Gary Numan gave phenomenally great performances billed as “Back To The Phuture” last weekend at the Troxy in London and the Manchester Academy. In Manchester on April 1, Gary Numan and band shared the stage with Recoil, Motor, and DJ Mark Jones. At the Troxy, on April 2, other artists included legendary John Foxx, Mirrors, Motor, DJ Daniel Miller, and DJ Mark Jones.
There are some fantastic fan videos of various songs Gary Numan performed, including one that he penned just that week (“Obelisk/Everything Comes Down To This”). I’ve linked to some of the better ones below. Enjoy!
My motto is, “Never enough Goth.” Continuing from last week’s Clan of Xymox post comes another 80s Goth/post-punk band, The Bolshoi.
Short-lived, but definitely memorable, The Bolshoi formed in Bath, UK in 1984. The original founding members were Trevor Tanner (vocals, guitar), Jan Kalicki (drums), and Nick Chown (bass). Their music was basically eclectic in nature, but definitely leaned toward Goth. The moody, pensive vocals and accompanying music were reminiscent of Bauhaus.
In 1985, the band relocated to London and added Paul Clark on keyboards. A couple of albums, and a switch to a more mainstream sound brought the band a broader touring schedule. But problems with the label found the band with a completed album that was never released. That signaled the end of The Bolshoi; gone from the 80’s music scene way too fast, but leaving some fabulous music behind.
If you listen to nothing else, be sure to check out “A Way.” It’s sure to tickle the Goth fancy of any serious 80s music fan.
If we meet even one extraordinary person in our lifetime, we can consider ourselves fortunate. With the advent of the Internet and an ever-widening circle of international acquaintances, I have had the good fortune to meet several such people. The latest person to enrich my life is a gifted and outstanding musician named Bobbi Style.
I’ve only “known” Bobbi for a short time, recently making his acquaintance on FaceBook. But everything I have read about him and listened to by him since then points to an immensely interesting person whose story I feel compelled to share.
Along with New Wave and synthpop, my favorite 80’s music genre is Goth. Peter Murphy, Love & Rockets, and The Damned are a few 80’s Goth artists that rapidly come to mind. Imagine my delight when I was directed to a Bobbi Style 80’s-era music video on YouTube and discovered that his favored performance genre is….Goth! After sitting with my mouth hanging open in shock wondering where the heck I was when this dynamo was out conquering the world, I fell in love.
Bobbi Style was born with cerebral palsy, leaving him wheelchair-bound. He never let this disability get the better of him. Instead, he overcame the obvious obstacles – not only the physical, but the inherently prejudicial public reactions to a disabled Goth-band frontman. He achieved this with grace and dignity, and in his native UK, Bobbi became quite the cult figure with a large, hard-core group of fans.
In an interview with NX Live Magazine, Bobbi recalls that he first got into music around age 5 as a drummer, then guitarist and bassist. In his early teens, and when his disability would not allow him to maneuver around a drum kit any longer, he found himself as a singer for the school band, calling upon such influences as Gary Numan, Japan, Generation X, and Siouxsie & The Banshees for inspiration. Sounds like an absolutely winning combination to me.
In addition to the above-mentioned, Bobbi also cites the following as influential presences: Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, and The Mission. The very best of each can be seen in Style’s 80’s clips on YouTube (see below) that tease us with just a sampling of what this incredible man can do.
Speaking of a “can do” attitude, Bobbi Style has never taken his disability and limitations for what they are, and just cut his losses. This is a man who decided at an early age that he was going to rise above what others felt was a disadvantage, and make the most of his life. Content in his own skin, and with a history of successes and triumphs behind him, Bobbi Style now focuses that endless supply of energy on helping other musicians with disabilities.
Style, a native of the UK, now lives in British Columbia, Canada, and is very active within a group known as VAMS (Vancouver Adapted Musician Society) founded in the late 1980s to support and promote musicians with physical disabilities in the Metro Vancouver area. Style donates his time, talent, and proceeds from recording, promotions, and sales to help his fellow musicians. He is also launching a charity called “Bob Friendly” that will raise money to construct disabled-friendly studios around the world.
If you think you’re having a bad day, check out some of the following links and get to know a man that has not let what life has thrown at him get him down. Bobbi Style is more than just a gifted 80’s Goth artist – he is an inspiration to many, a militant advocate for disabled people of all stripes, and a wickedly funny man. My life has been greatly enriched by our chance meeting (thanks to Eighties Everafter) on FaceBook.
