Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.

Ace Records.

Released Date: ’28th’ February 2020.

For many people, whether critics, cultural commentators or record buyers, the sixties and seventies were golden eras for music that have never been surpassed. Since then, the argument goes, it’s all been downhill for music and especially during the eighties. 

So much so, that some critics have called the eighties the decade that taste forgot. They’re not and have never been fans of boogie,  hip hop, house or synth pop. It was a far cry from the golden eras when and pop, progressive rock, psychedelia and rock ruled the roost between 1962 and 1979. These were heady days, and the sun set on what was a golden era as the clock struck midnight on the ‘31st’ of December 1979. It was the end of an era.

For some of the critics, this golden era had ended a couple of years earlier with the onslaught of punk. They weren’t conned by what they regarded as groups of yobbish, musical illiterates who weren’t fit to lace the shoes of the titans of rock. Surely, things could only get better?

In the post punk era, many groups started experimenting with synths. Before that, synths had been prohibitively expensive and were only found in top  recording studios and were only owned  by successful musicians. They had experimented with them and incorporated in their music during the early to mid-seventies.  

This included groups like Kraftwerk who pioneered the of synths in their music. They were guests on the British television show Tomorrow’s World in 1975, and their appearance helped change people’s perception of synths and influenced a future generation of musicians.

During the sixties and into the seventies, some musicians and critics saw synths as a novelty and didn’t take the instrument seriously. This changed after Tomorrow’s World issued an ominous warning in the seventies that the soulless synths could make an entire orchestra redundant. It was a worrying thought for musicians up and down Britain who saw synths as a threat to their livelihood.

By the early eighties, synths were much more affordable, and across Britain a new breed of musicians were experimenting with the latest offerings from  Korg, Moog and Roland. They were following in the footsteps of the post punk musicians in experimenting with the latest in musical technology.

Suddenly, groups from over Britain, including Glasgow, Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester were using synths to create emotive and often wistful and melancholy sounding music.This included familiar faces like Simple Minds, China Crisis, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark  and The Human League who feature on Ace Records’ forthcoming compilation Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.  It was compiled by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, and will be released on the ’28th’ February 2020 and will also feature Turquoise Days, Electronic Circus and Illustration as well as John Foxx and Thomas Leer. 

Opening Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology is Jean Walks In Fresh Fields by China Crisis. It was released by Virgin in 1982, and straight away, there’s a melancholy and thoughtful sound to this slow slice of eighties electronica.

Way before Simple Minds found fame as stadium rockers, the Glasgow-based band released their sophomore album Real To Real  Cacophony on Zoom Records in 1979. It’s a very different album from their debut Life In A Day. Real To Real  which opens the album has a  much more experimental and darker sound and finds Simple Minds innovating. Part of the experimental sound is the use of synths on a track that is very different to their eighties anthems like Glittering Prize,  Don’t You Forget About Me, Up On The Catwalk and Alive and Kicking.

A welcome addition to the compilation is An Evening In The Ray by Care. Vocalist Paul Simpson and guitarist Ian Broudie formed the group in 1983 and released My Boyish Days as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side was An Evening In The Ray, which features a crooning vocal by Paul Simpson  that full sadness and despair.

In 1981, Soft Cell a duo from Blackpool, Lancashire,  who met at art college in Leeds, Yorkshire, released the album Non Stop Erotic Cabaret. One of the oft-overlooked tracks is the ballad Youth, where Marc Almond delivers a vocal that’s a mixture of emotion and melancholy against a spartan, moderne arrangement that features synths and a drum machine.

Lights Of April was released as a single by Eyeless In Gaza in 1982, and later that year, featured on their third album Drumming The Beating Heart. It’s regarded as the finest offering from the duo from Nuneaton, and is a captivating fusion of electronica, folk and post punk.

Another of the best known groups on The Tears Of Technology are Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Their contribution is Sealand, a track from their 1981 album Architecture and Morality. It’s best described a synth pop classic and Sealand one of its highlights. 

Electronic Circus were  a duo featuring Gary Numan’s keyboard player Chris Payne and vocalist Penny Heathcote. Their only single was Direct Lines, which was released on Scratch Records in 1981. There’s a Germanic sound to the synths which also bubble and shimmer and combine with a vocal full of longing. When this is combined the result is a hidden gem and nowadays changes hands for upwards of £70.

Before changing their name to Shack, The Pale Fountains released Unless just before their debut album Pacific Street in 1984. It’s a quite beautiful,  haunting and experimental sounding track by The Pale Fountains that’s a welcome inclusion on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.

The Human League released their sophomore album Travelogue on Virgin, in 1980. It featured WXJL Tonight where The Human League look to the future and sympathise with DJs who are about to lose their job when radio stations became automated.

Tiny Children was featured on The Teardrop Explodes’ 1981 album Wilder. It wasn’t well received upon its released, and the following year, 1982, Tiny Children was released as a single. It’s one of the highlights of Wilder thanks to what’s a simple arrangement. Just Korg pads accompany Julian Cope’s vocal on this underrated track.

Closing The Tears Of Technology is Feather Bed by Trevor Bastow. He played Moog on Chicory Tip’s Son Of My Father and enjoyed a successful career making library music. The atmospheric and cinematic Feather Bed is one of the highlights of the compilation and a reminder of a truly talented musician who sadly, passed away in 2000.

These tracks are just a tantalising taste of Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology, which will be released by Ace Records on the ’28th’ February 2020. It features twenty tracks released between 1979 and 1984, and is a reminder of how music was changing during this period. One of the reasons was that  synths and drum machines which were much more affordable and at last, within the budget of many young, up-and-coming bands. 

This included a number of bands that went on to release critically acclaimed album and went on to enjoy successful careers. Some of these albums are now regarded as genre classics, including some of the bands on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology. 

Some of the tracks on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology feature bands in their formative years or as they experiment before going on to greater things. Other bands disappeared without trace after releasing just one or two singles. However, all of the bands and artists on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology released innovative music. This they did with the help of technology and the result was music that was variously beautiful,  emotive, melancholy, thoughtful and wistful. That’s the case throughout Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology, which features future track from future household names, hidden gems, album tracks and B-Sides on this lovingly curated compilation.

It’s a reminder of decade of music that divided opinion. Sadly, not everyone was won over by the music made with the new technology, and it was one of the reasons why some critics, cultural commentators or record buyers called the eighties the decade that taste forgot. Ironically, some critics have changed their minds about the music that they were once so vocal about. Others however, are more entrenched in their views. Hopefully, after hearing the innovative music on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology this will go at least some way to proving that wasn’t the case and mutually, the eighties has a lot to offer.

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.

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