Tag: Grace Jones

A Beginner’s Guide To ANDY RICHARDS

Photo by Lizzy Ellis

Producer, keyboardist and composer Andy Richards may not be as widely known as his mentor Trevor Horn, but listeners have certainly heard his work as a significant number his contributions appear on singles that reached No1.

Born in 1952, Richards studied piano, classical organ piano and composition at The Royal College Of Music and The Royal Academy Of Music. After graduating, he taught music at South Cheshire College and began playing in various local bands before in 1977, he joined the folk-rockers THE STRAWBS who were best known for their hit ‘Part Of The Union’.

After THE STRAWBS split up in 1980, Richards became a session musician and in 1983 played keyboards for the heavy metal band DEMON who were signed to Clay Records, a Stoke-based independent record label. It had been established by Mike ‘Clay’ Stone who had been a champion of punk, taking early photographs of Gary Numan which appeared on the first TUBEWAY ARMY releases before later signing DISCHARGE and THE LURKERS to Clay.

It was via Clay Records that Andy Richards was to get his big break. Stone invited Richards to produce the debut of local synthpop trio WHITE DOOR who had morphed out of the prog band GRACE. Mixed at Sarm East Studios, the engineer was Julian Mendelsohn who was also working with Trevor Horn on the YES album ‘90125’.

With recommendations from Mendelsohn, Richards was then contacted by both. Although he auditioned for YES, he chose to work with Trevor Horn in October 1983; his first job was to play keyboards on the FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD cover of ‘Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey’ and subsequently the eventual single version of ‘Relax’ which featured Richards’ European sounding Roland Jupiter 8 chords while another key element he provided was the huge orgasmic sound at the song’s climax!

Working as part Trevor Horn’s dream team that included engineer Stephen Lipson and Fairlight programmer JJ Jeczalik, the world became Richards’ oyster with significant roles on the notable ZTT albums ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome’, ‘A Secret Wish’ and ‘Slave to the Rhythm’.

A master of the Roland Jupiter 8, Roland MC4 Micro-composer, PPG and Oberheim DMX, Richards became in demand as musician, programmer and producer, thanks to his astute investment in the Fairlight Series III in 1984; this was a particularly useful production tool as the artists he worked with could easily understand its concept easily as all its 16 tracks and their relationship in real time could be seen on screen at once.

Having dipped his toe into the world of cinema in 1986 with ‘Biggles: Adventures in Time’, the bulk of Richards’ more recent work has been in mixing film scores from his own Out of Eden digital complex, including ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, ‘Ali G Indahouse’, ‘Johnny English’, ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘The Last King of Scotland’, ‘Hannibal Rising’, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Frankenweenie’. He has more recently been working on his first solo project entitled ‘This Time… An Imaginary Soundtrack’

Perhaps something of an unsung hero in music, here are 18 tracks that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has selected from the vast career of Andy Richards with a restriction of one track per artist moniker, assembled in chronological order…


WHITE DOOR Jerusalem (1983)

With shades of ALPHAVILLE who Andy Richards would later work with, the beautiful choir boy synthpop of ‘Jerusalem’ was one of the highlights of the ‘Windows’ album. “We would turn up at Andy’s house with very basic demos and spend long days with him on his mini grand piano working out the arrangements and programming…” said WHITE DOOR singer Mac Austin about the relationship with their producer.

Available on the WHITE DOOR album ‘Windows’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.facebook.com/whitedoorband


PROPAGANDA Dr Mabuse (1984)

‘Dr Mabuse’ was the impressionistic masterpiece that was the debut single and second ZTT release by PROPAGANDA, at the time a Düsseldorf-based five piece. Produced by Trevor Horn in the days before MIDI, Richards’ work involved spending days in the studio connecting up two Roland Jupiter 8s, two Roland MC4 Micro-composers, three Oberheim DMXs and a Roland TR808 to JJ Jeczalik’s Fairlight Series II.

Available on the PROPAGANDA album ‘A Secret Wish’ via Salvo

https://www.xpropaganda.co.uk/


FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD Two Tribes (1984)

As FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s eagerly awaited follow-up to ‘Relax, ‘Two Tribes’ sent the Cold War paranoia of the times into overdrive. Richards’ blistering bassline sequence was programmed multiple times with differing feels, eventually settling on a hard PPG bass sample doubled with a slightly softer sequence from a Synclavier. The end result acted as a leadline and tribal powerhouse.

