Tag Archives: Thomas Dolby

Rocks In The Attic #877: Thomas Dolby – ‘The Golden Age Of Wireless’ (1982)

RITA#877With the Buggles and Thomas Dolby both singing the praises of radio in the early 1980s, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the technology had just been invented. Both approaches seem to be nostalgic for an earlier, simpler time yet manage to be forward-looking and futuristic.

There’s a huge link between the two artists: the Buggles’ 1979 hit Video Killed The Radio Star – written by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley – was first recorded by Woolley’s band, Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club earlier in 1979, which included Thomas Dolby on keyboards. Radio-aficionados must like to stick together.

Dolby’s debut album, The Golden Age Of Wireless, has many faces: a different tracklisting on the first and second US release, and the first and second UK release. The UK CD release matches that country’s second LP tracklisting, but the US CD release is different again. That’s five different tracklistings for a weird, New Wave concept album about the early days of radio. Bonkers.

Hit: She Blinded Me With Science

Hidden Gem: Airwaves

RITA#877a

Rocks In The Attic #604: Yes – ‘90125’ (1983)

RITA#604Is it wrong to feel a certain amount of shame for preferring this to the more celebrated Yes albums? Probably, but just listen to those awesome samples on Owner Of A Lonely Heart. It reminds me of the kind of thing John Barry was doing on the soundtracks to A View To A Kill and The Living Daylights – sampling in its infancy using a Fairlight synthesiser, already well-established from its use by Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Thomas Dolby.

Of course, diehard Yes fans will argue that this isn’t really a Yes album, but nobody’s really arguing. It’s a Yes album in name alone. Ex-Yes members Chris Squire (bass) and Alan White (drums) joined forces with founding Yes member Tony Kaye (keyboards) and a non-Yes player in Trevor Rabin (guitars / vocals). Even with three ex-Yes members, together with the production duties of ex-Yes vocalist Trevor Horn, they still didn’t feel confident to label the project under the Yes banner. They chose the name Cinema, not the greatest band name ever, but then again there’s been a lot worse.

However, when former Yes vocalist Jon Anderson joined the recording late in the process, there was too much history involved. And of course, the record company (Atco, a division of Atlantic Records) would have been chomping at the bit to get a new Yes album in the can, with a ready-made fan base.

The material couldn’t sound any different to the folky prog that Yes were known for. It’s very much a record of its time, sounding like the kind of BIG SOUNDING, generic American AOR that would be used on soundtracks to big Hollywood films. The finger pointing probably lands on Trevor Horn’s production more than anything else, as you could imagine a lot of the material played on analogue equipment in the previous decade. The use of the Fairlight, alongside Horn’s slick production turns it into something else.

Hit: Owner Of A Lonely Heart

Hidden Gem: Hold O