Tag: Trevor Horn (Page 1 of 4)

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

25 ELECTRONIC CHEESY LISTENING

When the first huge synthesizer complexes from the likes of RCA, Moog, Buchla and EMS emerged, initially they were the realm of the avant garde.

But gradually they ended up in all genres of music, often as dressing and for effect before become a dominant melodic presence. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 25 FAVOURITE SYNTH SONGS BY NON-SYNTH ACTS listing in 2016 demonstrated how more rock-oriented exponents such as Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, Pete Shelley, Leonard Cohen and even Neil Young took to electronic experimentation in the wake of the pioneering exploits of KRAFTWERK and the subsequent success of Synth Britannia.

As synthesizers became more cost effective and reliable, they began to replace live musicians within the mainstream, particularly in a live context. Using synthesizers to imitate the sound of an orchestra and brass section rather than using the real instruments themselves on his UK tour, who would have thought that it would be Barry Manilow who would anger the Musicians Union enough to table a motion in 1982 to ban synthesizers from recording and live performance.

As a follow-up to 25 FAVOURITE SYNTH SONGS BY NON-SYNTH ACTS, here are 25 songs in yearly then alphabetical order of a more cheesy listening, AOR and mainstream pop bent which have utilised synths prominently enough to raise the question, “is it or is it not electronic pop?”


DAVID ESSEX Gonna Make You A Star (1975)

Produced by Jeff Wayne with heavy use of synthesizer on its brassy leadline and bass counterpoints, ‘Gonna Make You A Star’ was a UK No1 single for David Essex. Singing in a cockney accent, the song was his ironic commentary on his roots and being seen as a pop idol in the vein of David Cassidy, hence the line “Oh is he more, too much more, than a pretty face? It’s so strange the way he talk – it’s a disgrace”.

Available on the DAVID ESSEX album ‘David Essex’ via Sony Music

https://www.davidessex.com/


MARIANNE FAITHFULL The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan (1979)

Originally recorded in 1974 by DR HOOK & THE MEDICINE SHOW, ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’ was given the pulsing electronic treatment by producer Mark Miller Mundy and the legendary Steve Winwood. The arrangement suited Ms Faithfull’s now raucous deep voice, the result of years of alcohol and substance abuse. It was a far cry from the sweet melodicism of her early records like ‘As Tears Go By’ but her art reflected her life.

Available on the MARIANNE FAITHFULL album ‘Broken English’ via Island Records

http://www.mariannefaithfull.org.uk/


THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER Coo Coo U (1979)

American azz and pop vocal quartet THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER hit No1 with the self-explanatory ‘Chanson D’Amour’ in 1976. But in 1979, they covered ‘Coo Coo U’, a song first recorded by THE KINGSTON TRIO in 1959 with synths, vocoder and varispeeded voices in the manner of THE RESIDENTS. Their avant-easy approach continued in a futuristic Akai advert which saw the quartet dressed as Numanoids!

Available on THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER album ‘Extensions’ via Craft Recordings

https://manhattantransfer.net/


ABBA Lay All Your Love On Me (1981)

While synths had always been part of ABBA’s forte on songs like ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’, the Super Swedes eschewed their characteristic piano and went to whole electronic disco hog on ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’. Released in the UK on 12” only, it reached No7 and despite being the same as the ‘Super Trouper’ album mix, it became the biggest selling 12 inch before being overtaken by NEW ORDER’s ‘Blue Monday’.

Available on the ABBA album ‘Super Trouper’ via Universal Music

https://abbasite.com/


DOLLAR Mirror Mirror (1981)

Having been in the syrupy cabaret act GUYS ‘N’ DOLLS, David Van Day and Thereza Bazar continued in that vein with songs like ‘Who Were You With In The Moonlight?’. But the duo approached Trevor Horn who was carving out a new career as a producer and gave DOLLAR a more distinctive technologically enhanced art pop sound. ‘Mirror Mirror’ was the bounciest of the four singles produced by Horn which brought him to the attention of ABC.

Available on ‘The DOLLAR Album’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.facebook.com/DollarOfficial


DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES I Can’t Go That (1981)

With songs such as ‘She’s Gone’ and ‘Rich Girl’, Daryl Hall and John Oates were rooted in soul of the blue-eyed variety. While ‘I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)’ was not exactly Gary Numan, the hook laden tune did make use of similar instrumentation with a Prophet 5 featuring heavily as well as the Rock 1 setting on a Roland CR78 CompuRhythm for theor first UK Top 10 hit.

Available on the DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES album ‘Private Eyes’ via RCA

https://hallandoates.com/


ROD STEWART Young Turks (1981)

Better known for his anthemic ballads, Rod Stewart had jumped on the disco bandwagon with ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’. In 1981, he went with a LinnDrum driven new wave synth sound not far off what Robert Palmer had experimented with the year before on his ‘Clues’ album. A slang term for rebellious youth, ‘Young Turks’ saw Rod The Mod adapting his gravelly voice over a frantic pulsing backdrop.

Available on the ROD STEWART album ‘The Story So Far’ via Warner Music

https://rodstewart.com/


BEF Presents TINA TURNER Ball Of Confusion (1982)

‘Music Of Quality & Distinction Vol1’ was conceived as a high-tech covers project featuring guest vocalists helmed by Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh of HEAVEN 17. Tina Turner had been languishing on the “chicken-in-a-basket” circuit but the album saw her recorded return on a blistering reworking of THE TEMPTATIONS’ Ball Of Confusion’. It featured musicians as diverse as guitarist John McGeoch and Paul Jones on harmonica next to Roland System 100 sequencing!

