"Modern English: This is one of the bands that helped define the '80s pop-rock sound"
"The epitome of the one-hit wonder, Modern English jammed radio waves around the world with "I Melt With You," then malingered on by cloning their one claim to fame into a seemingly endless number of blanched, bloodless remixes. With their dreamy, Byrds-inspired melodies and dandified vocals, this is the band who wrote the theme song for all those sensitive boys and girls of the '80s for whom hairspray and eyeliner were as necessary as air and water."
"Modern English is one of those bands that really makes you think of your childhood. They have been around for so long, and it’s amazing how well they are doing. They are still around and their new songs are better than ever!"
New Wave, Alternative Rock
Robbie Grey - Vocals, Guitar (1978-)
Michael Conroy - Bass (1979-91 and currently again)
Stephen Walker - Keyboards (1978-86)
Richard Brown - Drums (1978-86)
Gary McDowell - Guitar (1978-91)
Aaron Davidson (ex-March Violets) - Guitar, Keyboards (1986-1991)
Steven Walker (http://www.myspace.com/speedy_vespa and http://www.stevenwalkerphoto.com/ - one note: he is not the keyboard player Stephen Walker!) (He was in Spitfire, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spitfire_(UK_band), Tiny Monroe, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiny_Monroe and The Auteurs, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Auteurs) - Guitar (1996-)
Ted Mason (http://www.mi5recordings.com/artists/bluemockingbirds/index.html and http://www.youtube.com/user/tmasonmi5) - Guitar, Vocals (1996)
Matthew Shipley - Keyboards (1996)
John Solomon (later Tiny Monroe, now in CJ & the Satellites, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CJ_&_The_Satellites) - Drums (1995-2001)
Ian Robbins (from Colourbox)- Bass (1998)
Nik Williams (Ballroom and Spectre) - Bass (1999)
"I Melt With You"
PEEL SESSIONS (1980-1981)
Rob Gray - Vocals
Gary Mcdowell - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mick Conroy - Bass, Backing Vocals
Richard Brown - Drums
Stephen Walker - Synthesiser
Credits for the first session:
Producer - John Sparrow
Engineer - Mike Robinson
Studio - Langham 1
Credits for the second session:
Producer - Roger Pusey
Engineer - Nick Gomm
Studio - Maida Vale 4
FIRST PEEL SESSION (11/11/1980 (Langham 1))
01 Mesh And Lace
02 A Viable Commercial
03 Black Houses
04 Sixteen Days
SECOND PEEL SESSION (07/10/1981 (Maida Vale 4))
05 Someone's Calling
06 Face Of Wood
07 Being Peeled
Link to download:
However, despite their painstaking, sublime work on After The Snow and its follow-up, Ricochet Days, Modern English's roots were defiantly in the primitive, aggressive punk scene. In 1977 the Sex Pistols inspired three Colchester residents, Robbie Grey (vocals), Gary McDowell (guitar) and Richard Brown (drums) to form a local "hobby punk band", The Lepers. "We played at little parties in people's houses," recalls Grey 20 years later. "Punk gave people like us an opportunity to make music because we couldn't actually play our instruments. The idea of being in a band seemed impossible before the Sex Pistols came along.""
"The Lepers evolved into Modern English a year later, when keyboard player Steve Walker and bassist Mick Conroy joined the band.
"Modern English recorded two radio sessions for BBC Radio 1. One was broadcast on 11th November 1980 and included the album tracks Sixteen Days, Black Houses, Mesh and Lace and A Viable Commercial. The second was broadcast on 10th July 1981 and included the tracks Someone's Calling, Face of Wood & The Choicest View (named as Being Peeled for the session). The first two tracks appeared over a year later on the 'After The Snow' album and you get a feel for what the original tracks sounded like before producer Hugh Jones helped them create their more pop sound. To hear some really great quality versions of these session tracks."
Modern English became one of 4AD's first signings, following a dark period for the band during which they'd moved to London and had their five-track demos returned without interest by most of the major record companies. Grey: "Basically we decided that we'd have to move to London if we were going to be serious about the band, so we put all our bags in a van and started squatting all over Ladbroke Grove in West London. We spent a few years in squats, living together, signing on and making music all the time."
In London, Modern English became involved with several very different music scenes. "We lived next door to Killing Joke," laughs Steve Walker, "Jaz Coleman used to wake us up at four in the morning by playing heavy dub." Other neighbours included The Clash and Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P. Orridge. Some band members used to hang out in the influential Goth club, The Batcave, and guitarist Gary McDowell was dressing up for nights at the Club For Heroes, and later Blitz, long before anyone had coined the phrase 'New Romantic'. Steve Walker recalls, "He was into Bowie and Robert Fripp and liked the extravagance of that whole club scene." Bassist Mick Conroy was also a fan of electronic music, especially Bill Nelson, but his playing was pure Joy Division - propulsive, melodic riffs that would hold Modern English's experimental songs together, along with the powerful work of drummer, Richard Brown.
MESH AND LACE (1981,reissued in 1992)
Artwork By [Design] - 23 Envelope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/23_Envelope)
Bass, Vocals - Mick Conroy
Drums - Richard Brown
Guitar, Vocals - Gary McDowell
Keyboards - Stephen Walker
Producer, Written-By - Modern English
Vocals - Robbie Grey
Engineer - Ken Thomas (http://www.recordproduction.com/ken-thomas.html) (tracks: 1 - 9) , Mike Kemp (http://www.sintefex.com/?targ=contact&src=home) (tracks: 10 - 15)
Producer - Modern English , Robin Mayhew (http://www.the-presidents.org.uk/Robin%20Mayhew.htm) (tracks: 10, 11)
Re-release of the original album (1981) + tracks from singles.
1, 12 from 'Gathering Dust' single (AD 15)
10, 11 from 'Smiles and Laughter' single (AD 110)
13 from 'Presage(s)' compilation EP (BAD 11)
14, 15 from 'Swans On Glass' single (AD 6)
All songs recorded at Jacobs except track 11 recorded at Hillside Sound and tracks 10, 12 to 15 recorded at Spaceward.
"Swans On The Glass"
01 Gathering Dust
02 16 Days
03 Just A Thought
04 Move In Light
06 The Token Man
07 A Viable Commercial
08 Black Houses
09 Dance Of Devotion (A Love Song)
10 Smiles And Laughter
11 Mesh And Lace
14 Swans On Glass
DROWNING MAN (7") (1979)
16 Drowning World
17 Silent World
DEMO SONGS (1979)
19 Coming From You
20 Feel It
21 The Plunge
23 Silent World
Link to download:
Following the release of two 4AD singles, "Swans On Glass" and "Gathering Dust," in 1981 Modern English unleashed their uncompromising debut album, Mesh & Lace. Ranging from the claustrophobic "16 Days" to the anti-nuclear "Black Houses," the young band thrashed and contorted through a collage of bleak, industrial noises and scratched guitars, forsaking conventional songs. "It's my favourite album," enthuses Grey. "There's a lot of aggressive, dark stuff on there. "16 Days" is a really wild track, where we were messing around, rattling film cans for 20 minutes." Mesh & Lace's stark, unyielding sound still possesses a black magic, as raw emotions are vented in ugly / beautiful guitars and a blizzard of 'found sounds'.
