I Hear Talk – Bucks Fizz (1984)

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RCA Records PL 70397

The reason why I consider my vinyl collection to be eclectic is because I’m not snobbish about its content. Why should I restrict myself to Alternate Rock or Electronica to roll with a crowd. Often some music lovers look down on manufactured pop which is actually nonsense because whatever is produced has a market for someone to listen to it, otherwise it wouldn’t be successful. Bucks Fizz were put together to represent the United Kingdom for the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest and they won with “Making your mind up”. The group comprised of Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Bobby Gubby. Cheryl was a singer who was part of a group called Coco who sang at the same contest in 1978. Jay was 19 at the time  and her brother was in a group called Prima Donna who sang at the 1980 contest. Mike already had sung in groups without success and recorded the original demo of “making your mind up” with singer Nichola Martin and it was decided to look for singers to join Mike and build a group around him. Bobby Gubby or Bobby G as he is known

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Includes the singles I Hear Talk and Golden Days

auditioned and when singer Stephen Fischer became unavailable Bobby was asked to join instead. Stephen Fischer went on as a part of the duo Bardo for the 1982 contest. With ten top 40 hits including three number ones and 3 top 20 albums in the UK, the release of  “I Hear Talk” their 4th album saw a more harder edged sound. A crash of their tour bus leaving all of the group seriously injured  and with Mike in a coma, suddenly turned their fortunes. Consequently this album only reached #66 for a 2 week run on the chart and is probably some of their best work. Jay left the group in 1985 to be replaced by Shelley Preston and the fifth and final studio album limped to #89 for one week in the UK.

Side one kicks off with the title track which was actually the 3rd single lifted from the album reaching #34 in a 6 week run on the UK top 75. Lead vocals were shared between Bobby and Cheryl. There is a brass section and the track was recorded in Zurich. “Indebted to you” has the familiar Bucks Fizz drum sound but an electric guitar solo and during chorus sections the girls vocals complement the guys almost in a echo response. The lead is taken by Cheryl on the softer pop sound of “Tears on the ballroom floor”. The mood changes again for “Cold War” which has lots of harmony in the chorus sections and another guitar solo.

The last track is the 2nd single released from the album which made only #42 for a 5 week run on the UK chart. “Golden Days” is a finely crafted pop song written by Terry Britten and Sue Shifrin which lyrically tells the story about the golden days of a former popular actress and her demise. All members produce some of their strongest vocals on this song.

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Includes the single Talking In Your Sleep

Side two starts with the lead single from the album “Talking in your sleep”. This made #15 in a 9 week run on the top 75. Recorded in Zurich and a cover version, originally a very big hit in Europe by “The Romantics” It’s surprisingly very similar to the original in sound. This  was an attempt to appear more mature and rockier. “Breaking me up” carries on in the same vain with a good mixture and use of all the groups vocals with Bobby giving a very forceful delivery in his lead role. “January’s gone” changes the pace.

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Back Cover

 

 

A delicate ballad sung by Mike and again some very good harmonising. “She cries” is written by Nik Kershaw and produced by Pip Williams known for his work with Kiki Dee. The album closes with “Thief in the night” with the lead taken by Jay. The vocal delivery is almost “punk” in style and there is so much going on with drums, percussion and keyboards.

Today, due to legal disputes the group performs as two separate acts,  Bobby G with new members as Bucks Fizz  and Cheryl, Mike and Jay in the other known by their names with the tag Formerly of Bucks Fizz. As of 2016 a fourth member Bobby McVay has been recruited to the line up. Bobby was part of trio Sweet Dreams that represented UK in Eurovision Song Contest 1983.

