankine, Brett Wickens, Bill Sharpe, Baaba Maal, Chaka Demus, Dolores O’Riordan, Sinead O’Connor, Andrew Weatherall and Bill Laswell, as well as groups like ONE DOVE and THE ORB.

Forming THE HUMAN CONDITION who released two live cassettes before disbanding, he headed to Cologne to collaborate with CAN members Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, the material eventually coming out as the ‘Full Circle’ album in late 1982 which included the minor European hit ‘How Much Are They?’. ‘The ‘Snake Charmer’ EP also featuring the trio followed in 1983.

Using his German experience, he showcased his eclectic tastes on the single ‘Invaders Of The Heart’, with Wardle reworking his bassline for PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED’s ‘Death Disco’ into a mutant post-punk dub excursion also featuring electronics and ethnic tape samples.

His album ‘Rising Above Bedlam’ was nominated for the 1992 Mercury Music Prize and although he didn’t win, he had played on one track from the eventual winner ‘Screamadelica’ by PRIMAL SCREAM. Outside of music, he obtained a BA in Music and Philosophy, while also acting as a book reviewer for the Independent on Sunday and The Times.

A strong advocate of World Music, he has a brand new album entitled ‘Ocean Blue Waves’ out this Spring with THE INVADERS OF THE HEART. The Electricity Club had the pleasure of chatting to Big John about his ethos and his career as one of the UK’s most influential and distinctive bass players.

Your new album ‘Ocean Blue Waves’ has a very cosmic vibe about it, what inspired its concept?

There wasn’t really a concept… sometimes with some records, there’s a bit of a backstory but in this case, it was “let’s go in the studio” and play naturally. The only number that had been pre-written was ‘Take My Hand’ which is a bit of a rock anthem.

Do you compose by manner of band jamming?

It’s our natural style, I would give them say a descending change and suggest a few things, but it would be the band doing their thing. My drummer Marc Layton-Bennet came a decade ago via my old percussionist Neville Murray who’s retired now, he was the guy who would always suggest musicians for me.

I met George King, my keyboard player through an engineer I worked with and my guitarist Martin Chung was a good mate of Marc’s, although I actually saw him on a video for a singer who he was playing with about six years ago. I tend to stick with the same musicians, like Neville was on the firm with me for like 30 years!

On ‘Ocean Blue Waves’, there’s a mix of instrumentals and songs like ‘Take My Hand’, ‘A fly Away’ and ‘Minds Float Free’, how do you decide when a track needs vocals?

You think “what does this track need?” and sometimes it sounds like a backing track and you can hear a saxophone on it or a topline of a vocal. I remember I had these dubby psychedelic tracks that weren’t really songs or an instrumentals, I was like “what is it?” but I then got thinking about William Blake, so it became this spoken word album.

Do lyrics come naturally to you?

Yeah, I’ve written a lot over the years, maybe a quarter of the live set has me singing and now I have to be careful and look after my voice properly which at 61 is a new one on me! I rented a room at an art studio in Manchester just to write some poetry ‘Odds & Sods Of Epilogues’ and an autobiography ‘Memoirs Of A Geezer’.

One highlight is the title ‘Ocean Blue Waves’ track which has a most amazing synth solo…

I came up with this b-line in Tokyo and it was driving me mad, we played it at a gig there and it was quite modal, not really much like the track as you hear it now.

I really wanted to use that b-line for something and the boys come up with something very different. It’s better live now and it’s very dreamy, we generally start the set with it.

But it’s so nice, you don’t really want to go into the first change or end the number, because it’s so nice and hypnotic!

We’re always pushed for time at the end of the night as we do quite a long set, so you have to do the change, you want that synth solo to go on and on and on! It’s got a lovely sound, it’s a bit softer and less minor key.

It all seems a far cry from PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, how do you look back on that time?

I loved it because I was just starting out, that youthful enthusiasm of an amateur, I’d like to think it’s something I’ve still got. I always like to quote a Suzuki line: “In the beginner’s mind, there’s many possibilities, in the experts there’s few…”, so I try to keep a naïve approach and play without thinking.

There’s certain basslines like PiL’s ‘Poptones’ that are so perfect and circular somehow… actually I went back to playing Fender Precision bass after using Magnum for years after we played in America and did an album with Bill Laswell. Fender Precision makes me play a little bit more chromatically, these chromatic runs somehow sound cleaner. It works well with the old stuff even though it’s evolving and the new stuff as well.

