Andy J's Guide to Thomas Dolby

the music, that is.


"It's all here, in writing"


This page is crammed full of my own personal opinions about Mr.Dolby's most excellent music, track by track, with additional information on each song where possible. Relevant quotes from The Man Himself are included, snippets from interviews and articles, in an attempt to provide a page of interest to people ranging from those who've only heard the charted singles to those who've assembled a more impressive collection than mine.

Fact and figures about Thomas himself and his career have been farmed out to my ** NEW PAGE ** The Thomas Dolby Timeline. Obviously you'll want to check the oficial site first, The Flat Earth Society (www.thomasdolby.com) , but I thought there was room on the WWW for another site, so here it is. I'm trying to make this a more personal, unique-to-me sort of thing. I'll avoid pictures, if you don't mind, to make this look really uninspiring. I'm like that. If you really want to suffer my pic (or send me mail) click here. Told you.

Please don't be confused by the various ways I refer to Mr Thomas Morgan 'Dolby' Robertson. Some people feel at ease calling him Tom (or even Tommy boy!) but I'd rather use the more respectful Thomas. When lazy I'll use either TD or TMDR, although a TDR or TMR may creep in, you never know. TD - "my middle name Morgan came from the 'M' in E.M.Forster, author of 'Room with a View' and friend of my family earlier this century". The nickname 'Dolby' came during teenage years in London when friends thought he dabbled with his tape deck too much, and caused some legal grief with the famous Noise Reduction Labs - but the trademark lawsuit was settled in 1987.

Me - I consider myself a fairly dedicated TD fan, I just love the music and the guy's singing voice. I first heard TD on MW/AM BBC radio 1 back in the early 1980's - they played Windpower and it sounded AMAZING over the limited audio quality of the radio. The depth and impact of "windpower" itself was superb. I didn't hear much more until I saw the video of She Blinded Me By Science on BBC1 TV's Saturday morning children's show "Swap Shop". I was mightily impressed, but still didn't buy anything. The first record I saw in the shops was the vinyl album "The Flat Earth" but being an impoverished teenager I didn't dare buy it without much clue of what it would be like. Oh... *groan* all those lost years!

A few years later in 1986 a friend of mine Neil introduced me to "The Golden Age of Wireless" and I was hooked. Another friend a year or two later had the same album and was also impressed with it. Proof to me that this was indeed good stuff. It all sort of snowballed from there, really. I have since bought every CD, and found some vinyl treasure in the local second-hand records shop.

I have to try and point out that I'm not an obsessive you know - if I passed Thomas in the street I'd probably leave him alone, who needs to be bothered by fans all the time? Although... we once had a cat... guess what I called him? Err.... well I already know a few Thomas's (what IS the plural for that?!)... so that cat got called Dolby! A rather nice tiger-y dude he was too... he lasted about 6 years until some odd disease got him *sniff*.
And I also kept the pages from TMDR's appearance in Hello! magazine. Oops - guilty as charged, m'lud.

(update: after a few years of email list content, having communicated with Thomas by email several times, and now that my collection has grown rather pleasingly, I now know that I just couldn't let the guy walk past me without me at least saying something. If this ever happened I'd be in such shock that it would probably be something cringeworthy that would redden my face for years to come)

I did dread to think what Thomas would think if he ever had the time to read all this, given that I don't enjoy some tracks that I assume number among his favourites. I imagined he probably feels that Mulu and Neon Sisters were more creative, personal expressions of creativity than the more obviously commercial-orientated pop he's obliged to put on albums in order for them to sell. To sell to dumb-asses like me who don't appreciate the true art (I later found out that this was quite true). I'd say "Sorry Thomas, I know what I like and there's not much I can do about it!". I'd like to think he might be interested in honest opinions, and that just maybe it would be a little spooky to have fans who hang on your every word and automatically love everything you ever do! Update - Thomas was kind enough to pass comment on this page (more at the end of this page).

Tom's favourite track? TD : "I think it would probably be between 'Screen Kiss', 'Budapest by Blimp' and 'I Love You Goodbye', and 'I Love You Goodbye' would win. I'm very fond of all of them, they are the deepest of all the things that I've done and the most multifaceted. I think 'I Love You Goodbye' sort of wins it at the end of the day because it is very much in the first person. You know, in other words the feelings are very much from the inside out; versus writing songs where I take a position; take a very specific position. I think with 'Screen Kiss' for example I think I am taking a position somewhat on that."

I may have to be in a rarely receptive mood to fully appreciate Mulu, Screen Kiss or Budapest By Blimp but at least I'm with him on I Love You Goodbye!

"'I Scare Myself' is probably the classic on the record (TFE). 'Hyperactive' is the most instant and the most instantly forgettable because it's the most state of the art and the least timeless. 'Screen Kiss' is underrated by a lot of people but it's one of my favorites - it's the song I was the most emotionally involved in. It felt very odd because at that time I was passionately in love, which is something I generally seperate from my work" ... "The songs that I'm most proud of are early tunes like 'Weightless' and 'Cloudburst' ... The least pleasing are the hit singles 'Europa' and 'Science'. They're the ones where I wasn't trying very hard and they're a little throwaway."

And does Thomas listen to any of his own material for enjoyment purposes?
TD : "Every now and then, but not at all often. My family and my friends listen more often than I do. My kids put it on and dance around singing to it but they tend to play the same track over and over and it just drives me completely mad! It may be 'Hyperactive' or it might be ... 'My Brain Is Like A Sieve'. 'Silk Pyjamas' they like, but they just get really into it and play it over and over again and it drives me crazy!"

As for my 'taste', I really go for songs with a good bassline, and percussion "does it for me" too - so any song without much of a beat has to be something REALLY special to grab my MTV-attention span. Like Cruel for example. Strangely, given TMDR's association with them, I remain unmoved by the Prefabricated Sprouts. I think maybe the "Hotdog jumping for Albuque(whatever)" thing in the King of Rock and Roll put me off for life! And the feeble wimpy "la la la..." the young lady inflicts on us. *ugh* I bought an album and couldn't tolerate anything on it, except one track. Machine Gun Ibiza is quite pleasant, and towards the end you'll hear TMDR chip in - marvelous. I'll try my usual trick one day, when I don't like an album on first listen it helps to leave it on in the background while I'm busy doing something like tidying up/washing dishes/etc - it allows the music to seep into the subconscious. Better than hitting SKIP after turning my nose up at the start of each track!

I'm looking forward to browsing the TMDR web-site that ONE DAY will list every version of every recording, for download (for a fee of course). Mmmm - dream on. Here's hoping!

Shall I get on with this then? Ok...

See my Thomas Dolby Timeline page!

Other pages here - see TMDR's appearances on / in :

"ITV Night Network Video View - " details & pics

"Music and Computers" feature - 2 pics

The "Adam and Joe Show" TV JPEG stills

<BGSOUND src="airheady.mid">

The Golden Age of Wireless

1981/82 - EMI
Featuring Kevin Armstrong, Bruce Wolley, Andy Partridge (XTC), Lene Lovich.
A great first album of intelligent pop with a flavour of radio and travel. Only one track that I won't play on air. This seems to be quite generally regarded as a very fine album indeed - one the best from the 1980s.

"a collection of different sessions of songs written over a long period of time - it was full of loads of different moods."

"Most of the lyrics on the album are written in the third person ... I was writing about a fabricated, romanticised version of my real life."

"My first album was made almost entirely with the MicroMoog and a Roland JP4 (the first polyphonic - read 4-note - synth that worked.) Sequenccers weren't around at that time, so I'd set the oscillators to throb and use that for rhythm, like in 'Urges" or "Cloudburst." I also had an early PPG 340/380 called Henry that had been designed to turn Tangerine Dream's lightshow on and off. It put out PLUS and MINUS voltages based on sequences, and I used it to trigger Simmons electronic drum modules, in the days prior to the first drum machines (this played the drums in She Blinded Me With Science). PPG also made a bizarre wavetable synthesizer which made very unusual noises and looked like a refrigerator. You needed a Doctorate in German to read the manual. I used this a lot for things like the bass part on "Windpower" and the bell-like chinks of light on "Weightless."

