Tag: Robert Palmer (Page 1 of 2)

PETER BAUMANN Phase By Phase – The Virgin Albums

Peter Baumann is best known for being a member of the classic line-up of TANGERINE DREAM.

Joining in 1971, together with Edgar Froese and Christopher Franke, the trio produced a run of imperial albums released on Virgin Records including ‘Phaedra’, ‘Rubycon’, ‘Ricochet’ and ‘Stratosfear’ which exemplified The Berlin School, a sub-genre of otherworldly electronic music whose other exponents also included Klaus Schulze, Manuel Göttsching and Florian Fricke.

Baumann’s father was a composer and conductor, so it was almost a given that he would take an interest in music and he began playing organ in covers bands. A chance meeting with Christopher Franke at an EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER concert in Berlin led to an invitation to replace Steve Schroyder in TANGERINE DREAM.

With Edgar Froese having already released his first solo album ‘Aqua’ in 1974, it was suggested by Virgin Records that Baumann could follow suit. Already thinking ahead on his own terms, he had commissioned the Berlin-based electronics company Project Elektronik to build a customised modular synthesizer system which used toggle switches rather than cables to enable faster re-routing during live performance; its controller keyboard was designed by Wolfgang Palm, later to found PPG who would become known for their Wave series of synthesizers.

Photo by Jerome Froese

Written in the baking Summer of 1976, ‘Romance ‘76’ comprised of two contrasting suites. In the first half, ‘Bicentennial Present’ showcased strong synth lines and hypnotic rhythmic backbones in a move towards melody away from the cerebral soundscapes of ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Rubycon’; Baumann can even be heard chuckling to himself while performing it. Sparse heartwarming sequencer passages provided a fitting backdrop to ‘Romance’ while ‘Phase By Phase’ continued with the minimal template albeit in a more bubbly fashion and adding church bells!

The second half was more experimental and organic featuring female vocals and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir conducted by Peter’s father Herbert in Munich. With cello, violins and choirs, ‘Meadow of Infinity (Part One)’ was eerie, dramatic and off the beaten track using electronics only for effects, before segueing into ‘The Glass Bridge’ which brought percussion and woodwinds into the equation before returning back for the ominous Part Two reprise of ‘Meadow of Infinity’ where electronics returned alongside the sombre orchestrations.

But all was not happy within the TANGERINE DREAM camp. Baumann’s confidence had increased to the point that his sharp contributions on the Project Elektronik system during live shows were now outshining Franke’s Moog. Creative and musical tensions were at a high during the trio’s two US tours in 1977. After completing work on the subsequent live double album ‘Encore’, Peter Baumann left TANGERINE DREAM.

Baumann began producing other artists such as Italian artist Leda on her album ‘Welcome To Joyland’ and applied his sequenced knowhow into a more song-based format. The record featured a combination of throbbing electronics and high pitched vocals in acknowledgement of ‘I Feel Love’ which had been signalling the future of pop. Although at the time he felt ‘Welcome To Joyland’ was “too commercial”, it had a profound effect on Baumann and the development of his aesthetic.

As a result, 1979’s ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ was something of an interim record, mostly comprising of shorter instrumental compositions using mysterious melodies and occasional vocoder textures pointing halfway towards conventional pop vocal phrasing. To open, ‘This Day’ brought in guitar and vocoder alongside drones and sequences. Wolfgang Thierfeldt provided drums on ‘White Bench & Black Beach’ in another sign of adopting less experimental considerations while its strident synthlines recalled Vangelis.

Using harpsichord, ‘Chasing The Dream’ offered mediaeval resonances before pacey pulses took hold on the climax while with vocodered vocals, ‘Biking Up the Strand’ sprang a surprise as a bouncy waltz. ‘Phaseday’ though was perhaps more of what was expected from Baumann as ‘Meridian Moorland’ piped along stridently in a more abstract manner. The fabulous ‘The Third Site’ presented pacey barrage of electronics with spikey overtones nut an even bigger surprise came with a real flugel horn from Bernhard Jobski to accompany the percussive mantra and folk-like overtures of ‘Dance at Dawn’.

Today, ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ remains something of an underrated electronic gem that clearly connected to TANGERINE DREAM before the start of Baumann’s adventure in pop with ‘Repeat Repeat’. Throwing in his lot with the-then burgeoning Neue Deutsche Welle movement, the album was recorded in New York and at Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas.

Signalling a complete departure from TANGERINE DREAM, it was co-produced by Robert Palmer, fresh from the critical acclaim for his more synth and art funk driven 1980 album ‘Clues’. Using musicians such as keyboardist Carsten Bohn, guitarists Ritchie Fliegler and John Tropea, and drummer Mike Dawe, the ‘Repeat Repeat’ title song was a quirky commentary on popular culture that could have come straight off ‘Clues’.

Listening closely to his then-Virgin Records label mates, ‘Home Sweet Home’ offered a detached cross between SPARKS and MAGAZINE while ‘Deccadance’ sounded as if aliens had landed in a Weimar Cabaret. More guitar driven, ‘Real Times’ continued Baumann’s Russell Mael impression but also recalled Eno’s ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ era.

As its title suggested, ‘Brain Damage’ was mad and fun while with its reggae inflections, ‘Kinky Dinky’ was a homage to CAN. Declaring “I love money, I love cars, I love TV too”, the detached ‘Daytime Logic’ was an absorbing rhythmic excursion that almost funked! Meanwhile, ‘Playland Pleasure’ was totally SPARKS and what the Mael Brothers might have sounded like had they adopted the synths but not gone disco with Giorgio Moroder. With some neo-flamenco drama but without the acoustic guitars, ‘What is Your Use’ made its presence felt both percussively and synthetically to close.

Enjoyable but very much of its time, the conclusive overview of ‘Repeat Repeat’ is that Robert Palmer was able to realise some of his more synthesized ambitions that were not able to be put in place for ‘Clues’. For Baumann, he got to play the pop star although ultimately he was not able to come up with anything quite as memorable and anthemic as say Peter Schilling with ‘Major Tom’ or Nena with ’99 Luftballons’. Whatever, this album was a shock to TANGERINE DREAM fans and an even bigger surprise was to come.

Ending his tenure with Virgin Records, Peter Baumann caught the attention of Arista Records whose founder Clive Davis had signed Barry Manilow and would later give Whitney Houston her first record contract. The resultant Italo and Europop flavoured album ‘Strangers In The Night’ included an electronic disco cover of the title song made famous by Frank Sinatra and confused TANGERINE DREAM fans even more!

