Author: electricityclub (Page 1 of 400)

“I don’t like country & western, I don’t like rock music… I don’t like rockabilly! I don’t like much really do I? But what I do like, I love passionately!!”: CHRIS LOWE

“Good taste is exclusive”: NICK RHODES


Making up for lost time and revenue since 2020, the music industry really went to town on their various income streams in 2023…

Albums were being released in multiple coloured vinyl editions with the same content, sometimes as many as eight versions… while this helped in inflating physical chart positions for marketing purposes, it also gave an incorrect perception of success. As Stephen Morris from NEW ORDER once remarked to Smash Hits back in 1983: “If you believe in the charts, then you may as well believe in fairies…”

With Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino declaring that concert ticket prices were generally too low and that artists could easily “charge a bit more”, this was exactly what quite a few did and there was a noticeable price hike observed across all levels over the year.

But what about the music? This year’s song listing was quite straightforward to compile, with a smaller shortlist compared to previous years with DURAN DURAN, KITE, PISTON DAMP, LEATHERS, DELERIUM and LADYTRON missing the final 30.

Just a note that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has never compiled an albums list, due to long form releases now having a much longer gestation period than in the past. Therefore, songs are a much better representation of the music from a calendar year. If you like the song, then check out the parent album or EP if applicable via your chosen music platform…

Selected from tracks available on the usual online retail platforms with a restriction of one song per artist moniker (so yes NINA, John Grant,  Finlay Shakespeare and Laura Bailey each appear twice but in different combinations), here are the ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2023 listed in alphabetical order…


Hailing from Melbourne in Australia, Brigitte Bardini is the latest artist to embrace her dark side having begun as an acoustic singer songwriter. Moving away from the dreampop and shoegaze of her earlier material, ‘Start A Fire’ captured an alluring gothique on top of a gritty dance tempo while simultaneously haunting and melodic. This was sinister stuff but aurally absorbing.

Available on the BRIGITTE BARDINI single ‘Start A Fire’ via Ruby Valley Records

BEBORN BETON Dancer In The Dark

Not a rework of Bruce Springsteen, the brilliant ‘Dancer In The Dark’ saw BEBORN BETON managing to out Camouflage CAMOUFLAGE with an infectious pop sensibility that more than likely came from front man and lyric writer Stefan Netschio’s love of DURAN DURAN. As if The Berlin Wall never fell, ‘Dancer In The Dark’ was a message to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Available on the BEBORN BETON album ‘Darkness Falls Again’ via Dependent Records


BLACKCARBURNING is the solo vehicle of Mark Hockings, lead singer of MESH. taking on multiple roles including programming and production. The spikey throbbing energy of ‘The Mirror’ provided a dark disco highlight away from the parent band’s template. “I’m just generally a fan of arpeggiated bass lines” he said, “I don’t think you can go far wrong with a repetitive sequence and a Roland drum machine”.

Available on the BLACKCARBURNING album ‘Watching Sleepers’ via COP International


With Lloyd Cole “excited to still be finding new methods, new perspectives, new sounds”, the standout song ‘The Idiot’ from his Chris Hughes’ produced album ‘On Pain’ gave a touching synth-laden narrative on the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop as they relocated to Berlin in 1976 in an imagined conversation as the pair escaped their narcotic dependency while cycling to the studio and discothèque.

Available on the LLOYD COLE album ‘On Pain’ via earMUSIC

CREEP SHOW The Bellows

A supergroup comprising of John Grant, Stephen Mallinder, Ben Benge Edwards and Phil Winter, CREEP SHOW released their acclaimed debut album ‘Mr Dynamite’ in 2018. Utilising a punchy backing track, ‘The Bellows’ was like a blippy PET SHOP BOYS with layers of treated and vocodered vocals before being countered by enticing Middle Eastern resonances in the synth solo.

Available on the CREEP SHOW album ‘Yawning Abyss’ via Bella Union

DAWN TO DAWN Seventh Floor

Their first new track from DAWN TO DAWN since their 2022 debut album ‘Postcards From The Sun To The Moon’, the Montreal trio of Tess Roby, Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee conjured images of headlights on night drives with the shimmering story of love and lust that was ‘Seventh Floor’ with dreamy synthscapes and hypnotic drum machine.

Available on the DAWN TO DAWN digital single ‘Seventh Floor’ via SSURROUNDSS


The palette of tools on ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ saw FERAL FIVE use traditional instruments, electronica and AI voicing in a quirky but accessible fashion. Exploring the theme of light pollution, the fine squelch laden ‘Silver Sky’ saw great vocals and backing reminiscent of INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP and DUBSTAR meeting GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the FERAL FIVE album ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ via Reckless Yes

FRAGRANCE. Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix

Matthieu Roche is the enigmatic Parisian behind FRAGRANCE. whose debut ‘Dust & Disorders’ was expanded in 2023 with five new tracks. The first remix from it came in the shape of an excellent ‘Much More Like A Wave’ rework by Italian producer M!R!M. “I love his take on the song” said Roche, “I always felt that the chorus of this song could work as an anthem and he definitely achieved that with his remix”

Available on the FRAGRANCE. digital single ‘Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix’ via Sugarcane Recordings

GLÜME Dangerous Blue

The second Glüme album ‘Main Character’ with high profile guests such as Sean Ono Lennon and Rufus Wainwright was set to elevate her to the next level but things did not quite work out that way with health and financial concerns by the end of the year. ‘Dangerous Blue’ was one of the sparkling highlights despite its cooing melancholy.

Available on the GLÜME album ‘Main Character’ via Italians Do It Better


Madeline Goldstein presented her best single yet in ‘Seed Of Doubt’ to launch her ‘Other World’ EP. With a wider narrative on “the restlessness of alienation and isolation, the longing to move, to feel power, and to flee”, ‘Seed Of Doubt’ was a brooding slice of gothwave in a manner tinged with some ghostly allure thanks to a haunting soprano delivery.

Available on the self-released MADELINE GOLDSTEIN EP ‘Other World’

JORI HULKKONEN featuring JOHN GRANT I’m Going To Hell

“For my 50th birthday I wanted to do something a bit special” said Jori Hulkkonen, “however, the list of realistic projects quickly narrowed down on yet another album. I did manage to invite some friends and heroes to be featured on it, though.” Displaying his love of PET SHOP BOYS, hearing John Grant with his rich baritone on a house-driven pop track like ‘I’m Going To Hell’ was pure joy.

