Where Are They Now – Duran Duran

June 21, 2011

Then: Taking their name from the movie Barbarella, Duran Duran were formed in the late 70s in Birmingham by Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy. By the time they released their debut album in 1981, lead singer Stephen had left to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Simon Le Bon (with additional members Roger and Andy Taylor). At first they had embraced the look and sound of the New Romantic movement, notably debut single, Planet Earth, but this would not last long. Their second album, RIO, saw the band adopt a more polished image and radio friendly sound. The change proved wildly successful, producing 4 hit singles, including Hungry Like The Wolf, that would win over the hearts and minds of millions of American teenage girls and gay boys. Hit single after hit single occurred including the most successful selling James Bond theme song (A View To A Kill).  Duran Duran would become household names and one of the top selling artists of the 80s.

Now: Although The band never broke up, (but did go through a series of lineup changes), like many bands that became famous in the 80s, their profile dimmed as alternative rock (grunge) and rap became fashionable. They did score a hit in 1993 with Ordinary World, but for Duranies, this was an alien sound and they were no longer the band they had fallen in love with. The core members, Simon Lebon, Nick Rhodes, John, Andy and Roger Taylor would reunite in 2001 (although Andy would leave again in 2006) and score a moderate hit, (Reach Up For The) Sunrise, that saw a semi-return to their sound. The band parted ways with their record label in 2009 and recently released, through an independent label, All You Need is Now. Girl Panic is off this album and sees them again returning to their roots and the sound that made girls (and boys) swoon in the 80s.

Where Are They Now – The Human League

June 20, 2011

Then: The Human League formed in Sheffield, England in 1977. Worldwide success alluded them until 1981, when after creative differences caused bandmates Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh to promptly leave the band and form Heaven 17. Lead singer, Philip Oakey faced without having a band to tour with, recruited teenage backing vocalists Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall in a nightclub and asked them to join him on tour as dancers and incidental vocalists. This collaboration resulted in them officially joining, and their next album, Dare would be met with international acclaim and is now considered one of pop music’s most influential albums. The single, Don’t You Want Me, accompanied by a splashy big budget video, would go on to sell over 2 million copies and make them household names. The band continued to have a string of hit albums and singles including Mirror Man, (Keep Feeling) Fascination and what bop2pop feels is waterdowned dreck, Human.

Don’t You Want Me

Now: The Human League have been active, releasing albums and singles ever since (Romantic (1990), Octopus (1995) and Secrets (2001)). This past year saw the release of Credo, their first album in nearly 10 years. Sadly, first two singles Night People and Never Let Me Go failed to make much of an impact both commercially or in bop2pop’s personal opinion, so now they are giving it another go with third single, Sky, which is more of a return to their roots, albeit, a funkier one (the warmth of it ironically sounds like something Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh would collaborate on if they had never left).

Sky (Radio Edit)

The Human League – Sky (Fusty Delights reMix)

Where Are They Now: Blondie

May 19, 2011

Then: Blondie became one of the most influential and successful bands of the late 70’s to early 80’s. They evolved out of the New York punk scene and are considered one of the forefathers of the New Wave movement. What made the band unique was their ability to incorporate a wide variety of musical genres like disco, reggae and rap to their new wave sound. Their string of hit albums and singles came to a halt in 1982 with the release of the album, The Hunter. Critically panned and a commercial failure, things began to fall apart. Tensions between band members rose, and this coupled by drug abuse and the life-threatening illness of founding band member and Debbie Harry’s lover, Chris Stein, led the band to break up. Debbie Harry would spend the next several years by his side as he recovered. She would also launch a moderately successful solo career in the 90’s, and it was during this time that her decades long relationship with Chris Stein, who had recovered, ended.

Now: Blondie resurfaced briefly in 1999 with the album No Exit and single Maria, which was a moderate hit. Now they are back and ready to give it another shot. Mother is the first single to be taken from the forthcoming album, Panic Of Girls.

Where Are They Now – Kim Wilde

April 27, 2011

Then: It is hard to imagine that it was 30 years ago that a song would be released that would forever change my musical landscape. That song was Kids In America, and the artist is Kim Wilde. I remember watching MTV for the first time at my grandparents house and being completely mesmorized by the video, the synthesizers and of her. I had to have the single, then album, then consequent albums and singles. I joined the fan club, sought out and discovered other electronic bands and realized that Britain had all the good music. After Kids In America, Kim Wilde did not do so well in America until 1987 when her remake of the Supremes, You Keep Me Hanging On, concquered the American charts, climbing all the way to Number 1. She had a couple of near top 40 misses(Say You Really Want Me and You Came), before disappearing forever from American ears. Her success in the UK also began to decline, and with the exception of the occassional moderate hit, wasn’t able to keep the momentum she had built with her hugely successful album, Close.

Now: In 2003, Kim Wilde contributed vocals to the Nena track, Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime, which became a huge hit in Germany as well as some other European countries. This eventually led to a recording contract in Germany where she released an updated version of You Came and new song, Perfect Girl, which were well-received. Now she is back with a new album and lead single, Lights Down Low, returns her to her rockin’ dance years, particularly, Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love) and Never Trust A Stranger.

