Tag: Robert Marlow

A Beginner’s Guide To EDDIE BENGTSSON

Eddie Bengtsson has been a trailblazing presence on the Swedish electronic music scene.

While best known for his involvement in PAGE and S.P.O.C.K, there have also been his solo adventures SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN and THIS FISH NEEDS A BIKE as well as various productions, collaborations and remixes. Inspired by Synth Britannia, two of Bengtsson’s most notable influences have been Vince Clarke and Gary Numan, with ’Dreaming Of Me’ and ’Tracks’ among the cover versions he has recorded over the years. Meanwhile, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD and ULTRAVOX also loom heavily within Bengtsson’s concepts and sound.

Indeed, the moniker SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN, translated from Swedish as “last man on earth”, came from Phil Oakey’s spoken introduction on the latter’s original Fast Product version of  ‘Circus Of Death’.

Eddie Bengtsson had actually started out as a drummer but dumped his kit for synths after hearing the ‘Music For Parties’ by  SILICON TEENS, convinced they were a real band. As a indirect result, the music of Eddie Bengtsson has always been rhythmic and bursting with synth melodies, continuing to maintain a cult following both at home and in Europe.

Although having played their farewell concert in 2000, PAGE has become Bengtsson’s most comparatively prolific outlet since reuniting with Marina Schiptjenko in 2010 for the album ’Nu’.

With a independent zest and focus despite having made music for nearly four decades, 2013 and 2017 saw the respective releases of ’Hemma’ and ’Det Är Ingen Vacker Värld Men Det Råkar Vara Så Det Ser Ut’ by PAGE.

Meanwhile 2019 will see the release of a brand new PAGE long player; entitled ’Fakta För Alla’ (translated as ”Facts For All”), Bengtsson reckons ”It’s the best I have ever done and that says alot. Heavely influenced by my favourite albums, it’s the songs NumanVox never did”. From it, the first single will be ‘Kloner’.

So as a Beginner’s Guide to his vast catalogue of work under his many different guises, The Electricity Club presents eighteen songs which are decisively ‘Just Like Eddie’ with commentary from the man himself…


PAGE Dansande Man (1983)

Originally comprising of Eddie Bengtsson, Marina Schiptjenko and Anders Eliasson, PAGE brought the more purer form of poptronica to Sweden. Their debut single ‘Dansande Man’ was a frantically percussive excursion suitable for dancing to as the title suggested. Bengtsson recalled it as: “One of the only songs I have co-written with somebody else, maybe the only one in fact. I haven’t decided if the song is a blessing or a curse. If this is the only song you’ve heard by PAGE, then it’s sad”.

Originally released as a PAGE single via Eskimo Records, currently unavailable

https://www.facebook.com/PageElektroniskPop/


PAGE Som Skjuten Ur En Kanon (1986)

Eddie Bengtsson has often been referred to as the Swedish Vince Clarke, he confessed: “I had a YAZOO-period once…” when describing the second PAGE single ‘Som Skjuten Ur En Kanon’. Taking their time with releasing a debut album, ‘Hallå! (Var Tog Månbasen Vägen?)’ was recorded by Bengtsson and Schiptjenko as a duo and eventually emerged in 1994. Meanwhile 1992’s interim ‘Page’ collection gathered various tracks and remixes from 1984-1991 as a clearing of the vaults.

Originally released as a PAGE single via Accelerating Blue Fish, currently unavailable

https://www.discogs.com/artist/60354-Page


S.P.O.C.K Never Trust A Klingon (1992)

In parallel with PAGE, Bengtsson joined vocalist Alexander Hofman  to write and perform some ‘Star Trek’ themed songs for a friend’s Trekkie themed birthday party. ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ is still their crowning moment, a genius combination of deadpan vocals, bubbling electronics and samples from Captain James T Kirk himself. “I wanted to make something ‘hard’ and mechanical for S.P.O.C.K. Maybe this is their ‘Dansande Man’ in a way. A timeless song I think”.

Available on the S.P.O.C.K album ‘Five Year Mission’ via Energy Rekords

https://www.facebook.com/StarPilotOnChannelK


PAGE Electricity (1995)

‘Electricity’ was how many in the UK first heard of PAGE as the track was bootlegged for various OMD covers compilations. Bengtsson remembered: “We did this for an album featuring covers of classic electronic pop songs. Some songs you shouldn’t make covers of, because they are perfect as they are. Just as ‘Electricity’ is by OMD. Therefore I wanted it to sound as close to the original as I could”. Meanwhile, S.P.O.C.K contributed a detached reinterpretation of DURAN DURAN’s ‘Planet Earth’.

Available on the compilation album ‘‘To Cut A Long Story Short – A Tribute To The Pioneers Of Electronic Pop’ (V/A) via Energy Rekords ‎

http://www.energy-rekords.se/


S.P.O.C.K E.T. Phone Home (1997)

For their third album, the S.P.O.C.K acquired a new crew member in Johan Billing. Inspired by the Extra-Terrestrial’s growly catchphrase, despite once stating ‘All E.T:s Aren’t Nice’ Bengtsson was pumped and energised: “Maybe my favourite song of all the songs I wrote for S.P.O.C.K. And the only one I wrote the lyrics for to”. But despite this artistic high, he departed the Federation Starship via its transporter room at the end of his five year mission following ‘Assignment: Earth’.

Available on the S.P.O.C.K ‎ album ‘Assignment: Earth’ via SubSpace Communications AB

http://www.subspace.se/spock/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN En Blå Planet (1998)

Although initially a collaboration with Matts Wiberg, SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN was effectively Bengtsson’s solo vehicle. A glorious love song to Mother Earth, ‘En Blå Planet’ was a delightful drumbox waltz with haunting echoes of OMD’s ‘International’ that even had him soaring to falsetto. With grainy synthetic strings and becoming more percussively militaristic as it progressed, this was according to Bengtsson: “The first SMPJ song with lyrics. Still as beautiful as it was ‘then’”.

Available on the SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN EP via ‘Först I Rymden’ via SubSpace Communications AB

http://www.moonbasealpha.space/


PAGE Som Det Var (1999)

“PAGE had a ‘gitarr-pop’ period” lamented Bengtsson, “Marina wasn’t in the band anymore and I made the mistake of continuing with the name. Shouldn’t have done that. The interesting thing is I made a whole PAGE album where the synths sounded so very much like guitars, the listeners really thought they were. ‘Too much guitars some said’ and the ordinary pop people said ‘too much synths’. Those two albums were really good, but didn’t really reach anyone, which is sad!”

