YouTube is really nice as it has now a lot of video clips from the eighties, especially music I listened to and got inspired by. The early to mid-eighties was great time concerning music and new ways to use synthesizers, instead of progressive rock use (melodies, solos), synths now became a real part of the whole system, drum machines, et rest. And musicians explored this inside out. And you didn’t need to be a concert pianist or trained jazz musician to make synth music. That was liberating.
Cabaret Voltaire – Sensoria, while now listening to it again I’m amazed how they already did a lot of electronica tricks, drum programming, samples, repeats, and so on. The video is wacky and refreshing, too. I’ve yet to see a contemporary video, with the exception of Beck’s productions, that are as interesting, especially with the budget they most likely had.
Freur – Doot Doot, took me ages to get this song on 7″ vinyl long time ago. They had a very different take on music and how to use synths. Freur then later became Underworld and the rest is history. They also invented the whole idea of a symbol as a name (sorry Prince), Freur was closest to how to pronounce their symbol.
Heaven 17 – Penthouse & Pavement — yes, Heaven 17 become more and more commercial at the end, but before that they really mixed drum machines and pop music together into all kinds of funny versions. Amazingly, this track could be played for the dancing audience at that time…
The Human League – Being Boiled, yes synths sounded gritty long time ago, so electro house is nothing new. As with many similar bands, they became more and more commercial, until the original audience had deserted them. I even forgot that this song had a Buddhist theme! And no quantization, just plain finger playing.
When listening through these songs, I realized that they all had catchy tuned, or at least there was an attempt to write melodies. But what I now also found striking, in hindsight, was that these bands started with a pure intent, and later became more and more commercial (Human League, Heaven 17), but some stuck to their core (Cabaret Voltaire), and Freur just evolved into Underworld, and as Underworld it is still changing. Maybe the third alternative is the best.