Monday, March 27, 2017

The Golden Age Of Wireless Turns 35 Today

It's hard for me to believe that Thomas Dolby's seminal album - The Golden Age of Wireless is 35  years old today. For me this album defines the eighties for me. I heard 'She Blinded Me With Science' and went right out to buy the vinyl. Rock and electronica fused in one perfect combination of songs. Of all the songs though, this one is my favorite. I have made up many stories in my head based on the lyrics. The only good things about growing old are the memories of the music I loved to play in the car as I cruised around and I clearly remember wearing out this cassette in my old VW Beatle and having to get a new one - before the DVD came out of course.

Talk to anyone who was the right age in the early '80s for both pop radio and the dawn of MTV, and "She Blinded Me with Science" will inevitably come up. The most famous song from the reissued version of the album, it's a defiantly quirky, strange number that mixes its pop hooks with unusual keyboard melodies pitched very low and a recurrent spoken word interjection ("Science!") from guest vocalist/video star Magnus Pike. To Thomas Dolby's credit, the rest of the album isn't simply that song over and over again, making The Golden Age of Wireless an intriguing and often very entertaining curio from the glory days of synth pop. Part of the album's overall appeal is the range of participating musicians, no doubt thanks in part to Dolby's own considerable range of musical work elsewhere. "She Blinded Me with Science" itself features Kevin Armstrong on guitar, Matthew Seligman on bass, mega-producer Robert "Mutt" Lange on backing vocals, and co-production with Tim Friese-Greene. Elsewhere, Andy Partridge contributes harmonica, Mute Records founding genius Daniel Miller adds keyboards, and Lene Lovich adds some vocals of her own. The overall result is still first and foremost Dolby's, with echoes of David Bowie's and Bryan Ferry's elegantly wasted late-'70s personas setting the stage. If anything, The Golden Age of Wireless is the friendlier, peppier flip side of fellow Bowie obsessive Gary Numan's work, where the melancholy is gentle instead of harrowing. Dolby's melodies are sprightly without being annoyingly perky, his singing warm, and his overall performance a pleasant gem. Especially fine numbers include the amusing romp "Europa and the Pirate Twins" and the nostalgia-touched, just mysterious enough "One of Our Submarines." ~ Ned Raggett


Timothy S. Brannan said...

One of my all time most favorite albums.
No one did it then or now like TMDR.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I totally agree. That album changed my life. I started to expect more creativity out of all my popular culture.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Get the Anniversary reissue that came out a few years ago.
Great versions from all the different printings of the album.

Super-Duper ToyBox said...

we played Blinded Me With Science in marching band, which crushed as i'm sure you can imagine

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I love when marching bands go outside their standards. What instrument did you play?