However, the album's brutal atmosphere prompted a mixed response from the UK media. One of the more favourable reviews was written by rock critic, Andy Gill; "In some respects, theirs is a modern English sound: '80s dark power strung with a certain austerity - a loss of humanity, if you like - though never quite toppling into the Gothic vistas of say, Bauhaus, despite some similarities of tone and temperament." According to Steve Walker, "the press were put off us by some of our early gigs, which were pretty chaotic." Nevertheless, Modern English had become part of 4AD history, both on a musical level (another 4AD artist, This Mortal Coil, later recorded a medley of "Gathering Dust" and "16 Days") and as an early project for in-house designer, Vaughan Oliver, whose record sleeves were characterised by ethereal imagery and surreal visual shocks. "They didn't explain the masturbating fish on the cover of Mesh & Lace to us at all," says Robbie Grey with a wry smile, "but they were just experimenting, trying to find a new style."
"Vaughan credits us for giving him complete freedom at that point," says Walker. "We helped him on his way."
"The debut album by this overlooked 4AD outfit from Colchester in Essex. In many ways, Modern English helped to define the sound and image of that pioneering label; while admittedly pretentious at times, they were also sharp-edged, intellectual, and obsessed with aestheticism. The standouts here are the title track, "Smiles and Laughter," and "Gathering Dust," an epic post-punk exercise in aural dynamics. The keyboard rush that they employ is one of the punkiest uses of Stephen Walker's synthesizer imaginable — at least prior to the development of the industrial movement."
"It reaches the deep aches and soothes the soul. It remindes me of times long ago when life was so terrible and it gives me a place to echo the longing for something so much more than what I have. It is wonderful. It is one of my favorite albums of all time.
Mesh and Lace is melodic, trance-like, and moody. It's there when I need to have music that understands what I've been through in my life. It is very personal.
Mesh and Lace is a collector's item. If you own it, you will know what a priceless treasure you truly have."
"Everyone knows Modern English for their 80s hit single "Melt With You". In fact, they reference this album in that song "...never really knowing it was always mesh and lace".
This is Modern English before they became pop stars and still had a harder edge. It's a much darker album than "After the Snow". They sing about violence, nuclear war and other non-pop music topics. What's amazing is that you can hear flashes of brilliance, great hooks in these noisy, angst-filled cacophonous songs filled with audio clips, pounding drums and guitar feedback. Don't forget the headphones!
When I first heard the album, it didn't jump out at me as a classic. However, like all classic albums, it grew on me until I found myself repeating riffs and phrases from the album like "Can you count the seeds in an apple?" or "Religion Can't Help".
While I can't say that I bought this album before I heard "Melt With You", I did get it back in the early 80s at one of those cool college record stores that you probably can't find anymore and played it until it wore out. It proudly sits among my favorite albums of all times. I never got tired of it and I'm thrilled that it's available on CD. As a bonus you also get the "Gathering Dust" EP with songs that weren't included on the original album.
What does it remind me of? I hate comparing it to other groups, but if forced I would say I see similarities with Ministry, Joy Division, Siouxie and the Banshees and The Cure."
"A darkly ambiented realm of unsettling yet perfect bass, guitar drums et al harmonies,...of the gothic Bauhaus / Joy Division tradition. This album, being the only one that they've released that follows in this pattern, is utterly my favorite of them all."
AFTER THE SNOW (1983,reissued in 1992)
Artwork By [Modified] - 23 Envelope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/23_Envelope)
Artwork By [Original] - Vaughan Oliver (23 Envelope, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaughan_Oliver)
Backing Vocals, Engineer, Keyboards [Additional] - Hugh Jones (http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Hugh_Jones_(producer)#)
Bass, Violin - Michael Conroy
Drums, Percussion - Richard Brown
Guitar - Gary McDowell
Keyboards - Stephen Walker
Producer, Engineer - Hugh Jones (http://www.producermanagement.co.uk/hugh%20jones.html) (tracks: 1 to 11, 13)
Producer, Written-By - Modern English
Vocals - Robbie Grey
Engineer - John Madden (track 12), Mike Kemp (track 14)
Remix - Harvey Goldberg (http://www.greatcityprod.com/?page_id=836) and Mark Kamins (http://profile.myspace.com/markkamins) (track 09)
Remix - Harvey Goldberg and Ivo Watts-Russell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_Watts-Russell) (track 10)
Edited By [Additional] - Martyn Young (from Colourbox) (track 10)
This is the re-issue of the 1992 CD:
Tracks 1 to 8: from 'After The Snow' LP (CAD 206).
Tracks 9, 10: from 'Someone's Calling' 12" (BAD 309).
Tracks 11, 12: from 'I Melt With You' 7" (AD 212)
Tracks 13, 14: from 'Life In The Gladhouse' 12" (BAD 208)
Recorded at Rockfield. Thanks to Faith for flute on 'Carry me down'.
Track 9, 10: remixed at Media Sound N.Y.C.
Track 12: engineered at Alvic Studios.
Track 14: engineered at Spaceward Studios.
01 Someone's Calling (4:03)
02 Life In The Gladhouse (4:38)
03 Face Of Wood (5:55)
04 Dawn Chorus (4:41)
05 I Melt With You (4:10)
06 After The Snow (3:49)
07 Carry Me Down (4:33)
08 Tables Turning (4:33)
09 Someone's Calling (Remix) (3:46)
10 Life In The Gladhouse (Remix) (5:00)
11 I Melt With You (7" Mix) (3:50)
12 The Prize (3:32)
13 Life In The Gladhouse (12" Mix) (5:56)
14 The Choicest View (11:40)
THIS MORTAL COIL - Sixteen Days - Gathering Dust EP (1983)
Bass - Michael Conroy (tracks: 15, 17)/ Guitar - Gary McDowell
Written-By - Modern English (tracks: 15, 17), Tim Buckley (track 16)
15 Sixteen Days - Gathering Dust 9:00
16 Song To The Siren 3:30
17 Sixteen Days (Reprise)
Link to download:
More info for This Mortal Coil Ep:
When Modern English founder Robbie Grey wrote the words to "I Melt With You," little did the English singer-songwriter know that the song would haunt him for years to come. A dreamy, seize-the-moment tune that debuted in dance clubs and on MTV in 1983, "Melt With You" has since become the consummate '80s anthem, rearing up in greatest-hits countdowns and even a commercial for Burger King.
The cheerful and casual Grey, 40, remembers the song's beginnings 16 years ago as brief and inauspicious. "We were in Wales at the time and we hadn't even been to America yet," he says, "I wrote the lyrics in three minutes--we didn't have a clue what we were doing. It's amazing."
