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dsalmones
dsalmones [profile] has recommended 25 tracks.
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Open Your Eyes  performed by The Lords Of The New Church  1982
Composed by Stiv Bators/T.D. James

Opening with a brat beating bass and melody that is scarily reminiscent of some late 70s euro disco pathos, it’s only when Brian James’ raunchy guitar kicks in that you know you’re well away from the lights of that dance floor and in the grips of a very different master. A hedonistic web of Bators’ beloved conspiracy theorizing, the logical successor to the Wanderers’ paranoia-packed repertoire, ”Open Your Eyes” previewed a closet of horrors that embraced organized religion, the impending World Tour of Pope John Paul II, Bolshevik plots and Ronald Reagan’s apparent rush towards nuclear Armageddon. With session man Matt Black’s synthesizers giving the whole thing a classic rock feel that merged edgily with the band’s own punkish sensibilities, it was, as always, Bators’ viperous lyrics that brought the whole thing into the twilight zone of pre-Internet intrigue. The 80s politicking of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain and Reagan’s cold war America pretty much ensured that both sides were far happier not having to open their eyes. A gleeful Bators was there, though, to make sure they did.
(AMG)

from The Lords of the New Church (IRS 44797-5029-2), available on CD (IRS)


Ripple  performed by The Church  1990
Composed by Jay Dee Daugherty/Steve Kilbey/Peter Koppes/Marty Willson-Piper

The lead single from one of the Church's all time highs, the dark, powerful Priest Aura, "Ripple" was much like the album it came from - lengthy, with an emphasis on artistic impact rather than radio-friendly ease, charged with a feeling of impending, unnerving threat. The initial guitar chime and Steve Kilbey's singing may provide a familiar feeling for long-time listeners, but the edge of spite and conflict in the words carries through in the performance - Kilbey's not so much blending into the mix as suddenly slicing through it. The full arrangement almost has a touch of film noir threat to it, but not as much as the amazing chorus. Starting with a soft, almost sighed overdubbed vocal part like a mysterious signal, it literally does ripple up in the mix, sneaking up on the listener instead of turning into any kind of a singalong. It's the same approach as with "Under the Milky Way," but the air here is less elegant melancholia and more unsettling electric charge, extra guitar feedback carving arcs through the arrangement, instrumental breaks providing only short, temporary relief.
(AMG)

from Priest=Aura (Arista 18683-2), available on CD (Arista)


Bill Drummond Said  performed by Julian Cope  1984
Composed by Julian Cope

A key track from Julian Cope's fragmentary second solo album, 1984's Fried, "Bill Drummond Said" is the only song on the album that resembles the swirling psych-pop of his old band the Teardrop Explodes. This is no doubt intentional, as the lyrics take aim at the group's former manager, Bill Drummond (later half of the Timelords, the KLF, and the JAMS), albeit in a typically vague way. The lyrics are skeletal enough that several interpretations might be brought to them, but they seem to recount a dream in which Cope witnesses his former manager in the act of strangling an unidentified woman to death. In contrast to the vaguely unpleasant lyrics, this is by far the catchiest and sweetest tune on Fried, with a dreamy folk-rock sound to its ringing 12-string guitar riffs and breathy harmonies. Coming between more disjointed and edgy tracks like the bizarre fairy tale "Reynard the Fox" and the Syd Barrett-like ramble "Laughing Boy," "Bill Drummond Said" sounds downright bubblegummy. Unsurprisingly, the always combative Drummond got in the last word with his answer song, "Julian Cope Is Dead," a sarcastically folky acoustic tune from his odd 1986 solo album The Man in which Drummond claims that in the waning days of the Teardrop Explodes, he had suggested that Cope commit suicide to make the band famous and laments that the singer didn't take him up on it.
(AMG)

from Fried (Mercury 822832), available on CD


Skin Trade  performed by Duran Duran  1986
Composed by Simon LeBon/Nick Rhodes/Andy Taylor

Beneath the avant-garde lyrics and futuristic synth textures, there was always a pulsing dance music quality that drove the classic Duran Duran sound. As they progressed into the late '80s, they allowed that dance element to move up front and dominate their style. A good example of this tactic is "Skin Trade," a hit whose silky and funky style led to it being mistaken for a Prince song. The lyrics have a surprisingly direct, soul-searching feel to them as they lay out scenarios of people shortchanging their dreams to make money. These moments are followed with the dramatic proclamation that makes up the chorus: "Will someone please explain/The reasons for this strange behavior?/In exploitation's name/We must be working for the skin trade." The music lends contrast to the angry tone of the lyrics by creating a sultry, mellow melody that juxtaposes verses with a soft, hypnotic ebb and flow with an ever-ascending chorus that revs up the song's inherent drama. Duran Duran's recording is fuelled by funky but gently layered guitar textures and subtle drum work that push its groove along, plus some atmospheric synth textures on the chorus. Interestingly, Simon LeBon uses his normal tenor voice for the choruses but sings much of the verses in a lush, soulful falsetto that led many pop fans to initially mistake "Skin Trade" for a Prince ballad. The result was a perfect blend of slow-dance textures and adult social critique. It didn't do as well as "Notorious," just barely making the Top 40 in the U.S., but it got plenty of radio airplay and is fondly remembered by the group's fans as one of Duran Duran's most mature achievements of the late '80s.
(AMG)

from Notorious (Capitol C2-46415), available on CD


Tell Me When  performed by The Human League  1995
Composed by Paul Beckett/Philip Oakey

Although a thick line has long been drawn connecting disco to the '90s techno scene, few have bothered to connect the dots between the more modern genre and synth pop. The Human League didn't need to fret about such things, though; they intuitively understood those relationships, having explored virtually all the influences over their career — industrial, funk, R&B, synth pop, new wave, and disco itself. And when the wheel turned again, the band was back on top with a sound that hadn't really changed, but just refined. With a few minor alterations, 1995's "Tell Me When" could have come from 1983, slotting nicely between "Fascination" and "Mirror Man." Of course, the drum programming would need to be changed (there were no jungle rhythms back then!), but the funky bassline can stay, along with the bubbly synths. In fact, the real difference is found in the vignette-esque lyrics and the more complex vocals. And these slight changes make all the difference, turning synth dreams into techno club success. A taster for the group's forthcoming Octopus album, "Tell Me When" hit on both sides of the Atlantic, landing just outside the Top 6 and Top 30 in the U.K. and U.S., respectively.
(AMG)

from Octopus (EastWest 61788), available on CD


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