Wednesday, October 22, 2008


They should have been HUGE, but for some reason Harrow, Middlesex's BLANCMANGE remained on the sidelines for most of their short career. So what if they weren't the eye-candy that DEPECHE MODE were. Vocalist/Guitarist Neil Arthur and Keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Stephen Luscombe had some impressive dance-pop-New Wave that didn't easily fit in to the new romantic movement. For starters, their biggest hit "LIVING ON THE CEILING" had a bit of a Middle Eastern flavor to it. Here's the rare 12-inch version.
I love the break in the middle with just the drums and hand-claps.
In 1982 they released their first album HAPPY FAMILIES, and thanks to LIVING ON THE CEILING it became a club staple. Another great song from that album was "GOD'S KITCHEN", here it is in it's extended 12-inch form.
Then 2 years later they released their masterpiece MANGE TOUT. By now MTV was turning all us teens in the US on to all those new young British bands and inspiring a second wave of UK groups conquering America's youth. One of the most popular videos on MTV in 1984 was "BLIND VISION". listen to this 12-inch mix. I have no idea what the lyrics mean but as a rebellious teen I was drawn to it's haunting keys and dark horn punctuation. A great overlooked track was "GAME ABOVE MY HEAD". here's the 12-inch remix. And to finish things, here's another one that got a lot of airplay on WLIR at the time "THAT'S LOVE THAT IT IS"(12-INCH REMIX).
The following year BLANCMANGE released their 3rd and final album BELIEVE YOU ME. The album was a step up in maturity but by now the magic was over. The album only reached #52 in the UK charts and there were no hit singles from it. That's a shame because there are a few gems on this album. "LOSE YOUR LOVE" was the closest thing this LP had to a hit and it deserves a place alongside Depeche Mode's "But Not Tonight" as perhaps the most depressingly worded, but happy SOUNDING songs of the mid 80's. "DON'T YOU LOVE IT ALL" and "WHY DON'T THEY LEAVE THINGS ALONE" were perhaps a bit too tame for a public being spoon fed crap like DURAN DURAN's "Wild Boys" but it's because of it's subtle production that these songs have aged SOOO much better.
Arthur and Luscombe parted ways in 1987, with Luscombe forming the innovative WEST INDIA COMPANY and Arthur releasing a solo record. It was never the same never is.