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN album ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ via Blanco & Tinto Recordings


ITALOCONNECTION’s long player ‘Nordisko’ came with a twist by paying tribute to pop from the Nordic region via a collection of cover versions. Written by Jay-Jay Johanson, his marvellous 2002 tune ‘On The Radio’ was given an airy feminine disco makeover featuring Jaia Sowden on vocals. With absorbent sequences and glistening keys, it was a fine shapeshift from the artpop original.

Available on the ITALOCONNECTION album ‘Nordisko’ via Mordisco / Blanco Y Negro


Jaakko Eino Kalevi sought to find beauty in the chaotic nature of the everyday on his new album ‘Chaos Magic’. One of its many highlights ‘The Chamber Of Love’ bore a resemblance to WHAM! “I wrote the song before I ever heard ‘Everything She Wants’ but the arrangement was different” the Finn said, “I love ‘Everything She Wants’ so I arranged this song sounding more like that. It is more electronic now…”

Available on the JAAKKO EINO KALEVI album ‘Chaos Magic’ via Weird World / Domino Recording Co


When artists are mutual fans, it can lead to collaborative possibilities and even ‘Lust’. KID MOXIE and NINA teamed up via Italians Do It Better to capture a seductive film-noir tension within a fantasy world. With a cool air of enigmatic mystery, the downtempo synthwave treatment exuded a sensual anticipation of consummation in their duet.

Available on the KID MOXIE & NINA EP ‘Lust’ via Italians Do It Better

KNIGHT$ What Planet Did You Come From?

The first new music from KNIGHT$ since 2021, the vibrant hook-laden Eurobeat of ‘What Planet Did You Come From? (Baby)’ threw in the kitchen sink with synth, sax and vocoder. With shades of Patrick Cowley’s work for Sylvester and Bobby Orlando’s Divine productions, it affirmed that James Knights’ Britalo was just the tonic in these difficult times.

Available on the KNIGHT$ EP ‘$auna Mu$ik’ via Specchio Uomo


‘I Will Never Learn’ summed up life’s trials and tribulations in a wonderful example of why NATION OF LANGUAGE appeal so much in their glorious mix of synths, live bass, sequencers and electronic percussion. A haunting girly falsetto howl provided a beautiful touch alongside their usual NEW ORDER, OMD and ULTRAVOX influences.

Available on the NATION OF LANGUAGE album ‘Strange Disciple’ via PIAS


Having impressed with her first NEU-ROMANCER EP ‘Neue Romantika’ earlier in 2023 while touring the world with ZANIAS, Berlin-based Australian Laura Bailey ended the year with the cowbell heavy Hi-NRG romp ‘Burning Eyes’. It made use of both her vocal and bass prowess which were less prominent on her largely instrumental debut release.

Available on the compilation album ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ (V/A) via Eskimo Recordings

NNHMN Soldier of Beauty

As NNHMN, “non-humans” Lee Margot and Michal Laudarg have been encapsulating these unsettling times in music. Adapting their dark electronic body style with more varied dance elements on their appropriately titled ‘Circle of Doom’ album, courtesy of a particularly hypnotic bassline, the wonderful serene glory of ‘Soldier of Beauty’ gave the viewpoint that the only honest thing to fight for is peace.

Available on the NNHMN album ‘Circle of Doom’ via Young and Cold Records

OMD Look At You Now

Derived from a Paul Humphreys demo with the working title of ‘Zimmer Frame for Andy’, this came bursting with hooks and was perhaps only missing a Paul Humphreys lead vocal. Lyrics such as “When the energy is gone and the feeling is just wrong” and “The power in your hand is pouring out like sand” pointed towards the ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ album’s political themes on the stupidity of Brexit.

Available on the OMD album ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ via 100% Records

PAGE Det Här Är Mitt Sätt

Although the ‘En Ny Våg’ album title song took the PAGE “Numanisation” process to its zenith by featuring Chris Payne, outstripping it was the excellent jaunty robopop of ‘Det Här Är Mitt Sätt’. Within its four chord progression, there were catchy riffs and some fabulous vintage Moog soloing in what was originally conceived as a homage to ‘Fade To Grey’, song which Payne co-wrote.

Available on the PAGE album ‘En Ny Våg’ via Energy Rekords

THE REMAINDER Broken Manhole Cover

As well as Neil Arthur, THE REMAINDER also comprises Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare, both members of the live BLANCMANGE family. The excellent dance friendly ‘Broken Manhole Cover’ recalled LCD SOUNDSYSTEM and it was all intentional as Neil Arthur told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK “you’ll hear me singing via a gated tremolo FX the words ‘LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’ most of the way through the song.”

Available on THE REMAINDER album ‘Evensong’ via by Blanc Check Ltd

R. MISSING All Alone With Seas

Fronted by enigmatic Sharon Shy, having released enough singles this year to make up an album, R. MISSING are in danger of falling under the radar with the bubbly electronic pop noir of ‘All Alone With Seas’ almost passing by unnoticed despite being one of their best songs of late. A long playing release, while old fashioned, may provide the focal point the duo deserve.

Available on the R. MISSING single ‘All Alone With Seas’ via Terminal Echo


Covered by acts as diverse CARTER USM and Liza Minnelli, the latest interpretation of PET SHOP BOYS stark narrative of a kept woman came via this wispy account by Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO. Keeping the original theme of relationship dependency close to its heart but offering an icier Nordic vision from a female perspective, Neil Tennant said “We’ve heard it! The chorus in particular sounds good”.

Available on the SALLY SHAPIRO single ‘Rent’ via Italians Do It Better

DIE SEXUAL Bound, I Rise

DIE SEXUAL are the Los Angeles-based wife-and-husband duo of Rosselinni and Anton Floriano, the latter part of BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY. Their dark electronic influences examine themes of domination and submission with the seductive ‘Bound, I Rise’ seeing the bottom switch to the top in a hypnotic EBM friendly stomper.

Available on DIE SEXUAL EP ‘Bound’ via A System Exclusive / Hush Ltd.


“It’s an absolute rip off of OMD’s ‘2nd Thought’!” admitted Finlay Shakespeare of his glorious ‘Illusion + Memory’ album highlight ‘Ready Ready’. Almost Motorik in presence with a wonderfully pulsing drive and gorgeous synth tones, our hero doesn’t refrain from thoughts about “feeling at home through just a voice on the shortwave, when in fact you don’t know where you are and you could be in the crosshairs at any time and place.”

Available on the FINLAY SHAKESPEARE album ‘Illusion + Memory’ via Alter

SIERRA Stronger

Parisian producer Annelise Morel has been quietly impressing audiences over the past few years as SIERRA with her brand of darkwave. After several EP releases, her debut album ‘A Story Of Anger’ was a major leap forward. Including collaborations with Carpenter Brut and HEALTH, the standout track was her autobiographical statement ‘Stronger’.

