Thursday, 18 July 2013

Cassette experiment day 114 - Blancmange 'Happy families'

Have you ever been to a restaurant, paid for a starter and a main course but only eaten the chilli con carne and left the prawn cocktail? Some people do this with concert tickets all the time - paying to see two acts but staying in the bar and missing the support. There's no excuse for this in my book*.

I've seen some great support acts over the years, the first time I saw The Divine Comedy was as support act to Tori Amos in 1994 (the same day we moved house, incidentally), and I only ever saw the group who produced our cassette of the day as a support act (twice - once to Depeche Mode and once to Yazoo, if my memory serves me well, and it doesn't always ('I'm 49 you know')).

So our cassette of the day is the first released by one of the most consistently overlooked acts of the 1980s, 'Happy families' by Blancmange.

Neil (Arthur) and Stephen (Luscombe) were a 'synthpop duo' as only the 1980s could muster and their first three albums are a textbook case of the law of diminishing returns, with the first being the strongest by at least two seriously long chalks.

There are no poor tracks on 'Happy families', however three stand head and shoulders above the rest. The first of these is 'Feel me', which I'm sure has deeper meaning than the most obvious one, but musically it's such an urgent, 'dirty' track that the lack of a ban by the ban-obsessed BBC Radio 1 (275-285 fm - the nation's favourite) still seems baffling.

'Feel me' also has a tremendous polar opposite here too, the uplifting and overwhelming 'Waves' - a track that builds and builds to the point where Neil's last magnificent 'goodbye' just takes your breath away.

I love the slow instrumental 'Sad day' too, but that's because it reminds me of the 'Some Bizarre Album' featured back on day 22.

In an age when you can 'obtain' music for nothing, many people will try to convince you that buying music is too expensive. Take a look at the low cost of Blancmange's recent 'The very best of' double CD on Amazon (other online music retailers are available, but nobody ever uses them!) and you'll see that only poor music is too expensive - the good stuff is always good value.

Label - London

Year - 1982

*unless you've been unavoidably detained at work, or you couldn't find a clean shirt

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