Culling the Herd: the Art of Noise

The Art of Noise, "The Best of the Art of Noise" - 1 star.  Bury it.

The story begins, as it often does, with a girl.  We were in the U of M architecture school together, which meant that, along with every other student, we'd spend hour after hour huddled over our drafting tables, slugging down coffee, walkmans cranked up as high as they'd go.  As the terms progressed, I'd invariably accumulate every tape I owned at the studio, but eventually I'd get sick of listening to Elvis Costello, and the Stray Cats, and everything else, and I'd start trolling everyone else's tapes.

I was really hooked on Kim.  We had a lot of laughs.  She also had totally different taste in music - much more british synth pop, like Yaz, and Howard Jones, and Alison Moyet...and the Art of Noise.  I loved this album (or some variation thereof) while we were in school, then I kinda forgot about it.  But I'd think about it every time I heard Tom Jones, or saw a retro clip of Max Headroom, although I never bought it.  I finally bought it on CD a few years later, and listening to it was like a deep drink of my 20s.  I'd immediately be launched back to nights of exhausted laughter, and going outside to get some fresh air, and grabbing a cup of coffee before sunrise to try to get through a presentation that morning.

Listening to it now, though...man, what a piece of crap.

A few years back, I read Roger Ebert's review of the Tom Hanks / Dan Aykroyd version of "Dragnet" and he writes something referencing the theme song - paraphrasing from memory, "it starts with the classic 'dum, duh-duh-dummmm' opener to the TV show, then lapses into some sort of electronic synthesizer noise."  I remember being offended by that line.  Geez, Roger, get with the 80s, huh?  This stuff is awesome!

Roger was right, as usual.  What a gigantic, steaming pile it is.  "Peter Gunn" isn't bad - mostly because it features Duane Eddy and his fabulous Duane Eddy-ness - and Kiss 89 is okay, because it's a Prince song, and because it features Tom Jones on the lead vocal (wait, what?).  The rest are history, and I won't miss them.