The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Reissue Theory: The Art of Noise, “In Visible Silence”

with 5 comments

The Art of Noise usually gets lumped into that U.K. ’80s esoterica category that a lot of their early labelmates on ZTT (Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 808 State, The Buggles and so on) seem to be in. Their sound was hip, catchy and weird, they say, and maybe a bit too much so for their own good. This is kind of funny, particularly because it’s kind of wrong.

The Art of Noise were indeed hip, catchy and weird. Their early work on ZTT, like the sample-heavy “Close (To the Edit)” and “Beat Box,” set a template for a certain kind of sound on the label (and, along with “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes, permanently hard-wired that indescribable synth-orchestra stab sound into heads everywhere). But the group’s tenure on ZTT was short – only two years – and the remaining members of band would later attempt to fuse their sound to increasingly poppier formats, including covers of TV themes and an unlikely Prince cover sung by Tom Jones.

In Visible Silence, the first post-ZTT LP from the group, was the first attempt at that mainstream sound, and it more or less worked. Two singles hit the U.K. Top 20 and one of them won a Grammy Award. The biggest of those songs was “Paranoimia,” released as a special single remix featuring another esoteric ’80 celebrity from Europe: TV’s “talking head” Max Headroom.

While both Headroom and the post-ZTT Art of Noise looked to be relegated to the dustbin of pop culture, it seems 2010 has hopes anew for both of them. Max’s cult sci-fi television show has finally been announced for a forthcoming DVD release, and ZTT and Salvo – they of the new Frankie Goes to Hollywood reissueare prepping a new career-spanning compilation for the band.

Perhaps reissues of the group’s proper LPs might come someday, and with both AoN and Max in mind, I’ve devised a theoretical lineup for In Visible Silence should a reissue happen. Take a look after the jump.

The Art of Noise – In Visible Silence (China Records WOL 2, 1986)

Disc 1: Original LP, Singles and B-Sides

  1. Opus 4
  2. Paranoimia
  3. Eye of a Needle
  4. Legs
  5. Slip of the Tongue
  6. Backbeat
  7. Instruments of Darkness
  8. Peter Gunn (featuring Duane Eddy)
  9. Camilla: The Old, Old Story
  10. The Chameleon’s Dish
  11. Beatback
  12. Paranoimia (Single Version with Max Headroom) (from 7” single – China Records WOK 9, 1986)
  13. Legacy (from 7” single – China Records WOK 11, 1986)
  14. Hoops and Mallets (B-side to “Legs” single – China Records WOK 5, 1985)
  15. Something Always Happens (B-side to “Peter Gunn” single – China Records WOK 6, 1986)
  16. Why Me? (B-side to “Paranoimia” single – China Records WOK 9, 1986)
  17. A Nation Rejects (B-side to “Paranoimia” 12” single – China Records WOK X9, 1986)
  18. Opus III (B-side to “Legacy” single – China Records WOK X11, 1986)

Disc 2: Remixes and Rarities

  1. Legs (Inside Leg Mix) (from 12” single – China Records WOK X5, 1985)
  2. Peter Gunn (Extended Version) (from 12” single – China Records WOK X6, 1986)
  3. Paranoimia (Extended Version) (from 12” single – China Records WOK X9, 1986)
  4. Legacy (Extended Version) (from 12” single – China Records WOK X11, 1986)
  5. Legs (Last Leg Mix) (from 12” single – China Records WOK R5, 1985)
  6. Peter Gunn (The Twang Mix) (from 12” single – China Records WOK R6, 1986)
  7. Paranoimia (The Paranoid Mix) (from 12” single – China Records WOK L9, 1986)
  8. Legs (Live) (from Re-Works of Art of Noise EP – China Records WOLD 2)
  9. Paranoimia (Live) (from Re-Works of Art of Noise EP – China Records WOLD 2)
  10. Hammersmith to Tokyo and Back (Live) (from Re-Works of Art of Noise EP – China Records WOLD 2)

Written by Mike Duquette

March 1, 2010 at 22:49

5 Responses

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  1. Art of Noise should have been a one-hit wonder (or three hit, thanks to Max Headroom perking up Paranormia, and then their minor success with the Peter Gunn theme). That they dragged out their career into several albums, many of which contained derivatives of music from previous albums, was just too much.

    If it weren’t the little girl in the first video, and Max Headroom in the second, they’d have gone nowhere.

    Will

    March 2, 2010 at 04:15

  2. I liked Art of Noise and always thought this was their best overall album. I had no idea there were so many rare b-sides from this era. Bring ’em on!

    Glenn S.

    March 2, 2010 at 06:36

  3. As to the “orchestra hit”…it went on to become totally overused and abused in dance music of the late 80’s-early 90’s. Especially “Freestyle”.

    RoyalScam

    March 2, 2010 at 09:02

  4. And a question that’s always bugged me…were “Legs” and “Legacy” essentially the same track, or one a derivative of the other?

    RoyalScam

    March 2, 2010 at 09:04

    • There were enough differences in the mix between the two. “Legacy” is a bit slower and has the percussion a bit more punched forward. Rather odd (but perhaps not a surprise) that the label seemed to market “Legacy” as a new song on its own, and not a reissue of “Legs” with a new mix.

      Mike Duquette

      March 2, 2010 at 10:59


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