Electronic/Get The Message-The Best Of Electronic


Get the Message: The Best of ElectronicElectronic were an alternative dance group formed by New Order singer and guitarist Bernard Sumner and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. They co-wrote the majority of their output between 1989 and 1998,[a] collaborating with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe on three tracks in their early years, and former Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos on nine songs in 1995.

The two first met in 1984 when the Smiths guitarist contributed to a Quando Quango track that Sumner was producing. Later in 1988, Sumner was frustrated because his New Order bandmates were not receptive to his desire to add synth programming to their music.[2] He decided to produce a solo album but found that he did not enjoy working alone, so he called Marr for help.[3].

Inspired by contemporary dance music like Italo house and acts such as Technotronic[3] (Sumner even did a remix of Rockin’ Over the Beat in 1990), their initial concept was to release white label records on Factory and remain an anonymous entity,[4][5][6] in contrast to their considerable reputations with The Smiths and New Order. The track “Lucky Bag” and the name Electronic itself are two of the vestiges of this initial approach. In 1989, Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant suggested a collaboration when he heard of the budding partnership through sleeve designer Mark Farrow[citation needed] .

The fruits of this union became “Getting Away with It“, Electronic’s debut single which was released in December 1989 and sold around a quarter of a million copies[citation needed]. The drums on this record were played by ABC‘s David Palmer and the string arrangement was written by Anne Dudley. It was a Top 40 hit in America the following spring and they toured in support for Depeche Mode in August, 1990. After this success, Sumner and Marr took a more commercial direction,[3] blending synthesizers, guitars and analogue technology whilst retaining the template of contemporary alternative rock

After a year of intensive recording (and eighteen months after “Getting Away with It”), the debut album Electronic was released to critical acclaim[7][8][9][10][11] and domestic commercial success,[12] featuring the Top 10 single “Get the Message” and another Top 40 single, “Feel Every Beat“. The album sold over a million copies worldwide[13].

As well as its fusion with rock and pop, Electronic continued their interest in dance music by inviting DJs to remix their singles and album tracks; this was a trend that continued throughout their career. Prominent acts that worked on Electronic songs around this period include Danny Rampling, DNA, Dave Shaw and Quando Quango founder and Haçienda DJ Mike Pickering.

After the first album was released and promoted, Marr and Sumner recorded albums with The The and New Order respectively, regrouping with Neil Tennant in 1992 to record their fourth and highest-charting single “Disappointed“, which had been played live on a short tour of Europe the previous December.

Electronic was resumed when these activities ended, and work began on the second album in late 1994. The core duo was joined by Karl Bartos, ex-percussionist and songwriter with Kraftwerk (of whom both Sumner and fellow Joy Division member Ian Curtis were fans), who commuted to Manchester for the writing sessions.

After a long period of mixing, Raise the Pressure was eventually released in July 1996 on the Parlophone label in the UK and Warner Bros. in the US, as Factory Records had gone bankrupt in 1992. Like its predecessor it fused dance music with a guitar-led approach, but some reviewers felt its production was too rich and distracted from the songs. Two guitar oriented tracks, “Forbidden City” and “For You“, were released as singles and made the UK Top 20, with the dancier “Second Nature” issued in February 1997 and reaching the top 10

Electronic did not promote Raise the Pressure with a tour, although they performed its singles live on television shows like Top of the Pops and TFI Friday. Instead, they chose to swiftly record their third album. This was to be a reaction to the lengthy processes behind Raise the Pressure, with an emphasis on writing and demoing songs quickly before recording them.[14] Marr and Sumner were joined by Doves bassist Jimi Goodwin and Black Grape drummer Jed Lynch, and together they made the album Twisted Tenderness as a more conventional four-piece group. The album did not return the group to their early nineties levels of popularity but was well received by the critics.[15][16][17][18]

Neither Sumner nor Marr has gone on record with any formal dissolution of the band despite both having moved onto other projects. However, in 2003 Marr did agree that the band had reached “its natural conclusion” and was happy with the way it ended on a positive note.[19] Sumner recorded with New Order again and in 2009 formed a new band – Bad Lieutenant. Marr has since worked with many acts, including The Healers, Pet Shop Boys, The Cribs and Modest Mouse. Marr and Sumner played with the Doves for the Manchester v Cancer charity concert of January 2006 and the compilation album Get the Message – The Best of was released that September to mild promotion and sales. [Wikipedia]

Forbidden City—-Beginning with a pleasant guitar intro that is not too very far off from the classic New Order sound, Sumner enters with a vocal that is so pleasant and addictive that this has become one of my very favorite Electronic tracks. The shiny and bright guitar from Marr is a joyous break from the constant Hook bass. Sumner sings with such reverence and sincerity it just makes me melt. This is brilliant!

Getting Away With It—-Any known person that was a fan of 80’s synth pop was head over heels when they first heard about this collaboration…the excitement was built further upon finding about Neil and Chris being involved. We, the kids of the dance floor, were never disappointed with the output from this ‘super-group’. This song is a shining example of what happens when you successfully put musical masterminds in a room together. This has the wonderful vocals of both Sumner and Tennant…both whom sound exquisite. The shiny pop jangle of the Marr guitar and the subtle melancholy of Lowe’s keyboards. This is a feast on CD…one that I devour regularly and walk away still unsatisfied…wanting more and more. It really rarely gets more pleasant than this.

