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Friday, January 29, 2016

Motors - Tenement Steps

Name: Motors
Album: Tenement Steps
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Sparks, Cheap Trick, Split Enz, Gary Numan
"One-Word" Review: Bursting Jazz Hands
Based Out Of: London, UK
Label: Virgin

 Tenement Steps - Cover, Sleeve, Record
 Tenement Steps - Back, Sleeve, Record

Tenement Steps (1980)
  1. Love & Loneliness 4:48
  2. Metropolis 4:43
  3. Here Comes the Hustler 3:32
  4. That's What John Said 5:05 /
  5. Tenement Steps 4:35
  6. Slum People 4:31
  7. Nightmare Zero 3:29
  8. Modern Man 3:20
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Nick Garvey - Vox, Guitar, Bass, Piano (Ducks Deluxe, The Snakes, Buzzcocks, The A's, Sean Tyla, Paul McCartney, Chris Thompson, Wreckless Eric, Bram Tchaikovsky, )
Andy McMaster - Vox, Keys (Ducks Deluxe, Paul McCartney, James Dewar) 
Martin Ace - Bass (Man, Flying Aces, Deke Leonard, Wreckless Eric, Clive John)
Michael Desmarais - Drums (Tyla Gang, John Cale, The Winkies, Brian Eno)
Terry Williams - Drums (Man, Rockpile, Dire Straits, Willie & the Poor Boys, Carlene Carter, Donna Summer, Man, Graham Parker, Kill Switch...Klick, 702, Richard Marx, Tina Turner, Cliff Richard )
Jimmy Iovine - Producer, Remix
Peter Ker - Producer
Shelly Yakus - Engineer, Recording, Mixing, 
Steve Margoshes - Orchestral Arrangement
John Jensen - Additional Engineering
Greg Calbi - Mastering
Pearce Marchback - Sleeve Design
Richard Ogden - Managment

Unknown-ness: I have heard of the Motors before, but they are from an era and part of a niche of bands I don't know enough about to differentiate. Just based on their name, I assume them to be like Mike & The Mechanics, whom I only know a very little bit more about. I do really love the packaging, as anything that diverges from the typical square record cover is a welcome creative change. The packaging, with the angled corners makes it feel like the record is smaller. The optical illusion inducing artistic pattern and upside down use of negativity and symmetry keeps the eye busy and is rewarding. I already like this record, and haven't heard one song yet.

Album Review: The Motors have had quite the pedigree. An early version of the band, called the Snakes, had Robert Gotobed on vocals, who later formed Wire. Before this album was recorded, guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky was also a member, who broke away to record 3 solo records, which I’ve reviewed here before. But by the time this third and final album was recorded, the Motors were down to a two piece, with accomplished studio musicians filling in for the rhythm section.

“Love & Loneliness” was a single, and a minor hit, reaching #58 & #78 in the KU & US respectively. It starts with a rolling drum, a bouncy tempo, and then hits you over the head with soaring and swirling synth keys. The tempo calms down a bit, and establishes a catchy new wave bass line. It is a very bombastic song.
“Metropolis” was released as a single. It has a somewhat dark tone to the synth introduction, and plays in a catchy repetitive loop. I feel like this comes from the same world as Mr. Roboto or maybe Gary Numan. But the chorus is very Sparks-like, with a Broadway theme.
“Here Comes the Hustler” is another very theatrical song, with dark, cold digital tones and a bouncy prog backbone.
“That's What John Said” was released as a single. It has a swaying, sing-song tempo, with a rhythmic, pulsing keyboard driving the tempo.

“Tenement Steps” was also released as a single. This song treads the fine line of a Sparks-style song and a straight up show tune. It plays in parts, or acts, and carries a full range of emotions.
“Slum People” is a revving, coked-up, intense driving track, like something from the mess of a musical, The Apple.
“Nightmare Zero” continues the chemically enhanced stamina theme with a flash-dance rushed tune that sounds like it’s played just a little faster than it should. Like powering through some Cheap Trick
“Modern Man” is a minimal glam-metal-power pop song with simple structure, and a few guitar solos that add a hard edge and coarse atmosphere, but don’t necessarily have to be there.

Stand Out Track: Love & Loneliness

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