Available on the BEF album ‘1981-2011’ via Virgin Records

https://www.tinaturnerofficial.com/


BUCKS FIZZ Stepping Out (1982)

Best known for winning the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Making Your Mind Up’ in 1981, three UK No1s, a coach crash and very public in-fighting leading today to one member owning the BUCKS FIZZ while the other three quarters ply their trade as THE FIZZ, ‘Stepping Out’ was their self-produced and self-composed foray into synths with a twist of ABBA! It was originally released as the B-side of ‘If You Can’t Stand The Heat’.

Available on the BUCKS FIZZ boxed set ‘The Land Of Make Believe – The Definitive Collection’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.thefizzofficial.com/


HOT CHOCOLATE It Started With A Kiss (1982)

The spacey ‘Put Your Love In Me’ from 1977 saw HOT CHOCOLATE playing with ARP Solina string machines but produced by Mickie Most, the tearjerking ballad ‘It Started With A Kiss’ was shaped by synth counterpoints from Pete Wingfield who had produced DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS ‘Geno’. By strange coincidence , the song was a favourite of Kevin Rowland, then riding high with the Celtic-flavoured reinvention of the band.

Available on the HOT CHOCOLATE album ‘The Very Best Of’ via RAK Records

https://www.facebook.com/HotChocolateband/


TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS You Got Lucky (1982)

Something of an outlier in the Tom Petty catalogue away from his heartland rock, ‘You Got Lucky’ used a taped drum loop and while there was a Morricone-inspired guitar solo, it was Benmont Tench on an Oberheim OBXa and Roland Juno-60 who carried the song’s main structure. However, despite later singing ‘I Won’t Back Down’ in 1989, ‘You Got Lucky’ was not popular with Petty and was initially rarely played live.

Available on the TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS album ‘Long After Dark’ via Universal Music

https://www.tompetty.com/


LEO SAYER Orchard Road (1983)

If there is one man who can be credited for bring synths into the wider easy listening sound, it is producer Alan Tarney who later worked with A-HA. Composing the music to ‘Orchard Road’, Tarney provided an eerie electronic backdrop for Leo Sayer to plead forgiveness to his wife after a marital affair. The released version was actually the one take demo with Sayer improvising the words, capturing his regret.

Available on the LEO SAYER album ‘Have You Ever Been in Love’ via Demon Records

https://www.leosayer.com/


JENNIFER RUSH The Power Of Love (1984)

Considered by many to be the ultimate alto-operatic power ballad, ‘The Power Of Love’ was dominated by a synth and computer programmed backdrop by Harry Baierl punctuated by Simmons drums. The song was initially denied a release in Jennifer Rush’s US homeland for sounding “too European”. Seeming like it was about to morph into ULTRAVOX’s ‘Vienna’, the song was later covered by Celine Dion.

Available on the JENNIFER RUSH album ‘The Power Of Love’ via Sony Music

http://www.jennifer-rush.com/


DAVID CASSIDY The Last Kiss (1985)

Former teen idol David Cassidy reinvented his music career with a Cliff Richard song that had originally been released as ‘Young Love’ which was written and produced by Alan Tarney. Given a revised slower treatment by Tarney with new lyrics by Cassidy, the synth laden ‘The Last Kiss’ also featured a cameo backing vocal by George Michael who was to have his own ethereal synth heavy hit with ‘A Different Corner’.

Available on the DAVID CASSIDY album ‘Romance’ via Arista Records

https://www.davidcassidy.com/


FOREIGNER That Was Yesterday (1985)

While ‘Waiting For A Girl’ was dominated by a synth line played by Thomas Dolby, ‘That Was Yesterday’ was virtually devoid of conventional guitar and bass although live drums were retained. Almost like gothic AOR, the 12 inch and instrumental orchestral versions enhanced the synth elements even more in a song about the haunting sub-conscious emotions of past relationships.

Available on the FOREIGNER album ‘Agent Provocateur’ via Atlantic Records

https://www.foreigneronline.com/


CLIFF RICHARD Some People (1987)

Produced by Alan Tarney who had worked on two of Cliff Richard’s previous albums ‘Wired for Sound’ and ‘I’m No Hero’ as well writing his synth-laden No1 single ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’, the synth and voice sample swathed backing on ‘Some People’ was held down by a crisp drum machine backbone. It provided serene surroundings that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an A-HA or CHINA CRISIS track.

Available on the CLIFF RICHARD album ‘Always Guaranteed’ via EMI Music

https://www.cliffrichard.org/


LIZA MINNELLI I Want You Now (1989)

Along with the HI-NRG cover of ‘Losing My Mind’, the dramatic house-infused pop of ‘I Want You Now’ was a signal that ‘Results’ was not to be the usual Liza Minnelli cabaret record. Keen on doing a pop album in contrast with her normal output, Minnelli had particularly liked PET SHOP BOYS ‘Rent’ and Neil Tennant was already a fan, so a likely collaboration was a given with a sophisticated Continental austere being the result…

Available on the LIZA MINNELLI album ‘Results’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.lizaminnelli.com/


DUSTY SPRINGFIELD Nothing Has Been Proved (1989)

Produced by PET SHOP BOYS, the duo were invited by film producer Stephen Woolley to provide music for ‘Scandal’, a dramatisation of 1963 Profumo affair. With the idea that ‘Nothing Has Been Proved’ should be sung by a star of that time, Dusty Springfield’s performance was complimented with orchestrations by Angelo Badalamenti. The duo would later be asked to return by Woolley to provide music for 1992’s ‘The Crying Game’.

