Blog 716: Ode To MacArthur Park

It’s hard to pinpoint when I first heard MacArthur Park. I associate Donna Summer’s rendition somehow with being in the car in Dunoon, which means my parents must have taped it off a proper vinyl record onto a cassette as we did back then.

After that initial spark, I lost the song, but deep inside the synth solo that Giorgio Moroder slammed into it stayed with me. Eventually those same parents bought a Donna Summer compilation CD and the connection was re-established: I fell in love with that three-minute slice of pop perfection. Yes, even the line about leaving the cake out in the rain.

Then I heard the original version.

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Blog 697: I Travel

It took me until far too late to even conceive of the notion that one could travel to a gig rather than waiting for it to come to one’s home town (or not). The first time I did it was to see Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s special gig in the Museum of Liverpool, then I followed them to London for the truly stellar Royal Albert Hall performance of Dazzle Ships and Architecture & Morality (I even bought the T-shirt for that one!).

Now, I’ve done it again, albeit to a slightly more modest venue. This time, I followed my favourite Greek synth-pop duo Marsheaux to… Norwich.

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Blog 641: An Unbroken Frame

It was a cover version that first got me into music. I mean, I had some passing interest in some songs before, but it was Erasure’s cover of Solsbury Hill that turned on the taps. I remember I was playing Unreal Tournament mod Operation: Na Pali when I first heard it.

Marsheaux have always been good at doing cover versions. Some, like their idea of timeless synthstrumental Popcorn, might be obvious because they’re famous tunes, but others from off the beaten track you wouldn’t even know were covers without somebody telling you, because they all nestle so well amongst their original work.

So when they said they were going to cover an entire album for their next project, what was I to think? Especially when they made the so very… interesting choice of Depeche Mode’s difficult second album, A Broken Frame.

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Blog 579: Of the Year

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2013, eh? That’s just under twice the number of views of last year, so I must be doing something right. Or I’m just getting better at clickbaiting.

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Blog 552: Inhale

It seems like you just can’t pre-order a limited edition Marsheaux album without a crisis. Bonus track compilation E-bay Queen is Dead took ages to arrive because of some quibbling with the manufacturer, and the same thing happened all over again with the limited edition version of their new album Inhale that I gleefully pre-ordered.

Sure, it’s a small run, but once the factory has committed to producing something they kind of have a duty to do so without constantly displacing it for larger clients… right?

Oh, the things I do for autographed loot.

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Blog 544: OMD — English Electric

When I was a young man, and I was first introduced to Dazzle Ships, I remember taking my parents’ original vinyl to my gran’s house so that I could listen to it, because we didn’t have a record player anymore. I had absolutely no conception of the possibility that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark might one day reform, let alone produce new material. It was just one of those things that was in the past. Gone. Over. Finito. The mosquito trapped in amber with its precious payload of saurian DNA.

And then they came back.

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Aside 07: Ultravox — Live at the Armadillo

Aside

If all concerts forever after follow this format, I will be forever satisfied.

It’s becoming fashionable — Howard Jones did it, Nik Kershaw did it, and now Ultravox have done it: eschewed a support act for a split show.

For Ultravox this entailed a concert whose total length was well in excess of two hours. I feared that, surely, some of my favourite tunes would be dropped as we marched relentlessly to the end that just never came. Oh, how sweet that disappointment was! White China, We Stand Alone, I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)… All Stood Still, Mr. X, Vienna… Something’s going to give, right? Wrong. Passing Strangers, Hymn, Dancing With Tears In My Eyes… I was hoping for Love‘s– Love’s Great Adventure, One Small Day, The Voice, Astradyne (yes, they even squeezed in Astradyne)... And that’s not even counting the incredible selection of my favourites from the new album, including Live, Flow, Lie (wasn’t expecting that one!) and the beautiful Contact. That’s not the order they occurred in and that’s a heavily truncated list, but I think you get the point — they just kept going and going and going, and it was incredible.

I knew every single word and howled my heart and soul out. The bar has been raised, and who can hope to dislodge the mighty Ultravox?