What influenced your playing style?

Dub reggae as a big thing, I loved soul, funk and disco. I liked the idea of patterns so very early on. I got my own modal sound going, because I would make patterns based around the dots of the fret. I couldn’t count, I took a little while to learn the notes so I went by the dots on the fretboard…. I made shapes and patterns so that naturally led to a certain kind of block unit. A lot of the stuff I do is A minor, B minor, they’re quite modal and fixed. When I play with a Fender, you get a flowing quality, it’s quite musical in its own way I think.

Did you eventually venture down the path of learning more formal musical theory?

No, not at all and it was probably just as well. I didn’t get conditioned and you become educated because I worked with some really great musicians over the years like Jaki Liebezeit and Holger Czukay, and I hung on their every word.

I thought very hard about music and how the bass should work and sound like in conjunction with the drums or keyboards. I think I ended up thinking in quite an abstract way. I didn’t have any knowledge of Bach or tonality so you had your own kind of approach.

The sonic thing was a big part of it because my generation were in the studio playing electric instruments, so the actual sound was as important as the phrasing or the playing.

After PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, you were suddenly off to Germany to record the ‘How Much Are They?’ EP with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, how did that come about?

This was through a mate of mine, Angus MacKinnon who interviewed me in regard to ‘Metal Box’. We became friends and he knew I wasn’t happy in PiL, so he suggested I play with CAN. Holger happened to be in London with his manager Hildegard and we got introduced. I got on with him and we went to a studio to have a little try out. I wrote the basic parts for ‘How Much Are They?’, the b-line, the drum beat, the simple string parts and the triad chords over the bass so I was developing this style that was quite catchy.

What happened next?

Holger took it back to Cologne to edit it quite radically and it was mixed by Mark Lusardi, a very good engineer. It became the first track of an EP we did called ‘How Much Are They?’; it went so well that they flew me over to Germany and we recorded stuff like ‘Trench Warfare’ and other stuff. That’s when I met Jaki for the first time, he’s probably the most special person I’ve ever met… as a musician he’s a master player.

Had you been a CAN fan?

Yeah, a bit! I liked the groove stuff, I wasn’t mad on everything but it was stuff the stuff where Jaki got his thing going on those earlier albums that I liked.

How did you find playing along to drum machines?

I like drum machines, they’re in time and it meant you could play over and over and over. I’d been in squats and when PiL started, it was terrible the way the money was sorted out, but I was able to get a Wasp synthesizer, a little analogue Roland rhythm box, a Godwin String Concert keyboard, a WEM Copicat and then later a TASCAM multi-track cassette portastudio. So I was very idiosyncratic and quite obsessive. so I would sit there for hours with a drum machine going. It was fantastic because that really helps your timing, you become machine-like yourself really.

Holger Czukay was quite unique in that he was a bass player who was not really interested in playing bass anymore, but was becoming more of a sound painter, is that how you saw it?

Yes, I did. He was a producer… there had been clashes in CAN over the direction of the band but Holger was the guy who would be the architect and would get busy with the razor blade, editing after they’d recorded. So that’s how it was, he really liked my playing and thought it was fantastic, saying “I couldn’t do what you do!” and I was like “REALLY?”

Jaki really liked it too and I was really surprised but delighted. Holger said “It’s like Miles Davis, you play one note and everyone knows it’s you”. It strange, I still don’t know why or how or what, but I do have my own sound, I know I have my own sound. Jaki had his own unique sound too…

Jaki was quite fascinating in that he could play fast, but it would be quite ambient…

He was so simpatico over the space he was playing in, and he could play fast but there was a totality to the sound. Some of that was down to the fact that they only used a pair of overhead mics, it sounded so good in the studio. They didn’t have a dividing wall between the control room and the recording room at Inner Space Studio in Cologne.

It was one space, an old cinema so everything sounded great there. I learnt a lot and developed that over the years, not trying too hard with mics so that you get a total sound with a certain spacious quality within the music, even when it’s uptempo.

The ‘How Much Are They?’ EP was dedicated to Ian Curtis?

That’s right, his death was a shocker, he was a special person and it seemed like a nice thing to do, it was such a shame for him to die so young…

On the ‘Snake Charmer’ EP, you worked with the-then emerging François Kervorkian who brought a Linn Drum Computer to the studio, that must have been a revelation?

