80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Alarm

Here’s a band that has been unfairly derided, criticized, and just downright ignored. This is a classic case of being on the wrong side of the “media darling” fence and suffering for it. My pet peeve is music “critics” and radio station business suits who dictate to me what I should like and what I should listen to. The upshot of that nonsense is simply having missed out on some tremendously gifted 80’s bands and artists in favor of the flavor-of-the-month mainstream dreck like Cher, Michael Jackson, and (*gag me with a fork*) Madonna, just to name a few of the usual suspects.

When I first seriously started to listen to the Alarm, it was a good 20 years after they released their first LP. I couldn’t recall hearing any of their songs during the 80’s in the southeast region of the US. Back then, if it wasn’t the aforementioned crap on a stick passed off as classic 80’s music, heavy metal, or the requisite “you live in the south, so here’s some twangy country” pablum, it simply wasn’t aired. Occasionally, I would catch a glimmer of something really good on early MTV, before music politics and money-based bottom line drove that venue into the ground faster than you could say “AOR.”

But, I digress; back to The Alarm. Comprised of Mike Peters (vocals, guitars, harmonica), Dave Sharp (guitars), Eddie Macdonald (bass), and Nigel Twist (drums), the band formed in Wales in 1981, evolved from a punk band named The Toilets that had been kicking around since 1977. One of the reasons this band has been unfairly criticized is due to their chance meeting with Ian Wilson, then U2’s manager. Wilson liked what he heard and became The Alarm’s manager as well, arranging a show with The Alarm as the opening act for U2. Several more appearances supporting U2 were born from this success.

Two years later, The Alarm became the opening act on U2’s US tour. In my humble opinion, the close proximity to U2 both in sharing a stage and a manager led to the constant assessment of how they stood up to U2. Rather than stand on their own merits, the ubiquitous comparisons were a lazy way for critics to find a baseline for what they were writing.

Do yourself a favor: Listen to The Alarm with an open mind and remove the U2 connection entirely from the equation. What you will hear is a great 80’s band who could more than stand their own against other tremendous bands of the day including Big Country and yes, even U2. It’s a good thing I believe in the philosophy of “better late than never.” Otherwise, given the limited on-air music selection deep in the bowels of the southeast US, I would have lived my entire life without hearing some of the greatest bands/ artists the 80’s had to offer, including The Alarm.

“Strength” via YouTube user backporchvideos:

“Rain In The Summertime” via YouTube user coconuthodges:

“Rescue Me” via YouTube user backporchvideos:

“Presence Of Love” via YouTube user elizaanddarcy:

 Purchase The Alarm music here.

80’s Discography

Eponymous (EP 1983)

Declaration(1984)

Strength(1985)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eye Of The Hurricane(1987)

Electric Folklore Live(1988)

Change(1989)

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100th Post ~ 80’s Music Rules ~ More from Retrospect CFRC-FM ~ 11-24-09

First of all, I have to say – this is my 100th post since relocating to WordPress. It has been a great trip and I want to thank everyone who has visited. Last night’s show put my tune ID’ing skills to complete shame. Ed reminded us why he is the absolute master of obscure – the rare tunes just kept spinning, one after another. That’s the way we like ‘em. Thank you, Ed.

Be sure to tune in to Ed and his “just try and guess *this* one” 80’s Retrospect show on CFRC-FM from 8 pm until 10 pm on Tuesday nights. Ed takes requests by phone: (613) 533-CFRC (2372) or email: retrospectcfrc at yahoo dot ca. Indulge yourself in some “80’s Music that doesn’t suck.” I guarantee die-hard 80’s New Wave/post-punk fans will not be disappointed.

CFRC-FM Playlist November 24, 2009

Basement of Carruthers Hall in Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
ED-FM ~ Retrospect
80’s Music That Doesn’t Suck
If the “Listen Live” link on the CFRC Website doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your Windows Media Player: http://sunsite.queensu.ca:8000/
Join us in the Chat Room during the show – either click the link on the right menu under the Rave and Roll graphic, or here.
To listen to any shows that you may have missed, go to the CFRC website and look up the archives under the “Programming” drop-down menu. You can enjoy Ed’s previous shows in one-hour increments.