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

https://www.dustyspringfieldofficial.com/


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN Streets Of Philadelphia (1994)

Written by Bruce Springsteen for film ‘Philadelphia’, ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’ had been intended to be a recording with lead vocals by veteran jazz singer Little Jimmy Scott. But he Springsteen to return to his own vocalled demo with a drum loop and elegiac synths which provided the song with a much more mournful feel in line with the film’s poignant subject matter.

Available on the BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN album ‘Greatest Hits’ via Sony Music

https://brucespringsteen.net/


CHER Believe (1998)

Co-written by Brian Higgins who later made his fortune leading production team XENOMANIA, ‘Believe’ was a musical departure for Cher with a euphoric Europop tune that could have been mistaken for ERASURE. Produced by Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, it was notable for the robotic overdriven Autotune effect that distorted the vocals by removing the natural portamento slide between pitches in singing.

Available on the CHER album ‘The Greatest Hits’ via Warner Music

https://www.cher.com/


GIRLS ALOUD Love Is Pain (2009)

Having come out on top in ‘Popstars: The Rivals’ in 2002, GIRLS ALOUD had a glittering career with their XENOMANIA produced pop. ‘Love Is Pain’ recalled PET SHOP BOYS in its electropop stylings. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, who were working with XENOMANIA at the same time, wrote the song ‘The Loving Kind’ which featured on the same album ‘Out Of Control’.

Available on the GIRLS ALOUD album ‘Out Of Control’ via Polydor Records

https://www.girlsaloud.com/


CHRISTINA AGUILERA Birds Of Prey (2010)

In 2008, there came the surprise news that Christina Aguilera was collaborating with Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu of LADYTRON. Fast forward to 2010 and the two finished tracks ‘Birds Of Prey’ and ‘Little Dreamer’ were relegated to bonus track status on the ‘Bionic’ album. Free of her oral gymnastics, Aguilera showed great restraint on ‘Bird Of Prey’ over a dreamy synthetic soundscape with a hypnotic Middle Eastern feel.

Available on the CHRISTINA AGUILERA album ‘Bionic’ (Deluxe Edition) via RCA

https://www.christinaaguilera.com/


TAKE THAT Flowerbed (2010)

Something of an electronic gem, ‘Flowerbed’ was the hidden track on the reunited TAKE THAT’s Stuart Price produced opus ‘Progress’. Beginning with soothing vocoder, Jason Orange came over in the manner of Al Stewart in a rare lead vocal. Over a dreamy backing track that possessed the glacial Nordic quality of RÖYKSOPP, the sprinkling of textural ambience built to a metronomic percussive climax.

Available on the TAKE THAT album ‘Progress’ via RCA

https://takethat.com/


TAYLOR SWIFT Style (2014)

An established New Country starlet, Taylor Swift went the full pop route with an album named after the year of her birth. Despite pressure from her label to include fiddles into songs that were predominantly electronically derived, there was the CHVRCHES aping ‘Out Of The Woods’ but ‘Style’ took the lead from synthwave in a song allegedly about her fletting romance with a certain member of NEW DIRECTION.

Available on the TAYLOR SWIFT album ‘1989’ via Big Machine

https://www.taylorswift.com/


ED SHEERAN Overpass Graffiti (2021)

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK mistook this Ed Sheeran popwave number for Ollie Wride when it was played on BBC Radio 2. A far cry from the dreadful ‘Galway Girl’ or the R ‘n’ B of ‘Sing’, ‘Overpass Graffiti’ was swathed in synths and with its snappy stuttering beat and engaging chorus, it brought to mind another artist of a more traditional bent, Don Henley of THE EAGLES and his huge hit ‘The Boys Of Summer’.

Available on the ED SHEERAN album ‘=’ via Atlantic Records

http://edsheeran.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11 November 2023

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

25 FAVOURITE MUSIC BOOKS

Factory Records impresario and Granada TV presenter Tony Wilson once said: “When forced to pick between truth and legend, print the legend.”

Books about the trials and tribulations of the music industry come in all shapes, sizes and angles. The approach can be tricky… should they be personal accounts, encyclopaedic histories, stories based on real life but with some spin, or just snapshots of an era?

In recent years, autobiographies and memoirs have become very popular as money for old rope in the absence of physical music sales. These can range from being informative and hilarious to extremely bitter, with others coming over very dull in an attempt not to upset anybody. Meanwhile others feature so many falsehoods that they may as well be placed in the ‘Fiction’ section.

One less appealing format that has been gaining increasing prevalence is the fan memory compendium; this could be seen as a lazy and cheaper way of producing a publication as followers compete to be seen as the biggest fan. Meanwhile others, notably members of lower league bands, try to make out they were massive fans in the first place with recollections that are actually veiled attempts to promote their own music.

When writing a music book, it helps to actually read and research a few beforehand. In addition, when deciding whether a point is worthy of inclusion, the viewpoint of the reader must always be taken into consideration as they hypothetically ponder “so what?”. 

The 21st Century ubiquity of social media has proved that not everyone can string a coherent sentence together.  But where that may seem a barrier, a ghost writer can be the subject’s best friend and a number of the books listed here have taken that route.

Not a best of list, here are 25 music books that have become the personal favourites of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK listed in yearly and then alphabetical order by title.


DEPECHE MODE: BLACK CELEBRATION Steve Malins (1999)

Steve Malins’ biography features interviews with Alan Wilder, Daniel Miller and Flood. Offering assessment on the unusual band dynamic, one story that highlights things were going south is the debauched cricket match between DEPECHE MODE and OMD during the 1988 US tour. The continually underappreciated Wilder declares how he proudly bowled out Andy McCluskey whom he intensely disliked. Meanwhile Dave Gahan hovered up a line of coke before going into bat and was inevitably out for a golden duck!

