[Book] Mad World: An Oral History Of New Wave Artists And Songs That Defined The 1980s by Lori Majewski & Jonathan Bernstein

 

madworld

It’s not often that we get sent non-music promo items, occasionally there will be booze, or gadgets, and there was that time Chromeo sent us a phone, but generally it’s Records and CDs. Last week, though, we got sent a book. That book was Mad World: An Oral History Of New Wave Artists And Songs That Defined The 1980s. It was was written by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein, both long time music journalists with a vested interest int he 80s. I’m a big reader, but I can barely string two words together to write a music review, let along tackle a book review.

So here is a book review.

Music books are notoriously hit or miss, more often being disappointingly miss. The last great music book I read was Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton (which is an amazing history of DJing which is well worth the read), 80s music books in particular, usually make me annoyed with their generalizations of superficial coverage of the topic so I delved into the book with trepidation. However, the way Mad World is constructed is both fun and pretty in depth. What you have is each chapter being dedicated to a particular classic song from the 80s and it’s content being an interview with one or more of the creators. So, for example, the chapter on Yazoo’s Only You features Vince and Alison talking about their relationship and making the record. This is a great format that allows you to pick up and put down the book when you’ve got a spare minute and learn something genuinely insightful about a handful of SynthPop hits and a brief look into the mind of some of the biggest names of the 80s. Those present and correct include The Human League, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, Kim Wilde, The Normal, Duran Duran, ABC, Devo, A-Ha, Thompson Twins, OMD, Ultravox and many more.

So, yeah, book review. I really enjoyed it. Even though it’s a ‘dip in’ type volume, I read the thing from cover to cover. The fact that it’s 99% the voices of the artists who made these records makes it both more interesting, and accurate, than if a third party has just written about the tracks.

Also, there’s tons of photos, and photos from the 80s are a good thing.

One tiny niggle I did have with the book; being an American publication it has these translations for English terms throughout that tends to be a bit patronising and jarring a little. It’s an annoyance that pulls you out of the book. I know much of the books audience will be American, but I’m sure they have enough common sense to realise a “bin man” is what they would call a “garbage man”, context is a wonderful thing.

That aside though, It’s really good read, I would definitely be interested in a Volume Two being released, there’s tons of songs I would love to read about in this format.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Information Society, D-Mob (Feat. Gary Haisman) & Five Star

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

A mixed bag today kicking off with post-EBM SynthPoppers Information Society and their 1988 hit Walking Away.

The song that alerted the UK press to the existence of Acid House, D-Mob & Gary Haisman We Call It Acieed, from 1988.

And some smooth ElectroPop Soul from Five Star‘s 1986 hit, Can’t Wait Another Minute.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Alphaville, Cee Farrow & The Neon Judgement

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

First up, from 1986, is German SynthPop heroes Alphaville with Dance With Me.

Cee Farrow‘s Soul tinged SynthPop début, Should I Love You, from 1982.

And finally Belgian EBM outfit The Neon Judgement’s Chinese Black, from 1987.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Spandau Ballet, Karla DeVito & Ministry

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

Let’s begin todays journey with a bright SynthPop from Spandau Ballet’s 1982 single; Lifeline.

OK, this isn’t strictly a music video, because there isn’t one. But c’mon, what’s Karla DeVito’s 1985 track We Are Not Alone most famous for?

Before Ministry were shite Metal Ministry they were good, SynthPop Ministry, and even before that they were the Ministry who recorded this unreleased track, Same Old Madness, from 1982.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Madonna, Front 242 & Taylor Dayne

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

Some pure Pop with an EBM filling today, starting with Madonna’s Into The Groove from 1985.

And unexpectedly cropping up is one of EBM pioneers Front 242 finest moments, 1986’s Quite Unusual.

Back to the Pop to finish up, from 1987 it’s Taylor Dayne big moment, Tell It To My Heart.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Telex & The Normal

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

First up it’s Italo pioneers Telex with their most recognisable tune, 1979’s Moskow Diskow.

And from the year before, 1978, Daniel Miller’s The Normal and TVOD’s flip-side, Warm Leatherette.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Bomb The Bass, The Art Of Noise & Koo De Tah

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

today we’re kicking off with Bomb The Bass’ raucous Hip-House monster Megablast from 1988 .

Here’s The Art Of Noise’s haunting, yet Industrial, Moments In Love from 1985.

Finally funkin’ out with Tina Cross’ Koo De Tah’s hit Body Talk, again from 1985.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Den Harrow, Max Him & Modern Talking

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

Kicking off with Den Harrow’s Italo classic, from 1985, Future Brain.

More Italo from rom the same year, it’s Italy’s Max Him’s single Japanese Girl.

Finally, German SynthPoppers Modern Talking’s début single You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul form 1984.

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[Video] Goin Old School: Thompson Twins, Celebrate The Nun & Black Box

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

Fist up, from 1986, Thompson Twins’ King For A Day.

Some New Beat ElectroPop from Celebrate The Nun with 1989’s Ordinary Town

And Black Box with some early funky House Pop from 1989, Everybody Everybody.

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[Video] Goin’ Old School: Soul II Soul, Robert Palmer & Nine Ways To Win

 

Goin’ Old School isn’t a trip down music memory lane, it’s a mugging in the dark alleyway of nostalgia:

First up today it;s one of our favourite tracks from London’s Soul II Soul. The track that started it all, 1988’s Fairplay, featruing Rose Windross.

Here’s Robert Palmer’s synth driven Johnny And Mary from 1980.

And lastly some obscure British Pop from 1983 and Nine Ways To Win’s Close To You.

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