"I took the money I'd made in New York and booked six weeks in a small studio in South London. I put together a band consisting of Justin Hildreth and Mark Heyward-Chaplin (the rhythm section from Lene Lovich's band) and Kevin Armstrong on guitar. We rehearsed for a while and put down the backing tracks in a few days. The rest of the time I spent trying to sing, without a lot of success. I'd never really sung live, only backing vocals, and my voice was very undefined. I think my lack of self-assurance led me to fall back on a vague kind of Bowie imitation, delivered mainly through my nasal passages. I had a great time though. I guess all aspiring musicians dream of being able to go in the studio and cut their own album. It was a total thrill, and if my career had ended right then, it still would have been worth it."


    (CD only, and later vinyls) 3:40 - Catchy pop with a test-tube flavour. Vocals from the late "crazy scientist" himself, Dr. Magnus Pyke. "The spheres are in commotion" indeed. I often use the phrase "There she goes again! She's tidied up and I can't find anything" but the missus completely misses the point *grin*. It may not be TMDR's favourite but it did the trick for his career (in some ways, while stereotyping him too), and... well, I still enjoy it. Ends.

    For an MP3 version played by a marching band (excellent!) find the link in this Alloy digest.

    Before each of Dolby's exclamations of "Science!" a thick, layered string patch corkscrews through an eight-note figure that seems to parody the 'this is the scary part' music of classic sci-fi B movies. "That was all a Roland JP4," recalls Dolby, "It was double-tracked with slight pitch shifts, and played in two-octave intervals." - errr... OK... if you say so :o)

    TD - "...even at the time of writing 'Science' it angered me - that I'd let it go that far and 'Science' was almost taking it to its extreme. Saying, 'Right, if it's so important to have a public face, let's go completely over the top, to the extent of getting Magnus Pyke into it. Let's really throw caution to the wind'

    3:46 - A lively, quirky song. Sparse, bare verses filling out towards the chorus, when you'll get the bass which is delicious in the all-to-brief moments that it thunders around the room. Nice radio flavour, with the Caroline references. Some squeeky-girly singing at 1:33 to 1:58 which some might find not to their taste. Loss of beat at 2:32 to 2:55. Well worth airplay. Slow start, could be picked up at 0:16. TMDR sounds great - one of my faves. Fades, quit at -0:11

    Some US LP album versions have a different version, longer, no squeeky girlies, prominent guitar - an altogether more "pub rock" feel. Nice, if you can find it! "Try to think of nothing"...

  • 3 - AIRWAVES
    5:13 - A corker of a slow track. More radio flavour, and well worth playing on air. 1:28 "PYlon" did you spit there, Thomas? hehe. 2:03 "controls enabled" to 2:13 nice and lively. 2:52 "please don't ask questions" strikes a chord with me! I have to be in the right mood for this, too slow for me half the time - but marvellous when it appeals. Quiets down at 4:11 in excellent style, but not on all album/CD versions. Ends.

    TD : "... on my Portastudio I basically completed seven or eight songs ... The very first one that I ever did was New Toy. I got my Portastudio when I was on the road with Lene Lovich, the Portastudio had just come out and that's what I did in my hotel room on my afternoons off. Then I went home with it and I recorded 'Airwaves' (the version that came out on the compilation cassette "From Brussells With Love"), 'Flying North', 'Sale Of The Century' as it was then called, which turned into 'Wreck Of The Fairchild' and one other... one other song, I think it was 'Therapy/Growth'. Those are basically the only Portastudio demos that I ever made."

    "I wrote it late one night in my studio in a huge and grim Victorian industrial building, with snow falling on the railway tracks outside, and me surrounded by short-circuited machines hacked together by a man called Igor. It conjures up a strange, futuristic world whose ecology is rotting while the sheer overload of broadcasted data is nearing saturation point. I'm standing 'knee-deep in water under a pylon' trying to take it all in, while 'the copper cables all rust in the acid rain'. There's clearly some awful catastrophe approaching, but as the narrator, I'm distant, aloof, hiding out with a lover until morning."

    3:51 - Not one of my favourites to start with, a very repetitive piano riff, and slightly edgy "noisy" air to the liveliness. 1:14 "here come the men in suits" it's picked up nicely now. There's a lot going on in there, I still find things to listen out for, even now. Fades, quit at -0:20 or treat the listeners to the great stuff towards the end of the fade.

    "was written mid-way through a long plane flight. I was on the way back from a package holiday in Spain as I recall, nothing very glamorous. But it turned into a whole other scenario, with compass roses and moths in flames and paper-waving business executives' Lincolns steaming on the tarmac. When I performed it live one night at a club I persuaded two TWA stewardesses to come onstage and do their flight safety preamble during the instrumental bit in the middle."

    3:42 - Laid back without being slow, about a clean-cut American girl having a nervous breakdown. Very nicely done, will stick with you for ages! Varied pace, starting slow and going back there once or twice, but keeping it's flair right up to the end. Could be picked up at 0:40 to avoid the monks... Some great moments - "Fruit-juice everywhere" being rather memorable, contributed by Europa herself, Ms Aumont. "Love is all you ever wanted, all you'll ever need" - excellent. The THE would do an excellent job covering this darkly. One to impress listeners of all ages. Ends.

    3:20 - Upbeat cheerful pop. Nice percussive start. A first love holiday romance, that somehow fails to re-ignite a decade later... Fades, quit at -0:13

    "A hopeless romantic, I was determined not to leave Paris without falling in love. Two nights before my plane left I met Europa. Well, that wasn't actually her real name, which was Elisabeth Aumont. We fell head over heels, and spent the last night whispering under the bedclothes that after the Apocalypse we would meet up again on a beach in England where I learned to sail as a kid. She spoke English like a gangster from a James Cagney movie but with a thick French accent. I played her the chords to a song I was writing called Weightless, and I told her the lyrics were about a clean-cut American girl having a nervous breakdown. "Fruit juice everywhere!" she said. I laughed and put that line in the song. Europa was the manifestation of my fascination with Europe, an infatuation which eventually turned to disdain and then to hatred by the end of my Twenties."

    4:18 - You might be tempted to skip this one if you're like me and you tend to get tired of hits that have been played to death. Starts with pseudo-Morse code - I've listened carefully to this and I have to say that while it all SOUNDS very Morse-y it isn't valid Morse! The structure of the "dits and dahs" doesn't resemble any of the used combinations. Sorry. Hardly important, I know, it still sounds fine really and does it's job well, but... I'm allowed to be fussy aren't I? hehe.
    Presenters : if you like to "keep the power levels up" pick this one up at 0:45 when the beat starts.
    Geek mode [ON]... features percussive effects that alternate between extreme left and right with a sound not to dissimilar to white noise - which can be useful to spot poor stereo alignment! Geek mode [OFF]... I said [OFF]... oh darn... it's stuck.
    You could leave this at -0:32 but then you'd miss the shipping forecast by the BBC's John Marsh, which is exceedingly authentic! (Different versions found on various albums/CDs)

    "Windpower was a minor hit in the UK, and got me onto 'Top of the Pops' for the first and only time."

    4:16 - Lively and relentless, I always thought this was too repetitive, but listening again after quite some time has been a revelation. This really is good! What I thought was slight monotony is "broken up" by the splendid non-vocal section from 2:05 to 3:15 "it's a telephone!". With a lot of cymbal, I'd like to hear The Police cover this. Ends.

