Monday, September 28, 2009

Synth ear pain


I watched that new Synth Brittania two-parter that's coming to BBC4 anytime soon.

It was great, with loads of brilliant clips of run down late Seventies Britain, Top of the Pops performances, Swap Shop appearances, etc., and great interviews with members of long-forgotten bands, well-known bands, bands you never paid much attention to but will now and of course the most perfect soundtrack, withe everyone from Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, to Kraftwerk, The Normal, Gary Numan and the Human League. Vince Clark is interesting, as I had no idea that when he formed Yazoo with Alison Moyet he didn't actually know her - at all.

So it's all wonderful but as with all these things, it's let down by woeful research.

I really hope the copy I saw wasn't the final edit, as it's littered with factual errors and if you, like me, are a muso, this will get your goat no end. Ultravox's Vienna a hit in 1982? No, it was 1981. OMD having two hits in the same year both about Joan of Arc? Wrong again. Fade To Grey being the hit of 1980? Deep sigh. I could go on.

How hard can it be to get your facts straight? The Guinness Book of Hit Singles must be knocking around your office somewhere. It's very poor, and of course once it's out there, it becomes fact and everything gets blurred. Lazy, very lazy.

But I do recommend the show. If you were 16 in 1981 then it's what you've been waiting for. Film of Croc's in Basildon, Kraftwerk, OMD and Yazoo - it's like a dream. But my God it's dated and it made me feel really old. But it made the really good point that once Howard Jones got in on the act it was all but over as a new movement, as it had become totally mainstream. At last, someone's said it.

Enjoy.

13 comments:

Simon said...

As I've got the 12"/80s/Electro-Pop compilation in the car right now this sounds tailor made for me. Will have to make sure I don't do my usual trick of completely forgetting BBC 4 exists within seconds of seeing an interesting trail or listing.

Bright Ambassador said...

Can't wait for Metal Britannia myself. Excellent title for the post, by the way.

Mondo said...

I'm going to have to catch that Crocs was my club and I hardly missed a weekend during the 80s ( I gigged there a couple of times too when it became The Pink Tootbrush) - the Crocs reunion last year was an absolute blast.

Five-Centres said...

And Crocs was of course in Rayleigh, right? My mistake.

Suzy Norman said...

*applauds choice of headline*

Ishouldbeworking said...

Oooh, OOOH, I can't wait for this...I was a Crocs Girl (some nights you'd get all of Depeche Mode, Alison Moyet, AND the bass player from Department S in there.). When is this feast?

Five-Centres said...

It's either 10th October or later that week. So there's plenty of time to relearn the moves to New Life.

Mondo said...

I remember chatting to the ginger one from Depeche in Crocs. Robert Marlowe, Boy George, Steve Strange all used to visit - Soft Cell played there in their early days. But Hanoi Rocks and The Damned (not at the same time) were probably the greatest gigs ever at the club.

Yes Crocs was in Rayleigh FC - Raquel's was in Basildon. Although Chesters in Southend was actually more electric than both and full off wall-to-wall Numanoids

There's a great site on Crocs here with load of photos - and I've still got a Crocs flyer from 83 - here if you fancy a peep.

Brian Rowland said...

I suppose I can see how the OMD error happened. The two Joan of Arc songs were on the same LP, they were consecutive hits, and they were hits only three months apart.

Also, although Fade to Grey was a hit in early '81, I didn't realise for a long time that it had been a big underground club single during late 1980 and only then crossed over into the 'proper' singles charts.

I look forward to seeing this doc anyway.

Ishouldbeworking said...

Mondo, he was called Mike Herbage. Probably still is. He rang me up once and spoke to my mother, who informed me on my return that "An ignoramus called Mike has been phoning for you. Don't bring him home."

(sorry F-C.)

Five-Centres said...

no, no, do go on. I'm fascinated.

Ishouldbeworking said...

I've said too much already.

Mondo said...

Don't know him ISB, funnily enough I bumped into Russ on Friday night, one of the original Crocs DJs - and he's still there today,

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