Blog 331: Forever In Electric Blogs

Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder’s self-titled combo-album is the best thing since sliced bread.

Or rather, the best thing since Alphaville’s Forever Young, which is the last album I went totally nuts about.

I didn’t know it even existed until I went into town to attempt to dispose of my hoard of crimbo cash last Sunday. I didn’t even know it existed until I cruised into shutdown-mode Zavvi to see if anything interesting had fallen out of the warehouse.

Shutdown-mode Zavvi was really creepy. There were people around, but not very many on the upper floor of music (no wonder they went down the pan, when they stopped selling a wide variety of music and concentrated on DVDs and next-gen console games); not even any staff on the tills there. Just a creepy notice saying “we can’t afford to staff these tills, go downstairs please”.

I could have had about six copies of any Madonna album I wanted. I could have had more than ten copies of A-ha’s Hunting High and Low (let’s face it, who wouldn’t want that?). But it was the unassuming section-label “Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder” that caught my eye.

For those that don’t know/care, Phil Oakey is the lead singer of the Human League, and him and producer Giorgio Moroder (inventor of disco? I’m sure he produced Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, and that was the first song with over a certain number of beats-per-minute to get to number one or something) famously combo’d to produce the awesome Forever In Electric Dreams. This song spends its time languishing on Human League compilations, so I had always assumed it was just a one-off non-album behemoth (like Love’s Great Adventure, except that it was for a film sound-track).

Apparently not; turns out this pair combo’d to produce an entire album of wonders.

Of course I bought it. Marked as £10, paid £8 for it — but this is the sort of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity RDZ never gives up. It’s not often you find albums you didn’t even know existed ripe for the snagging.

The first thing you realise about the album is that the first five tracks are run together. Now, don’t panic, I don’t mean “run together” as in one fades into another in a generally annoying way (like Deacon Blue did with a few tracks on Our Town: the Greatest Hits), or hold one flanged synth note (like Ultravox rolled Western Promise onto Vienna) — they’re properly constructed to run together; the beats match, and suddenly the last song has stopped and the next one has started. It took me a while to realise on the first listen; I was all, “wtf track five? Tracks one, two, three and four didn’t start or finish…”

Which is, all in all, thoroughly awesome, because they’re all relatively up-tempo and an absolute joy to listen to. Things fade back to normal after that, for some stand-alone songs including the beloved Forever in Electric Dreams.

It’s a short album, but some 12″ remixes (not just textbook repeated sections without bass lines or whatever, but actual remixes) and their associated instrumental versions (not just sans-vocals, but with replacement synth lines — these kids knew their shit) pull it up to still not quite long enough.

It is made of quite concentrated win; the instrumental Forever in Electric Dreams is hauntingly beautiful — both joyous and sad at the same time, the synth line vocal-replacement chiming a delightful melody.

Which is appropriate, I suppose, because it’s too late to stay…

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