Yeah, but I wasn’t mad on the Linn Drum sound with its big toms and rock kick thing. I always preferred those Roland drum machines, but the Linn was still really good, it was a revelation. François was good to work with because he was from a dance background so he was really into making records dancey and tuned into the dancefloor.

François brought it in and there’s the famous story where Jaki became very cross with the Linn Drum and accused it of being slightly out of time! We thought that was impossible as it was a machine, but Jaki insisted it was out of time. So when we timed it back, it was! It was so incredible, like 4 BPM out, losing 3 BPM over the course of a minute but he was correct! He got really angry and played this cross-rhythm, then suddenly, there was this puff of smoke come out the back and the Linn fused! We couldn’t get it working again! So Jaki had out-synched this Linn Drum, that was the power of his mind!

‘Snake Charmer’ also featured The Edge from U2, how was it to work with him?

It was very easy, he was a very nice guy… when he arrived in the studio, I was having this massive row with François, I saw him and quickly said “Hallo, I know who you are, I can’t wait to talk to you but I’ve got to finish this f*cking argument! Nice to meet you!” *laughs*

The Edge was a nice bloke, François knew him because he’d remixed a couple of U2 tracks. He made a lovely sound on ‘Hold On To Your Dreams’, just beautiful.

You took a break from music but came back?

Sometimes I got lazy but I stopped drinking in 1986 and I was halfway through an album called ‘Psalms’, so the final half was done very newly sober. Then I started working as a courier and applied to work for the Post Office and London Underground. By 1987, I started working for the Underground, I chose them over the Post Office. I still miss for the Underground, I loved it.

I was listening to a lot of music, then Neville Murray knocked on my door and asked when we were going back on the road? So we put THE INVADERS OF THE HEART Mk2 together and we started again. We were working with a guy called David Harrow and I started being active in music again. If there was a break, it was only for about two months!

You worked with the late Andrew Weatherall on several occasions including on ‘There Goes The Cure’ from ‘Morning Dove White’ by ONE DOVE, what was it like to work with him?

I was living in South London and that rave scene was going when I walked to Embankment. I would see all these clubbers in Villiers Street, queuing to get into this after-hours club and thought “this is interesting”, this would have been around the beginnings of acid jazz. I started getting some work in that scene with those kind of DJs, Andy gave me a kick start coming back into the business.

You were working with Brian Eno for 1995’s ‘Spinner’, can you remember what the creative dynamic was like between you?

Brian Eno was a bit half and half… for one track, he said something like “Oh, I want you to treat it like a moreish maiden” and I was like “Stop being funny, stop playing games! DO YOU LIKE IT?” *laughs*

I do like Brian, you might get the impression I don’t, but I do! It was a good thing for me to do and he’s a kind man.

I’m touring with his brother Roger as part of THE ORB live band. He’s into all those minimalist Harold Budd and Debussy piano pieces and I think he’s been an influence on Brian. It all came about via Derek Jarman, he approached me and because he’d done ‘Jubilee’, he knew Brian.

I’d done these little piano pieces like Shostakovich, clusters of notes which we turned into tracks. There wasn’t a lot of money so we couldn’t use lots of players or have a big studio, we did it in my little home studio in Bethnal Green using our imagination. Some records don’t last as well as others but I think ‘Spinner’ has lasted really well, it’s really got something special about it and stood the test of time.

If you listen to ‘Spinner’ now, it’s like the precursor to some of the dance music productions over the next two years with the effects on the drums and stuff, because up until then, having effects on drums was seen as quite bad taste, it didn’t work.

You’d put phasing on guitar but you’d have to be careful about drums. But somehow, it kind of worked with that phasing.

I used to do a lot of walking along the Lea Valley in London, and you’d be walking past old soap factories up the River Lea and see semi-rural marshlands, so it would get very trippy.

So that would influence the music, doing things in 7/4 time with a real haunting vibe. It was like walking music because each time we’d finish a track, we’d use it to walk to. There was something about the whole do-it-yourself concept, the way it was recorded on computer and how we used our expertise to record loops of Jaki and stuff.

What would you say have been your career highlights?

There’s magical moments in my life and not just with music. One of my highlights was walking across the grounds of Birkbeck College, London University on the first day of term when I went there, that was wow! And there was driving the tube train, westbound from Stratford to Mile End for the first time on this really fast section of line… I was just thinking “I AM DRIVING A F*CKING TUBE TRAIN, HOW D’YA LIKE THAT!” *laughs*

It’s that sense that you have sometimes of observing yourself, it’s quite detached… like a big mind thing looking at you, you get that in life and you get it on stage often. It’s like when people talk about an out-of-body experience, but you’re in control, you’re the observed and the observer at the same time.

