Another great Tears For Fears 12″ single. This track was recorded and released in the UK charts in 1984, well before the release  of their 1985 LP/album release Songs From The Big Chair. It showcased the group’s edgier sound, intricate production and, most importantly, the creative use of sampling. Beat Of The Drum Mix was clearly one of the earliest remix tracks with sampled vocals, loops and snippets as well as loops, that were sequenced and arranged together on top of all other synths and multi-tracked layers of instrument/vocal performances recorded by the band. For example, the string-hits at the beginning Beat Of The Drum Mix were sampled from a Barry Manilow track; James Brown vocal snippets near the end; and the other samples were real ambient noises, drum shots/rolls, orchestral and horn stabs, ambient and weird noises, guitar strums/chords, and Tears For Fears’ own vocals.

All the sampling were done with the Fairlight CMi-2 which was, at that time, the most sophisticated and highly advanced sampling/sequencing/digital-editing workstation.  It featured a mainframe computer, large keyboard-instrument controller, computer monitor and a light-pen.  Watch this video demonstration of the Fairlight. Also watch this other video of the Fairlight being demonstrated by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran.

The meaning of Mothers Talk stems from two ideas:

  1. Something that mothers say to their children about pulling faces; they say the child will stay like that when the wind changes; and
  2. The inspiration by the anti-nuclear cartoon book When The Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs.

Tears For Fears – “Mothers Talk” (Beat Of The Drum Mix)…

Artist: Tears For Fears
Title: Mothers Talk (Beat Of The Drum Mix)
Year: 1984, 1985, 1986
Label: Mercury Records; Polygram; Phonogram; Vertigo
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Tears For Fears – “Mothers Talk” (Beat Of The Drum Mix) (mp3)

 

Tears For Fears – “Mothers Talk” (US Remix)…

Artist: Tears For Fears
Title: Mothers Talk (US Remix)
Year: 1984, 1985, 1986
Label: Mercury Records; Polygram; Phonogram; Vertigo

Tears For Fears – “Mothers Talk” (US Remix) (mp3)

 

Fairlight CMi demonstration by Greg Sneddon…

http://youtu.be/D-aWWcw2pL0

Fairlight Cmi demonstration by Nick Rhodes & other artists…

When The Wind Blows…

In 1983, Malcolm McLaren released two singles, Buffalo Gals and Double Dutch, both of which becoming worldwide top-10 smash-hits. Those two tracks hit the international music charts before his LP Dutch Rock was released. Dutch Rock album proved to be highly influential, bringing hip-hop to a wider audience, especially in the UK.

Giacomo Puccini, Madam Butterfly operaIn 1984, Malcolm changed his tune to opera on his next maxi/EP single release of Madam Butterfly which was an electronic, synth-pop modern-classic track, based on Giacomo Puccini’s 1902 classic-opera Madam Butterfly’s“Un Bel Di Vedremo” final aria (watch videos below). For those of you who are not familiar with Puccini, perhaps you might recognize his “Nessun Dorma” aria from his Turandot opera (which is still part of today’s popular culture). Nessun Dorma has achieved pop-status by Luciano Pavarotti’s recording of it, used as the theme song of BBC’s television’s coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup soccer in Italy; and it subsequently reached #2 on the UK singles music chart (the highest placing ever by a classical recording).

Malcolm McLaren’s Madam Butterfly is arranged with a drum-machine, atmospheric synthesizers and spoken/sung R&B verses (with opera backup vocals). The production on Malcolm’s Madam Butterfly is stellar. The track was produced by Steven Hague who settled for nothing but the best in overall production. I know for a fact that a Fairlight CMI-2 was used, because Madam Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo) starts with the Fairlight’s famous factory sound-preset ”aah” voices coming in slowly and rising gradually in amplitude, serving as a bed/pad sound layered in the background throughout the track. Watch music video below to hear that sound. I know all the Fairlight sounds inside-out, because I’ve heard them millions of times since 1980 when the Fairlight beast of a sampler/workstation instrument was used on countless of tracks by other famous artists and groups in that era (for it’s unique sound, powerful sample/sound processing engine and music sequencer). Watch this video of the Fairlight being demonstrated by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. As for the chord melody in Madam Butterfly, it is a sound of an upright-harp with softer/slower attack transient; though there’s no telling what synthesizer or sampler brand used for it. It could’ve been a custom-sampled harp sound for the Fairlight, or a factory-sample bank coming from a then-popular E-mu Emulator-II, but my guess is that the harp and the bassline-sound were factory-preset patches from a Yamaha DX7 synth. Watch this YouTube demo of the DX7. Harp sounds from synths and samplers sound almost exactly the same and very difficult to distinguish them apart. Also, the drum-machine used in Madam Butterfly is an Oberheim DMX (which was just as popular as Roland TR-808, LinnDrum and E-mu Drumulator and SP-12 drum-machines at that time).

Attention new music producers: I have compiled and categorized .wav samples of almost every classic drum-machine and electronic drum-kits made by man.  Download drum_kits.zip

I used to own the 12″ vinyl of Madam Butterfly which I bought in 1984 from Our Price record store in Uxbridge town center (Hillingdon, Buckinghamshire, UK). But I gave it to my friend Mister P-Body (Arizona) in June 2001 (just before I moved back to West Vancouver, BC, Canada, on July 1, 2001), as I had already owned a copy of it on CD-single which I’d purchased in 1988. To this day, I’m still playing the track over and over again. I have never gotten (and still never get) sick of listening to Madam Butterfly — takes on me on long mind trips each time.

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (Un Bel Di Vedremo)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Madam Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo)
Year: 1984
Label: Virgin Records; Charisma Records

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (Un Bel Di Vedremo) (mp3)

 

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (On The Fly Mix)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Madam Butterfly (On The Fly Mix)
Year: 1984
Label: Virgin Records; Charisma Records

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (On The Fly Mix) (mp3)

 

Malcolm McLaren – “Death Of Butterfly” (Tu Tu Piccolo)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Death Of Butterfly (Tu Tu Piccolo)
Year: 1984
Label: Virgin Records; Charisma Records

Malcolm McLaren – “Death Of Butterfly” (Tu Tu Piccolo) (mp3)

 

Stage Performance: A preview of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” opera…

Opera Performance: Puccini – “Madama Butterfly” (Un Bel Di Vedremo)…

Stage Performance:
Pavarotti sings “Nessun Dorma” final aria of Puccini’s Turandot opera…

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