Worlds Away

Many have said that after the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the 1980s were a wasteland for music. I beg to differ.

The emergence of post-punk, new wave, new romantic, synthpop and other genres, combined with other major genres like folk, progressive rock, heavy metal, arena rock and others, led to many different sounds for modern music lovers. I’ve posted numerous songs from the decade and recently added a tag “1980s” to help capture them, though I still have to go back and add that tag to some past posts.

The Vancouver, British Columbia threesome Strange Advance fused progressive rock and new wave, with synthesizers and keyboards being their anchor instruments.

The band’s 1982 debut record, Worlds Away, produced two singles, “Kiss in the Dark” and “She Controls Me,” but I think the strongest song on the collection is the title track, today’s selection. It plays for seven minutes, seven seconds and, like the rest of the album, is played almost entirely on synthesizers and a drum machine supported by live cymbals and tom-toms, bass and electric guitar. To me, the song feels a bit like it could have been inspired by the movie Blade Runner though it doesn’t carry the darkness of the film; even the cover art is slightly evocative of the film. Drew Arnott and Darryl Kromm play most instruments on the album, joined by bass player Paul Iverson and session musician Robert Minden.

The band’s second record, 2WO (1985), still featured a lot of synthesizers but added full, live drums and featured many session musicians, including Andy Newmark (who played on David Bowie’s Young Americans album and has also played with Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry projects), Earl Slick (who played in David Bowie’s band in the studio and on tours from 1974 up to 2017), and Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve (the bassist and one of two original members of Streetheart still with the band). The album was recorded in several locations, including Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, and London, England. It produced two singles, “The Second That I Saw You,” and “We Run” which was quite popular in nightclubs and received considerable airplay.

Strange Advance represents the kind of music I enjoyed in the early to mid-1980s. Like Japan’s “Quiet Life,” Colourbox’s “Arena,” Cocteau Twins’ cover of “Song to the Siren,” and Simple Minds’ “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” and so many others, it could be playing at a club or Manitoba social (please check out my post on that phenomenon), or on the record player at home. Music of the period often reminds me of friendships I developed and eventually moved on from in my early 20s, as I’ve discussed in some of the posts on the songs mentioned above.

In 2018, Arnott crowdfunded a reunion tour but in 2019 it experienced delays and, in the COVID-19 environment, has been pushed off to 2021. I might have my eye on that tour if it ever happens, and if it comes to Winnipeg.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Strange Advance YouTube topic channel:

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