I’ve had so many moments like that, like the first gig in sobriety with Neville in Switzerland, I woke up in a pension hotel overlooking the square with the smell of croissants and coffee wafting up in the morning in spring… I was like “I’m sober and I’m back on the road”, it was magical!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to JAH WOBBLE

Special thanks to Sulley Archer at Hush PR

‘Ocean Blue Waves’ is released on 27th March 2020, available as a CD or download now direct from https://jahwobble.bandcamp.com/album/ocean-blue-waves

https://jahwobble.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Jah.Wobble.Music/

https://twitter.com/realjahwobble

https://www.instagram.com/real_jah_wobble/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5jhqwsWfRaETrWPWI0Rc7u


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
3rd March 2020

30 Lost Obscure Alternatives Of The 45 RPM Era

Vinyl still holds a special affection with the emotional attachment given to a piece of music captured on bit of plastic almost unparralled.

So here are 30 synth friendly obscure alternatives from the era when vinyl was king, which for whatever reason, have been lost in the mists of time. These are great but obscure singles and album tracks from places as far flung as Australia, Japan and Canada that were overlooked at their time of release in the UK, but which all deserve critical reappraisal.

Please note that acts who nearly made it but have since been featured on The Electricity Club like B-MOVIE, BLUE ZOO, DRAMATIS, THE FALLOUT CLUB, FATAL CHARM, FIAT LUX, PAUL HAIG, HARD CORPS, ROBERT MARLOW, THE MOOD, OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDINGVICE VERSAVIENNA and WHITE DOOR have not been included on this list. The songs are listed by year and then in alphabetical order…


PLASTIC BERTRAND Tout Petit La Planète (1978)

Although best known for his pseudo-punk hit ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’, the Belgian BILLY IDOL recorded this superb electronic Eurodisco single with vocoders galore that would have done GIORGIO MORODER, CERRONE and SPACE proud. A bit hit in Greece, ‘Tout Petit La Planète’ featured a template that would be later borrowed by many Italo disco records, PET SHOP BOYS and KELLY OSBOURNE. Incidentally, fellow Belgians TELEX released their own robotic cover version of ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ shortly after.

Available on the album ‘Greatest Hits’ via Horvergnugen Records

http://www.plasticbertrand.com


DALEK I Destiny (1980)

DALEK I LOVE YOU DestinyPre-OMD, the synth duo on The Wirral was DALEK I LOVE YOU. However, by the time their debut album ‘Compass/Kum’pas’ was released, OMD were already having hits and keyboards man Dave Hughes left to join their live band. Shortening their name, ‘Destiny’ was their most accessible song with a precise KRAFTWERK percussive appeal, while Alan Gill’s vocals were eccentrically nasal. Hughes left OMD to form GODOT featuring vocalist Kevin Hartley who later then joined the fully named DALEK I LOVE YOU!

Available on the album ‘Compass/Kum’Pas’ via Mercury Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Dalek+I


DIE DORAUS & DIE MARINAS Fred Vom Jupiter (1981)

The project of German musician Andreas Dorau, ‘Fred Vom Jupiter’ was a quirky curio released as a single in the UK by Mute, created during a project week at the Otto-Hahn-Gesamtschule in Hamburg. The then 16 year-old Dorau composed the music while fellow students Natalia Munoz Valderrama, Nicole Kahl and Birgit Mensur provided the lyrics about a “very attractive and also very muscular” Kosmonaut; the vocals came from a quintet of teen and pre-teen school girls during a far more innocent time in history!

Available on the album ‘Hauptsache Ich – Retrospektive 1981-2014’ via Bureau B

https://www.facebook.com/andreasdorau/


FOX Electro People (1981)

FOX were Kenny Young and kooky Australian singer Susan Traynor aka Noosha Fox. They had numerous hits like ‘S-S-S-Single Bed’ but disbanded in 1977. The pair reunited for ‘Electro People’, written as the theme music for ‘The Kenny Everett Show’ which came over like a quirky Middle Eastern flavoured synthpop take on ALTERED IMAGES in a tribute to Synth Britannia; altogether now: “Ultra-Human-Depeche Mode-Tubeway-Kraftwerk-Soft-Manoeuvres-Gary-Orchestal-Army-Duran-League”!

