Tag Archives: Trevor Horn

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

Rocks In The Attic #567: ABC – ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ (1982)

rita567I often wonder what would have happened had I been born a full ten years earlier. That would push 1978 back to 1968, and would mean reaching my teenage years around 1981. Punk was dying by that time, and New Wave was quickly morphing into what we now refer collectively as ‘80s music.

Would I have been a fan of ABC? It’s hard to say. The one aspect of ‘80s music that always puts me off is the fashion. I think this stems from looking at the sleeves of my brother’s Adam & The Ants records. I always thought Adam Ant himself straddled the line between looking like a cool motherfucker and looking like an idiot, but I always though the rest of the band looked ridiculous in their camp eyeliner and dandy highwayman clothes.

ABC are a little less offensive to the eyes, and obviously put the music first. Image is obviously still very important to them though – just check out that wonderfully composed record cover. Trevor Horn’s bold production really brings the band to life, and isn’t quite as overbearing as his work a few years later on records like Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome. They also wear their Bowie influences on their sleeves, and I really love that; it’s one of the saving graces of a lot of pop music from the early ‘80s.

Hit: Poison Arrow

Hidden Gem: Show Me

Rocks In The Attic #247: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ (1984)

RITA#247Frankie Goes To Hollywood was a favourite band of my brother’s when I was growing up, and at the time I was a little too young to appreciate them. I think this copy of the album – the original double vinyl edition – is actually my brother’s original copy, and from seeing it around a lot during my childhood, it slowly became part of my collection.

I’m not 100% sure if I like the band, or if they truly are just style and no substance, but they seem a much better prospect than the likes of ‘80s dirgefests like Wham or Madonna. I’m also unsure as to whether the band can really play or whether Trevor Horn’s production just makes them sound very good. It’s rumoured he replaced their tracks with those of session musicians anyway, so who knows.

It might sound strange but I have great difficulty in believing that the band is from Liverpool. I don’t know if it’s the fact that they’re so ‘art rock’ (which, when we’re talking about music from the UK, I would always associate with London bands), or whether it’s simply because Holly Johnson’s raspy vocals hold no trace whatsoever of a scouse accent, but I’d never pick that city as their hometown if I didn’t know better.

Say whatever you want about this band, but you have to respect their ability to provoke. Being banned from the BBC is a great thing for a band to be, and looking back it always makes the BBC look pathetic and outdated. The whole package of the album is a treat, with a Picasso-esque cubist painting of the band on the front, and enough liner notes to fill a small book. Their posturing makes them come across as an earlier, poppier version of Manic Street Preachers, and quoting the likes of Kierkegaard and Baudelaire adds to this.

I’m not too sure about the very ‘80s merchandise listings that adorn one of the inner sleeves. An advert declaring £8.99 for a pair of ‘Jean Genet’ boxer shorts really looks out of place on a pop record, but I guess the band are making a point about the similarity between music and consumerism (while making a few bucks on the side…).

Hit: Two Tribes

Hidden Gem: Born To Run