REDUX: Real Life – How Many Albums Do They REALLY Have?

blast-from-the-past-header

April 13, 2011

As I wrote the other day, I first heard Real Life when MTV was highly amenable to both Australian music and synthesizer music in 1983. Sigh. Yes, life was once that good! The Melbourne quartet featured David Sterry on vocals and guitar and keyboardist/violinist Richard Zatorski as the primary songwriters. Their rhythm section was recruited later when live gigging became a possibility. The band were signed to Wheatley Records in Australia and their debut single, “Send Me An Angel” became a successful hit in many northern hemisphere territories. It was top 30 in America, during the US chart’s brief brush with my tastes in music that coincided with the debut of MTV and lasted for almost a year.

I bought the debut album, “Heartland” and it was my version of “meat and potatoes” rock; amospheric eurosynth rock with guitars and a sense of decent dynamics. The forebears were Roxy Music and later, Ultravox. The group’s peers were other like minded Oz bands like Pseudo Echo and Icehouse. Steve Hillage provided the clean, but not clinical production, though the hit single was recorded with Ross Cockle instead.

MCA Records | US | LP | 1983 | MCA 5459

Real Life: Heartland US LP

  1. Send Me An Angel
  2. Catch Me I’m Falling
  3. Under The Hammer
  4. Heartland
  5. Breaking Point
  6. Broken Again
  7. Always
  8. Open Hearted
  9. Exploding Bullets
  10. Burning Blue

As it transpires, Real Life were the opening act for the third rock concert I ever saw. The band were picked to open for the Berlin “Love Life” tour in 1984. Berlin was a band I liked who played synthesizers and were actually coming to Central Florida! Having Real Life open the show made a good thing way better. The band were great live. At the time I said “I may never see Ultravox, but at least I’ve seen another synth rock band with a violinist.” Sadly, that statement has proven prophetic. After “Heartland” I lost track of Real Life. I got the idea that there was another album a few years later, but I never saw it to buy it. It was called “Flame” and was released three years later.

MCA Records | US | LP | 1985 | MCA-5639

Real Life: Flame US LP

  1. No Shame
  2. Face To Face
  3. One Blind Love
  4. The Longest Day
  5. I Wish
  6. Flame
  7. The Legend
  8. Take My Breath Away
  9. Let’s Fall In Love
  10. Cathedral

It’s after this album that things get a little dicey in Real Life land. The next year, MCA released a compilation drawn from these two albums with a new single, “Babies.” The latter was written by Holly Knight, Michael DesBarres, and producer Mike Chapman. Who knows how it ended up in their hands, but it’s a tolerable song, considering its hack origins. Another cover tune, “Night After Night” appears but the rest of it is cobbled together from “Heartland” and “Flame” with the odd remix rearing its head.

MCA Records | US | LP | 1986 | MCA-5834

Real Life: Down Comes The Hammer US Compilation LP

  1. Babies
  2. Night After Night
  3. Flame [remix]
  4. Send Me An Angel [original 12″ edit]
  5. Hammer Of Love
  6. Let’s Fall In Love
  7. One Blind Love
  8. No Shame
  9. Cathedral

Three years later and the band had jumped ship from mothership MCA to the freaky subsidiary label, Curb Records. As run by right-wing rocker Mike Curb, the label thought nothing of issuing even more comps drawing from the same shallow pool of two discrete albums! This from the label that retitled Sparks’ 1986 effort “Music That You Can Dance To” as “The Best Of Sparks” when reissuing it on CD in an effort to sell a few more copies to unsuspecting Sparks fans. Behold yet another Real Life compilation!

Curb Records | US | LP | 1989 | CRB-10624

Real Life: Let’s Fall In Love US Compilation LP

  1. Let’s Fall In Love
  2. Flame
  3. Exploding Bullets
  4. Open Hearted
  5. The Legend
  6. Bleeding Babies
  7. The Longest Day
  8. I Wish
  9. Burning Blue
  10. Cathedral

Hot on the heels of this compilation, some wag got the bright idea to remix “Send Me An Angel” and the cleverly titled “Send Me An Angel ’88” was released sporting a new remix [actually three] by Nigel Wright. The rhythm track was gassed a bit with a few more beats, but this is a model of restraint compared to what remixes would become in just a matter of months. The track was released in West Germany on Intercord.