Available on the album ‘Images ’74-’84’ via Cherry Red

https://www.discogs.com/artist/356308-Fox-3


IPPU DO Time Of The Season (1981)

The success of the band JAPAN gave a number of opportunities for Japanese musicians to show off their talents. One was Masami Tsuchiya of IPPU DO whose eccentric wailing guitar style coupled with German electronic influences caught the attention of David Sylvian who invited him to join JAPAN for their final tour. ‘Time Of The Season’ is a brilliant pentatonic take on the old ZOMBIES hit with mad warbling vocals and frantic percussion to produce a startlingly original cover version.

Available on the album ‘Essence: The Best of’ via Sony Music Japan

http://lifeintokyo.net/familytree_tsuchiya.html


MATHÉMATIQUES MODERNES Disco Rough (1981)

Comprising of Claude Arto and Edwige Belmore, the pair emerged from the Parisian club scene with their arty nouveau music. On ‘Disco Rough’, pulsing synthseizers and almost spoken staccato vocals were punctuated by unusual  stabs of sax. Their only album ‘Les Visiteurs Du Soir’ fused filmic strings and brass sections with electronic backing and baroque melodies. Sadly both Arto and Belmore have passed away, but have left their mark via Gallic tinged duos STEREO TOTAL and MISS KITTIN & THE HACKER.

Available on the album ‘Les Visiteurs Du Soir’ via Celluloid Records

https://www.discogs.com/artist/45920-Mathématiques-Modernes


JAH WOBBLE, JAKI LIEBEZEIT & HOLGER CZUKAY How Much Are They? (1981)

JAH WOBBLE, HOLGER CZUKAY & JAKI LIEBEZEIT How Much Are TheyAlthough dominated by PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED refugee Wobble’s full-on bass, his icy synth flourishes alongside Czukay’s chattering beatbox and Dictaphone were essentials to the wonderful machine dub of ‘How Much Are They?’ while Liebezeit added some abstract avant garde trumpet. Originally featuring on the ‘Trench Warfare’ EP, the music was dedicated to JOY DIVISION’s Ian Curtis and a fitting instrumental celebration of his enigmatic aura, as well as the sadly recently departed Liebezeit and Czukay.

Available on the album ’12” 80s Alternative’ (V/A) via UMC

http://jahwobble.com/

http://www.czukay.com/


E.M.A.K. Filmmusik (1982)

E.M.A.K. FilmmuzikE.M.A.K. stands for Elektronische Musik Aus Köln and was a technology based sound project by Kurt Mill and Matthias Becker using a similar visual aesthetic on their artwork to NEU!  Using strict motorik rhythm programming and incessant pulsing sequences, ‘Filmmusik’ was a fine example of the instrumental blueprint of Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger synthesized for the new decade. This template was later borrowed by SIMPLE MINDS on ‘Androgyny’ and ORBITAL on ‘Pants’.

Available on the album ‘A Synthetic History Of’ via Soul Jazz Records

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


PETER GODWIN Images Of Heaven (1982)

PETER GODWIN Images Of HeavenA member of the group METRO, Peter Godwin was well placed for success as a regular visitor to The Blitz Club and mate of MIDGE URE who produced his debut solo single ‘Torch Songs For The Heroine’. ‘Images Of Heaven’ was a big potential hit single with chunky synths and dominant Simmons drums from ULTRAVOX’s Warren Cann. Despite not reaching the charts, Godwin had his bank balance enhanced in 1983 when DAVID BOWIE covered his song ‘Criminal World’ on the ‘Let’s Dance’ album.

Available on the album ‘Images of Heaven’ via Phoenix Recordings

http://www.facebook.com/PeterGodwinFans


IGNATIUS JONES Like A Ghost (1982)

IGNATIUS JONES Like A GhostDespite Australian Top 5 success as lead singer of JIMMY & THE BOYS, IGNATIUS JONES went solo and released ‘Like A Ghost’. Sounding like GARY NUMAN lost in the Outback,  the song was written by Steve Kilbey of THE CHURCH whose ‘Walking Under The Milky Way’ later appeared on the ‘Donnie Darko’ soundtrack.  He also recorded a cover of Jules Shear’s ‘Whispering Your Name’ which was a hit for Alison Moyet in 1994. Latterly, Jones directed the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Originally released as a single by WEA Records, currently unavailable

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Ignatius+Jones


LEISURE PROCESS Love Cascade (1982)

LEISURE PROCESS Love CascadeFeaturing Ross Middleton and Gary Barnacle with production by Martin Rushent, ‘Love Cascade’ is the missing link between PETE SHELLEY and THE HUMAN LEAGUE.  The vocals are virtually unintelligible as the clattering LinnDrum, pulsing synths, squawky guitar and sax merge together for a cool dancefloor friendly tune that’s full of the decadent spirit of the times. LEISURE PROCESS released three more singles on Epic Records before splitting.