Available on the PAGE single ‘Som Det Var’ via SubSpace Communications AB

https://subspacecommunications367416693.wordpress.com/page/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN Leonov (2001)

‘Leonov’ was a fine tribute to Alexey Leonov, the legendary Voskhod 2 cosmonaut who became the first man to walk in space in 1965 and also took part in the 1975’s joint US / Soviet Apollo Soyuz Test Project. With its spacey floating vibe, it more than fitted in with regular space travel and Sci-Fi themes of SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN. “I wanted to get the feeling of a big spaceship, down in the machine room, a bit Russian and all. An SMPJ favourite” said Bengtsson, “The video made for this, was totaly weird!”

Available on the SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN ‎album ‘Ok, Ok, Ok’ via SubSpace Communications AB

https://subspacecommunications367416693.wordpress.com/sista-mannen-pa-jorden/


THIS FISH NEEDS A BIKE Do It (2004)

Having sung in Swedish for most of his career, Bengtsson looked to the language of the electronic pop that had emerged from British post-punk. While ‘Putting My Suit On’ could have been PAGE or SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN, ‘Do It’ had a deeper aggressiveness to its texture: “From another CD that kinda just passed by. THIS FISH NEEDS A BIKE is / was my English project. I wanted to do some kind of Punktronica. The whole album is very good!”

Available on the THIS FISH NEEDS A BIKE album ‘Between A & B’ via Energy Rekords

https://www.discogs.com/label/3287-Energy-Rekords


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN Allt Är Klart (2007)

‘Allt Är Klart’ was an ULTRAVOX tribute and effectively a Swedish vocal version of the instrumental B-side ‘Alles Klar’. The hard staccato bassline was borrowed from the original, but the track was bolstered by some superb whirring synths in the tradition of Billy Currie’. “I told Christer Hermodsson (the other part of SMPJ and stage keyboardist) to make this ULTRAVOX sounding song even more ULTRAVOX sounding.” Bengtsson recalled, “ Christer is a big ULTRAVOX fan, and he made this so very cool”.

Available on the SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN album ‘Tredje Våningen’ via Energy Rekords

https://www.discogs.com/artist/119968-Sista-Mannen-På-Jorden


PAGE Ett S.O.S (2010)

Having departed in 1996 and found European success in BWO, Marina Schiptjenko returned to PAGE in 2010; Bengtsson was very pleased to see her back: “From the album ‘Nu’ and that was PAGE’s ‘Marina is back again in the band’ album. New sound but still very PAGE”. With its electro Schaffel stomp, ‘Ett S.O.S’ allowed Bengtsson to freely exploit his Glamtronica instincts, something very much in evidence on PAGE’s 2012 cover of SLADE’s ‘Coz I Luv U’ for ‘The Seventies Revisited’ tribute compilation.

Available on the PAGE album ‘Nu’ via BAM

https://www.discogs.com/artist/760463-Eddie-Bengtsson


ROBERT MARLOW The Future – Glamtronica Redux By Eddie B (2013)

For ‘The Future’, Eddie Bengtsson took his Glamtronica ethos to Basildon for his treatment of the Essex new town’s often forgotten trailblazer, best known for being a former bandmate of Alison Moyet and the best friend of Vince Clarke who produced his best known tune ‘The Face Of Dorian Gray’: “Well, that song really got so much cooler after my Glamtronica treatment. But still, Marlow is Marlow and what he does, it’s what he should sound like, and that cool enough”. 🙂

Available on the ROBERT MARLOW ‎album ‘The Future Remixes’ via Electro Shock Records

https://www.facebook.com/MarlowandStarky/


PAGE Lyssnade På Min Radio (2013)

The warm reception for ‘Nu’ and the remergence of electronic pop led to PAGE following up with ‘Hemma’. Beginning with a sampled burst of THE SEX PISTOLS ‘Holidays In The Sun’ before revealing a distinctly Clarkean spirit deep inside the song’s genetic make-up, ’Lyssnade På Min Radio’ was something of an angry musical rant with Bengtsson’s observations on the awfulness of modern radio shows: “A classic pop song, about all the crap music that gets played on radio. This song never did”.

Available on the PAGE album ‘Hemma’ via Wonderland Records

https://www.instagram.com/page_svensk_pop/


MY GOD DAMN TERRITORY Beyond TQ (2014)

Stockholm duo Kajsa Olofsson and Mark Pettersson were already veterans of five more conventionally minded albums and initially influenced by Grunge. But for their sixth long playing offering ‘Kajser Und Marit’, they wanted  a fresh electronic touch. Enter label mate Eddie Bengtsson as collaborator and producer: “MY GOD DAMN TERRITORY, probably Sweden’s coolest most fresh indietronica band. A bit sad they opted for making a vinyl instead of a CD. Should have been huge, this band”.

Available on the MY GOD DAMN TERRITORY album ‘Kajser Und Marit’ via Energy Rekords

http://www.mygoddamnterritory.com/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN Stadens Alla Ljus (2014)

“The newest song from SMPJ. I really love it. Gives me goose bumps when I hear it” says Bengtsson. Originally released as a single domestically in Swedish, the sparkly atmospheric pop of ‘Stadens Alla Ljus’ was given an English language treatment by Simon Helm of Cold War Night Life as the lyrically darker ‘All The City Lights’ for a special ‘Translate’ EP made available exclusively to attendees of SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN’s debut London performance at The Lexington in 2015.

Available on the SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN single ‘Stadens Alla Ljus’ via Club Electro Sound Sweden Records

http://hotstuff.se/sista-mannen-på-jorden/x-9189


THE VOLT Thirteen Men (2016)

“THE VOLT, with me and Ulrika Mild from COMPUTE did this one single…” said Bengtsson, “there was plans for more, maybe still are. Played a lot of ‘Fallout 3’ when I made this and of course it is a cover”. Written by jazz guitarist Dickie Thompson as ‘Thirteen Women & One Man’ and made famous by Elvis Presley’s unrequited crush Ann Margret, Mild gave her own seductive Bassey-like vocal treatment over the drum machine laden backing in this saucy ode to post-apocalypse permissiveness.

Available on THE VOLT single ‘Thirteen Men’ via Energy Rekords

https://www.facebook.com/computopia/


PAGE Start (2018)

After ‘Lyssnade På Min Radio’, Bengtsson found solace in ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and ‘Vienna’: “I have really found how I want PAGE to sound like, this is it. I built some ‘walls’ to shut out all the music that don’t interest me. Inside the walls I have my favourite albums. I listen to them alot, and almost only them. I get a kick from that and lots of inspiration. It’s a model I recommend to anyone. We can call it the Eddie-modell and I can explain it better some other time”.