Available on the SIERRA album ‘A Story Of Anger’ via Universal Music

SOFT CELL The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

Always adept at doing covers, SOFT CELL presented a brilliant electro tribute to Poly Styrene with ‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’. Taking a musical leaf out of ‘Sex Dwarf’ with Dave Ball making his syndrums and synths sound so menacing yet accessible, while Marc Almond delivers a vocal recalling the anguish of ‘Martin’ with sleazy sax passages resonating with the dystopian lyrics.

Available on the SOFT CELL album ‘*Happiness now completed’ via BMG

SOFTWAVE Taking Life For Granted

Despite its positive pop sound, the lyrics on the second SOFTWAVE album highlighted the challenges of living in a modern world full of dualities. ‘Taking Life For Granted’ went all ABBA-esque with someone “lacking gratitude” under attack, although the rousing chorus and a particularly joyous instrumental break gave the infinite hope.

Available on the SOFTWAVE album ‘things we’ve done’ via Electro Shock Records


A fabulous cover of the Italo flavoured Kim Wilde B-side to ‘The Second Time’ from 1984, the throbbing ‘Lovers On A Beach’ is NINA sounding sexier than ever before. With sharp spikey edges boosting the trancey template, Ricky Wilde provides a superb extended end section that pays homage to Giorgio Moroder in the best way possible.

Available on the RICKY WILDE X NINA album ‘Scala Hearts’ via New Retro Wave

ZANIAS Lovelife

Following one of the most traumatic periods of her life, Alison Lewis returned as her solo alter-ego Zoe Zanias to present ‘Chrysalis’. With glorious arpeggios and lush synth strings, ‘Lovelife’ was bolstered with bass guitar by live bandmate Laura Bailey aka NEU-ROMANCER while an array of pitch-shifted voice samples acted as an abstract lead vocal before the actual one kicked in.

Available on the ZANIAS album ‘Chrysalis’ via Fleisch

A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2023 featuring 230+ tracks has been compiled for its ‘Initial After Brilliance’ playlist

Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 December 2023


As the Yule Tide season gets into full swing, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK presents a collection of modern seasonal tunes with a more artful slant…

With a song to play on each of the 25 days in December until Christmas, some are covers with a modern approach while others gather their thoughts and emotions into original compositions. But each has their own take on the holiday period, whether happy or sad or both.

Synths at Christmas are not entirely new; ‘Last Christmas’ by WHAM! was primarily made with a Roland Juno 60 while BAND AID’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas? was dominated by PPG Wave 2.2 with a percussive sample taken from ‘Memories Fade’ by TEARS FOR FEARS also being key to the intro.

However the traditional nature of Christmas often dictates traditional instrumentation in its songs, which means that Christmas synth songs are comparatively uncommon and a more recent phenomenon.

Whatever your plans whether with the family or in the studio, please remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas… may it bring you lots of cheer! The 25 songs are presented in yearly then alphabetical order within…

BE MUSIC Rocking Carol (1982)

A Be Music production given away as limited edition flexi-disc of 4400 given away at The Haçienda on Christmas Eve 1982, with the greeting “Merry Xmas From The Haçienda And Factory Records”, this was NEW ORDER covering the traditional Czech seasonal tune also known as ‘Jesus Sweetly Sleep’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ as a robotic electronic tone poem.

Available on the compilation album ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past (Remake)’ (V/A) via Les Disques du Crépuscule

EURYTHMICS Winter Wonderland (1987)

Recorded as part of an album on behalf of Special Olympics that featured U2, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Alison Moyet among others, EURYTHMICS’ glistening electronic take on romance during the winter season was cited by ASCAP as now the most played version of the song which was made famous by Darlene Love.

Available on the compilation album ‘A Very Special Christmas’ (V/A) via Universal Music

S.P.O.C.K White Christmas (1992)

Originally recorded by S.P.O.C.K for Energy Rekords’ ‘Virtual X-Mas 92’ EP and then a bonus song on their 1995 compilation ‘A Piece Of The Action’, this cover of the Irving Berlin standard made famous by Bing Crosby was suitably melodramatic as the holiday season was celebrated in The Neutral Zone while under threat of an alien attack.

Available on the compilation album ‘Virtual 2020 X-Mas’ (V/A) via Energy Rekords

SAINT ETIENNE Featuring TIM BURGESS I Was Born On Christmas Day (1993)

Delightfully catchy with a house-laden bounce, ‘I Was Born on Christmas Day’ was written in acknowledgement of band member Bob Stanley’s birthday for an EP ‘Xmas 93’. Featuring a duet between Sarah Cracknell and special guest vocals by Tim Burgess from THE CHARLATANS, the joyful narrative saw the couple elope, confusing some fans and press.

Available on the SAINT ETIENNE album ’A Glimpse Of Stocking’ via PIAS

DEAD OR ALIVE Blue Christmas (2000)

Originally recorded as a sparse ballad for the B-side of 1990 single ‘Your Sweetness Is Your Weakness’, Pete Burns’ foray into the music for holiday season was given a dancier makeover in 2000 and in hindsight, now sounds like a stylistic blue print for PET SHOP BOYS ‘It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas’. The two would later work together on the excellent ‘Jack & Jill Party’ in 2004.

Available on the DEAD OR ALIVE album ‘Fragile’ via Demon Music Group

SALLY SHAPIRO Anorak Christmas (2006)

With their naïve wispiness, understated cinematics and disco beats, if there act who are ably suited to Christmas pop music, it is Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO. A cover of a song by fellow Swede Nixon, the lines “The first time that I saw your face on a cold December night, it was a Tuesday on a gig with a band that we both liked” captured an innocent romance and the aural warmth of the named apparel.

Available on the SALLY SHAPIRO album ‘Disco Romance’ via Paper Bag Records

PET SHOP BOYS It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (2009)

Pet_Shop_Boys_-_ChristmasOriginally recorded in 1997 for an exclusive fan club single but remixed in 2009, ‘It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas’ was a suitably cynical offering. Famous for keeping THE POGUES ‘Farytale Of New York’ off the 1987 UK Christmas No1 spot with their cover of ‘Always On My Mind’, while this didn’t hit those commercial heights, it provided a very PET SHOP BOYS take on the madness of the festive season.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS EP ‘Christmas’ via EMI Records

CHEW LIPS When You Wake Up (2010)

CHEW LIPS might have disbanded but in 2010, on the back of their only album ‘Unicorn’ and its subsequent tour, they were on a productive high. ‘When You Wake Up’ was a bonus tune recorded and given away as a Christmas gift to fans at the end of that very successful year. Delivered with lead singer Tigs’ usual feisty panache, listening back only highlights how much CHEW LIPS are missed.