While living together and jamming songs in their Ladbroke Grove squat, it was Steve Walker who suggested they hire Echo & The Bunnymen producer Hugh Jones to work with them on new songs. "He came to see us play on New Year's Eve at London's ICA," remembers Grey, "and he didn't think much of the gig, to be honest." "He said we didn't have any songs," adds Walker, softly.
The band credit Jones' tireless enthusiasm - he worked non-stop for four weeks at Rockfield studios in Wales - and his emphasis on songwriting structures as opposed to weird, improvised textures, for the change in style showcased on 1982's After The Snow LP. "Hugh would play us stuff like Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and Todd Rundgren," says Walker. "He showed us things called choruses; we knew they were there, but we never knew how to get them." According to Richard Brown, "Hugh was influenced by '60s music and he brought vocal harmonies to the music and a straight, solid drum beat." The remote, quiet recording location also inspired the transcendental, semi-religious tone of the material, in particular Grey's life-affirming lyrics on "Dawn Chorus": "It's a song about where we recorded the album," he says. "You woke up in the morning - and we were staying in this really small cottage with a log fire - you threw open the window and it was just so inspiring. That's what 'Dawn Chorus' is about. In the song there's a line that says, 'Strange visions of balloons on white stallions' and that's what the front cover is - a line from the song." This warmer, more romantic approach was reflected in the title of the album. "The first LP was very cold," explains Grey, "and a very angry record and that's why we named this one After The Snow - as in, after the cold."
After The Snow's thawed, more vulnerable songwriting prompted a critical breakthrough in the UK, where they received the best reviews of their career. One prominent British rock magazine raved, "this record is a pleasant surprise - it's both traditional and forward-looking; familiar yet mysterious. Watch this space." Another was equally complimentary about their change in approach, claiming, "It's as far an advancement from Mesh & Lace as Einstein was from algebra . . . how can slush like ABC and Duran Duran get so much airplay to the exclusion of dynamism like this?" Unfortunately, the British public cold-shouldered the album, leaving the band in no-man's land. "Nothing much happened for a while," says Grey, "and we started recording a new album with Hugh. We'd done about four tracks when I had a phone call from a friend who said, 'Do you realise your song, "I Melt With You," is all over American radio?' It was the first I'd heard anything about it."
""I'll Melt With You" will forever be the one specific moment that's Modern English's place in pop history, but the album it came from, After the Snow, isn't anything to sneeze at. Indeed, in transforming from the quite fine but dour young miserabilists on Mesh & Lace to a brighter incarnation who still had a melancholy side, the quintet found exactly the right combination best-suited for their abilities. Like contemporaries B-Movie and the Sound, Modern English used punk and post-punk roots as a chance to introduce a haunting, beautiful take on romance and emotion, while the contributions of Stephen Walker on keyboard helped make the album both of its time and timeless. That said, the secret weapon on the album is the rhythm section of Michael Conroy and Richard Brown, able to shift from the polite but relentless tribal beat clatter on the excellent "Life in the Gladhouse" to the ever more intense punch of the title track, the album's unheralded masterpiece. None of this is to denigrate the contributions of singer Robbie Grey and guitarist Gary McDowell. The former's seemingly mannered singing actually shows a remarkable fluidity at points — "After the Snow" again is a good reference point, as is the fraught, slow-burn epic "Dawn Chorus" — while McDowell works around the band's various arrangements instead of trying to dominate them. Some songs, like "Face of Wood," even find Modern English — often dogged with Joy Division comparisons early on — predicting where New Order would go before that band got there itself. Still, "I Melt With You" is the main reason most will want to investigate further. A perfect pop moment that didn't have to strain for it, its balance of giddy sentiment and heartfelt passion matched with a rush of acoustic and electric guitar overdubs just can't be beat."
"This is probably my favorite early 80's so called "New Wave" album. I wouldn't even put this album in the New Wave or any other category, because I believe it shows a truly original creativity that transcends any genre. This record creates an "atmosphere" that takes the listener on a beautiful trip. I would compare it to a walk with your lover on a wonderful fall day in an English garden; you never tire of the feeling it gives. Personal favorites include "Someone's Calling" and "Face of Wood," but all the songs flow together as if being played in a suite. I think the entire album shows wonderful attention to detail in both lyrics and musicianship. In an era where a band's looks in it's videos were the most important element, Modern English threw that concept out the window and contributed an artisitc statement and musical feel that few bands from that era could capture. Ever notice how a winter snowfall brings beauty to everything it covers? "After the Snow" will add beauty and wonder to your CD collection."
"This album serves as a portrait of truly exquisite early 80's new wave - if they took off "Melt With You", which fits this album like a square peg in a round hole, "After The Snow" would be just about perfect. (I must note that I'm only familiar with the original, not the "bonus tracks" version) The only song on this album that has a pop sound (besides "Melt With You") is "Someone's Calling", which is still a standout (awesome percussion), especially played loud. The rest of the album is atmospheric and has that sparse, choppy yet melodic and raw sound that die-hard fans like me really love about new wave. Unlike the manufactured garbage du jour, this album has an honest and almost spiritual quality about it. It's not for your casual 80's music fan; this album packs substance and lacks the sheen and gloss of much of the era's offerings.2
"Melt With You" is synonymous with an era, no doubt about it. But should the album whence it sprang be relegated to oblivion?
I think not. While "Melt With You" might be early-80s pop of the moodiest and most perversely populist sort, the rest of the album is imbued with a personality of its own. "Life in the Gladhouse" is a stomping beast that gallops along to its own beat. "Dawn Chorus" and "Face of Wood" all have elements that linger in the recesses of memory. "Carry Me Down" is almost wistfully medieval in its execution, yet not in a pretentious proggy way. For the most part, the album's production aptly presents the music in a competent manner.
The bonus tracks that are tacked on the back of this re-issue are rather cumbersome, since most are demos and alternate takes. "The Choiciest View" is an interesting addition, since it somehow degenerates into self-indulgent feedback shenanigans of the most V.U.-esque quality.
Overall, this is worth checking out if you're a fan of post-punk bands. Synth-pop this isn't, mind you, and neither is it sparse Gang of Four/Public Image Ltd.-circa 1979 stuff. It's more along the lines of a less austere Joy Division having a crack at fun.
Final verdict: Recommended."
