Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.


Back To Nature Again

For a musical act, the key to transcending the "dated" label is to possess the talent for creating exceptional songs. Forget the technology Frank Tovey employed, and accept that his first two singles, "Back To Nature" and "Ricky's Hand" had the perfect elements: driving rhythm, catchy riff, and unapologetic, non-cliché lyrics. Following the two singles, Tovey expanded his studio line-up and recorded this debut album with the power team of Eric Radcliffe, John Fryer, and Daniel Miller. Although an expanded cast of characters included more traditional instrumentation such as live drums, bass, and guitar, the sound remained faithful to what was established with the first singles.
It's important to note that while it wouldn't be uncommon to hear Fad Gadget music played in a set with Human League, Kraftwerk, or Gary Numan songs, however the sound is where the similarities end. Tovey's approach was different: he didn't incorporate technology in the same way. Frank Tovey used synthesizers because he found them to be his best resources as the one-man show he started out as. Frank started making music in the closet of his flat with a modified Grundig tape recorder. Even early on his music was characterized by creative percussion and unconventional instrumentation, mostly due to Tovey’s lack of formal training on any instrument and an admitted deficit of coordination. Frank’s technique of combining found sounds with primitive drums machine loops and socially aware lyrics carved out the niche for a new style of music.

It’s sad that Frank does not get more recognition for his music. You never see his name mentioned in reviews, being compared to musicians that have clearly built on his legacy.  He never gets radio airplay, not even on the little college radio programs broadcasting from under-funded studios at 3 a.m. Nobody ever thanks him in their liner notes, nobody ever covers his songs, nobody even seems to care that he laid the foundation for what has come to be known as “Industrial” music. Yet when people hear the term “Industrial Music” today they tend to think of bands like Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and Ministry. Really these bands have nothing to do, sonically at least, with early “Industrial” bands like Throbbing Gristle. Their sound is much more indebted to Frank Tovey and the weird, dark electro-pop ditties he churned out as Fad Gadget in the early 80s.
Tovey developed the character of Fad Gadget during his live shows, using his experience as a mime and art student to create something both artistically informed and confrontational. The persona was something of an 80s version of Ziggy Stardust, with Tovey’s slim figure, dark mullet and pancake makeup visually echoing Bowie’s iconic character. During the course of a show Fad Gadget would taunt the audience, stage dive, cover himself in shaving cream, climb all over the equipment and generally cause a scene; often at the expense of his own body. Videos exist of Fad Gadget smashing himself in the face with a mic during a show and continuing on despite the blood dripping from him mouth. These antics resulted in him being largely known for giving an entertaining and in-your-face live show rather than the actual music he was playing.
Fad Gadget’s often overlooked studio albums are great founts of 80s “Industrial” goodness. His first album “Fireside Favourites” was released in 1980 and sounds like a blueprint for early Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. It’s all synthesizers and drum machines with a pinch of funky bass and Frank Tovey’s monotonous growl rounding out, what was at the time, a distinctive sound. The album lists numerous strange “instruments” in its liner notes including an ashtray, a metal chair and “extra fingers.” Yet in a time where technology was making new forms of music possible, Frank Tovey chose to keep as much control over it, keeping it as human as possible. Those who still aren't convinced only need to look at the cover for Fireside Favourites, it's not a display of technology, it is a photo of Frank singing live! Additionally, his subject matter was clearly not a grim painting of a horrific science fiction future (note that his first single was titled "Back To Nature").
Sadly, Frank Tovey died of a heart attack in April 2002, his legacy largely ignored or unknown. If you are a fan of “Industrial” do yourself a favour and look into Fad Gadget. At his best he is danceable, dark, funny and intelligent, an uncoordinated idealist with a message. He is the sadomasochistic Ziggy Stardust that never quite found an audience and never gets the credit he deserves.

Taken from the 1991 CD reissue to glorious MP3 @ 320kbps and now in fabulous FLAC

Track List
            01. Pedestrian
            02. State Of The Nation
            03. Salt Lake City Sunday
            04. Coitus Interruptus
            05. Fireside Favourite
            06. Newsreel
            07. Insecticide
            08. The Box
            09. Arch Of The Aorta

Back To Nature bonus single addition also in MP3 @ 320kbps

            A. Back To Nature
            B.The Box

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