Monday, 29 September 2008

Modern English Videos

With the wonders of YouTube we can now all see the Modern English promotional video's. I have only been able to find five so assume that these are the only five that were made. These are;
I Melt With You;
Someone's Calling;
Chapter 12:
Hands Across The Sea;
Ink and Paper;

If you know of any others please let me know. I have been able to show some of the videos up on this page but not all so please still use the above links.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Modern English - Soundtrack

With re-interest in the band Robbie decided to re-develop the band. Robbie and Ted Mason had parted company but Matthew Shipley remained with the band. Robbie enlisted a new group of band members from the UK; Steven Walker (guitar - this is a totally different Steven Walker to the early band member who played keyboards), Matthew Shipley (keyboards), Jonathan Solomon (drums) and Ian Robbins (bass - Ian was originally with other 4AD band Colourbox). They toured extensively in the states writing and performing new material in 1996-8. To read an interview with Robbie from this time click on this link . They recorded a demo in 1998 of a track called 'The World I Want' which was recorded at Abbey Studios. With the lack of anything solid at this stage Ian Robbins left and was replaced by Nik Williams. Another set of demo's of the tracks 'It's Okay', 'Here Comes The Failure' (This is 'The World I Want' with new lyrics) and 'Sparkle'. Finally the band signed a deal with APG Music and went into the studio with Hugh Jones once again as producer to record the album 'Soundtrack' which was due to be released by APG Music in 2001. But unfortunately APG Music went bankrupt with 'Soundtrack' still unreleased. All that is available from this period is a live bootleg of one of the shows (marketed as 'The Best of Modern English' which has just been repackaged as 'Modern English Live' on iTunes) which includes the new tracks of Up In the Brain, It's Okay (which was planned to be the single), Here Comes the Failure, Blister, 24 Part Personality, Soundtrack and Deep Sea Diver.

The album is finally to be released by Darla Records on 24th May 2010. To pre-view and pre-order go to . The first track, 'It's Okay' is already available as a download single.

Modern English - Everything's Mad

After Pillow Lips TVT Records asked for a follow up album. This was recorded and presented to TVT who decided not to release it. After contractual problems with TVT, Robbie formed 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 new band members Ted Mason (guitars) and Matthew Shipley (keyboards). This line-up recorded in 1995 the album Everything Is Mad (which included mainly of the tracks written and recorded for the unreleased TVT album) which was released on Imago records. As an album it is quite an eclectic mix of rock tracks, vocal ballads and prog. There are a few tracks which have the old Modern English sound, most notably 'Here we go again' and 'I Don't Know Anything'. Only a promo single was released which had 'Elastic' as the first track and 'I Don't Know Anything' as the second. The album has recently been remastered and re-issued. It is interesting to note that every Modern English album released has always been shorter than the one before. Everything's Mad comes in at only just over 31 minutes.

Modern English - Pillow Lips & Singles

It seemed like the end for Modern English when in 1990 Robbie Grey got a phone call from TVT Records asking if he would re-record 'I Melt With You'. Robbie was able to get Mick Conroy and Aaron Davidson to join him to record a new album and was able to get guitarist Gary McDowell to play on the re-recording of 'I Melt With You'. Many have commented that the re-recording sounds exactly like the original single version though I feel some of the mixes released gave it a new stronger sound. The album, without the lead guitarist, is very different to all the previous releases and has more of an easy going nature with more of demo sound for many of the tracks. I know it is not a favourite of many fans but personally I really like it and think it has some really good 'Modern English' tracks, for example Pillow Lips, Coming Up For Air and Take Me Away. There were three singles from the album, 'I Melt With You', 'Life's Rich Tapestry' and 'Beautiful People'. Each were released with a number of remixes by such renowned mixers as John Potoker and Graham Dove with 'Beatiful People' get a rap remix done by Mick Conroy himself. To hear the I Mlet With You mixes click on the link below;

