The Golden Age of Wireless

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The Golden Age of Wireless
Studio album by Thomas Dolby
Released March 1982
Recorded 1981
Genre New wave
Length 42:29
Label Venice in Peril, EMI
Producer Thomas Dolby, Tim Friese-Greene
Thomas Dolby chronology
The Golden Age of Wireless
(1982)
The Flat Earth
(1984)
Alternative cover
US release album cover
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars link
Trouser Press (not rated)

The Golden Age of Wireless is a 1982 album by synthpop pioneer Thomas Dolby. The album is notable for containing the pop hit "She Blinded Me with Science" in its later resequencings (see below). Following the album's overall theme of radio are the songs "Airwaves", "Commercial Breakup", and "Radio Silence," along with songs about the modern world ("Windpower", "Flying North", "Europa and the Pirate Twins"). At the time of the original US release, the moody and cinematic tone—a major departure for most synthesizer-driven records—prompted Musician magazine's reviewer to declare it "The best damned synth-pop record ever, period."[citation needed]

Release history[edit]

The album is notable in that it was released a total of five times. All five releases appeared on vinyl and cassette (though the cassette release for the fifth version is unconfirmed), but only the third and fifth resequencings appeared on CD, with each changing the order of the songs, replacing the album mixes with extended or single mixes and even adding and removing entire songs. In the case of "Radio Silence", a completely different recording with prominent guitars was the version used on the early US incarnations.

The first US version, issued by Capitol-EMI's Harvest imprint, excised the instrumental "The Wreck of the Fairchild" (loosely based on the 1972 Uruguayan plane crash) and added the two sides of Dolby's first single, "Leipzig" and "Urges". Additionally, Capitol swapped the original synthpop version of "Radio Silence" for a much more rock-oriented version that had previously only been available as a single B-side in the UK. Capitol also opted for the single edit of "Airwaves" and abandoned the original UK "comic book" cover in favour of a shot of Dolby on a stage during the production of Bertholt Brecht's "Galileo". This image had previously been used as the cover of the "Europa and the Pirate Twins" single in the UK.

When Dolby released the single "She Blinded Me with Science" backed by "One of our Submarines" in late 1982—complete with a music video for the A-side—Capitol saw a golden opportunity. They removed "Urges" and "Leipzig", added the extended version of "Science" (also known as the "U.S. Mix") and "Submarines", and changed the album's cover art back to its original "comic book" design. Capitol also swapped the full-length version of "Windpower" for the single version (with an edited intro and outro). The strategy worked, as The Golden Age of Wireless sold better and "She Blinded Me with Science" became a major hit, with constant radio and MTV airplay.

In 1983, the UK record label, Venice in Peril, followed suit and reissued the album with a similar track listing to the second US version. They opted for the short single version of "Science" but retained the full-length versions of "Airwaves" and "Windpower" and the original synthesizer-driven version of "Radio Silence", just as all three had appeared on the first UK edition. This is the edition that is widely available on CD to this day, on both sides of the Atlantic.

The successive resequencings occurred largely because different territories preferred different mixes of songs to others; for example, the extended mix of "Science" was the version that became a hit in America and thus the American cut of the album was swiftly resequenced to accommodate the tastes of that particular territory.

A remastered "Collector's Edition" of The Golden Age of Wireless was released on 13 July 2009, complete with bonus tracks, personal sleeve notes and a DVD of the Live Wireless music video.

Track listing[edit]

1982 First UK release: Venice in Peril VIP 1001[edit]

All songs written and composed by Thomas Dolby, except where noted. 

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Flying North"   3:50
2. "Commercial Breakup" (Thomas Dolby, Tim Kerr) 4:15
3. "Weightless"   3:45
4. "Europa and the Pirate Twins"   3:18
5. "Windpower"   4:20
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "The Wreck of The Fairchild"   3:30
2. "Airwaves"   5:12
3. "Radio Silence"   3:43
4. "Cloudburst at Shingle Street"   5:45

* The original UK track listing (including its reappearance on the special extended edition) is the only place one can hear the progression of "The Wreck of the Fairchild" into "Airwaves" and then into the synth version of "Radio Silence". "Fairchild" concludes with the sound of various electronics, including a wave computer, which segues into the intro of "Airwaves" with no break. The remnants of this transition can still be heard at the beginning of the full-length version of "Airwaves".

1982 First US release: Harvest ST-12203[edit]

Compared to the original UK release, the initial US release deletes "The Wreck Of The Fairchild", adds "Urges" and "Leipzig", and presents an edited version of "Airwaves" and an entirely re-recorded version of "Radio Silence".

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Europa and the Pirate Twins"   3:18
2. "Flying North"   3:50
3. "Weightless"   3:45
4. "Leipzig"   3:52
5. "Windpower"   4:20
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Commercial Breakup" (Thomas Dolby, Tim Kerr) 4:15
2. "Urges"   3:39
3. "Airwaves (Single Edit)"   3:35
4. "Radio Silence (Guitar Version)"   4:32
5. "Cloudburst at Shingle Street"   5:45

1983 Second US release: Capitol ST-12271[edit]

Compared to the original US release, the second US release deletes "Urges" and "Leipzig", adds an extended version of "She Blinded Me with Science" and "One of Our Submarines", and presents an edited version of "Windpower".

