The epitome of 80’s New Wave space-age excess, in looks and sound, was a band named after a Russian street gang, Sigue Sigue Sputnik (burn, burn sputnik). Formed in the early 80’s, the founding members were former Generation X bassist Tony James and Martin Degville. They were joined by outlandish frontman Zarjaz Baby, Neal X (Whitmore), Chris Kavanagh, Ray Mayhew and Yana Ya Ya.
Known for its outrageous and campy style, Sigue Sigue Sputnik hit its groove in 1986 when three of their singles charted in the UK top 40. “Love Missile F1-11” is the band’s most well-known song. Filled with trippy, spacey music, nonsensical lyrics, and a psychedelic-influenced tempo, listening “Love Missile F1-11” is like having a party in your ears. According to Wikipedia:
Sigue Sigue Sputnik lyrics combined futuristic imagery (“Cryin’ on our knees as the network screams”, “Saturn dreams, laser beams” and “space cowboy”) with camp, erotic, references to fetishized violence and B movie imagery. Songs referred to a “love rocket red”, “21st century sex machines”, “Atom age wonder”, “easy action Frankenstein”, “Chinese-speaking strip TVs” and a “freako psycho horror show”. This line could also be read as “freako psycho horrorshow”, a reference to A Clockwork Orange. They also created images such as “hips and lips and beauty queens”, and “venus ramp, sexy tramp…vegas vamp”. “Love Missile F1-11″‘s lyrics pushed the boundaries of parental tolerance and gained media attention with repeated double-entendre entreaties to “Shoot it up, Shoot it up, Shoot it up”.
Whether you like what you hear or not, there’s no disputing that this band leads the pack in ground-breaking New Wave extravaganza. It also was terribly short-lived, breaking up after only two studio albums. James blamed the media turning against them for their demise. In truly love-hate fashion, the media that first hyped the formation of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, ended up stabbing them in the back, accusing them of both manufacturing much of the controversy surrounding their live performances, and of miming onstage.
If you want music that makes you smile, give Sigue Sigue Sputnik a listen. There’s enough camp schtick packed into their productions to satisfy a walk on the wild side musically for a long time to come.
Purchase Sigue Sigue Sputnik music here.
Not for the faint of heart:
“Love Missile F1-11” via YouTube user metrodax:
“Atari Baby” via YouTube user escaquito75:
“21st Century Boy” via YouTube user junglerecords:
Flaunt It (1986)
Dress for Excess (1988)