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The Golden Age of Wireless

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The Golden Age of Wireless
ThomasDolbyTheGoldenAgeOfWireless.jpg
Studio album by
Released13 May 1982
Recorded1981–1982
GenreNew wave, synth-pop, electro-pop
Length42:29
LabelVenice in Peril, EMI
ProducerThomas Dolby, Tim Friese-Greene
Thomas Dolby chronology
The Golden Age of Wireless
(1982)
The Flat Earth
(1984)
Singles from The Golden Age of Wireless
  1. "Urges"
    Released: 18 February 1981[1]
  2. "Europa and the Pirate Twins"
    Released: 15 September 1981[2]
  3. "Airwaves"
    Released: 30 January 1982[2]
  4. "Radio Silence"
    Released: 25 March 1982[2]
  5. "Windpower"
    Released: 26 July 1982[2]
  6. "She Blinded Me with Science/One Of Our Submarines"
    Released: 23 October 1982[2]
Alternative cover
US release album cover
US release album cover
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[4]

The Golden Age of Wireless is the debut album by Thomas Dolby. Released initially in May 1982, the album contains the pop hit "She Blinded Me with Science" in its later resequencings. The album's overall theme is the era of early radio.

Compositions

The music of "Europa and the Pirate Twins" is a deliberate merging of past and present, combining modern synthesizers with blues harmonica playing and electronic percussion with handclaps.[5] The central character in "Radio Silence" is a personification of Radio Caroline, a 1960s British pirate radio station.[5]

Release history

Preceding the album, Dolby allowed a demo of "Airwaves" to be included on a collection titled From Brussels with Love, published in December 1980 by Belgian label Les Disques Du Crépuscule. In response to friends urging him to put out a single, Dolby released his first 45 rpm 7-inch single – "Urges" backed by "Leipzig" – on 18 February 1981.[2] The single was co-produced by Andy Partridge of XTC through Armageddon Records. Partridge also played percussion. Sounds magazine reviewed "Urges" positively, calling Dolby a "new romantic... A Futurist Rundgren perhaps?"[1] None of these songs were announced as singles for an upcoming album, but later they appeared on certain formats of Golden Age of Wireless.

While working on Golden Age of Wireless, Dolby was involved in side projects. He wrote the song "New Toy" for Lene Lovich, about his new Fairlight CMI synthesizer.[6] In May 1981, Dolby produced the single "Dream Soldiers" by the Fallout Club, a band in which Dolby sang and played synthesizers. The Fallout Club was signed to Happy Birthday Records.[7] In August, Dolby released the single "The Jungle Line" under the artist name Low Noise, his own project on Happy Birthday Records. He was inspired to write "The Jungle Line" after hearing Joni Mitchell's song of the same name on her 1975 album The Hissing of Summer Lawns.[8] The Fallout Club disbanded toward the end of 1981.[9] Dolby played live shows in London, including dates at the Heaven and the Albany Empire in April 1982.[10]

Three more of Dolby's songs appeared in late '81 and early '82. "Europa and the Pirate Twins" came out on 15 September 1981 as another independent Dolby single,[11] "Airwaves" hit on 30 January 1982, and "Radio Silence" was released on 25 March accompanied by the announcement of the upcoming album.[2] Finally, The Golden Age of Wireless album was released on 13 May 1982.[2] EMI Records manufactured and distributed these singles and the album, supporting Dolby's own Venice in Peril (VIP) label. VIP was named for the steady process of Venice sinking under water. Dolby said he would donate part of the label profits to stop the flooding of Venice.[6]

Golden Age of Wireless was released five times, in different formats and layouts. All five releases appeared on vinyl, but only the third and fifth versions 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" 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 more rock-oriented version that had previously only been available as a single B-side in the UK.[12] 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" on 23 October 1982[2] – complete with a music video for the A-side – Capitol 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 Golden Age of Wireless sold very well in the US and "She Blinded Me with Science" became a major hit, with constant radio and MTV airplay.

In 1983, Dolby's 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.

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

1982 First UK release: Venice in Peril VIP 1001

All tracks are written by Thomas Dolby, except where noted.

Side A
No.TitleLength
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.TitleLength
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 2009 Collector's Edition CD) 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" used on other configurations of the album.

1982 First US release: Harvest ST-12203

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.TitleLength
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.TitleLength
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

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

Side A
No.TitleLength
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.TitleLength
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[13]

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

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.TitleLength
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.TitleLength
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

No.TitleLength
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
6."Europa and the Pirate Twins"3:18
7."Windpower"4:20
8."Commercial Breakup" (Dolby, Kerr)4:15
9."One of Our Submarines"5:11
10."Cloudburst at Shingle Street"5:45

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

1984 US CD release: Capitol CDP 7 46009 2

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.TitleLength
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

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.TitleLength
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.TitleLength
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

2019 Echo/BMG rerelease

In November 2019, BMG division The Echo Label, which acquired Dolby's catalogue from Warner Music Group in 2017, rereleased the record on vinyl and CD. The "splatter vinyl" edition (Echo 7157) repeats the track sequence of the original UK release, with "She Blinded Me With Science" added as the final track. The CD edition (BMGCAT402CD) consists of the first 14 tracks of the 2009 remaster but with "Radio Silence (Guitar Version)" moved to the final track, following "Urges" and "Leipzig."

Personnel

  • 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 on "Radio Silence"[14]
  • Guido Orlando – Chilean translations, distress, grace
  • Andy Partridge – harmonica, percussion
  • Dr. Magnus Pyke – voiceover
  • Matthew Seligman – bass guitar, Moog bass
  • Miriam Stockley – backing vocals
  • Bruce Woolley – backing vocals, monk voice
  • Akiko Yano – backing vocals on "Radio Silence"

References

  1. ^ a b George Gimarc (1997). Post Punk Diary: 1980–1982. Macmillan. p. 131. ISBN 9780312169688.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gimarc 1997, p. 356
  3. ^ Raggett, Ned. "The Golden Age of Wireless – Thomas Dolby". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  4. ^ Shewey, Don (14 October 1982). "Thomas Dolby: The Golden Age Of Wireless". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 11 February 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b Cohn, Stuart (June 1983). "Thomas Dolby: A Techno-Geek Aims for 'An Emotional Event'". Record. 2 (8): 4.
  6. ^ a b Donald M. Kreis (30 April 1983). "Sounds: Thomas Dolby". Tucson Citizen. Tucson. Associated Press. p. 43.
  7. ^ Gimarc 1997, p. 161
  8. ^ Gimarc 1997, p. 190
  9. ^ Steve Binnie (2018). Sound of the Crowd: a Discography of the '80s (4 ed.). p. 84. ISBN 9780244129651.
  10. ^ Gimarc 1997, p. 265
  11. ^ Gimarc 1997, p. 197
  12. ^ Colin McEnroe (13 March 1983). "New Rock / Pop Releases – Thomas Dolby: The Golden Age of Wireless". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. p. 110.
  13. ^ "RPM Magazine". Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  14. ^ Gimarc 1997, p. 257