    5:09 - a slow start explodes at 0:32 into pop work of art. "One of our submarines is missing tonight, seems she ran aground on manoeuvres"... (not found on earlier releases). Fades - quit from -0:14

    Originally written for the Thompson Twins, but at some point Thomas felt that the track had grown to become something he just couldn't part with. Thank goodness he kept it!

    5:40 - An odd one to finish with. 3 minutes 23 of bearable enough atmosphere, building up to delicious 20 seconds or so "and it's dawning on me, I've been a cork in the ocean, been bobbing in the North Sea"... leading to a minute of noisy percussion with operatics thrown in for good measure. I wouldn't listen to this in company, and turn the volume down in the car around town! A little too, operatic! TMDR sounds a bit mumbly too. At 4:58 though, TMDR rescues the whole track with an unmissable heartrending finish "and now there's only you" - which makes for a really haunting end to the album, as it will reverberate around your head for some time after the disc stops spinning and the room returns to silence. Fades.

    3:30 - Based on the air-crash in Argentina later featured in the movie "Alive", where the victims ended up eating each other - after saying grace of course. Mainly music with snatches of air-ground radio traffic. I've come to think that the mistake about 123 MHz FM (should be AM) might actually be deliberate, the ground controller being under some stress at the time. Perhaps.
    I used to find this a weak track, and maybe I was not alone seing as it was left off the CD. Now however, I enjoy it immensely, as over the years my taste has matured (!) slightly to encompass less pop-y material. Good stuff. Only found on original UK LP/cass.

    Thomas wrote a song aeons ago called 'Sale Of The Century' which was never released due to his dissatisfaction with it but he liked the arrangement and some of the parts of it so much that he developed it and it become this semi-instrumental track

    TD :"While I was recording it I went to Wimbledon to look at an old Jaguar MK4 I saw advertised. The man selling it, by coincidence, was an ex-Argentinian military pilot, and he ended up doing the voiceover on the track, which is a conversation between a plane in trouble and a military base which refuses to let them land"
    (Credit on the album for one Guido Orlando, for the radio stuff and grace)

    This is the first track on side two, and it is joined to Airwaves by oooo-oooo radio noises, followed by yet more wireless atmosphere to Radio Silence, with a small gap before Cloudburst at Shingle Street. Side one is Flying North, Commercial Breakuop, Weightless, Europa and the Pirate Twins, Windpower.

    3:39 - Neat, lively song with a smut subject. Cool! The beat is entirely in the lower frequency region, an absence of snare, cymbal or hi-hat makes me want to add some somehow, as it seems incomplete to me. Catchy though. Only found on first US LP/cass, and on Retrospectacle. Ends - nicely too - sudden.

    "It's about the illusions surrounding nightclubbing and being a victim of those. it's as if there's a conspiracy to make you feel everyone but you is going out and having fun and meeting people of the opposite sex. It's also a song about dancing."

    3:51 - "39 and you need some leeway... soon you're eyeing the overseas page" - "Leipzig is calling you". Good laid-back stuff with a hook. Nothing like the sound of taxi brakes...
    I was thrilled to find this on the back of one of my 12" singles... it runs in beautifully to Therapy/Growth too. Only found on first US LP/cass, and on Retrospectacle. Fades - quit at -0:17

    "...satirises the time when it was trendy for pop stars to go and pose around Berlin."

    Other versions out there somewhere include one by Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin which sounds rather childlike in comparision, and one by Boole which is rather heavily the opposite extreme!

Details of differences between various releases :

UK-1        1982 First Release, UK
US-1        1982 US
UK-2 *      1983 Revised, UK & US
US-2        1983 Revised, US
US-3 *           US

(my codes)  * means it is available on CD

The Wreck of the Fairchild          UK-1
Leipzig                                             US-1
Urges                                               US-1
Airwaves 5:15                       UK-1   UK-2 *
Airwaves 7"                                         US-1   US-2   US-3 *
Radio Silence 3:46                  UK-1   UK-2 *                 US-3 *
Radio Silence 4:32                                  US-1   US-2
Windpower 4:18                      UK-1   UK-2 *   US-1
Windpower 7"                                               US-2   US-3 *
She Blinded Me With Science 3:40           UK-2 *
She Blinded Me With Science 5:09                           US-2   US-3 *
One Of Our Submarines                      UK-2 *          US-2   US-3 *

Flying North                       
Europa and the Pirate Twins         these five tracks the same on all the above
Commercial Breakup
Cloudburst At Shingle Street

For more information on album versions, please consult Lazlo's Thomas Dolby discography :
- just click the "Search for" button!

Sheet music for She Blinded Me With Science, Europa, Airwaves, and One of Our Submarines was once published by from Cherry Lane Music Co, inc (http://www.cherrylane.com ?), probably not still in print (no ISBN number).

The Flat Earth

1984 - EMI
Follow up album that seems more laid back, sparse, well produced... and frankly rather short (Total Play: 37:22). I already had the Hyperactive single with White City on the back, so to only get five new tracks (two of which don't appeal) was a bit of a let-down at first. As it turned out though, the title track and Dissidents are worth the asking price on their own!

"I'd decided that I wanted to work out grooves with a group, whereas on the first one I just started everything with a straight electronic background. So I assembled the musicians I most respected - Kevin Armstrong who'd played guitar on the first LP, bassist Matthew Seligman, whom I've known for years and who was in the Thompson Twins - he's very much my right hand man, a sounding board always there to bounce ideas off, and Clif Brigden, who was a real discovery and had a great deal of energy, whose role was to put down computer drum patterns with live percussion on top. The actual feeling in the studio was great and when I listened to the stuff back in England it didn't need much extra work - all I did was a little subversion on them."

Adele Bertei : backing vocals on 1,2 & 7. Bruce Wolley : backing vocals on Mulu.

    4:54 - One of my faves, awesome pop on the relaxed side of lively. Nice start with typewriter (tripewriter in my case) sounds. Plenty of variation, with some foreign language narrative too, which works perfectly. 3:27 to 4:03 I love this bit... it's done differently too in the alternative mixes. In the video sheets of paper fall all around - I want one! On a T-shirt, hehe. Ends after a false end - I've heard this catch out a couple of presenters in the past, so Pre-Fade-Listen first, and make a note of it!

    Russian translation (intended):
    "I remember the night they came for my father and mother. It was in the days when grain was plentiful ... we had eaten a simple meal of barley gruel on the porch. The car drove away into the night. I never saw them again ... ever again."

    From the keyboard of Thomas himself :
    "Actually, the lyrics I used for subtitles in the Dissidents video I made up completely!! I recorded the sample off a short-wave radio broadcast in about 1982 and never knew what they meant. But a Russian sent me the real translation a while ago, and its relevance completely blew my mind... it is aparently an old alegorical poem about a tree, and it went something like this: "the bough that is young and supple bends in the wind, but the bough that is old and rigid snaps." (thanks Paul Baily - Alloy)

    6:30 - excellent laid-back music, starting fairly bare and thickening up deliciously for a minute and a half before the further pleasures of the vocals. Old folks who are allergic to pop should be forced to listen to this... they'd surely be pleasantly surprised. Fades, quit at -0:44

    5:20 - Slow and not one of my more favoured songs. While I can appreciate its finer moments, I find it rather disconcerting - an awkward listen, full of negativity. Pills, children crying, violence, suicide, California tipping in the ocean. The final minute's heartbeat effect is a turn-off for me too. Fades... not soon enough!

    "It's also a very fragile song. We didn't even play it live in Britain because it's very difficult to pull off. Everything has to be very delicate. The fretless bass and percussion make it very touch and go."

