Monday 26 September 2022

Songs From The Movie: 'ELECTRIC DREAMS'



Electric Dreams (Soundtrack) 
by Various Artists 
Released: July 1984 
Virgin Records V2318, Epic SE 39600 
Running time: 34:25 USA and Europe CD, 
cassette and LP edited version, 50:28 Europe CD, 
cassette and LP extended edition (as duration in brackets) 
Highest UK chart position: 46 

The Science Fiction had always been there. The high-profile visuals were an obvious add-on. So involvement with a movie was inevitable. Released 20 July 1984 by Virgin Films, ‘Electric Dreams’ was a light fluffy romantic Sci-Fi comedy featuring bespectacled Lenny Von Dohlen as young work-obsessed architect ‘Miles’, and Virginia Madsen as cello-player ‘Madeline’ who moved into the upstairs flat, plus Maxwell Caulfield (as Bill) and a computer called ‘Edgar’ voiced by Bud Cort. Bip-bip-bip-PRINT, it develops into a fairy-tale love-triangle between man, woman and computer. After all, computers were new – weren’t they? They were what was happening, albeit years after William Gibson had coined the term ‘cyberspace’ in his 1982 short story ‘Burning Chrome’. ‘Back in the old days before computers roamed the Earth, people used to learn things by reading words on a page’ recalled an Apple Macintosh Performa advert from 1994. 

The first feature film by Pop-promo director Steve Barron, it was not a great movie, but it has goodies on offer. The video effects that reveal Edgar’s cybernetic thought processes, the champagne poured into Edgar when he overloads – and the fascinating visual effects that ensue as the bubbly soaks into his printed circuits and chips, and the film was rescued by the way the strong soundtrack is woven into the story. It performed even better when it transferred to VHS home-video aided by public familiarity with the songs! Steve Barron went on to direct ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (1990). 

‘Together In Electric Dreams’ 
by Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder 
(Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder) 
3:52 on US edition (5:18 European edition) 
Written primarily by German disco-supremo Moroder with no particular vocalist in mind, it was the film director Steve Barron – who’d shot the high-gloss video for ‘Don’t You Want Me’, who suggested Oakey. And no-one refuses a collaboration invitation from the man who’d masterminded Donna Summer’s ‘Love To Love You Baby’. Not Oakey, that’s for sure. ‘All we ever wanted was to sound like Donna Summer. She was our ideal’ he told ‘Sounds’ (10 August 1985). After the first recording Moroder told Philip that the first take was ‘good enough, as first time is always best.’ However, Oakey, who’d considered it just a rehearsal run-through, insisted on doing a second take. Although Moroder agreed, Oakey subsequently said he believes Moroder still used the first take. Synths fall like silver around a perfect Dance-Pop confection, with Philip’s voice matched to Moroder’s song-construction in a marriage made in electric heaven. Philip even wears a ‘You Have Been Judged’ Judge Dredd ‘2000AD’ T-shirt in the mini-movie promo-video, as if further proof were needed. 

Issued as a spin-off single following the perceived failure of Human League’s ‘Life On Your Own’, this peaked at number 3 on the UK chart 27 October 1984 (Virgin VS 713) – although it got no higher than number 4 on the rival NME chart, beneath Wham!’s definitive anthem ‘Freedom’. The success of ‘Electric Dreams’ encouraged Virgin to chance a third track from ‘Hysteria’, hence ‘Louise’. 

by Jeff Lynne (Jeff Lynne) 3:24 (4:53) 
Jeff Lynne started out with the Birmingham sixties no-hoper group The Idle Race, before joining Roy Wood in the The Move with whom he hatched the blueprint for The Electric Light Orchestra. He took time out – before joining The Traveling Wilburys supergroup, for this catchy excursion into programmed drumbeats, about ‘the satellites that search the night that twinkle like a star’ and slyly sneaks the ‘together in electric dreams’ line into the lyric. 

‘The Dream’ by Culture Club 
(George O’Dowd, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss) 
2:28 (3:16) 
When The Human League headed what was termed ‘the second British invasion’ of the American charts, the flamboyant Boy George with Culture Club was just as high-profile. This brief track finds them in a slower, sensitive and more decorative mood with an Alice-In-Wonderland lyric. It was later remastered as a bonus track on the 2003 CD edition of the Culture Club album ‘Waking Up With The House On Fire’ (Virgin, October 1984). 

