Friday, December 28, 2007

I'd Buy Anything By...Thomas Dolby

When I was in grade school, Thomas Dolby was my idol, an oddball nerdy boffin who somehow managed to be cool. Since nobody thought I was cool when I played around with computers, I hoped that someday I could be "just like him."

That never came to be, and even though Dolby veered off his golden path after his very first album, I still pick up his infrequent releases and I still enjoy them...

...though not as much as I enjoy "The Golden Age of Wireless," his debut album with a perfect mix of traditional pop instruments and evil buzzing synths (ala Gary Numan). Some say it's aged poorly but I vehemently disagree; it's so fresh it stings the skin and sprays fruit juice everywhere.

But let's go back further than that, to his first single containing a rough song that almost sounded like a demo: "Leipzig." It's one of my favourite songs and Dolby does it justice in his recent "Sole Inhabitant" tour (yes, he's doing it all himself, totally live). Oh, the lyrics:

So yeah he got pretty cheesy in his later years. Somebody -- perhaps him -- decided to ditch the esoteria and the buzzy synths and start hanging around with Eddie Van Halen.

But why dwell on the cheese? Instead, here he is performing "Hyperactive" live, at a time when his music still had "bite." The musicianship and sheer funkiness of this version is amazing, and check out Adele Bertei's -- ahem -- moonwalk.

The must-have album? "The Golden Age of Wireless" is a new wave head-trip, usually dark but always catchy. The album to avoid? "Aliens Ate My Buick" (all the worst elements of late-80s pop rolled into one). For fans only? I suppose that would be the "Howard the Duck" soundtrack, which I haven't stumbled across...but when I do I'll buy it. S'truth.


Adrian said...

"Howard the Duck", now THAT was one of the worst films of all time.

Can't believe Tim Robbins actually took that role, that must be the low point of this career!

Adam Thornton said...

I'll be honest: I sort of LIKED "Howard the Duck."

The real strike against it, now, is that Jeffrey Jones is one of the stars...which is creepy in light of recent revelations about his sexual peccadilloes.

Unknown said...

Forty-nine and you need to nudge the song down a couple of semitones to sing it better, apparently! Not that that's any cause for shame - he's sounding pretty good. I may have to get a copy of that "Sole Inhabitant" DVD.

Adam Thornton said...

I hadn't noticed that! But you're right, he's a tad lower...lack of performing probably doesn't help much either.

On cdbaby there are a bunch of little live Thomas Dolby releases, including a recent album of "One of Our Submarines" remixes. It isn't bad, but doesn't hold a candle to the original.