Today’s song is from a man better known as a producer of other people’s records. Rupert Hine made his name producing hits for The Fixx and Tina Turner, but I’m indifferent to the merits of those records! Not so for his solo material of 1980 vintage and later! Rupert may be a somewhat limited vocalist with an arid delivery that’s more sprechtgesang than song, but he’s your go-to man if you want hi-tech, intricate rock that perfectly straddles that New Wave/Prog Rock divide! Do you like Ultravox and mid-period Rush [1980 – 1990]? Then you should be hearing Hine’s records! As a matter of fact, Rush enlisted Hine to produce “Presto” and “Roll The Bones” so they are all over it. Underworld chose Hine to helm their debut album, “Underneath The Radar” after regrouping from the ashes of Freur.
I first heard his music when I happened to see a rare showing of his video for “Surface Tension” in the misty dawn on MTV. The track opened with a stunning chord that immediately riveted your attention. Then the [synthesized] rhythm began to build as various “technological” clicks, hums, and whirrs dropped in and out of the mix. Anxious, minor key synthesizers built to a crescendo over the course of each verse and the transition to the chorus was bold and stunning. The synths switched to major keys and the effect was not unlike a sunburst appearing in the middle of the night.
The track was all Rupert Hine with the exception of guitar by the legendary Phil Palmer, who is surely in your music collection somewhere. This was but one single from Hine’s 1981 solo album “Immunity.” He continued with two more solo albums, “Waving Not Drowning” and “The Wildest Wish To Fly” before forming the group Thinkman in 1985. And when I say “formed” I mean it in the sense that a sculptor forms clay, since Thinkman were a false group. What happened was that Rupert found that labels considered him un-commercial and not sufficiently photogenic, so he enlisted a group of musicians and actors to populate the videos and photo shoots and viola! Thinkman burst forth into the world and released another three magnificent, hi-tech albums with Jeannette Obstoj lyrics [as most of his albums feature her lyric input].
– 30 –