CD Electronica/Electro Review

Howard Jones: Spikey Hair & Synths

Title: Human’s Lib/Dream into Action

Label: Cherry Red

I’ve been watching a few recorded vintage episodes of Top of the Pops via BBC TV’s BBC Four. The time is the mid-80s and there in all his spikey-headed glory, was Howard Jones in his synth-pop pomp. Sometimes playing one of his stack of keyboards and then whirling away to sing into his head-mic, touching his ear to draw attention to it. 

Jones was the epitome of the synth pop genre during this time. He was also an ever-present – or so it seemed – in the charts. Always on TOTP. In fact, co-presenter, the legendary DJ John Peel, once introduced him with the free and easy “Howie” on one occasion, such was his familiarity.

This Southampton-born artiste moved to Canada as a child, joined a prog outfit called Warrior, moved back to the UK, joined college, flunked out, played in jazz and funk bands back in Southampton and then went solo. It was actually John Peel who discovered the musician which lead to Jones attending one of Peel’s famous radio sessions and grabbing an Elektra record deal.

Human’s Lib (1984) is a fest of electronica but it’s also much more and you’ll realise this if you ever see the original music videos that accompany the singles. The album encourages the autodidact. Mostly with words of love, peace and harmony plus oodles of melodic hooks to make the medicine go down. 

Dream into Action (1985) continues the psychology theme but moves more into self-help territory (i.e. Things Can Only Get Better, Dream into Action and No One is to Blame). In terms of synth pop? It’s bit less specialist synth and a bit more specialist pop but it still has plenty going for it. 

Both albums feature decent mastering.

Both editions are packed with alternative tracks, remixes and a DVD of videos each.

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