Get The Message—-There is no mistaking the guitar intro on this track…the underlying synth lines adds even more beef to the track and the entrance of Sumner on vocals is like finding a long-lost sibling. this is wonderfully electronic, with just the right mix of mid 90’s Alternative guitar. This will have you wanting to jump from your seat at times, while at others you are comfortable sitting and watching the others. This is sublime and wonderful. I LOVED this band!!!

Feel Every Beat—-Coming out of the fog at you slowly, the song takes a bit to take shape in your mind and speakers! Once the music and the sound id firmly in place, you are left with another huge mix of electronics and natural guitars. Although this has never been a favorite track of mine, it is always interesting to hear Sumner attempt to deliver some rap lines. The chorus is a huge grand affair that raises the hairs on your arms and leaves you in a pretty damn good mood. These memories…I can hold on to forever!!

Disappointed—-Perhaps the shining high point of this bands career, this managed to combine every element from three bands into one huge orgasmic creation that you just want to go on and on. The Lowe/Marr arrangement is so lush and orchestrated…the underlying electronic beats have a Tennant trademark and the Sumner vocal is better than anything he has done in a very long time. This is masterful, joyous, heart-breaking and full of every adjective you can fit in one review. A real high point of the 90’s….still sounding relevant and masterful.

Vivid—-Relying much more of the trademark sounds of Johnny Marr’s guitar in the later releases of their recording career, this song offers up a great rendition of said sound and the damn pleasant and clear vocal of Bernard. The vocal shines so much more and with much more emotion when you escape the heavy bass that was always present in New Order songs. This is wonderful…it remains contagious and accessible even now.

Second Nature—-This has a remarkable lazy delivery that allows you to soak up every word and sentiment that comes from Sumner. The guitar is a gentle acoustic affair that is accompanied by some nice back drop female vocals that gives the song a nice Ibiza House sound. This is remarkable…delivering the best of two genius’ on one track. Very Nice!!!

All That I Need—-This track, is NICE!!! The sound is much larger and more electric than anything heard on this compilation up to this point. This has a nice, typical smooth vocal…the remrkable thing is the electric feel to the guitar…the heavy bass that sounds real and the double layed vocal that gives the chorus an even larger sound. this is remarkable…one of the true great songs that many people ignored simply because they were expecting more of the first record…come on, grow people…if you don’t you miss stuff.

Prodigal Sound—-Filled with grand guitar effects and an almost psychedelic feel, this song is slow to get started. the vocal enters and reminds me of a throwaway Stone Roses track….it is that retro in sound. This is not a bad thing by any means…the lush and layered sound of the song shows detractors just what Marr can do with a guitar. The drums are real and bombastic..this is a grand noisy track that is so pleasant and retro of the mid 90’s sound, you will be reaching for all of your old records by the time this plays out. Magnificent!!!

For You—-This is FANTASTIC!!! This has some remarkable jangly guitars that take you back to the early Smiths days…the vocal is as smooth as creamy butter. The chorus is magnificent…leaving you with a pseudo happiness that lifts you from your seat and onto your feet as you lose yourself in the swirling gentle sounds of a brilliant song. Yet another highpoint!!!

Imitation Of Life—-Beginning with a much more Electronic feel than the last few songs, the drums enter with a masterful sound and the guitar seems pushed to the far back of the song. the vocal seems to be overlayed once or twice in the studio, allowing for a much bigger sound. The pre-programmed synth lines are huge and deep…the song is acceptable, but lacks emotion for me. You can not conjure up feelings with over layed vocals!

Out Of My League—-Long a favorite of mine, this is much more organic in sound. the guitars are 100% natural and the underlying synths are full of swirl and atmosphere. The drums are played by a real person and the vocal is classic Sumner..full of intonation that belies the remarkable emotion of the song. This is large, layered and full of masterful melody. This is a hit out of the park for me!!

Like No Other—-Ugh…..delivering another high tempo rapid fire beat song that almost takes away from any true instrumentation, this is lackluster and hurried. the vocal is nice, but you can’t make out anything but the hyper driven beat that really does not fit the easy and relaxed vocal. Perhaps this is a mis-step. this release was much more noisy than anything else the group had produced. The chorus IS very nice, but still lacks some of the realistic emotion in earlier material.

Twisted Tenderness—-Beginning with a fairly heavy electronic beat, the song returns midstream with some nice guitar and a vocal that is gentle, easy-going and heartfelt. The voice is almost pushed to the back of the song and you wonder sometimes exactly where Johnny is during this whole thing. this is not a favorite, but you can’t throw this away by any means.

Late At Night—-Noisy and loaded with Marr guitar, the electronics sit in the back drop like a sleeping lion. the remarkable play between the vocal and the guitar is why this band was so appealing to begin with. there is inclusion of a mild female back drop vocal..this bosters the song and reminds me of a track from the last New Order release. Still, this is excellent…much more appealing and organic…masterful!!!

****3/4 out of 5

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One Response to “Electronic/Get The Message-The Best Of Electronic”

  1. Great idea, thanks for this post!

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