"After the Snow is truly an expression of Eighties music at its near-best. In addition to the euphoric and well-known "I Melt With You," After the Snow contains 7 other (mostly) great songs, as well as 5 bonus tracks. What we find here is rich '80s New Wave rock, held together by a gentle, distinctly folky mellowness ("Carry Me Down" even features a trilling flute and a gentle acoustic guitar) that's just British enough to be umistakeably a gem of an era gone for nearly 15 years, and to resemble The Cure's less depressing times. This calm sound, parallel with Robbie Grey's clear, deadpan English vocals is decorated sparsely with thin, jerky guitars worthy of early Siouxsie and the Banshees or U2. The two contrasting styles compliment each other quite nicely, and are punctuated occasionally by Stephen Walker's bubbly, robotic keyboards, which sound as if they remain buried in the mix for most of each song and are only allowed to come up for air every once in a while. These keyboards can sound typically and humorously '80s, but overall they do not detract from the soung. The songs, conveniently helped along by their folkiness, mostly center on reflection and often the beauty of nature, but at times can escalate into tense, dark cynicism, as as in the dark reminsicience of "After the Snow". These explosions have more in common with the darker, '80s Goth bands; unexpected in light of the more optimistic tone of this CD, but not totally mysterious, since After the Snow was released on 4AD, the division of Beggar's Banquet, which has been home to such Goth greats as Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, The Birthday Party, Gary Numan and The Cult. While delineating each aspect of this music may make each one sound clashing or egregious they blend together very harmoniously. This album may be too calm or bland for some, but I highly recommend it to fans of New Wave or other '80s styles, and younger fans raised on more recent Alternative Rock may find something relaxing and pleasant here."
RICOCHET DAYS (1984,reissued in 1992)
Vocals - Robbie Grey
Guitar - Gary McDowell
Keyboards - Stephen Walker
Drums - Richard Brown
Bass - Michael Conroy
Artwork By [Design] - 23 Envelope
Backing Vocals - Lorita Grahame (from Colourbox)
Cello - Caroline Lavelle (http://www.carolinelavelle.com/about.html)
Congas - Jeff Seopardie (from Boy's Don't Cry, see: http://www.geocities.com/sunsetstrip/Diner/2674/seopardie_jeff_a.htm)
Engineer - John Fryer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Fryer_(music) and http://www.myspace.com/johnfryerproducer) (tracks: 10 to 12)
Oboe, Arranged By [String Quartet] - Nicky Holland (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gpfpxqw5ld6e~T1 Oboe, English Horn [Cor Anglais] - Kate St. John (from The Dream Academy, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_St_John)
Producer, Engineer - Hugh Jones (http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Hugh_Jones_(producer)#) (tracks: 1 to 10)
Producer, Written-By - Modern English
Tabla - Pandit Dinesh (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iiY4gjiwC0)
Viola - Sally Beamish (http://www.sallybeamish.com/)
Violin - Nick Barnard (http://www.pellyorchestra.co.uk/), Nicola Lewis (http://www.sydneysymphony.com/about_us/symphony_family/Strings/first_violins/)
Tracks 1 to 8: from 'Ricochet Days' album (CAD 402).
Tracks 9 to 11: from 'Chapter 12' single (BAD 401), engineered at Blackwing.
Track 12: Previously unreleased. This was supposed to be the next single on 4AD. However, they left the label.
Tracks 1 to 9 were recorded and mixed at The Producers Workshop, the Garden and Rockfield.
"Spinning Me Round"
01 Rainbow's End (3:07)
02 Machines (5:49)
03 Spinning Me Round (4:51)
04 Ricochet Days (5:13)
05 Hands Across The Sea (4:54)
06 Blue Waves (4:00)
07 Heart (6:58)
08 Chapter 12 (3:57)
09 Chapter 12 (Twelve Inch Mix) (4:37)
10 Ringing In The Change (4:09)
11 Reflection (4:19)
12 Breaking Away (Demo) (2:52)
Link to download:
Check this also if you wanna listen to their concert in New York '84:
http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/dt/modern-english-concert/20051148-4845.html (ConcertRitz (New York, NY))
The joyful "I Melt With You" was still only available on import at this point but a deal with Sire Records set the band up for an American promotional tour in 1983. "We were only supposed to be out there for a month or so, but we ended up playing 82 gigs in 100 days," reveals Walker. Grey: "It was so strange, to go from playing to 200 people looking inquisitively at you in the ICA to 10,000 people on a beach in Florida. We were so naive we actually got off the plane wearing long coats." As well as the touring, Modern English made an impact by becoming one of the first British acts to enjoy heavy rotation on MTV. "That was another weird thing," says Grey, "because suddenly we became part of this wave of British music that was doing well in America - people such as Duran Duran and Flock Of Seagulls. The only thing we had in common with those bands was Gary's haircut. Our video was done in a London basement rather than a yacht in some exotic far-flung place." In fact, the song Life In The Gladhouse was a direct swipe at the "cocktail set" embodied by the likes of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet.
"I Melt With You" eventually peaked just outside the American Top 40, while After The Snow was rapidly certified Gold. "We played the Ritz in New York one night in 1983 and Matt Dillon introduced us on stage," says Grey, illustrating just how far Modern English had travelled from their Colchester roots. "The place was sold out to the rafters, with Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan in the audience."
After The Snow's runaway success delayed the final sessions for their next album Ricochet Days, which was completed a year after they'd started recording. Hugh Jones's sophisticated production and the band's willingness to experiment created a mature but understated follow-up. In a relatively short space of time they'd journeyed from the heavy dynamics of post-punk to an airy, psychedelic style, painstakingly detailed with string sections, oboe and textured keyboards.
"I'm still proud of that record," claims Walker, "but the problem was it didn't have a hit single on it." Accurately described by one American critic as "an eloquent work of passive art," Ricochet Days is a beautiful-sounding album which features some flowing, abstract songwriting and some of Grey's finest vocal performances. Unfortunately for Modern English their success had isolated them from the record company, who were quietly developing other British acts, such as Cocteau Twins, at their own pace. For much of 1984, Modern English were on tour in America, feeling cut-off from 4AD and increasingly under pressure from their USA major label. The next single, "Hands Across The Sea," stalled outside the charts and a stressed and over-worked Modern English began to fall apart. "It's the usual story," laments Walker. "Some band members started squabbling and at the end of the tour myself and Richard were dismissed.""
"Leaving behind the artistic adventures of their first two albums (particularly impressive was 1982's After the Snow), Ricochet Days begins Modern English's slow decline toward the status of just another synth band. The material, though beautifully produced by the reliable Hugh Jones and boasting some pliable hooks, lacks the conviction and attack of old. "Hands Across the Sea" and "Spinning Me Round" are serviceable but hardly vital additions to the band's songbook."
"This CD seems to have gone unnoticed by the mainstream who seem only to remember "Melt with you"...this album is really strong, definitely at least as good as After the Snow...Rainbows End, Machines, Spinning Me Round, Blue Waves are all extremely excellent, and the remaining tracks are almost as good as they (I enjoy turning the volume up during the sweet little classical intro to Chapter 12 too)....I love to discover unheralded gems, and this CD certainly fits the bill. If you enjoy ME's more popular music, please give this album a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised!"
"What a nice piece of pop, this is what New Wave was all about: once the rage of punk finished, the hangover left sharper ears and creative skills, so a mixture of pop and experimental never seen or heard before was produced by this and other seminal bands, oh lord if only contemporary pop might be like this...