Intercord | GER. | CD5 | 1988 | INT 827.720

Real Life: Send Me An Angel ’88 Version Ger. CD5

  1. Send Me An Angel [Heaven No. 7 Mix]
  2. Send Me An Angel [Cloud Nine Mix]
  3. Send Me An Angel [88 version]

With the track re-climbing the charts, Curb decided to let it roll in The States. Amazingly, it placed slightly higher than it originally did in the US charts in the following year, which means that outside of Germany, these mixes are known as the ’89 version, got it? Of course, a single without an album to sell is like a day without sunshine… Curb hastily compiled the third album drawing from essentially the same two studio albums!! It’s this album that I bought on CD last year, just to hear some Real Life again. I find myself really enjoying it to the point of these last two postings.

Curb Records | US | CD | 1989 | D2-77287

Real Life: The Best Of Real Life – Send Me An Angel US Compilation CD

  1. Send Me An Angel [’89 edit]
  2. Face To Face
  3. Catch Me I’m Falling [12″ remix]
  4. Always [12″ remix]
  5. Babies
  6. Send Me An Angel [’89 Dance Mix]
  7. The Hammer Of Love
  8. Let’s Fall In Love
  9. One Blind Love
  10. No Shame

I was happy to hear the 12″ remixes of first album tracks like “Always” and “Catch Me I’m Falling” on this issue. If “The Flame” never gets re-issued on CD, at least the spiffy “Face To Face” can be beard here for less than three figures. The “Always” remix is a short, 3:52 remix that is hilariously called the “Special Dance Mix – Raunchy Version” on the W. German single sleeve. It has a severely cold ending that never fails to shock.

Against all odds, the third actual Real Life album was released the following year! In a shock-horror moment, Curb are to be commended for not adding a version of “Send Me An Angel” to the running order! That must have taken some Herculean restraint! I distinctly remember seeing the video for the leadoff single, “God Tonight,” once or twice on “120 Minutes.” Again, seeing the actual album for purchase has not been easy in the following 21 years. I’d better mail order it while it’s still affordable.

Curb Records | US | CD | 1990 | D2-77271

Real Life: Lifetime US CD

  1. God Tonight
  2. Kiss The Ground
  3. 5-4-3-2-1
  4. Rescue Me
  5. Sister Sister
  6. Push Of Love
  7. Torture Me
  8. Let’s Start A Fire
  9. Do It Again
  10. Lifetime
  11. No Shame

Flash forward seven years and the band released their fourth album, “Happy.” Shockingly, no further compilations were issued by Curb during this time! This is another Real Life CD that is selling for several times the cover price, though it’s not crossed the line into three figures like the first two albums with their vintage German pressings.

Momentum Records | US | CD | 1997 | MOM1001

Real Life: Happy US CD

  1. Everything Explodes
  2. Virus
  3. I Did What I Did
  4. Happy
  5. Girl Jesus
  6. Satisfied
  7. Skin
  8. Deep Sleep
  9. Learning How To Breathe
  10. Deep Sleep [Momentum Dance Mix]
  11. Meltdown [radio edit]

The album got a release in the band’s native Australia two years later with a completely different cover and in a 2xCD version with a second disc of remixes, that were at least by the band. But dig that new cover. Yow!

Blah Blah Blah Records | Australia | 2xCD | BBB0072

Things stayed quiet on the Real Life front for another several years when their fifth album popped up on the US synthpop Different Drum label in 2004. Like with “Happy,” this was issued in a 2xCD configuration with a second disc of remixes. Like most of the band’s output, this sells for insanely stupid amounts of money seven years later. I’m talking $150-$250 at the usual places, though savvy shoppers can pick it up for just around $50 if they know where to look.

