17 May 2012

Troy Tate - Thomas/ What'Cha Gonna Do Next/ E209

Label: Sire
Year of Release: 1984

Troy Tate is one of those musicians and performers with a history so long you could discuss it in-depth all week if you had a mind to do so.  Sometime solo artist, sometime member of eighties pop misses Fashion, member of post-Rezillos act Shake, rejected producer for The Smiths first album, and (perhaps most famously) member of The Teardrop Explodes during the turbulent period of the "Wilder" album, he's had a career fit to keep him in bar-room anecdotes for the rest of his life, though he may not necessarily have enough cash to get a round in.  If you're not going to outright succeed in a way that ensures platinum discs line the walls of your mansion, his career is at least an example of how to make your life sound more interesting than most of your associates.

Troy was a solo artist before he joined the Teardrops and again after the band imploded.  When he departed the group, the nucleus of Julian Cope, Gary Dwyer and David Balfe attempted to record the eventually aborted "Everyone Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes" album, an LP Cope complained suffered from a synthetic, eighties production.  If this troubled Julian, you don't get the impression from Tate's output that such a direction would have bothered him all that much - for it swings in that very measured, pouting eighties way, with slapping bass noises and saxophones making themselves apparent at various points.  Troy's Bryan Ferry-esque posing on the sleeve really does give the game away mightily here.

Don't let that put you off, however, because the songs he created were good enough to still spike through the eighties sheen, and there's enough imagination behind the arrangements to make for a pleasing listen.  In particular, both "Thomas" and the B-side "E209" here are examples of how to create pop music which still has diversions, sliproads and turnoffs into unexpected territories - an art which, for however much the eighties gets maligned as an era, was typical of the period and has become increasingly hard to find since.  Whilst this isn't quite up there with ABC, it is thoughtful pop music from the same kind of laboratory, and it deserves a chance.

If this leaves you hungry for more, Troy Tate's road manager Bob Edwards has a site here where both his albums are available for download.

1 comment:

Russ said...

Troy's first band was The Index, in 1978. Here's a reference to an mp3 of our record:


(the bassist in The Index)