PSEUDO ECHO: Love An Adventure – 2CD Expanded Edition

Australian synth-pop band Pseudo Echo formed in 1982 and were influenced by the emergent British New Romantic bands Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Ultravox. By 1984, Pseudo Echo were second in popularity in their homeland only to INXS. Their international breakthrough hit was their pop-rock makeover of the Lipps Inc track, the disco classic “Funky Town.” This was a worldwide smash hit in 1987 reaching #1 in Australia and Canada, #8 in the UK and #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This is a 2-disc expanded edition of their second album, Love An Adventure, that “Funky Town” originally appeared on. The tracklisting replicates the European / North American version of the album that was released in 1987 but with the addition of 18 bonus tracks. The bonus tracks include the definitive collection of the contemporaneous promotional remixes that were hitherto exclusive to North America as well as the B-sides and 12” versions of the singles that were commercially released from the album in the UK and US. Also contains an amazing booklet with tons of pictures and information.

I remember hearing about these guys when their first album came out, and really enjoying the new romantic sound and how chock full of hooks it had, then I saw the video for “Funky Town” and I laughed that they were covering a disco song, but damn it, they did a good job! With a guaranteed hook, synth galore and a touch of rock, this song grabbed me and I was hooked. Adding to the power of this album was “Listening,” another hook-filled song that was a killer remixed from their first album. They also had two more beefed up songs from their first album, “A Beat For You,” and “Destination Unknown.” A bunch of remixes, which everyone seemed to do back then, made sure that you had to get more and more from them. Not to say that the “big” single is the only thing on here, you can’t go wrong with this harder-edged version of the band. Now add on a ton of remixes and you have a double CD collection that will bring back memories, plus get you dancing, singing and laughing with how good it will make you feel.

If you want an album to bring you out of the doldrums, this is it. Put it on, and head to Funky Town all on your own again.

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MIDGE URE: Solo – 3TEN Austin City Limits Live: Austin, TX

Midge Ure, lead singer of Ultravox and solo artist came to Austin for a solo acoustic show at 3Ten Austin City Limits Live in downtown Austin. The weather was great, not too much traffic and away I went to the show.

I did miss the opening act; Robert Harrison of Cotton Mather, but I was really excited to see Ure who I have been a fan of since the early ’80s. The venue is small, intimate and was perfect for this show. Dark atmosphere, cool air blowing on me from the air conditioning system and my growing excitement all made it thrilling and made the hair stand up on my arms when Ure came on stage. With a perfect amount of story-telling, jokes and some aw-shucks moments, Ure thrilled the crowd with songs from Ultravox and his solo career. as well as a beautiful rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Man Of The World.” Ure told the crowd about listening to the song on the radio when he was small back when the UK had one radio station and how much he loved this song. He asked for people to help him sing-along with “The Voice,” but said that if you didn’t know it, please don’t do it, which got a large laugh from the crowd. With his mix of songs, he wove a set of beauty and heartfelt singing that was a pleasure to witness. “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” actually had some tears in my eyes since the raw emotion that Ure gave to the performance was striking. It was actually supposed to be the last song, but he got caught up in it and admitted that he forgot to leave the stage. After a lot of laughter, we were treated to the final song, “One Small Day,” and a standing ovation later, it was sadly all over…except for the buying of the souvenir t-shirt of course.

Having never seen Ultravox live, nor been able to see any of Ure’s previous solo shows, this was a delight and is something that I will never forget. The perfect venue, perfect sound, and perfect performance…what more could you ask for?

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BRONSKI BEAT: The Age Of Remix

A strictly limited edition 3-disc dance remix companion set to the recent Bronski Beat release The Age Of Reason. Steve Bronski has been the driving force behind Bronski Beat for 35 years. This album features their most recent singer; the powerful soul-pop, multi-octave ranged Stephen Granville. The Age Of Remix reorientates Bronski Beat’s recent The Age Of Reason album; itself a contemporary remake of Bronski Beat’s landmark debut album The Age Of Consent. Featuring no less than twenty-five all new and previously unreleased remixes from a plethora of current dance floor remixers. The third disc in this deluxe 3 1/2 hour set is a bonus continuous mix by Sordid Soundz, also known as Bronski Beat programmer Ian Donaldson, which itself contains some exclusive snippets of further previously unreleased mixes.

I remember watching the video shows after school in the early ’80s, waiting to see the newest clips and the exciting new sounds that seemed to come out every week, and low and behold, I saw “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat. What a different and interesting synthpop sound, plus the video and song had meaning to it, the pain and suffering of a gay man growing up. I was fascinated and couldn’t wait to hear more from them. I saw the album in the store, picked it up and was a fan, then the video for “Why” came out and it was great. Now Jimmy Somerville is no longer with the band and has had a great solo career, and only Steve Bronski is left, but he has got a great new vocalist that takes the songs, and adds his own twist to them and does a terrific job with them. So many remixes, so many to choose from and you will definitely find one that appeals to you, I love the ones based on “Smalltown Boy” and “Why,” but I am biased since those songs are so massive and remind me of my youth. The songs are upbeat, full of energy and will cause booty shaking to happen, whether you want it to happen or not. The band did a great job finding remixers and picking great mixes for this collection.

This will get you dancing and loving the songs all over again, and will hopefully get people that weren’t there the first time, to hear them in this collection and get the message and the love for the band. Just so you know, the third CD is one long song that cannot be skipped to the next song, so just put it on and shake your thang…all night long.