Available on the FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD album ‘Bang!’ via Salvo

https://www.frankiesay.com/


GEORGE MICHAEL Careless Whisper – Full length version (1984)

Premiered live on the 1983 ‘Club Fantastic’ tour, although George Michael’s debut solo single was characterised by a fluid sax solo by Steve Gregory, when the WHAM! singer opted to produce ‘Careless Whisper’ himself after an abortive session with Jerry Wexler, he invited to Richards to overdub a chilling string synth intro and voice samples using a PPG Waveterm A. It would become the third No1 of 1984 on which Richards performed.

Available on the WHAM! album ‘Make In Big’ via Sony Music

https://www.frankiesay.com/


THE ADVENTURES Send My Heart – Extended remix (1984)

Belfast’s THE ADVENTURES were one of the first bands managed by pop Svengali Simon Fuller,  opening for the likes of TEARS FOR FEARS and FLEETWOOD MAC. On the back of FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s success came remix and session work for Richards. His extended remix of the sprightly ‘Send My Heart’ included additional keyboard flourishes, a new voice sample solo section and drum breakdowns while keeping the song intact.

Available on THE ADVENTURES album ‘Theodore & Friends’ via Lemon Records

https://www.discogs.com/artist/219292-The-Adventures


STEPHEN ‘TIN TIN’ DUFFY Kiss Me (1985)

‘Kiss Me’ had been originally released by Stephen Duffy’s band TIN TIN in 1982. Reissued in several incarnations, the Fairlight heavy hit version was produced by Nicholas Froome and JJ Jeczalik who brought Richards in along with Danny Schogger to provide musicality to the various sample derived gimmicks used. Duffy would later become the writing partner of Robbie Williams and ‘Kiss Me’ would be covered in 2006.

Available on the STEPHEN DUFFY album ‘The Ups & Downs’ via Cherry Red Records

http://stephenduffy.com/


TRIO Ready For You (1985)

Germany’s TRIO became known worldwide for their novelty song ‘Da Da Da’. Much more aggressive than their big hit and with the invitation “If you want some lovin, come and get it”, the expletive laden sexually charged ‘Ready For You’ was a co-production by Richards and JJ Jeczalik alongside Klaus Voormann, the noted musician who worked on all the TRIO albums as well as with Lou Reed and was the graphic designer of THE BEATLES ‘Revolver’.

Available on the TRIO album ‘Whats The Password’ via Mercury Records

http://www.stephan-remmler.de/


GRACE JONES 5. SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM (1985)

Not the familiar groovy Go-Go hit single version that became Grace Jones’ signature tune, but a more aggressive take with big beats, rumbles and swoops actually designated “5. SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM” on the same titled album, Andy Richards’ distinct chord interventions can be heard in the brassy synth stabs. The song had been originally demoed by FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD in an uptempo fashion.

Available on the GRACE JONES album ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ via Island Records

https://www.gracejones.com/


BERLIN You Don’t Know (1986)

Although effectively a solo Terri Nunn track produced by Giorgio Moroder, ‘Take My Breath Away’ was issued as a BERLIN single and became a worldwide hit. While the parent album ‘Count Three & Pray’ was helmed by Bob Ezrin, the sultry art rock follow-up ‘You Don’t Know’ was primarily produced by Richards. But the band were unhappy with their sojourn in London for their new album and scrapped the recordings, bar this.

Available on the BERLIN album ‘Best Of 1977 – 1988’ via Geffen Records

https://www.berlinpage.com/


NIK KERSHAW Radio Musicola (1986)

Credited with “Keyboards, Computers” for the first song of Nik Kershaw’s self-produced third album, the percolating title track saw Richards’ Fairlight Series III programming take a central role emulating LEVEL 42’s Mark King style of bass playing. A cautionary warning about mass-produced run-of-the-mill pop music, ‘Radio Musicola’ also featured a brass section including Peter Thoms of LANDSCAPE and Iva Davies of ICEHOUSE on backing vocals.

Available on the NIK KERSHAW album ‘Essential’ via Universal Music

https://www.nikkershaw.net/


PET SHOP BOYS Heart – Single mix (1988)

Originally recorded with Shep Pettibone and written with Madonna in mind, having programmed the Fairlight on ‘Always On My Mind’, ‘It’s A Sin’ and ‘Rent’, Andy Richards was called on to produce a new version of ‘Heart’ in a classic disco vein for the ’Actually’ album. A re-edit mixed by Julian Mendelsohn featuring classic syndrums and extra wah-wah guitar by JJ Belle gave PET SHOP BOYS another UK No1 single.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Smash – The Singles 1985 – 2020’ via EMI Music

https://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


PREFAB SPROUT Hey Manhattan (1988)

Having achieved their breakthrough with the Thomas Dolby produced ‘Steve McQueen’, the East Anglian electronics boffin was unable to work on the entire of PREFAB SPROUT’s follow-up album ‘From Langley Park to Memphis’ so other producers were sought. Richards did ‘Hey Manhattan’ but band leader Paddy McAloon later remarked “I’m dissatisfied with the way we realised it. It’s pretty but it’s a failure”.

