Tag Archives: classic 80’s albums

remembering the future – Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Sigue-Sigue-Sputnik-Flaunt-It-168779

THE HISTORY OF POP MUSIC IS LITTERED WITH THE REMAINS OF SINGULAR BANDS THAT SHONE BRIGHTLY FOR BRIEF MOMENTS BEFORE IMPLODING INTO LITTLE MORE THAN VINYL-ENCASED MEMORIES OF THAT FLEETING LIGHT….ONE SUCH BAND IS SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK.

FORMED IN THE EARLY 80’S, SPUTNIK WAS THE BRAIN CHILD OF TONY JAMES (FORMER BASSIST FOR BILLY IDOL LED POP-PUNK BAND GENERATION X) WHO REALIZED THE FASTEST WAY TO SUCCESS WITH A NEW BAND WAS TO EMBODY & EXPLOIT THE VERY AGE OF GREED THEY WERE LIVING IN.  MUCH LIKE A PUNK ROCK VERSION OF A BOY-BAND, SPUTNIKS’ MEMBERS WERE RECRUITED DUE TO THEIR LOOKS AS MUCH AS THEIR PLAYING ABILITIES.  ARMED WITH A SAVVY ACUMEN, IN-HOUSE FASHION DESIGNERS TO REALIZE THEIR ‘FUTUREPUNK’ ASTHETIC AND THE GROWING CAPABILITIES OF MIDI SYNTHESIZERS, SPUTNIK HAD BUT A FEW SHOWS & MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS BEFORE BEING SIGNED TO EMI.

THEIR 1986 DEBUT ALBUM FLAUNT IT MIGHT HAVE SEEMED LIKE A BIT OF A JOKE TO SOME, AND WAS ALMOST UNIVERSALLY PANNED BY CRITICS, YET IT STILL MANAGED TO REACH # 10 ON THE UK CHARTS, LARGELY DUE TO AN EXTREMELY WELL ORGANIZED MEDIA CAMPAIGN.  THEY WERE CERTAINLY CHAMPIONS OF HYPE, BUT WAS IT ALL A JOKE?  IN RETROSPECT FLAUNT IT SEEMS A PERFECTLY SELF-AWARE CELEBRATION OF EXCESS AND CAPITOLISM IN ART (COMPLETE WITH ADVERTS BETWEEN TRACKS).  PERHAPS NOT MUSICALLY GENIUS, IT IS A CATCHY COLLECTION OF ROCK-A-BILLY TINGED ELECTRO-PUNK  TUNES AND NOT TOO DISSIMILAR FROM THEIR FORERUNNERS SUICIDE AT TIMES.  HELPING OUT GREATLY IS LEGENDARY PRODUCER GIORGIO MORODER, WHO SHAPED A RECORD THAT SOUNDS BETTER TODAY THAN SOME OF THEIR MORE ‘SERIOUS’ CONTEMPORARIES’ ALBUMS. 

THE DANGER IN BEING A ONE-TRICK PONY IS THAT IT ONLY WORKS….ERR…..ONCE.  FAILING TO GROW OR CHANGE AT ALL, THEIR SUBSEQUENT ALBUMS DID LITTLE TO EMBELLISH THE INITIAL CONCEPT AND SUFFER MUSICALLY WITHOUT MORODER AT THE HELM AS PRODUCER.  SPUTNIK WAS NO LONGER CUTE OR FUNNY, BUT INSTEAD BECAME AN ALMOST EMBARRASSING PARODY OF THEMSELVES.  DESPITE THOSE LATER DISAPPOINTING ALBUMS,  WE MUST SAY THAT FLAUNT IT IS JUST AS BOMBASTIC, VISIONARY, FUNNY (“Eddie Cochran with an UZI”)  AND ENTERTAINING 26 YEARS LATER AS IT WAS THEN.

 

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Q&A= the Chameleons (grandfathers of shoegaze?)

BAND?  THE CHAMELEONS

ALBUM?  SCRIPT OF THE BRIDGE

YEAR?  1983

DRUGS?  PINTS OF BITTER & PLENTY OF CIGARETTES.

WHO WERE THEY?  A FANTASTIC QUARTET FROM THE MANCHESTER-AREA CONSISTING OF MARK BURGESS (BASS & VOX), DAVE FIELDING & REG SMITHIES (GUITARS) & JOHN LEVER (DRUMS).  TYPICALLY LABELED ‘POST-PUNK’ (BUT WE’RE PUTTING IT OUT THERE THAT THEY MIGHT BE THE TEMPLATE FROM WHICH SHOEGAZE WAS BORN, MINUS THE ANGER).  CHAMELEONS RELEASED THREE STUDIO ALBUMS IN THE 80’S, THE FIRST POTENTIALLY BEING THEIR BEST.  

WHY SHOULD I CARE/LISTEN?  GREAT SONGS AND FANTASTIC GUITAR SOUNDS TO BEGIN WITH.  SCRIPT OF THE BRIDGE MIGHT JUST HAVE THE STRONGEST A-SIDE* OF ANY DEBUT ALBUM WE CAN THINK OF START TO FINISH. IT MIGHT ALSO HAVE ONE OF THE WORST ALBUM COVERS OF A DEBUT ALBUM (sorry Reg), BUT THAT JUST GOES TO SHOW “YOU SHOULDN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER”.  THIS RECORD HAS BEEN AN UNDERGROUND CLASSIC FOR DECADES, HAS AGED QUITE GRACEFULLY FOR BEING ALMOST 30 AND IS JUST AS POWERFUL AS EVER.  IF YOU DON’T OWN THIS ALBUM YOU PROBABLY SHOULD.  

  *[WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE RUNNING ORDER OF THE ORIGINAL RELEASE.  MCA DROPPED SONGS & CHANGED THE ORDER FOR THE U.S. VERSION.]