It’s been a long time; I shouldn’t have left you.
Without a strong article to blog a post to.
Think of six months you had to wait through.
Time’s up.  I’m sorry I’ve kept you…
waiting for this, with your hand on the mouse, soon…
as you click it, turn up the volume!

Heh. How ya like my own take on Eric B & Rakim’s – “I Know You Got Soul” lyrics above!

And hey… Thank you for your patience.

In the long break which I’ve taken away from my blog, I was going through and reorganizing my entire vinyl and CD collection. I was listening to a lot of music, as well as searching and buying a lot of new and used records and CD’s from niche record stores, thrift stores, garage sales and internet. I’ve added more music to my arsenal in the past few months, especially certain old-school tracks which I’ve been searching for years to find… such as the 12-inch extended version of Promises Promises by Naked Eyes.

What the hell is it about this track which makes it deliciously and emotionally congenial? …And why is it so immortal?

Oh, I know… It is the plethora of rich, creamy & lush layers of weaving sound textures in a sea of sound-design bliss — an artwork trademark of Naked Eyes’ two British members Pete Byrne (guitars & vocals) and Rob Fisher (synthesizers & keyboards). They deliver Promises Promises with such bliss, thickened with consistency and splendiferous substance of utmost quality in the beautiful combination of different musical elements, threaded and embedded deeply in the song’s inner core and exterior fabric.

According to Wikipedia:

Naked Eyes was one the very first bands to make significant use of the Fairlight CMI sampling beast of an instrument.  Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush had used the Fairlight on prior efforts, but the usage had been far less than Naked Eyes would employ on their debut effort.

However, before becoming a two-man band, Byrne & Fisher had formally played in a band called Neon with future members of Tears For Fears — also a two-man band who used the Fairlight extensively. The relationship between the two bands is perhaps why both bands had similarities in their use of rich, epic sound-textures in the music, albeit each having their own musical styles.

The lyrics of Promises Promises was obviously about a person’s disappointment in his/her significant-other who made countless promises but was not able to keep nor follow through any one of them. If having read the lyrics without listening to the music first, one might have gotten an impression that the song would be slow and sappy.     Sappy/slow it was not!       Surprisingly, this track was paced at mid-tempo with:

  • Tight drums at the core;
  • Percussive marimba’ish synth stabs;
  • Lush synth pads and swells coming in & going out through both left/right channels of the stereo-field;
  • Echoey electric guitar licks drenched in reverb ambience; and
  • Moderate and not over-the-top vocals with not too many words.

●●● Overall sound-&-feel of the song was (and still is) moody and emotional but hopeful.

Moody… Emotional… These are exactly the feelings I go through sometimes when thinking about how I might’ve been given the short-end of the stick in life. I start to loathe myself many times for being a middle-eastern person born in Baghdad, Iraq. And then I wish that I wasn’t born an arab nor a muslim –– I really do hate my religion!

I renounced Islam when I was 6.5 years-old in 1977. I was mandated to attend “Quran” class at the end of first day of school (Rosary) in Abu Dhabi. I was late for that class. As soon as I entered the classroom, the arabic teacher asked me to recite any verse from the Quran. I had no idea what she was talking about, because I wasn’t aware to have a religion.  All of a sudden the bitch slapped me hard on my face, almost knocking me down to the floor and blacking-out. That very moment… I made up my mind: FUCK THIS! AND FUCK ISLAM!!

After being slapped and physically abused for nearly three years, my stuttering became severely worse, as I was living in fear of those kinds of people. And because of those sons of bitches, I loathed (and still loathe) myself for being a brown, muslim arab. Therefore I moved to England and Canada with my parents at a young age of nine years in 1980. I was happy to get away from the middle-eastern world of autocratic and punitive Islamic-states in Arabia. During all my years living in Europe and North America, I’ve adapted and became accustomed to modern western civilization and culture.

But whenever I do feel down like that, I can simply shake it off by either thinking of Promises Promises or playing the song. Perhaps a lot of the good promises in my life where broken or never fulfilled, but I am being hopeful at the end of each day.