Originally released as a free download

HURTS All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day (2010)

Hurts-christmasWith their TAKE THAT dressed as ULTRAVOX template, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson turned their attentions to memories of “the worst Christmas of our lives”. In true Bros Go To Bavaria style, despite the mournful start, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ transformed itself into a hopeful anthem with a big chorus and lashings of tubular bells.

Available on the HURTS album  ‘Happiness’ via Major Label / RCA

LOLA DUTRONIC Another Christmas Without Snow (2010)

Lola Dutronic-Christmas without snowIn the UK, a wet Christmas is always more likely,  but LOLA DUTRONIC’s ‘Another Christmas Without Snow’ resonated with its melancholic yet pretty demeanour. The project of Canadian producer Richard Citroen and using a flexible roster of wispy female vocalists, the tones of Lola Dee came over all dreamy like SAINT ETIENNE and conveyed the season’s mixed emotions.

Available on LOLA DUTRONIC single ‘(Another) Christmas Without Snow’ via Lola Dutronic

ERASURE Gaudete (2013)

ERASURE GaudeteAndy Bell and Vince Clarke’s version of this traditional Ecclesiastical Latin carol continued an ERASURE tradition that had begun with ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ for the CD edition of the ‘Crackers International’ EP in 1988. With a precise electronic backbeat, ‘Gaudete’ was taken from its 16th Century origins and thrown into the new millennium with a cheeky ‘Ice Machine’ reference for good measure.

Available on the ERASURE album ‘Snow Globe’ via Mute Artists

HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for Christmas (2013)

HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for ChristmasWhether it was a Casio, Yamaha or Roland, everyone wanted ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’. Texan couple HYPERBUBBLE took that enduring memory and turned it into a delightful synthpop ditty that could resonate with electronic geeks from 8 to 80 the world over. Short but sweet, it was another joyous “cartoon automaton symphony” from Jess and Jeff.

Available on the HYPERBUBBLE single ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’ via Socket Sounds

VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of Christmas (2013)

VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of ChristmasIf ‘Twin Peaks’ met ‘Leader Of The Pack’ under the mistletoe, it would sound like this. Possibly the best Christmas tune of the last 10 or so years, VILE ELECTRODES’ harrowing tale of a departed loved one is strangely enticing, with the beautifully haunting echoes of Julee Cruise’s ‘The Nightingale’ lingering over the frozen lake.

Available on the ILE ELECTRODES EP ‘The Ghosts Of Christmas’ via Vile Electrodes

HANNAH PEEL Find Peace (2014)

HANNAH PEEL Find Peace‘Find Peace’ was a Christmas song longing for the cold but merry winters of yesteryear under the modern day spectre of global warming, armed conflict and political tension. The off-kilter analogue buzzing and almost random sequences made for a striking listen as a frantic percussive death rattle and an emotive synth drone take hold to provide an appropriate backdrop for the eerie but beautiful voice of Hannah Peel.

Available on the HANNAH PEEL single ‘Find Peace’ via Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club

MARSHEAUX We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night (2015)

GHOSTS-OF-CHRISTMAS-PAST-twi158cd‘We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night’ was a wonderfully whispery synthpop number that was classic MARSHEAUX. The lyrics were constructed from the song and album titles of NEW ORDER to provide an imaginary narrative on Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou surreally bumping into the Manchester combo’s lead singer at a Yule Tide function.

Available on the album ‘Ghost Of Christmas Past (Remake)’ (V/A) via Les Disques du Crépuscule

SPARKS Christmas Without A Prayer (2015)

SPARKS Christmas Without A PrayerOn 1974’s ‘Kimono My House’ album, the Mael brothers recorded a song called ‘Thank God It’s Not Christmas’, a typically perverse SPARKS romp that had nothing to do as such with the holiday season. After their FFS collaboration, Russell and Ron ended the year with ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’, a fitting offering which also amusingly outlined that albums by WINGS were actually unwanted gifts.

Available on the SPARKS single ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’ via Lil’ Beethoven Records

VICE VERSA Little Drum Machine Boy (2015)

“A twisted cover of a cover of a cover”, this synth laden reinterpretation of the tune based on a traditional Czech carol made famous by a bizarre but highly enjoyable version by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, saw former ABC stalwarts Mark White and Stephen Singleton reconvene as  VICE VERSA to wax lyrical about 303s, 808s, 909s and a “shiny new Roland toy”. It was a fabulous combination of sleigh bells, squelching arpeggios and of course, drum machines…

Available as a free download via Soundclod

ASSEMBLAGE 23 December (2016)

When you’ve had enough of Christmas shopping and the in-laws, there’s probably nothing better to let off steam than a bit of ASSEMBLAGE 23. While not exactly seasonal, Tom Shear’s Futurepop discoscape captured many of the mixed emotions endemic with the final month of the year, all “Silent and alone, trying to make sense”.

Available on the ASSEMBLAGE 23 album ‘Endure’ via Metropolis

SIN COS TAN Dead By X-Mas (2016)

A cover of Finnish metal glamsters HANOI ROCKS, this take on ‘Dead By X-Mas’ from the nocturnal synth duo SIN COS TAN aka Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen came over a bit like Billy Idol gone electro, but with an elegiac twist. Bizarrely in 2006, the former William Broad issued his own collection of seasonal themed tunes entitled ‘Happy Holidays’ … it’s a nice day for a ‘White Christmas!

Available as a free download via Soundcloud

FERAL FIVE I Want U (2017)

With female empowerment lyrics like “I don’t need any money or a new handbag, I just need a kind of thing I’ve never had, who says you have to have some shabby gifts”, FERAL FIVE attacked tacky commercialism in a sonic cacophony of crunchy bass guitar, big beats, sparkling electronics and chilling string machines for an alternative take on festivities.

Available on the FERAL FIVE single ‘I Want U’ via Primitive Light Recordings

CIRCUIT3 I Believe In Father Christmas (2018)

Made famous by Greg Lake, CIRCUIT3 used analogue synths such as a Sequential Pro-One, Roland JX10, Korg Wavestation and Moog Sub37 to add an eerie chill to the already cynical song protesting at the commercialisation of Christmas. The lyricist was Peter Sinfield who later wrote the words to BUCKS FIZZ’s No1 ‘The Land Of Make Believe’ which warned against the evils of Thatcherism.

