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Thomas Dolby

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Thomas Dolby - Blinded By Science [5 Song Mini-LP] [Harvest MLP-15007] (01-1983)

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Artist:

Thomas Dolby

Title:

Blinded By Science [5 Song Mini-LP]

Released: 01-1983
Label: Harvest
Catalog: MLP-15007
Genre: Pop


T R A C K L I S T:
01 She Blinded Me With Science
02 One Of Our Submarines
03 Windpower
04 Airwaves
05 Flying North
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Album Review

Blinded by Science was a successful 1982 EP by new wave/synthpop artist Thomas Dolby, made up of extended 12'' single versions of songs from the 1982 album The Golden Age of Wireless. Four of the recordings had previously been released as two separate 12'' remix discs in the UK -- ''She Blinded Me With Science'' with ''One of Our Submarines,'' and ''Windpower'' with ''Flying North'' (these two discs were also released as 7'' singles containing their shorter versions). ''Airwaves'' is the full-length UK album version since the US version of The Golden Age of Wireless contained the shorter UK single version. [wikipedia.org]


Thomas Dolby - The Golden Age Of Wireless [Capitol ST-12271] (1983)

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ITEM# SR-CAST12271
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Artist:

Thomas Dolby

Title:

The Golden Age Of Wireless

Released: 1983
Label: Capitol
Catalog: ST-12271
Genre: Synth-Pop


T R A C K L I S T:
01 She Blinded Me With Science
02 Radio Silence
03 Airwaves
04 Flying North
05 Weightless
06 Europa And The Pirate Twins
07 Windpower
08 Commercial Breakup
09 One Of Our Submarines
10 Cloudburst At Shingle Street
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Album Review

The Golden Age of Wireless is the debut album by Thomas Dolby. Released in 1982, the album contains the pop hit ''She Blinded Me with Science'' in its later resequencings (see below). Following the album's overall theme of radio are the songs ''Airwaves'', ''Commercial Breakup'', and ''Radio Silence,'' along with songs about the modern world (''Windpower'', ''Flying North'', ''Europa and the Pirate Twins''). At the time of the original US release, the moody and cinematic tone—a major departure for most synthesizer-driven records—prompted Musician magazine's reviewer to declare it ''The best damned synth-pop record ever, period.''

The music of ''Europa and the Pirate Twins'' is a deliberate merging of past and present, combining modern synthesizers with blues harmonica playing and electronic percussion with handclaps. The central character in ''Radio Silence'' is a personification of Radio Caroline, a 1960s British pirate radio station.

The album was released a total of five separate times. All five releases appeared on vinyl and cassette (though the cassette release for the fifth version is unconfirmed), but only the third and fifth resequencings appeared on CD, with each changing the order of the songs, replacing the album mixes with extended or single mixes and even adding and removing entire songs. In the case of ''Radio Silence'', a completely different recording with prominent guitars was the version used on the early US incarnations.

The first US version, issued by Capitol-EMI's Harvest imprint, excised the instrumental ''The Wreck of the Fairchild'' (loosely based on the 1972 Uruguayan plane crash) and added the two sides of Dolby's first single, ''Leipzig'' and ''Urges''. Additionally, Capitol swapped the original synthpop version of ''Radio Silence'' for a much more rock-oriented version that had previously only been available as a single B-side in the UK. Capitol also opted for the single edit of ''Airwaves'' and abandoned the original UK ''comic book'' cover in favour of a shot of Dolby on a stage during the production of Bertholt Brecht's ''Galileo''. This image had previously been used as the cover of the ''Europa and the Pirate Twins'' single in the UK.

When Dolby released the single ''She Blinded Me with Science'' backed by ''One of our Submarines'' in late 1982—complete with a music video for the A-side—Capitol saw a golden opportunity. They removed ''Urges'' and ''Leipzig'', added the extended version of ''Science'' (also known as the ''U.S. Mix'') and ''Submarines'', and changed the album's cover art back to its original ''comic book'' design. Capitol also swapped the full-length version of ''Windpower'' for the single version (with an edited intro and outro). The strategy worked, as The Golden Age of Wireless sold better and ''She Blinded Me with Science'' became a major hit, with constant radio and MTV airplay.