Modern English - Stop Start

With the success of 'I Melt With You' and the failure of 'Ricochet Days' and it's singles to follow this up the band decided to change record labels from the independent 4AD to corporate Sire in the hope that major chart success would follow. Not all the band agreed with this and Steve Walker (keyboards) and Richard Brown (drums) left the band. Ex-March Violets band members Aaron Davidson joined on keyboards with drums played by a number of session musicians. They also changed producers to Stephen Stewart-Short, who had again worked with Echo & The Bunnymen. While Hugh Jones production made them sound like they were recording in a studio Stewart-Short's production made them sound like they were performing in a concert hall. They also had an even more mainstream sound to the songs moving away from their avant garde past. Despite all the changes and extensive touring the band didn't get the promotion they hoped from Sire and the album did not do well and Sire dropped them and it pretty much seemed to be the end for the band. To date this album has never been released on CD and is currently unavailable. There was only one single released in the US, 'Ink & Paper'. To see the video of 'Ink & Paper' click on the link below;
And finally to hear Modern English live from their Stop Start tour click on the link below;
STOP PRESS: Stop Start is finally to be released on CD!! It will be released by Wounded Bird on 4th May 2010. When available you can order it at

Modern English - Ricochet Days & Singles

The new album was pretty much written and recording was almost completed when 'I Melt With You' became a big hit in the states. Again this was produced by Hugh Jones and keeps the same sound as 'After The Snow'. There were two singles released, Chapter 12 (7" & 12" both including the same extended) by 4AD in Europe and Hands Across The Sea (7" edited version) by Sire in the US. These releases included two B-sides Ringing In The Change & Reflection which were produced by the band but keep the same sound as the album. A follow up single was planned with new track 'Breaking Away' which was to be backed by a remix of 'Machines' but it only got as far as the demo stage before the band started looking elsehwere. 4AD have collected all the tracks including the 'Breaking Away' demo on their Ricochet Days CD except for the remix of 'Machines' which can be found on 'The Best of Modern English: Life in the Gladhouse' CD. If you want to hear the singles tracks click on the first link below. To listen to a sound desk quality concert from the Ricochet Day US tour click on the second link below;

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Modern English - After The Snow & Singles

After releasing Mesh & Lace Modern English went into the studio to record their new material but this time with a producer (all their previous releases they produced themselves). They chose Hugh Jones from the work he had done with Echo & The Bunnymen. As a musician himself Hugh encouraged the band to move away from the soundscapes of their earlier releases and focus on song structure. This resulted in the far more commercial sound that they stuck with for the next two albums. The most famous of these tracks is, of course, I Melt With You, which was a huge hit in the states, though not in their home country. The first release from this new style Modern English was the 12" only 'Life In The Gladhouse' which was an extended version of the track which later appeared on the album. This is a very speed bass track, which was also subsequently remixed by New York producer,Harvey Goldberg. The B-side was A Choicest View, an over 11 minutes, band produced track which harks back to the Mesh and Lace era. Next came the album 'After The Snow' which was followed by the 7" only release of 'I Melt With You' which was a re-recording of the album track, and the 7" & 12" release (though both formats had exactly the same tracks) of 'Someone's Calling' (a remixed edited version) with the aforementioned Life In The Gladhouse remix as the B-side. Again 4AD have collected all these tracks and released them on one CD, so if you haven't already got it go out and buy it. If you want to hear some of the singles then click on the link below;

Modern English Peel Sessions

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 (which unfortunatly is missing Black Houses) click on the link below;
or if you would rather listen to them as they were broadcast over the radio (this time including Black Houses) then click on the link below;

Modern English Mesh & Lace and early 4AD singles

Modern English signed to 4AD in 1980 and released the singles Swans on Glass (a raw power track) & Gathering Dust (an atmospheric post apocalypse track which was still a live favourite into the 21st Century) then the album Mesh & Lace (which has a post punk sound heavily influenced by Joy Division) followed by the final single from this era Smiles & Laughter. They also released on track, Home, on a compilation album released after Swans on Glass. Many prefer this first sound of the band and it is still fresh after all these years. 4AD have very kindly collected all these tracks together and released them on one CD 'Mesh & Lace' (CAD 105CD). If you want to hear some of these tracks from a live concert of the time then click on the link below;

Modern English Drowning Man

Modern English were formed in Colchester, England in 1979 by Robbie Grey (vocals), Gary McDowell (guitar, vocals), and Michael Conroy (bass, vocals), and 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 indie rock band . A debut single, "Drowning Man" was released in 1980 on the Limp Records label. (excerpt from Wikipedia).

From this period there is the Drowning Man single (B-side Silent World) but also a series of demo's the band recorded, including the unreleased tracks 2001, Coming For You, Feel it, The Plunge and Sitting. The sound of these tracks is very progressive punk and in some ways I feel more tuneful than their first 4AD releases. If you want to hear the them and the first single please click on the link below.