Baumann retried from composing but remained in music, founding his successful Private Music label in 1984 which was later bought by BMG in 1994. Among the roster were notable names including Andy Summers, Ravi Shankar, Carlos Alomar, Suzanne Ciani, Yanni and TANGERINE DREAM.

Although Peter Baumann briefly rejoined TANGERINE DREAM in 2015 and released The Berlin School inspired ‘Machines Of Desire’ in 2016 on Bureau B, in 2019 he launched his new project NEULAND with another former member of TANGERINE DREAM, Paul Haslinger; with seemingly no further activity on the NEULAND front, Baumann continues his work for The Baumann Institute which he founded in 2009 “dedicated to exploring the nature of awareness and its relationship to human health and well-being.”

What ‘Phase By Phase’ captures is a fascinating period in which Peter Baumann never rested on his laurels and took creative risks. Because of the gaps running decades in his back catalogue, his contribution to electronic music is perhaps underrated, especially within the family tree of the band with whom he made his name. This new boxed set should help put things right.


‘Phase By Phase – The Virgin Albums’ is released as a 3CD box set on 7 June 2024, available from https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/peter-baumann-phase-by-phase-the-virgin-albums-3cd-box-set/

https://www.bureau-b.com/peterbaumann.php

https://www.discogs.com/artist/54855-Peter-Baumann


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29 May 2024

THE ELECTRONIC LEGACY OF 1980

David Bowie had famously dropped in to see THE HUMAN LEAGUE at The Nashville in late 1978 and hailed them as “the future of rock ‘n’ roll”.

But it was TUBEWAY ARMY fronted by Gary Numan who beat THE HUMAN LEAGUE to the top of the UK singles charts in Summer 1979 with Are Friends Electric?’ while just a few weeks earlier, SPARKS had been become willing conspirators with Giorgio Moroder on ‘The No1 Song In Heaven’ to effectively invent the synth duo.

Although it was the dawn of synth, 1980 was a transitional time when the synth was still the exception rather than the rule. The landscape was changing and the seed of what became the New Romantic movement had been planted.

Following the critical mauling he received for his 1979 album ‘Lodger’ but aware of his burgeoning influence in these futuristic sounds, Bowie headed down to The Blitz with RCA assistant and club regular Jacqueline Bucknell to cast extras including the late Steve Strange for the video of his new single ‘Ashes To Ashes’. It hit the top of UK charts and confirmed that once again “There’s old wave. There’s new wave. And there’s David Bowie…”

While Bowie’s was not an electronic artist in the way some of the next generation of artists had declared themselves, he couldn’t resist a sly dig at the acts that he’d inspired, using the line “same old thing in brand new drag” on the track ‘Teenage Wildlife’ from his next album ‘Scary Monsters’. And he was eventually to beat previous winner Gary Numan to the year’s ‘Best Male Singer’ accolade at the BBC endorsed British Rock & Pop Awards.

Belatedly looking back to 42 years ago before automatic stations came, here are 20 albums which ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK sees as contributing to the electronic legacy of 1980. They are listed in alphabetical order with a restriction of one album per act.


BUGGLES The Age Of Plastic

Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes met while working with Tina Charles and her producer Biddu. Together they would go on to form BUGGLES and score a No1 with ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’. From the parent album ‘The Age Of Plastic’, ‘Astroboy’ developed on the duo’s sonic adventures while ‘The Plastic Age’ and ‘Clean Clean’ provided further if minor hits. Horn would go on become a top record producer.

‘The Age Of Plastic’ is still available via Island Records / Universal Music

https://twitter.com/Trevor_Horn_


DALEK I Compass Kum’Pas

Before OMD, the electronic duo on The Wirral was DALEK I LOVE YOU. However, by the time their debut album ‘Compass Kum’pas’ was released, OMD were having hits and keyboards man Dave Hughes had left to join their live band. Although Alan Gill’s vocals could polarise opinion, ‘Destiny’ was their most immediate song with a precise percussive appeal while ‘The World’ was eccentric and retro-futuristic.

‘Compass Kum’Pas’ is still available via Mercury Records

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


FAD GADGET Fireside Favourites

The success of the singles ‘Back To Nature’ and ‘Ricky’s Hand’ attracted a loyal fanbase, so a FAD GADGET album  ‘Fireside Favourites’ was eagerly anticipated. Developing on the minimal industrialism of the singles, the superb ‘Coitus Interruptus’ was a cynical commentary on casual relationships while offering his own brand of romantic macabre in the fear of the imminent nuclear apocalypse was the neo-title song ‘Fireside Favourite’.

‘Fireside Favourites’ is still available via Mute Records

https://mute.com/artists/fad-gadget


JOHN FOXX Metamatic

On the ULTRAVOX! eponymous debut,John Foxx announced “I want to be a machine”. On signing to Virgin Records as a solo artist, he virtually went the full hog with the seminal JG Ballard inspired ’Metamatic’. ‘Underpass’ and ‘No-One Driving’ were surprise hit singles that underlined the dystopian times while the fabulous ‘A New Kind Of Man’ and the deviant ‘He’s A Liquid’ were pure unadulterated Sci-Fi driven by the cold mechanics of a Roland Compurhythm.

‘Metamatic’ is still available via Metamatic Records

http://www.metamatic.com/


HARALD GROSSKOPF Synthesist

Having worked with Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching, drummer turned keyboard player Harald Grosskopf took the plunge to go solo with the mind bending album ‘Synthesist’. A work comprising of eight instrumentals that blended a sonic tapestry of synthesizer soundscapes with drumming that provided colour as opposed to dominance, it musically followed in the exquisite tradition of his Berlin electronic friends.

‘Synthesist‘ is still available via by Bureau B

https://www.haraldgrosskopf.de/englisch/home.html


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Travelogue

With THE HUMAN LEAGUE learning lessons from their debut ‘Reproduction’, ‘Travelogue’ had more presence by creatively utilising the harsh screeching frequencies from overdriving their studio desk. ‘The Black Hit Of Space’ had its surreal Sci-Fi lyrics while ‘Dreams Of Leaving’ was a fantastically emotive slice of prog synth. There were glorious cover versions in ‘Only After Dark’ and ‘Gordon’s Gin’. While it was a breakthrough, all was not happy…

‘Travelogue’ is still available via Virgin Records

https://martynwareofficial.co.uk/


JAPAN Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Dropped by Ariola Hansa, JAPAN found a refuge at Virgin Records. The bossa nova driven ‘Swing’ explored exotic grooves while the haunting ‘Nightporter’ was the ultimate Erik Satie tribute. An interest in Japanese technopop produced the brilliant ‘Methods Of Dance’ and saw leader David Sylvian collaborate with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s Ryuichi Sakamoto on  ‘Taking Islands In Africa’.

‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ is still available via Virgin Records

http://www.nightporter.co.uk/


JOY DIVISION Closer

While not strictly an electronic album in full, half of ‘Closer’ was dominated by polyphonic synthesizers. Featuring an ARP Omni and an early version of Simmons drums, ‘Isolation’ was the most electronic track JOY DIVISION ever recorded. On the second side, ‘Heart & Soul’, ‘The Eternal’ and ‘Decades’ provided the solemn but beautiful Gothic backdrop producer by Martin Hannett for Ian Curtis’ elaborate musical suicide note.

‘Closer’ is still available via Rhino

http://joydivisionofficial.com/


LA DÜSSELDORF Individuellos

LA DÜSSELDORF were fronted by the late Klaus Dinger of NEU! There was a greater presence of electronics and the first half of ‘Individuellos’was dominated by variations on ‘Menschen’, a grand statement sounding like a blueprint for Phil Lynott’s ‘Yellow Pearl’. ‘Dampfriemen’ was a quirky slice of synth oompah with comedic chants and a kazoo section while the piano laden ‘Das Yvönnchen’ provided a beautiful closer.

‘Individuellos’ is still available via Warner Germany

https://www.discogs.com/artist/152540-La-Düsseldorf


NEW MUSIK From A To B

Time has shown that Tony Mansfield and NEW MUSIK with their strummed guitar alongside pretty synth melodies were underrated. Featuring the hits ‘Living By Numbers’, ‘This World Of Water’ and ‘Sanctuary’ as well as ‘On Islands’ which was later covered by CAMOUFLAGE, the band were dismissed as a novelty act due to the silly voices in their songs. Mansfield went on to produce A-HA, NAKED EYES and VICIOUS PINK.

‘From A To B’ is still available via Lemon Records

https://www.new-musik.co.uk/


GARY NUMAN Telekon

The negative side of fame got into the psyche of Gary Numan and his new songs took on a more personal downbeat nature away from the Sci-Fi dystopia of his previous work. ‘This Wreckage’ and ‘Please Push No More’ summed up the self-doubt but while ‘Remind Me To Smile’ could have been a single, ‘Telekon’ suffered from not having the hit single ‘We Are Glass’ and ‘I Die: You Die’ included on the original LP release.

‘Telekon’ is still available via Beggars Banquet

https://garynuman.com/


OMD Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

OMD released two albums in 1980 but their self-titled debut captured Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys using the most basic equipment, the duo not even having a polyphonic synth at the time. With energetic post-punk synth numbers such as ‘Electricity’ and ‘Bunker Soldiers’, on the other side of the coin were ‘Almost’ and ‘The Messerschmitt Twins’. An early version of ‘Messages’ pointed to hit singles.

‘Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’ is still available via Virgin Records

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


ROBERT PALMER Clues

Although rooted in the blues via his previous band VINEGAR JOE, Robert Palmer took an interest in synths having become a fan of Gary Numan. That led to two collaborations including a version of ‘I Dream Of Wires’ released before Numan’s own recording and the Eastern flavoured ‘Found You Now’. The electronic centrepiece was the beautifully world weary ‘Johnny & Mary’ while ‘Looking for Clues’ added synthy art funk to the mix.

‘Clues’ is still available via Island Records / Universal Music

http://www.robertpalmer.com/


SILICON TEENS Music For Parties

Following the acclaim for THE NORMAL, Daniel Miller undertook a new project SILICON TEENS as a fictitious synth group where rock ’n’ roll standards such as ‘Memphis Tennessee’, ‘Just Like Eddie’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ were enjoyably reinterpreted in a quirky synthpop style with Miller adding his deadpan monotone vocal. Frank Tovey aka FAD GADGET played the role of lead singer “Darryl” for videos and press.

‘Music For Parties’ is still available via Mute Records

https://mute.com/artists/silicon-teens


SIMPLE MINDS Empires & Dance

Tours opening for Gary Numan and Peter Gabriel took SIMPLE MINDS around Europe to experience Cold War tensions at closer hand. Their wired mood was captured on ‘Empires & Dance’. With its speedy Moroder-esque influence, ‘I Travel’ was a screeching futuristic frenzy and ‘Celebrate’ brought some industrial Schaffel to the party. ’30 Frames A Second’ took a trip down the autobahn but ‘Twist / Run / Repulsion’ messed with the headspace of listeners.

‘Empires & Dance’ is still available via Virgin Records

https://www.simpleminds.com/


SPARKS Terminal Jive

Following the Giorgio Moroder steered album ‘No1 In Heaven’, SPARKS were despatched by Virgin Records to record a swift follow-up. Although Moroder was still nominally at the helm, Harold Faltermeyer took the majority of production duties on ‘Terminal Jive’. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll People In A Disco World’ seemed to reflect the confused direction but ‘When I’m With You’ was a massive hit single in France, leading to the Mael Brothers’ relocation.

‘Terminal Jive’ is still available via Repertoire Records

http://allsparks.com


TANGERINE DREAM Tangram

After experiments with vocals on ‘Cyclone’ and live drums on ‘Force Majeure’, with the recruitment on keyboards with Johannes Schmoelling to fill the difficult to fill void left by the departure of Peter Baumann, Edgar Froese and Christopher Franke got back on track, combining a more immediate sequencer drive with the melodic New Age resonances on the two part ‘Tangram’ set that would characterise TANGERINE DREAM’s later work.

‘Tangram’ is still available via Virgin Records

https://tangerinedreammusic.com/


TELEX Neurovision

The second TELEX album ‘Neurovision’ continued with the trio’s tradition of deadpan electronic covers and a gloriously metronomic take on ‘Dance To The Music’ showcased their penchant for mischievous subversion. But this mischief came to its head with their lampooning self-composed number ‘Euro-Vision’, a bouncy electropop tune which they actually entered for 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, coming seventeenth!

‘Neurovision’ is still available via Mute Artists

https://mutebank.co.uk/collections/telex


ULTRAVOX Vienna

Following the first VISAGE sessions, Midge Ure was invited to join Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann in ULTRAVOX. Providing a sonic continuity from the John Foxx-led era was producer Conny Plank while the robotic spy story ‘Mr X’ voiced by Cann provided another link. Opening with the mighty instrumental ‘Astradyne’ and closing with the synthesized heavy metal of ‘All Stood Still’, the ‘Vienna’ album was a triumph.

