Electronic (band)

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Bernard Sumner (left) and Johnny Marr (right) of Electronic
Bernard Sumner (left) and Johnny Marr (right) of Electronic
Background information
OriginManchester and Salford, England
Years active1988[3]–2001

Electronic were an English alternative dance supergroup formed by singer/guitarist Bernard Sumner (of New Order) and guitarist Johnny Marr (of The Smiths). They co-wrote the majority of their output between 1989 and 1998,[a] collaborating with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, of Pet Shop Boys, on three tracks in their early years, and former Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos on nine songs in 1995.


The two first met in 1984 when the Smiths guitarist contributed to a Quando Quango track that Sumner was producing. Later in 1988, Sumner was frustrated because his New Order bandmates were not receptive to his desire to add synth programming to their music.[4] He decided to produce a solo album but found that he did not enjoy working alone, so he called Marr for help.[5]

Inspired by contemporary dance music like Italo house and acts such as Technotronic,[5] their initial concept was to release white label records on Factory and remain an anonymous entity,[6][7][8] in contrast to their considerable reputations with The Smiths and New Order. The track "Lucky Bag" and the name Electronic itself are two of the vestiges of this initial approach. In 1989, Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant suggested a collaboration when he heard of the budding partnership through sleeve designer Mark Farrow.[citation needed]

The fruits of this union became "Getting Away with It", Electronic's debut single which was released in December 1989 and sold around a quarter of a million copies.[citation needed] The drums on this record were played by ABC's David Palmer and the string arrangement was written by Anne Dudley. It was a Top 40 hit in America the following spring and they toured in support for Depeche Mode in August 1990. After this success, Sumner and Marr took a more commercial direction,[5] blending synthesizers, guitars and analogue technology while retaining the template of contemporary alternative rock.



After a year of intensive recording (and 18 months after "Getting Away with It"), the debut album Electronic was released to critical acclaim[9][10][11][12][13] and domestic commercial success,[14] featuring the Top 10 single "Get the Message" and another Top 40 single, "Feel Every Beat". The album sold over a million copies worldwide.[15]

Along with its fusion of rock and pop, Electronic continued their interest in dance music by inviting DJs to remix their singles and album tracks; this was a trend that continued throughout their career. Prominent acts that worked on Electronic songs around this period include Danny Rampling, DNA, Dave Shaw and Quando Quango founder and Haçienda DJ Mike Pickering.

After the first album was released and promoted, Marr and Sumner recorded albums with The The and New Order respectively, regrouping with Neil Tennant in 1992 to record their fourth and highest-charting single "Disappointed".

Raise the Pressure[edit]

Electronic was resumed when these activities ended, and work began on the second album in late 1994. The core duo was joined by Karl Bartos, ex-percussionist and songwriter with Kraftwerk.

Raise the Pressure was released in July 1996 on the Parlophone label in the UK and Warner Bros. Like its predecessor it fused dance music with a guitar-led approach, but some reviewers felt its production was too rich and distracted from the songs. The album spawned two guitar oriented singles, "Forbidden City" [UK #14] and "For You" [UK #16], with the dancier "Second Nature" issued in February 1997 and reaching UK #35.

Twisted Tenderness[edit]

Electronic did not promote Raise the Pressure with a tour, although they performed its singles live on television shows including Top of the Pops and TFI Friday. Instead, they chose to swiftly record their third album. This was to be a reaction to the length of time they spent producing Raise the Pressure, with an emphasis on writing and demoing songs quickly before recording them.[16] Marr and Sumner were joined by Doves bassist Jimi Goodwin and Black Grape drummer Ged Lynch, and together they made the album Twisted Tenderness as a more conventional four-piece group. The album did not return the group to their early 1990s levels of popularity but was well received by critics.[17][18][19][20]

Current status[edit]

Neither Sumner nor Marr has gone on record with any formal dissolution of the band despite both having moved on to other projects. However, in 2003, Marr did agree that the band had reached "its natural conclusion" and that he was happy that it ended on a positive note.[21] Sumner recorded with New Order again and, in 2009, formed a new band, Bad Lieutenant. Marr has since worked with many acts, including The Healers, Pet Shop Boys, The Cribs and Modest Mouse, as well as releasing multiple solo albums.

Marr and Sumner played with the Doves for the Manchester v Cancer charity concert in January 2006 and the compilation album Get the Message – The Best of was released that September to mild promotion and sales [UK #194]. In July 2013 Sumner joined Marr at Jodrell Bank to perform "Getting Away With It". Marr was supporting for New Order and performing songs from his career.