A Different Drum | US | 2xCD | 2004 | ADDCD1193

Real Life: Imperfection US 2xCD

Disc 1

  1. Imperfection
  2. Oblivion
  3. Celebrate
  4. We Shall Overcome
  5. Another Brick In My Head
  6. I Love Love
  7. Kamikaze
  8. Painless
  9. Babylon
  10. Kiss Like This
  11. Beautiful Thing

Disc 2

  1. Celebrate [Don Nadi 2004 mix]
  2. Imperfection [Tyco Brahe Mix]
  3. Kamikaze [Real Life Aero Mix]
  4. Imperfection [Voice Industrie Mix]
  5. Oblivion [Daybehavior Mix]
  6. Celebrate [Neuropa Mix]
  7. Kamikaze [Wideband Network Mix]
  8. God Tonight [Beat Me Senseless]
  9. Celebrate [FMU Mix]
  10. Oblivion [Real Life Lexicon Mix]
  11. Celebrate [Wave In Head Mix]

Phew! I wouldn’t mind hearing this straight album, but I could probably do without all of those remixes.

The story of Real Life has a final chapter. I suppose it was inevitable, but the LA. Based Cleopatra Records, has asked the band to record an album of basically New Wave cover tunes. Of course it’s capped with three versions of “Send Me An Angel!” At least one of them is the scarce 1983 7″ version.

Cleopatra Records | US | CD | 2009 | 3524

Real Life: Send Me An Angel – 80s Synth Essentials US CD

  1. Send Me An Angel (2009 Version)
  2. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
  3. Cars
  4. Fade To Grey
  5. Everything Counts
  6. Blue Monday
  7. Primary
  8. Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime
  9. Shout
  10. Nowhere Girl
  11. Melt With You
  12. Tainted Love
  13. The Model
  14. Send Me An Angel (1983 Remix)
  15. Send Me An Angel (12” Remix)

Well. It worked for Icehouse. Personally, I’d rather hear the group straight up making their music with none of the gratuitous remixes that have haunted the groups previous two albums. At this point, reviewing all of this history, I’m inclined to grab the first three albums and the relative handful of attendant singles and see where I am after that. I have “Heartland” on LP but there was apparently a 2009 band sanctioned remaster of that title on CD and I need to get it and fast! I will probably settle for an LP of “Flame” and master it myself to CD and save $100. “Lifetime” is still available at cover price on CD if I act reasonably fast. I have a few singles and just ordered the US “Babies” 12″, so I may be going down another road to remastering at some point in the future.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to REDUX: Real Life – How Many Albums Do They REALLY Have?

  1. tim says:

    Underrated 80’s act in my opinion. I can’t really add much of anything to what you said, folks pretty much know them for “Send Me An Angel” and their first two albums aren’t bad. As I have commented before, time has been kinder to those two albums than say “A Flock of Seagulls.” I will amend my criticism of AFOS, they did give us some good jokes on otherwise so-so episodes of “Friends,”

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I never saw “Friends.” I had tapered off TV viewing in the late 80s and went cold turkey by 1993. (More time to enjoy music, my best entertainment value) But I did see “Pulp Fiction!” “Yo, Flock of Seagulls,” is a phrase you’ll hear fairly frequently in my household.

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  2. tim says:

    Re: the 80’s covers album. I haven’t heard the Icehouse excursion into that arena but Duncan Sheik did two…one is a straight covers assortment and the sequel is a mix album of the same. I can’t comment on #1 but I did buy the remixed set and quite enjoy it. I’m not sure how the mixes differ from his, er, originals but the mixes don’t fall into the “let’s take one syllable of the song and stutter it for eight minutes over a drum loop” mode of mixing.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      tim – Thank goodness for that! What you described were the dominant aesthetics of dance music that killed it off thoroughly for me ca. 1988-2004. As far as the Icehouse cover album, “The Berlin Tapes,” it is my favorite cover album of all time. It’s laden with many definitive takes of the songs in question, with no clinkers and a well-chosen/performed repertoire.

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