Thomas Dolby The Golden Age Of Wireless [Collector's Edition]
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Talk to anyone who was the right age in the early '80s for both pop radio and the dawn of MTV, and "She Blinded Me with Science" will inevitably come up. The most famous song from the reissued version of the album, it's a defiantly quirky, strange number that mixes its pop hooks with unusual keyboard melodies pitched very low and a recurrent spoken word interjection ("Science!") from guest vocalist/video star Magnus Pike. To Thomas Dolby's credit, the rest of the album isn't simply that song over and over again, making The Golden Age of Wireless an intriguing and often very entertaining curio from the glory days of synth pop. Part of the album's overall appeal is the range of participating musicians, no doubt thanks in part to Dolby's own considerable range of musical work elsewhere. "She Blinded Me with Science" itself features Kevin Armstrong on guitar, Matthew Seligman on bass, mega-producer Robert "Mutt" Lange on backing vocals, and co-production with Tim Friese-Greene. Elsewhere, Andy Partridge contributes harmonica, Mute Records founding genius Daniel Miller adds keyboards, and Lene Lovich adds some vocals of her own. The overall result is still first and foremost Dolby's, with echoes of David Bowie's and Bryan Ferry's elegantly wasted late-'70s personas setting the stage. If anything, The Golden Age of Wireless is the friendlier, peppier flip side of fellow Bowie obsessive Gary Numan's work, where the melancholy is gentle instead of harrowing. Dolby's melodies are sprightly without being annoyingly perky, his singing warm, and his overall performance a pleasant gem. Especially fine numbers include the amusing romp "Europa and the Pirate Twins" and the nostalgia-touched, just mysterious enough "One of Our Submarines.