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March of the Internet Nobody, day eighteen: Melodic Randomiser Unspooled, part many…

As I predicted last weekend, a Melodic Randomiser Unspooled post is the easiest way to fulfill my daily blogging duties on a Saturday, so join with me in enjoying some more nostalgic musical treasures from the boxes of cassettes under the stairs.

Today we have another eclectic selection that spans the decade when music was going through a paradigm shift, due to the increasing use of electronically created music. Everyone from prog rock stalwarts to ex-punks were experimenting with the huge range and variety of music that could be achieved using synthesizers, incorporating exciting new textures and sounds into their existing oeuvre, enabling them to stay relevant in this brave new world of musical exploration.

The first of today’s cryptic triptych is from one of those prog bands who narrowly avoided being eclipsed by the new wave of cutting edge electronic bands by embracing new sounds into a back catalogue already rife with elaborate synthesizer noodling; Yes.

Drama was released as the decade began and was the album when production genius and keyboard whiz Trevor Horn came onboard, after founder member Rick Wakeman departed the band, blending their trademark flamboyant style with shinier production and a sleeker, more modern sound.

And here you can enjoy the full album in all its dramatic glory.


Then we have a band who grew from the ashes of proto-goth punks, Bauhaus and honed their sound into a mellower, more melodic style as Love and Rockets and this is their Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven album, released slap bang in the middle of the ’80s.

Here is The Dog-end of a Day Gone By.

Lastly and not at all leastly, one of the pioneers of UK electronic music in ’80s, Depeche Mode, who were making sparse, bleepy pop when Yes released Drama but by 1990 had matured into an edgy and decidedly darker band, Violator being a massive critical and commercial success for them, beginning a debauched and reckless few years during which frontman Dave Gahan actually died twice.

This is their huge worldwide hit, Enjoy the Silence.

Well I don’t know about you, but that certainly brought back some memories.
Tune in for this month’s final edition of Melodic Randomiser Unspooled next weekend.

There’s a bonus post coming up later, so watch out for that and I’ll see you tomorrow for SoCS and whatever I think of to do on my day off.

Cheerio.

 
 

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Taking the shortest route…

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Ok, I missed the window for even a tenuous connection to Stream of Consciousness Saturday at the weekend, but I hate to be left out so here’s my very minor contribution.

The prompt from Linda G Hill was “root/route”.

“I can’t help being excited when I hear the number 4.04124002062

“Why, what’s so special about that number in particular?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I’ve always got my kicks from cube root 66.”

#SoCS

Pingback to Linda G Hill

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 3…

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Welcome back to the fragile plastic box of delights that is the prequel to the CD Melodic Randomiser, a selective plundering of my huge collection of cassette tapes, some of which are approaching forty years old and still going strong.

This selection is made up of music from the eighties and early nineties (the closing half of the cassette’s glory days) both from this side of the Atlantic and the other, not to mention the other side of the border and across the Irish Sea too.

The first of today’s trio is one of two compilations, this is one called Absolution and is themed around what I suppose you would call the indie-goth sound.

The first half is livelier, more spiky and abrasive, with side two demonstrating the introspective side of the genre, building to an angry, bass driven, post-punk classic.

I keep feeling the need to use that word, classic, but it can be applied to so many songs here, including this, from arch-miserablists Echo and the Bunnymen and their 1983 hit, The Cutter

…then there is this, my all-time favourite David Bowie cover, the Bauhaus version of Ziggy Stardust.

Closing side one is a bona fide goth anthem, The Jesus and Mary Chain with the wondrous Some Candy Talking.

Side two starts softly and becomes darker as it goes on, with Enjoy the Silence from Depeche Mode

…followed by the surprisingly gentle and sophisticated tones of The Stranglers with this, European Female

…and Absolution ends with a thundering beast of a song, New Model Army‘s No Rest, which is so good, I’m giving you the full album.

You’re welcome.

Tape two is another much-played favourite, a solo project from Husker Dü frontman, Bob Mould, and I’ve chosen the single, If I Can’t Change Your Mind from Sugar‘s 1992 album, Copper Blue.

If you like that and want to hear more, you can listen to the whole album HERE.

Which brings us to the last of my random selections for today, a slightly poppier affair, compiling some upbeat chart hits from Scottish and Irish bands of the nineties, from which I’ve picked Orange Juice and their biggest single, Rip It Up

…this unlikely hit from the fabulously named Goats Don’t Shave and Las Vegas (in the hills of Donegal)

…and I’m finishing this third dip into my magnetic archives with an absolute, genuine, fully-fledged, copper-bottomed pop (yep, I’m gonna use that word again) “classic”, the sublime Somewhere In My Heart from Roddy Frame‘s Aztec Camera.

