Polydor 1981 / Esoteric 2013
An apocalyptic transformation of art rock purveyors into a high-flying pop albatross.
It was the logical end of a process that started on 1979’s "Eyes Of The Universe" – as refracted through the next year’s Berlin experience which would be preserved for posterity on "A Concert For The People": the once progressive band moved into much lighter trenches.
In the Cold War times, though, such action meant a contrast with dark, foreboding themes fed additionally by guitarist John Lees’ depression that inspired him to dust off and rewrite perky 1968 demo of “Death Of A City” and chain it to the acoustic-adorned luminescent lament of “In Memory Of The Martyrs” and the transparent trance of “Life Is For Living”, first performed in Germany and now given a studio treatment, as well as to “Back To The Wall” and opener “Waiting On The Borderline”.
In an ostensibly conceptual way, the latter, relating to love rather than politics, signals the soft shift to the electro-pop direction with its insistent, if non-intrusive, keyboard line, while the former’s dance form pitches a catchy ambiguity in its mellifluous glimmer. Yet the double-entendre of lively piano and sharp riffs of rock ‘n’ rolling in “Highway For Fools” is easy to peel off and see the showbiz’s gut spilled on boogie which gives way to the crystalline lyricism of “Echoes And Shadows” – a bit simplistic but lovely. Same can be said about the bass-bouncing “Doctor Doctor”, the ensemble’s first digital recording sounding quite dated, although arresting still, especially when the groove slows down, unlike the shallow “I’m Like A Train” that is saved only by its optimistic a cappella coda. With a B-side waltz “Shades Of B Hill” tilting it all further to romantic side, this turn of the tide proved slightly flat but cinematic.