I really only started buying albums with a passion in the very late 70s. Back in the day of course, we didn’t have internet so we had to rely very much on magazines to discover new music. Remember that in the 70s and 80s, the Singapore government was very anti-pop culture and we were constantly bombarded with the message that Western culture was decadent. And so, you had to be rather dedicated to the cause if you wanted to get your hands on great new music.
Around that time, I discovered post-punk with the movie Urgh! A Music War – a film that changed my life forever. One of the artists that really got my attention was Gary Numan (see the clip below). He performed Down in the Park live and it was mind blowing. Not only was the music something I’d never really heard before – genuinely – but he sang sitting down in a motorized chair – awesome!
Numan made synth-pop a mainstream phenomenon in the UK as his singles and albums became best-sellers and deeply influenced much of British music for the better part of the 80s. Well, it certainly made me passionate about synth-pop and led to many acquisitions of albums by fellow practitioners like OMD, Human League, Depeche Mode, Yazoo and the like.
Gary Numan was very much at the forefront of the movement and personified this futurist attitude. However, Numan was often maligned by the British rock press and his popularity waned in the late 80s, a period where synth-pop – once so edgy was hijacked by the mainstream and turned into soul-less muzak. Isn’t always the case?
So it often amuses me when I hear synth-pop fascimiles coming out from modern US rock scene in 2010 – it all began in the 80s, kids. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.