Great songs with lovely harmonies all over, strings and oboe arrangements, highly recomendable indeed. "
""Ricochet days", the band's third studio album, does greatly benefit from a slightly streamlined sound, better production, and dancier rhythms. Adding a string quartet and other classical instruments, tracks like "Heart" or the title cut even sound experimental and ambitious. While "Ricochet days" lacks an absolutely catchy hit single like "I melt with you" and the punk edge of the previous two albums, it's a bit more consistent and will ultimately prove the most satisfying ME effort. The rocking "Rainbow's end" is ME's most immediate number in years, and "Machines", "Spinning me round", and "Hands across the sea" display that the band hasn't forgotten how to write catchy refrains. But the stand-out track here is "Chapter 12", which has a very memorable, crystalline synth melody. There's even a video clip of this song available, it shows the band playing on the roof of a house. The extra tracks are taken from 1984's EP release "Chapter 12", including a great dance mix and two other tracks. The previously unreleased "Breaking away" is a simple but enchanting number. Well, ME never were a groundbreaking band like several other 4AD artists (Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Pixies), but they created some of the best and most sophisticated wave-rock of the early-'80s."
STOP START (1986)
Aaron Davidson - Keyboards, Guitar
Gary McDowell - Guitar, Songwriter
Mick Conroy - Bass and Guitar
Robbie Grey - Lead Vocals, Songwriter, Lyrics
Stephen Stewart-Short (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Short) - Producer
Artwork By [Sleeve] - 23 Envelope (see the first album)
Drums - Graham Broad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Broad and http://www.grahambroad.com/)
Guitar - Tony Lowe (http://www.tonylowe.com/about.html)
Horns - Gary Barnacle (http://saltyka.blogspot.com/2007/10/leisure-process.html)
Programmed By - Neil O'Connor (http://www.myspace.com/nocroc)
Recorded By - Tim Baldwin (http://www.matinee.co.uk/site3/events/main.htm)
Recorded By, Mixed By - Alan Moulder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Moulder)
Written-By - Modern English
Written-By - Kelly Solloum , Tommy Dunbar (track 02)
01 The Border
02 Ink And Paper
03 Night Train
04 I Don't Know The Answer
05 Love Breaks Down
06 Breaking Away
07 The Greatest Show
08 Love Forever
09 Start Stop
10 Stop Start
11 Ink And Paper (Live)
Link to download:
I asked about thttp://rapidshare.com/files/292922314/moen-so.rarhe departure from 4AD in 1984 and Robbie likens it to the way Cocteau Twins felt when they left the label. There wasn't any sour feelings in the spilt; it was just deemed to be time to leave and explore other labels and expand. A single "Breaking Away" was planned for spring 1984 but scrapped in light of the departure. Robbie even admitted that in hindsight, leaving 4AD at the time probably wasn't the best thing to do.
After 4AD, Modern English signed to Beggars Banquet in the UK and to Sire in the US, who they had aleady been distributed by for the last two 4AD albums. Sire exerted a great deal of control over the group and the overall lack of promotion given to the first official Sire album "Stop Start" led to a bad feeling all around while on a US tour. The "Ink And Paper" single did OK but apparently, not good enough and the group was given the Sire pink slip. Go ahead, just ask Robbie's opinion of Sire!"
"Modern English's 4th studio album Stop Start was released in 1986 by Sire Records. Later, Modern English broke away from Sire (hence the song "Breaking Away") was in part both a message put on the album at the last minute in spite of conflicts with the record label, and also trying to break away from their past traditional musical accomplishments (i.e. “I Melt With You” from the album After The Snow).
With sounds bordering on punk, modern rock, alternative, and a little touch of hard rock at times, Stop Start should not be ignored! This is truly one of Modern English’s “alternative” albums from the early accomplishments of “After The Snow” and “Ricochet Days”. Lead singer Robbie Grey mentioned “...they wanted to try something different and break away from the old, try something new.”
Unfortunately this did not work out the way the band wanted. Due to poor advertising, management, and infrequent radio play, the band eventually split up and went their separate ways. It was a bitter departure from Sire and this great album was pulled, never released again. It is available mostly on vinyl, occasional cassette tape if you’re lucky, and has rarely been seen on CD or mp3 digital media.
The radio plays that Modern English did get from this album were "The Border", "Ink & Paper", and "Breaking Away". A video was also released for "Ink & Paper", but did not get much airplay. It was mostly played in department stores and rarely seen on MTV. Modern English truly influenced the New Wave/Modern Rock era of the time.
Later, in 1992, a demo version of “Breaking Away” was released for the first time on a reissue of Ricochet Days from the label 4AD."
"Picked up by Sire Records, Modern English found it difficult to break free from perceptions of them as a de facto 4AD band (a situation which also occurred with the Cocteau Twins). So they made this rather regrettable, overtly commercial album which impressed no one. Songs such as "Night Train" and "Love Breaks Down" were all sheen and polish rather than substance. Others, like "The Greatest Show," simply meander endlessly. An interesting footnote is that ex-Rubinoo Tommy Dunbar co-wrote "Ink and Paper.""
MODERN ENGLISH AT THE PALACE review:
PILLOW LIPS (1990)
Performer - Aaron Davidson , Michael Conroy , Robbie Grey and Gary McDowell
Artwork By [Art Direction, Design] - Vaughan Oliver (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=49586923568 and http://rateyourmusic.com/lists/list_view?list_id=13797&show=100&start=200)
Artwork By [Calligraphy] - Chris Bigg (23 Envelope, see: http://yourkindisrare.blogspot.com/2009/05/lectures-chris-bigg.html)
Backing Vocals - Elaine Banks
Drums, Percussion - Roy Martin (http://www.roymartin.co.uk/)
Engineer - Jess Corcoran (http://www.urbanstreet.co.uk/studio_gravity.htm), Steve Nunn (???: http://www.cornwallsolar.co.uk/cornmill/career.htm)
Photography [Colour] - Dominic Davies (http://www.dominicdavies.com/)
Photography [Portrait] - Marcus Graham
Producer - Pat Collier (ex-The Vibrators, see: http://www.myspace.com/perryvalestudios)
Producer, Written-By - Modern English
Violin - Martin Bell (ex-The Wonder Stuff)
Recorded at Greenhouse Studios. Released with an additional postcard
Credits for I Melt With You EP:
Keyboards - Jerry Deaton (Eddie Money, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mihoko, Mike Reno/Loverboy) (http://www.media-match.com/profile.php?uid=802815 and http://www.productionhub.com/directory/view.aspx?item=171369) (tracks 11,13)
Keyboards - Eric Kupper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Kupper and http://www.myspace.com/erickupper) (tracks 12,14)
Remix - John Potoker (http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Potoker/636845930) (tracks 11,13), Carl Segal (tracks 12,14)
Engineer - Jess Corcoran, Steve Nunn, John Potoker (Tracks 11,13)
Producer - Pat Collier/Producer, Written-By - Modern English
01 I Melt With You (3:55)
02 Life's Rich Tapestry (4:05)
03 Beauty (2:24)
04 You're Too Much (2:29)
05 Beautiful People (3:10)
06 Care About You (2:56)
07 Let's All Dream (2:35)
08 Coming Up For Air (3:46)
09 Pillow Lips (3:30)
10 Take Me Away (3:42)
I MELT WITH YOU (12") (1990)
11 I Melt With You (Toke's Rock The World Mix)
12 I Melt With You (Carl's Stop The World Mix)
13 I Melt With You (Toke's Rock The Radio Mix)
14 I Melt With You (Bass Meltdown Mix)
Link to download:
After essentially breaking up, it wan't until Robbie got a call from New York based TVT Records in 1990 that Modern English came back to life. Robbie recruited former bandmate Michael Conroy and friend Aaron Davidson to become the new model Modern English. The deal was, TVT would pony up the bucks for a new album only if they re-recorded "I Melt With You", which they did, in almost the exact version as the 1982 original, for the "Pillow Lips" album.
