WARNER BROS 05/91
BERNARD SUMNER Vocals, Keyboards
JOHNNY MARR Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
It was in that Manchester hot spot that Sumner, lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter of New Order and Marr, guitarist and co-writer with The Smiths, resolved in 1988 to form a new group -- Electronic. Pooling their songwriting prowess, the core duo of Sumner and Marr would bring in outside collaborators whenever they so desired. Electronic would give the two creative freedom to work outside the confines of a rigid group format.
In the late spring, Warner Bros. released Electronic, the document of this promising undertaking.
From the start, Sumner and Marr, each responsible for some of contemporary music's most distinct and affecting songs, struck up an instant rapport as a songwriting team. Of course, throughout 1988, they had other commitments to fulfill, with Sumner polishing off New Order's Technique LP and subsequent U.S. tour and Marr teaming up with The The to record Mind Bomb. By Spring, 1989, Marr had also embarked on a world tour with the group.
In September of 1989, the Pet Shop Boys caught wind of Electronic. Neil Tennant, another modern-day pop visionary, became the first outside artist to join the fold.
The First incarnation of Electronic proved quite fruitful. Tennant and fellow Shop-er Chris Lowe commuted to Manchester for the recording sessions. Tennant wrote some of the lyrics and sang some back-up's on the bittersweet, lifting tune entitled "Getting Away With It" -- Electronic's debut single. In 1990, in America's decidedly album-oriented climate, "Getting Away With It" hit the Top 40, selling over 350,000 copies. The single rose to #11 in England and met with much critical kudos, including many a "Single Of The Year" mentions on both sides of the Atlantic.
The four also wrote another song, "Patience Of A Saint," during the evening's sessions, which appears on Electronic's eponymous debut EP.
With American anticipation for Electronic piqued by their debut single, Depeche Mode invited the group to play two Dodger Stadium dates, August 4th and 5th, on DM's 1990 megatour of the U.S. So, aided by percussionists Donald Johnson (from A Certain Ratio) and Kesta Martinez and keyboardist Andy Robinson, Electronic made their stage debut at a sold-out Dodger Stadium -- capacity 60,000+. For both shows, the Pet Shop Boys, making their first-ever live performance in the U.S., joined Electronic to perform the two songs they had co-written.
Since September, 1990, Sumner and Marr have been able to devote all their efforts to Electronic -- and the results are astonishing. Whether it's the hip-hop guitar scrawl of the lead-off track, "Idiot Country." the smoothing, near-perfect shuffle of "Feel Every Beat" or the synth jabs and layered acoustic guitars of "Tighten Up," Electronic is an entirely singular creation. No belabored juxtaposition of "funky" guitars over tired break beats, the LP is a dance album informed by the tension and melodicism of cutting-edge pop, a perfect balance between "the synthetic and the sensual" (NME)
As a group, Electronic remains independent in the truest sense: they have complete freedom and control, from co-producing and producing all the songs to commissioning the artwork and videos. The clip for Sumner's and Marr's intoxicating second single, "Get The Message," is filmed atop a volcano in the Philippines. The single and video hit these shores mid-April.
Appropriately enough, Electronic made their British debut with a surprise gig at Hacienda -- celebrating the renewal of the club's license -- on Wednesday, January 9. Said Melody Maker: "For their first U.K. show, Electronic almost achieved the impossible -- matching expectation with exhilaration."
With Electronic, Sumner, Marr and their fellow travelers set new standards for what is and is not possible in pop music.
© 1991 Warner Bros