Sunday, 21 November 2010

Album Review: Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

Who knows what was going on in my mind yesterday when, whilst I was in the midst of doing some household chores, I thought to myself, You know what would be nice right about now? Sigue Sigue Sputnik. So, with me being a creature of instant gratification, I cued up their 1986 debut album Flaunt It and let fly! And I got to thinking, Hmm, does it hold up after 24 years? And the surprising answer is -- yes. Yes it does, and funnily enough, it almost sounds more apropos now as when it did back during the years of Reagan, the Cold War, and the burgeoning years of digitalism.

For here is an album that wears its star-fucking soul on its sleeve. It's no coincidence that the first time you hear Martin Degville's voice on album opener "Love Missile F1-11" he's saying over and over again, "I wanna be a star! I wanna be a star!" 

Founded by Generation X and Lords of the New Church bassist Tony James, Sigue Sigue Sputnik (named after a Moscow street gang, whose name translates roughly to "Burn Burn Satellite") was originally a concept borne from a desire to capitalize on the rampant commercialism on display in popular culture -- and make a killing while at it. Choosing the rest of the band pretty much based on their looks (vocalist Degville was a clothing designer whose retail shop, Ya Ya, was ransacked for the band's crazy outfits), the next step was to find a motto. "Fleece the World" seemed appropriate, and then the theme -- "Hi-tech sex, designer violence, and the 5th generation of rock n' roll." Thrown into the mix was a futuristic dystopian world run by multi-national corporations in which instant gratification could be yours with the touch of a button (sound familiar?), and everything was ready to roll!

Tapping Ray Mayhew and Chris Kavanagh for drumming duties, Neil X for guitar, and Martin's co-worker at Ya Ya, Yana on synths and "club effects," Tony James had finally all his pieces put together. Now it was time to put together an album and sell it to the unwashed masses!

Taking their cue from science-fiction films, exotic international locales, video games, sex magazines, high-design, haute-couture, Japanese manga, and the all-mighty dollar, Sigue Sigue Sputnik's sound was all over the map. Featuring heavy-duty rock guitars, heavy and intensive percussion, drone-y insect-like sound effects, vocal distortions, liberal usage of samples from films (Dirty Harry, Blade Runner, and The Road Warrior featured large), and even advertisements for products real and imaginary dispersed between the songs, Flaunt It was (and still is) a wild roller-coaster ride through the fevered imagination of a world in which anything and everything is for sale. Tracks such as "Rockit Miss USA," "21st Century Boy," and "Massive Retaliation" are prime examples of all these disparate influences at work at the same time, and frankly, are just a shitload of fun. "High-tech sex and rockets, baby," indeed, Mr Degville! Does Moscow rock your baby? It sure does.

Highly recommended after all these years, I cannot stress enough how fun this album is. If you haven't already, then check it out by all means.

sigue sigue sputnik
"21st century boy"
flaunt it

sigue sigue sputnik
"love missile f1-11"
flaunt it

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