‘Vienna’ is still available via Chrysalis Records

http://www.ultravox.org.uk/


VISAGE Visage

Formed as a reaction to the shortage of new electronic dance music to play at The Blitz Club, ex-RICH KIDS members Midge Ure and Rusty Egan recruited its figurehead Steve Strange to front the project under the name of VISAGE. Billy Currie, Dave Formula, John McGeoch and Barry Adamson joined later and captured a synthesized European romanticism that boasted the German No1 ‘Fade To Grey’ as well as two other hits in ‘Mind Of A Toy’ and the eponymous title track.

‘Visage’ is still available via Rubellan Remasters

https://www.therealvisage.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29 December 2023

MUSIK MUSIC MUSIQUE 2.0 1981 | The Rise Of Synth Pop

1981 is the year covered by the second instalment of Cherry Red’s ‘Musik Music Musique’ series.

1980 was something of a transition year for the synth as it knocked on the door of the mainstream charts but by 1981, it was more or less let in with welcome arms. From the same team behind the ‘Close To The Noise Floor’ compendiums and the most excellent ‘Electrical Language’ boxed set, ‘Musik Music Musique 2.0 1981 – The Rise Of Synth Pop’ presents rarities alongside hits and key album tracks from what many consider the best year in music and one that contributes the most to the legacy of electronic music in its wider acceptance and impact.

Featuring HEAVEN 17  with ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’, OMD with ‘Souvenir’ and the eponymous single by VISAGE, these songs are iconic 1981 canon that need no further discussion. Meanwhile the longevity of magnificent album tracks such as ‘Frustration’ by SOFT CELL and ‘I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)’ by ULTRAVOX can be summed by the fact that they have featured in 21st Century live sets alongside their parent acts’ hits.

Although not quite as celebrated, ‘You Were There’ from pastoral second John Foxx long player ‘The Garden’ captures the move from stark JG Ballard imagery to something almost romantic. DEVO are represented by the LinnDrum driven ‘Through Being Cool’, the opener of the ‘New Traditionalists’ album which comes as a statement that the mainstream was their next target; the Akron quintet were one of the many acts signed by Virgin Records as the label focussed on a synth focussed takeover that ultimately shaped the sonic landscape of 1981.

Then there’s TEARS FOR FEARS’ promising debut ‘Suffer The Children’ in its original synthier single recording and The Blitz Club favourite ‘Bostich’ from quirky Swiss pioneers YELLO. Another Blitz staple ‘No GDM’ from GINA X PERFORMANCE gets included despite being of 1978 vintage due to its first UK single release in 1981. The use of synth came in all sorts of shapes and FASHIØN presented a funkier take with ‘Move Øn’ while the track’s producer Zeus B Held took a more typically offbeat kosmische approach on his own ‘Cowboy On The Beach’.

Pivotal releases by JAPAN with the ‘The Art Of Parties’ (here in the more metallic ‘Tin Drum’ album version) and A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS ‘(It’s Not Me) Talking’ highlight those bands’ then-potential for mainstream success. But in the battle of the New Romantic boy bands, the sitar tinged DURAN DURAN B-side ‘Khanada’ easily blows away the SPANDAU BALLET album track ‘Reformation’ in an ominous sign as to who would crack it biggest worldwide.

The great lost band of this era, B-MOVIE issued the first of several versions of ‘Nowhere Girl’ in December 1980 on Dead Good Records and its inclusion showcases the song’s promise which was then more fully realised on the 1982 Some Bizzare single produced by the late Steve Brown although sadly, this was still not a hit.

The best and most synth flavoured pop hits from the period’s feisty females like Kim Wilde and Toyah are appropriate inclusions, as is Hazel O’Connor’s largely forgotten SPARKS homage ‘(Cover Plus) We’re All Grown Up’. But the less said about racist novelty records such as ‘Japanese Boy’ by Aneka, the better… the actual nation of Japan though is correctly represented by their most notable electronic exponents YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA with ‘Cue’ from ‘BGM’, the first release to feature the Roland TR808 Rhythm Composer.

With these type of boxed sets, it’s the less familiar tracks that are always the most interesting. As the best looking member of TANGERINE DREAM, Peter Baumann had a crack at the single charts with the catchy Robert Palmer produced ‘Repeat, Repeat’ while former Gary Numan backing band DRAMATIS are represented by ‘Lady DJ’ although its epic A side ‘Ex Luna Scientia’ would have equally merited inclusion. But BEASTS IN CAGES who later became HARD CORPS stand out with the stark dystopia of ‘Sandcastles’.

The one that “should-have-been-a-pop-hit” is the ABBA-esque ‘I Can’t Hold On’ by Natasha England and it’s a shame that her career is remembered for a lame opportunistic cover of ‘Iko Iko’ rather than this, but the delightful ‘Twelfth House’ demonstrates again how under-rated Tony Mansfield’s NEW MUSIK were, and this with a B-side!

The rather fraught ‘Wonderlust’ by THE FALLOUT CLUB captures the late Trevor Herion in fine form on a Thomas Dolby produced number with a dramatic Spaghetti Western flavour that is lushly sculpted with electronics. Over a more sedate rhythm box mantra, ‘Love Moves In Strange Ways’ from BLUE ZOO swirls with a not entirely dissimilar mood.

Mute Records founder Daniel Miller was breaking through with his productions for DEPECHE MODE in 1981, but representation on ‘Musik Music Musique 2.0’ comes via the colder austere of ‘Science Fiction’ by Alan Burnham. ‘West End’ by Thomas Leer adds some jazzy freeform synth soloing to the vocal free backdrop, while ‘Surface Tension’ from ANALYSIS is an appealing instrumental.

The strangely accessible weirdness of CHRIS & COSEY’s ‘This Is Me’, MYSTERY PLANE’s ‘Something To Prove’ and the gritty ‘Brix’ from PORTION CONTROL will delight those more into the leftfield, while AK-47’s ‘Stop! Dance!’, the work of Simon Leonard (later of I START COUNTING and KOMPUTER fame) is another DIY experiment in that aesthetic vein.

Some tracks are interesting but not essential like Richard Bone’s ‘Alien Girl’ which comes over like an amusing pub singer SILICON TEENS, Johnny Warman’s appealing robopop on ‘Will You Dance With Me?’ and the synth dressed New Wave of ‘Close-Up’ by THOSE FRENCH GIRLS. For something more typically artschool, there’s the timpani laden ‘Taboos’ by THE PASSAGE and SECOND LAYER’s screechy ‘In Bits’.

