I mail ordered a New Wave compilation CD recently because it was both heavy with tracks I didn’t have on CD and light on overplayed material. But even if it had “You Spin Me Round” and “Karma Chameleon” on it I would have taken the bait. Why? Because it had Mi-Sex’s “Computer Games” on it, that’s why!
I first heard this 1979 single probably in 1980 on the syndicated TV show “Rockworld.” Back in the pre-MTV era there were a couple of syndicated clip shows to get these newfangled music videos to the eyeballs of America’s youth. Rockworld was an hour of music clips that was hosted where I lived by some jocks from WDIZ, the local “FM Rock” station. I suppose that was the case everywhere; the show rolled with local inserts to customize the delivery for a particular market. Like “PM Magazine” with bass, guitars and drums!
“Computer Games” is an insanely catchy song that shows what happens when a rock band heard Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and adapted their style to the sort of motorik ideal that the Summer song had in spades. The tune here has a similar machine pulse but it’s decidedly quirky, not euroslick. It sounds like the ultra-catchy melody is carried and doubled by both synths and what sounds like heavily effected guitars for a deliciously fat and harmonious sound. The rhythm box is abetted by a human drummer adding fills and off-beats for a nice blend of man and machine, like the techniques for rhythm deployed by Ultravox. In fact, Mi-Sex also took their name from the Ultravox tune of the same name from two years earlier, changing only the spelling.
The New Zealand group had their 1979 kiwi album picked up by CBS America who issued it here in the following year, sent the clip out into the world and the rest is history. The album is called “Graffiti Crimes” worldwide and has a cover that is basically the same as the Italian 7″ sleeve above, but the US release that I bought is renamed after the single, resequenced [as usual] and looks like this:
After doing a bit of research, I’ve discovered that the Collectables label has issued this album and the 1980 follow-up LP, “Space Race” as a CD twofer! I might need to get my hands on that one day. I always liked Mi-Sex and the US is the only territory [amazingly enough] that has either of these full albums on CD, in spite of the band knocking ’em dead in their native New Zealand as well as Australia and Canada, to name a few. In the lower hemisphere there exists only a few “best ofs” to mark Mi-Sex’s legacy.
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