Sunday, 29 April 2007

Dramatis




Dramatis was a band formed by members of Gary Numans backing band when he somewhat prematurely announced his retirement from live performance in 1981.

Their first single was Ex Luna Scientia which used heavily processed vocals and (probably) a vocoder to hide the fact that there wasn’t a natural lead vocalist or charismatic frontman. The record has an almost prog rock feel, which isn’t a bad thing in my book (more on that in a later blog). Whatever you thought of the record, and I thought it was excellent, you had to give them credit for not just cashing in on Gary Numans signature sound.

The same couldn’t really be said for the follow up Oh! Twenty Twenty Five which, while not terrible, sounds like a second string Numan song. On the picture sleeve the band have been given a new romantic makeover which they don’t look completely comfortable with.

They reunited with Gary for Love Needs No Disguise which finally gave them a UK top 40 hit.

Their short career is represented on The Dramatis Project confusingly credited to Tubeway Army featuring Gary Numan.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Happy Birthday Giorgio


Today is legendary producer Giorgio Moroder’s 67th birthday if my calculations are correct.

Here are three fine examples of his work.

Donna Summer – I Feel Love (Buy) One of the greatest singles of all time.

Sparks – The Number One Song In Heaven (Buy) The Mael brothers and Giorgio – a brilliant combination.

Japan – Life In Tokyo 12-inch Version (Buy) Giorgio makes Japan danceable.

Look here for a Giorgio Moroder discography.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Tearjerkers


This is a lo-fi but brilliant record on independent Belfast label Good Vibrations. Founded by Terri Hooley to give a voice to local bands its most famous signing was The Undertones, whose Teenage Kicks EP was the 4th release.

This 1979 release is from The Tearjerkers:
Paul Maxwell – Lead Vocals
Paul McIlwaine – Guitar
Brian Rawson – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Howard Ingram - Bass/Backing Vocals
Nigel Hamilton – Drums

The Tearjerkers – Love Affair(mp3)

If you enjoy this vinyl rip you can get a lovely clean MP3 encoded at 320kbps with no DRM for 79p at Cherry Red Downloads.

Read more about Good Vibrations Records here.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Mick's Mood


Remember the early eighties when the new romantics were on the rise? The music press at the time was always telling us the next big thing was going to be Latin American influenced music - salsa and beguine were the buzzwords. At the forefront of this movement was Blue Rondo A La Turk, followed by…er…can’t remember any others unless you include Modern Romance who had some novelty hits on the back of all the hype. The critics were kind to Blue Rondo but the commercial breakthrough never happened (and neither did the salsa/beguine movement as far as I can remember).
Here’s a song I’ve been enjoying recently from their 1982 Chewing The Fat album (some guy on Ebay wants £30 for a copy):
Two members (Mark Reilly and Danny White) left and found more commercial success as Matt Bianco by simplifying the formula and getting in a more TV/radio friendly singer in the form of Basia Trzetrzelewska.
Buy Matt Bianco here.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Hey! Elastica

I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties but I hope to be back on track by the weekend. To keep you going til then here’s a 1984 single from Edinburgh band Hey! Elastica.

I remember seeing this on a Saturday morning kids TV show, still half asleep and probably hung over, and buying it that afternoon. Since then my opinion of it has changed several times - depending on my mood I find it infectious or bloody irritating. Today I Like it.

Make up your own mind and if you want to buy Hey! Elastica stuff your best bet is probably Ebay.

mp3:Hey! Elastica -This Town

Friday, 13 April 2007

Wire


I can’t remember the story behind this record but for some reason it was recorded in 1979 and not released until 1981. It was released on Rough Trade when Wire’s label at the time was Harvest but I can’t remember why even after (very little) research.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter – just enjoy a brilliant single.
Wire music can be purchased here
P.S. give it a listen even if you think you don’t like Wire.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Landscape


My Visage post got me thinking about another quintessential early new romantic record. Landscape had already been around for years and had a reputation for using the latest technology - I remember a feature on Tomorrow's World (a popular science programme) with them demonstrating their equipment, including a device supposed to make a trombone sound interesting. They played instrumental jazz/funk/rock tunes. It appear that in 1980 Richard James Burgess saw and opportunity with the burgeoning new romantic scene. At least I always assumed it was him because they started appearing in futuristic clothes and he was the only one who really looked comfortable with this image. Anyway, post makeover they released Einstein A Go-Go, a record with a drum machine/synthbass rhythm that still fascinates me - play it loud and you'll see what I mean.
The song is about a nutter who threatens the world with a homemade nuclear device. To this end the phoned various world leaders to "warn" them, hence the lady at the start kindly telling them she can't put them through to President Carter and the Russian guy saying Niet! and slamming the phone down.
This record successfully disguised the fact that they lacked a lead singer but weakness couldn't help but be exposed over the following album and subsequent singles. But let’s not be negative, Einstein was a great single and it is featured here in its extended 12-inch mix. I have also included the b-side, an instrumental called Japan which itself was a single in 1979, to give an idea of their pre new romantic sound.
Buy landscape here

Sunday, 8 April 2007

The sound or the future (or so I thought)



I remember being very taken with Visage's Fade To Grey at the tail end of 1980. Its cool drum machines and synths and spoken french pieces sounded so sophisticated to my ears. What I couldn't understand at the time was Steve Strange's claim that the New Romantic/Blitz movement was aimed at the dancefloor. Great as the record was all you could do was shuffle a bit to it. The follow-up Mind Of A Toy sounded much more like a dance record to me. I can't claim this is a great record but it has a great sound, very evocative of of 1981 and early new romantic music. Here it is in all its 12-inch glory.

mp3:Visage - Mind Of A Toy (Dance Mix)

Buy Visage here.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Remembering BazFrogMarkStan


Is anyone else having trouble with Site meter? I’ll assume people are still reading and carry on posting.

When I first got my USB turntable one of the first albums I excavated from the vinyl archive was The Farmer’s Boys wonderful 1985 album With These Hands which I had been trying to get on CD for some time.

I am featuring the two singles which were actually released in 1984:

In The Country is a faithful and infectious cover of the old Cliff Richard hit from 1966. It reached number 44 in the UK chart.

Phew Wow! was the jaunty follow-up that stalled at 59. If you are good I will post the 12-inch version one day but I haven’t got round to converting it yet.
Quite why these didn’t find a wider audience is a mystery but it wasn’t due to lack of airplay. I remember hearing both quite regularly at work but significantly I was the only one that liked them, my colleagues being particularly hostile to Phew Wow! The allmusic guide claims they would have been commercially viable in 1965 and there was apparently renewed interest in them in the late 90’s so I guess it’s a case of wrong time and place.