Available on the PREFAB SPROUT album ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’ via Sony Music

https://www.sproutology.co.uk/


HOLLY JOHNSON Americanos (1989)

Co-produced by Andy Richards and Steve Lovell with Dan Hartman, ‘Americanos’ was a catchy Latin tinged number complete with Mariachi horns that saw Holly Johnson achieve a second succesive solo hit peaking at No4. Despite being aspirational in tone, the former FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD singer provided an ironic observation of the widespread discrimination against the Hispanic community in the USA.

Available on the HOLLY JOHNSON album ‘Blast’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.hollyjohnson.com/


FUZZBOX Pink Sunshine (1989)

Outrageously catchy, ‘Pink Sunshine’ was the best single from the alternative rock band once known as WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX & WE’RE GONNA USE IT!! Reinventing themselves as a sexy pop vocal group for their second album ‘Big Bang!’ produced by Andy Richards, their first hit came with the ‘Thunderbirds’ inspired ‘International Rescue’ while ‘Self’ featuring QUEEN’s Brian May provided a third.

Available on the FUZZBOX album ‘Big Bang!’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialFuzzbox


MALCOLM McLAREN & THE BOOTZILLA ORCHESTRA House Of The Blue Danube (1989)

In tribute to New York’s voguing scene, ‘Waltz Darling’ was Malcolm McLaren’s fourth album, fusing Johann Strauss with funk and house. It spawned the hit ‘Something’s Jumpin’ in Your Shirt’ but opening it was the mad if joyous instrumental ‘House of the Blue Danube’. Produced by Andy Richards, it featured the seemingly incongruous combination of Bootsy Collins and Jeff Beck within a pumping “Frankie Say Strauss” backdrop.

Available on the MALCOLM McLAREN & THE BOOTZILLA ORCHESTRA album ‘Waltz Darling’ via Epic Records

https://www.malcolmmclaren.com/


DUSTY SPRINGFIELD Reputation (1990)

Having played keyboards on Liza Minnelli’s ‘Results’ album with PET SHOP BOYS, for a similar project this time with Dusty Springfield, while Messrs Tennant and Lowe produced half the ‘Reputation’ album, Richards was assigned the title song written by Brian Spence. Although overshadowed by the hits ‘Nothing Has Been Proved’ and ‘In Private’, the end result was a production of equal quality that recalled FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD.

Available on the DUSTY SPRINGFIELD album ‘Reputation’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.dustyspringfield.co.uk/


OMD All That Glitters (1991)

By 1988, advances in computer technology and software had made the Fairlight redundant. But Richards was sticking with his warhorse, causing tensions when working with Andy McCluskey on his new solo OMD by recreating what was on the demos formulated on a MIDI-compatible Atari. But the elegiac ‘Sugar Tax’ album closer ‘All That Glitters’ managed to capture the beautiful melancholic OMD magic of old.

Available on the OMD album ‘Sugar Tax’ via Virgin Records

http://www.omd.uk.com/


ALPHAVILLE Wishful Thinking (1997)

Produced by Andy Richards, ALPHAVILLE’s fifth album ‘Salvation’ came as the trio fragmented, leaving Marian Gold and Bernhard Lloyd to helm the ship. Energetic gothic dance music, ‘Wishful Thinking’ had a dramatic presence reminiscent of ‘Forever Young’, aided by a string arrangement by Anne Dudley which provided plenty of pomp and circumstance.

Available on the ALPHAVILLE album ‘Salvation’ via WEA Records

https://www.alphaville.earth/


More information on Andy Richards and ‘This Time… An Imaginary Soundtrack’ can be found at http://www.andyrichards.com/

The June 1988 Music Technology article ‘Programmer’s Protocol’ on Andy Richards was a key reference and can be read via the mu:zines music magazine archive at http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/programmers-protocol/1104


Text by Chi Ming Lai
28 August 2023

iEUROPEAN Into The Unknown

The claim that DEPECHE MODE are the flag bearers for electro-blues becomes somewhat redundant with ‘Into The Unknown’, the debut album from iEUROPEAN.