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A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS: Remixes & Rarities

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This remaster of their singles and some digging through the depths of their recorded output to find songs that have been on other compilations, but some new to CD as well. A band that most people know because of a haircut and one song, but actually had a lot more going for them than just being a jokey footnote.

I remember hearing “I Ran” on the radio and loving it, and having to get that song, so on my birthday, my father bought me a K-Tel compilation that I still own, with this song on it. Like most of their compilations, the song was cut short and the sound wasn’t great, but I had that song. I soon after saw the video and at the time, I thought it was great…not so much now…lol. Luckily, I lived in a fairly big city and was able to get the album at a local record store and fell in love with the rest of the songs. Of course, I also became a fan of the band’s continued output and was excited to see this CD come out. I had picked up some of their 45’s, and 12″ singles as I went along in my music hunts and now I can listen to them with the pops and crackles of my old vinyl. So many great songs are on this collection, with single edits, live versions, and remixes that I bought and lots that I never heard before. The sound is terrific with clarity and crispness that brings out the interesting sounds from the keys, and a booklet with an interview from Smash Hits, lyrics for some of the songs and a great discography as well. The remixes are sometimes a bit on the long side such as “Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)” which is over minutes long and goes on far too long, but still, this is a treat for the fan of this band and the person curious to hear some remixes that add to the enjoyment of the original song. The only things I was unhappy about was that they could have made a third CD of even more remixes and rare songs, and the mediocre cover.

An album that will take you back to the early and mid ’80s and carry you up into the sky with the birds and soar into the clouds. This will make you dance, sing, and smile…a fantastic thing.

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CLOSE TO THE NOISE FLOOR: FORMATIVE UK ELECTRONICA 1975-1984

If you were around for the early New Wave era, or just curious about when it was still hungry and vital, then this is a box set that you will love. It showcases the early sounds of the synthesizer used in bands to create sounds, noises and in most cases, songs that still raise the hair on your arms. This collection has sixty tracks across four CD, a great detailed booklet, and has bands that you’ve heard of like the Human League, Blancmange, and OMD, to obscure artists that will make you try to hunt down their music….if you can……

This collection goes from the very experimental, with beeps and other strange noises making up songs, to beautiful soundscapes and early industrial. This was just as punk rock at the time as picking up a guitar, maybe more so, since a lot of these were done on homemade machines and with even cheaper materials. The CDs are packed full of songs that were made in a hurry and not with any eye on being on a chart, just made to do something in the spirit of the times and to create something. To think that a lot of these people have moved on and have forgotten about a lot of this, it’s a great collection to get people to hear things that would have been forgotten except for the greedy and horrible collectors who charge an arm and a leg for these singles online. The big song on here is the Human League track “Being Boiled,” but the others all have their charms and I’m glad to have the chance to hear a lot of music that I never had the chance to hear back then. The remastering is fantastic, especially since some of this came off of cassettes, the sound is clear and makes for a great listen.

I could go on and on about the artists and songs, but you just need to go out and get a copy of this collection. While not being definitive….and how could it ever be? The collection is a great beginning to expanding on your idea of what synthesizer music started out as, as well as being sad at how bad a lot of it turned out later in the ’80s.

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THE BUGGLES: Age Of Plastic: CD

 

 

The Age of Plastic is the debut studio album written, produced and performed by British new wave duo The Buggles, which consisted of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. With the big hit “Video Killed The Radio Star,” this album became a real worldwide success. This deluxe edition features three bonus tracks.

The Buggles have a place in music history because “Video Killed The Radio Star” was the first music video shown on MTV, but don’t think that this album is just that one song, it has a lot more to  offer. “Kid Dynamo,” is a great song with electric guitars and strings that propel the song along. “I Love You (Miss Robot)” has great female vocals midway through the song and its synthesized vocals make this seem like it was the future at the time. “Clean, Clean” has a slow beginning before going full force with guitar and drums, and has an inspired synthesizer solo in the middle of the song. “Johnny On The Monorail” is a quick-paced soundscape of synthesizer playing. The bonus songs add some depth, and time to this short album. The three bonus tracks on this reissue are; the delightful lite-reggae “Island,” the quirky “Technopop,” and a different version of “Johnny On The Monorail.” The remastering job makes this a lot clearer and crisper, you can hear sounds and bleeps that were hidden on the original release, plus the quieter passages no longer have that mild hissing noise.

A great album that holds up just as well now as it did when it was first released and actually may be just as relevant of technology taking over. Grab this and relive the fun and excitement of early new wave, just remember to play it loud.

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NEW ORDER: Music Complete: CD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music Complete is New Order’s tenth studio album, and it’s the first batch of new songs they’ve recorded since 2005’s Waiting For The Sirens’ Call. This is the first album since the departure of bassist Peter Hook and reintroducing original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert back into the fold.

“Restless” is their leadoff single and is a little bit mellow, but still a very good song with a nice groove to it, but “Singularity” is a real corker that should have started the album. It is faster and has more of those old, peppy dance songs that they do so well. “Plastic” is another fantastic track that gives you a lot of the classic music they have put out, but still keeps things very much modern. You also get La Roux’s Elly Jackson on the great tracks“Plastic,” “Tutti Frutti,” and “People on the High Line,” Iggy Pop on “Stray Dog’” and longtime fan and friend Brandon Flowers on “Superheated.” The band have really gotten back into the mindset of putting out an album that gets you dancing, but also thinking about their lyrics. The music takes you back more into the ’80s, but not in sound, but in style of the album.

A great release that will have you singing and dancing along to the songs for a long time. Don’t worry, that guy who isn’t in the band anymore isn’t missed too badly since new bassist Tom Chapman handles those duties quite well.

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