 

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Private Eyes – Daryl Hall and John Oates (1981)

DHJO Private
RCA Records RCALP 6001

Daryl Hall & John Oates, also known as just Hall & Oates, are an American musical duo from Philadelphia USA. The lead vocalist is Daryl Hall who plays many instruments including guitars and keyboards. John Oates primarily plays electric guitar, bass, multiple instruments and provides backing vocals. They both contribute to the song writing, along with Oates’ one time partner, Sara Allen. This release is their tenth album, at a time where their popularity in the US was gaining momentum, having already amassed two #1 singles. This album cemented them as global artists gaining them another two #1 singles in the US. The album was recorded during March to June 1981 and produced by Hall & Oates, with Neil Kernon.

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                             Side 1

“Private Eyes” the title track opens the album. Released as a single (US #1, Canada #6, UK #32) has a handclap chours. “Looking For A Good Sign” in the liner notes is dedictaed to “The Temptations” who they cite as being influential. The track does have a feel of Motown. “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” brings the pace down and has some great harmany vocals and a saxophone solo. An edited version was released as a single (US #1,Canada #2,UK #8).”Mano A Mano” is upbeat pop, with percussion to the fore during the chorus. “Did It In A Minute” (US #9) has a catchy repeatitive chorus and closes side 1.

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                             Side 2

Side 2 begins with a bit of Rock-Pop called “Head Above Water”. “Tell Me What You Want” starts off bass and drums. Lots of percussion. Next is “Friday Let Me Down” which I’ve chosen as a featured track. Pop-Rock song. Tells the story of someone ringing a number and being disappointed when getting an answer phone.

“Unguarded Minute” More Rock-Pop. “Your Imagination” (US #33) follows which contains saxophone solo. The album ends with the drum and electric guitar lead “Some Men”.

This album peaked at #5 in the US, #8 in the UK, and #27 in Australia, and top 10 in New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Running In The Family – Level 42 (1987)

LEV 42
Polydor Records POLH 42

I have several albums by Level 42 each of them jam packed with great British Jazz-Funk. Level 42 are an English Band who’s line up at the time of this album comprised of Mark King (Bass Guitar, Vocals), Mike Lindup (Keyboards, Vocals), Boon Gould (Guitars) and Phil Gould (Drums). This was the bands 7th studio album and was preceded by the single “Lessons In Love” in 1986 which is included. There are eight tracks of which three are six minutes long produced by Wally Badarou and Level 42. This is the last album of 1980’s to feature brothers Phil and Roland ‘Boon’ Gould, who had cited exhaustion and also dissatisfaction with the musical direction as their departure reasons.

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Side 1

The album opens with the single “Lessons In Love” which became an international hit reaching #3 in the UK, #12 in US and #1 in five countries including Germany. It reached the top ten in another 10 counties. The track comes to life with Mark King’s bass and Phil Gould’s drums. Gary Barnacle performs a saxophone solo. Followed by “Children Say” (UK #22) a more gentle track with falsetto backing vocals of Wally Badarou. The title track “Running In The Family” follows, a more pop inspired song, again with backing by Badarou. Some great lyric’s describing two brothers getting out the house after been told off by Father, then being picked up by the police. It was released as a single at the launch of the album reaching #6 in UK. Side one ends with the the ballad “It’s Over”. Probably one of their most unusual songs due to its slow pace. As the title suggests its about a relationship coming to an end and the persons concerns and thoughts of breaking up and walking out the door. This made the UK top ten as a single.

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Side 2

Side 2 continues with “To Be With You Again” (UK #10), an uptempo funky sound to this one. Mark King’s bass takes you on a ride. “Two Solitudes” has lead vocals by Mike lindrup. There is long acoustic guitar solo giving this a more pop flavour. My featured track is “Fashion Fever” which is Level 42 at there Jazz-Funk best. Pumping bass throughout and great keyboards.

The closing track “Sleepwalking”. Some nice synth keyboards on this and harmony vocals.

Album made #2 in UK and spent 54 weeks on its chart run. It also charted in Europe making the top ten in many counties including The Netherlands where 5 singles from the album also made the top ten. It also reached #23 in the US.

Speak And Spell – Depeche Mode (1981)

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Mute Records STUMM5

Depeche Mode are an English band formed in 1980. Original members were David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and Vince Clarke who left the band after this debut album to form Yazoo then later Erasure.

