Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for November 21, 2014

[The Flock] -- Due to movies, TV, and the Space Shuttle, the 80s had something of a fascination with "space age." That simply means folks were fascinated with things that looked or sounded space age. One band that capitalized on that fascination, at least briefly, was A Flock of Seagulls. You remember A Flock of Seagulls, right? They were a UK synthpop band founded by two brothers, one of whom was a hairdresser (look at the image above and guess which guy had that gig).  Mike Score (keyboards, vocals) and Ali Score (drums) formed the original lineup with Frank Lee Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar). A Flock of Seagulls holds the record for actual number of video plays [The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: The video generation, 1981-1990] -- for their debut smash, "I Ran (So Far Away)" -- but that was likely due as much to the paltry video selection available at the time as it was to fans' demand for their futuristic look. Considering the band's penchant for a futuristic look and sound, it is ironic that they petered out in less than two years. I mean, they kept going for a bit after 1984, mostly with new or session members joining Mike Score, but they never reached the heights of their 1982 popularity (or the heights of Score's 80s hair). Read and hear more about the band after the break.

Flashback #1"I saw your eyes | And you made me smile | For a little while |  I was falling in love."

The eponymous 1982 debut from A Flock of Seagulls is, according to some, a concept album about alien abduction [reference: The New Rolling Stone Album Guide; 4 Rev Updated edition 2004]. Looking back, maybe their hair had some alien interaction. I was all of 14 years old when A Flock of Seagulls was released and I devoured it. I had the album on cassette and three of the four singles on 45. I still own one of those 45s -- the one for the fourth single, "Space Age Love Song." Released in the wake of the heavily popular "I Ran (So Far Away)," "Space Age Love Song" didn't chart very well (it peaked at #30 in the US and #34 in the UK), but it's still something of a fan favorite. "Space Age Love Song" apparently earned its name because lead guitarist Paul Reynolds thought it actually sounded like a space age love song. I have to say that I agree with him. After hearing the ray gun synth riffs, you'll probably agree, too.

Flashback #2(Instrumental)

Our second Flashback of the day was one of three tracks that did not appear on the original vinyl release of the band's second album, Listen (1983). "The Last Flight of Yuri Gagarin" -- along with "Rosenmontag" and "Quicksand" -- initially appeared only on the cassette version of album (catalog #JC8-8013). I say initially because all three songs appeared on the CD version released in 1992. On the cassette release, "The Last Flight of Yuri Gagarin" appeared as the last track of side B. Although an instrumental, this track does employ a number of sampled voices and snippets of warped conversation. And that isn't the only feature that distinguishes this track from the rest of the (more or less) radio-friendly album. For one, it is significantly darker in tone, almost haunting (as befits its subject matter). For another, a plodding synth line accompanies a dragging bass lick, and this rhythm is only slightly augmented by Ali Score's electronic drums. Whirling (and wailing) above and throughout this basic sequence is Mike Score's keyboard sound effects. For best results, listen to this one with headphones, and prepare to be transported. 

Flashback #3: "Trying to break all connections | Burning a hole in my heart | Trying to transfer affection | It's starting to tear me apart."

Let's take the tempo down a notch or two for our final Flashback of the day. "Transfer Affection" is one of my favorite songs by A Flock of Seagulls. "Transfer Affection" comes from their second LP, Listen (1983), which spawned the international hit, "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)." That song breached the UK Top 10, the US Billboard Hot 100, and several other markets. "Transfer Affection," however, didn't chart in the US, although it was a top 40 hit in the UK and Ireland. Therefore, I feel I am doing you a service by guiding you to a lesser known song that should have received its fair share of mainstream radio play. Enjoy!

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

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I'll see you in seven!


goodfox said...

I saw Flock of Seagulls on their '83 tour, and they upstaged the opening act. "Space Age Love Song" is probably my favorite of theirs.

Brainwise said...

I love "Space Age Love Song." I still have a 45 of it!