A Young Person’s Guide to: The Golden Ages Of Wireless

Thinking about the recent Thomas Dolby concert that I attended, my thoughts return to just how many different issues of his debut album, “Golden Age Of Wireless” have been issued over the last 30 years. There have been a plethora of versions for primarily the US and UK territories that have fluctuated wildly along with Dolby’s commercial fortunes. I own most of these variations, but there may be more that I am unaware of! Let’s begin, at the beginning, shall we?

Venice In Peril | UK | LP | 1982 | VIP1001

Thomas Dolby: Golden Age Of Wireless 1st UK LP [1982]

  1. Flying North 3:50
  2. Commercial Breakup 4:15
  3. Weightless 3:45
  4. Europa + The Pirate Twins 3:18
  5. Windpower 4:20
  6. The Wreck Of The Fairchild 3:30
  7. Airwaves 5:12
  8. Radio Silence 3:43
  9. Cloudburst At Shingle Street 5:45

The original UK 1st pressing is something of a rarity. I only got a copy when I was tidying up the Thomas Dolby loose ends in my collection about eight years ago. I mail ordered my copy since I’ve never seen a copy in US record stores. The main difference between this issue, and all other LP/CDs until 2009, is that the original sequence/mix of the album was segued together for narrative “flow” and there is a song, “The Wreck Of The Fairchild,” that only appeared on this 1st UK pressing of the album. It also made an appearance in a slightly shorter 3:09 edit on the “Airwaves” UK 7″ single. I assume the lack of a segue to the next track accounts for the approximately 30 second shorter single version of this cut. For the record, “Radio Silence” is the brilliant single version. Heavy on the synths and a side order of PPG Wave Computer, please!

Harvest | US | LP | 1982 | ST-12203

Thomas Dolby: Golden Age Of Wireless 1st US LP [1982]

  1. Europa + The Pirate Twins 3:18
  2. Flying North 3:50
  3. Weightless 3:45
  4. Leipzig 3:52
  5. Windpower 4:20
  6. Commercial Breakup 4:15
  7. Urges 3:39
  8. Airwaves [7″] 3:35
  9. Radio Silence [version] 4:32
  10. Cloudburst At Shingle Street 5:45

This is the album I tried to find for almost a year after chancing to see the brilliant “Europa + The Pirate Twins” video on MTV in late 1982.  It sports a cover taken from the UK “Europa + The Pirate Twins” single instead of the “mad scientist” image that’s so familiar. I eventually got a copy in the mid 80s. The album has been resequenced from the UK edition and many track substitutions have occurred. The primary difference is the only inclusion of Dolby’s debut single, “Leipzig” b/w “Urges” into the album program. “The Wreck Of The Fairchild” was dropped, and the 7″ edit of “Airwaves” was used to allow for the longer program on vinyl. Finally, the bass-drums-guitar laden B-side version of “Radio Silence” makes its album debut as a sop to delicate Midwestern sensibilities.

Capitol Records | US | LP | 1983 | ST-12271

Thomas Dolby: Golden Age Of Wireless 2nd US LP [1983]

  1. She Blinded Me With Science [ext.] 5:09
  2. Radio Silence [version] 4:32
  3. Airwaves [7″] 3:35
  4. Flying North 3:50
  5. Weightless 3:45
  6. Europa + The Pirate Twins 3:18
  7. Windpower 3:38
  8. Commercial Breakup 4:15
  9. One Of Our Submarines 5:11
  10. Cloudburst At Shingle Street 5:45

What a difference eight months and a hit makes! Dolby was released on the lo-budget subsidiary of Capitol, Harvest Records, for his 1st pressing or “Wireless.” The same label subsequently brought out a five track EP, “Blinded By Science” that contained Dolby’s current, non-LP single of the titular name along with its B-side, “Submarines” – including three cuts from “Wireless” in extended forn. This gambit by Harvest worked with  breaking Duran Duran in the States with the similar “Carnival” EP, together with music video saturation and bingo – Dolby also had his hit.

Harvest deleted the EP and the mother label picked up Dolby’s option and they re-released his debut album with yet more meddling! Capitol were throwing album cuts like I Ching coins! How many different ways can they combine these tracks? The 12″ version of “Science” hits you straight away, and “One Of Our Submarines” appears on the album with it. “Windpower” had about 30 seconds shaved off of its running time to allow for the revised contents running a bit long. This makes for three, very different versions of the album, but wait… there’s more! Now how much would you pay?