12 inch version available on the album ‘Retro: Active Vol 5’ (V/A) via Hi-Bias Records Canada

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Leisure+Process


POEME ELECTRONIQUE The Echoes Fade (1982)

The project of David Hewson, POEME ELECTRONIQUE was very much a family affair, as it also involved brother Les Hewson  plus cousins Julie Ruler and Sharon Abbott. The spacey synthpop coupled to a vocal template crossing GRACE JONES and ABBA caught the ear of John Peel. Returning in 2007, the material they recorded back in the day was finally issued, while members of the combo also appeared as part of Anglo-German collective TWINS NATALIA who released an album ‘The Destiny Room’ in 2014.

Available on the album ‘The Echoes Fade’ via Hwesonics

http://www.poeme-electronique.com/


SANDII &THE SUNSETZ  Living On The Front Line (1982)

SANDII & THE SUNSETZ Living On The Front LineAnother Japanese act who got a leg up from David Sylvian was the beautifully voluptuous Sandii O’Neale and her band of men THE SUNSETZ whose first album together ‘Heat Scale’ was produced by Haruomi Hosono of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA. Opening for JAPAN on their final tour in 1982, this dreamily percussive ditty featured Sylvian’s lyrics and vocals; when he harmonised with Sandii’s KATE BUSH-like tones, it was the ultimate marriage of West and East, both wonderfully cultured and coutured!

Available on the album ‘Immigrants’ via Alfa Records Japan

http://www.sandii.info


BOX OF TOYS I’m Thinking Of You Now (1983)

Like a cross between their Merseyside neighbours OMD and CHINA CRISIS, BOX OF TOYS were mix of synths and woodwinds with a prominent percussive attack. The majestic vocals have almost an English choir boy quality and dominate the track. A strange romantic warmth comes across with images of meadows, forests and blue skies. Its moody follow up ‘Precious In The Pearl’ almost 34 years on now sounds like the prototype version of MIRRORS!

Originally released as a single by Inevitable Records, currently unavailable

http://music-isms.blogspot.com/2008/01/box-of-toys-3d-light-1982-1986.html


CARE My Boyish Days (1983)

CARE My Boyish DaysWhenTHE WILD SWANS split, two thirds formed the basis of THE LOTUS EATERS while its singer Paul Simpson teamed up with ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN producer Ian Broudie. Combining heavily strummed acoustic guitars with strong synthesizer melodies and melancholic vocals, ‘My Boyish Days’ had a very traditional feel despite the incumbent technology. But the duo split before their debut album was completed. Simpson reformed THE WILD SWANS while Broudie eventually became THE LIGHTNING SEEDS.

12 inch version available on the album ‘Diamonds & Emeralds’ via Camden/BMG Records

http://music-isms.blogspot.com/2007/12/care-singles-1983-1984.html


ENDGAMES Love Cares (1983)

ENDGAMES Love CaresThe success of ABC and HEAVEN 17 heralded a new age of technologically enhanced blue-eyed soul. One band with aspirations in that field were ENDGAMES. The Glawegian combo had European support slots with HOWARD JONES, DEPECHE MODE and EURYTHMICS in their time. ‘Love Cares’ was like a funky CHINA CRISIS walking into the recording sessions of ‘The Lexicon Of Love’. By pure coincidence, singer David Rudden had a passing resemblance to CHINA CRISIS’ Gary Daly!

Originally released as a single on Virgin Records, currently unavailable

https://www.discogs.com/artist/50709-Endgames


MATT FRETTON It’s So High (1983)

MATT FRETTON It’s So HighFans of DEPECHE MODE’s post Vince Clarke pop period may remember a skinny lad in a pink suit who was their support act through 1983 to 1984. ‘It’s So High’ was a catchy tune 6/8 time featuring a strong synth bassline, big band brass and backing vocals by Eddi Reader. Alas, Fretton was dropped by Chrysalis after two more singles despite getting a Smash Hits front cover. He became a classical music promoter, but sadly took his own life in 2013 following the tragic passing of his partner Sussie Ahlburg.