1.      Jane Siberry – Mimi On The Beach
2.      Rational Youth – Hot Streets
3.      Shyboy – Children’s Eyes
4.      Data Bank A – Etiquette Of Travel
5.      The Tourist – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
6.      The The – December Sunlight (Cried Out)
7.      Abecedarians – Smiling Monarchs
8.      Shock – Angel Face
9.      Shriekback – Over The Wire
10. Spoons – No Electrons
11. Neon Judgment – Chinese Black
12. Monsoon – Ever So Lonely
13. Payola$ – Romance
14. Cassandra Complex – One Millionth Happy Customer
15. It’s Immaterial – Rope (extended mix)
16. The Box – All This Cash
17. Steve Hackett – A Doll That’s Made In Japan
18. Mark Shreeve – Legion
19. Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short (extended mix)
20. Jackie Leven – Love Is Shining Down On Me
21. Echo & The Bunnymen – Never Stop

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Fad Gadget

No wonder why I love nearly everything I hear from Fad Gadget – a “band” that has been featured on both David Marsden’s and Ed-FM’s streaming shows. Wikipedia describes Fad Gadget, a pseudonym for the late Frank Tovey, as “(a)n influential British avant-garde electronic musician and vocalist, (who) was an exponent of both New Wave and early industrial music.” That can’t get any closer to the music that I adore.

Frank Tovey released LPs under both his own name and the Fad Gadget monicker. He shared a record label with Depeche Mode, who went on to critical world acclaim that continues today. In addition to being an extremely talented musician, Tovey was also well-known for his stage anctics that included tar and feathering himself, and covering himself with shaving cream while performing. Just listening to his timeless music all these years later, I can’t personally see the need for the performance art schtick because his music stands on its own merits.

In addition to synthesizers, Tovey experimented with the sounds of mechanical and electrical objects such as drills and electric razors. At one point, he was backed by a group known as Pyro when recording two of his LPs in the early 90’s. After a hiatus of several years, Tovey toured with Depeche Mode again as Fad Gadget in 2001. Unfortunately for the music world, Tovey suffered a fatal heart attack in 2002 at the age of 45. He left behind two children and a whole bunch of dedicated fans.

Visit the official Fad Gadget site for more information on this brilliant man’s short, but productive life. The photo on the left is from a collection shot by Rob Kints. View more of his photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robkints/2121140696/ . Thanks to Mr. Kints for permission to use this great shot.

“Collapsing New People” via YouTube user cecibeans:

“Ricky’s Hand” via YouTube user karsich00:

“Saturday Night Special” via YouTube user ronnyecke:

“Life On The Line” via YouTube user PrimetimeApocalypse:

“Coitus Interruptus” via YouTube user 350125GO:

In addition to accessing the official website, purchase Fad Gadget music here.
Purchase Frank Tovey music here.  

80’s Discography 

As Fad Gadget:
Fireside Favourites
(1980)
Incontinent (1981)
Under The Flag (1982)
Gag (1984) 

As Frank Tovey:
Easy Listening For The Hard Of Hearing
(1984) (with Boyd Rice)
Snakes and Ladders (1986)
The Fad Gadget Singles (1986)
Civilian (1988)
Tyranny & the Hired Hand (1989)

80’s Music Rules ~ More from Retrospect CFRC-FM ~ 11-17-09

Ed treated us to some great obscure songs; jangly guitars, some Siouxsie-like vocals, topped off with a dollop of butt-kicking Can Con. If you think you’ve got your head wrapped around some obscure 80’s tuneage, well think again. Join us on Tuesday evenings and get your fill of 80’s you haven’t heard in years – or maybe not at all. You owe it to your ears.

Be sure to tune in to Ed and his “song stuck in your head” 80’s Retrospect show on CFRC-FM from 8 pm until 10 pm on Tuesday nights. Ed takes requests by phone: (613) 533-CFRC (2372) or email: retrospectcfrc at yahoo dot ca. Indulge yourself in some “80’s Music that doesn’t suck.” I guarantee die-hard 80’s New Wave/post-punk fans will not be disappointed.