‘The Duel’ by Giorgio Moroder 
(Giorgio Moroder based on ‘Minuet In G Major’ by 
Christian Petzold, formerly attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach) 
3:47 (5:40) 
In the movie, cellist Madeline is rehearsing this piece in her apartment when she’s overheard through the ventilation grille by computer ‘Edgar’, which then improvises its own electric variation. Madeline assumes that she’s playing this duet with Miles Harding, who – due to a mixture of bumble and dishonesty, does not disabuse her, and passes off a love song devised by computer. 
The same tune was lifted for The Toys 1965 hit single ‘A Lover’s Concerto’. 

‘Now You’re Mine’ by Helen Terry 
(Helen St John, Rusty Lemonade) 4:05 (5:20) 
The excoriating voice you hear on Culture Club’s hit ‘Church Of The Poison Mind’ belongs to Helen Terry, an immensely powerful vocalist in the Alison Moyet mould, who wrote the sixties Girl-Group styled ‘Now You’re Mine’ with the pseudonymous Giorgio Moroder, who supplied the eighties add-ons. It also cunningly incorporates the line ‘before my world was feeling the power of the special touch that all electric dreams are made of.’ Although this track was later added as a bonus to the ‘Special Edition’ of her only album ‘Blue Notes’ (1986) she subsequently preferred to play a backroom role within the media industry. 

‘Love Is Love’ by Culture Club 
(George O’Dowd, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss) 
3:50 (5:53) 
Given the big power-ballad treatment with sweet wah-wah embellishments, the positive message of a non-gender-specific all-embracing force of universal love resonates above and beyond the limitations of the song’s uncomplicated structure, Boy George’s voice – as ever, pours as nourishingly unique and precious as royal jelly.

‘Chase Runner’ by Heaven 17 
(Ian Craig Marsh, Martyn Ware, Glenn Gregory) 
3:00 (4:53 for extended edition) 
This is a movie that inadvertently reunites the two separate feuding strands of The Human League Mark 1 onto the same soundtrack album, although the Heaven 17 contingent contribute a high-energy track that is restyled as ‘Counterforce II’ on the B-side of their ‘Sunset Now’ single. It’s an instrumental that actually sounds like the theme-tune for an action movie incorporating high-speed car chase samples, with the thin-pitched whistleable tune gliding and curling over choppy percussive rhythms. 

‘Let It Run’ by Jeff Lynne 
(Jeff Lynne) 3:22 (5:37) 
With a slow gradual fade-in leading into thrashing guitars and rocking keyboards, this is a Jeff Lynne track with the most obvious Electric Light Orchestra sound, betraying more than a passing resemblance to their ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ hit, although there are spliced-in breaks for a manic Caribbean skank followed by a solid Rock guitar solo – if this is the Rockism that Human League were kicking against, with lyric name-checks for ‘Johnny B Goode’ and ‘Long Tall Sally’, it still makes you get up and boogie. 

‘Madeline’s Theme’ by Giorgio Moroder 
(Giorgio Moroder) 2:17 (2:48) 
A companion-piece to ‘The Duel’ this sensitive and touching instrumental takes the synthesizer into territory where it had rarely ventured before, using the cello-setting as key to a simulated string quartet, back to Bach for its bitter-sweet computer-expression of what this thing called love is all about, as soft as a teardrop falling on a silicon chip.

‘Electric Dreams’ by P.P. Arnold 
(George O’Dowd and Roy Hay) 4:20 (6:50) 
Pat ‘P.P.’ Arnold first came to London with Ike & Tina Turner’s touring band, as part of the Ikettes. She hooked up with Andrew Loog Oldham who produced her version of the Cat Steven’s song ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’ which became an instant hit single for the Immediate label. She duetted with the Small Faces on their magnificent ‘Tin Soldier’ hit, and went on to enjoy a high-profile voice-for-hire career as a solo artist, a studio voice and a collaborator on multiple projects. 

Written by the Culture Club duo of Boy George and Roy Hay, here she emotes ‘tell me boy, do you have room in your heart, for the computer boom?’ with full Soul-deep emotional intensity, as Peter Frampton donates a stinging guitar solo. Pat Arnold went further Electro when she returned to the charts as vocalist on the Beatmasters number 14 hit ‘Burn It Up’ (October 1988), and up to number 6 in 1992 with techno duo Altern-8’s ‘Evapor 8’. P.P. Arnold can do no wrong.

This is a chapter editorially deleted from my book
as being outside the core scope of the subject, from:
(SonicBond Publishing, 2022)

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