Naked Eyes – “Promises, Promises” (Extended Version)…

Artist: Naked Eyes
Title: Promises, Promises (Extended Version)
Year: 1983
Label: EMI America
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Naked Eyes – “Promises Promises”  (Extended Version) (mp3)

 

Naked Eyes – “Promises, Promises” (Instrumental)…

Artist: Naked Eyes
Title: Promises, Promises (Instrumental)
Year: 1983
Label: EMI America
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Naked Eyes – “Promises Promises” (Instrumental) (mp3)

 

Mantronix - "Simple Simon"

Spring 1988, Denham Village, Buckinghamshire, UK ….. on the way to Syco Systems (high-end pro audio shop — by appointment only — caters only to high-end clientele and famous artists such as Peter Gabriel) to pick up the gear for my first studio (see pictures below)  ….. I heard this track by Mantornix on the radio.

Notice: If you need to know more about Mantronix and the man himself, Kurt Mantronik, refer to my previous blog Hanson & Davis. Please read that first and then come back here and continue reading this blog/article.

I used to dream about having a Linn-9000 one day, so I could load my own drum samples and program beats with its sequencer; I used to sit for hours and drool over the brochures of the Roland D-50 synth and think about how breathy and paddy (also see video below) my tracks would sound along with the Linn-9000 drums pulsing underneath. The D-50 was revolutionary at its time (1987), because it was the first synth to have built-in effects, such as the the reverb, attack-transient samples and linear synthesis, among many other things. When I went to Syco Systems with my dad to buy the new gear, Kendall Wrightson (see quick shout-out below) informed me that the Linn-9000 was no longer in production, because its parent company went bankrupt; however, its designer Roger Linn had come up with a much better machine through Akai. He pointed his finger towards the Akai MPC60 at the other end of the room. It was GORGEOUS. It looked like a mean machine with a tilting LCD screen! Oh, those 16 square rubber finger pads. I didn’t hesitate to add it on the transaction. Kendall said something along the lines that he had one in stock, boxed and with Tony Banks’ name on it (yes, Tony Banks — the keyboardist of Genesis), but Tony didn’t want it at the time. When I looked at the box, sure enough his name was in fact printed on the shipping label.

After picking up my new studio gear from Syco, I stopped by Our Price record store, bought the 12-inch of Simple Simon and then drove home from London to my parent’s country-home in Denham Village. I love this track through and through. It’s very melodic and street-emotional, especially the bassline. Love the guitars (which are not real but tone-sampled and played from a keyboard sampler). The sound and style is very different from Mantronix’ previous releases which were more freestyle-based. Simple Simon sounded more mature but still had that “Mantronix” feel … perhaps it was the snappy, hard drum samples and programming coming from an E-mu SP-1200. Whatever it was, it certainly had the Mantronix‘ stamp with MC Tee‘s rap vocals. These two guys really stood out with this one.

I used to play both A and B sides of the 12-inch. Check out the amazing editing and fast-gating on You Dubba Regard mix, which were very hard to produce. Around that same time of year, the Latin Rascals were doing clever edits like this, with stutters, splice-edits and gated chops. Check out their sound/edits on Information Society’s – What’s On Your Mind which I’ve blogged about previously.

Quick shout-out to Kendall Wrightson:

Kendall Wrightson
who was my personal salesman at Syco Systems. He was very well-known in the pro-audio industry, for representing and selling high-end gear like the Fairlight (watch Kendall’s demonstration), SyclaviersSSL mixer consoles, etc.. There were times when Kendall used to let me and my best friend Noel Derblich to go inside one of Syco‘s studio rooms and transfer samples from the E-mu Emulator-III (also watch video here) to my Akai MPC60 drum-sampler/sequencer (64 midi channel, 99 tracks). Kendall was also featured in several documentaries about music technology.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard)…

Artist: Mantronix
Title: Simple Simon (You Gotta Rock Hard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Simon – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard) (mp3)

 

Mantronix- “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard)…

Artist: Mantornix
Title: Simple Simon (You Dubba Regard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard) (mp3)

 

My first studio with nice gear which I've bought from Syco Systems, London. Kendall Wrightson was my personal salesman. See his videos below.

Kendall Wrightson at Syco Systems, demonstrating the Linn-9000…

Kendall Wrightson at Syco System, demonstrating the Fairlight…

Roland D-50 synthesizer demonstration of its sounds/presets…

E-mu Emulator-II demonstration of its sounds/presets…

Mantronix - “Simple Simon”…

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