CFRC-FM Playlist November 17, 2009

Basement of Carruthers Hall in Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
ED-FM ~ Retrospect
80’s Music That Doesn’t Suck
If the “Listen Live” link on the CFRC Website doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your Windows Media Player: http://sunsite.queensu.ca:8000/
Join us in the Chat Room during the show – either click the link on the right menu under the Rave and Roll graphic, or here.
To listen to any shows that you may have missed, go to the CFRC website and look up the archives under the “Programming” drop-down menu. You can enjoy Ed’s previous shows in one-hour increments.

1.      Diodes – Catwalker
2.      Rough Trade – Deca-Dance
3.      Moev – Wanting
4.      Landscape – European Girls
5.      Parade Ground – Strange World
6.      Fad Gadget – Saturday Night Special
7.      Sex Pistols – Friggin’ In The Riggin’
8.      Nina Hagen – Wir Liben Immer Noch
9.      Captain Sensible – The Russians Are Coming
10. Dessau – Skeletons By Nature
11. Big In Japan – Suicide A Go Go
12. M + M – Song In My Head (dance mix)
13. Torch Song – Ode To Billy Joe
14. Stan Ridgway – The Big Heat
15. Men Without Hats – Messiahs Die Young
16. Creatures – Mad Eyed Screamer
17. Abecedarians – Soil
18. Rational Youth – Latin Lover
19. Durutti Column – The Missing Boy
20. Chalk Circle – This Mourning (extended)
21. Art of Noise – Legs (inside legs mix)

80’s (and sometimes 90’s and 00’s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Rob Stuart

EDF2Yes, that’s Rob with a “b,” Stuart with a “u.” Let’s get that straight before we embark on a journey that spans three decades and blows the lid off of the electro/synth/industrial music powder keg.

Not long ago, I featured an article on the Toronto-based band Slave To The SQUAREwave, followed by a review of their latest smashing release, The Money Shot. I also ran a Criminally Underrated piece on another Canadian 80’s band I felt had not received their well-deserved share of the spotlight called Vis-à-Vis. At the time, I had no earthly clue that there was a vital connection between these two amazingly talented bands. That connection is Rob Stuart.

Rob forwarded me a list of his musical stats and an audio collection of his music from the past nearly 30 years. After listening to the music throughout much of this week while toiling away at work, I have two words to describe what I heard – “blown away.” Let me put it this way: If you are as big a fan of synthesizer-fueled music as I am, there is no better aural pleasure than I have been treated to this past week. Rob Stuart is a master at what he does, whether it is writing, performing, or collaborating on music. I had thought my synthesizer idol Gary Numan had provided me with all the electronic music I needed to keep me happy the rest of my days. I could not have been more wrong. In fact, there was a cover version of Numan’s Films included with Rob’s audio collection that is every bit as good, if not better than, the original.EDF4

Rob began his serious foray into electronica in 1980 as part of a band called The Plastic Omniums. The band’s line-up looked like this: Rob Stuart (string machine, vocals), Joseph Podlovics, (synthesizer [Roland SH-09], CompuRhythm), John Parry, (synthesizer [Arp Odyssey Model 2800]), and Clifford Podlovics (Teac reel-to-reel tape deck, effects). The band enjoyed a couple of live performances and some unreleased studio recordings before calling it quits.

Next, Rob was a part of Vis-à-Vis from 1982-1984. At that time, the band’s line-up included Rob Stuart (synthesizers, bass guitar), Rude Van Steenes (Vocals), and Kurt LaPorte (guitar, vocals). The band produced many unreleased studio recordings and had several live performances. Vis-à-Vis went on to re-form minus Rob, and ended up releasing two LPs in 1986-87.