The album was released in November 1981 after the success of the single “New Life” which managed to reach #11 in the UK charts and spend a total of 15 weeks doing so. And with the follow up single ““Just Can’t Get Enough” becoming their first UK top 10 entry reaching #8 and staying on the charts for 11 weeks. This helped towards launching this debut album.

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Side 1

The album begins with the single “New Life” which sets the tone for the rest of the album, up beat synth-pop driven by the keyboard sounds of Vince Clarke. The next track ” I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead” the shortest track at 2:18. “Puppets” is very much a Clarke song which wouldn’t have sounded out of place as a Yazoo track. This is more synth drums lead.

“Boys Say Go!” is another synth-pop song in the same vain, followed by my featured track “Nodisco” where there are lots of different keyboard sounds, and a catchy riff.   

Finishing the first side is what Gore and Fletcher have both stated was their least favourite Depeche Mode song of all time, “What’s Your Name?”

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Side 2

Side 2 opens with “Photographic” a pulsating backing track more suiting Dave Gahan’s dark vocals. “Tora!Tora!Tota!” was written by Martin Gore thus giving a slight change in style, a small piece of Kraftwerk influence can be heard. The next track also written by Gore is an Instrumental called “Big Muff” and has an urgency about it. “Any Second Now (Voices)” is a softer lead vocal with harmony back-up. Again many different synth sounds. The album closes with the classic pop song ” Just Can’t Get Enough”

Over all a good debut, but with the departure of main song writer Vince Clarke after this album, the songwriting duties were taken over by Gore, and he started to explore more darker subjects and sounds and the group took to a more rock style of production. “Speak and Spell” was recorded at Blackwing Studios, London and Produced by Daniel Miller and Depeche Mode, and Engineered by Eric Radcliffe. This record peaked at #10 in the UK and charted for 33 Weeks. It also managed international success via Sweden and Germany where the album sold upwards of 250,000 copies. It just scraped into the US Billboard 200 at #192. This album is definitely worth a listen.

The Age Of Plastic – The Buggles (1980)

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Island Records ILPS 9585

The Buggles were a British New Wave duo consisting of Trevor Horn (vocals, bass guitar, guitar) and Geoff Downes (keyboards, synthesizers, electric piano, piano, drums, percussion, backing vocals). Best remembered for their 1979 debut single “Video Killed the Radio Star”, a #1 hit on the singles charts of sixteen countries, this songs music video was the first shown on MTV in the U.S.A.

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Island Records ILPS 9585

The album starts with the title track “The Plastic Age,” opening with snippets of telephones, with lyrics about a fast paced life, leading to possible health issues and the desire to stay young at all costs.

“Video Killed the Radio Star,” The second track, refers to technological change and attitudes.

The fast-paced third song, “Kid Dynamo,” is about a futuristic kid exposed to all media and the affects on him.

“I Love You (Miss Robot)” is the album’s fourth track, talks about being on the road and being in the company of a stranger just to satisfy needs and wanting to phone someone they care for, who’s a long way off.

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Side 1

Side 2 opens with “Clean, Clean”, and follows the story of Pogo Johnny who seems to be a fighter,

Next is “Elstree” which is one of favourite tracks. It follows “a failed actor” looking back with regret as he takes up his more regular position behind the scenes. The BBC even get a mention.

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Side 2

“The slow-tempo ballad “Astroboy (and the Poles of Parade)” is worth a listen, a much lighter vibe, although the keyboards do occasionally border darker realms.

And the album closer “Johnny on the Monorail” has a “pop” atmosphere.

Most of the songs for the album were written during promotion of the Single “Video Killed The Radio Star”.

Three subsequent singles, “The Plastic Age”, “Clean, Clean” and “Elstree”, were all released in 1980, following “Video”, and charted in the UK, reaching #16, #38 and #55 respectively. The album charted in the UK and reached #27 it also made the album charts in Norway, France, Sweden and Canada, and was met with positive critical response. The cover has Trevor Horn on one side and Geoff Downes on the other.