Available on the PAGE EP ‘Start’ via Energy Rekords

https://hotstuff.se/cdm-page-start-ep-digipack-limited-edition-300-copies/68573


ANYMACHINE featuring JEDDY 3 To See A Man Like Me Go Down (2018)

A sombre number laced with the darker side of early OMD in its gothic overdrones for a collection of modern electronic pop inspired by John Hughes and The Brat Pack, ‘To See A Man Like Me Go Down’ saw Bengtsson dust off his JEDDY 3 moniker used in 2006 for the one-off ‘Another Day’: “ANYMACHINE is the very talented Ulf Persson from ARACHNOPHOBIA, it’s just that he doesn’t know how talented he is. This is his song that I wrote the lyrics and the song melody for. A nice collaboration”.

Available on the compilation album ‘Romo Night Records Vol 1’ (V/A) via Romo Night Records

http://www.romonightrecords.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Eddie Bengtsson
Additional thanks to Simon Helm
23rd March 2019

The Best TECHNOMANCER & ANGST POP Remixes

Sub Culture Records is a Norwegian label founded by Per Aksel Lundgreen, whose motto goes “what you call culture, we call crap”…

Their artists have included MARTYN BAILEY, TRAIN TO SPAIN, former YELLO member CARLOS PERÓN, iEUROPEAN, DELAYSCAPE, SLEEP MUSEUM, MACHINISTA and TECHNOMANCER, to name but a few.

The label is no stranger to compilations, having just unveiled their latest, ‘The Best TECHNOMANCER & ANGST POP Remixes’ featuring a plethora of artists reworked in a Per Aksel Lundgreen approved manner.

The man himself has a long history within electronica genre, having co-founded YAZOO inspired covers act CHINESE DETECTIVES and played with APOPTYGMA BERZERK, while promoting many synth related acts and running his own project CRONOS TITAN.

ANGST POP is his own moniker too, and many remixes on the compilation have been mastered by Lundgreen as well. Indeed, a multitude of known and adored synth acts have been featured here. ROBERT MARLOW’s ‘Smile’ opens the collection, followed by excellent take on DIE KRUPPS’ ‘Robo Sapien’, with metallic, EBM loaded beats perfect for feet stomping and head bobbing. NITZER EBB had to be present here as well, with a superb version of ‘Once You Say’.

Lundgreen’s brother from a different mother, Stephan Groth aka APOPTYGMA BERZERK, finds his place here with ‘Major Tom’; a cover of PETER SCHILLING’s nod towards Bowie, it’s here wrapped up in a melodic candy.

‘Darkest Hour’ by ANNE CLARK is a true highlight, strong, arty and full of attitude.

SHATOO, an act in which Per is also involved are featured here a few times with ‘Dangertown’, ‘Floodlights’, ‘Nothing That I Wouldn’t Do’ and ‘One Night Love’, the latter undoubtedly fit for Eurovision.

Meanwhile, ‘Som Ett Skal’ from PAGE is very ethereal and ear pleasing, while TOUCHING THE VOID dazzle with ‘Obsession’. TECHNOMANCER’s own ‘Electronic Warfare’ clashes with ANGST POP’s ‘Ødipus Rex 2012’ and SPEKTRALISED continue to ‘Learn & Teach’. CARLOS PERÓN closes this remix album with a bang on his ‘Der Komtur’.

While Lundgreen muses about releasing a single with TECHNOMANCER, he has been heavily concentrating on the production and remix work for other artists. He’d love to take CRONUS TITAN to Germany and his dream is to write a movie soundtrack under the same moniker. Until then, we have this extensive remix album to fall back on.


‘The Best TECHNOMANCER & ANGST POP Remixes’ is available from Sub Culture Records at https://subculturerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-technomancer-angst-pop-remixes

http://www.subculture.no/

https://www.facebook.com/norwegiansubculture/


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
21st March 2017

A Beginner’s Guide To VINCE CLARKE

It would be fair to say that Mute Records’ initial commercial success came on the back of Vince Clarke’s songcraft.

First with DEPECHE MODE in 1981 and then YAZOO in 1982, Clarke demonstrated that Mute Records had some marvellous pop sensibilities amongst all the cult acclaim that was accorded to acts like THE NORMAL, DAF and FAD GADGET. He was to become one of the key players in an exciting period of music that was eventually documented in the BBC4 programme ‘Synth Britannia’.

Born Vincent John Martin in Basildon, Clarke cut his teeth performing his own songs with a number of local bands including FRENCH LOOK. But it was when he formed COMPOSITION OF SOUND with Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher that things got more serious. There was a new music revolution around the corner involving affordable synthesizers from Japan.

With Clarke’s love of OMD’s now classic ‘Electricity’ single and its B-side ‘Almost’ coinciding with Martin Gore’s purchase of a Yamaha CS5, he and Fletch soon bought a Kawai 100f and Moog Prodigy respectively to follow this new futuristic direction.

However, unhappy with his own voice, Clarke recruited college student Dave Gahan as vocalist to fully realise their new ultrapop sound. They renamed themselves DEPECHE MODE after a French fashion magazine and the rest is history… but Clarke soon became disillusioned with touring and the general pop circus despite the success. And there was also that old chestnut of musical differences.

yazoo_lA song submitted by Clarke at rehearsals called ‘Only You’ had apparently been rejected by the other members of DEPECHE MODE. So teaming up with local girl ALISON MOYET in a new combo called YAZOO, they released ‘Only You’. It reached No2 in the UK singles chart, higher than any DEPECHE MODE single had reached at the time and Clarke was vindicated. Although denied the top spot, the song reached No1 in an accapella rendition by THE FLYING PICKETS in 1984.

However, Clarke was reprising the personal disillusionment that had seen him leave DEPECHE MODE. He moved on to produce his mate ROBERT MARLOW via his own Reset Records imprint and record as THE ASSEMBLY with THE UNDERTONES’ Fergal Sharkey and YAZOO’s producer Eric Radcliffe.

But it was in 1985 that he finally settled down and formed ERASURE with Andy Bell. Although success was not instant, the chemistry between Clarke and Bell possessed a special spark both musically and personally; the pair have become one of the most consistent UK pop acts ever with hits such as ‘Sometimes’, ‘Victim Of Love’, ‘The Circus’, ‘A Little Respect’, ‘Stop!’, ‘Chorus’ and ‘Breath Of Life’.

Running in parallel over the years, there have been numerous other projects with 3D sound, computer games and in particular, remixes which have seen Clarke’s portfolio expand. His Midas touch has been commissioned notably for songs by SPARKS, GOLDFRAPP, BLANCMANGE and FUTURE ISLANDS. But his appeal has spread across all genres, as indicated by HAPPY MONDAYS’ 1988 invitation to rework ‘Wrote For Luck’ as well as more comparatively recently, remixes of FRANZ FERDINAND’s ‘No You Girls’, DIDO’s ‘End of Night’ and THE SATURDAYS’ ‘Issues’.