Bobbi has re-released “Lady Feline” on iTunes. Check it out here.
Note: Be on the look-out for a re-release of “Embrace Me” – that’s a personal favorite of mine.
It’s time to go on a rant about extraordinarily gifted artists and bands who were unfairly labeled “one-hit wonders.” Oftentimes, these artists were not properly promoted after charting; although they continued producing incredible music, the powers that be at the record companies and radio stations turned a deaf ear in order to promote the next flavor of the month. We, the listeners, were the big losers.
So much fantastic music from the 80’s has since been unearthed, that it’s not even necessary to listen to the contemporary repetitive swill out there. My iPod has 10 days’ worth of obscure 80’s listening gems. Each week, when I listen to the champions of the little guys, David Marsden and Ed-FM, I am treated to even more music that wasn’t promoted, that should have been, and that absolutely rocks.
This week will showcase three wrongly identified “one-hit wonders.” I urge you, if you haven’t already done so, to explore and enjoy their music. You will discover music your ears have been longing for, that will soothe your soul, and make you fall in love with your speakers all over again.
Numan’s first group, Tubeway Army, scored big hits with “Cars” and “Are Friends Electric” back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Since then, Gary Numan has been a very busy man, working hard to reinvent himself and finally finding success with a move to a decidedly Goth/Industrial/Dark Wave genre. Starting in the mid-90’s, Numan hit his stride with the albums Sacrifice, Exile, Pure, Hybrid, Jagged, and the latest, Dead Son Rising (sheduled to be released later in 2010). Never heard of them? If you enjoy Dark Wave, do yourself a huge favor and check them out. Both Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson have cited Numan as an influence. Exile and Hybrid are personal favorites of mine. Gary Numan has transcended Tubeway Army in a huge way and deserves much more than the limited success of the past 15 years.
“Absolution” via YouTube user Patrickingham21:
“Exile” via YouTube user MollyClark4430:
“Haunted” via YouTube user Industrial82:
Modern English scored a big hit in the 80’s with “I Melt With You.” If you haven’t taken the time to listen to any other of their eclectic 80’s tunes, you are cheating your ears out of pure pleasure in a big way. Their four 80’s LPs were Mesh and Lace (1981), After the Snow (1982), Ricochet Days (1984), and Stop Start (1986). My personal favorite is “Someone’s Calling” from the After The Snow LP. Definitely take the time to go back and check out any Modern English music you may not have heard the first time around. This band deserved to be more than a “don’t blink or you’ll miss them” phenomenon.
“Someone’s Calling” via YouTube user ealdrett:
“Ink and Paper” via YouTube user delahuerta:
Virtually unknown outside of Canada, Blue Peter enjoyed a couple of hits with “Don’t Walk Past” and “Radio Silence.” The band, led by Paul Humphrey, continues to play in and around Toronto to this day. If you like the style of David Byrne, front man of Talking Heads, you’ll love Blue Peter. Humphrey embodies all that is great about Byrne, with a little David Bowie and Bryan Ferry thrown in for fun. Criminally underrated doesn’t even begin to describe Blue Peter’s talent. Even if you were lucky enough to have heard either of their hits back in the 80’s, chances are you missed out on gems such as “Falling,” “Take Me to War.” “All Your Time,” “Unchained Heart,” and “Video Verite.”
The Neon Judgement is a post-punk duo from Leuven, Belgium that formed in 1981. Founding members were Dirk Da Davo (Dirk Timmermans) and TB Frank (Frank Vloeberghs). This duo produced music that was equal parts post-punk, New Wave, and goth/industrial. Ed-FM played a selection called “Tomorrow In The Papers” this past Tuesday night, and it instantly piqued my interest.
The unique fusion of styles sounds more like the recipe for a nightmare rather than artistic brilliance. But, The Neon Judgement pulls it off flawlessly, producing a sound that successfully crosses genres and sounds a lot bigger than that coming from a duo. Post-punk, New Wave and goth/industrial happen to be favorite music genres of mine, as evidenced by the many 80’s artists I have featured in this blog. Listening to The Neon Judgement satisfies all of those aural cravings wrapped up into one convenient package.
I think you’ll reach the same conclusion. It is definitely worth taking the time to listen to and be enthralled by The Neon Judgement.
Maybe Love & Rockets doesn’t technically qualify for the “Criminally Underrated” series. They were, after all, a successful group in their own right starting in the early 80’s. In my mind though, because I have only grown to appreciate them 20-odd years after the fact, they certainly must have been underrated. After all, if I love them so much now, wouldn’t I had felt the same back then had they been given proper exposure?
