Berlin Blondes: …Were Not From Berlin
4th November 2018
Title: The Complete Recordings 1980-81
Label: Cherry Red
A new wave outfit with synths, the Berlin Blondes were not, in fact, from Berlin at all but Glasgow. Yes, that fair city might not retain the same krautrock clout but the presentation of the music certainly made up for that. In fact, krautrock was certainly an influence, late-period Kraftwerk krautrock at any rate (apparently Kraftwerk’s The Model was a favourite live outing of theirs). There’s also elements of Roxy Music in there too.
Featuring the talents of Steven Bonomi (vocals), Robert Farrell (guitar, synth), David Rudden (bass) and Jim Spender (aka Jim McKinven) (keyboards & synths), the band would experience a few quick line-up changes in their short life.
The style of the Berlin Blondes reminded me a little of the early eighties outfit, the Mobiles – remember their 1982 hit, Drowning in Berlin? The association has nothing to do with the Berlin moniker but the almost Weimar Republic, slightly atonal, live for today, die tomorrow, moral breakdown, discordant atmosphere. Playing Astro, you hear that swirly, discordant, circus nightmare sound so prevalent on Drowning in Berlin (especially the middle eight bit). Then again, there is more to this album than a historical reflection of decadence.
There is the technological exploration of the future with the track, Science and, with Romance, a distinct Gary Numan-esque vocal direction and musical arrangement while Mannequin also has reflections of Kraftwerk’s Showroom Dummies.
Mastering is pretty good. There’s an over-arching cool aspect about the music, a slightly clinical presentation but I would like to bet that it derives more from the original recording compression.
Perfect fodder for fans of new wave, synth wave and minimal synth, this album is a golden nugget from the period. This, the band’s only album release, also arrives with seven bonus track including four remixes.
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