Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Thomas Dolby

October 14th was Thomas Morgan Dolby Robertson's birthday. Known in other circles as Thomas Dolby.

Why should that concern you?  Well Dolby and I go WAY back.
I got his first album "The Golden Age of Wireless" when it first came out. It was the album that introduce America to TMDR's breakout hit "She Blinded Me With Science".  It was something of my "theme song" back in the day.

I also picked up all his albums that followed including the rare European version of "Golden Age" that did not have "SBMWS".

But what strikes me now, 33 years later, is that Dolby was so far ahead of his time.  He had one of the first websites on the internet and one of the first virtual reality websites. He help design the software used in cellphone ringtones and tons of other geeky things.

But how does that relate to gaming?  Well Dolby was also pretty much the first cyber-punk musical artist and one of the first steampunk looking ones.  I have been inspired by many of his songs in may games.

"She Blinded Me With Science" is the theme song to every mad-scientist everywhere.  This is the 12" single version that also appeared on the first recordings of Golden Age of Wireless (there are five versions of that album, I own them all, I won't get into which version of "Radio Silence" is better).  This is the 7-minute long version.  I also feel cheated when I hear the short American-radio edit cut.  Growing up I thought I would become the scientist like Dolby was playing here, but instead I became the psychologist.

Another song from Golden Age, "One of Our Submarines" sounds steam-punky, but is filled with Cold-War agnst. Today it is easy to forget that for a time in the 80s the Russians were going to nuke us while we played D&D in our basements.

The Flat Earth is a totally underrated album in every sense of the word. It is softer, but darker and far more mature.  "Mulu The Rainforest" mixed with some articles I was reading in Dragon and this old horror story I read from India of all places about a small, furry vampire.  Rainforests can be scary ass places.

Also from The Flat Earth, "I Scare Myself".  No reason. I just really like this song and this album.

Aliens Ate My Buick came out when I was in college and endless opportunities were open to me. I really loved this album, but it lacked the punch of Flat Earth.  "Budapest by Blimp" was featured here during my vampire songs marathon back in April.  It's eerie and haunting.  You could almost think of it as a requiem for the Cold War.

The fact that more people don't know about Astronauts & Heretics is criminal.  Actually I get it, it was very experimental even for Dolby. The world wanted Grunge in 1992 not experimental electronica.  We had to wait almost 10 more years for that from Moby.   "I Love You Goodbye" is one of the best songs on the album really. The cajun vibe of the song inspired two different adventures during my long Buffy campaign; The Enemy Within and Under a Cajun Moon.


Anonymous said...

Thomas Dolby remain one of my favorite musical performers as well. I also got into him from SBMWS especially the video thereof. His latest A Map Of The Floating City is pretty cool too.

paulgo said...

Europa and the Pirate Twins was on heavy rotation at my house back in the Golden Age days. Hyperactive is another favorite.

Arlee Bird said...

I too was a big Dolby fan and have most of his albums and a compilation of his videos. "Blinded Me with Science" was a good song with a wonderful video as is "Hyperactive". Nice to get a reminder in your retrospective.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out