  • 4 - WHITE CITY - start of vinyl/tape side 2
    5:19 - slow build to the beat kicking in at 0:25.. one of TMDR's loudest feeling tracks, with a very persistent snare drum that grates in no time. Nicely done overall, but if I pick up this album with a minute to spare before the currently playing track ends, this isn't my first choice when looking for something to play next. 4:00 nice... Ends - with a mildly amusing monologue from "Keith" played by Robyn Hitchcock.

    "Then there's 'White City', which is set very much in Milton Keynes on a sunny Sunday morning with this incurable hippy character who couldn't really relate to the modern world, so he builds this Utopian setting, but then finds out he doesn't like it very much."

    4:48 - Very slow and bare. Starts with the coughs of a crowd waiting to be entertained, I think they'd be bemused by this. One of my two least fave TMDR tracks, but one of his own favourites. Creative, but to my ears a little unpleasant in places... 1:31 "morning dew" ouch! 1:41 "Mulu" Argh! 2:43 - almost gets going here, in a "Visage" sort of way... but fizzles out at 3:12. Gets a tad noisy at 3:40. Hmmmm. I can enjoy this, but usually skip it. Ends. All those insects chirping away does lead nicely into the next track though...

    5:34 - I'm a sucker somehow for music that conjures up a feeling of dingey smokey club/bars with gentle live entertainment - like we see on TV but never experience here in the island. One man at his piano singing his heart out, with some expert backing, nice brass. A classic. Pick it up at 0:06 to avoid the insect noise. Ends quietly, quit at -0:24

    Original song by Dan Hicks (circa 1969).

    4:09 - if you haven't heard this one you've been the unwitting victim of cruel lab experiment or something. Excellent pop - the chart success in two different decades proves that much. A very clever and odd beat - I was most chuffed with myself when I managed to mix this into the 12" single version, must have had the dirty rhythm in my blood (I can't mix to save my life). If only I could stop saying "Please tell me more about your mother" in company, *tut*. Fades - quit at -0:17 after "bones"

    Apparently this was originally written for a certain Mr M.Jackson - just imagine that, ooOOh! "Tell me about your childhood" - the first 30 years? ;o)

Aliens ate my Buick

1988 - EMI-MANHATTAN (Capitol) - Total Play 45:14
Dolby plays now with The Lost Toy people, and it's certainly different. It's as if he's trying to prove he can have a go at any style of music and still come up trumps. From the oddity of the first track we are strapped into our seats for a ride through pop that would get feet tapping in a morgue, with a look-in on funk, swing, mexican hot sauce and even reggae. A mixed bag that may only work for the musically broadminded.

"I formed Lost Toy People from the want ads in the ReCycler. I got over 500 replies and auditioned 90 musicians over a two week period. My drummer Dave Owens was at the time the house drummer at Knott's Berry Farm (a theme park near Disneyland) where he reputedly had to play some gigs in a chicken suit. The bassist Terry Jackson had put at the top of his resume that he once played a Jerry Lewis telethon. Guitarist Larry Treadwell had just finished playing with a Catholic Ministry duo, supporting the Pope on his stadium tour. I couldn't resist Mike Kapitan who looked like a demented Muppet synthesist, as second keyboard player. I hired a saxist who walked all the way from the Bronx to my hotel on Central Park South with a ghetto blaster and his sax to play for me. Lovely Laura Creamer was about the most experienced in the band, having toured with Eric Clapton and Bob Seeger.

"The grooves I thought up to audition the band morphed into the songs contained on "Aliens Ate My Buick." Stuff like "Pulp Culture" and "Airhead" I would feed out to each musician note by note, breaking it up into A- and B-sections. I'd run around with my synth round my neck screaming out the sections. I made up joke lyrics, mainly stream-of-consciousness about my experiences as a Brit exile living in the Hollywood hills. It sounded great, very no-holds-barred and unlike the thoughtful way I'd approached music in the past, and so we booked ourselves into a few little LA clubs."

    4:37 - Whoah! This "mutant swing" took some time to get used to. But it's a grower, and now it's fabulous. I'm quite unable to compare this with anything else I've ever heard. "I don't want your love, I don't want your money, girl, all I want is the key to your Ferrari" - and when he does get to take out this bright red '64 GTO his excitement rises... as he hits the magic 100 mph his love... um... exploded... Lovely. But hilariously "at that moment, I thought of my mother", ha ha ha I love that. A great one to go really over the top singing along to in the car "bah bah BAAH!!" much to the disturbance of friends or family. Or the stranger hitching a ride who'll suddenly scream for me to stop the car (nah... I wouldn't dare). I can't imagine many people stomaching this. Most definitely the one track out of all TMDR's work that's for enthusiasts only. "All I want is the key to your Ferrari" - "because aliens ate my Buick" aah... that explains it.

    (Covered by Spies Who Surf on the album Calling All Martians)

  • 2 - AIRHEAD
    5:06 - TMDR's often misunderstood song dealing with bimbos. "It was men made her that way". Fabulous slice of pop perfection (except for a slight un-neccessarily dodgy bit at 3:11). Maybe I love this primarily because of the interesting bass progression, but there's more, so much more. Thomas sings very well, no hint of straining here. I'd have to be seriously ill to not start moving body parts in time with this. "Quod Erat Demonstrandum baby - ooh, you speak French!" - wonderful. Ends.

  • 3 - HOT SAUCE
    4:53 - written by George Clinton, this is an imaginative funky extravaganza of spice. "They call her Hot Sauce, she's hot and spicy"... it has to be said, you wouldn't want your children wandering around singing this. Quite varied in structure, I like the road-drill at 4:14 even if the proceeding "smog alert" seems a bit forced. "shag gets in your eyes" - hmmm. Some left-right panning at the start is a little nauseating. Ends.

    Spanish outburst : "Where the devil have you been all night?!!" (thanks electrix - Alloy)

    5:27 - laid back funky vibe. Also features lyrics of an adult orientation. 2:33 to 2:55 "on the wings of a dove" sticks in my mind most. 3:42 to 4:08 is also sublime. One of the best tracks on the album. I remember the summer when I bought this album, there was one wonderful afternoon when we went for a walk along the cliff paths on the north coast of the island. This track (and others) were being played and re-mixed in my head as we explored superb coastal footpaths I'd never seen before. Perfect weather, lush greenery, crystal blue sea, my wonderful partner and gorgeous music on my mind... what an awesome memory to keep. Ends.

  • 5 - MY BRAIN IS LIKE A SIEVE - start of vinyl/tape side 2
    4:46 - "... but it knows when it's being messed with". Another relaxed track, with a reggae flava. One that I'm tempted to skip, but then always enjoy if I don't.

    4:24 - another cool, calm and collected track, very nicely done. More airplay material. Soft start. Ends.

    8:37 - A long one. Soft start... picks up a little at 0:33... soft vocals start 0:52... continues pleasantly until at least 2:19 when some operatic screeching puts me right off. 2:52 sees a little sample-itis briefly. A bit more beat picks up at 3:10 which suits me more. I have no problem with this now... 5:03 is very nice... 5:20 sees the start of the lively section, getting nicely noisy at 5:40... but it all dies off at 6:24, than TMDR shows off his French again. Now we're back to the same plodding style of the start of the track. A crowd starts singing in stadium-mode at 7:37... ugh. TMDR's voice echoes around, and I thought it was some eastern european language until I read the lyrics. It turned out to be "Not really a goosestep, more of a limp", and that sums it up perfectly for me. Ends.

    Hungarian translation :
    "Perhaps it would be easier to forget, than to understand my departure,
    A torn page from the past, a train is leaving from this fog"

    6:47 - funking it up with George Clinton. Wonderfully catchy ... "Late one night a happy martian with nothing to do made the perfect pleasure drug and he called it the Cube". I already had this on vinyl, so it was good to find it on the CD, and find out what some of the lyrics were... couldn't get "happy martian" or "pastry abuse" for some reason! I remember being slightly bemused when not long after, a computer supervisor at a new job handed me my first password... cube! (in the days when there was just one terminal for all to share... hehe... I remmember some new bloke saying "one day we'll all have one of these on our desks" and they all laughed). 3:40 to 4:01 "Half a million people are such a sight to see, lying in the sunshine in a private fantasy" is my favourite part. The 12" versions are good too.. I used to have a cassette with them on one side, and the Searches for Truth on the other. I'd just flip the tape direction from one to the other, over and over, as I trundled along the twenty minute walk in to work. Ends.