Well, Robbie has some nice things to say about TVT as well. Another gap of six years goes by and a deal is struck with the imago label. Robbie then recruited three friend's to join him in the new version of Modern English, with three others for the touring band.
"This was the group's first album after re-forming around original members Robbie Grey (vocals), Mick Conroy (bass), and ex-March Violets member Aaron Davidson (guitar/keyboards), who had joined in 1986 only to see the current lineup at that time disintegrate. The trio moved to the U.S. and conjured a minor hit single with a remixed version of the portentous "I Melt With You." Older fans of the band despaired of their new, slicker variant. Despite their modest breakthrough, the group broke up again in 1991."
""Pillow lips" was not the comeback it should have been. The line-up here is slightly different than on ME's first three albums, but that's not the main reason why this 33-minute disc is such an utterly disappointing affair. The songs are the weakest in ME's career and the overly slick production cuts off any edge. Also, the plastic drum machines and outdated synth sounds recall '80s pop music at its least inspired and have few in common with ME's once tasteful musicianship; much of "Pillow lips" is simply lifeless. I really wonder where the band which wrote such gems as "Gathering dust" or "Chapter 12" has gone. The only song that really stands out among the fair amount of undistinguished tracks is "I melt with you", a remake of ME's 1982 stateside hit single which comes up with new-recorded vocals. "Beautiful people" was also released on CD-single, however, both items failed to enhace the album's commercial appeal in Europe - it proved to be a serious flop. ME's first three albums, "Mesh and lace", "After the snow", and "Ricochet days", come highly recommended..."
"I'm usually not one to write bad reviews unless I find something so bad I find it necessary to warn others. Enjoying their earlier material (especially the early postpunk/new wave classic After The Snow), I was excited to find this album used in a store for only a buck. After listening to it, I felt completely ripped off.
The opening track, a well-done remake of their classic "I Melt With You", can easily lure you in. However, it's setting you up for a big fall. The album's other 9 tracks seem like filler.. Horrible, sugary, repetitive pop songs with no substance, each based primarily on 2 chord melodies. Most amateur songwriters I know could probably write the last 9 tracks on this album in about a day...and I can't think of anyone that would want to listen to any one of those songs more than once. In fact, I have to admit to writing this review without listening to the whole album all the way through myself because there were a few tracks I still haven't been able to make it all the way through. Basically, the album is almost entirely glossy production with no substance whatsoever.
Then, to top it all off, the album clocks in at under 33 minutes! Apparently they only had the ability to write and record half an hour of horrible filler...go figure... Of course, on the other hand, the quality of the songs does give the album the interesting ability make those 33 short minutes seem like an eternity...
If you really like glossy, mindless, totally generic pop, then you should listen to the samples and make up your own mind. Who knows, you might love this album even though I can't even fathom that possibility at the moment. Otherwise, there are only 3 reasons I can think of to buy this CD: 1. You only want the CD to put "I Melt With You" on repeat play (in which case After The Snow would still be a better purchase) 2. You want a really shiny frisbee to play with 3. You're a very sadistic interrogator in need of an effective new torture device.
Definitely check out the band's earlier material, though. This album is very uncharacteristic of the quality of their work overall...chalk it up to lineup changes, an attempt to make a comeback and go mainstream, whatever...this one falls flat on its face."
"This cd holds many great memories for me. Some of the songs on here(Life's rich tapestry,Take me away,Coming up for air, Pillow lips) had a great emotional impact on me. It was a rough time in my life and these songs helped to get me through it. I listen to these same songs today and they still have an impact on me. They're like old friends or comfort food. I still love them. They might be different then their earlier material but still great alternative rock! Highly recommended to listen and let them become your old friend one day also!"
I Melt With You remix EP:
"I found this CD to be very enjoyable! It contains 4 unique versions of "I Melt With You", all of which are different from versions heard on the radio. The first track is a new remix from one of the eighties versions of the song (of which I believe there were even three of those alone!). It's nice to hear instruments and sections of the song you wouldn't normally hear because they're lost in the background. The second track is a remix of the re-recorded 1990 version (man this song was recorded a lot!). Track 3 is "Beautiful People" (which seems to be a bit different than I remember it). Track 4 is the original 12" single version ('80s). And the Last track is the 1990 extended version. Believe it or not, I enjoyed listening to all of these interpretations. Remember, old songs never die, they just get remixed! At least the great ones like this. Great CD single."
"wasn't familiar with the other versions of "melt with you" but really enjoy them. i think this is a great disc."
"The version of this song on "Pillow Lips" is different than the one on "After the Snow". You can tell the difference by the middle 8. Just listen carefully. They must have felt this was the only way to get back on the charts. They're back together, and are working on a new CD. Just hope they won't have to record this again, except live."
