Berlin Blondes, ‘Science’ Japanese 7″ promo single (EMI, EMS 17031, 1980)

A little known Scottish band, was aware of them at the time but never heard them. Through the delights of vinyl blogs I have since become acquainted with their limited output and have liked what I have heard. One can imagine that they possibly got sucked up and spat out by the EMI corporate machine looking for the Next Big Thing. Only one album and three singles (one post-EMI) saw light of day, none of which have ever seen a subsequent CD release as far as I’m aware.

Berlin Blondes 'Science' Japanese single picture insert - front

^ Berlin Blondes \’Science\’ Japanese single picture insert – front

This particular number is a Japanese promo edition of their first single, ‘Science’. The album and first two single were produced by Mike Thorne, more famously associated beforehand with Wire and subsequently with Soft Cell. Musically, this might bridge both worlds, to some extent, with the requisite angular guitar and a very prominent bass to the fore, but plenty of synthesizer on board to colour the sound along with drum machines. Well worth seeking out if you have a penchant for early 80s pop oddness, this contrasts well with a lot of other material from the same era.

Picture insert - rear

^ Picture insert – rear

Label design - A side

^ Label design – A side

Label design - B side

^ Label design – B side

5 Responses to “Berlin Blondes, ‘Science’ Japanese 7″ promo single (EMI, EMS 17031, 1980)”

  1. REVO says:

    This album has been, until 2009, a personal béte noir. I first became aware of it in 1980, the year of its issue, via a review. It sounded like a record I would like. If featured lots of synthesizers and it was labelled “futurist” by the reviewer. So I looked for this record. And looked.

    In 1997, seventeen years later, I finally found it (along with the remixed 12” single from it!!!) in a rather good record store in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I then had the record in my possession in the “to be digitized” mental slush pile for the next eleven years! So a span of 28 years unfurled between wanting to hear this record and actually achieving that. It’s safe to say that the 28 year gulf represents virtually half a human lifespan. Having finally done this, I am free! I will no longer progress to my deathbed with the regret that I have never listened to this album.

    In 1980 the sound of Gary Numan cast a long shadow over the UK music scene. He picked up the sound of Ultravox and managed to make hits with synthesizers that sounded au courant, pushing him up to the top of the charts. Unsurprisingly, a wake of fledgling bands ensued. The Blondes also feature a lot of rich Polymoog sound not unlike what was making Gary Numan a fixture in the UK charts of the time. But other influences were at work here. Since the group hailed from Glasgow, the home town heroes of Simple Minds also figure in the mix here. The strong influence of their first album, “Life In A Day” can be heard on many of these tracks in terms of their composition and arrangements. The final influence to be detected here is in the vocal style of Steve Bonomi, and this was an influence even on the first Simple Minds album: Sparks. The whiff of Sparks vocalist Russell Mael certainly informs Bonomi’s vocal style.

    James Spender played keyboards here but he was soon to be hitting the heights in Scot new-poppers Altered Images. Their original bassist David Rudden was not the player on this album. By the time this recording was made, he had left to form Endgames and was replaced with Nick Clark from the Cuban Heels; the infamous Glaswegian postpunk combo formed by the other half of Johnny & The Self Abusers who didn’t go on to become Simple Minds! Though Clark, it must be said, was never a Self-Abuser. Still, the inbred Glasgow scene gets tightly wound, eh?

    My CD reissue features two bonus tracks: the 12” single versions of “Framework” b/w “Zero Song.” And the 12″ version of “Zero Song” is a bit shorter than the album version! Though the album version sports lyrics, it must be said. The sales weren’t high and the group got the cut from EMI who were about to hit the New Romantic motherlode with Duran Duran. For their part, The Blondes soldiered on with an indie 7” “Marseille” b/w “The Poet” before packing it in. But my CD captures that mad moment just as synthesizers were about to all but take over New Wave as we knew it.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for that excellent post, Revo… nicely observed. Glad you finally go to hear after such a delay! There are a few other tracks you could add to the ideal CD… the version of Mannequin on the single is sans vocals, there is also a remixed version of Science which surfaced in Australia. There was a fanzine called SynRock in 1981 which had an interview with the band, I should dig that out as I still have it lurking somewhere – SynRock got exposure because it was on sale at the time of Gary Numan’s farewell shows at Wembley and featured an interview with him (which was subsequently published in Record Mirror, much to his dislike).

  3. REVO says:

    I was aware that I should probably have acquired the remaining singles but I didn’t feel like waiting any longer! I can always remaster it with more tracks in the future.

  4. admin says:

    Well, the main thing is you finally got round to playing it and enjoying it… can’t say fairer than that!

  5. Mike says:

    I was the interviewee and co-editor of Syn-Rock. We were two 17 year old kids mad on anything electronic / futuristic. A great time, even standing in the streets of Wembley selling to the Gary Numan fans. That Berlin Blondes album was always one of my favourites and almost more special because most people haven’t got a clue who they are. Also a good quote in Syn-Rock from Midge Ure who said, just before it’s release, that he didn’t expect much from Vienna as it was over 5 minutes long and they’d never play it on the radio. This means nothing to me!

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