‘Black Celebration’ was originally published by Andre Deutsch Ltd with 2001, 2005 + 2013 updated editions

https://www.depechemode.com/


TAINTED LIFE Marc Almond (1999)

This is a frank but humorous autobiography by the SOFT CELL frontman about living life with art school aspirations but suddenly thrust into becoming a pop star and having false tabloid stories written about him in a homophobic world. Attempting to rebuild a career having signed to Warners in 1991, in a reality check, he is told by MD Rob Dickens that the world does not need another Marc Almond album and suggests recording a Trevor Horn produced cover of Jacques Brel’s ‘Jacky’ as made famous by Scott Walker…

‘Tainted Life’ was originally published by Pan Books

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


I WAS A ROBOT Wolfgang Flür (2000)

‘I Was A Robot’ was the controversial autobiographical exposé of the KRAFTWERK machine combined with Wolfgang Flür’s partying exploits. However, as his account of OMD coming backstage to meet the band after the Liverpool Empire gig in 1975 has since proved to be false while his musical contribution to KRAFTWERK recordings has been shown to have been minimal, although entertaining, parts of this book should be taken with a pinch of salt.

‘I Was A Robot’ was originally published by Omnibus Press with 2003 + 2017 revised editions

https://www.facebook.com/WolfgangFlur1


THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF CLASSIC 80s POP Jonathan Blythe (2002)

Written in the irreverent vein of classic Neil Tennant-era Smash Hits, the best quote in this amusing book is about DURAN DURAN: “You will have surely have wondered why the girl you fancied seemed far more interested in a slightly porky bloke with bleached-blond hair and a foppish name. The compilation ‘Decade’ contains the 80s hits, but if you want a more comprehensive overview, go for the other one ‘Greatest’. You can usually find them both in the ‘CDs for £5.99’ section, to be honest”

‘The Encyclopaedia Of Classic 80s Pop’ was originally published by Allison & Busby

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/1172733.The_Encyclopaedia_Of_Classic_80s_Pop


24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE Tony Wilson (2002)

Given the Factory Records catalogue number FAC 424 and subtitled “What The Sleeve Notes Never Tell You”, this account of the Manchester independent label is centred around Wilson’s noted ego where the narrative reads as enjoyable spin rather than factual stories about the label, its bands and The Haçienda. His alleged legendary quote that ”The musicians own everything. The company owns nothing. All our bands have the freedom to f**k off” was to prove to be his downfall…

’24 Hour Party People’ was originally published by Macmillan

https://factoryrecords.org/


NEW ROMANTICS: THE LOOK Dave Rimmer (2003)

Smash Hits writer and author of ‘Like Punk Never Happened…’ Dave Rimmer takes a look at the flamboyant New Romantics via The Blitz Club playlists and profiles of SPANDAU BALLET, VISAGE, DURAN DURAN, SOFT CELL, DEPECHE MODE, KRAFTWERK and DAF. The Myth of Berlin and Futurism are also discussed and there are plenty of glossy photos that encapsulate its spirit.

‘The Look’ was originally published by Omnibus Press

https://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Writer/dave-rimmer/


IF I WAS Midge Ure (2004)

With dry humour, this is a sincere and honest account by Midge Ure of his career which included being a teen pop idol with SLIK who had their own Look-In magazine comic strip. As well as accounts of his success with ULTRAVOX and VISAGE and as a solo artist, there is also his darker descent into alcoholism in the wake of low sales. Our hero is candid about the occasionally tense dynamics with his colleagues, while an insight into VISAGE’s original contract with Polydor makes very interesting reading.

‘If I Was’ was originally published by Virgin Books with 2011 revised edition

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/


PET SHOP BOYS, CATALOGUE Philip Hoare & Chris Heath (2006)

This is a superbly presented visual retrospective of PET SHOP BOYS up to ‘Battleship Potemkin’ featuring artwork, video stills, stage sets and other artefacts accompanied by insightful commentary. There is also a chronology included as well as an interview with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe who again steals the show with the quip “We still are grumpy, actually”!

‘Catalogue’ was originally published by Thames and Hudson Ltd

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


BRIAN ENO: ON SOME FARAWAY BEACH David Sheppard (2008)

Credited with taking David Bowie into “a whole new school of pretension” with The Berlin Trilogy, this authorised biography on Brian Eno traces his career beginning as a self-confessed non-musician with ROXY MUSIC twisting knobs on a VCS3 to producing U2. In between, he makes synthesizers go bong, popularises ambient music, develops Oblique Strategies with artist Peter Schmidt and gets his head around programming the Yamaha DX7. But the biggest revelation in the book? “Eno was shagging more women than Ferry”!

‘On Some Faraway Beach’ was originally published by Orion

http://www.enoweb.co.uk/


SPARKS: No1 SONG IN HEAVEN Dave Thompson (2009)

An enjoyable unauthorised biography of SPARKS, Ron and Russell Mael’s endearingly witty contributions to this book come from the author’s interviews with the brothers conducted between 1985-2009. There are also press cuttings, an expansive discography and a collector’s guide alongside quotes from former backing band members. But while the stories of the various albums are detailed, those wanting gossip on personal lives will be disappointed.

‘No1 Song In Heaven’ was originally published by Cherry Red Books

http://allsparks.com/


GARY NUMAN: BACK STAGE Stephen Roper (2012)

‘A Book Of Reflections’, long time Numanoid Stephen Roper gives a comprehensive account of the imperial years of Gary Numan from 1979 to 1981 via a series of interviews and memories from band members Chris Payne, RRussell Bell and the late Cedric Sharpley as well as the man himself. OMD’s Andy McCluskey, SIMPLE MINDS’ Jim Kerr and Nash The Slash give the viewpoint of the support acts while there are also additional observations from John Foxx, Richard Jobson and Jerry Casale.