In 1983, the UK record label, Venice in Peril, followed suit and reissued the album with a similar track listing to the second US version. They opted for the short single version of ''Science'' but retained the full-length versions of ''Airwaves'' and ''Windpower'' and the original synthesizer-driven version of ''Radio Silence'', just as all three had appeared on the first UK edition. This is the edition that is widely available on CD to this day, on both sides of the Atlantic.

The successive resequencings occurred largely because different territories preferred different mixes of songs to others; for example, the extended mix of ''Science'' was the version that became a hit in America and thus the American cut of the album was swiftly resequenced to accommodate the tastes of that particular territory.

A remastered ''Collector's Edition'' of The Golden Age of Wireless was released on 13 July 2009, complete with bonus tracks, personal sleeve notes and a DVD of the Live Wireless music video. [wikipedia.org]


Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth (Capitol ST-12309) (1984)

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Artist:

Thomas Dolby

Title:

The Flat Earth

Released: 1984
Label: Capitol
Catalog: ST-12309
Genre: Pop / Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Dissidents
02 The Flat Earth
03 Screen Kiss
04 White City
05 Mulu The Rain Forest
06 I Scare Myself
07 Hyperactive!
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Album Review

by Glenn Swan [allmusic.com]

Exceptionally mature for a sophomore effort, The Flat Earth has held up considerably well since its 1984 release. This staying power belongs to a fantastic ensemble of supporting players as much as to Thomas Dolby's songwriting and crisp production. "Dissidents" steps in cautiously and conjures images of blacklisted authors and ugly snow, gray from oppression. Here and elsewhere, Matthew Seligman's bass is a welcome addition -- throughout the album his work is lavish, growling, popping through octaves, funk-a-fied and twinkling with harmonics. The title track, "The Flat Earth," is a wondrous R&B daydream of piano and Motown stabs of rhythm guitar. "Screen Kiss" has a similarly ethereal quality, and the lyrics are lush with imagery, if occasionally cryptic. "White City"'s drug reference and chugging groove are as murky as they are energizing, so new wavers might find themselves frowning a bit on the dancefloor. Then there is "Mulu the Rain Forest," a globally minded curiosity of foreboding and disorienting samples that certainly feels a long way off from The Golden Age of Wireless. Dolby gets points for shrugging off any obligation to formula, but this voodoo spell has an adverse effect on the rest of the album. What follows is certainly a graceful recovery -- his rendition of 1967's "I Scare Myself" is a balmy jazz club cocktail -- faithfully nostalgic, right down to a bittersweet trombone solo from Peter Thomas. "Hyperactive" is, and always was, one part bizarre to two parts infectious. Guest vocalist Adele Bertei fuels the fire of what was already destined to be a memorable diversion, beyond the reach of Top 40. Thomas Dolby's work on The Flat Earth harks back to a time when songs mattered more than videos, even as MTV was discovering its strength. Last time the songwriter blinded us with science; this time it's musicianship.

Thomas Dolby's Biography

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

Though he never had many hits, Thomas Dolby became one of the most recognizable figures of the synth pop movement of early-'80s new wave. This was largely due to his skillful marketing. Dolby promoted himself as a kind of mad scientist, an egghead who had successfully harnessed the power of synthesizers and samplers and used them to make catchy pop and light electro-funk. Before he launched a solo career, Dolby had worked as a studio musician, technician, and songwriter; his most notable work as a songwriter was "New Toy," which he wrote for Lene Lovich, and Whodini's "Magic's Wand." In 1981 he launched a solo career, which resulted in a number of minor hits and two big hits: "She Blinded Me with Science" (1982) and "Hyperactive" (1984). Following "Hyperactive," his career faded away, as he began producing more frequently, as well as exploring new synthesizer and computer technology. Dolby continued to record into the '90s, but by that time, he was strictly a cult act. Dolby's interest in music arose through his interest in computers, electronics, and synthesizers. The son of a British archaeologist, Thomas Dolby (b. Thomas Morgan Robertson, October 14, 1958) originally attended college to study meteorology, but he was soon sidetracked by electronics, specifically musical equipment. He began building his own synthesizers when he was 18 years old. Around the same time, he began to learn how to play guitar and piano, as well as how to program computers. Eventually, his schoolmates gave him the nickname of "Dolby," which was the name for a noise-reduction technology for audiotapes; he would eventually take the nickname as a stage name. In his late teens, Dolby was hired as a touring sound engineer for a variety of post-punk bands, including the Fall, the Passions, and the Members; on these dates, he would use a PA system he had built himself. In 1979 he formed the arty post-punk band Camera Club with Bruce Woolley, Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes, and Matthew Seligman. Within a year, he had left the group and joined Lene Lovich's backing band. Dolby gave Lovich his song "New Toy," which became a British hit in 1981. That same year he released his first solo single, "Urges," on the English independent label Armageddon. By the fall he had signed with Parlophone and released "Europa and the Pirate Twins," which nearly cracked the U.K. Top 40.