Architecture & Morality – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (1981)

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Dindisc Records DID 12

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark or OMD for short are an English new wave / electro-pop band fronted by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys. During the early 1980’s their popularity gathered throughout Europe and when Architecture & Morality (their third album) was released they found a wider audience. The album yielded 3 top 5 singles in the UK, one of which “Maid of Orleans” reached #1 in Ireland and New Zealand.

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Side A

The opening song is “The New Stone Age” A mixture of synth and urgent bass pumping it along. Track two is my favourite on Side A, “She’s leaving”, a simple synth-pop song, followed by the lead single “Souvenir” which reached #3 in UK. Side A closes with the nearly 8 minute track “Sealand” after a lengthy instrumental introduction which is like a mini synth symphony half way along a few lines of vocals appear with the backing track moving to the beat of a drum, and experimental synth sounds take over again.

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Side B

Side B is opened by two singles “Joan of Arc” and Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans) followed by the title track which is an instrumental “Architecture & Morality”. Track 4 “Georgia” is back to pure synth pop again. “The Beginning and the End” ends this album. This album is now seen as the band’s seminal work.

The album made #3 in UK and certified as platinum, #1 in Netherlands #8 in Germany and was the first album to chart in US at #144. The front cover of this album is unusual as there is a cut out square. When the inner sleeve is inside the cover it looks complete. I have the Grey coloured cover, but was originally issued in yellow. There were also blue and green versions. The electro-pop sound so indicative of the time gives the album a experimental feel, like they are trying to formulate a story around the electronic instruments.

Produced by OMD and Richard Manwaring and “Souvenir” produced by Mike Howlett.

Dumb Waiters – The Korgis (1980)

Dumb Waiters
Rialto Records TENOR 104

The Korgis comprised originally of James Warren, Andy Davis, Phil Harrison and Stuart Gordon. Primary their style was described as pop / new wave as a lot of British bands were at the time. The album was recorded at Crescent Studios, Bath, England, between October 1979 and March 1980 and was released in July 1980. It was produced by David Lord and The Korgis with individual song writing credits going to either James Warren or Andy Davis.

I bought this album because I rated the quality of its lead single “Everybody’s got to learn sometime” which made #5 here in the UK, but also #1 in France and Spain, #3 in Germany and Netherlands and #18 in Australia and US.

Side A
Side A

“Silent running” gets the album of to a good start where the bass and drums compete with each other with the low end scale of the piano. There is a slower pop sound for “Love ain’t too far away”. The bass is brought to forefront of “Perfect Hostess” played by Warren accompanying his vocals which lead into keyboards when bringing in the chorus. A more synthesizer keyboard based backing with live drums as well as a strong electric guitar solo in the middle. A more a harmonised vocal for “Drawn and Quartered”. The melodic and haunting “Everybody’s got learn sometime” is full of percussion and strings suiting the mood which reminds me in parts of “I’m not in love” by 10cc.

Side B
Side B

Lots going on in “Intimate” which is more of an attempt at a much more rock sound. This is a Drum and electric guitar lead track with a long electric guitar solo in the middle. The pop sound is clear in “It’s no good unless you love me”, with a good old fashioned catchy chorus “Dumb waiters” the title track is up tempo with a sudden ending. “If it’s all right with you baby” was a second single and got to #56 in the UK and should have charted higher. In the same vain as “Everybody’s”, again the string and synthesizer take you on the journey. “Rovers return” is an instrumental which sounds like its being played on an organ. Its goes at some pace and they’ve used every instrument (or synthesizer trick) in the studio that was lying around. Even has a barking dog sound effect. A video of this track is below.

The production is of quality as each track has instruments that can clearly be picked out. If you just want some melodic pop music this is for you. This album only registered 4 weeks on the UK chart and peaked at #40 which I think is a shame. Several tracks have been released over time from this album without chart success. The album was released by Asylum records in the US.