‘Back Stage’ was originally published independently with revised 2017 eBook edition available from https://back-stage.dpdcart.com/cart/view#/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-rRuX6k___Y4ZkTHwQg–Q


IN THE PLEASURE GROOVE: LOVE, DEATH & DURAN DURAN John Taylor (2012)

This autobiography traces the story of how a nervous bespectacled Brummie lad called Nigel became an international sex symbol as John Taylor, bassist of DURAN DURAN; “Now, I had only to wink in a girl’s direction in a hotel lobby, backstage or at a record company party, and have company until the morning” he recalls. As outrageous and debauched as some of these anecdotes of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are, it would have been very difficult for anyone thrust into this position aged 21 to have acted any differently.

‘In The Pleasure Groove’ was originally published by Sphere

http://www.duranduran.com/


MAD WORLD Lori Majeski & Jonathan Bernstein (2014)

‘Mad World’ delves into the spirit, the politics and the heartache behind some of the greatest songs in popular culture with an American MTV viewpoint courtesy of enthusiastic Duranie Lori Majewski, balanced by the critique of Glaswegian Jonathan Bernstein. The contrasting dynamic ensures a celebration of the era while simultaneously pulling no punches with Bernstein lobbing hand grenades in the direction of KAJAGOOGOO and THOMPSON TWINS!

‘Mad World’ was originally published by Abrams Image

https://www.facebook.com/madworldthebook


JAPAN: A FOREIGN PLACE Anthony Reynolds (2015)

With the co-operation of Richard Barbieri, Steve Jansen and Rob Dean, this book is the first of its kind about the influential enigma that was JAPAN. With detailed accounts by band members and controversial manager Simon Napier-Bell among others, notably absent is David Sylvian who appears via archive interviews while the late Mick Karn is quoted from his own autobiography ‘Japan & Self Existence’.

‘A Foreign Place’ was originally published by Burning Shed

http://nightporter.co.uk/


ELECTRI_CITY: THE DÜSSELDORF SCHOOL OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC Rudi Esch (2016)

First published in German in 2015, this history gives a fascinating insider’s account of The Düsseldorf School and its cultural significance via interview quotes. Contributors on the home side include Wolfgang Flür, Robert Görl, Gabi Delgado, Hans Lampe, Ralf Dörper and Susanne Freytag, while the Brits they influenced feature Andy McCluskey, Martyn Ware, Dave Ball and Daniel Miller among their number. As Robert Görl says: “Wir wollten lieber mit Maschinen arbeiten… We always preferred working with machines”.

‘Electri_City’ was originally published by Omnibus Press

https://www.facebook.com/Electri.city.Esch


LET’S MAKE LOTS OF MONEY Tom Watkins with Matthew Lindsay (2016)

Subtitled “Secrets of a Rich, Fat, Gay, Lucky Bastard”, this is the autobiography of the late Tom Watkins, the Svengali who managed PET SHOP BOYS, BROS and EAST 17. “A big man with a loud voice” said Neil Tennant, but he had a bolshy ability to extract favourable deals including a rumoured 20% commission on gross income while always asking “What would Edna in Huddersfield think?”. Later becoming disillusioned with the pop industry, he describes ‘The X Factor’ as being like “a Nuremberg Rally on pink drugs”

‘Let’s Make Lots Of Money’ was originally published by Virgin Books

https://www.electricityclub.co.uk/tom-watkins-lets-make-lots-of-money/


SUBSTANCE: INSIDE NEW ORDER Peter Hook (2016)

An informative in-depth look inside NEW ORDER, this huge memoir running to over 750 pages by Peter Hook was informative but not unsurprisingly tinged with bitterness and anger. But if you want to know where the band played on 9 April 1985, it’s here! There are track-by-track rundowns of each NEW ORDER album (apart from ’Republic’) and if you’ve always wanted to find out which sequencer was used on ‘True Faith’ or what Hooky’s Top16 bass cab messages are, then look no further!

‘Substance’ was originally published by Simon & Schuster

https://www.facebook.com/peterhookandthelight/


RECORD PLAY PAUSE + FAST FORWARD: Stephen Morris (2019 + 2020)

Effectively a lengthy book divided into two parts, Volume I of Stephen Morris’ memoir demonstrated his abilities as an engaging storyteller blessed with an entertaining dry wit, able to convey his growing up in an amusing and relatable manner. In the NEW ORDER dominated Volume II, readers cannot help but laugh out loud when our hero discovers that the 10 mile shooting range of his newly acquired ex-British Army Abbot FV433 self-propelled gun will make Bernard Sumner’s house in Alderley Edge an easy target!

‘Record Play Pause Rewind’ + ‘Fast Forward’ were originally published by Constable

https://twitter.com/stephenpdmorris


ELECTRONIC BOY: MY LIFE IN & OUT OF SOFT CELL Dave Ball (2020)

The quiet half of SOFT CELL, Dave Ball attended the same Blackpool school as Chris Lowe from PET SHOP BOYS but they never met. There was obviously something in the sea and the accounts of the Northern Soul scene point towards how that influence, along with the affordability of synthesizers, was to seed a long and successful music career which later included THE GRID. The Electronic Boy is honest about his various demons, but there is also humour and an equipment list appendix plus plenty of technical talk.