Capitol Records | US | CD | 1984 | CDP 7 46009 2

Thomas Dolby: Golden Age Of Wireless 1st US CD [1984]

  1. She Blinded Me With Science 3:43
  2. Radio Silence 3:48
  3. Airwaves 5:16
  4. Flying North 3:53
  5. Weightless 3:47
  6. Europa + The Pirate Twins 3:20
  7. Windpower 4:20
  8. Commercial Breakup 4:18
  9. One Of Our Submarines 5:14
  10. Cloudburst At Shingle Street 5:45

A new year, a new format, and yet another release bought the first US CD of this title to market in 1984. The differences from the 2nd US LP are subtle. The 7″ mix of “Science” was used but in a whiplash inducing switch, the 7″/UK LP mix of “Radio Silence” makes its US debut. I imagine that by 1984, we hayseed Americans had matured sufficiently to begin to understand synthesizers. Finally, “Windpower” regained the 30 seconds it lost on the LP format due to groove cramming. The UK pressing of the CD replicates this version. But this is not the US CD of “Wireless” that I have.

Capitol Records | US | CD | 1984 | CDP 7 46009 2

Thomas Dolby: Golden Age Of Wireless 2nd US CD [1984]

  1. She Blinded Me With Science [ext.] 5:09
  2. Radio Silence 3:45
  3. Airwaves [7″] 3:35
  4. Flying North 3:50
  5. Weightless 3:43
  6. Europa + The Pirate Twins 3:17
  7. Windpower 3:51
  8. Commercial Breakup 4:17
  9. One Of Our Submarines 5:11
  10. Cloudburst At Shingle Street 5:43

Instead, I have this alternate CD pressing, with the same catalog number but the extended “Science,” the 7″ version of “Airwaves” and the US LP edit of “Windpower” for some inexplicable reason. With the running time of CDs this makes no sense at all. Why didn’t saner heard take stock of the many, many variations and attempt to use the CD format wisely enough to serve up the ultimate version of “The Golden Age Of Wireless?” Well, they did… it just took 25 years to happen!

EMI | GER | CD/DVD | 2009 | 50999 2 67915 2 4

Thomas Dolby: Golden Age Of Wireless DLX GER. CD/DVD RM [2009]

CD

  1. Flying North 3:50
  2. Commercial Breakup 4:15
  3. Weightless 3:45
  4. Europa + The Pirate Twins 3:18
  5. Windpower 4:20
  6. The Wreck Of The Fairchild 3:30
  7. Airwaves 5:12
  8. Radio Silence 3:43
  9. Cloudburst At Shingle Street 5:45
  10. One Of Our Submarines 5:11
  11. She Blinded Me With Science 3:42
  12. Radio Silence [version] 4:32
  13. Urges 3:39
  14. Leipzig 3:52
  15. Urban Tribal 3:45
  16. Therapy/Growth 4:05
  17. Airwaves [demo] 5:20
  18. Sale Of The Century [demo] 2:52
  19. Pedestrian Walkway [demo] 1:27

DVD – Live Wireless

  1. Introduction
  2. Europa + The Pirate Twins
  3. Windpower
  4. One Of Our Submarines
  5. Radio Silence
  6. New Toy
  7. Urban Tribal
  8. Flying North
  9. Jungle Line
  10. Puppet Theatre
  11. Samson + Delilah
  12. She Blinded Me With Science
  13. Airwaves

It staggers the mind, but the quintessential, original UK LP sequence of “The Golden Age Of Wireless” didn’t make it to CD format until 2009! EMI finally hit the Thomas Dolby discography with some deluxe remaster love and “Wireless” was once more restored to its former glory with the songs segued together to form a cohesive whole. Many [but not all] peripheral rarities also were added to the CD as bonus tracks.  Finally, the “Live Wireless” home video/MTV concert has been added as a bonus region 0/NTSC DVD, hence the obtrusive German DVD ratings snipe added to the front cover. I had bought the UK 1st pressing of “Wireless” last decade when I found out that it was a segued mix, but EMI have saved me hours and hours of mastering – all I need to do now is purchase this, my fifth copy of “The Golden Age Of Wireless,” and I can go to my grave, finally satisfied.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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8 Responses to A Young Person’s Guide to: The Golden Ages Of Wireless

  1. Echorich says:

    This post made me think…do I have more than one version of GAOW on vinyl? I just found that I do! Looks like I have the original UK release and the second US version on vinyl. I also have the Blinded By Science EP. Submarines and Europa are my two favorite Dolby tracks to date, but he is a synth genius.

