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This, the first ever release on CD of the 1980 cult futurist / synth-pop album ‘Berlin Blondes’, collects together all of the electronic band Berlin Blondes’ commercially released studio output. The band only ever made one, albeit landmark, album. Notably, it was produced by the legendary Mike Thorne as a de facto career bridge between his celebrated work with post-punk band Wire on their first three albums and his subsequent career defining synth- pop productions, shortly thereafter, with pioneering electronic pop acts Soft Cell, Bronski Beat and B-Movie.
Berlin Blondes were an early Glasgow electronic band who had been influenced and inspired by both German proto-synth bands such as Kraftwerk and Neu! as well as Roxy Music and ‘Berlin period’ David Bowie. Berlin Blondes’ solitary album is arguably the missing link in the transition between the electronic futurism of new wave – John Foxx, Gary Numan, Fad Gadget, Japan – and the coming synth-pop revolution of the Midge Ure led Ultravox and acts of the ilk of Depeche Mode and Blancmange.
In shining a bright light on such formative synth-pop treasures, “Berlin Blondes – The Complete Recordings 1980-81” evidences much of the aesthetics of the emergent bands of that time: we can hear the Sylvian vocal affectations, the sub-Bowie baritone mannerisms so redolent of Numan, echoes of the style of John Foxx’s early work and a throw forward to Thomas Dolby’s obsessions with science and the logical and the New Romantic’s interest in exotic far off places.
The album was recorded at Gary Numan’s Rock City Studios in Shepperton which enabled the Berlin Blondes to feature some of the then common Polymoog synth sounds that were a signature of Numan’s early solo records. However, it was Berlin Blondes’ association with stellar producer Mike Thorne that ensured that their debut album was one of the very first to feature the rudimentary digital sampling technology of the Synclavier which would go on to be used extensively by the likes of Trevor Horn in his production work at ZTT with Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Grace Jones.
The time is ripe for the creative and critical re-appraisal of Berlin Blondes; their discography, in retrospect, sounds as if it’s a masterplan for the direction mainstream synth-pop would shortly take and stands as a masterwork of its ‘futurist’ genre. As a product of a fascinating and transitional time for synth music, Berlin Blondes deftly caught the spirit of the emergent musical zeitgeist; an aesthetic, a hybrid genre called ‘futurism’ which, at that instant, was all their own. The history of electronic pop has so often been written without recourse to mention such ridiculously pioneering work. The Berlin Blondes album evidences the foundations, sonic architecture and musical stylings for so much that was so soon to follow. This lost cult classic is both a direct precursor to the great synth-pop boom of the early 80s, just as much as it signposted the fledgling New Romantic movement (Duran Duran, Visage) in sound, style and design.
Though short-lived, Berlin Blondes had built up a substantial following in and around their Glasgow base with their very stylish and stylised live performances, performing both as a support act to bands like fellow Glaswegians Simple Minds and as headliners in their own right. Positive Noise founder and frontman Ross Middleton was an early Berlin Blondes fan, enthusing that, “Berlin Blondes are Fireball XL5”.
This CD reissue features the original nine track debut album plus eight bonus tracks to make it the definitive compilation of all Berlin Blondes studio recordings. As such, it captures in detail a singularly hybrid and pioneering futurist band right at the beginning of the historically fleeting moment as synthesizers were all but taking over New Wave as we knew it…
BERLIN BLONDES: ORIGINAL ALBUM
5. TRAIL TO ISTANBUL
6. SECRET DAYS
8. NEON PROBE
9. ZERO SONG
10.FRAMEWORK (7″ REMIX)
11.FRAMEWORK (12″ REMIX)
12.ZERO SONG (INSTRUMENTAL)
13.SCIENCE (7″ MIX)
14.MANIKIN (MANNEQUIN INSTRUMENTAL)
17.SCIENCE (AUSTRALIAN 7” MIX)