05 November 2006



1980: The fulcrum between Industrial Culture and The New Pop. True, Numan was already riding high in the charts, and the original Human League were spotted performing their unlikely cover of Gary Glitter's "Rock 'n Roll Prt.1" on TOTP, but still the Futurist Movement had yet to gatecrash the mainstream en masse. That would occur the following year. Producers like Martin Rushent, Trevor Horn and Mike Thorn had yet to add that extra layer of studio-gloss required to propel the New Synthetic Generation to the top of the charts. By and large, Synthpop was still 'Pop 2', as K-Punk might say. It wanted desperately to be pop, but was still hampered by it's homespun, DIY ethics - a patina of tape hiss, ham-fisted punch-in/outs, eerie ambiance of kitchen appliance hum, thin Korg buzz and faltering hand-played electronic percussion.

Daniel Miller wanted to be pop very badly at this point. He had yet to discover Depeche Mode, so instead invented a fictitious group to realise his dreams. Observe the delicious results (and yes, that is Frank 'Fad Gadget' Tovey playing the role of lead vocalist 'Darryl').

Martin Fry and his chums were still a grey, dour electronic act from the frozen wastes of Sheffield. Barely 18 months later, they would be performing "The Look Of Love" on TOTP in one of the most radikal transformations in the history of pop.

Over in the States something was stirring in New Jersey. It sounded like all the above crossed with deadpan male & female vocals somewhere between Devo and The B-52's, with lyrical themes that reveled in cold war political irony. Unfortunately it disappeared without a trace shortly after, and would be completely forgotten by the world at large for nearly 25 years. Now, at last, like some New Wave equivalent of the Silver Apples, a degree of recognition.

So who's upholding the spirit 1980 today? The Fins, apparently...


Anonymous said...

Love the Silicon Teens... I'm sure you know about the Pulsars' tribute song to them (called "Silicon Teens" from the mid 90's or thereabouts), and I've been trying to find that 7" for years. They did release it on disk, but it's a completely different and altogether inferior version... thx

Erin O'Brien said...

Thank you for posting my vintage photograph. Those were the days. And yes, I still have the see-through leotard-thingie.

Carry on.

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