Jack’s Fifth Show Artist Spotlight: Modern English
[lastfm]Modern English[/lastfm] may have started as a punk band, but they became one of the most popular new wave bands in the 1980s with their hit hit “I Melt with You.” And now the popular rock band steps foot into the new century on the heels of their 30th anniversary with Soundtrack, their first new album since 1996.
Originally a punk band called the [lastfm]Lepers[/lastfm], who mostly performed parties, the band was formed in 1979 by [lastfm]Robbie Grey[/lastfm] on vocals, [lastfm]Gary McDowell[/lastfm] on guitar and [lastfm]Richard Brown[/lastfm] on drums. They later changed their name to Modern English with the addition of [lastfm]Michael Conroy[/lastfm] on bass and [lastfm]Stephen Walker[/lastfm] on keyboard.
Get more Modern after the jump.
Proactive in their approach to success, later that year the band released their debut single, “Drowning Man”, on their own label. They went on to sign with 4AD Records later during the year, and released their next two singles, “Swans on Glass” and “Gathering Dust” in 1980.
Following the band’s name change, so did their musical direction, adopting more of a new wave/post-punk influence. Their 1981 debut album, Mesh & Lace, was had new wave/dance elements, but their music still mirrored their punk roots.
For their sophomore album, the band worked with producer Hugh Jones, who worked with big acts such as [lastfm]Echo & the Bunnymen[/lastfm], [lastfm]Simple Minds[/lastfm] and [lastfm]The Damned[/lastfm]. Of working with Jones, lead singer Grey said:
We learned a lot about music from Hugh Jones. You have to remember that when we made Mesh & Lace, we weren’t that musically evolved. None of us were trained musicians; none of us came out of a musical academy or anything like that. We were all into punk rock. But when Hugh Jones came along, he showed us that you really didn’t need to be loud to put your point across.
The album, After the Snow, was released in the US in 1983. It sold more than half a million copies and achieved gold status, thanks in part to popular singles such as “Life in the Gladhouse”, “Someone’s Calling” and “I Melt with You”.
“I Melt with You” reached number seven on Billboard’s “Top Tracks” chart, was featured in the popular Nicolas Cage movie Valley Girl and the music video became an MTV airplay staple.
Jones also produced their third album, Ricochet Days, which included another MTV favorite, “Hands Across the Sea”. Between 1986 and 1996, the band released three more albums.
And for their latest album, Soundtrack, which includes their newest single “It’s OK”, Modern English teamed up with Jones again. Many of their original influences, such as David Bowie, Joy Division and the Beatles, still exist in their new music.
For their new tour, the band is featuring the original lineup for the first time since the mid-1980s. Lead singer Grey hopes the tour will celebrate both their present and past music, and plan to play the hits from albums such as Mesh & Lace and After the Snow which you can catch if you get tickets to Jack’s Fifth Show.
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