With THE SATURDAYS in particular, this five piece girl group were practically joined at the hip with Clarke; their first single ‘If This Is Love’ sampled YAZOO’s ‘Situation’ while their sixth was a cover of ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ for Comic Relief! Indeed, YAZOO’s musical template was a much coveted sound among girl groups in the late noughties, the best example of which was RED BLOODED WOMEN using ‘Don’t Go’ as the basis for their feisty number ‘Colour Me Dirty’. It was recognition of how absorbed into the mainstream Clarke’s music had become.

But one of the best covers of his songs came in 2012 when RÖYKSOPP and SUSANNE SUNDFØR recorded ‘Ice Machine’. With ERASURE releasing their best album in nearly a decade with ‘The Violet Flame’ and ‘Only You’ being used in a McVities TV ad, Clarke’s stock is as high as ever. Further reinforcement came recently via an episode of the acclaimed Cold War spy drama ‘The Americans’, which featured ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ as part of the plot.

So what tracks would make up an imaginary twenty track double CD retrospective as an introduction to Vince Clarke’s work? With a restriction of one track per album project, this list is not a best of as such, but a chronological compendium of historic and artistic adventures that capture the career diversity of a man who used synthesizers to present traditional song structures with that something different.


DEPECHE MODE Photographic – Some Bizzare Version (1981)

Some_bizzare_albumThe recording that started it all off, the first version of ‘Photographic’ was driven by Mute supremo Daniel Miller’s klanky Korg 55 Rhythm box. It was undoubtedly the stand-out track on the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ compiled by DJ and Futurist champion Stevo Pearce which also showcased SOFT CELL, THE THE, BLANCMANGE and B-MOVIE. Much darker than the eventual ‘Speak & Spell’ album take, while tuneful, ‘Photographic’ was not indicative of the supreme pop nous that Clarke was later reveal.

Available on the DEPECHE MODE album ‘The Singles 81-85’ via Mute Records

http://www.depechemode.com


DEPECHE MODE Dreaming Of Me (1981)

DepecheModeDreamingOfMeSigning to Mute Records, the debut single ‘Dreaming of Me’ made an impressive first chart showing at No57 for DEPECHE MODE in Spring 1981. The infectious melody and closing “la-la-la” refrain borrowed from ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me)’ by COCKNEY REBEL (incidentally later covered by ERASURE) were a dreamboat combination as a naïve but snarly Dave Gahan interpreted Clarke’s rather bizarre lyrics. Although not a Top 40 hit, as a great slice of synthpop, it certainly deserved to be…

Available as a bonus track on the DEPECHE MODE album ‘Speak & Spell’ via Mute Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Depeche-Mode-Information-Service-1981/342571782527621


YAZOO In My Room – David Jensen BBC Session Version (1982)

Mute+Audio+Documents‘In My Room’ was a good song from ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ but was spoiled by the tape loop experiments featuring Clarke’s voice that had formed the polarising ‘I Before E Except After C’. For a David Jensen BBC session, these spoken word passages were omitted as the track was reworked using a Fairlight and Linn Drum combination. While much sparser, this superior version allowed the beautifully dark nature of ‘In My Room’ to shine. Alison Moyet in particular was on tremendously passionate vocal form.

Available on the compilation box set ‘Mute Audio Documents’ via Mute Records

http://www.yazooinfo.com/


YAZOO Ode To Boy (1982)

yazoo-othersideofloveOriginally the B-side to ‘The Other Side of Love’, ‘Ode To Boy’ was one of only three songwriting collaborations Clarke did with Moyet while in YAZOO. The song itself was Moyet’s own personal tribute to Clarke, and despite their difficulties in gelling as people, the chemistry between them in this sparse but hypnotic track showed that musically at least, there was potentially much more great work to come, had YAZOO been able to stay together. They did eventually reform in 2008 for the ‘Reconnected’ live tour.

Available on the YAZOO album ‘‘You & Me Both’ via Mute Records

http://www.alisonmoyet.com


THE ASSEMBLY Never Never (1983)

The_Assembly_-_Never_Never_coverOn what turned out to be THE ASSEMBLY’s only single, ‘Never Never’ saw Fergal Sharkey providing his distinctive warble which was marvellously counterpointed by himself doing some very Moyet-esque backing vocals. It was an interesting concept to feature guest vocalists over Clarke’s songs. Although BLANCMANGE’s Neil Arthur was rumoured to be one of those likely to be involved, the only track that did eventually surface from these sessions was ‘One Day’ with Paul Quinn from BOURGIE BOURGIE.

Available on the compilation box set ‘Mute Audio Documents’ via Mute Records

http://mute.com/artists/the-assembly


ROBERT MARLOW The Face Of Dorian Gray (1983)

Robert-Marlow-The-Face-Of-Dorian-grey“After Vince left DEPECHE MODE and was in the middle of the YAZOO project, I tapped him on the shoulder and said ‘I’ve got some songs, can you give me a day in the studio?’” recalled ROBERT MARLOW, Clarke’s best friend and a cult figure in the Basildon music scene. ‘The Face Of Dorian Grey’ was the first fruit of labours and was released on Reset Records, a label set up by Clarke and Eric Radcliffe that was licensed initially to RCA. But the single wasn’t a hit and RCA later withdrew funding.

Available on the ROBERT MARLOW album ‘‘Peter Pan Effect’ via Energy Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Robert+Marlow


ERASURE Who Needs Love (1985)

erasure-whooneedsIn 1985, Clarke placed a small ad in Melody Maker that said “Versatile voice wanted for established songwriter”. A 21 year old Andy Bell was audition #36 and what set the ex-butcher apart from the others was his ability to hit falsetto during the audition piece ‘Who Needs Love (Like That)’. Impressing not only with his Moyet-esque vocal technique but range too, in neo-X Factor style, the judging panel of Clarke, producer Flood and Daniel Miller declared Bell as the winner… ERASURE were born.

Available on the ERASURE album ‘Wonderland’ via Mute Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


TWILIGHT Just Me Alone (1985)

twilightReleased on Polydor, TWILIGHT comprised of ERASURE’s tour manager Andrew Mansi and soon-to-be NITZER EBB tour manager Steev Toth. So it was natural that Clarke would end up being involved in the production of what turned out to be their only single. ‘Just Me Alone’ was great synthpop regardless, but that VC touch gave it something special. The B-side ‘Talk To You’ showed that TWILIGHT did indeed have songwriting talent, but the duo eventually went back to their day jobs.

Originally released as a single via Polydor Records, currently unavailable

http://www.discogs.com/artist/799006-Twilight-16


ERASURE Blue Savannah (1989)

erasure-blue-savannah-mute109Imagine ROY ORBISON doing electropop… that was the concept of ‘Blue Savannah’. Uncluttered and full of soaring optimism, this glorious ditty has crossed over to be one of ERASURE’s most universally loved songs and is without doubt, equal to ‘A Little Respect’.  It came in the middle of an imperial phase that began with ‘The Innocents’ and continued to the spectacular theatrical shows in 1992 documented on ‘The Tank, The Swan and The Balloon’.