‘Electronic Boy’ was originally published by Omnibus Press

https://www.facebook.com/daveballofficial


ADVENTURES IN MODERN RECORDING Trevor Horn (2022)

Chaptered around 23 significant pieces of music in the life of Trevor Horn, the producer provides an insight into the making of his greatest moments. Music industry politics are discussed, notably with his ZTT signings FRANKIE GOES HOLLYWOOD, PROPAGANDA and THE ART OF NOISE. Among the revelations are getting bassist Mark Lickley fired from ABC but in all, this is a fun read with lots of name dropping… so imagine sitting in a van with Grace Jones and Jackie Chan that has no seat belts!

‘Adventures In Modern Recording’ was originally published by Nine Eight

https://www.facebook.com/trevorhornofficial


ELECTRONICALLY YOURS Vol1 Martyn Ware (2022)

An autobiography that covers up to the end of 1992, a quarter of the book is brilliantly devoted to a track-by-track analysis of every released recording that Martyn Ware was involved in by THE HUMAN LEAGUE, HEAVEN 17 and BEF. Politics looms within ‘Electronically Yours Vol1’ but without this socially conscientious drive , there would be no ‘Penthouse & Pavement’ or ‘The Luxury Gap’. With the recent passing of Tina Turner, Ware’s accounts of working with her now have added poignancy.

‘Electronically Yours Vol1’ was originally published by Constable

https://martynwareofficial.co.uk/


LISTENING TO THE MUSIC THE MACHINES MAKE Richard Evans (2022)

Focussing on “inventing electronic pop”, ‘Listening To The Music The Machines Make’ tells the story of the Synth Britannia generation by referencing archive material rather than via new interviews with the protagonists of the period. The end result is a more accurate picture of how synthesized forms were derided by a hostile music press back in the day, contrasting the rose tinted view projected by some cultural observers and fans today. But over 40 years on, this music has won the fight with many of the acts still performing today.

‘Listening To The Music The Machines Make’ was originally published by Omnibus Press

https://inventingelectronicpop.com/


THE SOUND OF THE MACHINE: MY LIFE IN KRAFTWERK & BEYOND Karl Bartos (2022)

A detailed autobiography of Karl Bartos about his time in KRAFTWERK and more, his optimistic disposition is a key aspect of this story. But although rising to the ranks of co-writer for ‘The Man Machine’ album, some members were more equal than others as Ralf Hütter bagged himself 50% of the publishing for the lyrics of ‘Spacelab’ and ‘Metropolis’ despite those tracks containing one word, thus reducing Bartos’ musical share! Bitterness is largely absent from this book, but it is no “sex, synths und schlagzeug” romp either.

‘The Sound Of The Machine’ was originally published by Omnibus Press

http://www.karlbartos.com/


THEMES FOR GREAT CITIES: A NEW HISTORY OF SIMPLE MINDS Graeme Thompson (2022)

Featuring new interviews with original members Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Mick MacNeil and Derek Forbes, this biography focuses on the SIMPLE MINDS era of 1979-1985 when they were at their imperial and imaginative best. So where did it all go wrong? The book reveals what ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has thought since buying the album in 1984 and that Jim Kerr himself now confirms… the second half of ‘Sparkle In The Rain’ is not particularly good! So who agrees? “LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS!”

‘Themes For Great Cities’ was originally published by Constable

https://www.simpleminds.com/


CONFORM TO DEFORM: THE WEIRD & WONDERFUL WORLD OF SOME BIZZARE Wesley Doyle (2023)

The story of Some Bizzare was always going to be a grand undertaking but Wesley Doyle managed to assemble Marc Almond, Dave Ball, Matt Johnson, Daniel Miller, Steve Hovington, Neil Arthur, JG Thirlwell, Stephen Mallinder, Anni Hogan, Stevo Pearce and his long suffering personal assistant Jane Rolink to document the rise and fall of the label that got into bed with the majors. Opting for a chronological quotes narrative, the book captures the personality of the characters involved and the tensions between them.

Conform To Deform’ was originally published by Jawbone Press

https://twitter.com/WesleyDoyleUK


Text by Chi Ming Lai
13 June 2023

ABC Interview

A No1 album in 1982, ‘The Lexicon of Love’ was ABC’s debut album which many have said defined a decade.

Produced by Trevor Horn, it was a widescreen mix of soul, funk, disco, new wave and electronic pop that spawned the hit singles ‘Poison Arrow’, ‘The Look Of Love’ and ‘All Of My Heart’. Featuring the classic ABC line-up pf Martin Fry, Mark White, Stephen Singleton and David Palmer, among the studio team were keyboardist and arranger Anne Dudley, engineer Gary Langan and Fairlight programmer JJ Jeczalik who would go on to become THE ART OF NOISE.

Remaining founder member and ABC frontman Martin Fry toured ‘The Lexicon of Love’ in 2022 with a full symphonic orchestra conducted by Anne Dudley to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its release. The home town gig at Sheffield City Hall was recorded for the imminent release of ‘The Lexicon of Love Live’.

Martin Fry spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK via Zoom from Barbados about the making of ‘The Lexicon Of Love’, the various changes in direction of ABC, the good times, the bad times and living in the here and now…

Did you think you’d still be performing ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ 40 years after it was released?

I never thought I’d be performing 15 minutes later! Andy Warhol said 15 minutes was a long time in fame, I dunno… four decades on! *laughs*

Originally all those years ago, The Lexicon Of Love’ came out and on it was ‘Poison Arrow’, ‘The Look Of Love’ and ‘All Of My Heart’; we did have a good run for our money, it was on the charts for pretty much a year and we continued to have pop hits throughout the 80s but there’s a spell where it all goes quiet isn’t there? I’ve realised subsequently that’s what happens to Mick Jagger and Elton John… anybody that’s going to have a long career, there’s a downtime.