Go on, sing along, you know you want to.

I hope you can join me again soon for the next spool back into the past and in the meantime, remember…
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3 Comments

Posted by on August 9, 2015 in Melodic Randomiser, Music, Video

 

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Now that’s what I call an ’80s flashback – Volume one…

“If you remember the sixties, then you weren’t there” was a common saying when I was growing up and nonsensical as it may be grammatically speaking, it effectively conveys the mystique of a decade to those of us who actually weren’t there, but who were nevertheless born there, so to speak.

But nobody says things like that about the years I spent my childhood in, the ’70s.
We had prog rock, punk, disco and glam, but we also had strikes, the National Front, the IRA, the three day week and Thatcher, which can mean that despite much evidence to the contrary, the musically schizophrenic decade that gave us the Sex Pistols, Rush, Chic, Kraftwerk and David Bowie is sometimes seen as a bit drab, miserable and depressing, like a combined hangover/detox after ten years of psychedelia, free love and liberal drug laws, a kind of temporal anteroom in which we all waited for the gleaming technological paradise of the eighties to arrive in a flying car with a robot chauffeur.

So when the ’80s finally arrived, complete with strikes, the National Front, the IRA, riots, Thatcher and the Falklands war, it was music that we turned to once again for inspiration and escape.
And now we were living in the future we wanted something new and futuristic to act as an antidote to the emerging culture of unstoppable greed and consumerism, a sound that echoed the homemade ethos of punk but brought some order and technical precision into the equation.
A sound made possible by the increased availability of affordable electronic instruments, something that would lead to the first real musical revolution since the invention of the lead guitar.

Now you might think that to be an outrageous exaggeration, especially if you’re an old-school folkie who booed when Dylan went electric or someone who, when you hear the term “keyboard solo”, immediately thinks of Richard Clayderman, but electronics have been stealthily allowing innovative musicians to create new and interesting sounds as far back as the mid-sixties, when Dr Robert Moog produced the first practical analogue synthesizer.

      *****Here is an example for your listening pleasure.*****
(free music download, “Moogalicious by Dogsounds, click to save)

I was 14 as the eighties arrived, already obsessed with music and at that point, a metal and prog rock enthusiast, but also greedily absorbing the eclectic mix of genres and styles played by one of my musical heroes, the late, very great John Peel.
I still recall the covert thrill of listening to the late night radio show of this gruff yet affable, funny and comically disorganised bloke, playing anything from dub reggae and thrash metal to ambient electronica and hardcore German techno.

Hidden beneath the duvet, the earpiece of my radio-cassette player firmly in place, was the first place I heard this next song.
I remember thinking what a precise, clean sound it had (while my inner headbanger shouted at me for being a poncey new romantic) and I reckon I could say with some confidence that this was probably about the time I had to concede that I rather liked synth-pop…

…and I can also remember going into the tiny record shop in Crowborough – Revolver Records, now long defunct – to buy the debut OMD album, the first LP I’d bought that didn’t have at least three guitars on it, and discovering the other side of the strange world of synth-pop that wasn’t all radio friendly singles and twinkly keyboard flourishes.
To my pleasant surprise, I found that this shiny new type of music could be just as dark, deep and peculiar as any progressive rock epic concept album.
Pop music had just got credible.

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A selection of my ’80s vinyl, this afternoon.

I can certainly say that my old friend (then a new friend) Ho was a big part in getting me into the wider world of electronic music.
Ho, already a Gary Numan, Tangerine Dream and Can fan, played me albums I never would have heard among my long-haired, denim-clad mates. (with the possible exception of Tangerine Dream, the electronic band it was ok for prog fans to like)
He also introduced me to one of my all-time favourite bands, Kraftwerk.
Not only did I go out and buy the German electro-boffins’ sporadically-released ’80s output, (Computer World, Electric Café) after hearing their back catalogue, from the long haired, proggy, avant-garde jazz experimentation of the early seventies, through to the sublime period of the Radioactivity and Man Machine albums which brought them to the attention of a wider audience, I went out and bought almost everything they recorded.

Another artist that went on to inform my taste for the glacial sounding electronic music that came to be synonymous with the eighties and beyond was John Foxx, particularly his album Metamatic, which I and some friends who were similarly attracted to this new genre (especially when combined with various recreational stimulants) came to describe as “clinical music”.