Available on the CIRCUIT 3 single ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’ via Diode Records

WAVESHAPER Walking In The Air (2020)

Written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated film ‘The Snowman’ which later added a cameo intro by David Bowie, ‘Walking In The Air’ became a hit for Aled Jones although the original version was actually sung by choir boy Peter Auty. Tom Andersson is the Swedish synthesist and retro gamer known as WAVESHAPER and his symphonic instrumental synthwave cover was both respectful and beautiful.

Available as a free download via Soundcloud

RODNEY CROMWELL Cold Christmas (2022)

If ACTORS did Christmas songs, then it would have probably sounded like this gothic motorik number from the ever cheerful Rodney Cromwell. Written for by Cherryade Records’ ‘A Very Cherry Christmas’ compilation, its chilling ARP synth strings and driving bass guitar was in total antithesis to Cliff Richard with bleak observational lyrics “like ‘Eleanor Rigby’ turbo-charged for 2022”.

Available on the RODNEY CROMWELL single ‘Cold Christmas’ via Happy Robots Records

SOFTWAVE featuring Barney Ashton-Bullock Will It Ever Be Christmas Again? (2022)

Presented as “Probably the first synthpop Christmas song in Danish music history”, SOFTWAVE provided a hopeful message to hold back on overindulgence. ‘Andy Bell Is Torsten’ writer Barney Ashton-Bullock made a cameo as Santa Claus to remind everyone that “Self-service, doesn’t mean self, self, self…” and that joy comes from being able to give to others.

Available on the SOFTWAVE single ‘Will It Ever Be Christmas Again?’ via Softwave

GEMMA CULLINGFORD In The Bleak Midwinter (2023)

Something of a tradition having covered ‘Walking In The Air’, ‘Lonely This Christmas’ and ‘Deck The Halls’ in previous years, Gemma Cullingford took Christina Rossetti’s poem and Gustav Holst’s musical arrangement of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ into darker and colder electro dance territory, reflecting today’s divided world in a cost of living crisis.

Available on the GEMMA CULLINGFORD single ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ via Elmo Records

A further varied collection of seasonal synth based tunes compiled by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK can be listened to at:

Text by Chi Ming Lai
2 December 2023

FERAL FIVE Interview

Photo by Keira Anee Photography

FERAL FIVE released their debut album ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ at the start of 2023 and ahead of the game, the duo employed various AI-enhancements on a number of tracks with technology created by the German based company Birds on Mars.

Described by its members Kat and Drew Five as “A 360 degree music and art album project”, FERAL FIVE utilised electronic components with traditional guitars and live percussive elements to create their own “Feraltropolis” for a long playing commentary on AI, social media and today’s strangely dystopian post-truth world.

As the year concludes, the ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ titles song has been given a funky new remix by Martyn Ware; FERAL FIVE had performed at his ‘Picasso Portraits’ night in 2016 hosted by the National Portrait Gallery.

FERAL FIVE chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about how ‘Truth Is The New Gold’, the title song’s Martyn Ware remix, the various AI developments which have been in the news recently and much more…

This first full length album ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ has been a long time coming as FERAL FIVE first released music in 2013? Why has it taken this amount of time?

We love making music and exploring ideas. Every track is a statement, and every statement we made we opted to push out as a single fairly quickly. We believe in all killer no filler, so it took us a while to stand still for long enough to craft an album that thematically and sonically we were proud of.

Also we’re producers as well as writers and musicians, so arranging, mixing and production is an in-house job where we put our own musicianship under the microscope. The pandemic meant we weren’t in the same room for some considerable time, so while we file swapped, that definitely slowed things down a bit too. Later when we finally got to be in the same room, we decided to shelve a number of songs originally slated for the album in favour of some new ideas and these really helped to crystallize the theme of the album. So the short answer is ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ didn’t have an overly long gestation, we were just a singles band before that we guess.

With your down-to-earth approach to electronically-assisted pop, do you feel any kinship with acts such as DUBSTAR or INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP?

Yes, we love what they do and feel a real kinship. We saw an amazing INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP set supporting Róisín Murphy, but we haven’t actually met in person. Maybe we should see your description as a genre that deserves its own festival! Although, we have to say that while electronics are pretty fundamental to our sound, anything that makes a positive contribution to our sonic palette is used. So on the new album, as well as electronic and beats, we use a range of live percussion, including some very delicate crystals. We’re also both very crafty guitarists and love the raw energy that brings. I guess you could say that we are looking for the human trait in everything we do even where we use electronics and other components, we are looking to bring out an organic feel that you can still groove to.

So what makes up the “Feraltropolis”?

It’s in two places really. It’s our own personal lives that we live outside of FERAL FIVE, our hopes, fears and beliefs, which for us as a team has a lot of conjunction on the Venn diagram, as you might say. Our data sets and values are the same. Then this becomes manifest and “real” within the landscape of FERAL FIVE’s art. If you wanted us to describe it, we’d say it’s a city in the not too distant future and the surrounding landscape. This was also the location for our album journey, exploring truth and trust. It can be bleak, it can be exciting, there’s always a lot going on. There’s always hope amid the dystopia.

Before all the recent debates, FERAL FIVE utilised AI on the album, how did the idea come about?

FERAL FIVE has always been at the bleeding edge of tech, unafraid to experiment and open to new ideas, and our first vinyl release was an EP with 3D printed art that we printed ourselves. On a later track, we worked with sonified algorithms, and visual ones for the video, courtesy of new materials designer Francis Bitonti.

We’d been thinking about AI for some time and wrote a song a while back about where it was heading – ‘Pet Show’ – about AI robo-companions, set in a bar with freaky creatures that can fulfill your wildest dreams.

With our album exploring truth and trust, AI was a natural part of exploring new realities, and using the technology in the form of an AI Kat Five opened up new sonic and thematic possibilities. We hear this voice – a character – uplifting us right from the beginning of the album, despite the dark undertones, reminding us “it’s not the end”.

The AI is not composing for us, that is very much us humans, but it’s playing a role, as a kind of narrator on the journey. It reminded us of first-person narrations you get in film-noir detective movies.

Tell us about the AI created by Birds on Mars? 

Birds on Mars are based in Berlin and are doing great work in AI so it was amazing to collaborate with them. They wanted to train their AI on Kat’s spoken voice, so she decided to read some of the album lyrics out. They sounded SO different when they weren’t being sung, it was a very disconcerting experience making that recording. BOM then gave us a selection of AI models and an interface, and then we had AI Kat Five to play with to sing, speak or make non-human sounds. We could make her say things we never said which was mind-blowing.