Originally the solo project of Dublin musician Seán Barron, a one-time member of EMPIRE STATE HUMAN, the idea had initially been to feature guest singers or contributors on each track.

The first track to be unleashed in late 2014 was the wonderful ‘Activity of Sound’ featuring Wolfgang Flür, formally of KRAFTWERK.

But it was when Ruth Lalor was asked to contribute vocals for one of Barron’s tunes that iEUROPEAN morphed into becoming an electronic duo with a unique twist. Coupled to Barron’s Mittel Europa synths are Lalor’s soulful, bluesy vocals, schooled under the influence of Billie Holliday and Lena Horne. Thus this long player really is a musical journey ‘Into The Unknown’.

Layered with classic synth strings, Lalor makes a grand entrance on ‘Sweet Paranoia’ augmented by Barron’s bass sequences before a faithfully devoted drum loop kicks in. A worthy variation on the theme of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘In Your Room’? You bet!

A solo Ruth Lalor composition ‘Falling’ sees the lady sing the blues over an enticingly minimal but technological framework including some digital guitar in the latter stages; incidentally, the track is co-arranged by Robert Arkins who also played aspiring band manager Jimmy Rabbitte in ‘The Commitments’ movie. Meanwhile ‘Fire Out’ ups the pace for a brooding slice of stark electronic pop that bubbles into something very hot!

‘Don’t Lose Control’ sees the rhythm construction harden as Lalor’s voice is laid bare, with a particularly raw edge to the larynx in the chorus.

While the vocal is coloured in shades of blues, the backing turns distinctly European grey in the final minute and a half as it unexpectedly journeys east towards Der Rhein.

‘I Will Follow’ is not a cover of the U2 song but follows the template of the moodier numbers that CAMOUFLAGE do so well, although Lalor’s presence offsets the chill. Meanwhile, some eerie electric ivories and detuned sonar shape the solemn ‘Requiem’ as steadfast marching drums and percolating arpeggios punctuate the lonely atmosphere.

Another song written by Ruth Lalor, ‘Sweet Dreams’ appears it might have been of a more traditional conception, but Barron’s synth interventions take it into another world, territory that perhaps YAZOO might have entered had they got to their fifth album. The filmic drama of ‘Bring On The Rain’ is perhaps the most trip-hop derived number of the album, with the muted trumpet and cimbalom textures usually associated with the genre.

‘We Are Brothers’ starts as the being most conventional sounding song on the album with elements of THE CURE before it gets more obscure, with some twisty turns in its chordial structure. Written by Barron with his former EMPIRE STATE HUMAN bandmate Aidan Casserly and Alan Arkins, Barron takes a turn at a duet with Lalor, while Clive Pierce from HARD CORPS joins in on the middle eight.

After all the digital six string on ‘Into The Unknown’, real guitar makes an appearance on ‘World Of Fantasy’ courtesy of Mark Joseph Healy, the sweeping synths and organic counter-melodies adding an almost folk laden resonance for a fitting closer. A hidden track sees Lalor’s vocals totally isolated for a spirited acapella of ‘Sweet Paranoia’; it is nothing short of mesmerising…

Overall, ‘Into the Unknown’ is a fine showcase of an Emerald Isle blues voice alongside authentic Eurocentric electronics. It’s quite a contrast, but the end result is rather wonderful.

‘Into The Unknown’ uses the following hardware and virtual instrumentation: Ekosynth, Roland TB303, Yamaha CS1X, Korg PolySix, Roland JX305, Roland Jupiter-8, Korg DW-8000, Korg DV-800, Arturia Minimoog, Steinberg Hypersonic, Steinberg Virtual Guitarist, ARP 2600V, Native Instruments Absynth 5, Native Instruments Battery, Stereophonics Stylus rmx, Stereophonics Omnisphere 2, Edirol Orchestral, Edirol Super Quartet, Waves Element Stereo, Broomstick Bass, Fabfilter Twin2, Jupiter 8V2, PRO-52, PRO-53, RealStrat, Rob Papen – Real Guitar, Rob Papen – Blue, Rob Pagen – SubBoomBass, LinPlug Albino 2, Arturia Analog Factory, Surge, Cakewalk Z3TA+2, Poly-ANA


‘Into the Unknown’ is released on CD by The People’s Electric on 21st April 2017, pre-order now from http://www.thepeopleselectric.com/shop/products/bfa2cc74-81b7-4905-a7ed-88c4afc25596

https://www.facebook.com/iEuropean-149564838461817/

http://thepeopleselectric.com/ieuropean


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Ruth Maria Murphy
13th March 2017

KATJA VON KASSEL EP

The captivating German songstress KATJA VON KASSEL finally brings out her first EP.

