A Flock of Seagulls

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A Flock of Seagulls
Lead singer Mike Score performing in 2011
Background information
OriginLiverpool, England
Genres
Years active
  • 1978–1986
  • 1988–present
Labels
Members
Past members
Websiteaflockofseagulls.org

A Flock of Seagulls are an English new wave band formed in Liverpool in 1979. The group, whose best-known line-up comprised Mike Score, Ali Score, Frank Maudsley and Paul Reynolds, hit the peak of their chart success in the early 1980s.[4]

The group had a string of international hit singles including "I Ran (So Far Away)" (1982), "Space Age Love Song" (1982), "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" (1982), and "The More You Live, the More You Love" (1984). Their video for "I Ran (So Far Away)" received airplay on MTV during the Second British Invasion.[5] The band won a Grammy Award in 1983 for their instrumental "D.N.A." (1982).[6]

In 2018, the members of the original lineup assembled to record the album Ascension with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.[7] In 2021, the original lineup again reunited temporarily to record another album with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, String Theory.

History[edit]

1979–1982: Formation and debut album[edit]

The band A Flock of Seagulls was formed in Liverpool, England, in 1979 by Mike Score, Frank Maudsley and Ali Score. Mike was a hairdresser when he bought a second-hand Korg MS-10 synthesizer and invited his friends to form the band. Frank played bass and Ali drums, even without prior experience. After testing six guitarists, Willie Woo joined the band and brought in Mark Edmondson to replace Ali on drums. Later, the Score brothers had a falling out, and Mark Edmondson left. Ali returned to the band and shortly afterwards Woo left, being replaced by Paul Reynolds, a 17-year-old friend of Mark Edmondson. Initially, the band did not have a vocalist. Mike, who was the composer of the songs, sang just to show how he thought the song should sound. However, Frank suggested that he be the band's official lead singer. Mike was reluctant at first, but ended up accepting the suggestion.

The band began playing local clubs and eventually got a record deal with Jive Records. In 1981, they released their first single, "Talking", which was produced by Bill Nelson. The single was a moderate success in the United Kingdom. In 1982, the band released their second single, "Telecommunication", which was also produced by Bill Nelson. The single was an even bigger success than the first and became a club hit. The band's third release was the EP Modern Love is Automatic. Released in the US, it included the single "Telecommunication" as well as "I Ran (So Far Away)" — which became the band's biggest hit and was in heavy rotation on the new cable channel, MTV.[8] The video for "I Ran" was low budget (even for the time), but it provided enormous exposure for the band, and it is well-remembered in part because MTV played it frequently.[9]

The band's debut album, A Flock of Seagulls, was released in 1982. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number 1 in Australia and the Top 10 in the US and New Zealand. The album was praised for its new wave songs, which were influenced by styles such as synthpop, post-punk and new romantic. The band was also praised for their image, which was characterized by slicked-back hair and colorful clothing. The album was influential in pop music in the 1980s.[citation needed] The band was one of the pioneers of synthpop and helped popularize the style.[citation needed]

1983: Listen and the peak of popularity[edit]

In late 1982, A Flock of Seagulls finally achieved commercial success in their home country with the single "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)", which reached the top 10. The song was inspired by a short romance that vocalist Mike Score had with a girl on tour in the United States. The girl had a Polaroid camera, and Score asked her to take a picture of it. She said if he had the photo, he would leave and the romance would be forgotten. They broke up soon after, and Score wrote the song about how he wished he had a photo of her to remember her by.

The follow-up album, Listen, was released in 1983 and also received positive reviews. AllMusic critic Tom Demalon praises the single "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" as "multilayered and hypnotic" and also has written favorably about the songs "Nightmares" and "Transfer Affection".

The band continued to enjoy commercial and critical success in 1983. They performed at the US Festival (in San Bernardino, California) in May[10] and at Holleder Memorial Stadium (in Rochester, New York) in July. They also began touring with the band The Police.

Three more singles were released for Listen in 1983, but they were only moderately successful. The band began to lose popularity in the late 1980s, but they continue to perform and record.

1984: The Story of a Young Heart and Reynolds' departure[edit]

Following the commercial success of their debut album, A Flock of Seagulls decided to change direction on their third album, The Story of a Young Heart. The band ventured into a new style, wanting to make a concept album based on themes such as suicide and heartbreak. The album was produced by Steve Lovell and featured more accentuated guitars and a more polished sound. The song's lyrics were written by Mike Score, who had lost a close friend to suicide. The song "Remember David" was written in honour of his deceased friend.

Despite the band's efforts, The Story of a Young Heart was not as commercially successful as their debut album. The singles "The More You Live, The More You Love" and "Never Again (The Dancer)" reached the top 40 on the US and UK charts, but "Remember David" was not as popular and had moderate success.

