Monday, January 19, 2009

Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder -- "Together in Electric Dreams" (1984)

Here's a one-off collaboration that thankfully actually led to a full album afterwards and it was quite ideal. Moroder did a spectacular job producing Blondie's "Call Me" for the American Gigolo soundtrack, and then went off to join David Bowie for the aforementioned theme from Cat People.

It was truly inspirational that the lead singer of the Human League, Philip Oakey, hook up with Moroder to create one of the great synth pop singles of the early 80's for an entirely forgettable movie. At the time, a comedy about a love triangle between a boy, a girl and a personal PC probably seemed very "cutting edge," and you could stuff it with all kinds of hot New Wave acts on the soundtrack, but the only thing worth remembering is the sort-of title song.

Oakey had one of the unmistable voices of the new wave era, if you think back on all the Human League hits. Really a blueprint for what characterized many lead vocalists those days -- disaffected, not a hell of a lot of range, yet able to carry a memorable tune. The Human League was all about mopey pop tunes covered in synths, so it was a true stroke of genius to pair him with the man who basically turned synthesizers and drum machines into disco classics.

As noted with my Bowie entry, Moroder's songwriting style was always very simple, truly in the Europop tradition that gave us groups like ABBA. No fancy chords or tricks. It was all about the irresistable froth melody. So imagine that Oakey voice from "Don't You Want Me" surrounded on beds of analog and digital synthesizers, pushed by a fast galloping drum machine, singing as sugary a dance confection as "Together In Electric Dreams." In a nod to the two female members of Human League, Moroder even soundalike women singers echoing the end phrases of each verse.

Moroder always liked a rock guitar cutting through the keyboards (remember Jeff "Skunk" Baxter's turn on Donna Summers' "Hot Stuff?"), so they come piercing through here with the melody over the intro and then really phased out and distorted during the break.

I only knew you for a while
I never saw your smile
'Til it was time to go
Time to go away (time to go away).
Sometimes it's hard to recognise
Love comes as a surprise
And it's too late
It's just too late to stay
Too late to stay.

We`ll always be together
However far it seems.
(Love never ends)
We`ll always be together
Together in Electric Dreams.

Because the friendship that you gave
Has taught me to be brave
No matter where I go I`ll never find a better prize
(Find a better prize).
Though you're miles and miles away
I see you every day I don't have to try
I just close my eyes, I close my eyes.

We'll always be together
However far it seems.
(Love never ends)
We'll always be together
Together in Electric Dreams.

When "Together In Electric Dreams" became a smash, it was a no-brainer to do an entire album together, and apparently, the duo completed it in fairly quick time. The first side of the record was all segued together, creating 15 minutes of non-stop danceable synth pop. I remember that a couple of the tunes were single-ready and ripe for 12" remixes, like "Electric Dreams."

The album eventually came out on CD, but is long out of print. However, if there's anything you should look to download is the "Together In Electric Dreams," which still is unforgettable to this day. Here's the official video, with scenes from the movie, and obviously shot around San Francisco.


Unknown said...

I love this blog, i read it, explore some more, some times i know incremental info, mostly however i am in awe of the knowledge here.

My incremental on this is, please, please listen to Human league prior to "Dare!" their breakthrough album (which included the mega hit "dont you want me"). Reason being it is so much darker and less "pop". "Being boiled" and "the Lebanon" are great examples of a band starting out at a time when Punk was being replaced my "new wave" and trying to find their niche.

Also notable is that the bands original members included 2 of the key/founder members from Heaven 17... heavy heavy synth based electro pop, great great album of theirs is "Penthouse and Pavements" for example...

Final point is that David Bowie allegedly saw the originsl line up of the Humsn League in 1978 and remarked that he had seen the future of music, and this was it...!

As always, thanks Drew for keeping me and i am sure countless others interested in some brilliant writing



Anonymous said...

Total forgettable film is a bit harsh. Not quite Oscar material obviously, but a nice little piece of film. Plus, how could you overlook the young and absolutely gorgeous Virginia Madsen. She alone was worth the price of admission.