‘Golden Rule’ was described by yourselves as an ”AI-enhanced shimmering anthem of renewal and people coming together”, please discuss?

Our album explores darkness but is ultimately about light and hope. This final track was our overarching statement, that we must work together to build change. Though not forgetting that important statements are allowed to have a groove, so this track does have a strong dance vibe. Here we used the AI Kat, particularly in the opening and the end, as both an oracle, prescient of the dangers and wonders ahead, and also as a speaker of truth.

AI can help realise an imagined world or provide speedier assistance such as isolating John Lennon’s vocal for THE BEATLES ‘Now & Then’, how do you see its useful applications in music?

It can be a great creative tool, and we love the work of pioneering artists Holly Herndon, and Portrait XO. There are AIs to get your lyrical process going – not that we ever need that kind of help, and even AI mastering, though we’ve a favourite human in the form of our go-to sonic partner Katie Tavini for that.

The use to which Peter Jackson put AI in ‘Now & Then’ was a very interesting example of using AI not in a generative compositional sense, but to clean up the audio in ways that prior to that would, as you indicated, have taken way longer, and may not have had such amazing results. In the end it’s all about the choices, as McCartney once said: “the love you take is equal to the love you make”. Some artists may use AI to speed up the process in some technical areas, but when you use generative tools that go beyond their original parameters, the question of ownership and authenticity become important. There is an interesting point along that line where someone will ask, where is the artist? Who plucked the string? Did the string pluck itself? Or do we now owe all our royalties to an app developer?

But as the ‘Joan Is Awful’ episode of ‘Black Mirror’ showed, there are potentially more sinister implications with AI… your thoughts please?

For sure. AI serfdom, stripping musicians of their value, are all possibilities and more besides. It’s why we need ethical tech, and collaborative AI. Even tech giants are calling for regulation. The thing is, any tool, no matter how sharp or blunt, can be used for good or ill. There are endless positive ways it is being and will be used to solve some of humanity’s pressing issues. One of the key considerations is who makes the decisions about the use and deployment of AI. We risk talking about AI like it’s one thing. It’s a concept and whilst it has huge medical applications for good, it definitely has its darker side, from human profiling to smart weapons. To quote POP WILL EAT ITSELF, there are at least “16 different flavours of hell”.

Social media was the theme on the songs ‘Roll It With Me’ and ‘Camouflage’, are “doom scrolling” and attention seeking taking their toll?

We love a good doomscroll at times, but there’s so much digital anxiety around caused by the incessant demands of social media, and the increasingly tense and vicious behaviour online. People have to sell themselves and their lives to please algorithms, and you often see artists announcing they have to take a break.

‘Roll It With Me’ was heavily influenced by the pandemic and having to connect with people at a distance, often on screen. It’s about valuing the human everyday moments even if they’re fleeting and bittersweet.

‘Camouflage’ is about the tension between being on display everywhere, whether by choice, or on CCTV or other public cameras, and being anonymous. It’s a longing for a simple on off switch to camouflage yourself when you’re feeling overexposed, watched, socially anxious or simply shy. It could also be a spy thriller theme though.

How has it been having to use such social media platforms to get FERAL FIVE noticed in what has become a saturated music marketplace?

In person connections are always the best! We like to see social media as an extension of our art, whether that’s asking people to share their truths with us to be part of our new live audiovisual show, or exploring visual effects. So our work there is genuine and not a deliberate attempt to go viral. We guess that makes us hardcore.

It’s getting much harder to reach people though as tech giants squeeze creators, and change their functionality all the time, so it’s good to have our own website too. Maybe we should post more photos of us with our cats!

‘Silver Sky’ has a real good ol’ groove, how was it inspired musically and lyrically?

It was inspired by the changing night sky and some confused London birds. We wanted to explore light pollution in a city that never gets dark, and think about future mitigations people might use. It was also partly inspired by having our songs played to the trees at ‘The Dark Outside’ events in Galloway Forest dark sky park, and the need for protected areas.

We set out to conjure up a sparkling groove with bubbling synths, and also played long quartz crystals as an instrument (you can see them in the video). We had many conversations when we were producing it, about how to make things sound more silver.

‘The ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ title track acted as the trailer for the album at the start of the year and has now been remixed by Martyn Ware, how was the connection made and why was that particular one chosen?

We are so excited by his brilliant uptown remix, what a groove!

Martyn Ware is an all-time inspiration, and it was great to connect with him at Music Tech Fest a few years back, and get to share creative ideas. Kat has done some visuals for him including for his mighty Power Project exhibition launch. He also invited us to perform at his ‘Picasso Portraits’ night at the National Portrait Gallery along with legends like RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP, WHITE NOISE and SCANNER.

We were thrilled when he offered to remix a song for us, and he asked to hear the whole album ahead of release so he could decide on which track. We were curious to see what he’d pick, and were stoked that it was Truth Is The New Gold which is the statement song, and he brought in Charles Stooke as well. We’ve a glittering video for the remix on its way.

Which have been your favourite tracks on this album?

It’s hard to choose. The driving force conceptually and musically and our absolute favourite is ‘Truth Is The New Gold’.

‘Gravity’ is another favourite, the newest song we wrote. It’s about space and desire, and we love playing it live.

‘Golden Rule’ is also up there. Why, because love is that golden rule and this is an album of dystopian themes but it’s also a love letter to humanity: don’t give up. It’s a sentiment.

Photo by Keira Anee Photography

How do you intend to release music in the future, are disparate tracks released ad hoc to streaming services really the way to go or can the long playing format survive?

Both. Long formats give you more of a chance to express your vision and create exciting merch, performances, and collaborations. We worked with design legend Malcolm Garrett on the album, and it’s been amazing. He’s created the artwork, T-shirts, and a collaboration with jewellery designers Tatty Devine. Copies of everything are going into his collection at the Special Collections Museum at Manchester Metropolitan University.

What is next for FERAL FIVE?

We’re very much focusing on live and our interactive audiovisual shows, as we want to share the album in this multi-sensory way.

We’ve been working with artist / technologist Jonathan Hogg who has created algorithmic visuals that he plays live, and the first performance we did with him was incredible. Each show is unique, with the audience able to contribute to what’s on screen, and Kat singing their thoughts, as well as the album songs. Truth IS The New Gold.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to FERAL FIVE

The album ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ is released by Reckless Yes in vinyl LP, CD and digital formats, available from

The Martyn Ware remix of the title song is on the usual online platforms including at

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
25 November 2023

Lost Albums: RED FLAG Naïve Art

Comprising of brothers Mark and Chris Reynolds, although they were originally from Liverpool, RED FLAG were based in San Diego.