  • Neil Tennant – vocals, keyboards, guitar (1989–1994)
  • Chris Lowe – keyboards (1989–1994)
  • Karl Bartos – percussion, synthesizers, vocals (1995)
  • Jimi Goodwin – bass, vocals, guitar, keyboards (1999)
  • Ged Lynch – drums, percussion (1996–1999)
  • Kester Martinez - drums (1990+)


Studio albums[edit]

Title Release Peak chart positions Certifications
  • Released: 27 May 1991
  • Label: Factory
2 42 66 109
Raise the Pressure 8 94 31 143
Twisted Tenderness
  • Released: 26 April 1999
  • Label: Parlophone
9 78
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Release Peak chart
Get the Message – The Best of Electronic
  • Released: 18 September 2006
  • Label: EMI


Title Year Chart positions Album
US Alt
"Getting Away with It" 1989 12 40 38 7 13 4 Electronic
"Get the Message" 1991 8 71 37 60 8 15 1
"Feel Every Beat" 39 156 28 27
"Disappointed" 1992 6 20 17 77 14 10 6 9 Songs from the Cool World
"Forbidden City" 1996 14 31 Raise the Pressure
"For You" 16
"Second Nature" 1997 35
"Vivid" 1999 17 Twisted Tenderness
"Late at Night" (withdrawn)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Promotional singles[edit]

Title Year Chart positions Album
US Alt
"Tighten Up" 1991 6 Electronic
"Until the End of Time" 1997 Raise the Pressure
"Prodigal Son" 1999 Twisted Tenderness
"Make It Happen"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Director
1989 "Getting Away with It" Chris Marker
1990 "Getting Away with It" (US Version) Greg Copeland and Judith Briant
1991 "Get the Message" Gunther Deichman
"Feel Every Beat" Peter Scammell
1992 "Disappointed" Howard Greenhalgh
1996 "Forbidden City" Tom Merriton
"For You" Richard Heslop
1999 "Vivid" Nick Wood
"Late at Night" Jason Smith
"Late at Night" (Version 2) Jason Smith


  1. ^ Twisted Tenderness was finished by late 1998; the earliest promotional copies were released the following February.


  1. ^ Bush, John. "Electronic biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  2. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. pp. 336. ISBN 1843531054.
  3. ^ Melody Maker, 13 April 1991
  4. ^ "Q&A: Bernard Sumner", Spin, 21 September 2009 link
  5. ^ a b c Q, July 1991
  6. ^ Reflex, November 1991
  7. ^ Uncut, April 1999
  8. ^ Q, September 2007
  9. ^ Melody Maker, 25 May 1991
  10. ^ NME, 25 May 1991 (8/10)
  11. ^ Spin, June 1991
  12. ^ Entertainment Weekly, 21 June 1991 (A)
  13. ^ Q, July 1991 (5/5)
  14. ^ BPI Award, July 1991 (link)
  15. ^ Warner Bros press release, June 1996
  16. ^ City Life, 31 March 1999
  17. ^ Melody Maker, 24 April 1999 (3.5/5)
  18. ^ NME, 17 April 1999 (7/10)
  19. ^ Q, May 1999 (4/5)
  20. ^ Uncut, May 1999 (4/5)
  21. ^ 'Undercover magazine interview with Johnny Marr', 23 March 2003. link Archived 27 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ a b c "ELECTRONIC | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 29 June 2014. - select Albums tab for album charting
  23. ^ a b Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
    • Top 50 peaks: "australian-charts.com - Discography Electronic". © 2006-2010 Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
    • Top 100 peaks to December 2010: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  24. ^ "Search - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  25. ^ "allmusic ((( Electronic > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Billboard. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  26. ^ "Album in the Year 1991". © 2007-10, Steve Hawtin et al. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  27. ^ "British certificates: searchable database". bpi.co.uk. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  28. ^ "Bubbling Down Under Week Commencing 30 September 1991". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  29. ^ "Electronic - German Chart". charts.de. Retrieved 25 May 2014.[dead link]
  30. ^ "The Irish Charts". IRMA. Archived from the original on 26 January 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  31. ^ "Electronic - Dutch Chart". dutchcharts.nl. Archived from the original on 16 June 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  32. ^ "Electronic - Swedish Chart". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  33. ^ a b c d e "allmusic ((( Electronic > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Billboard. Retrieved 15 February 2010.

External links[edit]