Where Are They Now – Alphaville

April 15, 2011

Then: When mentioning german synthpop band, Alphaville, most people identify and sing along to their single, Forever Young, which seems to have appeared on every Drew Barrymore-like 80s inspired romantic comedy and “That’s So 80’s” compilation cd. Ironically, although these soundtracks and compilation cds make it look like this song was a massive hit in the day, the sad truth is that it failed to make much of an impact in the charts at its release and even re-release. Actually, it is now forgotten first single, Big In Japan that conquered the European charts. But this band is so much more than these two songs. First album, Forever Young is a synthpop classic, and one of my all-time favorite albums with hardly any filler.

Now: Alphaville reemerged out of seemingly nowhere last year and released Catching Rays On Giant which became a huge hit in native Germany and first single, I Will Die For You Today became a top 20 hit, their biggest hit since Dance With Me in 1985. I wasn’t able to find any embed code to show you this video (if you have it, send me and I will post) but I was able to finally get the video for second single, Song For No One.

And here is a remix of I Will Die For You, a stripped down but similar sounding to the single version to give you an idea of what it sounds like until I can get a video

Where Are They Now: Billie Ray Martin

April 11, 2011

Then: Billie Ray Martin began her musical career as a vocalist for the house outfit Electribe 101, but is most famous for Your Loving Arms that was released twice and both times made the UK and US charts, something unheard of in the US for a dance single. This was followed by Running Around Town and later Honey, both of which were successes on the dance charts.

Now: In 2007, Billie Ray Martin resurfaced with Undisco Me, which became a hit on the UK dance charts. Last year, in conjunction with download torrent Mininova, she released The Crackdown Project which was dance reinterpretations of classic Cabaret Voltaire tracks. The result was surprisingly sublime. She has just released a new ep, Solid Life/Fantasy Girl and she sounds better than ever. This woman is amazing.

Billie Ray Martin – Sweet Suburban Disco (Vince Clarke Remix)

Fantasy Girl (Snuff Crew Remix)

Where Are They Now – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD)

April 7, 2011

Then: The story of OMD is sadly, a familiar one. Although OMD have enjoyed commercial success in the UK since 1980, in the US, like many quality UK electronic acts from the decade, OMD’s prominence in American culture began and ended with one hit single, 1986’s, If You Leave. It was this song that defined the teenage angst of the x- generation from its inclusion in the seminal John Hughes movie classic, “Pretty In Pink.” Whereas the US audience finally took notice, a backlash began in the UK as fans dismissed their new sound for being “watered-down”. This new found success in the US was fleeting, however, and although they a spattering of other minor hits, they never recaptured their orignal glory. The price for this new commercial sound, however would have disasterous consequences in the UK. Fans dismissed what they felt was a betrayal of their roots and in 1996, OMD called it a day.

Now: Everything changed, however, last year, when the now classic BBC documentary Synth Britannia, which recognized the band as true pioneers of electronic music. Buzz formed and last year, after a nearly 15 year hiatus, OMD reformed and released the critical successful, History Of Modern.

Read my review of the show

Where Are They Now – Blancmange

March 27, 2011

Then: Blancmange first came to prominence in 1982 with the album release of “Happy Families” whose classic single, “Living On The Ceiling”, mixed synthpop music , world beats and crazy gravity defying hair. It was a massive UK hit and got college radio play in the US. Less popular but just as anthemic was first single, “Feel Me”. There was great promise for second album, “Mange Tout” and it started out with the clever, (although slightly too similar to “Feel Me”) release, “Blind Vision”, but the album was a mixed bag, also containing the dreadful Abba cover, “The Day Before You Came”. This marked the beginning of the end for Blancmange whose fate was quickly sealed with rushed third album, “Believe You Me”, that fell on death ears. Blancmange soon disappeared into obscurity.

Now: Last year, Faithless released a cover of “Feel Me” featuring Blancmange on lyrics which built enough momentum for them to come out of hibernation. After 23 years, Blancmange is back with a new album. It is receiving decent buzz from reviewers, bloggers and fans alike, most notably The Manchester Guardian, which triumphed their return, awarding the album 4 out of 5 stars . Check out first single, “Drive Me” and see if it was worth the wait.

Listen to and download Faithless’ remake of Feel Me.

Where Are They Now – Propaganda

March 8, 2011

A new feature of my blog that looks at a band I loved from the past and we catch up with them to see what they have been doing now.

Then: Propaganda
Propaganda burst onto the scene in 1985 with the album “A Secret Wish” that contained the synthpop classics P:Machinery and Duel, but just as they were reaching critical acclaim, problems with their record label caused lead singer Claudia Brücken to leave the band a year later and they never recaptured their orignial glory.

Now: Claudia Brücken
Lead singer Claudi Brucken is back, although releasing solo material throughout the years, she is finally releasing her debut album. Lead single, “Thank You” has a James Bond theme feel to it with touches of Trent Reznor. What do you think?

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