More surprising is Swedish songstress Virna Lindt with her ‘Young & Hip’ which oddly combines showtune theatrics with blippy synth and ska! The set ends rather fittingly with Cherry Red’s very own EYELESS IN GAZA with the abstract atmospherics of ‘The Eyes Of Beautiful Losers’ although they too would eventually produce their own rousing synthpop statement ‘Sunbursts In’ in 1984.

Outside of the music, the booklet is a bit disappointing with the photos of OMD, TEARS FOR FEARS, HEAVEN 17, B-MOVIE and a glam-bouffanted Kim Wilde all coming from the wrong eras. And while the liner notes provide helpful information on the lesser known acts, clangers such as stating Toyah’s ‘Thunder In The Mountains’ was from the album ‘The Changeling’ when it was a standalone 45, “GONG’s Mike Hewlett” and “memorable sleeve designs by Malcolm Garrett’s Altered IMaGes” do not help those who wish to discover the origins of those accumulated gems.

But these quibbles aside, overall ‘Musik Music Musique 2.0’ is a good collection, although with fewer rare jewels compared with the first 1980 volume which perhaps points to the fact that those who had the shine to breakthrough actually did… 40 years on though, many of those hit making acts (or variations of) are still performing live in some form.

Was 1981 the most important year in synth as far becoming ubiquitous in the mainstream and hitting the top of the charts internationally? With VISAGE’s ‘Fade To Grey’ becoming a West German No1 in Spring 1981 through to SOFT CELL taking the summer topspot in the UK and culminating in THE HUMAN LEAGUE eventually taking ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ to No1 in the US, the sound of synth had done its job. Setting the scene for 1982 and 1983, further editions of ‘Musik Music Musique’ are planned.


‘Musik Music Musique 2.0 1981 – The Rise Of Synth Pop’ is released by Cherry Red on 15th October 2021 as a 3CD boxed set

https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/musik-music-musique-2-0-the-rise-of-synth-pop-3cd-clamshell-box/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th October 2021

A Back Stage Interview with GARY NUMAN

‘Back Stage – A Book Of Reflections’ is a comprehensive account of Gary Numan’s imperial years from 1979 to 1981 compiled by long time Numan enthusiast Stephen Roper.

First released as a hardback book in 2012, it featured contributions from band members (Chris Payne, RRussell Bell + the late Cedric Sharpley) and support acts (OMD, SIMPLE MINDS + NASH THE SLASH) as well as the man himself.

Numan said: “That’s why I enjoyed reading this book so much. It gives a voice to so many people that were vitally important to me, and to what happened to me, in those early days. I was grateful to them then, and I remain grateful to them now”.

Several interviews were conducted with Numan over a period of a few years, although not all of the transcripts were used. Stephen Roper has kindly allowed ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to publish some of these previously unseen texts.

What was the idea behind the ‘Teletour’ stage set?

It was a continuation of ‘The Pleasure Principle’ set in essence; the idea of a city in the future where the walls themselves would light up as darkness fell.

How different did you find the ‘Teletour’ from ‘The Touring Principle’?

I felt that I was better on stage, although very aware that I still had a lot to learn. I was getting very battered by the press, perhaps more during the ‘Telekon’ period than with ‘Replicas’ and ‘The Pleasure Principle’, so that was quite difficult to deal with at times. It made me feel a great deal of affection for the fans.

I would read some sh*tty piece in one of the music papers and then walk out on stage and everybody would scream and go mad. It bought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion. Overall though I thought the show itself was better, the music had moved up a gear, I was a little more confident, just that little bit more experienced. Things weren’t quite as shocking as they had been the first time round.

You spent a lot of time with Australian musician James Freud of THE RADIO STARS after the end of ‘The Touring Principle’ and worked on an unreleased album with him and his band, any memories of your time with him and why the album was never released?

I remember we went to Japan for a while as there was a girl there I’d met on tour that I was keen to see again. He was just very easy to be with, good fun. I don’t make friends very easily so it was good to have someone to hang out with who led a similar kind of life that was similar to me in many ways.

The album was recorded in England and my memory of it was that things were a bit fraught at times. I’m not the best person to work alongside. I get too intense and moody. I wouldn’t work with me. I’m not sure why it didn’t come out I’m afraid. It may have been they didn’t like it, management problems perhaps, label problems, maybe the band themselves fell out with each other. I do remember they went through a series of revelations about each other and each other’s desires and habits. It was quite fascinating to watch from the outside.

The ‘Teletour’ ended in Canada but should have gone on into Europe, Asia and Australia, what were the reasons why these never happened?

I don’t remember at all I’m afraid. I know I was very keen to stop touring, it’s why I announced the retiring thing and played those last Wembley shows. I also wanted to get back into the studio and get on with the ‘Dance’ album recordings. So, perhaps it was me that just decided to stop.

‘On Broadway’ was the first time you’ve covered anyone else’s track, how did this come about and how did the awesome Billy Currie instrumental come about?

Not strictly true as I did ‘Trois Gymnopedies’ as well around that time I think. I had always loved the ‘On Broadway’ song and finally had a chance to play it live in a setting that was appropriate. Doing a synth version of it was perfect given the success that I’d enjoyed with electronic music. The Billy Currie part of it was simply down to him being in the band at that time and the fact that he’s just a fantastic player. He was a bit of a hero of mine at the time.

Dennis Haines left the band after the recording of ‘Telekon’; you said at the time that he “didn’t quite fit personally in the band”. Do you have any recollections?

No. As I said at the time, he just didn’t fit in…

The Battle for the River Dee!!! You hired some boats out at Chester during the ’Teletour’ on a day off? What happened with that and the “Sheep” incident with the band and crew at Edinburgh?

I remember it well enough, although everyone that was there seems to remember it a little differently so perhaps none of us remember it correctly. It really wasn’t that big a deal to be honest. We rented some boats, started splashing each other, it got a bit out of hand and I think we got into trouble. Just kids’ stuff!

The sheep happened without me as I was locked into a hotel room with some blonde woman. I think I had the better time. As far as I know, they decided to steal a sheep to put into the tour manager’s hotel room. No idea why. They couldn’t catch a live one so they found a dead one instead and it split as they pulled it onto the tour bus. Yes, I definitely had a better night.

The farewell concerts at Wembley are still one of the most amazing live shows ever seen. How did the planning for these concerts go, the design for the stage, the prep work etc?