During the album's tour, the band's guitarist Paul Reynolds became involved with drug abuse. His drug problems worsened, resulting in his exit from the band mid-tour. The tour ended early. The band was without a guitarist. Reynolds' departure was a blow to A Flock of Seagulls. The band never again managed to achieve the same success as their early years.

1985–1986: New lineup, Dream Come True and hiatus[edit]

After Paul Reynolds' departure, A Flock of Seagulls underwent a revamp. Gary Steadman, former Classix Nouveaux guitarist, was hired to replace Reynolds. Chris Chryssaphis, keyboardist, also joined the band. With the new lineup, the band recorded their fourth album, Dream Come True. The album was released in 1985 in the UK and in 1986 in the US.

Dream Come True was a commercial failure. Reviews were negative, with some critics calling the songs "lifeless" and "ineffective". The band dissolved in 1986 after the album's failure.

1988–1998: Various formations and The Light at the End of the World[edit]

In 1988, Mike Score formed a new band with local Philadelphia musicians. This lineup released the single "Magic" in 1989.

In 1994, Score formed a new band with Ed Berner, A.J. Mazzetti and Dean Pichette. This lineup recorded the album The Light at the End of the World, released only in the US in 1995. The album was a commercial and critical failure. Critics called it "tedious" and "embarrassing", while fans claimed it was "misinterpreted". Score said the album was an unsuccessful attempt to bring the band into the grunge era, which dominated popular music at the time.

1998–2018: Touring and Ascension years[edit]

In 1998, Mike Score formed a new band with Joe Rodriguez, Darryl Sons and Rob Wright. The band re-recorded Madonna's song "This Used to Be My Playground" in 1999 for Madonna's 2000 tribute album, The World's Greatest 80s Tribute.

In November 2003, the band's original lineup reunited for a one-off performance on the VH1 series Bands Reunited. In September 2004, they reformed again and went on a brief tour of the United States.

In 2013, Mike Score launched a solo career. He released the singles "All I Wanna Do" and "Somebody Like You."

In 2016, Kevin Rankin replaced Michael Brahm on drums. In December 2017, Gordon Deppe (from the Canadian band Spoons replaced Joe Rodriguez.

In 2018, the band's four original members reunited to record a new album, Ascension. The album was released in July 2018 and received positive reviews. Since the album's release, Mike Score expressed a desire to reunite the original lineup for a tour.

2019—: Inflight and String Theory[edit]

In 2019, the original members of A Flock of Seagulls reunited to record a new album, Inflight (The Extended Essentials). The album was released on July 12, 2019 and featured extended versions of some of the band's biggest hits, such as "I Ran (So Far Away)", "Space Age Love Song" and "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)".

In the same year, Mike Score revealed in an interview with Classic Pop magazine that he was working on a new solo album, Space Boy. However, the album has yet to be released.

In 2021, the band announced that they would release a new orchestral album, String Theory. Scheduled for release on August 20, 2021, the album features orchestral versions of some of the band's hits, such as "Messages", "Remember David" and "Say You Love Me". The album's first single, "Say You Love Me", was released on July 23, 2021. The single was released in seven different versions and featured a music video released on YouTube.

Legacy[edit]

Owing to their memorable and unusual style and appearance, A Flock of Seagulls are sometimes referred to with ironic appreciation. The New Musical Express wrote: "Of course, everyone remembers this group now for singer Mike Score's ridiculous back-combed haircut and the fact that they are mentioned in Pulp Fiction. So now they're kind of cool, but in the early 1980s it was a different story."[11]

The band was featured on Viacom's VH1 and Sony's BMG Legacy Recordings' 2006 revival CD series and multi-platform marketing campaign, "We Are the 80's".[12] In a 2007 article for The Guardian, Alfred Hickling described the group as "dreadful", and unfavourably compared them to new wave peers OMD and other Liverpool acts of the time.[13]

The band is also noted for creating their debut album, a successful concept album which alludes to an alien invasion of earth.[14] Billboard writer Robert Christgau applauded their "mechanical lyrics, about a mechanical end of the world," while noting the "aural pleasure" of both the band's debut album and the follow-up.[15][16]

Cryptic Rock writer Alfie Mella praised the band as the "poster band of new wave music" due to the flamboyant hairstyle of its members, particularly the so-described "waterfall bangs" of its frontman. He also remarked that the band's "flanger and reverb-heavy, angular guitar strums", melodic keyboard lines and synth washes", dancey drumbeats", "groove-driven bass lines" and "icy, low-register vocal styling" defines the "typical, middle-of-the-spectrum sound" of the genre.[17]

Personnel[edit]

Timeline[edit]