EDP5Ear Candy was the next musical project up. It consisted of Rob Stuart (synthesizers, production), Eric Kofler (synthesizers, programming, engineering), Andrew McNeil (synthesizers), and Bruce Bentley (guitars, vocals). Strictly a studio band, they enjoyed one EP release titled Self Defence (1986). Eric Kopfler and Andrew McNeil were replaced with Tom Bentley (drums) and James (vocals) for the remainder of Ear Candy’s lifetime, 1987-88. A double-sided 45 rpm vinyl record, “Don’t Let My Heart Slip Away/Don’t Push Me,” was released.

Rob was involved in a simultaneous project while with Ear Candy. Described as “improvisational ambient,” the group was named Silent Green and produced a 60-minute cassette entitled Euphoria. For more information, check them out on MySpace.

Besides Slave To The SQUAREwave, Rob’s most longstanding and ambitious project to date is a group known as Electronic Dream Factory (E.D.F.). Started in 1986, E.D.F. is still going strong today. Using the information provided, here is a breakdown of E.D.F. personnel over the years:

Rob Stuart – Synthesizers, Programming, Production, Vocals
Greg Fraser – Synthesizers, Sequencing, Engineering (1989 to 1991)
Rob Tenant – Drums (Live band 1991 to 1993)
Max – Guitar (Live Band 1991 to 1993)
Emerich Donath – Bass Guitar (Live Band 1991 to 1992)
Rudi Van Steenes – Guest Vocal, Simmons SDS-V Percussion (Live Band 1991 to 1992)

E.D.F. Discography:

1989 – “E.D.F – Self titled cassette” (Since been re-mastered to CD)
1992 – “Drama Dream” 16 song CD (Indiscreet Sounds)
1994 – “Number 3” 16 song CD (Indiscreet Sounds) Distributed by The Record Peddlar
2005 – “Patient Number 152” Double CD (Indiscreet Sounds)
2006 – “Remix-Remaster-Remake” Best of E.D.F compilation including re-mastered material plus new tracks (Indiscreet Sounds)      
2009 – “The Haas Effect” New full length CD release featuring a unique blend of ambient, space, chill and electronica (Indiscreet Sounds)EDF3

As if this wasn’t enough, Rob Stuart has also assisted Rude Van Steenes, Terence Gowan, and a duo called The Cynix in the capacities of producer, engineer, songwriter, and synth-player extraordinaire in numerous studio projects. All of these projects, including recordings for E.D.F. and Ear Candy, have produced songs used in movie and TV soundtracks, advertisements, and international airplay.

Criminally underrated? Absolutely. Rob Stuart has got to be one of the hardest-working, consistently productive, multi-talented musicians that the world has hardly ever heard of. Between E.D.F. and Slave To The SQUAREwave, concurrent groups of diverse, yet outstanding music, odds are in favor of the elusive break that will catapult him and his solid compositions into the limelight. Better sooner than later.

Check out Electronic Dream Factory’s MySpace page.  For more information on obtaining copies of the music mentioned in this article, feel free to leave a comment using your current email address and I will gladly forward your requests on to Rob Stuart.

“Are You Not Ashamed?” by E.D.F. via YouTube user slavetothesquarewave:

“Films (Gary Numan Cover)” by E.D.F. via YouTube user Akito01:

80’s Music Rules ~ More from Retrospect CFRC-FM ~ 11-10-09

cfrc-fm1

It has been a long time since we met to celebrate top-notch obscure 80’s music with Ed-FM. Ed has been on a well-deserved break these past three weeks, and did we ever miss him! He definitely made it up to us with such rare and fabulous tunes as David Bowie’s “Heroes/Helden,” The Chameleons’ “Mad Jack,” and Maurice And The Cliches’ “Soft Core.” Truly an obscure 80’s fan’s delight of a night.

Be sure to tune in to Ed and his “obscure is just the tip of the iceberg” 80’s Retrospect show on CFRC-FM from 8 pm until 10 pm on Tuesday nights. Ed takes requests by phone: (613) 533-CFRC (2372) or email: retrospectcfrc at yahoo dot ca. Indulge yourself in some “80’s Music that doesn’t suck.” I guarantee die-hard 80’s New Wave/post-punk fans will not be disappointed.

