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Listening to the Music the Machines Make - Inventing Electronic Pop 1978 to 1983: Inventing Electronic Pop 1978-1983

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I also felt that some of the excruciating detail about the chart placings of, say, Duran Duran, could have been replaced with more about other bands who barely feature or are not featured at all. There was also this new generation of journalists like Nick Kent and Julie Burchill who were quite vicious with this punk rock attitude which was probably quite exciting at the time. It turns out that those electronic elements run through a huge amount of my favourite music but I hadn’t really noticed it before. In 1998 he set up marketing consultancy The Fan Base and has been connecting musical artists with their audiences ever since. Although I enjoyed this I couldn't help thinking the subtitle could have been Reading the Words That Machines Make.

The site was born of a conversation I had with an 80s artist; in my working life, I build fan bases and work for bands, I’ve done this for quite a long time. Listening To The Music The Machines Make’ is a new book that tells the story of the Synth Britannia generation, an unlikely melange of outsiders, pioneers and mavericks who took advantage of affordable music technology to conquer the pop charts in the UK, Europe and even America. There are so many great records and my favourite one day might not be favourite the next day depending on what I’m listening to, how I’m feeling and what sort of a mood I’m in.I think I was already at least aware of all the bands and artists I cover in the book, but I didn’t know all their music. Talking of “synthesizer image”, was that important to you as in the equipment that was used and the way it looked on ‘Top Of The Pops’, like when John Foxx appeared with four Yamaha CS80s for ‘No-One Driving’ or ULTRAVOX doing ‘The Thin Wall’ with two Minimoogs, an ARP Odyssey, an Oberheim OBX and much more or Gary Numan’s first TV performances?

Although punk was a driving force for this, the actual punk music wasn’t that interesting to any of them because it felt like music they already knew, whereas they felt these new sounds were something that were unknown to them at that point. My idea for the book was to tell the stories of all the bands and releases of that synthpop generation who took music in a whole new direction.This was a thing for a while although there would be a backlash later on, like when OMD appeared with a double bass, sax and xylophone for ‘Souvenir’! From the late ‘70s into the early ‘80s, there was a cumulation of the preceding era’s musical output that resulted in a new wave of music that wasn’t made by drums and guitars, but by machines programmed to produce various sounds. This is by far the most comprehensive book I’ve read on this topic, with the author digging deep into the archives of the music press to quote extensively from interviews and reviews from back in the day, with much less attention relatively being given to hazy present day memories of events of forty odd years back.

This book will no doubt be an indispensable reference for any music lover; it contains many webs of meaning that emerge from the curiously understudied history of electro-pop. He was playing these sorts of records before anyone else, he was pre-Rusty Egan in terms of the electronic records on the decks. I’d invested so much of my myself and spent so much of my money in my teens in their music, that it wasn’t such a big jump to continuing that support of them 10-15-20 years later.

Author Richard Evans delves deeply into “a true golden age of British pop” in his just-published book “Listening to the Music the Machines Make: Inventing Electronic Pop, 1979-1983,” which tells the story of the revolution spurred by the adoption of the synthesizer as a primary musical instrument. So they had come from a very different place, they were a little bit younger, they didn’t have that art school background, they’d met at school and messed around in bands. Tubeway Army were born out of this punk revolution, and it was only a couple of years later when Gary Numan saw a Mini-Moog in the corner of a recording studio that his interest was piqued. I was listening to the album in the car one day and that song came on and I immediately loved the idea of using that lyric as the title for the book.

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