I remember in the Britpop days thinking “ABC in the shiny tuxedos? NO!”, there’s THE PRODIGY, there’s SUEDE, there’s OASIS, we were from a different era. But in 1998, I was asked to do a tour with CULTURE CLUB and THE HUMAN LEAGUE, so ABC took to the road and we played in sold out arenas! We realised there was a public thirst and hunger for the 80s pop again. So I’ve never really looked back.

About 10 years ago, we started playing shows with the full orchestra and Anne Dudley conducting, those shows really went well. it’s nice to play with a band, it’s nice to play track dates but it’s great to play with the orchestra. That generated a whole new career, people would come to the shows and that’s why we recorded the live album from Sheffield, it was a gig we about 12 months ago now to celebrate that fact. So it has been a long and winding road.

Fame’s a fleeting thing anyway, there are many different types of fame and I kind of like it the way it is now, it’s a great honour and a great privilege to stand on stage under the spotlight to sing those songs.

You did the ‘Steel City’ tour in 2008 with THE HUMAN LEAGUE and HEAVEN 17 as part of a package, but was there a moment when you realised ABC could headline again?

Yeah, I liked playing on those festivals but in 2001, I did this thing in Germany called ‘Night Of The Proms’ and it was with a big orchestra and choir.

They had Chris De Burgh and Meat Loaf and you all live in a hotel, it was one of the first things I did where I was part of the scenery, just a small part of the show, it was like joining the circus, and it felt good. So from that, I learnt that when it came to the orchestra, ABC could be the headline act and play for 2 hours. We played the hits, had an intermission and played ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ so it all grew out of that.

Did you take a look at Trevor Horn’s memoir and in particular about the making of ‘Poison Arrow’ and ‘The Look Of Love’ in particular?

I’ve not read Trevor’s book, I saw him about 12 months ago when we played a cruise ship in Florida. It was great to go for dinner with him. We worked together long time ago but I’ve run into him a lot through the years. I should read his book, but in a way I’m a little bit scared to because we had a great time making ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ and I would like the memory to remain like that.

What I found interesting about Trevor’s account of making ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ was how he used his tracing method…

Yes, making the record was 50% us, 50% Trevor. We didn’t want to make a record where you made 28 takes and picked the 28th take and put it out. No, we loved KRAFTWERKVICE VERSA was the band we were in before ABC with three synthesizers and because we were grew up in Sheffield, it was in the outré of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and CABARET VOLTAIRE, we’d have a little 2 track machine and overdubbed different parts. So when it came to working with Trevor, we said “how come these dance records we are listening to like Quincy Jones productions on Michael Jackson solo stuff and Grace Jones with Sly and Robbie, how do they sound so good?”, the timing was very different to raw sound of a lot of English records at the time.

So the tracing method he refers to, our drummer at the time David Palmer who plays with Rod Stewart, he was really good at programming drum machines and this would make the kick drum and snare very precise. Trevor would add a programmed bass and then we would play along to this. So it was like tracing really and it gave a very modern sound to ‘Poison Arrow’ and ‘The Look Of Love’. We were into the electronic side of things and it was a lot of fun.

What are your favourite memories?

After we had a couple of hit records, the label said we were allowed to have some strings on our record. So we went to Abbey Road and that was an incredible day standing in the room, feeling the orchestra play ‘All Of My Heart’. Another time was we went to Dean Street Studio which Tony Visconti owned and David Bowie walked in and hung out for a couple of hours.

He sat in on the sessions, making suggestions at the back, having a cup of tea. At the time, we were blown away by that, we loved Bowie. So I think he put a bit of his magic dust on those sessions.

One of the things Trevor Horn mentions in his book is that Bowie had an idea to put the end of ‘The Look Of Love’?

Yeah, as I remember it, we were adamant that we didn’t want a guitar solo, so there was an eight bar section, then third chorus, an eight bar space and then there’s another chorus ramping it up to the end of ‘The Look Of Love’… so Bowie was interested in the idea of leaving messages on an answering machine for somebody that is never going to reply, he thought that would be a great pathos and a funny thing to put on. We did try an answering machine but in the end, I just did that mad freeform mumble that “maybe one day you’ll find true love” which was inspired by Iggy Pop and the song ‘Turn Blue’ which was on the album ‘Lust For Life’ which Bowie produced. Iggy would always speak to himself like James Brown, I love it when singers just start rambling on their own records, Lou Reed does it as well.

Were you channelling your inner Tom Jones on ‘The Look Of Love’?

That’s nice of you to say that, we played a show with Tom Jones once on a racetrack in Ireland, it was fantastic. Well, Tom Jones always attacked everything… years later, a guy named David Arnold made this James Bond Themes covers album and asked me to sing ‘Thunderball’ which was originally sung by Tom Jones. It’s a real tough song to sing, Tom just slayed it so maybe there’s some truth in that. But I like always liked the way that at the end of a Tom Jones song, you want to sit down, there’s an energy there, it peaks and you want to take breath.

How did you feel when Trevor Horn recycled a section of ‘Date Stamp’ for FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s ‘Relax’?

It’s funny, every time I play ‘Date Stamp’, I always think of ‘Relax’, the bassline! A good bassline is a good bassline! ‘Date Stamp’ was made in May 1982. I’ve got to admit, I loved the Frankies… when we were doing our second album ‘Beauty Stab’, we ran into Paul Rutherford, Holly, Ped, Nash and Mark O’Toole and they sang on it… they were sitting in Sarm West waiting for Trevor to finish ‘Relax’ I suppose looking back on it! *laughs*

‘Beauty Stab’ was considered a disappointment in 1983 when everyone wanted ‘The Lexicon Of Love II’ but you delivered that finally in 2016, did that feel like exorcising a ghost at all?