The design of it was built around both ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and ‘Telekon’ tours but with a number of huge additions. I spent an absolute fortune on it, to try and make it the biggest thing there had ever been in an indoor venue up to that point. I loved the design process, but it was when we got to stage rehearsals that the sheer scale of the thing really hit home. It was amazing. I was very proud of it.

After the shows were over, what went through your mind and was it the end of a chapter for you?

I was very sincere about wanting to get out of touring at that time so it was all quite emotional. I realised even as I was walking off the stage that I might have made a huge mistake. It was certainly the end of a chapter.

How did it feel to work with Robert Palmer on his songs ‘Found You Now’ and ‘Style Kills’?

I felt very honoured that he was playing two of my songs in his live set. It was ‘Cars’ and ‘Me! I Disconnect From You’. When I met him, he invited me out to his house in the Bahamas I think, and I played him the ‘Telekon’ album. It hadn’t been released at that point. He really liked the ‘I Dream Of Wires’ song and recorded his version of it while I was there. He also had another couple of songs that he said he couldn’t finish, so I worked on those as well while I was there. He was a great man.

You did a promo video for ‘Metal’. How did this come about and did you ever consider releasing it as a single at the time?

It wasn’t a promo as such, it was a TV film, made by Tyne Tees TV I think, for a performance of that song on their show. Rather than just going into their studio and filming a performance of it, along the lines of Top Of The Pops, they took me out and we filmed a clip for it. I can’t remember if I ever considered it as a single but I should have. ‘Metal’ would have made a great single. Not choosing that was one of my many mistakes.

Your uncle Jess Lidyard played drums on your first two albums as TUBEWAY ARMY but left just as you broke into the charts and had huge success, can you remember the reason why he left and how you felt yourself about it?

I asked him if he wanted to join the band full-time but he didn’t want to. He had a really good job at the time and I think he was reluctant to give up the security of that for an uncertain future with me. Plus, he had been in bands before and done a lot of touring all over Europe so I don’t think it was the big exciting thing for him that it was for me.

The crew and band members who you spent nearly two years travelling the world felt they were part of a family, was this the same for you?

You do get very close to people when you tour, no doubt about that. You live life to the full and go through many extreme experiences together, most of them good. I think it’s only natural that those bonds feel as strong as they do at the time, and for a while afterwards.

I always wanted to cultivate that closeness as well. I always have on any tour I’ve ever done. It’s important to feel close to the people around you when you’re touring.

For a lot of people the end of tours is a really bad time. I know a lot of people who plunge into depression at the end of a tour, especially a long one. I used to, before the children, but now life returns with a huge bang the day you get home and I just don’t have any time to be wallowing and missing people. But, it’s one of the reasons why I’m always just a few months away from another tour. I love the life, I love the people.


‘Back Stage – A Book Of Reflections’ is available as a download PDF compatible e-Book for Android, Windows, iPhone, iPod and desktop at £3.99 from https://back-stage.dpdcart.com/cart/view#/

https://www.facebook.com/backstagenuman/

http://www.garynuman.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/GaryNumanOfficial/

https://twitter.com/numanofficial


Interview by Stephen Roper
28th January 2017

25 FAVOURITE SYNTH SONGS BY NON-SYNTH ACTS

Strangely, it really was like a fanfare for the common man…

When the recently departed Keith Emerson used a Minimoog for the solo on EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER’s ‘Lucky Man’ in 1970, little would he predict that nearly half a decade later, the floodgates would start to open for many rock bands eager to exploit the synthesizer as an alternative lead instrument to the electric guitar.

Pete Townshend’s use of the EMS VCS3, ARP 2500 and ARP 2600 on the ‘Who’s Next’ album was another key recording which featured electronics within an experimental rock context. Meanwhile PINK FLOYD famously took an EMS Synthi AKS with its built-in digital sequencer into the stratosphere for ‘On The Run’ from ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’.

Although these tracks used synthesizers, they could hardly be classified as synthpop. But what of the occasions when rock artists go the full hog and enter the murky world of synths, sequencers and drum machines? While occasional dabbling in the electronic world has been common, a full volte-face has been rare.

One of the most recent examples of an artist transferring allegiances has been John Grant, former vocalist with THE CZARS who recorded his 2010 debut solo album ‘Queen of Denmark’ in collaboration with the American folk-rock band MIDLAKE. Grant said to The Quietus in 2013: “I wanna be the guy who is surrounded by all this synth hardware on stage. Like Jean-Michel Jarre, or Vangelis or one of those guys. I wanna be the guys from Yello and Cabaret Voltaire. I wanna understand, it’s such a subtle art form. I wish I was a robot, like Kraftwerk!”

So here is a list of 25 favourite songs by non-synth acts who risked soiling their reputation by delving into the murky world of synthesizers. All songs feature the synth as the dominant melodic instrument and are by artists who are generally perceived to be guitar or rock driven. Those considered to have a strong association with the synthesizer, like SPARKS, SPANDAU BALLET, NEW ORDER, ASSOCIATES, TALK TALK, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM and THE KILLERS have not been included.

So presented in chronological and then alphabetical order, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s choices…


THE MOTORS Airport (1978)

The traditional Pub Rock sound of THE MOTORS was transformed with ‘Airport’, its intro and chorus ARP Odyssey synth riff being one that wouldn’t have felt out of place on an OMD song. The piece itself was an anti-paean to an airport, one which had cruelly flown the lead vocalist Andy McMaster’s love interest away from him, and the addition of ABBA-esque pianos sealed its fate as a one of a kind single for the band.

Available on the album ‘Approved By’ via Captain Oi!

http://www.andymcmaster.net/


SQUEEZE Take Me I’m Yours (1978)

With A&M getting concerned that there were no obvious singles on their debut album, Glenn Tilbrook made the decision to hire “lots of synths and a bloke who knew how to work them” and then went about “pretending to be Kraftwerk”! A squelchy synth bass and lo-fi drum machine dominates throughout ‘Take Me I’m Yours’. THE DROYDS reworked it as a wonderfully deadpan, fully electronic interpretation, revealing it as the true slice of synthpop it was always destined to be.

Available on the album ‘Greatest Hits’ via A&M Records

http://www.squeezeofficial.com/


JOY DIVISION Atmosphere (1980)

While JOY DIVISION had played around with syndrums and electronic effects on ‘Unknown Pleasures’ to complement their gloomy guitar driven sound, they had yet to produce a song using synths as a melodic lead. Recorded using an ARP Solina, the chilling ‘Atmosphere’ with its tender bass playing and percussive grandeur was the band’s most complete recording to date. But it was given a limited run of 1578 copies by French art label Sordide Sentimentale, before a wider re-release.