Available on the ERASURE album ‘Wild!’ via Mute Records

http://mute.com/artists/erasure


ERASURE Fingers & Thumbs (1995)

fingers+thumbsERASURE’s seventh self-titled album was Vince Clarke’s attempt at prog synth or as Andy Bell referred to it, the duo’s own ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ ie ‘Bright Side Of The Sun’. It was an ambitious, if flawed opus with extended intros and the sub-10 minute numbers like ‘Rock Me Gently’. But there was also emotive neo-classical moments such as ‘Grace’. The brilliant ‘Fingers and Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day)’ though was its most accessible offering and is possibly their most under rated single.

Available on the ERASURE album ‘Total Pop! – The First 40 Hits’ via Mute Records

http://www.andybell.com/


CHINESE DETECTIVES Chinese Detectives (1995)

chinese detectivesCHINESE DETECTIVES were a strange beast, hailing from Norway and only doing cover versions of New Wave classics as a “SILICON TEENS of the 90s”. Among their reworkings was YAZOO’s ‘Situation’. But naturally having named themselves after the plinky instrumental interlude of YAZOO’s 1982 concert tour, they recorded their own version of it. Very much a note-for-note transcription, it remains the only officially released version of the track; founder member Per Aksel Lundgreen now runs Subculture Records.

Available on the CHINESE DETECTIVES album ‘Are Kisses Out of Fashion’ via Tatra

http://chinesedetectives.bandcamp.com/


VINCENT CLARKE & MARTYN WARE Green (2001)

spectrum-pursuit-vehicleTogether with Martyn Ware, Clarke founded the Illustrious company to exploit the creative possibilities of 3D sound technology. Their first release was ‘Pretentious’ as THE CLARKE & WARE EXPERIMENT. But their follow-up ‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ formed part of an art installation 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”. ‘Green’ took the looming template of OMD’s ’66 & Fading’ into a new spacey dimension.

Available on the VINCENT CLARKE & MARTYN WARE album ‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ via Mute Records

http://www.illustriouscompany.co.uk


SIMPLE MINDS The Floating World (2002)

Simple Minds-cry‘The Floating World’ was an instrumental that closed the Glaswegians’ rather dull ‘Cry’ album. Basically a thumping rave version of the ‘Dr Who Theme’, it was also nothing like the FM pomp rock of SIMPLE MINDS’ stadium years. Closer scrutiny revealed this track to be written by one ‘V. Clarke’ and was more like an update of the band’s early electronic experiments such as ‘Theme For Great Cities’ and ‘Film Theme’. This unlikely collaboration was SIMPLE MINDS’ most interesting piece of work in nearly 15 years.

Available on the SIMPLE MINDS album ‘Cry’ via Eagle Records

http://www.simpleminds.com


ERASURE Here I Am Impossible Again (2005)

here am i impossibleFollowing 2001’s dull “indie” album ‘Loveboat’ and their inconclusive covers compendium ‘Other People’s Songs’, Andy Bell and Vince Clarke made ‘Nightbird’, possibly their best album since ‘The Innocents’. Something of a departure, it comprised entirely soft synths and was more layered than anything they had undertaken before. ‘Here I Go Impossible Again’ was one of the highlights in a brilliant cohesive collection of work. It was proof if that if you’ve got it but have lost it, you can get it again back if you keep trying…

Available on the ERASURE album ‘Nightbird’ via Mute Records

https://www.facebook.com/erasureinfo


POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless – Vince Clarke Remix (2009)

polly-scattergood-other-too-endless-mute412POLLY SCATTERGOOD was managed by former Mute plugger Neil Ferris and her self-titled debut came out on Mute in 2009 to largely positive reviews. An intense organic collection of ethereal songs, Scattergood revealed herself to be a promising talent unafraid to express emotion and vulnerability. From it, ‘Other Too Endless’ was bolstered by a superb VC remix and highlighted the compatibility of her sound within a synthesized pop environment.

Available on the POLLY SCATTERGOOD download single ‘Other Too Endless’ via iTunes

http://www.pollyscattergood.com/


THE GOOD NATURED Ghost Train – Vox Mix (2011)

goodnatured02THE GOOD NATURED were a British pop trio who  were keen to collaborate to develop their sound. This slice of electropop goodness originated from a demo that Clarke had sent over to the band. Wanting to explore more electronic territory, singer Sarah McIntosh’s voice was given a layered, almost robotic aesthetic that suited the eerie but danceable atmosfear. Like a futuristic funfair ride, ‘Ghost Train’ swooped in a manner that was very appealing. They later changed their name to LOVESTARRS.

Originally released as a free download via Astralwerks, currently unavailable

http://www.lovestarrs.com/


ELECTRIC YOUTH The Best Thing (2012)

Electric-Youth-best-thingELECTRIC YOUTH are a synthesizer couple hailing from Edmonton in Canada. Having enjoyed ‘A Real Hero’, Bronwyn Griffin and Austin Garrick’s contribution to the ‘Drive’ soundtrack, Clarke accepted the duo’s invitation to provide his production and mixing skills to the dreamy synthpop of ‘The Best Thing’. Bringing a vintage Yamaha CS80 along to the session, this laid back but melodic ditty was enhanced by the input and came out as ELECTRIC YOUTH’s second single.

Available on the ELECTRIC YOUTH album ‘Innerworld’ via Last Gang Entertainment / Secretly Canadian

http://www.electricyouthmusic.com/


VCMG Lowly (2012)

VCMG_Ssss_albumartwork-560x560At 2011’s Short Circuit Presents Mute, Martin Gore discussed with Vince Clarke about collaborating on some minimal techno sketches. After a period of exchanging sound files via the web, the fruits of their endeavours were released as ‘Ssss’ by Mute. Very much Martin Gore’s “kind of disco”, tracks like ‘Spock’, ‘Single Blip’ and the ironically titled ‘Skip This Track’ were possibly more accessible than purer forms of techno; the best track was ‘Lowly’ with its sweeping synthetic strings over robotic rhythms.

Available on the VCMG album ‘Ssss’ via Mute Records

http://mute.com/artists/vcmg


VINCE CLARKE & ANA BRUN Fly On The Windscreen (2012)

Novelist Tonya Hurley commissioned her brother-in-law to record a stark cover of his former band’s ‘Fly On The Windscreen’ with vocalist ANE BRUN, as part of promotion for her literary trilogy ‘The Blessed’. While the guitar-like textures appeared to have been borrowed from the original in an act of artistic homage, the rest of the widescreen arrangement was quite different as the vulnerable feminine Gothic twist acted as the ‘Twilight’ Generation’s perfect introduction to DEPECHE MODE.