Dolby started playing synthesizer on sessions for other artists in 1982. That year he appeared on Foreigner's 4, Def Leppard's Pyromania, and Joan Armatrading's Walk Under Ladders. Also in 1982, he wrote and produced "Magic's Wand" for Whodini; the song became one of the first million-selling rap singles. Even with all of these achievements, 1982 was most noteworthy for the release of Dolby's first solo album, The Golden Age of Wireless, in the summer of 1982; the record reached number 13 in England, but was virtually forgotten in America. "Windpower," the first single from the record, became his first Top 40 U.K. hit in the late summer.

In January of 1983 Dolby released an EP, Blinded by Science, which included a catchy number called "She Blinded Me with Science" that featured a cameo vocal appearance by the notorious British eccentric Magnus Pike, who also appeared in the song's promotional video. Blinded by Science was a minor hit in England, but the EP and the single became major American hits in 1983, thanks to MTV's heavy airplay of the "She Blinded Me with Science" video. Eventually, the song reached number five on the U.S. charts and it was included on a re-sequenced and reissued version of The Golden Age of Wireless, which peaked at number 13 in America.

The Flat Earth, Dolby's second album, appeared in early 1984 and was supported by the single "Hyperactive." The single became his biggest U.K. hit, peaking at number 17. Though The Flat Earth reached number 35 on the U.S. charts, Dolby's momentum was already beginning to slow: none of the singles released from the album cracked the American Top 40. Nevertheless, Dolby was in demand as a collaborator and he worked with Herbie Hancock, Howard Jones, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, and Dusty Springfield. In 1985 he produced Clinton's Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends, Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen (Two Wheels Good in the U.S.), and Joni Mitchell's Dog Eat Dog, as well as supporting David Bowie at Live Aid. Also in 1985, he began composing film scores, starting with Fever Pitch. In 1986 he composed the scores for Gothic and Howard the Duck, to which he credited himself as Dolby's Cube. That credit led to a lawsuit from the Dolby Labs, who eventually prohibited the musician from using the name "Dolby" in conjunction with any other name than "Thomas."

Aliens Ate My Buick, Dolby's long-delayed third album, appeared in 1988 to poor reviews and weak sales, even though the single "Airhead" became a minor British hit. That same year, Dolby married actress Kathleen Beller. For the rest of the late '80s and early '90s, he continued to score films, producing and building his own computer equipment. His fourth album, Astronauts & Heretics, was released in 1992 on his new label, Giant. Despite the presence of guest stars like Eddie Van Halen, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Ofra Haza, the album was a flop. The following year Dolby founded the computer software company Headspace, which released The Virtual String Quartet as its first program. For the rest of the '90s, Headspace occupied most of Dolby's time and energy. In 1994 he released The Gate to the Mind's Eye, a soundtrack to the videotape Mind's Eye. Also that year, Capitol released the greatest-hits collection Retrospectacle.

In 2003 he released the live album Forty, originally issued as a limited-edition, home-packaged, signed and numbered release (of which only 1,000 were pressed), although it was later pressed as a readily available CD. A tour of America would be documented on The Sole Inhabitant Live Concert, released in 2006. In 2009 The Singular Thomas Dolby collection would be released in conjunction with expanded reissues of The Golden Age of Wireless and The Flat Earth. A new studio album, A Map of the Floating City, followed in 2011, with guest appearances from Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, and others.
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