First making her name in London club nights like ‘Synthetic’ and ‘Bedsitland’, this 4 track release is the first opportunity for potential audiences to evaluate KATJA VON KASSEL and her Electro Weimer Cabaret as a body of work in one sitting. Singing in English, ‘Lili Marlene’ affirms her charismatic presence and singing in an alluring Marlene Dietrich tone with a sultry yet technostalgic quality.

Co-written with Alex Gray, the songwriter / producer who co-wrote ‘My Delirium’ and ‘Dusk ‘Til Dawn’ with LADYHAWKE, it really is like the ‘1930s meets the future’. Along similar lines and also sung primarily in English, ‘Lies’ is a marvellous synth friendly number with a strong traditional European flavour, laced with accordions and set to a tango template.

A song which actually made ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 Songs of 2010, the Germanic GRACE JONES flavour is melancholically enticing and straight from the heart. If she was to ever cover a ROXY MUSIC number, then it would have to be Song For Europe’ with its neo-Piaf pastiche and nouveau sophistication.

With two quality songs already on offer, the purer pulsating electro of ‘In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)’ steals the show. It’s an aesthetic which closely resembles that of RONNY, a protégé of Rusty Egan who made several imaginative singles with luminaries such as Midge Ure, Peter Godwin and Vangelis. Alex Gray’s intricate filmic electronics on ‘In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)’ are a delight while Fraulein von Kassel’s detachment is art cool sexy.

The elegiac Deutsche waltz of ‘Himmel Brennt’ strips things down with hints of ‘Deer Stop’ or ‘Horse Tears’ from GOLDFRAPP’s cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’ and the influence of Berthold Brecht. Revealing KATJA VON KASSEL’s moody dramatic side, the title translates as ‘Heaven Burns’. “The tragedy of life is always a good inspiration to me” she once said.

KATJA VON KASSEL’s first EP is a refreshing musical antidote to the influx of hollow electronic acts that have appeared in the last two years. These are timeless, escapist songs and with their futuristic twist, they are very much needed in this current culture of tension.


The 4 track ‘Katja von Kassel’ EP is available now as a download from
https://katjavonkassel.bandcamp.com/album/katja-von-kassel-ep

https://www.facebook.com/KatjavKassel/

https://www.facebook.com/katja.vonkassel

https://www.youtube.com/user/vonKassel

https://twitter.com/katjavonkassel


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th January 2017

A Beginner’s Guide To TREVOR HORN

Trevor Horn is a producer who can be said to have shaped modern pop music.

He began his professional music career as a session bassist, most notably for UK disco starlet Tina Charles and her producer Biddu.

Another member of her backing band was keyboard player Geoff Downes; together they would go on to form BUGGLES and score a No1 in 1979 with ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’.

But Horn’s pop stardom was to be short-lived. Despite their musical virtuosity, BUGGLES were an unusual looking pair… so with his best interests at heart, his wife and business partner Jill Sinclair advised that while he wasn’t going to be the greatest frontman in the world, there was a chance he could make it as a top record producer.

In 1981, Horn started a run of producing and co-writing four singles for pop duo DOLLAR; this attracted the attention of NME journalist Paul Morley and they would later establish the ZTT label through Island Records.

Also listening were Sheffield band ABC who asked him to produce their debut album ‘The Lexicon Of Love’. It was during these 1982 sessions that Horn brought together his classic studio team of arranger Anne Dudley, engineer Gary Langan and Fairlight specialist JJ Jeczalik for the first time; the three would later become THE ART OF NOISE.

During this early phase of his production career, Horn favoured the Fairlight CMI as his tool of choice; it had been demonstrated to him electronic music pioneer and Simmons SDS-V co-designer Richard James Burgess, who had worked with him on the first BUGGLES album ‘The Age Of Plastic’.

The Fairlight also allowed for many arrangement possibilities and not just one, but two, three or four different remixes of a single track, a promotional tactic that was employed heavily at ZTT with FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, THE ART OF NOISE, PROPAGANDA and ACT.

