Alphaville/First Harvest 1984-1992

Alphaville is a German synthpop group which gained popularity in the 1980s. The founding members were Marian Gold (real name Hartwig Schierbaum, born May 26, 1954 in Herford), Bernhard Lloyd (real name Bernhard Gößling, born June 6, 1960 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia), and Frank Mertens (real name Frank Sorgatz, born October 26, 1961 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia). The band was at first named Forever Young before changing to Alphaville. They are best known for their two biggest hits, “Big in Japan” and “Forever Young“.

In 2009, Jay-Z sampled the song “Forever Young” for his song “Young Forever”, which appeared as the final track on The Blueprint 3. The chorus is sung by Mr Hudson. [Wikipedia]

Big In Japan—-With a classic 80’s synth line and a vocal that is marvelously unemotional and removed, the group hit huge with this track overseas and in a smaller way in the US. The chorus comes alive with full on synth lines and a chorus of vocals that magically inspire a carefree happiness reminiscent of much of the music from that time period. This plays really well even today and remains a dance floor classic in clubs everywhere on 80’s nights.

Sounds Like A Melody—-Again, the song bursts with a synth line that brings to mind early Vince Clarke/Depeche Mode rhythms. The vocal remains cold and distant, giving the electronic sounds of the song an even more important sound. The lyrics are at times juvenile, but for the most part are impactful to those of us who were fledging adolescents at the time. This is nice.

Sensations—-With a bit darker feel, the band utilizes lots of Electronic effects to produce a landscape of damn near perfect pop. Bringing to mind classic bands of the time like Icehouse, this is a nice little ditty that pleases the palate upon each occasional listen. Just about perfect!

The Mysteries Of Love—-This track finds the band again exploring a darker tempo, but also infusing some snazzier riffs that make me think of Johnny Hates Jazz or Curiosity Killed The Cat. This is pleasant, but suffers from a lack f inspiration for me. The chorus is a nice big affair, but one cannot build a song on that alone.

Jerusalem—-Lush and filled with some nice instrumentation rather than pure Electronics, the song has a nice lazy feel that brings to mind sunshine and care free nights at the clubs. The clubs during the 80’s were a wonderful affair and I miss them with fervor. The track is wonderful and has a nice message as well. The chorus opens up and is so damn catchy, you may have it in your head for a day or so after a listen.

Dance With Me—-Beginning rather slow, the synth line kicks in and the song is driven at a rather rapid pace by the artificial sounds alone. The vocal is a big affair and the instrumentation has some nice poppy riffs that inspire a quick step and a smile if you allow yourself to. this is really nice…a true definition of the era gone by.

For A Million—-Remarkably sedate and layered, this is a lush and melancholy track that is very pleasing to the palate. You might find this a bit of a downer, but I rather like the pretty arrangements and the really present drums…whether they are real or machine-made, it beefs up the sound and gives the track its own unique sound. Really nice!!!

A Victory Of Love—-With a really sparse arrangement, the band really shows its German roots….sounding like 80’s era Bowie, this comes alive a bit but stays rather sedate throughout. The synth line is nice, but the song seems really uninspired….as it opens up in the middle of the song, you realize how the Europeans would have really loved this…I would think the americans found this to be rather kitschy.

The Jet Set—-This is much more bass driven than most of the bands tracks…but it really works. The vocal is odd, coming at you fast and abrupt. The sound of the song, is everything that the late 80’s synth pop was all about though. This is great.

Red Rose—-This is magnificent…adding some nice female backing vocals, this comes across as the best Duran Duran track never recorded. This has all of the pomp and energy of a classic later 80’s synth hit. This one got by me, but I’m most happy to have it now.

Romeos—-This begins odd….coming across as quasi-industrial…only the soothing vocal shatters that for everyone involved. This guy has a smoother vocal than anyone in this era. The female vocals are again present on this track and it works really well with the bands sound. Very nice indeed.

Summer Rain—-With a nice Jazzy piano intro, the vocals are delivered in a nice lounge singing croon. The synth lines are almost all but gone and the sweet sounds of strings and tambourine litter the song giving it a nice cool down song to be put on the turntable after a long sweaty night of dancing. This plays really nice…at times the vocal is so haunting, you get goosebumps.

Forever Young—-Holding the age of time remarkably well, the vocal on this track is so haunting and sad that you almost immediately feel your pulse slow as you take in the remarkable strings and the masterful quiet synth. This is, was and remains a classic song of days gone by. An ode to the obsessed age conscience such as myself…it reminds me rudely that I am 45 years old!!! Ok…I’m depressed now!!!

Big In Japan [Extended]—-With huge extended synth lines and some nice inserted soundbites, this extended version was built for the dance floor and will not disappoint the true die-hard fans of the band. This is a well done remix that honestly, I prefer over the original. Great!!!

***1/2 out of 5


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