CFRC-FM Playlist November 10, 2009

Basement of Carruthers Hall in Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
ED-FM ~ Retrospect
80’s Music That Doesn’t Suck
If the “Listen Live” link on the CFRC Website doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your Windows Media Player: http://sunsite.queensu.ca:8000/
Join us in the Chat Room during the show – either click the link on the right menu under the Rave and Roll graphic, or here.
To listen to any shows that you may have missed, go to the CFRC website and look up the archives under the “Programming” drop-down menu. You can enjoy Ed’s previous shows in one-hour increments.

1.     New Musik – They All Run After The Carving Knife
2.     Chameleons – Mad Jack
3.     Martha & The Muffins – Several Styles Of Blonde Girls Dancing
4.     Screaming Bamboo – World Of Tomorrow
5.     David Bowie – Heroes/Helden
6.     XMal Deutschland – Incubus Succubus
7.     The Box – My Dreams Of You (extended)
8.     Yello – Metropolitan Mix Down Part 1
9.     Shriekback – Accretions (monstrous dance mix)
10. Xymox – Blind Heart
11. Flash And The Pan – Midnight Man (extended)
12. Chris and Cosey – Hazey Daze
13. Vis-à-Vis – Dance With Me
14.  Johnny Analog – Rhythm Ruled
15. Cowboys International – Thrash
16. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages (10 inch single)
17. Flying Lizards – TV
18. Maurice And The Cliches – Soft Core
19. Altered Images – If I Could Be Happy
20. Robert Fripp – Under Heavy Manners
21. Images In Vogue – Lust For Love

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Yello

Yello_aYello’s music has probably been heard by more people than are aware of it. If you have seen such movies as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (just to name two of several), or have experienced the Duffman character on “The Simpsons” TV show, then you have heard Yello’s most ubiquitous single “Oh Yeah.”

It is really a shame if that is all you know of this multifaceted group. If you listen regularly to Ed-FM’s Tuesday night Retrospect show from CFRC in Kingston, Ontario, you will have heard other stunningly creative Yello tunes as Ed brings their music library to life. (Note: Ed’s show will be back in swing on November 10 when he returns from a well-deserved break).

Yello was founded in Switzerland  and began recording music in 1979, comprised of Boris Blank (keyboards, sampling, percussion, backing vocals) and Carlos Perón (tapes). Realizing they were going nowhere without a singer, the duo brought Dieter Meier on board for lead vocals. Interestingly, the band’s instrumentation is presented entirely from taped samples of nearly every type of musical instrument. Boris Blank engineers these samples in such a way that they become the original melodies that back every Yello song.yello_b

What can I say about Dieter Meier’s brooding, melancholic, and deeply baritone vocals? I love them. That is a given from what I have written about similary talented vocalists. My personal favorite is “Desire” which was used in Miami Vice episodes from seasons 3 and 4, and also in the 1991 movie “Dutch.” Other favorites include “Rubberbandman” and one kick-butt tune that Ed uses to spice up his show, “The Race.” David Marsden recently played “Bostich” on his show, and that one is rapidly becoming one of my favorites, too.

Wikipedia has a fact-filled entry on Yello here.

Yello has even used the extreme vocal talents of the late Billy MacKenzie (Associates) and super-diva Shirley Bassey to spruce up several of their tracks. Check out this multi-layered Swiss electronica band that has taken the genre to a whole different universe. It is a must-listen for every serious electronica fan. Yello continues to record up until the present time, but I have only provided their 80’s (plus one – 1991’s Baby) discography below.

 
“Desire” via youTube user dante314159:

“Rubberbandman” via YouTube user dante314159:

“The Race” via YouTube user Elconquistador69too:
 

“Bostich” via YouTube user dante314159:

Purchase Yello music here.

1980’s Discography

Yello1Solid Pleasure (1980)

yello2Claro Que Si (1981)

Yello3You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess (1983)

Yello4Stella (1985)

Yello51980-1985 The New Mix In One Go (1986)

Yello6One Second (1987)

Yello7Flag (1988)

yello8Baby (1991)