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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Invisible Men - s/t

Name: Invisible Men
Album: s/t
Year: 1983
Style: Power Pop
Similar Bands: Tears For Fears, Paul Simon, XTC, Jerry Harrison, Thomas Dolby, Sparks, Big Country
"One Word" Review: 80's-let's-try-this-button-on-the-keyboard-pop
Based Out Of: West London
Label: Jem Records, Passport Records

Invisible Men - Cover & Sleeve

Invisible Men - Back & Sleeve
Invisible Men - Record

Invisible Men (1983)
  1. Sally 4:09
  2. Golden Bodies 3:01
  3. Going For Broke 3:53
  4. Exocet 3:10
  5. Love In A Hot Air Balloon 3:34
  6. Traces 4:35 /
  7. I Want Your Heart 3:53
  8. Falling For Love 3:31
  9. Guru 4:30
  10. The Women Were Watching 4:31
  11. My Time Has Come 4:33
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:Anthony Phillips - Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Organ, Producer, Jupiter 8, Polymoog, Arp 2600, Loupy Choir (Genesis)
Martin Drover - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Malcolm Griffiths - Trombone
Joji Hirota - Cymbals, Marimba, Tambourine, Tympani , Shaker, Wood Block, Jawbone, Bell Tree, Cabasa
Morris Pert - Tambourine, Kalimba, Shaker, Jawbone (Isotope)
Vic Stench - Bass
Bimbo Acock - Saxes, Brass Arrangement
Richard Scott - Piano, Guitar, Loupy Choir, Chorus, Noise, Producer, Vocoder, Drum Machine, Tubular Bells, Roland TR-808, Binoculars, Windows
Trevor Vallis - Producer
Stephen Marsh - Photography
Paul Robinson - Drums
Martin Robertson - Sax
Uti Koofreh - Bvox
Jeff Dunne - Drums
Henry & The Cakettes - Party
R. Bernascone - Sarrusaphone
Jonathan Snowdon - Piccolo
The Vicar - Church Organ
The Professor - Title & Harmony Class

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of these guys. Actually, I saw the sticker on the cover, and because I’m not a big Genesis fan, I am not familiar with the name Anthony Phillips. So I bought this album, probably because it fit into an artistic genre of albums I was buying: pastel colors, and minimal design. Just the fact that it had the sticker gave it some potential, that this was the new project from a famous somebody. So it has to be at least respectable, right? The date on the record was 1983, so even if it is getting a little old for the height of the power pop style (which is what I’m expecting), it might still be good.

Album Review:
So there are lots and lots of instruments and musicians on this album, so there should be a thick rich palette of textures and sounds. I’d only assume that being in Genesis before this would add to the talent pool of musical friends Philips has acquired. I’ve read that the ideas are there, but the production and execution of the songs is not that great. So here it is.
“Sally” is a smooth synth keyboard, followed up by terrible 80’s jazz sax. Oh god, a twinkling chimey keyboard and the awful parts of the synth 80’s style have all clocked in. Once the song breaks free from the verse, the chorus is not too bad. But there is a lot of making up ground for the inspirational-yet-superficial verse. This reminds me of terrible Tears for Fears songs.
“Golden Bodies” more synth samples, which start out with promise are quickly dashed with overpowering synth brass. But the vocal melody of the song is very interesting and catchy, reminding me of latter XTC. Even if the music is like bad Paul Simon meets TV Dramedy Theme songs. The song has a natural islander flow to it, something like Talking Heads. If only the 80’s stylized synth was toned down, the song could have been a fabulous song. This will probably be the strongest song on the album.
“Going For Broke” has a metal/prog intro, which transfers to a jittery, driving Flashdance-style song. The atmospheric whining guitar takes away from the song, where the direction of the majority of the song is straight ahead, and fun, the guitar grabs your attention and pulls you away toward the opposite direction. It is like the force of an ambient prog song trying to bury its way into this catchy rock/pop song. They don’t blend, rather they tear it apart.
“Exocet” begins with a simple drum machine loop. The vocals remind me of Tears for Fears again. But the synth effects, which are trying to sound like sterile marching war, thus the reference in the song’s name to the missile that struck a British warship in the Falklands War (wikipedia). The song picks up a little, but it feels like it is about to fall apart at any second. The song loops with increased effects to the point of siren like warning. And it cuts off into the polite and delightful next song.
“Love In A Hot Air Balloon” has a slightly warbly guitar sound paired with a upbeat drum section and a triumphant trumpet. The vocals are upbeat and happy, pretty much like what you’d literally expect with the song’s title. I think the song refers not as much love IN, but love FOR a hot air balloon ride. The chorus features short burst of rhythmic vocals that build up to a high climactic finish of the song title.
“Traces” is a quiet ballad that feels a bit like Thomas Dolby in its simplicity and dreamy landscape. There is a popular 80’s song that this reminds me, but I can’t for the life of me think about who it is or what the lyrics are. The deepness, and the liquid nasally-ness of the vocals are the only characteristics that make me think of this missing song. Anyway, I could really see young middle schoolers slow dancing to this song in the mid 80’s

“I Want Your Heart” is a smoothly produced upbeat pop song, with high pitched signing, similar to Sparks, and a bouncy keyboard synth beat, featuring swirling synth sections all over in the back and foregrounds. It is a good song, but it is just a little one-dimensional, never really losing track of its sugary bubble gum purity.
“Falling For Love” fades up with a quiet synth tambourine and totally 80’s keyboard production. The vocal melody trembles up and down, barely attached to the musical accompaniment. The instrumental section brings back the synth sax effect, which sounds like a blister on the song’s surface rather than something blended for the betterment of the song.
“Guru” is an off-timed song, with a staggered section orchestral beginning. Then the sax introduces the verse. This is a proud waltz of a song. It has many new-agey elements, and the same thick, but nasally voice still similar to Tears for Fears, with less energy. The song ends in a swirling fade-out of the chanting chorus.
“The Women Were Watching” begins with a drum and cymbal into, and is soon added to with a thick New Order sounding bass, with a flute and other clashing effects. The chorus comes on bold, like Big Country, and for an instant, it becomes very fun. By far, the most energy exerted is all bonded up in this song. I could totally see Roland from Tears for Fears singing this song.
“My Time Has Come” is a slow, breezy ballad, ending the album on a soothing sleepy note. But the chorus is comparatively bombastic: bold and marching. The melody is proud and all-knowing. And as it loops around, it could go on forever in its catchy building or momentum. Instead of changing it up, and improving with the melody, the song just fades out, just as it begins to get repetitively catchy.

Stand Out Track: Golden Bodies

Links:
Wikipedia
Wikipedia - Anthony Phillips
Phillips Official
Prog Archives
Rate Your Music
Camino Records
Allmusic

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