Astronauts and Heretics

1992 - Virgin - Total Play 43:29
Complete with sticker that proudly proclaims the inclusion of "Close But No Cigar" and "I Love You Goodbye".
Featuring Eddie Van Halen, Ofra Haza etc. Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir. Eddi Reader on "Cruel".
In memory of Terry Jackson, who played on Aliens Ate My Buick.

Once described as a cut-n-paste classic, a computer produced album that doesn't sound like it was, but then one has to wonder why they thought so to start with :o)

    5:55 - Wonderful pop - reminiscing on the fun of a previous relationship. Was released as a single, so a shorter version is available, and "Bayou" and "New Orleans" mixes - which are just edits rather than changes to the mix. The only changes are similar sections swapped into the start, or chops made there (the beat gets going sooner) - and in the central instrumental section a couple of short sections (3:33 to 4:01 on the album version, and 4:20 to 4:38) are snipped out. Once the lyrics start all versions are virtually the same (apart from the music cuts already mentioned) except the second lyrics section picks up again at "Under a Cajun moon" thus missing the two lines starting with "Typhoon". So it's not really worth seeking out these versions. Ends.

  • 2 - CRUEL
    3:05 - Soft, gentle, sparse and bare, without percussion... but plenty of rhythm none the less. Beautiful. "Cruel - I've been such a fool". Ends.

    3:37 - Quirky and lighthearted. "All you've gotta do is play it wrong and they're happy". Ends.

    5:24 - Great pop. Great middle-8 - "they say travel broadens the mind" - my neck hair stands on end, the pleasure starts in the stomach, crawls slowly up the back, and by the time I reach "and in a land of dreams, I found you" I experience waves of extreme pleasure. An "orgasm of the soul" would you say?! Ends.

    5:16 - Europa and the Pirate Twins re-visited, and splendidly too. I've never known anyone dislike this. More life than a maternity ward. Top stuff. Ends.

    4:24 - TMDR rocks! How much more MTV-friendly could he get? Ends.

    5:27 - more quirkiness and humour. Picks up at 1:26. "Albert Einstein nailed spacetime but the wild thing had him stumped", LOL. Fades - quit at 5:01

    4:48 - not a favourite, I don't like the persistant thump-thump-thump drumming and the wrap-around wall of unrelenting sound. Could easily be re-arranged into a more palate-able version, but then it's pretty obvious why it shouldn't be, dealing as it does with the drug death of a friend. Not one for the radio. Ends.

    5:01 - I can take-or-leave this, good in places yet a tad irksome in others, although the "frog on a leaf" bit makes us smile every time! Listening again it's better than I rembered it... but Boom! there goes the volume again... Boom! erk... Boom! next track please... oh... there isn't one... darn.

The Gate to the Mind's Eye (soundtrack)

1994 - Giant Records
I think, for this to make sense, I need to see the computer animation video for which this was written. There's some delicious music on this, but a couple of the "songs" make me cringe a little. Some of it sounds like "TV library music" - the sort of stuff they put on promotional spots underneath some shouty bloke reminding you that the carpet shop STILL has a sale on... (it's ALWAYS a sale) ... that MUST END SOON! For airplay - only Armageddon, Valley of the Mind's Eye, and perhaps Quantum Mechanic make the grade.
    5:30 - Good up-tempo foot-tapping track, a hint or two of industrial-ness, worthy of airplay - although it smacks of sample-itis in placces. Nice start. TMDR a bit wishy-washy at 1:01-1:24. Loss-of-beat from 2:38 until 3:37. Final minute is the best. Fades, quit at -0:18.

    3:00 - Not a song as such, just to accompany the video. Slow, and very beautiful. Piano kicks in at 1:24, at 1:29 very reminiscent of Elton John's Song for Guy. Some "Flat Earth" sound noted at 2:42. Ends.

    2:10 - Another non-song, very Yello-like at 0:47-0:54. Good up-tempo stuff. Like a naff videogame near 1:11. Is that Miami Vice, Airwolf or something, starting at 1:33 ?!! Ends.

  • 4 - N.E.O.
    5:47 - Laid back song. Slow start - come out of a jingle at 0:43. Guest vocalist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi - she does a fair job, although the singing is more pleasant than her spoken parts. 3:22 nice. Is that a trendy whale-noise I hear at 3:40... TMDR raps softly at 4:11. Not sure about giving this airplay, can be like a lecture set to music. More bearable if you pretend that the Neeoh 'word' is actually Eyore, a tribute to the morose Winnie the Pooh donkey character. Fades, quit at -0:19

    8:30 - Atmospheric music. 0:26, 2:57 - more whales! 2:40 kind of tribal... 3:40 VERY Flat Earthy... 4:07 mmm, anyone for pizza... 5:08 hey.. I'm in a monastery in the middle ages all of a sudden... 6:48 mmm.. lovely, very relaxing... Ends.
    Divided into six parts. Noticeable changes of direction at 0:54?, 2:10, 5:08, 6:48 - so can anyone tell me the official timings for these six parts?

    4:24 - Slow song, slow start. 0:46 TMDR sings in French - sorry that doesn't work for me. By 1:49 things have picked up nicely. The references to Josey I thought for a minute were to "Jersey" (hehe, where I live) so I can never forget that no matter how hard I try - thus it's faintly irritating. My problem entirely. A pleasant song, although slighty lacking in direction - seems to get no-where, and yet when it's finished I still think "hmmm, that was good". I'd play it on air without hesitation. Ends.

    "My dearest Josephine, How the world has changed since last I wrote. So tonight I take up my pen, not to marvel at these wonderous times, but to declare the love that is in my heart."

  • 7 - NUVOGUE
    4:32 - A strange, jazzy song. Lively, but probably not to all tastes. Hi di-HI di-hi di-hi, ho di-HO di-ho di-ho. I wouldn't give this airplay, it's well done and enjoyable if your taste is wide enough, but too odd. I can imagine computer animation involving a stage and 1930s characters wearing top hats with canes - I MUST see the video one day! 4:25 did aliens eat your Buick? Ends.

    5:34 - A hi-hatty technology-house dance track. Slow start - take it from the effect at 0:33. A little naff (although it probably suited it's time) even though it has some great moments - particularly 1:42 to 1:58 and 2:57 to 3:31 (3:13 is marvelous). Not too keen on 3:31 to 4:04 though. Dr. Terenzi does well here. I'd still be just a little wary about playing this on the air. I imagine this could summon all the biro-in-the-shirt-pocket nerds to get up en-masse to invade the dance-floor, and then of course stand there dumbstruck wondering how to dance - perhaps getting on down with jerky movements like a bad Hungarian animation (if that made you think of programming with "Hungarian notation" then you're as guilty as I am). Fades, quit at -0:25

  • 9 - MOONBASE
    5:36 - TV music. Takes until 1:33 to warm up and then sounds a bit ploddy and cheesy. 2:12 to 2:32 is the sort of thing you'd expect on low-budget TV. Sorry Thomas! A bit of World Music effect thrown in for good measure at 2:50. Loss-of-beat at 3:44, returning at 4:19. Ends. Not a track I'd play on purpose. A disappointing end to an album that I have mixed feelings about. I guess it is a bit much to expect a regular album when you buy this, but you do get five songs along with four (sometimes long) pieces of interesting and enjoyable sounds. One for the enthusiast only? Not totally, but it does help to bear in mind it's origin.