Available on the VINCE CLARKE download single ‘Fly On The Windscreen’ via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.vinceclarkemusic.com


ERASURE Dead Of Night (2014)

ERASURE-TheVioletFlame2014Following the disappointment of 2011’s ‘Tomorrow’s World’, ‘The Violet Flame’, produced by Richard X saw ERASURE return to form and express an infectious zest for the future. Interestingly following his VCMG techno project, the songs began with Vince Clarke’s pre-recorded dance grooves. With Andy Bell preferring these faster pace backbones, the result was a much more immediate and uptempo album. ‘Dead Of Night’ was the collection’s euphoric, uplifting opening number.

Available on the ERASURE album ‘The Violet Flame’ via Mute Artists

https://twitter.com/erasureinfo


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Deb Danahay
18th May 2015, updated 21st August 2017

BAS II – Basildon’s Electro Synth Weekend

Several cities have a special place in the heart of the heart of electronic music lover; Düsseldorf, Sheffield, Berlin, but none has more resonance than Basildon.

This new town in Essex was the birthplace of the world’s biggest electronic band DEPECHE MODE, as well as YAZOO and a host of related acts. Given this remarkable musical legacy, it is surprising that Basildon has done little to celebrate its most famous sons. That is, until now…

Deb Danahay was at the heart of this thriving music scene during these Synth Britannia years. She was a close friend of DEPECHE MODE and co-ran their fan club in the early days. Deb has stayed living in the Basildon area and always maintained her enthusiasm for the scene.

In 2011 she put on her first live event – A Very Special Weekend in Bas – and was overwhelmed at the response of DM fans who travelled from far and wide to celebrate in the hometown of their idols. Buoyed by the success of this inaugural event, Deb planned something altogether more ambitious for BAS II.

BAS II, whilst retaining its primary focus as a gathering for Devotees, grew to become a fully-fledged two-day festival of electronic music featuring some the best new talent alongside heritage synth acts. Inside the venue at Basildon’s Bowers Club, it was clear that the same attention to detail had gone into everything from the professional lighting and visuals. MODOVAR delivered a polished performance showcasing material from their debut album, ‘The Sea Of Unspoken Words’, which is due for release soon.

Frontman Christopher Beecham’s impressive vocal range has shades of Andy Bell and Alison Moyet, and their closing number, fittingly a cover of YAZOO’s ‘Situation’, had the crowd on its feet.

Local hero ROBERT MARLOW was welcomed warmly and the audience were greatly appreciative when he dug out his Vince Clarke produced cult classics, ‘The Face Of Dorian Gray’ and ‘Calling All Destroyers’.

Next up was TENEK, who delivered a blistering set including recent single ‘What Do You Want’, and crowd pleasers from their two albums ‘Stateless’ and ‘On The Wire’. Their set culminated with a roof-raising rendition of ‘No Time For Fighting’,which delighted diehard fans and newcomers alike.

The final live act of the evening was BLANCMANGE, who played a well received set of material from recent album ‘Blanc Burn’ alongside their earlier hits and album cuts. Neil Arthur’s superbly down-to-earth deameanor would put him in good stead as a stand-up comedian.

Closing the Friday night was a DJ set by none other than The Electricity Club, who played to the DM faithful and were joined on the decks by the fabulous Sarah Blackwood of DUBSTAR and CLIENT fame.

Sarah had a very special surprise for the crowd when she sang a cover version of DM’s ‘A Question Of Time’, followed by an exquisite rendition of DUBSTAR’s ‘Not So Manic Now’ and finally CLIENT’s ‘The Price Of Love’. The surprise was returned at the end of the evening when Deb Danahay led a crowd in a chorus of “Happy Birthday to Sarah”!

BAS II aside, as a visitor to Basildon you’d be hard pressed to find any clue as to its rich musical heritage. However, at the James Hornsby School, where a young Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher studied all those years ago (and subsequently played their very first gig as DEPECHE MODE), a plaque in the school hall commemorates their achievements.

This was the venue for Saturday afternoon’s proceedings at BAS II, where visitors were treated to an exhibition of memorabilia from the early days of DM and YAZOO, featuring press cuttings, gold discs and personal photo albums of those closest to the bands.

There was also a chance for the live bands of the weekend to meet & greet those present, all in an affable atmosphere over a cup of tea. For those who had over indulged on the Friday night, this friendly afternoon get-together provided the perfect therapy!

Two bands provided the live entertainment; first up were PROTÉGÉ REIGN, who showcased their neo-TENEK brand of electro.

Bringing the afternoon to a close was SINESTAR, who delivered a punchy set featuring live drums and guitar alongside the ubiquitous synths. Their set culminated with the anthemic ‘I Am The Rain’ from their recent EP, which received an enthusiastic reception and became one of the talking points of the weekend.

On the Saturday night it was back to the Bowers Club for a DM-themed line-up featuring no fewer than six bands. The opening act was BA5IC, featuring Martin Gore’s nephew. ELECTRO KILL MACHINE, SHINY DARKNESS and SPACEBUOY followed in close succession, each delivering crowd-pleasing synthpop sets with the DM sound very much part of their template. SPACEBUOY’s performance in particular was noted for the sea of their trademark day-glo orange in the venue as their fanbase ventured their way to the front of the stage.

Meanwhile, DJ Atmo provided an enjoyable set of cult synth tunes for the cognoscenti which included YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s ‘Neue Tanz’ and SECTION 25’s seminal ‘Looking From A Hilltop’. The penultimate act of the night was STRANGERS, who were featured on TEC back in February. Their sonic template was somewhat different from the other bands featured, and as such they provided a welcome diversion. They were another band being talked about as their filmic qualities shone through.

The final act of the night was, appropriately, the DEPECHE MODE tribute band SPEAK & SPELL. They provided a fitting climax to the weekend with their faithful renditions of the DM back catalogue, from ‘Photographic’ right through to 2009’s ‘Wrong’. There was great attention to detail; for example ‘Martin Gore’ aka Joe Beaumont fronting a couple of songs; the obligatory hand waving during ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ and even a cry of “See you next time!” at the end of the set.

Frontman Paul Christian Wood makes a convincing Dave Gahan, and with the general euphoria of the weekend, it felt just like the real thing! At the end of SPEAK & SPELL’s set, the newly-crowned ‘Queen of Basildon’ Deb Danahay was presented with a bouquet for all her hard work in organising BAS II. The DM tunes continued on the dancefloor into the early hours courtesy of DJ Dan Martin from Barcelona for an aftershow party that was greatly appreciated by The Masses.

Deb’s energy and enthusiasm for the BAS II project was infectious from the outset, and together with the whole of the BAS team, their tireless efforts resulted in a memorable weekend for all concerned.