The band formed in 1985 and was made up of former Bauhaus (think: Peter Murphy) members Daniel Ash (guitars, saxophone and vocals), David J (Bass and vocals), and Kevin Haskins (drums, synthesizers). Prior to Love & Rockets, Ash and Haskins had performed in a band called Tones on Tail. Remember the wicked bass-driven toe-tapper “Go!”? Fire-breathing hot.
Love & Rockets’ first hit was a cover of “Ball of Confusion,” originally recorded by the Temptations. Even though this was a Motown song, Love & Rockets were definitely of the post-punk (and at times, synth-driven New Wave) persuasion. Their notable album releases for the 80’s included Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven which has my absolute favorite song by them called “Haunted When The Minutes Drag,” Express (includes “Ball of Confusion”), and Earth, Sun, Moon (includes “No New Tale To Tell”).
Most bands release a self-titled album as their first effort. Love & Rockets finally got around to releasing their eponymous collection in 1989, closing out a relatively successful decade for them. “So Alive,” which I (and others) have erroneously identified as a T. Rex composition, was a well-received and high-charting hit from the Love & Rockets album.
The 90’s were not especially kind to the band as they grappled with losing their belongings in a fire and with a legal battle that ensued. They have since re-formed, performing iin both 2007 and 2008 at various live gatherings such as the Coachella and Lollapalooza extravaganzas.
I have been most fortunate to be reintroduced to the best of their music through David Marsden’s weekly show. You would do well to get reacqainted, too, if you have not listened to this band in a long time. They definitely had much to offer back then, and their music lives on today.
“So Alive” via YouTube user satochi159357:
“Haunted When The Minutes Drag” via YouTube user nezror:
“All In my Mind” via YouTube user Mister Stereo:
“Mirror People” via YouTube user Purple Blue Haze:
My infatuation with Gary Numan began a few years ago when a fellow music enthusiast introduced me to “I Die You Die.” Upon hearing this song, I was stunned – I mean, Gary Numan actually did something other than “Cars?” Thus began a journey that uncovered an endless supply of musical gems, and a better understanding of the mistakenly-perceived-as-aloof artist himself.
After discovering and listening to anything and everything I could get my hands on, starting with his band “Tubeway Army” and finishing with the most recent live “Replicas” performance, I was amazed to come to grips with the fact that I actually preferred Gary Numan’s later, goth/industrial songs. Although I am a huge fan of 80’s synthesizer-driven New Wave, and Gary Numan has indeed been called the “Godfather of Synthesizer,” I identify with the dark, unbridled emotion that surges forth from brilliant songs such as “Exile,” “Pure,” and “Listen to My Voice.”
Numan and his wife Gemma have suffered through the deep disappointment of several miscarriages, causing him to rail against God and the faith of those who believe. Although I don’t agree with his atheism, I respect his views and understand the pain that brought him to his conclusions. I also admire the fact that he has handled these unbridled, raw, and potentially self-destructive emotions by channeling them through his music. This man not only wears his emotions on his sleeve, he lays his soul bare for the world to see.
Gary Numan ~ Dark (via jd800lover on YouTube)
Gary Numan is a delight to watch in an interview. Ever gracious, yet brutally honest, he answers questions with thoughtfulness and dignity. He is humble, self-effacing, and quick to give credit to others where it is due. He is also equally quick to emasculate his critics for the damage they have attempted to rain down on his reputation and his career. Try as they might to destroy him, Gary Numan has bounced back stronger than ever, towing a large and dedicated fan base in his wake. He is never at a loss for words in describing his gratitude to those that have stuck by him throughout the past 4 decades of extreme highs and lows.
Gary Numan ~ Crazier (via Industrial82 on YouTube)
I’ve made quite a few video montages, several in honor of this hugely talented man, three of which were wrongly ordered taken down from YouTube. No matter what Eagle Records says, with the help of another fan, I have received written permission from Tony Webb, Gary Numan’s father/manager to use this music. Numan has always maintained that he has no problem with fans using his music to promote him, as long as we do not profit from it.
That said, here is one of the videos I put my own time and resources into, in honor of a man that has worked brutally hard to achieve the modest successes he has enjoyed.
Gary Numan ~ Pure
Gary Numan: There is far more to this gifted artist than “Cars.” Check him out.