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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Colour Radio - s/t

Name: Color Radio
Album: s/t
Year: 1984
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Cars, A's, Dogs Die in Hot Cars
"One-Word" Review: Liquid-Nasal New-Wave
Based Out Of: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Label: Gold Mountain Records, A&M Records
Colour Radio - Cover
Colour Radio - Back
Colour Radio (1984)
  1. Adrianna Dreams 4:40
  2. Johnny 3:37
  3. Dancer 3:50
  4. Sheila 3:55 (sample)
  5. The Beast (In Us All) 2:55/
  6. The Hunter 4:18
  7. Bound For Life 4:29
  8. Kathleen 3:06
  9. Straight From the Heart 4:07
  10. Stand With You 3:50
Album Rating (1-10):
8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Ken Baldwin - Drums, Percussion
Stephan Schneider - Keys, Lead Vox, Cover Concept
Lee Eannelli - Bass, Lead Guitar, Vox
Patrick Nedobeck - Keys, Vox
Rick Derringer - Producer, Guitar
Donald Nedobeck - Sax
Tom Edmonds - Engineer
Recording Plant - Recorded & Mixed
Bernie Grundman - Mastering
Silver Moon Artists - Managment
Chuck Beeson - Art Direction
Donald Krieger - Cover & Back design
Bonnie Schiffman - Cover Photos
Image Bank West - Circutry Photos

Unknown-ness: I have never heard of them. I am usually a fan of music that describes itself pictorally with circutry and electronic componets. So the cover back hint at a mechanical new wave sound. The action images and the askew lettering of the name suggest that there is a chaotic energy on this album. And since it is 1984, I'm predicting they are more new wave than new wave rock, with more synthesized elements than stripped down rock songs.

Album Review: From the start, we are hit with a rhythmic bass and drum percussive beat. Synth keys are echoed over top, and they pick up on the melody supplied by the percussion. The thick, watery vocals sing in choppy, new wave style. The vocals are executed very mechanically. The sax adds a little mystery behind the swirling electronic sounds. The overall effect is a very catchy and oddly driving song (thanks to the bass). "Johnny" begins with machinery sound effects, and synthesized keyboard then take over. The same nasally, watery vocals that accompany most 80's new wave bands like the cars are continued here, in this somewhat anthemic, biographical song of a middle American factory worker. Haunted House organ synthesizer begins Dancer. This section, which repeats often, is dark, and mysterious. Then the bass and drums begin a straightforward dance beat for the chorus. The song is a blend of early XTC via the chorus and later new wave styles with the verse. “Sheila” begins with a Devo-ish mechanical keyboard hook. Whiny guitars are fed in overtop, and the vocals come on, with echoey, computerized reverb. This song is again mysterious and dark. Around 2 minutes, a new, catchy and quick-paced section is introduced but is unfortunately very short. “The Beast” begins with inner growling monster sounds, effects which represent the title musically. Whiny metal guitars mark this song, as well as theatrical effects, which give this song a performance art feel.

As if to combat the beast, the second side begins with a more precision based musical chase with “The Hunter.” It is a rushed, curious trek through a catchy and bumpy soundscape. There is even a flamingo picked guitar in the instrumental break. The emotion and use of vocals reminds me somewhat of Danny Elfman. But the music is not nearly as good as Oingo Boingo. “Bound for Life” gives the first initial impression that it will be the slow ballad. But then the synthesized bass and drums fill in the quiet, dead space, with a video game-like driving beat. More synthesized keyboards come in behind the vocals, which are sung/spoken fragments pieced together. With all the elements, this might be the catchiest song on the record. This song could have been recorded by Dogs Die in Hot Cars or any new fun dancy band. “Kathleen” is the prom slow dance love ballad. Always a good strategy to put a fun upbeat song after a slow ballad, “Straight from the Heart” is just that. The synthesized bass and drums pick up a nice dance rhythm and beat. The vocals glide over the melody, with curved waves of changes rather than abrupt breaks. There are some great moments of building anticipation and delivery in this song. The typical Asian style “Turning Japanese” musical hook repeats to begin “Stand with You.” This song is not dancy, it is not straight rock, it is not prog, it feels like they took all the left over elements from their synthesizer, and mashed them together to produce this song. It is just a song without description. A repetitive chorus, and moderate pace, the song feels like something that would have been great non-threatening background filler on a radio.

This album is really good. I like his vocal style a lot; it reminds me of some of my favorite voices. The mixture of dance rhythms, new wave synth sound and production, and pop compositions is right up my musical alley. The really unique thing is thinking that this fully British sound could come out of Milwaukee. I wish I knew where these guys ended up, but wherever they were in 1984, they brought it all together perfectly for this record.

Stand Out Track:
Bound For Life

Links:
Colour Radio - Allmusic (empty)
Colour Radio - New Wave Outpost
Colour Radio Rock Posters
Colour Radio Webpage (I don't think this is the same band)
Gold Mountain Label Page
Rick Derringer Homepage
Colour Radio - record room

3 comments:

  1. Individual members are all alive and well. 2of them are still involved with music - JIM Eanelli -bass/guitar and Kenny Baldwin /drums/percussion. Patrick and Stephen are pretty much out of music.

    They were really the hot thing in Milwaukee for a couple of years, sold-out standing-room only shows, etc. They were much more intense live than comes across on that album. The rythm section was actually scary, they could lay down a groove that made walls melt. You left their shows absolutely drenched in sweat from dancing.

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  2. one last factoid. That's Rick Springfield (!!) singing backup on "Stand With You"

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  3. Check http://colour-radio.tumblr.com to hear all the tracks from this album as well as tons of photos of the band.

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