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  2. Tim says:

    You have your BSOG sets, this is one of the first albums that I did my own “Re-Made & re-Modeled” take on. My track listing includes the Low Noise single (Jungle Line and Urban Tribal), rearranges the tracklisting and features some mixes that I made on my own for it. One of my all time favorite albums, not “desert island top 5” but darn close. Small world, in high school I found out that a guy that I went to school with for years, his uncle was Matthew Seligman. Rich was able to land tix for Dolby’s Flat Earth shows in Chicago and I declined for a variety of dumb reasons. Stupid, stupid me.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Yeah, I made a Dolby 2xCD of rarities. It wasn’t a full-on BSOG since I limited material from the “Aliens Ate My Buick” period! I love his cover of “Jungle Line.” Too bad it was left off of the “Wireless” RM. Probably for royalty reasons. I sort of like “Live Wireless” on DVD, but I’d rather have had a 2nd disc of mixes/rarities, personally. Or perhaps a nicer “EMI Boxed RM” like they did with Duran Duran or Heaven 17: 2xCDs filled with as much as they can cram in plus a DVD… and a poster too, while they’re at it!

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  3. Tim says:

    I think Urban Tribal is probably one of the finest tunes that the man ever penned. Jungle Line is an interesting pick and I would like to know more about why he kicked off he solo career under the Low Noise moniker with that cover. I was indifferent to the track until I bought “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” at a used record store and fell in love with it (Prince is a huge fan of that one, too, I am told).

    A rarity that I would love to find – if you sleuth through the Dolby forums, someone made a mix of Radio Silence using all the available sources. There is a post detailing how they accomplished melting the versions together and a dead d/l link. It sounds to me like a very ambitious project considering the differences between the two main versions and I would love to hear how this worked out.

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  4. David says:

    I stumbled across this guide some 10 years after it was written, but I do want to point out the multiple JAPANESE versions as well in case anyone’s still interested. The original release was the same as the first UK LP, and the title was translated to “Light And Objects”. The 1983 re-release (also with “Light And Objects” as it’s title in Japanese) was the same as the second US release BUT opted for the short version of “She Blinded Me With Science” instead of the long version as on the US LP. As for CDs, all but the 1988 edition had the short version of SBMWS. The “Blinded By Science” EP was ALSO available in Japan, with a different picture cover (front is similar to the back cover of GAOW, but a different pose and is also found on the Japanese 7″ release of SBMWS; the back cover is a detail of the American 7″ picture sleeve of “Europa & The Pirate Twins”), and included both versions of SBMWS, with the short version opening the EP and the long version closing it out. That release was also available on cassette. The remaining tracks were identical to the US versions.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      David – Welcome to the comments! I’m not surprised that there’s even more variations of this material when delving into the Japanese market! But that JPN cover for “Blinded By Science” EP is far more attractive than the US photo of Thomas leaping around in his wellies.
      thoams dolby bllinded by science japanese cover art

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      • Tim says:

        That Japanese sleeve has 1970’s science fiction film written all over it.
        My go to for TGAOW is the pulpy poster one. It swims in the same gene pool but I just prefer the AMAZING STORIES! vibe from the graphic over the photo. They both have a lot of tubes and wires around Dolby but the graphic looks more natural than the photograph turns out.

        The Dolby’s Cube single with a lot of sampley noises has a couple of different versions. I most commonly saw it in a generic 12” single sleeve for EMI, There’s one sleeve that has a graphic of the Dolby signature glasses but there’s only one lens connected by the rest of the frames and I love it for it’s quiet combination of branding and soft surrealism.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – Yeah the illo of Dolby rocks hardest, but I’ll take that JPN source photo over the galoshes in the fen any day. I have the UK Dolby’s Cube 12″ of “Get Out Of My Mix” with the cut corners; like the Traffic or Motors albums. [Which I also have]

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