The Reynolds had lived in many places across the globe due to their father’s work as a Naval Officer, but eventually the family settled in California. Acquiring a Roland Juno 60 synthesizer, the sibling duo were very influenced by DEPECHE MODE. First recording as SHADES OF MAY, their minimal synth number ‘Distant Memories’ was included on the ‘91X Local Heroes 1984’ sampler album compiled by radio station 91X.

Invitations to perform live came thick and fast as the brothers relocated to San Diego and took their music more seriously, studying computer-based music technology and eventually changing their name to RED FLAG. With accusations that they were communist sympathizers, the pair said that “red flag” was taken from the signal used on beaches by lifeguards warning of high hazards due to rough currents. The term has since become ubiquitous as a warning sign, particularly in relationships.

While performing at a party in Southern California, the pair came to the attention of producer Jon St James who had worked with BERLIN, been a member of SSQ and was now helming the solo career of their lead singer Stacey Q.

Released in Summer 1988 as a 12” single on St James’ Synthicide Records, ‘Broken Heart’ gained airplay on the influential KROQ-FM in Pasadena via DJ Richard Blade. The Bristol-born expat had championed the likes of DURAN DURAN, DEPECHE MODE, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, OMD and NEW ORDER on the West Coast and by coincidence, had also been the secret boyfriend of BERLIN’s Terri Nunn when Jon St James was assistant engineer on their 1982 breakthrough EP ‘Pleasure Victim’.

After the monotone heard on ‘Distant Memories’, Mark Reynolds had developed a vocal timbre similar to Martin Gore, as well stylising a look based on him. Described on the single’s sticker as “Sonically Seductive Performers A La Mode From The Grey Ambience Of Liverpool”, ‘Broken Heart’ was what DM would have sounded like if they had worked with Giorgio Moroder instead of Daniel Miller. Throbbing and energetic, there were backing vocals from Stacey Q who had also coached the singer during the recording.

Again produced by Jon St James, the next RED FLAG single ‘Russian Radio’ released by Synthicide Records was even better. With a great chorus and a romantic view of Eastern Europe, the song was full of catchy staccato voice samples, metallic beats and digital bass syncopation to give ‘The Great Commandment’ by CAMOUFLAGE a run for its money.

Just as OMD had been fascinated by the stark Cold War era of shortwave radio broadcasts from behind The Iron Curtain, so had RED FLAG. But lyrics declaring “I feel our love is only a smile away, getting so much closer to me every day” gave a more positive outlook in the era of Glasnost lead by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. As the USSR promised more openness and transparency on the route to peace, the 12” A side was named the ‘Glasnost Club Mix’ to reflect this.

Convinced they had found the next DEPECHE MODE in the wake of their Pasadena Rose Bowl triumph, Synthicide Records’ parent label Enigma released RED FLAG’s debut album ‘Naïve Art’ in 1989. Although they were best known for releasing records by hair metal rockers POISON, they also had DEVO on their roster as well as providing an American home to more esoteric British artists such as Bill Nelson and WIRE.

Having been involved in the remixes of ‘Russian Radio’, Paul Robb of INFORMATION SOCIETY, who had found success with their Dr McCoy and Mr Spock sampling single ‘What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)’, was brought in to produce ‘Naïve Art’ and reshaped ‘Broken Heart’ in the process. Opening proceedings, the punchy hook-laden ‘If I Ever’ was disaffected yet euphoric HI-NRG and made a great third single.

A play the title of the John Hughes film whose white middle class teen movies were prevalent at the time, ‘Pretty In Pity’ wallowed in melancholy while playing with lighter metallic touches and melodic rings. Coming over like ‘Heart’ by PET SHOP BOYS with added orchestra stabs, ‘Give Me Your Hand’ was swathed in chromatic filmic mystery. Likely to have been inspired by DEPECHE MODE’s flop US single ‘But Not Tonight’, ‘Save Me Tonight’ was very Gore like in its tone and approach.

However, the rest of ‘Naïve Art’ did not quite hit the highs of the first three singles or ‘Give Me Your Hand’. There was the more steadfast mid-paced ‘All Roads Lead To You’ while much speedier, ‘Count To Three’ suffered from an over long hi-hat breakdown at its conclusion. ‘I Don’t Know Why’ was not particularly adventurous lyrically, repeating the title several times over in the chorus.

Perhaps in an attempt to show that RED FLAG were more than just DEPECHE MODE clones, after the very European approach of the first nine songs, the album took an about turn with the soul ballad ‘Rain’; sounding like it wouldn’t have been out of place on a Paul Young album, there were even echoes of the Phyllis Nelson smooch slowie ‘Move Closer’. To close, there was a pleasant if almost incongruous classical piano piece ‘Für Michelle’.

Mixed by Joseph Watt of specialist remix service Razormaid whose edits and mixes were very popular in the alternative clubs of New York and Los Angeles, ‘Naïve Art’ was a promising debut that showcased the potential of RED FLAG’s songcraft. An enjoyable if derivate long player, although their music was melancholic, RED FLAG had less of the pessimistic doom that had hung over DEPECHE MODE’s output since ‘Black Celebration’ and more akin to their fourth album ‘Some Great Reward’.

Although electronic pop with danceable beats and industrial sounding samples was booming in the US at this point, a backlash in the shape of grunge was just round the corner. RED FLAG would go on to open for DEVO, BOOK OF LOVE and REAL LIFE, but with Enigma folding, the Reynolds brothers would move onto an unhappy period with IRS Records for the single ‘Machines’ in 1992. Forming their own an independent record label Plan B Records, RED FLAG issued their laid back second album ‘The Lighthouse’ in 1994, before heading towards a much darker direction by 2000’s ‘The Crypt’ and sharing live bills with emerging European acts like MESH and DE/VISION.

Releasing albums prolifically, after ‘Codebreaker t133’ which set all its songs at 133BPM, Mark Reynolds sadly took his own life in 2003. After a period of grieving, Chris Reynolds returned as RED FLAG in 2007 with ‘Born Again’ which exuded more gothic overtones and included a song called ‘Doom & Gloom’. The final RED FLAG album to date came with ‘Serenity’ in 2012.

In 2020, ‘Naïve Art’ was reissued by Pylon Records as an expanded edition. While not groundbreaking, as one of the first releases from a DEPECHE MODE influenced act (of which today there are far too many!), ‘Naïve Art’ retains a melodic and rhythmic charm that captures a much more innocent time in music that is worthy of revisiting.

The Reynolds brothers handily sounded the way they looked during this period and had credible American producers to realise their initial vision. ‘Naïve Art’ was never officially released in the UK and for that reason alone, RED FLAG remain relatively unknown in their country of birth, even among electronic pop enthusiasts.

