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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Boys Brigade - s/t

Name: Boys Brigade
Album: s/t
Year: 1983
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: INXS, Rush, Talking Heads, Lou Reed (vocals)
"One-Word" Review: Tribal-New-Punk
Based Out Of: Toronto, Canada
Label: Capitol, EMI, SRO Productions
Detailed Liner Notes
Boys Brigade - Cover
Boys Brigade - Back

Boys Brigade -(1983)
  1. Passion Of Love - 3:40 (youtube)
  2. Melody - 3:58 (youtube)
  3. Exodus - 3:46
  4. Saigon - 4:29
  5. Cut-Up (Breaking Glass) - 4:23/
  6. Into the Flow - 5:16
  7. Africa - 4:06
  8. Mannequin - 3:41
  9. Anger (The Hunger) - 4:57
Album Rating (1-10):

Members & Other Bands:Malcolm Burn: Vocals, Keyboards
Tony Lester (Tones): Vocals, Guitar, Guitar Synth (Arson, Strange Advance)
Billie Brock (bucko): Drums, Vocals (Lemming Go Here)
Wayne Lorenz: Bass (Androidz)
David Porter: Percussion, Vocals, Artist in residence
Jeff Packer: Percussion, Vocals
Geddy Lee - Producer (Rush)
Nick Blagona - Engineer
Roger Ginsley - Technical Engineer
Andrew Condon - Technical Engineer
Vic Pyle - Assistant
Robert Digioa - Assistant
Ken Magerman - Assistant
Jon Erikson - Assistant + Mix Asst
Joe Finlan - Mix Asst
Nimbus 9 Studios Toronto - Recorded
McClear Place - Mixed & Mastered
Rodney Bowes - Photography & Art Direction
Ray Danniels - Personal Management
Howard Ungerleider - Internal Affairs

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of these guys before. But from the cover art alone, I had to buy this. I love the bold colored shapes that unfold to form an abstract landscape. From that along with the date, I imagined the music to be a very creative form of New Wave.

Album Review: I like this album very much. The vocals sound an awful lot like Michael Hutchence from INXS when he would speak-sing. For the most part, the tone is deeper than most other new wave bands, and his singing is more talking than singing (I'll make a comparison to Bowie here). The music is an intelligent combination of straight up synthesized New Wave with a little post-punk drum & bass rhythm.

The Passion of Love was their big hit. It is a steady but jittery song, starting with a mix of synthesized keyboard sounds, bass & steady drums. A guitar comes in to introduce you to the true melody. Then the deep vocal comes on, talking in melody. The verses are short, so each segment quickly reaches the chorus, which itself is short. The keyboard produces the main hook in the musical break, followed up with synthesized vocals. It ends with a parallel drum and guitar one-two-three. "Melody" is an unfulfilled, reflective look back at a beautiful girl named Melody. The slow tempo and straightforward speaking just emphasize the sad, flashback nature of the song. He sounds very much like Lou Reed in "Walk on the Wild Side." Exodus is a fantastic post-punk bass, drum & cowbell, and rattling guitar instrumental. The bass acts as the drive and lyrics to the song, and later, is accompanied by the synthesizer forming dual lyrics. The next song begins like a tiger, laying in the dark, ready to bolt. It is dark in tone, and only the keyboards that come in after a minute lighten the mood. The song transforms with a quickened drum pace and driving bass to a sprint during the chorus 'here in Saigon'. It slows back down during the verse, but not enough to be considered a rest. Two sets of verse-chorus and we come to the short musical, guitar solo, break. "Cut-Up" feels like a reprise of "Passion Of Love." The main distinction is the guitar. Like "Saigon" it has a musical break after two sets of verse-chorus, which includes a rapidly played synthesized trumpet.

Side two begins with "Into the Flow." It begins with a quiet building dark tone, and electric- sounding synthesizer in the background. After a minute, a ska-post-punk keyboard and bass kick in. And then we are introduced to a new singer, presumably Tony Lester, with a higher, nasally voice. The music picks up the pace even more, with a jittery synthesizer. The chorus is literally a chorus of voices, and it is set to a quick dance pace. There is a Sting-like "Whoa-Oh-Whoa-Oh." With "Africa," we are back to Malcolm singing. It is a synthesized masterpiece of sounds, in a Talking Heads like atmosphere. There is so much artificial keyboard, that it is hard to tell what music is real, and what is produced from a computer. He even sounds like David Byrne when he sings the phrase 'ancient mystery of Africa.' The slow bounce of Mannequin is a welcome tranquilizer of calm after the last two songs. Not that the quick pace was bad, or that there was too much of it. The change of pace is a good one, as it feels like a healthy waking up to a new day after a night of dancing. The song cruises through more styles similar to the Talking Heads. The final song, "Anger" starts with a fade in of a ska guitar along side of a dark tone and staggeringly steady drums. This, like "Africa," has a tribal feel to it.
Even though it has been said already, I want to reiterate that Malcolm's vocals are a fantastic combination of David Byrne, Lou Reed and Michael Hutchence. That pretty much explains him. Not just in sound, but in vocalizing style, he is reminiscent of all three at different times, as well as combined. The music is also truly great, a combination of tribal new wave and post punk beats. The only problem is that I feel they could have added more catchy hooks. But this is still a great album, lost in time and importance.

Stand Out Track:
Passion of Love

Boys Brigade Allmusic
Boys Brigade Wikipedia
Boys Brigade Myspace
Boys Brigade Saltyka Blog (lots of info & links)
Boys Brigade on Lost Bands Blog 1/17/05
Boys Brigade on Rare 80's MP3 10/7/02
Malcolm Burn Wikipedia
Malcolm Burn - Mix online
Malcolm Burn Interview Emusician


  1. that cover is probably the best cover ever. and it looks like it came out two days ago.

  2. I bought it way back when (1983) because it was produced by Geddy Lee. I wasn't disappointed, and I still think it's a very good album. The Passion Of Love is as catchy as ever. A pick-me-up song if there ever was one.

  3. What is the name of the artist whose work is the Boys Brigade cover?

  4. Band Member David Porter did the graphic art:


  5. thanks for the reply. How do you know? -I can't locate anywhere on the web that indicates it is his work

  6. I'll try to take a better picture...in the liner notes it has his name as the graphic artist, and Rodney Bowes ad the art direction. But if I can get a better pic of the liner notes, I'll post it here.