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Synth Britannia

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:04 am
by Garth Cartwright
A good Friday night's music telly - the final episode of Sound Of Song was intelligent documentary making (i've not seen the previous four - were they all this good?) about how digital technology transformed popular music. then Kraftwerk: Pop Art - great to see the early footage of can and KW! I like KW but wouldn't call myself a big fan so this was a little too breathless - the typically pompous Paul Morely calling them "more influential than the Beatles" (yeh, right) and the programme makers suggesting they played a huge part in dance music and rap when they were more an interesting left-field influence on both, but not a major influence on either. Then Synth Britannia. I used to listen to a lot of these artists when I was a teen - loved Soft Cell, liked Human League and Gary Numan, never cared for Depeche but did like Yazoo a lot, never had much of an opinion on OMD and CV, had forgotten Daniel Miller started off doing Warm Leatherette. Well put together, unrhetorical doc' that showed how a dozen or so English youths managed to create a pop genre without breaking too much sweat. Made me recall how nasty the music papers were to Gary Numan - he got success without any help from them (a crime!). I met him once in a pub and he was such a pleasant bloke - just like he was in programme. Has Vince Clark done anything of interest in recent years? I did listen to a bit of Erasure but it wasn't really my thing. Anyway, this seemed pretty definitive - tho I'm sure people with better knowledge than me will suggest a few artists who should have been included. I'd now like to see the Beeb do a doc' on the US electronic bands who helped lay the groundwork for such: Silver Apples, United States Of America, Lothar & the Hand People, Suicide, Chrome, Devo etc.

Re: Synth Britannia

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:37 pm
by AndyM
Yes, all the eps of 'Sound of Song' have been extremely good. They do try and squeeze a quart into a pint pot, but such are the inevitabilities of television.

Re: Synth Britannia

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 6:45 pm
by David Flower
Sound of song has been very watchable, but a big credit should go to David Byrne. Whole chunks would seem to have been lifted almost wholesale from his book 'How music works', especially the first episodes. Even entire anecdotes such as Bing Crosby underwriting the brand new technology of magnetic tape so he could pre-record his radio shows and go and play more golf.
This marks down Neil Brand for me and i would vote Sound of Cinema as overall the better series. His explanation there of how some of Europe's finest (east european/ jewish) classical composers of the 1930s , like Korngold, fled to Hollywood , mixed it up with the brass sections of jazz to create what remains the default big score sound we still hear today from the likes of John Williams, was fascinating.

Re: Synth Britannia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:59 am
by MartinOwen
Surely the role of Bing Crosby in the development of Ampex is historical fact rather than a David Byrne anecdote (I was told this as a BBC radio trainee in the early 70's). I found Neil Brand as an unstuffy, non precious, but highly skilled presenter who interprets underlying "technical" musical themes with out patronising. A slightly less winsome Howard Goodall.