Originally released as a single by Chrysalis Records, currently unavailable

https://www.discogs.com/artist/86051-Matt-Fretton


INDIANS IN MOSCOW Miranda (1983)

INDIANS IN MOSCOW MirandaLed by the vivacious Adele Nozdar, INDIANS IN MOSCOW were a kind of TRANSVISION VAMP with synths. ‘Miranda’ was a macabre tale about a psychotic girl murdering her criminally minded father. A crisp production came from Nigel Gray who worked with THE POLICE and SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES. An irritating-to-the-point-of-catchy synth portamento combined with Adele’s ghoulish scream provided a unique if polarising take on electronic pop.

Available on the album ‘Indians in Moscow’ via Planet Of Sound

http://www.indiansinmoscow.com


THE LOTUS EATERS You Don’t Need Someone New (1983)

‘You Don’t Need Someone New’ was neither a hit nor originally included on THE LOTUS EATERS’ debut album ‘Sense Of Sin’. More synth dominated than ‘The First Picture of You’, it was produced by Alan Tarney who went on to work his magic on A-HA’s ‘Take On Me’ and ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’. With hints of CHINA CRISIS, this was wonderfully light and even came in a picture disc with a real flower pressed into it! But the band wanted a purer sound and dropped Tarney as producer.

Available on the album ‘No Sense Of Sin’ via Cherry Red Records

http://thelotuseaters.com/


MARTHA Light Years From Love (1983)

MARTHA Light Years From Love2 7 inchThe stunning Martha Ladly was more than just a pretty face; she was a musician, vocalist, artist and designer. Following her stints with MARTHA & THE MUFFINS, ASSOCIATES and doing paintings for Peter Saville’s NEW ORDER sleeve artwork, she teamed up with fellow Canadian Brett Wickens on this charming pop tune that echoed THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Open Your Heart’. Peter Hook provided his distinctive melodic six-string bass and dynamic production came from Steve Nye.

Originally released as a single by Island Records, currently unavailable

http://samemistakesmusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/charmed-life-of-martha-ladly_22.html


RATIONAL YOUTH Holiday In Bangkok (1983)

The classic RATIONAL YOUTH line-up of Tracy Howe, Bill Vorn and Kevin Komoda gained acclaim for their 1982 debut album ‘Cold War Night Life’, which became one of the biggest-selling Canadian independent albums at the time and secured a deal with Capitol Records. However, Vorn left to continute his university studies, but contributed synth programming to this typically overwrought warning about the dangers of drug running. By 1985’s ‘Heredity’ though, RATIONAL YOUTH was effectively a Howe solo project.

Originally released on the EP ‘Rational Youth’ by Capitol Records, re-recorded version available on the album ‘Heredity’ via Capitol Records

https://rational-youth.com/


SEONA DANCING More To Lose (1983)

SEONA DANCING More To LosePre-fame Ricky Gervais with his university pal Bill McRae came up with a pretentious name, donned New Romantic togs and delivered the kind of stereotypical synthpop that was being satirised by ‘Not The None O’Clock News’. While it’s not exactly the most original work of the period, it is fared well in the tuneage department and became a cult favourite on US college radio! Comedian Paul Merton later sarcastically remarked to Gervais on ‘Room 101’: “DAVID BOWIE’s nicked all your stuff!”

Extended Mix available on the album ‘Retro: Active Vol 5’ (V/A) via Hi-Bias Canada

http://seonadancing.com/


S.P.K. Metal Dance (1983)

S.P.K. Metal Dance‘Blue Monday’ met EINSTÜRZE NEUBAUTEN in this electronic metal bashing extravaganza featuring vocals by Sinan Leong. Robotic sequencers and found objects were both equally prominent in the mix of ‘Metal Dance’. Much more musical than their German counterparts, this group of Aussies named after the radical Marxist group Sozialistisches Patientenkollektiv provided a danceable interpretation of musique concrete and collapsing new buildings. Stark and scary!