Horn had first become interested in more mechanised musical templates after hearing ‘Warm Leatherette’ by THE NORMAL in 1978. So when the Linn Drum Computer came along, it was like manna from heaven for the forward thinking Horn. He told The Guardian in 2004: “You could tell the Linn what to do, which was unbelievable because before then you had to tell the drummer what to do and he was generally a pain in the a*se”. However, Horn did use accomplished session musicians when needed to compliment his carefully controlled direction.

Horn would go on to win BRIT Awards for ‘Best British Producer’ in 1983, 1985 and 1992. In 2010, he received an Ivor Novello Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to British Music’. His production portfolio is vast, taking in Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Cher, Rod Stewart, Malcolm McLaren, Robbie Williams, Leann Rimes, Lisa Stansfield and Charlotte Church among many, plus lesser known acts such as INTERPLAY and THE MINT JULEPS.

Not necessarily collecting his best known or mainstream work, but certainly listing some of his more interesting adventures in modern recording, here are eighteen works from Trevor Horn that fit closest to the electro ethos of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, presented in chronological order…


ABC Poison Arrow (1982)

ABC’s first single ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ produced by Steve Brown was loose, scratchy funk that fitted in with the times, but the Sheffield combo wanted to be a far more polished and approached Horn to hone their sound. The first fruit of labours was ‘Poison Arrow’ was held together with a drum machine backbone and augmented by some dramatic piano passages from Anne Dudley in her first session with Horn. The chemistry of all involved led to a musical masterpiece of the era, ‘The Lexicon Of Love’.

Available on the ABC album ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ via Mercury Records

http://www.abcmartinfry.com/


SPANDAU BALLET Instinction (1982)

Horn reworked Richard James Burgess’ production of ‘Instinction’ and threw in reworked synths from Anne Dudley and extra bombastic percussion; it saved SPANDAU BALLET’s career. However, further sessions were abandoned when, according to songwriter Gary Kemp in his autobiography ‘I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau’, Horn wanted drummer John Keeble replaced with a drum machine. Kemp stuck by his bandmate and went with IMAGINATION producers Swain and Jolley for the ‘True’ album.

Available on the SPANDAU BALLET album ‘Gold : The Best Of’ via EMI Records

http://thestory.spandauballet.com/


YES Owner Of A Lonely Heart (1983)

In 1981, Horn had partly abandoned work on the second BUGGLES album to join Geoff Downes in YES; the press dubbed the new line-up YUGGLES! But Horn amicably left a few months later to finish what became ‘Adventures In Modern Recording’ and kickstart his production career. With Gary Langan and JJ Jeczalik on board, ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’, could be considered as the birth of THE ART OF NOISE; the stabbing samples of a jazz orchestra and tight programmed drums provided a distinctive counterpoint.

Available on the YES album ‘90125’ via Atlantic Records

http://www.jonanderson.com/


THE ART OF NOISE Moments In Love (1983)

THE ART OF NOISE “happened because of a happy accident” said Gary Langan. But Trevor Horn was not their producer – “Well, he wasn’t the producer!!”  Langan clarified,“we were the producers! If I’m being really honest, we were a little naive. Anne, JJ and myself really had no intention of forming a band… so when we signed to ZTT, we needed somebody to do all the artwork and how it was going to portrayed which was really down to Paul and Trevor”. It was an indicator of how powerful Horn’s name had become.

Available on THE ART OF NOISE album ‘Who’s Afraid Of…?’ via Union Square / Salvo

http://www.theartofnoiseonline.com/


PROPAGANDA Dr Mabuse (1984)

Düsseldorf’s PROPAGANDA were the proto-LADYTRON or ABBA in Hell, depending on your point of view! They boasted within their ranks Ralf Dörper and Michael Mertens, plus two mini-Marlenes in Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag. The magnificent Fritz Lang film noir of ‘Dr Mabuse’ was their opening salvo. Produced by Horn, the success of FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD however meant the producer’s helm was handed over to his engineer Stephen J Lipson, although Horn was later involved in the final mix.

Available on the PROPAGANDA album ‘A Secret Wish’ via Union Square / Salvo

http://www.propagandamachine.info/


FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD The Power Of Love (1984)

A key signing to ZTT, regardless of who was actually playing and what the band would have achieved without Trevor Horn, in their short life FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD were a thrilling adventure that wouldn’t have worked without the songs, which were largely written by Holly Johnson, Peter Gill and Mark O’Toole. ‘Relax’ and ‘Two Tribes’ got the ball rolling, but the classical grandeur of ‘The Power Of Love’ was an outstanding piece of work in anyone’s book.