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "She Blinded Me with Science (Extended Version)" (Thomas Dolby, Tim Kerr (later versions list corrected Jo Kerr for writing credits)) 5:09
2. "Radio Silence (Guitar Version)"   4:32
3. "Airwaves (Single Edit)"   3:35
4. "Flying North"   3:50
5. "Weightless"   3:45
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Europa and the Pirate Twins"   3:18
2. "Windpower (Single Edit)"   3:56
3. "Commercial Breakup" (Dolby, Kerr) 4:15
4. "One of Our Submarines"   5:11
5. "Cloudburst at Shingle Street"   5:45

* A third US version restores the original electronic version of "Radio Silence".

* The single version of "Europa" reached No. 45 (3 weeks) in Canada[1]

1983 Second UK release: Venice In Peril/EMI VIP 107,607-1[edit]

Compared to the original UK release, the second UK release deletes "The Wreck Of The Fairchild", and adds "One of Our Submarines" and the short version of "She Blinded Me with Science".

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "She Blinded Me with Science" (Thomas Dolby, Tim Kerr) 3:42
2. "Radio Silence"   3:43
3. "Airwaves"   5:12
4. "Flying North"   3:50
5. "Weightless"   3:45
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Europa and the Pirate Twins"   3:18
2. "Windpower"   4:20
3. "Commercial Breakup" (Dolby, Kerr) 4:15
4. "One of Our Submarines"   5:11
5. "Cloudburst at Shingle Street"   5:45

1983 UK CD release: EMI CDP 7 46009 2[edit]

This is the same set of tracks as on the 1983 second UK release.

1984 US CD release: Capitol CDP 7 46009 2[edit]

Compared with the second US release, this third US release substitutes different versions of four tracks. This release features the short version of "She Blinded Me With Science", rather than the extended version; the original recording of "Radio Silence" rather than the re-recorded "Guitar Version"; and full-length versions of "Airwaves" and "Windpower" rather than edited versions.

No. Title Length
1. "She Blinded Me with Science" (Thomas Dolby, Tim Kerr) 3:43
2. "Radio Silence"   3:45
3. "Airwaves"   5:16
4. "Flying North"   3:50
5. "Weightless"   3:43
6. "Europa and the Pirate Twins"   3:17
7. "Windpower"   4:20
8. "Commercial Breakup" (Dolby, Kerr) 4:17
9. "One of Our Submarines"   5:11
10. "Cloudburst at Shingle Street"   5:44

2009 Remastered Collector's Edition CD: EMI 50999 2 67915 2 4[edit]

This version includes the original UK album tracks, in sequence, as tracks 1-9. Bonus tracks 10-14 were previously included on various re-issues during 1982/83/84. Tracks 16-19 are previously unreleased demo recordings.

No. Title Length
1. "Flying North"   3:50
2. "Commercial Breakup" (Dolby, Kerr) 4:18
3. "Weightless"   3:49
4. "Europa and the Pirate Twins"   3:19
5. "Windpower"   4:20
6. "The Wreck of the Fairchild"   3:29
7. "Airwaves"   5:19
8. "Radio Silence"   3:51
9. "Cloudburst at Shingle Street"   5:46
10. "One of Our Submarines" (bonus track) 5:11
11. "She Blinded Me with Science" (Thomas Dolby, Tim Kerr; bonus track) 3:42
12. "Radio Silence (Guitar Version)" (bonus track) 4:52
13. "Urges" (bonus track) 3:39
14. "Leipzig" (bonus track) 3:53
15. "Urban Tribal" (bonus track) 3:45
16. "Therapy/Growth (Demo)" (bonus track) 4:05
17. "Airwaves (Demo)" (bonus track) 5:20
18. "Sale of the Century (Demo)" (bonus track; original version of "The Wreck of the Fairchild" with lyrics) 2:52
19. "Pedestrian Walkway (Demo)" (bonus track) 1:27

Also included with this release is a DVD containing a remastered version of the long-form performance video Live Wireless, recorded at the Riverside Theatre Studios, London, and originally released on videocassette on 9 November 1983 by Picture Music International (TVE 901572). "Urban Tribal" also features a new accompanying vocal by Harper Robertson.

Bonus downloads from www.thomasdolby.com
No. Title Length
1. "Flying North (Demo)"   4:45
2. "Commercial Breakup (Live)" (Thomas Dolby, Tim Kerr) 4:29
3. "Urges (Live)"   4:22
4. "Pedestrian Walkway (The Fallout Club Version)"   3:11

Personnel[edit]

  • Thomas Dolby – vocals, drum programs, wave computer, backing vocals, synthesizer, piano, monk voice, kalimba
  • James Allen – backing vocals
  • Kevin Armstrong – guitar, backing vocals
  • Dave Birch – guitar, monk voice
  • Bosco – percussion
  • Les Chappel – backing vocals
  • Judy Evans – backing vocals
  • Lesley Fairbairn – backing vocals
  • Mark Heyward-Chaplin – bass guitar
  • Justin Hildreth – drums
  • Simon House – violin
  • Tim Kerr – violin
  • Mutt Lange – backing vocals
  • Simon Lloyd – leadline brass, flute
  • Lene Lovich – backing vocals
  • John Marsh – shipping forecast
  • Daniel Miller – synthesizer
  • Guido Orlando – Chilean translations, distress, grace
  • Andy Partridge – harmonica, percussion
  • Dr. Magnus Pyke – voiceover
  • Matthew Seligman – Moog bass
  • Miriam Stockley – backing vocals
  • Bruce Woolley – backing vocals, monk voice
  • Akiko Yano – Backing vocals

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RPM Magazine". Retrieved 26 September 2010. 


This album won Album of the Day from Rhapsody on 23 June 2010: http://blog.rhapsody.com/2010/06/aotd0623.html