Available on the JOY DIVISION album ‘Substance’ via Rhino

http://joydivisionofficial.com/


JONA LEWIE You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen At Parties (1980)

This VERY electronic Polymoog-driven single was almost entirely self-produced by Lewie with the exception of some live bass by Norman Watt-Roy and hi-hats from Bob Andrews. It was rumoured that Kirsty MacColl provided backing vocals, although this was denied by Lewie. MacColl appeared on Top Of The Pops to perform ‘You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties’ in an appearance which one could imagine Phil Oakey watching and thinking, “hmm, this is a good idea!”

Available on the album ‘The Best Of’ via Union Square Music

http://www.jonalewie.com/


PAUL McCARTNEY Temporary Secretary (1980)

Having explored art funk on ‘Coming Up’ and impersonated Ron Mael from SPARKS in its video, Macca went the full electronic dance hog with the quite bizarre ‘Temporary Secretary’. With prominent sequencer patterns to simulate a typewriter and detached deadpan vocals, this oddball experiment confused fans of WINGS and THE BEATLES. Self-produced, the single was issued on 12 inch to accommodate a 10 minute B-side ‘Secret Friend’ and failed to chart.

Available on the PAUL McCARTNEY album ‘McCartney II’ via EMI Records

http://www.paulmccartney.com/


HAZEL O’CONNOR Eighth Day (1980)

From the Hazel O’Connor starring movie ‘Breaking Glass’, ‘Eighth Day’ was written by the singer to parallel the biblical story of Genesis, but with machines taking over on the final day. Produced by Tony Visconti, synths are used effectively throughout to echo the content of the song and whilst the look of the film may not have dated so well, the lyrics to ‘Eighth Day’ still feel relevant and paint a picture of a future world slowly pulled apart by developing technology.

Available on the album ‘Breaking Glass’ via Spectrum Music

http://www.hazeloconnor.com/


ROBERT PALMER Johnny & Mary (1980)

robert-palmer-johnny-and-mary-islandAfter surprisingly recording GARY NUMAN’s ‘I Dream of Wires’ on his album ‘Clues’, another album track ‘Johnny & Mary’ also showcased some impressive electronics. Although not a huge UK hit when released as a single (only reaching No.44), ‘Johnny & Mary’ with its hypnotic synth bassline and narrative-driven lyrics got a new lease of life in 2015 with BRYAN FERRY providing vocals in a more down-tempo incarnation featuring on TODD TERJE’s 2015 debut ‘It’s Album Time’.

Available on the ROBERT PALMER album ‘Clues’ via Island Records

http://www.robertpalmer.com/


SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES Red Light (1980)

By 1980, SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES had fragmented and were in an interim period without a permanent guitarist which pushed the then-trio into various modes of experimentation. Featuring a Roland Compurhythm and a camera shutter motor rewind as its backbeat, the minimal ‘Red Light’ was dominated by ominous synth played by Steve Severin to evoke a smoky club atmosphere.

Available on the SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES album via Polydor

http://siouxsieandthebanshees.co.uk


GODLEY & CREME Under Your Thumb (1981)

After 10CC, the Godley & Creme single ‘Under Your Thumb’ came as a surprise with its hi-hat driven drum machine and primarily electronic instrumentation. The song echoed KRAFTWERK’s ‘Trans-Europe Express’, with its rhythmic nature tying in with the train journey narrative of the lyric. An epic ghost story set to a synthpop template, the duo became more established as promo video directors for artists including VISAGE and DURAN DURAN.

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

https://www.discogs.com/artist/104312-Godley-Creme


BILL NELSON Living In My Limousine (1981)

After BE BOP DELUXE, guitar virtuoso Nelson formed RED NOISE in 1978 with a more electronic focus. But when Nelson recorded the decisively Bowie-esque ‘Quit Dreaming & Get On The Beam’, his label Harvest refused to release it. Nelson bought the unreleased songs for his own label, Cocteau. A solo single ‘Do You Dream In Colour?’ gained radio play and the album was released by Mercury Records; ‘Living In My Limousine’ with its Numanesque detachment was one of the highlights.

Available on the BILL NELSON album ‘Quit Dreaming & Get On The Beam’ via Mercury Records

http://www.billnelson.com/


PETE SHELLEY Homosapien (1981)

‘Homosapien’ came about after the aborted fourth BUZZCOCKS album; producer Martin Rushent suggested to frontman Pete Shelley that they should work using the latest electronic equipment. Seen as Shelley’s coming out song, synths and 12 string guitar combined for a wonderful futuristic snarl. The lyric “Homo Superior in my interior” got the song a Radio1 ban and while it was recorded before THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Dare’, the parent album was not issued until 1982.

Available on the PETE SHELLEY album ‘Homosapien’ via Active Distribution Ltd

http://www.buzzcocks.com/


DAVE STEWART & BARBARA GASKIN It’s My Party (1981)

Keyboardist Dave Stewart (not to be confused with one half of EURYTHMICS) was best known for being part of progressive rock acts NATIONAL HEALTH and EGG, although link-ups with Colin Blunstone and Barbara Gaskin gave both hits with reworked electronic cover versions of ‘What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted’ and ‘It’s My Party’ respectively. The latter topped the UK charts in 1981 after successfully jumping on the coat tails of the first wave of British synth acts.

Available on the album ‘Up From The Dark’ via Broken Records

http://www.davebarb.com/


NEIL YOUNG Transformer Man (1982)

Between 1980-1982, Young was carrying out a therapy program for his young son Ben who had cerebral palsy. The music of KRAFTWERK reflected Young’s attempts to communicate with his son. Acquiring a Vocoder, Synclavier and Linn Drum Computer, while much of the ‘Trans’ album did not work, there was an ethereal ‘Neon Lights’ beauty in ‘Transformer Man’. For his troubles, Young was sued by his label Geffen Records for “deliberately uncommercial and unrepresentative work”!

Available on the NEIL YOUNG album ‘Trans’ via Geffen Records

http://www.neilyoung.com/


THE CURE The Walk (1983)

THE CURE were down to a duo with Lol Tolhurst ditching his drum kit for keyboards, leaving Robert Smith with a far wider artistic freedom outside of the act’s previous band-based context. The resultant fantasy single ‘The Walk’ arguably started the tit-for-tat war with NEW ORDER, its octave synth bassline and machine-like kick drum blatantly templating ‘Blue Monday’. ‘The Walk’ had all the ingredients for perfect synthpop with its sawtooth hook and off the wall lyrics.