Line-ups[edit]

1979 1980 1980 1980
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Frank Maudsley – bass guitar
  • Ali Score – drums
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Frank Maudsley – bass guitar
  • Ali Score – drums
  • Willie Woo – lead guitar
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Frank Maudsley – bass guitar
  • Willie Woo – lead guitar
  • Mark Edmondson – drums
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Frank Maudsley – bass guitar
  • Willie Woo – lead guitar
  • Ali Score – drums
1980–84
(Reunions: 2003, 2004, 2018, 2021)
1984–85 1985–86 1986–88
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Frank Maudsley – bass guitar
  • Ali Score – drums
  • Paul Reynolds – lead guitar
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Frank Maudsley – bass guitar
  • Ali Score – drums
  • Chris Mars Chryssaphes – keyboards
  • Gary Steadman – lead guitar
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Frank Maudsley – bass guitar
  • Ali Score – drums
Disbanded
1988–89 1989 1989–94 1994–98
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Ed Berner – lead guitar
  • Dave Maerz – lead guitar
  • Kaya Pryor – drums, percussion
  • Mike Radcliffe – bass guitar
  • Mike Railton – keyboards
  • Jonte Wilkins – drums
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Ed Berner – lead guitar
  • Dave Maerz – lead guitar
  • Kaya Pryor – drums, percussion
  • Mike Radcliffe – bass guitar
  • Mike Railton – keyboards
  • Jonte Wilkins – drums
  • Mike Marquart – drums
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Ed Berner – lead guitar
  • Kaya Pryor – drums, percussion
  • Mike Radcliffe – bass guitar
  • Shavin Duffy – bass guitar (1990)
  • Mike Railton – keyboards
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Ed Berner – lead guitar
  • A.J. Mazzetti – drums
  • John Walker – drums (1995-1998)
  • Dean Pichette – bass guitar
1998–2004 2004–2016 2016–2017 2017–present
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Joe Rodriguez – lead guitar
  • Darryl Sons – drums
  • Albert Cruz – drums
  • Lucio Rubino – bass guitar (till 2002)
  • Rob Wright – bass guitar
  • Robbie Hanson – bass guitar
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Joe Rodriguez – lead guitar
  • Michael Brahm – drums
  • Albert Cruz – drums (till 2006)
  • Pando – bass guitar
  • Robbie Hanson – bass guitar (till 2006)
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Joe Rodriguez – lead guitar
  • Pando – bass guitar
  • Kevin Rankin – drums
  • Mike Score – lead vocals, keyboards
  • Pando – bass guitar
  • Kevin Rankin – drums
  • Gord Deppe – lead guitar

Discography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "A Flock of Seagulls – Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (2011). "A Flock of Seagulls". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85-712595-8.
  3. ^ Demalon, Tom. "Telecommunications - A Flock of Seagulls - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  4. ^ Zimmerman, Lee (2 July 2015). "A Flock of Seagulls: A Legacy of Influence and Insults". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  5. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (10 November 1983). "Anglomania: The Second British Invasion". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Flock Of Seagulls". Grammy.com. 1 March 2023. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  7. ^ "A Flock of Seagulls Talk Reunion, Orchestral Album & the Day They Wrote 'I Ran'". Billboard. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  8. ^ "A Flock of Seagulls". paradiseartists.com. Paradise Artists. 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  9. ^ Janosik, MaryAnn (2006). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: The video generation, 1981–1990. Greenwood Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-3133-2943-2.
  10. ^ Wener, Ben (31 August 2012). "The Forgotten Festival: Remembering US '82 and '83 as Steve Wozniak's dream bash turns 30". Orange County Register. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  11. ^ MacBain, Hamish, ed. (2011). "252–281: The '80s". NME 501 Lost Songs. IPC Ignite!. p. 53.
  12. ^ Paoletta, Michael (22 July 2006). "Making the Brand: An '80s Revival". Billboard. Vol. 118, no. 29. p. 13. ISSN 0006-2510.
  13. ^ Hickling, Alfred (19 March 2007). "The Electric Hills". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  14. ^ Duxbury, Janell R. (1988). Shakespeare Meets the Backbeat: Literary Allusion in Rock Music. Taylor & Francis.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (30 November 1982). "A Flock of Seagulls". The Village Voice. Christgau's Consumer Guide. Retrieved 6 August 2014 – via robertchristgau.com.
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (26 July 1983). "A Flock of Seagulls: Listen". The Village Voice. Christgau's Consumer Guide. Retrieved 6 August 2014 – via robertchristgau.com.
  17. ^ Mella, Alfie (31 July 2019). "A Flock of Seagulls - Inflight (Album Review)". Cryptic Rock. Retrieved 31 August 2023.

External links[edit]