EVERYTHING'S MAD (1996, reissued in 2007)
Cello - Matt Goeke (http://www.myspace.com/mattgcellist)
Co-producer - Modern English
Drums - Robert Brian (http://sites.google.com/site/drummerrobbrian/professional-drummer/experience)
Engineer, Mixed By - Giles Hall (http://www.ensemblerobot.org/artists.shtml)
Guitar, Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Programmed By, Bass, Strings, Producer - Ted Mason (http://www.mi5recordings.com/artists/bluemockingbirds/index.html)
Keyboards, Programmed By, Sampler - Matthew Shipley
Mastered By - Rick Rowe (http://www.rickrowemastering.com/)
Photography - Marcus Graham , Steve Sullivan
Viola - Ina Litera (http://www.thirdstreetmusicschool.org/faculty/litera.htm)
Violin - Christoph Franzgrote (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wcfixqqgldhe~T4), Erika Atchley (http://www.saugatuckmusic.org/archive/erika_atchley.htm) , Yue Xu (http://www.taylororchestra.org/events.htm)
Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Programmed By - Robbie Grey
Other [Sourangy] - Mahandar Singh (track 01)
Other [Tabla] - Shamim Miah (http://www.myspace.com/shamimmiah) (track 01)
Rick Rowe (http://www.rickrowemastering.com/)- Mastering
Richard Delingpole (http://www.lhiw.org.uk)- Cover Design
Engineer - John Paul Mabarek, Jerry Pilato (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Pilato)
Steve Sullivan (http://www.kls-photo.com/)- Photography
Written-By - Grey, Mason (tracks 01-05,08)
Written-By - Shipley, Grey(tracks 09,10)
Written-By - Shipley, Grey, Mason(tracks 09,10)
Recorded at Planet Sound, New York and Bath, UK
Interview contains "I Don't Know Anything"
01 The Planet (3:41)
02 That's Right (3:49)
03 Waves (When I Cum) (4:28)
04 Heaven (2:38)
05 I Can't Breathe (2:29)
06 Here We Go Again (3:32)
07 I Don't Know Anything (2:37)
08 Elastic (2:21)
09 Flim One (3:25)
10 The Killing Screens (4:07)
Link to download:
Now touring with an entirely new lineup--drummer Jonathan Solomon, guitarist Steven Walker, keyboardist Matthew Shipley and bassist Ian Robbins--Grey has mixed feelings about the song's powerful grip on fans.
"It's great to watch people enjoying your music," he says, "but most people know Modern English from 'Melt With You,' and the reason we're on the road is we've got a whole new bunch of songs and the new stuff's excellent. It's great to put a half-dozen new songs in the set because you can balance it with the 'Melt With You' thing, which we've played a thousand times before."
Halfway through their North American tour, Modern English touched down in Toronto on May 9th.
They signed to the latest incarnation of the imago label and released album number six "Everything's Mad" two or so months back. The only original member remaining from the 4AD days is vocalist Robbie Grey with the current touring band featuring five new members, most of which are friends of Robbie's.
If you've heard the new album then you know it's far from the style and standards that were evident on the 4AD and Beggars Banquet albums. However, with repeated listenings, it does grow on you. Songs like "I Don't Know Anything" have the same feel as "Hands Across The Sea" or "I Melt With You". Technically, the new album sounds rich and lush; production from lead guitarist Ted Mason shines on the album's ten tracks. Keyboardist Matthew Shipley rounds out the core of the group.
"I'm stumped as to why this album is showing up for 25 cents on Ebay and 43 cents on Amazon Marketplace. It's a pretty good album. Still sounds like Modern English and then some. Robbie Grey is and always has been the heart of the band. He gives Modern English its sound. Heaven is an especially good track. It's definitely worth having at under a dollar."
"Why, oh why, is this release available for 25 cents? I took the advice of the other reviewer and did, in fact buy it for 24 cents. A great purchase. It is true that this album has a different lineup, but it is a good one (while McDowell's guitar work is sorely missed, this sound is a different kind of good). I'm guessing there was no promotion behind this album. It is far superior to later outings like the abysmal "Pillow Lips." Is it on a par with ME's classic albums? The short answer is no. What sets this album below those is that there are some filler songs that experiment a little with euro-dancy sounds that i feel fail pretty hard. However, the songs that are winners are big winners. Any fan of ME should add this to their collection, especially for the surreal Everly Brothers cover or the undeniably catchy/too much information "When I Cum.""
"this album has a different lineup, but it is a good one (while McDowell's guitar work is sorely missed, this sound is a different kind of good). I'm guessing there was no promotion behind this album. It is far superior to later outings like the abysmal "Pillow Lips." Is it on a par with ME's classic albums? The short answer is no. What sets this album below those is that there are some filler songs that experiment a little with euro-dancy sounds that i feel fail pretty hard. However, the songs that are winners are big winners. Any fan of ME should add this to their collection, especially for the surreal Everly Brothers cover or the undeniably catchy/too much information "When I Cum.""
LIFE IN THE GLADHOUSE:1980-1984 (2001)
Artwork By [Art Direction] - Vaughan Oliver (23 Envelope)
Artwork By [Design] - Martin Anderson (23 Envelope)
Artwork By [Original Sleeve Design] - 23 Envelope
Bass [Guitar] - Michael Conroy
Drums - Richard Brown
Guitar - Gary McDowell
Keyboards - Stephen Walker
Mastered By [Remastered] - John Dent (http://www.masteringworld.com/EngineerDetails.asp?EID=3)
Photography - Dominic Davies (http://www.dominicdavies.com/studio.htm)
Photography [Original Sleeve Photography] - Nigel Grierson (23 Envelope, see: http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/3920-nigel-grierson)
Photography [Portrait] - Sheila Rock
Producer - Hugh Jones (tracks: 3, 6. 7. 9 to 13, 15, 16) , Modern English (tracks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 14) , Robin Mayhew (tracks: 4, 8)
Vocals - Robbie Grey
Remix - Harvey Goldberg , Ivo Watts-Russell (track 16)
Written-By - McDowell* , Conroy* , Brown* , Grey* , Walker*
Remastered at Loud Mastering.
Tracks taken from:
1, 5: Mesh & Lace Album (CAD 105)
2: Gathering Dust Single (AD 15)
3: I Melt With You Single (AD 212), title is adjusted.
6, 10, 11: After The Snow Album (CAD 206)
7, 9, 13, 15: Ricochet Days Album (CAD 402)
8: Smiles And Laughter Single (AD 110)
12: Unreleased single mix, title is adjusted.
14: Swans On Glass Single (AD 6)
16: Unreleased alternate remix, title is adjusted.
01 16 Days (4:37)
02 Gathering Dust (4:21)
03 I Melt With You (7" Mix) (3:49)
04 Mesh And Lace (4:18)
05 Black Houses (5:42)
06 After The Snow (3:50)
07 Rainbows End (3:06)
08 Smiles And Laughter (3:10)
09 Ricochet Days (5:13)
10 Dawn Chorus (4:42)
11 Carry Me Down (5:25)
12 Machines (Single Mix) (5:54)
13 Heart (6:57)
14 Swans On Glass (4:35)
15 Blue Waves (3:58)
16 Life In The Gladhouse (Alternate Remix) (5:04)
Link to download:
Life In The Gladhouse - The Best Of Modern English 1980-1984 is an exquisite pop retrospective celebrating the joy of youthful romance (and a huge American video hit in the early days of MTV), 'I Melt With You' was something of an anomaly for this moody and experimental crew, whose songs generally tended to have titles like 'Black Houses' and 'Swans on Glass'. 16 tracks. 2001 4AD release.