So what made BAS II so special? Was it the live acts? The DJ sets? The school exhibition? Maybe, but the whole event was greater than the sum of its parts. It was a chance for DEPECHE MODE fans – as well as the wider synth community – to meet up and celebrate the genre together. Many new friendships were made, and numerous people have since commented on the event’s positive atmosphere. There was no negativity; no aggression; just The Masses coming together for a black celebration. Long live BAS!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Bas Productions

The Electricity Club and Sarah Blackwood DJ Setlist

CAMOUFLAGE The Great Commandment
LANA DEL REY Video Games (Nikonn remix)
SIMPLE MINDS Theme For Great Cities
CRYSTAL CASTLES Suffocation (Health remix)
MARILYN MANSON Personal Jesus
YAZOO State Farm (Madhouse remix)
HURTS Wonderful Life (Freemasons remix)
MIRRORS Falls By Another Name
FAD GADGET Life On The Line
SLOK New Cage
DEPECHE MODE Photographic (Rex The Dog Dubb mix)
DEPECHE MODE Route 66 (Beatmasters remix)
SARAH BLACKWOOD A Question Of Time (Live vocal)
OMD vs THE TING TINGS That’s Not Gay
MARSHEAUX Dream Of A Disco
DEPECHE MODE Personal Jesus (Pump mix)
YAZOO Nobody’s Diary
SARAH BLACKWOOD Not So Manic Now (Live vocal)
VISAGE Fade To Grey (Rusty Egan Soundfly remix)
ALISON MOYET Whispering Your Name
ERASURE Who Needs Love Like That?
DEPECHE MODE Behind The Wheel (Vince Clarke remix)
DEPECHE MODE Nothing (Headcleanr Rock Mix)
SARAH BLACKWOOD The Price Of Love (Live vocal)


Text by Steve Gray
Photos by Richard Price, Steve Gray and Chi Ming Lai
11th May 2012

Lost Albums: ROBERT MARLOW The Peter Pan Effect

ROBERT MARLOW’s ‘The Peter Pan Effect’ is a true lost album.

Recorded between 1982 to 1984, although four singles were released via his best mate Vince Clarke’s imprint Reset Records, parent label RCA declined to release the album.

It did not actually see the light of day until 1999 when Swedish electronic label Energy Rekords, whose roster included VNV NATION, S.P.O.C.K and ELEGANT MACHINERY, picked it up.

Often seen as a Vince Clarke curio recorded in the interim between YAZOO and ERASURE, the songs on ‘The Peter Pan Effect ‘were wholly written by Marlow with Clarke at the producer’s helm along with EC Radcliffe who worked on YAZOO’s ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’ and was the ‘Eric’ of the album’s title. Listening back, the end result is a charming collection of HI-NRG synthpop, almost like FAD GADGET on Prozac!

‘The Face of Dorian Gray’ is the track familiar to most, possessing that early monophonic ultrapop quality which featured so highly on Vince Clarke’s work as part of DEPECHE MODE and YAZOO. ‘Calling All Destroyers’ is another quirkily jaunty single but one track from the sessions that is also worthy of mention is the extended version of ‘No Heart’, the B-side of ‘I Just Want To Dance’ much acclaimed by electronic music enthusiasts around the world, which comes over like a pulsing take on ‘Fade To Grey’.

But who better to discuss ‘The Peter Pan Effect’ than the man himself. Following his performance at BAS II, The Electricity Club caught up with ROBERT MARLOW to chat about his cult classic.

How did you meet Vince Clarke and become involved in the Basildon music scene?

I met him when we were 8 years old at the Boys Brigade, we both shared a good friendship and a common interest in music.

He was having violin lessons, I was learning to play the piano and we both picked up the guitar. So that was how we got together doing music.

We diverged later in our teens when he went off to college and I got involved with Alison Moyet who invited me… well she bullied me into playing a gig with her band THE VANDALS in Southend. I got into that for a while and it was from there that the music bug gripped *laughs*

Meanwhile, Vince was doing more mellow acoustic things and we got together in a band later on called THE PLAN. He played guitar and I bought the first synthesizer in Basildon, an old Korg 700 on hire purchase…it made these really beautiful sounds and it was then that Vince got into synths and bought one himself. He went on to form COMPOSITION OF SOUND which as we know is the early incarnation of DEPECHE MODE. For a while, we were in two rival bands, there was COMPOSITION OF SOUND while I had a band called FRENCH LOOK and we both shared the very talented Martin Gore on keyboards!

What were the circumstances leading to you recording with him?

After Vince left DEPECHE MODE and was in the middle of the YAZOO project, I tapped him on the shoulder and said “I’ve got some songs, can you give me a day in the studio?” and he went “No, it’s very expensive… I can’t do it” and I was “Please! Please!” Eventually, we did one day and we recorded The Face Of Dorian Gray which actually then went on for about 3 to 4 weeks… after we spent all that time, Vince said “it seems daft just to do a demo, let’s get it released”. I was made up and we found RCA who decided to licence Vince’s own label Reset Records and that was it. What happened was four singles and the recording of ‘The Peter Pan Effect’ album.

What instruments and synths were you using?

I was very excited to use the LinnDrum Mk2 and there was a DX7 which was kind of the birth of digital. We also used the RSF Kobol, Sequential Pro-One, Minimoog and most excitingly, the Fairlight! We didn’t actually use the Fairlight that much because in those days, the samples were appalling… they were very short and you had to EQ them up to the hilt to get a discernable sound. On ‘The Peter Pan Effect’, you can hear it in a couple of songs just as effects more than anything else.

What was the creative dynamic between you and Vince with regards arrangements and production?

I did all of the music and melodies but I was rubbish at programming… Vince was a programming genius. In those days, we were working on a Roland MC4 Micro-composer which you had to programme in step times of 12, 24 and 48s… my maths was appalling but Vince was very quick at it. I used to say “I want it to sound like this…da-dah-dah”, and he would get it very quickly.

It was very time consuming so we did a lot of programming at his house beforehand and go to Eric Radcliffe’s home studio in Dartford. Then we took it into the studio at Blackwing but then Vince and Eric formed their own company within Blackwing and another studio was built in the drum store called Splendid studios and that’s where the rest of the album was finished.

‘The Face Of Dorian Gray’ should have been a hit. Any thoughts in hindsight as to why it wasn’t?

Well, in many respects I do think RCA at the time thought that they were getting Vince Clarke rather than his record company. So they thought merely his name could sell the record itself as he was so successful in DEPECHE MODE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY. So their publicity machine wasn’t really up to full whack. In those days, you had to get three radio plays a day on Radio 1 and sometimes I was getting one or two so it did get some airplay but who knows… maybe it just wasn’t good enough, that’s the thing!

You got on perform in on Channel 4’s Switch. Can you remember much about it?