Retrospectacle - the very best of T.D.

1994 - EMI
As with the other albums, the booklet includes the lyrics! Hooray! If you already have the main four albums you may still buy this just to get Leipzig and Urges on CD.
Love the retrospectacle word-play, hehe. Compilation includes :

from The Golden Age of Wireless :

  • AIRWAVES - 7" version - 3:35 - misses the good bit!
from The Flat Earth :
from Aliens ate my Buick :
and from Astronauts and Heretics :
  • I LOVE YOU GOODBYE - nice way to end the album!

12x12 Original Remixes

1999 - EMI
A wonderful CD to have, whether you have most of it on vinyl or not. I would guess that if you like the album version of these tracks, you'll LOVE the extended versions. Only The Search for Truth has a significantly different "feel".
  • EUROPA AND THE PIRATE TWINS (extended 4:02)
  • WINDPOWER (High Power ext 5:51)
  • FLYING NORTH (High Altitude ext 5:36)
  • ONE OF OUR SUBMARINES (ext 7:14)
  • GET OUT OF MIX (sic) (8:00)
  • HYPERACTIVE! (Heavy Breather sub-version 5:05)
  • DISSIDENTS: The Search for Truth pt 1 (7:17)
  • MAY THE CUBE BE WITH YOU (3D mix 6:49)
  • AIRHEAD (Francois Kevorkian Mix 7:05)
  • HOT SAUCE (extended mix 7:00)
  • MY BRAIN IS LIKE A SIEVE (extended 5:37)

Hyperactive! compilation

1999 - EMI
No lyrics, no timings, just a whole lotta orange goodness (fruit juice everywhere?)
Includes :

  • 11 - WINDPOWER
  • 12 - SCREEN KISS
  • 13 - WHITE CITY
  • 14 - AIRHEAD
  • 15 - HOT SAUCE
  • 16 - MAY THE CUBE BE WITH YOU (3:49 short version)

* My sacred collection *

CD albums
    1981/82 - EMI - CDP 7 46009 2
    10 quid 75 it cost me, and it's starting to flake around the edge, boo hoo!

    1984 - EMI (Parlophone Odeon) - CDP 7 46028 2
    10 pounds 43 from Woolworths :-)

    1988 - EMI-MANHATTAN (Capitol) - CDP 7-48075-2 - DIDX #2135 - LC 7365
    9.98 British pounds to me, and another one flaking on both it's inner and outer edges - bah!

    1992 - Virgin Records - CDV 2701 - 262 848 - PM 527 - LC 3098
    A 10.49 bargain!

    You could consider yourself a fan with the above four albums, you'd have a lot of enjoyable music. The enthusiastic fan will of course try to obtain at least these next 3 CDs :

    (soundtrack) 1994 - Giant Records - F:BM 650 - 74321 23386 2 1
    12.55 quid special order

    1994 - EMI - UK CDEMC 3659 - 7243 8 27642 2 9

    1999 - EMI - LC 0542 [7243 5 21194 2 4] [UK: 521 1942]
    My first internet purchase.

  • hyperactive
    1999 - Disky - DC 854392
    Signed by TMDR himself! (I won this in a competition)
    No particularly rare tracks except for the Dissidents Search for Truth part II (vocal) which I didn't already have on CD. Nice! Thanks to Jon C on the Alloy list, and to Thomas of course! Posted to me from Finland, where for some amusing reason their padded envelope packages say "CD - TAP Comebag" *fnarr,chortle,guffaw,snigger*.

    1999 - EMI Gold - LC 0542 - UK : 499 4202 - 7243 4 99420 2 8
    Complete fluke that I found this in a sale at my local HMV. Slightly cracked case but just 4 quid :o)
    All album tracks except for a short 3:49 single version of May The Cube Be With You that I'd never heard before (possibly the video version). Nice!

    (soundtrack) Virgin V2417
    Numerous bits of film atmosphere, and the single "The Devil is an Englishman".

    Live album recorded to mark life beginning
    signed copy (limited edition)
    The Ability to Swing, Screen Kiss, I love You Goodbye, I scare Myself, One of Our Submarines, My Brain is Like a Sieve, Hyperactive
    One for the collection..

  • One of Our Submarines - TD w/Salz
    A whole album of submarines in various guises
    signed copy (limited edition)
    versions/mixes by Salz, Thomas live (Forty), Hardfloor, Paul Sebastien, Ricardo Villalobos, Threshold Project & Jan Kha, Akufen
    One for the collection, but to be honest you wouldn't be missing much.

CD singles
  • CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR (limited edition) VSCDG 1410 [665-246] [PM 515] Virgin 1992 (I've two)
    1 (4:05)
    2 Beauty of a Dream (Piano & Vocal 5:05)
    3 (version 4:21)
    4 Neon Sisters 4:52

  • SILK PYJAMAS (limited edition) VSCDG 1430 [7243 8 90031 23] [D:665 479] Virgin 1992
    1 (edited 3:04)
    2 Fieldwork (Long London Mix 6:03)
    3 Puppet Theatre (4:12) - catchy tune very similar to Whodini's Mr Magic's Wand, with good reason!.
    4 Get Out of My Mix (5:25) Recipe: take one generic 1980s beat, and liberally sprinkle with samples and musical elements from Golden Age of Wireless hits. Leave to stew in its own juices. Serve to *extreme* fans only.

    "Pupper Theatre on the 'Hyperactive!' single has more echo on the vocals, and the 'Silk Pajamas' version has an 'orchestra hit' keeping beat with the song when TMDR starts singing 'One more night...' "

  • MY BRAIN IS LIKE A SIEVE cdmt 71 [2035 032] LC7365 EMI.USA 1989
    Cover picture is bald Thomas with snake, in 3D
    1 MBILAS (3:56) shorter than the album version. "murder" sample added.
    2 MBILAS - instrumental (4:46)
    3 Ravivar Fiore (1:15)

Vinyl albums
    (with Wreck of the Fairchild 3:30) 2 copies
    Venice in Peril 1981/2 VIP1001 (EMI TM 8203 GL) [062-07 607]

    Parlophone 1984 PCS2400341(I) (EMI GO 8402 GL)
Vinyl 7" singles
  • Windpower / Flying North
    Venice in Peril 1982 VIPS103

  • Hyperactive! / White City
    Parlophone 1984 R6065

  • Dissidents (edit) / Urges
    Parlophone 1984/81 R6071 [piccy]

  • Hot Sauce (3:16) / Salsa Picante (3:16)
    EMI Manhattan 1988 MT59 [piccy 1] [and 2]

  • I Love You Goodbye (edit 4:35) / Eastern Bloc (edit 4:13)
    Virgin 1992 VS1417 [piccy]

Vinyl 12" singles
  • Europa and the Pirate Twins (extended 4:02) / Leipzig (Oct.79 3:52), Therapy/Growth (4:00)
    (Venice in Peril label) EMI 1981 12R6051 [piccy 1] [and 2]

    Therapy/Growth has a cheap, ancient Bontempi organ feel to the percussion, which some people could mercilessly deride, but is still a very nice track with interesting bass, vocals and effects. A rarity that is well worth getting hold of, if you can.

    "I don't like people who seek the truth in a big mystical way or the commercial exploitation of this with gurus and all that."

  • Windpower (high power extended play 5:54) / Flying North (high altitude extended play 6:22)
    1982 12VIPS103 [piccy 1] [and 2]

  • She Blinded Me With Science (U.S. mix) / The Jungle Line
    Venice in Peril 1982/83 12VIPS105 [piccy]

    This long version of The Jungle Line (mucho drumming, as you may guess) is a cover of a Joni Mitchell track. Was first available as a shorter, more laid back Low Noise single, Thomas on vocals, with the instrumental version on the B side.