Available on the album ‘Trevor Jackson Presents Metal Dance’ (V/A) via Strut Records

https://www.facebook.com/SPKindustrial/


EYELESS IN GAZA Sunbursts In (1984)

EYELESS IN GAZA Sunbursts InNuneaton’s artful musical duo of Martyn Bates and Peter Becker described their music as “veering crazily from filmic ambiance to rock and pop, industrial funk to avant-folk styles”. Always more of a cult proposition, ‘Sunbursts In’ was EYELESS IN GAZA’s most commercial offering, sounding like a cross between prime TEARS FOR FEARS and OMD. A synthetic brass riff compliments a strong if nasally vocal, driven by a stuttering drum machine sound.

Available on the album ‘The Cherry Red Vintage Collection’ on Cherry Red Records

http://www.eyelessingaza.com


THOMAS LEER International – Global Mix  (1984)

THOMAS LEER InternationalLeer was a reluctant electro pioneer who first came to prominence in 1978 with ‘Private Plane’. A song called ‘International’ was its B-side but this was a completely different composition altogether. ‘International’ appeared to be a pleasant song about jetsetting, but was actually a social commentary about the trafficking heroin across the continents, telling of “travelling across the world, selling it to boys and girls… a secret compartment holds the Chinese white”.  He later formed ACT with Claudia Brücken.

Available on the album: ‘Scale Of Ten’ via BMG Records

http://www.thomasleer.co.uk/


BILL NELSON Acceleration – US Remix (1984)

BILL NELSON AccelerationThe former BE BOP DELUXE guitarist took an early interest in synths and drum machines after going solo and while he always had the legacy of DAVID BOWIE hanging over him, he was a fine exponent of the E-Bow, a device which could sustain a guitar note infinitely. This allowed solos to merge in with electronics without standing out in a clichéd rockist manner. ‘Acceleration’ was his energetic flirtation with the dancefloor and benefited from this US remix by John Luongo who worked with BLANCMANGE.

Available on the album ‘Chimera’ via UMC

http://www.billnelson.com


VITAMIN Z Circus Ring (1985)

VITAMIN Z Circus RingTEARS FOR FEARS and A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS had demonstrated that a rock guitar oriented sound seasoned by modern electronics could do wonders across the Atlantic on MTV. Sheffield’s VITAMIN Z were one of the bands who showed some spark, ‘Circus Ring’ sounding like a cross between TEARS FOR FEARS and ICEHOUSE. A support slot with Midge Ure raised hopes of success but it was not to be. However, vocalist Geoff Barradale now manages ARCTIC MONKEYS!

Available on the album ‘Rites Of Passage’ via Renaissance Records USA

http://pages.interlog.com/%7Edolphind/vitz.html


PSYCHE The Saint Became A Lush (1986)

Hailing from Ontario, darkwavers PSYCHE comprised of brothers Darrin and Stephen Huss who  were one of the main trailblazers for independent electronic music in North America. The magnificent sweeping blip drama of ‘The Saint Became A Lush’ was probably the pinnacle of their creative partnership with a suitably detached vocal performance from the older sibling. Stephen sadly passed away in 2015 but Darrin Huss, now based in Germany, continues as PSYCHE with Stefan Rabura.

Available on the album ‘Unveiling The Secret’ via Artoffact Records

http://www.psyche-hq.de/


TWO PEOPLE Heaven (1987)

TWO PEOPLE HeavenAn earlier single ‘Mouth Of An Angel’ had been produced by Martin Rushent, but TWO PEOPLE’s sound was more typical of a conventional duo dressed with synths like CHINA CRISIS. ‘Heaven’ sounded like THE LOTUS EATERS fused with THE TEARDROP EXPLODES. With punchy brass, aspirational lyrics and modern production by Chris Porter, this was a perfect pop song in anyone’s ears but failed to catch the imagination of the record buying public despite extensive radio airplay.

Originally released as a single by Polydor Records, currently unavailable

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Two+People


WHEN IN ROME The Promise (1988)

WHEN IN ROME were vocalists Clive Farrington and Andrew Mann with keyboardist Michael Floreale. The oddly styled trio’s nearbrush with fame came with ‘The Promise’, a glorious cross between ULTRAVOX and THE WALKER BROTHERS. It failed to gain a UK chart foothold, but was used in the closing scene and end credits of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ in 2004. However, the renewed interest only heightened tensions between the estranged vocal and instrumental factions, with each laying claim to the name…

Available on the album ‘When In Rome’ via Virgin Records

https://www.facebook.com/FarringtonMannUK/

http://wheninrome2.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th September 2017