These days, Martha Ladly teaches interactive design at OCAD, but in 1983 she had found herself in England, immersed in the country’s flowering pop scene. Together with fellow Canadian art school refugee, Brett Wickens, she wrote and performed this gem, which featured Peter Hook from New Order on bass and had a Peter Saville sleeve. Formerly one of the two Marthas in Martha and the Muffins, Ladly sang for Roxy Music and The Associates, dated Saville and was credited for suggesting the names of OMD releases. Wickens played with The Spoons and Ceramic Hello, released a 12″ with Jah Wobble and worked closely with Saville. Name-dropping aside, this is a lovely slice of Anglo-Canadian pop, just right for summer.
Rare Video of the Week
Frank Tovey is sadly no longer with us or we would have to ring to ask about his Prince look in this video gem. Frank was one of the true greats among performance artists, and in his Fad Gadget guise gave us several amazing albums. Unmissable music from an artist who is sorely missed.
They spotted this first at Slicing Eyeballs, but Simple Minds appearing on German television in 1982 is a gem well worth sharing, lieber freunder! The mix isn’t the best, but remember that this is the band U2 wanted to be.
The talent of John von Ahlen isn’t limited to exceptional songwriting and prolific remixing. As this video shows, his ability to combine visual codes with deft animation hits the senses in ways that trigger all the right memories to accompany a sharp, dancefloor-friendly track. Can you spot all the references? If so, you’re so 80s you don’t even know it.
Reykjavik punks Q4U picked up a Roland TR808 in the 80s and became cold wave innovators. The Dark Entries label, which released a retrospective collection of their releases, tells the story of the band and the compilation:
Q4U was born the winter of 1980-1981 in Reykjavík, inspired by the British punk movement. It’s original members were Elínborg Halldórsdóttir (Ellý) (vocals), Berglind Garðarsdóttir (Linda) (vocals), Steinþór Stefánsson (guitar), Gunnþór Sigurðsson (bass), Helgi (drums) and Már (synthesizer). Helgi and Már soon left the band and Helgi was replaced by Kormákur Geirharðsson (Kommi) on the drums. By early 1982 they self-released a full length cassette, “Skaf Í Dag” and appeared in the documentary “Rokk í Reykjavík,” which showcased the Icelandic punk scene. This version of the band ended and only two members continued on. In the summer of 1982 Ellý and Gunnþór recruited Óðinn Guðbrandsson (guitar) and Árni Daníel (synthesizer) from the band Taugadeildin. Their drummer was replaced by a Roland TR-808 drum machine they named “Elísabet II”. signaling a change in the group’s sound toward synthesizer-driven post punk. In August 1983 Q4U reinstated Kormákur to record a final set of demos and then called it quits.
This compilation collects 16 songs from 1980-1983. SIde A features the original six songs from the “Q1″ EP, plus 2 songs from the “Rokk í Reykjavík” soundtrack. Side B collects 4 demos from 1982 and 4 demos from 1983, all presented on vinyl for the first time ever. Q4U began with a stylish, aggressive punk image before experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers, which almost nobody did in Reykjavík at the time. The later sound had gothic leanings,often compared with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Xmal Deutschland. Their body of work is united by the powerful vocals of Ellý, who mostly sings in Icelandic about controversial, political experiences, much like Ari Up of The Slits.
This song was our top pick for 2013, impressed as we were by its synthetic heritage and the emotions pulled from circuitry by veteran synthers Page. The band has now added visuals, which fit the modern-vintage theme perfectly. Inspired by the classics of space disco, Page have turned back the clock to 1978 for their new video, but the sound is right up-to-date – nostalgic but new!
With Depeche Mode touring a new album, thirty-two years after they played this show, there is a good chance that they will hang on as long as The Rolling Stones. They need no introduction, but this is a rare recording of a show with Vince Clarke, an all-synth set, a fabulous version of Tora! Tora! Tora! and steel drum presets for Just Can’t Get Enough – all set in the charming cathedral town of Chichester.
Christmas, disappointment, Close Encounters, space, rockets, technical drawings – check, check, check, check, check, check. Synthesizers, nose piercing, headband – check, check, check. This one is ready.
Spitalfields Market didn’t used to be a trendy shopping district for City types. It was a back-street series of stalls, with hawkers trying to scrape a living. The members of I Start Counting used to work at the latter, while knocking out superlative pop with Daniel Miller and Paul Kendall lending a hand. This was one of their finest efforts.
Made for one of the best tracks on 2010’s Nu, this is a rare example of a Page video. Despite being one of Sweden’s best-loved synth acts, Page have not had a lot of exposure on the visuals side to date, so this is a very creditable and cool effort.