Available on the album ‘Japanese Whispers’ via Fiction Records

http://www.thecure.com/


FREEEZ IOU (1983)

Following their 1980 hit ‘Southern Freeez’, jazz funksters FREEEZ had fragmented to a duo. Fascinated by the urban electro hybrid of Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’ produced by Arthur Baker, they jetted off to meet him in New York. Baker suggested recording his self-penned ‘IOU’. The similarity to the Roland TR808 rhythms heard on ‘Planet Rock’ and NEW ORDER’s ‘Confusion’ can be explained by Baker refusing the let anyone tamper with his beloved machine.

Available on the FREEEZ album ‘Gonna Get You’ via Cherry Red

https://www.discogs.com/artist/8670-Freeez


GENESIS Mama (1983)

While Tony Banks’ keyboards have always been a key factor in the sound of GENESIS, 1983 saw a distorted Linn LM-1 Drum Computer taking centre stage alongside some sinister minor key synthesizer lines played on a Prophet 10 at the start of ‘Mama’. Building in a similar fashion to ‘In Your Room’ by DEPECHE MODE, the story of a young man with a mother fixation, longing for a prostitute, took an unexpected genre twist with Phil Collins’ creepy laugh inspired by Grandmaster Flash.

Available on the album ‘Genesis’ via Virgin Records

http://www.genesis-music.com/


QUEEN I Want To Break Free (1984)

QUEEN used to declare “no synthesizers” on their albums, but by 1980’s ‘The Game’, an Oberheim OBX entered the ranks. Recording ‘I Want To Break Free’ had been tense, due to writer and bass player John Deacon’s insistence that the guitar solo had to be played on a Roland Jupiter 8 by session musician Fred Mandel. For its single release, the Linn Drum driven song was extended to include more synth in the intro and the bridge after the solo, emotively enhancing the less synthy album cut.

Available on the album ‘Greatest Hits II’ via EMI Music

http://www.queenonline.com/


LEONARD COHEN First We Take Manhattan (1988)

Originally recorded by Jennifer Warnes in 1985, the doom laden Canadian poet recorded his own sinsister synth interpretation. Tightly produced with sequenced digital slap bass, Linn Drum and sombre synth sweeps, ‘First We Take Manhattan’ was Cohen’s commentary on terrorism where “there are no alibis or no compromises”. Contrasting with a soulful bridge from Anjani Thomas, it made Cohen’s vocal even more resonant.

Available on the album ‘I’m Your Man’ via Sony Music

http://www.leonardcohen.com/


JULIAN COPE Just Like Pooh Bear (1995)

It doesn’t take a musical genius to work out just who Mr Cope is parodying here… the bassline, sequencing and drum programming on ‘Just Like Pooh Bear’ hilariously rip-off DEAD OR ALIVE’s ‘You Spin Me Around’. If this track had gone anywhere remotely near the charts, some sort of legal action would surely have ensued. The song judged on its own merits is an uber-catchy piece of synthpop work with some pretty filthy lyrics.

Available on the album ’20 Mothers’ via Echo Records

https://www.headheritage.co.uk/


THE BLOODHOUND GANG The Bad Touch (2004)

THE BLOODHOUND GANG’s ‘The Bad Touch’ with its double-entendres easily pushed all the necessary synthpop buttons.. The promo video itself went on to prove itself a little too controversial with a scene involving two gay characters being bashed with baguettes getting cut, resulting in singer Jimmy Pop offering to “…give any gay man two tickets to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of his choice if he could describe exactly who’s going to become violent based on that scene”.

Available on the album ‘Hooray For Boobies’ via Interscope Records

http://www.bloodhoundgang.com/


KELLY OSBOURNE One Word (2005)

After her initial pop punk adventures, Ozzy’s youngest daughter surprised everyone with the classic synthpop of ‘One Word’ penned by 4 NON BLONDES’ Linda Perry. However, it was perhaps a little bit too classic sounding, with a more than passing resemblance to VISAGE’s ‘Fade to Grey’; it was so uncanny that legal action was launched. The matter was settled with Midge Ure, Billy Currie and Chris Payne each awarded a share of the royalties.

Available on the KELLY OSBORNE album ‘Sleeping In The Nothing’ via Sanctuary Records

http://kellyosbourne.com/


THE KILLERS Human (2008)

Synth was the rogue element of THE KILLERS’ debut album ‘Hot Fuss’, reflecting singer Brandon Flowers’ love of NEW ORDER and DURAN DURAN. It wasn’t until ‘Human’, co-produced by Stuart Price, that THE KILLERS came up with a true synthpop anthem. A soaring rework of the ALPHAVILLE’s ‘Forever Young’, the thundering motorik dancebeat confused their more rock-inclined fanbase, as did the Hunter S Thompson referencing refrain of “are we human or are we dancer?”.

Available on THE KILLERS album ‘Direct Hits’ via Island Records

http://www.thekillersmusic.com/


MGMT Time To Pretend (2008)

Originally recorded for a 2005 EP, ‘Time To Pretend’ was stoner rock gone synthpop. Re-recorded for the ‘Oracular Spectacular’ album, the duo used a number of piercing monophonic synth lines to aurally represent the hatching of eggs laid by a deceased praying mantis. A lyrical fantasy about leading the rock star life of drugs and models, the overdriven drums and dominant synth bass pattern provided a perfect crossover record for MGMT.

Available on the MGMT album ‘Oracular Spectacular’ via Columbia Music

http://whoismgmt.com/


EDITORS Papillon (2009)

EDITORS followed a keyboard-based trajectory  with their third album ‘In This Light & on This Evening’. The Flood-produced ‘Papillon’ was their most synth-dominated single to date, although a pure electronic fix of the song was provided by the fantastic TIESTO remix. The decision to “go synth” didn’t go without ramifications though, with lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz departing in 2012 citing the band’s “future musical direction” as his reason to bail from the outfit.

Available on the album ‘In This Light & On This Evening’ via Kitchenware

http://www.editorsofficial.com/


JOHN GRANT Pale Green Ghosts (2013)

With John Grant, there are echoes of when hardcore folk fans screamed “JUDAS!” as Bob Dylan introduced electric guitars into his sound. Grant chose a folk festival for his we hope you enjoy our new direction moment, premiering a brace of synth/drum machine-based songs which prompted half the audience to walk out. ‘Pale Green Ghosts’, produced with Biggie Viera of GUS GUS, showcased an artist unafraid to embrace a polar opposite style and actually pulling it off successfully.

Available on the album ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ via Bella Union

http://johngrantmusic.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai and Paul Boddy
31st March 2016

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