So, if you have never heard of RED FLAG before and are curious, you know what to do…

‘Naïve Art’ is available via Pylon Records as a 30th Anniversary double vinyl LP edition from

An expanded 2CD featuring radio edits and Razormaid remixes is available at

Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Alex Remlin
22 November 2023


Emerging from the ashes of X-RAY SPEX who disbanded in 1979, Jak Airport (guitar) and BP Hurding (drums + sax) founded CLASSIX NOUVEAUX with Mik Sweeney (bass + synth) and Sal Solo (vocals, guitar + synth)

The Hertfordshire-based Sal Solo, who had attended St Michael’s Catholic School in Stevenage, possessed a striking persona that echoed Nosferatu while his voice had an impressive range that could be ominously deep while also hitting a piercing falsetto at its top end.

Sharing bills with acts like THE CURE, FAD GADGET, THEATRE OF HATE, OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING and SHOCK gave CLASSIX NOUVEAUX their post-punk futurist credentials. But with the burgeoning New Romantic movement, the band found themselves associated with the likes of SPANDAU BALLET and DURAN DURAN; although more guitar-driven, electronics were part of their modernist dressing and Sal Solo would often brandish an EDP Wasp on stage while BP Hurding would later use Simmons drums.

By the time CLASSIX NOUVEAUX were signed to the EMI-affiliated Liberty Records to release their first album ‘Night People’ in 1981, Jak Airport had left to be replaced Gary Steadman. From it was their breakthrough single ‘Guilty’ which had a video directed by Russell Mulcahy; featuring colourful extras from The Blitz Club who were even more flamboyant than Sal Solo, the video was rotated on MTV in America. As a result, singer Kim Carnes became a fan and when she released her New Romantic friendly cover of Jackie De Shannon’s cult country tune ‘Bette Davis Eyes’, its video was heavily based on ‘Guilty’, using the same set and director.

CLASSIX NOUVEAUX finally got the hit they deserved when ‘Is It A Dream?’ reached No11 in the UK singles charts in 1982. From their second album ‘La Verité’ and more optimistic than their earlier work, its brassy Stevie Wonder-inspired synth riff and Mik Sweeney’s funky fretless bass kept things upbeat and immediate while Gary Steadman’s Roland guitar synths and a vocoder triggered from an organ rhythm unit also featured prominently.

The success led to Liberty Records increasing the budget for the third CLASSIX NOUVEAUX album ‘Secret’ to enable Alex Sadkin, who had worked with THOMPSON TWINS and DURAN DURAN, to produce. However, record company politics intervened and the band were dropped. Although the album was released in 1983 without much fanfare, ‘Secret’ captured a more exotic sound palette with the sumptuous ballad ‘Never Never Comes’ becoming a cult favourite in Eastern Europe.

With all the uncertainty and upheaval, Sal Solo re-embraced his Roman Catholic faith and following a pilgrimage to San Damiano in Italy where the Miracle of St Francis of Assisi took place, released ‘San Damiano (Heart and Soul)’ in 1984; it eventually hit the high of No15 in the UK and No1 in Poland. CLASSIX NOUVEAUX were no more, until now…

Thanks to the wonders of the world wide web and remote recording, the classic CLASSIX NOUVEAUX line-up of Sal Solo, BP Hurding, Mik Sweeney and Gary Steadman reunited in 2021. Initially testing the water with a new version of ‘Inside Outside’ from ‘Night People’, the quartet have recorded 7 new songs for ‘Battle Cry’, their first brand new studio album in 40 years.

Sal Solo said: “The reason this project came about after 40 years is really because of the fans. About 10 years ago, some of the Classix fans were making Facebook pages but it didn’t really come to our attention until a couple of years back. We realised these people are really dedicated and decided to give them a kind of birthday present. I said to the guys ‘Why don’t we do a recording together and surprise the fans?’ Everybody said yes… and so we did a quick remake of one of our old songs ‘Inside Outside’ and to our surprise everyone’s immediately talking about new material!”

Appropriately, that first fruit of labour ‘Fix Your Eyes Up’ opens the album and it is appealing as a mature but classic CLASSIX NOUVEAUX song. ‘Battle Cry’ though is 6/8 prog pop that could be IT BITES with evangelical messages that reflect Sal Solo’s continuing role in the church. With Gregorian overtones, the soft ‘Wretched’ continues the theme and explores spiritual concerns in the face of sin.

‘Final Symphony’ takes its lead from LED ZEPPELIN and latter day Gary Numan in a goth rocker laced with haunting synthetic tones. But despite lyrically referencing the hit song titles of their synth-led contemporaries, ‘No Do Overs’ is a surprise ballad that begins acoustic; a reflection of the days time erased, overtones of ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ or JS Bach’s ‘Air On A G string’ are thrown in, depending on your way of thinking.

Lyrically inspired by the end of The Book of Revelations, ‘Revelation Song’ is a mid-paced synth-metal number with fantasia imagery and folk brass drama added to the pot while a rework of ‘Never Never Comes’ offers lento funk. Solo is known have wished that he recorded ‘Is It A Dream?’ at a much slower tempo and this has no doubt had a bearing on the 21st Century version of ‘Inside Outside’ which kickstarted the reunion. Turned into something more atmospheric with VST chorals, its ironically sounds more like the original ‘Never Never Comes’.

The lengthy album closer ‘Colour Me The Sky’ continues the steadfast mood of the two reworked Classix favourites but in true prog style, it takes an about turn into explosive heavy metal and traditional six string sections, complete with assistance from virtual choirs and orchestration.

CLASSIX NOUVEAUX fans the world over will be very happy that they have been gifted a new record by a band who undoubtedly should have had at least the same success and cultural recognition as the Grammy Award winning A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS. Vocally, the theatrics are dialled down and musically, this is largely not the Classix of the past. As Sal Solo says in the ‘Battle Cry’ CD booklet notes: “If the music can speak to the fans as they are today, then we’ll be happy. It can still be a soundtrack for their lives, but not their lives in adolescence, it’s their lives as mature adults.”

Those who may have perhaps passed over their canon back in the day or are new to CLASSIX NOUVEAUX can listen back online to some excellent music thanks to the wider profile that will be accorded thanks to the release of ‘Battle Cry’. The internet is the reason why this album exists and why the music of CLASSIX NOUVEAUX will still be talked about today.

‘Battle Cry’ is released by Cherry Red Records as a clear vinyl LP and CD, information at

Digital download available from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
16 November 2023

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