We’ve visited Drinking Electricity once before, with their ‘Cruising Missiles’ 45, which was my introduction to the band and their work. I’d go on to buy the subsequent single releases on and off as they came out, where their own original synth pop sound would emerge. This single though was their own unique minimal synth rock’n’roll take with a cover version of the 1976 Flamin’ Groovies track, ‘Shake Some Action’. Like the band’s previous cover version of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ ‘Shakin’ All Over’, this was again a faster tempo, stripped down angular guitar thrashing and synth interpretation. Depending on how well you get on with late 70s/early 80s minimal synth pop and its production values versus the original, lushly produced power-pop take of the Flamin’ Groovies, this may well take a bit of getting used to. In the context of a produced-to-death, auto-tuned attention deficit get-to-the-chorus within a count of seconds not minutes of modern pop, this is beamed in from another world.
Flip it over and its a whole other galaxy of primitivism in comparison to the original – the ‘Cheapo’ demo version replaces drums with ticky-ticky drum box and even a prominent earth-hum buzzing in the background throughout. Nonetheless, it sparks away in its own exciting, cheapo way.
Being on Pop:Aural and therefore from the stable of Bob Last (and partner, Hilary Morrison) who would in parallel to the label be minding all things Human League (and then Heaven 17 in due course), the band would go on to form their own Survival records, the first release of which was their own, wonderful ‘Subliminal’ – a catchy synth-pop warning of the marketing assault that besieges our attention seemingly every second of every day now.
Survival would work their magic in releasing quite a few minimal synth classics along the way, not least Hard Corps and their wonderful double-sided 12″ of ‘Dirty’/’Respirer’. Only the one original album, ‘Overload’, would emerge from Drinking Electricity though…