  • Get Out of my Mix (8:00) / Get On Out of my Mix (7:44)
    Dolby's Cube Parlophone 1983 12R6063
    ... two copies - one has free Flexidisc : Airwaves / Urban Tribal (video version - from Live Wireless) [piccy]

  • Hyperactive! (heavy breather subversion) / hyperactive (7"), White City
    Parlophone 1983/4 12R6065

  • Dissidents: The Search For Truth Part I / Part II, Urges
    Parlophone/EMI 1984/81 12R6071

  • Dissidents: The Search For Truth Part I (dub 7:17) / Part II (vocal 5:53)
    Capitol Records 1984 V8594 (SX600718B/C) [piccy]
    same sleeve, but handwritten labels : Part I (dub) / Part II (vocal), Urges [piccy A] [and B]

    I like to kid myself that the handwritten label was scribed by TDR himself, I can find some small similarities with his signature from elsewhere. Perhaps, perhaps not. Anyway, I've only just spotted that the handwritten title is "The Search For The Truth", did the track start this way then lose the "the" later, I wonder. Or was it written by someone else who didn't know for sure...?!

    Part I is a long stripped down version, percussion and samples, but captivating.
    Part II is more like an extended version of the full track, losing something in the stretch.

  • I Scare Myself (long version) / Puppet Theatre, Cloudburst at Shingle Street (edited)
    Parlophone 1984 12R6067 [piccy]

  • May the Cube be With You (3D mix 6:49) / Googooplexus/Cube Creature Caviar (6:57)
    Dolby's Cube Parlophone 1985 12R6100 [piccy]

    Googooplexus is a gentle version of May the Cube, with the musicians involved talking over it, discussing Cube Creatures quite earnestly as if they were, err, on something :o) After Tom asks "Is it true that Cube Creatures drink an awful lot of Pepsi?", Mr Clinton replies that all the ones he saw had a Coke, the bass musically responds in a "uh-oh" way kicking off Cube Creature Caviar. Which is a nice 12" remix of May the Cube.

  • Howard the Duck / Don't Turn Away (Lea Thompson vocals)
    Dolby's Cube MCA Records WMCAT 1092dl [piccy]

    Don't Turn Away can also be found with Thomas singing, but I heard this one first. Somewhere in the middle it seems to repeat endlessly annoyingly, but eventually finishes off with a really wonderful section.

  • The Devil is an Englishman (extended - Screaming Lord Byron) / Fantasmagoria
    from Gothic. Virgin 1987 VS937-12DJ [piccy]

    I say, the 12" version of The Devil is a similar mix to the single version, and yet seems even more evil, more terrifyingly sinister, more blood curdlingly nightmarish. Very good sound, most enjoyable old chap.

  • Airhead (extended 6:40) /
    Airhead (Dub pt I 5:12), Airhead (Dub pt II 3:07), Budapest By Blimp (7" edit 5:01)
    EMI Manhattan 1988 12MT38 [piccy 1] [and 2]

    It's Airhead whittled down to its component parts, and then reassembled fairly well. The sample of the airhead's "Oooh"s can be annoying though - the missus can't stand it. Airhead. ;o)
    EMI Hendring 1983 [TVE 90 1957 2]
    An interesting performance, the footage is sometimes interrupted by cut-aways back to a projectionist character played by Thomas, which sees the sound levels drop by 12dB into mono, affecting mainly Radio Silence, Urban Tribal and Samson and Delilah. The sound quality, even on the Laserdisc version, is like a partly worn tape with dropouts and disturbances in the left/right balance on occasion. The left channel get muffled for almost half a minute during New Toy, still it was the early 1980s after all! The quality changes dramatically halfway through Samson and Delilah, which may explain the cut-away at that point - it sounds like one tape got chewed up and was replaced by another.

    Putting such nit-picking aside, there is still a lot to enjoy here. One of Our Submarines is a very good version, as are Radio Silence, Jungle Line and Puppet Theatre. The other rare track, Urban Tribal is a darn fine slow song indeed, especially if it's worked on in a wave editor program to improve the 'faults'. Some people may prefer the much cleaner studio version, but the live one works better for me.

    Europa 3:24
    Windpower 3:42
    One of Our Submarines 5:00
    Radio Silence 4:22
    New Toy 3:18 (originally written for Lene Lovich)
    Urban Tribal 3:36
    Flying North 5:12
    Jungleline 6:35 (cover of a Joni Mitchell song)
    Puppet Theatre 3:57 (an advance onwards from Whodini's Mr Magic's Wand)
    Samson and Delilah 3:57 (Kevin Armstrong vocals)
    She Blinded Me With Science 3:26
    Airwaves 3:17

    Samson and Deliliah was written by Kevin, and later recorded with his band "Bush Telegraph" (Cliff B on percussion/ computers) for EMI, who later shelved the project.

    EMI 1989 [MVP 9911773]
    Europa and the Pirate Twins 9/81
    Airwaves 1/82
    Radio Silence 3/82
    She Blinded Me With Science 10/82
    One of Our Submarines is Missing 2/83
    Hyperactive 1/84
    Dissidents 2/84
    I scare myself 2/84
    Field Work (with Ryuichi Sakamoto) 1985
    May the Cube be With You 1985
    Airhead 1988
    Hot Sauce 1988

  • Adelie Deflowered (RMF) - very nice indeed, gentle piano

  • Airwaves (4-track demo) 5:21
    Urban Tribal (studio) 3:45
    Jungle Line - Low Noise (studio, laid-back) 3:54
    Radio Silence (guitar) 4:34 - wonderful!
    Don't Turn Away (Thomas vocals) 5:06
    Airhead (Def Ears Mix) 5:52 - well worth having, like it lots

  • The Mirror Song (from Toys - TD vocals) 4:33 - very catchy, nicely done
    I Love You Goodbye (Bayou mix 4:20, New Orleans mix 4:33, version 4:34) - missable
    Eastern Bloc (version) 4:17 - very interesting
    Salsa Picante 3:17 - hasta la vista, baby

  • Night Network Video View audio : night network - video view - with TMDR - AJ edit.mp3

  • Prefab Sprout : Machine Gun Ibiza - Thomas can be heard on this one (CD)

  • Whodini : Mr Magic's Wand (12") - later this turned into Puppet Theatre

  • Lene Lovich : New Toy - (7")

  • New toy (live, Strathclyde University 1982) sung by Tom
    Commercial Breakup (live at Strathclyde - great instrumental in middle)
    Sex machine 7" by Jack Heard (group) inc. Tom and M Seligman
    Ghost Train 7" by Bruce Woolley and T Dolby (not by the Camera Club)
    Jungle Line by Low Noise,
    - and instrumental too
    Wonderlust 12 " and Desert Song 12" by the Fallout Club
    Field Work 12" The Tokyo Mix
    May the Cube - Cubular Dub mix 12" - a little noisy but enjoyable and good to have
    Ghost Train instumental

    Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club - English Garden LP 1979
    Video killed the radio star; Dancing with the sporting boys; Johnny; No surrender;
    Flying man; You got class; W.W.9; Clean clean; Get away William; Goodbye to yesterday;
    Goodbye to yesterday reprise; You're the circus and I'm the clown -
    Trouble Is 7" B Woolley & Camera Club
    Girls at Our Best l.p 1981 : Heaven; Goodbye to that Jazz

  • Live Recording : The Flat Earth Tour (1984), The Dominion Theatre, London - nice quality
    The Flat Earth - Introduction 3:18
    White City 5:01
    Dissidents 5:06
    One of Our Submarines 4:48
    Puppet Theatre 6:56
    New Toy 4:25
    Airwaves 5:26
    I Scare Myself 5:30
    Hyperactive! 4:47
    Europa and the Pirate Twins 4:42
    She Blinded Me With Science 4:49
    Commercial Breakup 4:55