Available on the album ‘Bang!: The Greatest Hits’ via Warner Music

http://www.frankiesay.com/


GODLEY & CREME Cry (1985)

After they left 10CC, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme’s appetite for experimentation with tracks like ‘Babies’ led them to be called “the older generation’s Depeche Mode” by Smash Hits. They also branched out into directing promo videos for VISAGE and DURAN DURAN. It was while doing videos for FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD that they ended up working with Trevor Horn. Almost sparse by Horn’s standards with a metronomic tension alongside minimal guitar, ‘Cry’ was a terrific pop statement.

Available on the album ‘Cry: The Very Best Of’ via Polydor / Universal Music

http://www.trevorhorn.com/


GRACE JONES Slave To The Rhythm (1985)

Trevor Horn took his multiple remix approach to its zenith with Grace Jones’ seventh album; rather than actually do a collection of songs, why not do an album that was effectively multiple remixes and interpretations of one song? While the familiar single version of ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ was wonderful, sun-kissed funky pop, the album’s fifth track take was far more aggressive, with a punchy synth brass riff taking centre stage to make the most out of Miss Jones’ enigmatically frightening demeanour.

Available on the album ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ via Culture Factory

https://www.facebook.com/GraceJonesOfficial/


ACT Chance (1988)

Following her departure from PROPAGANDA, Claudia Brücken teamed up with early electro trailblazer Thomas Leer in ACT. The Trevor Horn produced ‘Chance’ was released as their third single, but withdrawn due to the 12″ mix containing an unauthorised varispeeded sample of ABBA’s ‘Take A Chance On Me’. Far more theatrical and spielerisch than PROPAGANDA, ACT were however, less well received with the eventual Stephen J Lipson produced ‘Laughter, Tears & Rage’ not making quite the impact that was hoped for.

Available on the album ‘Love & Hate’ via Union Square / Salvo

http://www.ztt.com/artists/act/


PET SHOP BOYS Left To My Own Devices (1988)

“Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat” was a concept coined by Horn while he was working in the studio with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. Taking in the then ubiquitous form of acid house, ‘Left To My Own Devices’ incorporated  a dramatic string arrangement by Richard Niles and the opera stylings of soprano Sally Bradshaw. One of PET SHOP BOYS’ most striking recordings  it had been intended to programme the synthesizers and record the orchestra in one day… six months later, the song was finished.

Available on the album ‘Introspective’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


SIMPLE MINDS Wall Of Love (1989)

The bombastic tendencies of the now stadium friendly SIMPLE MINDS were well-suited to the Trevor Horn treatment, although paradoxically by the time they got into the studio together in 1988, the Glaswegians were favouring a more restrained follow-up to the rock monster that was ‘Once Upon A Time’. Time has not been kind to ‘Street Fighting Years’ album, which now comes across as self-indulgent and over-politicised. But one track with a vibrant energy despite the soapbox was the more classic sounding ‘Wall Of Love’.

Available on the boxed set ‘Street Fighting Years’ via Virgin Records

http://www.simpleminds.com/


SEAL Crazy (1990)

SEAL found fame as the voice of ADAMSKI’s ‘Killer’ which reached No1 in 1990. Possessing a soulful voice that suited both dance and rock, Horn couldn’t believe his luck when he discovered he was a free agent. A deal with ZTT was sealed and their first single together was the mighty techno rock of ‘Crazy’. It was the perfect platform for SEAL’s crossover potential and the Paddington-born singer found fame in America with ‘Kiss From A Rose’, which was also produced by Horn and netted a 1995 Grammy Award.

Available on the album ‘Seal’ via ZTT Records

http://seal.com/


MARC ALMOND Jacky (1991)

If it wasn’t for Marc Almond, then the path for FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD and PET SHOP BOYS might not have been so smooth. Signing with Warners, this cover of Jacques Brel’s ‘Les Chanson De Jacky’, made famous in an English version by Scott Walker, was a compromise reached by Almond to regain both his pop and artistic high ground. While basically a technologically enhanced remake of Walker’s cover, Horn’s production was mighty and cute, in a stupid arse way 😉

Available on the album ‘Tenement Symphony’ via Warner Music

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


MIKE OLDFIELD Sentinel (1992)

Virgin Records had always been pushing Mike Oldfiels for a ‘Tubular Bells II’ since the original in 1973. But ironically, when Oldfield departed the label for Warners, he did just that. Horn was a natural choice as producer for this long awaited follow-up. The first ‘Tubular Bells’ featured no synthesizers at all; with the titled inspired by an Arthur C. Clarke short story, not only did ‘Sentinel’ exploit the use of modern studio technology, but beautiful female vocals were also part of this more obviously melodic reprise.

