Sunday, October 14, 2018

Flat Earth Day: Thomas Dolby 60

It's Sunday and time to celebrate the first of three consecutive milestone birthdays, beginning with the cat you see above you. No not the kitty, the guy holding the kitty.
Today's guy is turning 60 and often gets unfortunately saddled with the dreaded "one-hit wonder" label, through no fault of his own.
He has a whole bunch of great songs, but when he broke out in the early 1980s people seized on one, mostly due to the advent of MTV and the video for it, which would play roughly every 15 minutes when the channel came on the air.
Of course, this being America and the human race, it was pretty much his dumbest, most humorously jokey tune that got hung around his neck like an anchor.
An immediate victim of record company hype, the label made him re-issue his record -- one of the essentially perfect concept records of all time before it was mangled -- to include the song in question.
When he followed that platter with an entirely different-themed album, the suits had no idea what to do and his second record -- in many ways the equal of his first -- kind of died on the vine.
He ended up spending the rest of the Eighties producing other artists, not attempting a third album of his own until 1988.
As the years have gone by, he's evolved into a true solo act, touring as a one-man electronic band and performing songs from his entire career.
I've loved his music since that first LP -- even before it was re-tracked away from its initial conception -- was blasting all over WLIR-FM in Garden City, NY in 1982.
He was born this day in 1958, making him a young 60 today, but it's an advancement in the field of technology for which he is perhaps most revered.
You may know Thomas Dolby for his music and synth-pop hits, but you may not be aware he helped to invent the ringtones for your cellphone.
He's been such a technology geek for such a long time, he got his stage name when friends nicknamed him after the Dolby Noise Reduction he'd use on his initial recordings in the 1970s. Once Dolby Labs unsuccessfully tried to stop his from using it, but he won in court.
To mark this occasion, I remastered a full show from the tour behind his second album in 1984, which is sourced from pre-broadcast radio tapes and features songs from his first two LPs.
Thomas Dolby
Macky Auditorium
Boulder, Colorado
5.8.1984

CD1
01 The Flat Earth (Speech)
02 White City
03 Dissidents
04 The Flat Earth
05 One of Our Submarines
06 New Toy
07 Puppet Theatre
08 Urges

CD2
01 Airwaves
02 Screen Kiss
03 I Scare Myself
04 Hyperactive!
05 Europa and the Pirate Twins/Get Out of My Mix
06 She Blinded Me with Science
07 Commercial Breakup
08 Marseille
09 Windpower (bonus track - Dominion Theatre, London UK 2.28.1984 preFM)

Total time: 1:34:35

Thomas Dolby - keyboards, piano, vocals
Debra Barsha - keyboards, synthesizers, vocals
Lyndon Connah - synthesizers
Matthew Seligman - bass
Chucho Merchán - guitars, harmonica, vocals
Justin Hildreth - drums, percussion, samples
Leslie Fairbain - vocals

EN remaster of the unedited pre-FM source
561 MB FLAC here
I even tacked on the set-closer from a concert that took place in London a few months earlier, at the start of the tour for The Flat Earth, by way of a bonus track.
I'll be back for the next two days, with posts about two long-dead-yet-thoroughly-immortal artists celebrating their 80th birthdays back-to-back. But for now it's a good idea to sample some vintage airwaves emitted by today's birthday boy Mr. TD, and to be blinded by the particular kind of science he is famous for cooking up and dropping in the lab.--J.