  • Ferngully movie soundtrack - 3 tracks written (and produced - 2&3) by TD
    Life Is a Magic Thing 4.29 (Johnny Clegg vocals) - joyous and catchy
    Batty Rap 2.52 (Robin Williams vocals) - take or leave it
    Toxic Love 4.38 (Tim Curry vocals) - enjoyable

  • Alloy's 'The Flattery Earth' and 'Bride of Aliens Ate My Birthday Cake' - two CDs composed of tribute cover versions performed by various members of Alloy, along with some original music too. These were presented to Thomas for his birthdays in 1998 and 1999.
  • She Blinded Me With Science - Marching Band performance - awesome!
    Airhead (Rusty's Mix) - a bit sparse and plodding
    Illusions 3:18 (with Iki Levy) - instrumental, slightly cold feel
    I Love You Goodbye (Bowling Mix) - album version grafted onto a Bayou or New Orleans start, 2 "bowling"s added
    Flying North (Razormaid Remix) - improves the track enormously, awesome
    Gothic edit - 18:30 of the best bits
    She Blinded Me With Science (Chance's End Remix) - missable, oddly redone with a strange rhythm
    Get Out of My Mix (dj spinelli) - a few snips make it more listenable

    Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin's version of Leipzig
    Joni Mitchell's version of The Jungle Line
    BBC Radio 2's 'Jamming' (2003) with TD as a guest
    a "Leipzig (orginal)" which is pretty similar
    She Blinded Me With Science (Hot Tracks Remix) - well overcooked!
    Users of N... (err, file-sharing systems with controversial copyright issues) should note that TD was not actually involved in any way with Nina Hagen's Solo (a different Thomas D.) or the Fifth Element track 'Little Light of Love' (Eric Serra).

What am I still missing... mainly other
o mixes of A.A.M.B. tracks, such as Hot Sauce, My Brain is like a Sieve
o Airhead's Revenge
o Dolby's Cube featuring Cherry Bomb :
      Howard The Duck (mega mix) 4.52
      Hunger City 4.12
      It Don't Come Cheap 4.46
      I'm on My Way 2.55 (D.C. featuring Tata Vega)
      (I've got poor copies of the first three now, and guess what, I wasn't missing much!)
o more live recordings - interesting and welcomed,
      but otherwise no sleep lost, I've missed countless performances anyway
o any Hyperactive! mixes perhaps(?) that would make my day to obtain.

Some items I don't yet have on CD would be welcome on said format. Anything else absent is either a collaboration (no TD vocals), or something really obscure. For me to value a new track with a TD connection, it has to have be something I like or feature Thomas on vocals. Simply having TD involved in production or playing one part is not enough on its own. So, I think I've got more or less 98 percent of what I would like. Still, you never know what Life is going to throw your way, do you?

In a 2001 interview, Thomas said that there are no great quantities of unreleased rarities waiting to surface. No great pile of unfinished works to delight us one day. Everything either made the grade and saw the light of day, or was long since abandoned. There is, however, a collection of works in progress that may eventually hit the record shops or relevant website. Patience! Science! No, right first time, patience!

Some of the movie scoring work would be nice to see and hear. Ferngully I have seen, it's fun if you like magical cartoons with fairies and an amusing good-guy's-assistant character voiced by Robin Williams. I've yet to see The Gate To The Mind's Eye, and I'm likewise always on the lookout for Gothic (1986), Fever Pitch (1985), 'We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story' (1993). Refer to the Internet Movie Database at http://us.imdb.com/Name?Dolby,+Thomas

Fever Pitch - A soundtrack was released on LP and CD but no Thomas Dolby tracks were included. TD says (http://www.smoe.org/lists/alloy/v05.n281) - "It was the first ever movie scoring work I did. Quincy Jones was one of the producers, and apparently had heard my music and approached me for the score. I recorded it all on the old MGM lot in Los Angeles, which was pretty romantic--the security guard at the gate waving me through every day with a "good morning Mr.Dolby!" and eating lunch every day in the Commissary, amid echoes of many a famous bustup between Kathryn Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I recorded the score mainly using my Fairlight, the third in the UK, which I had just taken delivery of (Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush got # 1 and 2). Unfortunately the director Richard Brooks--who is no longer with us--was part deaf, and would often react to my sampled music with comments like "what's all that banging?" So we got behind schedule and I was having to crank out about 6 original pieces of music per day. A bit of a heartbreak, as the movie was clearly not going to be a blockbuster and Ryan O'Neal was way below the fabulous form of his "Paper Moon" days. But the experience was fruitful for me nonetheless--and in fact, many songs that later showed up on my albums, first originated during those sessions. If you do manage to find a copy of the movie to rent, you may spot some pieces that bear more than a passing resemblance to "The Key to her Ferrari," "The Ability To Swing", "Neon Sisters" and others (Budapest by Blimp, perhaps).

I'm afraid I've forgotten about the famous shin-torture scene though. I must have supressed it."

I suggested here (Alloy) what I think would be a great compilation CD of TD's early works :

Urban Tribal (studio)
Jungle line (short, laid back version)
Wreck of the Fairchild
Radio Silence (guitar)
New Toy (from Live Wireless)
Puppet Theater (needs sibilance tamed!)
Don't Turn Away (Thomas)
Airwaves (4 track demo)
I think the running order would work quite well - what do you think?

See my Thomas Dolby Timeline page!

Other pages here - see TMDR's appearances on / in :

"ITV Night Network Video View - " details & pics

"Music and Computers" feature - 2 pics

The "Adam and Joe Show" TV JPEG stills

I also really enjoy the music of The THE (see here too), which is again mainly driven by just one man, Matt Johnson. I recently spent a while immersing myself in "Dusk" & "Mindbomb", and researching on this good ol' web. It suddenly hit me to the fullest extent JUST HOW cheerful and optimistic the works of Thomas Dolby are!

While The THE is dark, moody, tortured and inward-looking I realised there's practically nothing Thomas has written that could possibly depress anyone. Consider TMDR's choice of songwriting subject matters - mostly science and technology, travel/geography, quirky topics no-one else would consider singing about, and relatively upbeat examinations of human relationships. This isn't the music of choice for those despairing souls brooding about the futility of existence. Even the negative aspects of Screen Kiss are kept in check by the Hollywood imagery, and with Neon Sisters I'm only left with the impression of Thomas shrugging his shoulders wondering why the world's such a crazy place - nothing much darker than that.

Time and again I listen to the arrangements of TD music and marvel at just how interesting it all is. A piece composed by or touched by Thomas seems to be perfectly tuned to whatever area of my grey matter enjoys music. Yet I know people who really aren't that bothered. If we ever figure out how the human brain works I'd love to know why different people interpret music differently or seem to like tracks that completely fail to move me. There's a lot of music out there that must have meant something to the artist recording it but seems to be so bland and uninspiring it's a wonder it ever got released. Or maybe I should have a go myself, and try to do better before I criticise? :o)

My rewards for creating this page and joining Alloy mailing list have been many. Numerous people have been extremely generous to me. I now know many knowledgeable TD enthusiasts, and to top it all, I've even had email from the man himself, and his site links here!
"...I love your site and I hope you had fun making it. Best, TMDR"
How marvellous is that?! Well, I had to ask him if he minded, after all :o)

NOSTALGIA aint what it used to be. The old Flat Earth Society site map.

DISCOGRAPHY - at Russel Milliner's site

ANOTHER discography - so much more to get yet!

ALLOY - A rather pleasant mailing list, read their digests here.
(Follow the first link for joining instructions)

BEATNIK - Thomas Dolby's company (was Headspace)

An interesting hour and a half LECTURE from Thomas


Andy J finds it hard to give a flying funk about his own copyright here, but just about manages it.

(c) 1999-2004 Me. Ha!