Available on the album ‘Tubular Bells II’ via Warner Music

http://mikeoldfieldofficial.com/


TINA TURNER Whatever You Want (1996)

Written by Arthur Baker, Taylor Dayne and Fred Zarr, ‘Whatever You Want’ for Tina Turner was an archetypical production from Horn. Using the most up-to-date technology yet retaining a vital musicality, there was always space for the lead vocalist to perform to their maximum. However, it always was a time consuming process. Legend has it that when ROBBIE WILLIAMS handed over his demos for the 2009 album ‘Reality Killed The Video Star’, he apparently said to Horn “I’ll see you in six months!”

Available on the album ‘Wildest Dreams’ via EMI Music

http://www.tinaturnerofficial.com/


TATU Not Gonna Get Us (2002)

Faux lesbian duo Julia Volkova and Lena Katina caused a stir with the Horn produced No1 single ‘All The Things She Said’ and its accompanying video that broke many broadcast taboos. Much more interesting musically though was another Horn produced track ‘Not Gonna Get Us’. Sounding like THE PRODIGY fronted by fleas on helium, ‘Нас Не Догонят’ (as it was originally titled in Russian) was heavier than usual Europop, with a rebellious teenage angst message.

Available on the album ‘200 km/h In The Wrong Lane’ via Interscope Records

http://www.tatu.ru/


DELAYS Valentine (2006)

In 2003, Horn worked with Glaswegians BELLE & SEBASTIAN for the first time. And after the hangover of Britpop, indie bands were starting to embrace synths again. Southampton band DELAYS almost went the full hog with the brilliant ‘Valentine’, a Horn-assisted disco number. The pulsing sequences and syncopated rhythm section were pure DURAN DURAN, although Greg Gilbert’s raspy falsetto in the soaring chorus and some choppy guitar ensured the band weren’t totally detached from their roots.

Available on the album ‘You See Colours’ via Rough Trade

https://www.facebook.com/thedelays


PET SHOP BOYS I’m With Stupid (2006)

PET SHOP BOYS reunited with Trevor Horn, ‘I’m With Stupid’ was a perfect politically charged jape at the special relationship between George W Bush and Tony Blair. The satirical lyrical content was enhanced further with an amusing promo video featuring ‘Little Britain’ stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams. However, other than the brilliantly hypnotic opener ‘Psychological’, the remainder of the ‘Fundamental’ album was lacklustre, with the dreary Diane Warren penned ballad ‘Numb’ being a low point.

Available on the album ‘Fundamental’ via EMI Music

https://www.facebook.com/petshopboys/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
13th February 2016

Introducing KATJA VON KASSEL


Electro Weimar Cabaret is the easiest way to describe the music of Katja von Kassel.

She sings in both German and English, often within the same song in a sultry Marlene Dietrich tone. After working within the UK music scene for several years including a stint as a guitarist on ‘X-Factor’, she was going to head back to Germany.

But luckily met producer and LADYHAWKE collaborator Alex Gray who co-wrote ‘My Delirium’ and ‘Dusk ‘Til Dawn’. He introduced her to the joys of electronic instrumentation and now with her synthetic torch songs, she appears to be in the right place, at the right time with the right music. Songs like ‘Goodbye Was Never Said’, ‘Riding The Horses’ and ‘Lili Marlene’ are electronic dance numbers with a cool, elegant charm. Alex Gray’s intricate production can be fully appreciated alongside Katja’s magnificent vocal presence. The arrangements are busy but uncluttered, giving plenty of space for Katja to hypnotise with her drama.

Add to that, the Wagnerian quality of Katja’s Götterdämmerung delivery when she’s lets rip with her emotions and you have a very unique style of modern electro that possesses a classic quality, electro revival or not! Katja’s moodier numbers ‘Raindrops’ and ‘Der Himmel Brennt’ not only recall ‘Deer Stop’ or ‘Horse Tears’ from GOLDFRAPP’s marvellous cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’, but also the influence of Berthold Brecht.

Her tremendous song ‘Lies’ features strong traditional European influences like French accordions and ‘Vienna’ piano but also has hints of being a dancier version of Grace Jones ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’. Not entirely surprising as both songs are routed in the same dance… the tango. The stylish promo which accompanies it echoes her own words… it’s “1930s meets the future”. Welcome to the world of Katja von Kassel.


https://www.facebook.com/KatjavKassel/

https://twitter.com/katjavonkassel


Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd April 2010