Money / Sex Machine / Suzanne- The Flying Lizards

Years before The Art of Noise there were The Flying Lizards, an English experimental new wave band formed and led by record producer David Cunningham and featuring a loose collective of avant-garde musicians including Deborah Evans-Stickland (who provides vocals on the tracks here), David Toop and Steve Beresford, who the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings calls “one of the unsung geniuses of modern European music, a constant presence whose contribution is usually unremarked.”

The group were signed to Virgin records and had a hit with their cover of Barrett Strong’s Money in 1979 but none of their subsequent releases – a mix of covers and their own material – managed to chart. I’ve no idea why. They were still doing the exact same thing. Maybe people thought after that first single that they were now just taking the piss, and maybe they were, albeit with very straight faces. This promo for Sex Machine is hilarious, it looks like three 1980s BBC Programmes for Schools presenters ended up in a music video. And I love their icy Ballardian take on Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne

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Tubular Bells – Champ’s Boys Orchestra

As far as I can work out this 1976 disco cover of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was a collaboration between the French arranger and orchestra leader Hervé Roy and Patrick Bocéno, a French disco producer affiliated with Champs Disques, a super cool (in the 70s and 80s) Parisian record store.

Heavily inspired by Terry Riley’s 1969 album A Rainbow in Curved Air, English musician Mike Oldfield was just 19 years old when he recorded his debut album Tubular Bells in 1973, playing every instrument himself. The bent triangular bell on the front cover was inspired by the damage Oldfield had caused to the tubular bells while playing them on the record. The piano intro was used that same year in the soundtrack to The Exorcist, helping the album become one of the best selling albums of all time. It was also the first album to be released by Virgin Records and was fundamental in establishing the label and the subsequent brand’s success.

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