It was my first TV, it was a live show filmed out in Bushey! I was on the same bill as ANIMAL NIGHTLIFE and ELVIS COSTELLO! It was a long, long day and I thought: “this is not glamourous at all!”. We were just sitting around. I remember we had a big backdrop made of the Dorian Gray single cover and some slides made up of me getting older using make-up. Anyway, when I went and did the first rehearsal, it was just me singing to taped backing, this voice from the gallery went: “Is that all he does?”… it was the director! *laughs*

During the performance, I was all over the place doing this weird dancing to look more animated and the slide show went a bit weird. It was all quite exciting because afterwards, we went by fast car to the West End of London to play a gig at a club in Mayfair called The Titanic Club!!! *laughs*

It was a weird club, they had almost early electronic house music in the DJ sets and had someone on stage doing spot welding…it was very performance art!

‘Crying For The Moon’ almost has a SILICON TEENS vibe to it like an electro-‘Great Balls Of Fire’…

It is, that was exactly what I wanted… the riff is almost EDDIE COCHRAN, very SILICON TEENS! I wanted that cod, camp Rock ‘n’ Roll feel to it with synths. It was good.

Do you think ‘Claudette’ musically may have sounded too much like THE ASSEMBLY’s ‘Never Never’?

It did, it has a similar chord construction but it was recorded before ‘Never Never’. I’m certainly no Fergal Sharkey and that’s why when the single came out, we used cellos and made it different. It’s a shame but I don’t know the masters for that are!

Photo by Brian Hedges

How was it working with Eric Radcliffe in the studio?

Lovely, very talented. I was so pleased to be working with him as he was instrumental in the career of FAD GADGET who I worshipped.

Eric reminded me a lot of Charlie Drake and had a real “can do” mentality. He did a lot of the drum programming on ‘The Peter Pan Effect’, he was a very accomplished rock musician who played guitar, bass and banjo!

What was the relationship with RCA like because they eventually passed on the album?

I was not particularly involved in dealing with RCA as we had a label manager and she did a lot of negotiation. I think Vince and everyone else involved were trying to keep that from me that they were losing interest. So the first thing I heard about it was when Vince came down to see me and said: “RCA are withdrawing but we’re going to go with Sonet”. Sonet licensed ‘Calling All Destroyers’ and ‘Claudette’ so there wasn’t a big difference but we didn’t have the power of RCA. But we didn’t get the airplay.

It was disappointing that the album didn’t come out. But when you work on a project like that, you can’t see the logic when you think of the cost in studio time and all of that. It wasn’t a big production compared with other artists. Just stick it out… if it sells, it sells; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t! To sit on the shelf, it just didn’t make any sense. Contractual issues stopped us from putting it out ourselves at the time but I wasn’t very good at following things up like that so I accepted it and calmly dropped out of the music scene.

Was there ever any talk of you and Vince working in a more permanent set-up, or even joining what was to become ERASURE?

No, I’ll be honest with you… Vince is my best friend and I love him dearly but he has a particular way of wanting things done and is very, very driven. And it’s different to what I want. So although I’m very proud of ‘The Peter Pan Effect’ and all the music I did with Vince, perhaps if he wasn’t Vince, it would be a different sound. At times, it did get a little fraught, nothing terrible but some frustrations now and then. So I don’t think it was ever on the cards for us to work that way.

How did the arrangement with Energy Rekords in Sweden come about to finally release the album in 1999?

Vince and I’s publisher was a real Rock ‘N’ Roll character named Rob Buckle who ran Sonet Records who were based in Sweden. It was a subsidiary of a blues label for people like MUDDY WATERS. He got in touch with me and said “I’ve been to a music fair and there’s this small label who want to put the album out” and I was made up. But our relationship with Energy didn’t really kick off, I think there were some language differences so we didn’t do anything more. But it was great to have the album remastered at Polar Studios where ABBA had worked and going over there to play the Helsingborg Festival and a small tour of Scandinavia later that year. I still go over to Sweden two or three times a year, I was there last week in Malmo.

How was the reaction to the album?

I was amazed because the album has never sold massive amounts but having the played that festival gig on the eve of the album coming out in Helsingborg, there was about 500 people there and they knew all the words! Not just the singles but the album tracks as well. I don’t know how, maybe it had been going backwards and forwards as a bootleg on cassette or something…but these kids weren’t born when the album was recorded so I was really, really gobsmacked to have such a reaction. It’s been like that since… every time I get p*ssed off and I think “I’m a 50 year old bloke, what am I doing this for?”, there’s a gig like last week in Malmo and at BAS II or Berlin or Budapest. You’re making people happy and that’s the thing.

What are you up to now musically?

For the past 10 years, I’ve been in a partnership with my friend Gary Durant in a project called MARLOW. Unfortunately, pressures of work and musical differences have led to us to part ways which is a shame as we have an album’s worth of material ready to go. We may actually release it at some point, probably on Electro-Shock records but we want a rest from it. We’ll see where the land lies and possibly it may see release next year.

You recorded the album between 1982 and 1984. Listening back to the album, what were your favourite tracks at the time and which do you think truly stand up today?

I’ve always liked ‘That Dangerous Age’, the sound on it is good and ‘The Kiss’ because it was quite dramatic and intense…that was my best vocal performance. Yes, it’s an album recorded in 1982-83 and it will sound like early ERASURE, YAZOO, DEPECHE MODE because it’s the same synths being used. But it is definitely my album, I wrote all of the music and Vince added his bits so it would be ungenerous to say he didn’t add his musical bent to it. He put the sounds on it and made it was it is. I’m very proud of it and I think it’s great.

What’s the funniest story you can tell us involving you and Vince?

There’s one that doesn’t particularly involve me but one that happened during the time I worked with Vince but he was still working with Alison Moyet in YAZOO… they was driving backwards and forwards from the studio back to Basildon. His and Alison’s relationship was going its course and on the way back from London, they were in the Dartford tunnel and he ran out of petrol which she was not best pleased about!! *laughs*

So he had to walk through the Dartford tunnel to get petrol! Bearing in mind he’s been on Top Of The Pops two nights before, I was saying to him “surely you had money to get enough petrol?” That always amused me, the idea of him struggling through the Dartford Tunnel leaving Alison fuming in the car! *laughs*

And on the 12 inch version of ‘The Face Of Dorian Gray’, there’s a bit where we decided to physically whistle the tune. So that involved me and Vince in studio, and Eric running from the control room to join us at the mike after he hit record.

We lined it all up to go as everything had to be done in one take. But we unplugged his headphones, so when Eric came in and started whistling, he couldn’t hear a thing and we cracked up… you can hear us laughing on the record!


The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to ROBERT MARLOW

Special thanks to Deb Danahay

‘The Peter Pan Effect’ was released by Energy Rekords as a CD

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marlow/108723069219508

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Robert+Marlow


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
7th May 2012