Yes, absolutely Chi… we had the sophomore jinx, with the ‘Beauty Stab’, we wanted to strip it all back and be raw and authentic. It was successful and ok but not as successful as our first record.

We changed the style of the band each time and with ‘How To Be A Zillionaire’, we wanted to be really electronic. But for years, people would go “I love ‘Poison Arrow’, can you go back to that?”

So playing with the orchestra live really brought it how to me. So with ‘The Lexicon Of Love II’, we decided to make it a very big orchestral album like ‘Viva Love’ and ‘Flames Of Desire’ over-the-top vibe to provide something that looked familiar whilst brand new, but it looks like it should have come out as the sister album to ‘The Lexicon of Love’. It was good way of getting it done and people liked it, I was very relieved.

I tell you what inspired me, Neil Young did a follow-up to ‘Harvest’ and was impressed by how Bowie used on ‘The Next Day’, the old ‘Heroes’ sleeve where he’s recycled his own stuff. So I started to think “Why can’t I do that?”; I mean, when you go to Netflix and there’s a series you like, you’re happy to watch 12 episodes or 6 seasons of something. People are used to things being more elongated now. So that’s while I felt comfortable doing ‘The Lexicon Of Love II’.

Was ‘Singer Not The Song’ from ‘The Lexicon Of Love II’ autobiographical?

Yeah, I want Harry Styles to cover that one! I think he’d do a great job! The lyrics of ‘Singer Not The Song’ are about a lot of things, but people ask me what I do for a living and I’m always a bit embarrassed to say I’m a singer, they kind of think you’re in a choir or something *laughs*

So I thought, the drummer’s got a drumstick, the bass player is over there, what do I do? I’ve usually got a Sharpie and I’m wandering around daydreaming, there’s some humour in that song.

The song ‘How To Be A Millionaire’ was a hit in the US but failed to get in the UK Top40, do you feel it deserved greater recognition at home or had the music scene moved on considerably back home by 1984?

Yeah, the funny thing was after ‘Beauty Stab’, it was all REM and THE SMITHS but by then, we were gone and listening to ‘Let The Music Play’ by Shannon and hearing great dancefloor tunes like ‘encore’ Cheryl Lynn; we approached Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to make this electronic hybrid dance record. We self-produced it in the end and were able to reinvent ourselves as a cartoon group, it was ABC’s most successful record in America.

We go obsessed with doing the long 12 inch mixes and we got to No1 on the Billboard Dance Charts with it and Top 20 in the US charts. ‘Be Near Me’ was a big tune off that album but in England, no… it was popular in the clubs but it didn’t really take off. I think that’s a product of our success, people wanted to see the gold suit and ‘The Lexicon Of Love’!

Of course, you made a great song with the pioneer of New York electro Arthur Baker called ‘Mythical Girl’, what are your recollections of that one-off collaboration with his Backbeat Disciples. That’s like the lost ABC track…

It is in a way… I loved NEW ORDER and the work Arthur Baker did with them as well as Afrika Bambaataa, he looks like a pirate! He showed up in Manchester and we ran into him. He owned a place called ‘The Elbow Room’ in London Westbourne Grove and we’d hang out with Arthur. One day he said he was making a record so me, Mark White and Dave Clayton, we got together one weekend to make that track ‘Mythical Girl’. Then Arthur took it away and it kind of had a cast of thousands and showed up again on his ‘Merge’ album. It was only about 6 hours work but it was so nice to work with him.

You’ve got gigs coming up at Forever Young with BLANCMANGE and CHINA CRISIS as well as Rewind with THE ART OF NOISE, but an interesting one is the Silverstone Festival which is a race meeting featuring vintage F1 cars from the classic ABC era, were you ever into motor racing back then and did you have a favourite driver or team?

No, I’ve never been a major F1 fan. At Silverstone, it’s great though because you show up, go into the centre, you soundcheck and then the cars start tuning up and go around you so you can’t leave… we’re doing the Friday night. It’s insane the number of people that come for the cars, out of which, some of them are music fans… and some of the drivers have got bands of course. It’s always the way, a lot of tennis players want to play guitar! And a lot of musicians want to be tennis players *laughs*

Was tennis your thing or was it another sport?

Football I suppose but I knew from an early age I was never going to make it as a professional player but that would have been fun!

What is next for you?

It’s feels nice to put out the live album from Sheffield as it showcases where ABC are at now. I’m going to Pasadena to play a Festival with Siouxsie and Billy Idol, it’s quite a big one and we’ll be playing some other shows. But it will be nice to make a new record.

We probably will play an orchestra tour in the early part of next year, it will be great to go back out on the road with Anne Dudley again. Other than that, just enjoying life.

Is a book on the horizon ?

Yes, I was talking to a guy called Andrew Harrison about it, we were perhaps going to make a high-end book. It would be nice to trace the story of ABC and my life through the lyrics amongst other things. It’s nice to entertain on different levels when you write a book isn’t it? And I don’t know for how much long I can remember those early 80s! *laughs*


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Martin Fry

Special thanks to Sacha Taylor-Cox at Hush PR

‘The Lexicon Of Love Live’ is released on 19th May 2023 by Live Here Now Recordings as a 2CD, sparkly purple vinyl 3LP + 3CD collector’s edition book, pre-order from https://liveherenow.co.uk/pages/abc

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Price
17th May 2023

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