There is admittedly a certain amount of rose tinted musical hindsight involved in these reminiscences, as for every Speak and Spell classic there was a Stock, Aitken and Waterman clone waiting in the wings, so the eighties detractors have plenty of ammunition to refute the musical importance of The Decade That Fashion Forgot.

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What with the endless power ballads, glossy U.S.stadium rock and cheesy manufactured chart pop fodder infesting the radio airwaves, the edgy, harsh tones of the new technology came as a breath of fresh air, albeit air fresh from dingy bedsits and basement studios where the new New Wave was starting to break.

As the new music began to gain credibility and appear alongside established artists on shows like Top of the Pops, the electronic bands started to develop a more polished sound and glamorous image, something that would help them take advantage of the increasing popularity of music videos.
Not always a good thing in my not-very-humble opinion, because a lot of what made these bands so different to start with was lost as they strove to be accepted into the mainstream.

Compare the two examples below, one from The Human League and the other from Gary Numan.
The earlier material of both is harder, more abrasive, while only a short time later the image makeover has smoothed off the bright corners and dulled the sharp edges.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of both artists, both early and late material, as I am of all the music here, and they are both still going strong too.
The Human League released a brand new album, Credo, in 2011 and the former Gary Webb hasn’t stopped producing music since he began with Tubeway Army in the late seventies.

Interestingly, Phil Oakey and the Human League have stuck more or less to their high-gloss, late career peak musical style, while Numan has continued to evolve, including drum ‘n’ bass, industrial and techno into the mix over the years, without ever losing that certain something that makes it still very much Numanoid.

The Human League

…and today; It wasn’t broke so they didn’t fix it.

Gary Numan

…and today; The old darkness and edge are still very much in evidence, possibly a result of his recent association with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails

I added “volume one” to the title of this post automatically because I knew that once I started on this subject it was likely to turn into a labour of love.
So I shan’t try and cram anything else in now, but you can be sure that as soon as I hit the “publish” button I will be resuming my search for echoes of that Golden Hour of the Future we lived in for a few short, groundbreaking years.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A long, strange and tenuous trip…

At last, we are finally reaching the end of the road to nowhere, so to speak.
After nearly a fortnight of bending connections until they almost snap, digging out nostalgia-packed video clips, classic albums, movies and TV series, there’s just seven more degrees of separation between now and the finish line.

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Whether or not you’ve sampled the delights I have provided for your festive delectation thus far, (and don’t forget you can always come back at a later date – The Tenuous Lynx is the gift that keeps on giving) I for one have really enjoyed this link marathon.
Not only has it given my brain a daily workout, but I’ve found all sorts of stuff I’d forgotten about or haven’t thought about for years, and that alone has made it worthwhile.
Call it self-indulgent, call it contrived, but if I have introduced just one person to something new, interesting, funny or thought-provoking then frankly, my job is done.

So without further ado, let us start at the beginning of the end.

The previous leg finished at The Unbelievable Truth, David Mitchell’s Radio 4 panel show, so;

Mr Mitchell appears on Channel 4’s 10 O’clock Live alongside comedic ranter extraordinaire, Charlie Brooker.
Here he is, holding forth on the state of British politics in 2013.

Also on the show is ex-Kenickie singer Lauren Laverne, who provided guest vocals for oddball dance boffins Mint Royale on this joyous slice of quirky pop – Don’t Falter.
Mint Royale were also responsible for remixing the vintage Gene Kelly number, Singing in the rain, something much of the UK were almost certainly not doing this year due to the extreme weather conditions and flooding we experienced.
Flood (aka Mark Ellis) is a prolific producer, writer and sound mixer who has worked with bands as diverse as New Order, Sigur Ros and The Killers, as well as mixing this year’s new Depeche Mode album.
And here it is in all it’s dark glory – Delta Machine.
Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode famously died (after a drug overdose) and was revived, much like this candidate for happy ending of the year 2013 – The dead woman who woke up after giving birth.
They both came Back to Life and back to reality like Soul 2 Soul did in their funked-up hit of the same name in 1990.

And for our very last link in the tenuous chain, we end with a couple of cartoons.
Everyone loves a cartoon at Christmas, am I right?

Soul Eater is a series of Japanese Manga comics which has been turned into amine cartoons, screened on TV in the West for the first time this year.
Coming up is the first episode, and then for the finale of Tenuous Tina and her Lynx of Love, it’s followed by a true classic of the manga oeuvre, the movie, Fist of the North Star.

All that remains is for me to say that I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along on this oddity of odds and sods and to thank Ho once again for bringing the Tenuous Lynx to life with his exclusive artwork.

So after 13 posts and 177 links, I’m caging the Lynx and replacing Tina in her display case.

Until next time…

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