"This is a Best Of compilation which is quite different. The people who made this compilation (for better or worse) decided to leave out many of the singles that were actually released by Modern English and did actually get some decent airplay. This CD, is not about playing all of the songs everyone knows - since most people aren't familiar with Modern English anyway. This CD is about telling the story about one of the most underated bands of all time. Yes, After The Snow is definitely a better album. And I really do wish they might have included some of their later singles, and not just included album cuts from the later albums, but the music none-the-less is excellent. It includes some of their earlier, dark post-punk experimental rock music, which is ultra hard to find. It has the most popular songs from Mesh & Lace, as well as some of the better stuff from After The Snow, including the classic anthem, "I Melt With You". It also features many excellent songs from the underrated Ricochet Days album. The CD liner notes includes a history of the band as well as an intervue with two of the band members. If you love post-punk or new wave music, you will love this album. The bassist is as good as Peter Hook, the synths are phenomenal, the melodies and harmonies and lyrics are all excellent as well. If you like the Cure, New Order, Joy Division or similar music, definitely check this album out!"
"Modern English are certainly deserving of a decent Best Of, but this one featuring songs from their 4AD years is just one big question mark. The darker, harsher debut MESH AND LACE gets far too much coverage here and their best two albums -- AFTER THE SNOW and RICOCHET DAYS -- are weakly represented. For starters, why on earth someone would omit "Someone's Calling" and "Hands Across the Sea" is absolutely beyond me -- two of their quintessential songs. I almost get the impression that this one was compiled by a fan of their earlier "goth" sound who almost begrudgingly (and smugly?) includes the smash "I Melt With You", sandwiched inappropriately between MESH AND LACE material.
It would be nice to see material from STOP START ("Ink and Paper" was a great song) and possibly even PILLOW LIPS included in a truly comprehensive compilation, because this one widely misses the mark by purporting to be a "Best Of"."
"Notorious for the single "I Melt with You", Modern English produce a dark brand of pop that is also dark. Like the other reviews claim, this is one of the most highly under-rated bands. If you like Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Dada Pogrom or Gary Numan then you will enjoy this album. There is a lot of similarity with The High Dials in a strange but curious way. The melodies with get you up on the dance floor. Listen and see."
Modern English are an English rock band best remembered for their songs "I Melt with You," "Hands Across the Sea," and "Ink and Paper". The group disbanded for a period in 1991,but later recorded in 1995 with some new members.
Formed in Colchester, Essex, England, in 1979 by Robbie Grey (vocals), Gary McDowell (guitar, vocals), and Michael Conroy (bass, vocals), Modern English were originally known as The Lepers. The group expanded to "Modern English" when Richard Brown (drums) and Stephen Walker (keyboards) were subsequently added to the line-up of the band ).
After a single on their own 'Limp' label in 1979, the band signed to 4AD the following year, with two further singles released, and a session for John Peel recorded before the band's debut album, Mesh & Lace, in 1981, the band in the early days showing a strong Joy Division influence. A second Peel session was recorded in October 1981. The follow-up, After The Snow (April 1982), was more keyboard-oriented and was compared to Simple Minds and Duran Duran. It was also released in the United States by Sire Records the following year, where it reached number 70 on the Billboard chart, and sold over 500,000 copies. Grey said of the album, "We used to think 'God, we'll never make a pop record. We're artists!', but things don't always turn out as you planned and when you actually create a pop record, it's so much more of a thrill than anything else". The second single from the album was also a hit in the US, the jangly "I Melt With You" reaching number 78. When he reviewed the album, Johnny Waller of Sounds described the track as "A dreamy, creamy celebration of love and lust, which deserves to be showcased on as 12" single all by itself, with no b-side", while his colleague Tony Mitchell described it as "suburban amateurism at its most unrewarding".The band relocated to New York City and worked on a third album, Ricochet Days, which again made the top 100 in the US, after which the band left 4AD and were solely signed to Sire outside the UK and Canada. The album Stop Start (1986) was the last record Modern English record released by Sire, with the band splitting up after its release.
Grey and Conroy along with Modern English worked with This Mortal Coil before re-forming Modern English with Mick Conroy and Aaron Davidson for a new album in 1990, Pillow Lips, now on the American TVT label.The album featured a re-recorded "I Melt With You", which was released as a single, and saw the band again in the Billboard top 100.The band split up for a second time in 1991, after contractual problems with TVT, with Grey forming Engine. In 1995, with the legal issues with TVT sorted out, Engine evolved into the next incarnation of Modern English and signed to the Imago label, with Grey and Matthew Shipley (keyboards). This line-up recorded the 1996 album Everything Is Mad.
Robbie Grey toured the US with a new Modern English lineup coast to coast across the US and recorded a new album with Hugh Jones (producer of earlier Modern English records). The songs written with guitarist Steven Walker and including Matthew Shipley came together on the road and back home in London between tours , after a few years on the shelf this collection of songs is due to be released later this year.
Mesh and Lace (1981)
After the Snow (1982)
Ricochet Days (1984)
Stop Start (1986)
Pillow Lips (1990)
Everything Is Mad (1996)
Life In The Gladhouse: 1980-1984 (2001)
Soundtrack (2001) (Unreleased)
?The Road to Mecca (2009) Mi5/EMI
?Evolution (2009) Mi5/EMI
I have found this old article about ROBBIE GREY:
"On October 26 1981, Modern English played C.O.D. Although they still get a fair amount of airplay today, the crowd really wasn't that large, and it was easy to get good close photos. Singer Robbie Grey hung out on the stage and talked to us afterwards; a few of my friends already knew him, I'm not sure how. Robbie was one of the least pretentious people I met in my several years of involvement in the music scene. Just a regular guy, he acted as if he were playing a local pub instead of a major club halfway around the world."
Robbie Grey about the other members:
"Actually, it’s really funny. We got interviewed by Key Magazine in England and none of us had seen each other in a long time.
I’ve seen Mick Conroy and Stephen Walker,but the others like Gary McDowell and Richard Brown - the drummer and guitarists - I don’t know what they’re doing to be honest. I found what they were doing through the magazine.
Richards started drumming again, Gary is still making music, Mick started making music again and Stephen has his own record store. That’s all I really know to be honest."
Mick Conroy also played for Felt and later Moose (1999 and 2000)
as well also appearing at early Stereolab's live shows and albums. And currently he is again with Modern English.
http://twitter.com/mudlarkmick (perhaps this is also belongs to him, but not sure)
It is also mentioned that Mick Conroy,Gary McDowell and Aaron Davidson were temporary musicians in Living In Texas The Group (www.myspace.com/livingintexasthegroup)
"The new reformed band of 2009 mixes the influences of world music including Western World music, combining traditional Indian instruments (sitar, sourangi, tablas) with classical strings, harps as well as western rock guitars/drums and sampling.
Two new albums are to be released in 2009 by Mi5 and EMI entitled The Road To Mecca and Evolution The new Modern English will be touring with UB40's Ali Campbell in the US in 2009 and with many of the artists on Mi5 (Papa Wemba, Jeff Beck, Lagbaja) in 2009"