Record Review: Sigue Sugue Sputnik – Flaunt It [part 1]

Parlophone | UK | CD | 1986 | CDP 7463422

Parlophone | UK | CD | 1986 | CDP 7463422

Sigue Sigue Sputnik: Flaunt It UK CD [1986]

  1. Love Missile F1-11 (Re-Recording Part II)
  2. Advertisement: Tempo Magazine
  3. Atari Baby
  4. Advertisement [false]: Network 21
  5. Sex-Bomb-Boogie
  6. Advertisement: Pure Sex
  7. Rockit Miss U.S.A.
  8. Advertisement [house ad]: The Sputnik Corporation
  9. 21st Century Boy
  10. Advertisement: ID Magazine
  11. Massive Retaliation
  12. Advertisement: The Sigue Sigue Sputnik Computer Game
  13. Teenage Thunder
  14. Advertisement: Studio Line From L’Oreal
  15. She’s My Man
  16. Advertisement [false]: EMI Records

It’s time to stop beating around the bush and discuss the elephant in the room! It’s been almost 800 postings and I’ve barely mentioned Sigue Sigue Sputnik! I remember the high-pitched wave of hype that accompanied this band when then burst onto the scene right at the death-throes of Post-Punk. I was intrigued but wary, but when I finally saw the video for “Love Missile F-111” I certainly got over my initial squeamishness. This was possibly the most post-modern band conceivable. I had to appreciate Tony James chutzpah at forming a dream band after the implosion of Generation X, where Billy Idol took off for a solo career with manager Bill [“KISS””] Aucoin whispering sweet nothings in his ear.

What did Tony James do but think about what he really wanted to say while surrounding himself with multiple Billy Idol clones and late-blooming Blitz Kid Martin Degville, who must have grit his teeth watching Steve Strange, Boy George, and hell, even Marilyn get contracts waved in front of their faces and singles in the charts. James had a conception of Elvis in the year 2050 and armed with the sound of Suicide and a sampler, he set about creating that dream, all the while infusing the sound with a broken funhouse mirror reflecting the worst ethos of the Reagan/Thatcher era. Like any successful piece of satire, there is a double edged sword in invoking the future that you may not really want to happen. It often has a way of manifesting itself anyway!

The band were not without precedent. Public Image Limited were the first to mine the “band as corporation” vein and B.E.F/Heaven 17 certainly worked that angle with a mixture of self-aware irony and earnest belief. But SSS went much further in reflecting and magnifying the crass, commercial values that were being touted as the new god of the eighties. If it did’t make any money, what good was it? SSS would make a meta-statement on  commercialism not just by willfully embracing it, but by actually selling ads in-between the cuts on their debut album! Then they worked the hype angle in the press harder than most to the point where despite embodying what should be exactly the traits of their ideal target market [ironic, post-modern pseudo-hipster with too much education for his own good] I was none the less put off of actually buying the records without feeling like a mark.

When the album came out I made a point of telling my friends, when the topic of discussion moved to SSS, that “I’d love to have the album, but I didn’t want to buy it.” I was crestfallen when I eventually realized that none of my friends took the bait and bought the album for me. Eventually, I had to grit my teeth and buy the thing myself! I got the CD at a record show probably a year after it came out. With that Rubicon crossed, I made it a policy to also buy the 12″ singles when I saw them, but by that time the SSS hype train had certainly run off the rails as the band were deemed washed up as soon as they managed to reach the top five with their first single, “Love Missle F-111.”

Next: …but what’s the album like?

 

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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11 Responses to Record Review: Sigue Sugue Sputnik – Flaunt It [part 1]

  1. Jon Chaisson says:

    Oh man, I loved this album something fierce back in the day!!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jon – Welcome to the comments! We’ll talk about this for as long as necessary. I’m sure dissertations in philosophy courses have been made using this album as raw materials for the theses.

      Like

      • Jon Chaisson says:

        Thanks! Believe it or not, this album changed my life in high school. I’d written a review in my school paper, and some really cool people sought me out to thank me for it. They’re still my closest friends after all these years. :)

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Jon – Well, if you had never heard T-Rex or Suicide, I can see that it would be a mind blower. Even if you had, that doesn’t diminish the audacity of its accomplishment. If you saw the video for “Love Missile F-111,” then all bets were off. It was not a band. It was the sequel to the Max Headroom film!

          Like

          • Jon Chaisson says:

            Haha, that’s the thing. In my neck of the woods, T-Rex was “that band Power Station covered” and Suicide was some weird band your older brother in college listened to. Personally, audacity *was* the whole point of it for me. It was so over the top and ridiculous that I got that they were taking the piss, and loved it because of that.

            Like

  2. Echorich says:

    The thing to have was the wonderful looking but horribly designed vinyl “box” which looked like a Japanese transformer box or a futuristic erector set. Now the packaging was so thin that all the box edges split and the vinyl was sleeved in possibly the thinnest piece of saran wrap you could imagine. Still it looks even better than it sounds… And Monk, you hit it on the nail. This album is a commercial success if the aim was to make electo-punkabilliy, grounded in the the achievements of Suicide. I think it’s funny that having basically ignored the band within a year of the album’s release, I can listen to the songs now and actually still enjoy them.
    That Tony James went on to join Goth Superstars (yes superstars) The Sisters Of Mercy (mk III) when they were at their most commercial must say something about his influence. The money poured into promoting SOM on their Vision Thing release and the videos was massive in comparison to before. I wouldn’t be surprised if WEA saw the addition of James as a positive for the band. It’s criminal that his work with former London SS pal Mick Jones (of The Clash) as Carbon/Silicon never really took off.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Wow! I had no idea about that LP box.. but did you know that our Japanese friends, with their penchant for curation, have done a CD replication of that self-same ltd. LP box in 2012?

      http://www.discogs.com/Sigue-Sigue-Sputnik-Flaunt-It-/release/4788364

      Like

    • Jon Chaisson says:

      Speaking of which…I distinctly remember an episode of 120 Minutes with Dave Kendall interviewing Wayne Hussey of the Mission (and former SoM member), and Wayne laughing in disbelief that “Andrew had hired that guy from Sputnik for his band”. I assume the post-1986 acrimony was still there…

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Jon – I’ve actually seen both The Mission and Sisters in concert. While The Mission had a single or two of note, give me The Sisters of Mercy anytime… fog machine and all. It’s funny. I never liked The Sisters much until I started frequenting dance clubs and repeated exposure to their singles eventually ensured that the coin dropped for that band for me.

        Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Jon – To me, Wayne Hussey will always be a former Dead Or Alive member first.

        Like

      • Echorich says:

        I think a lot of that Sisters/Mission acrimony has dissipated over the years. Hussey has agreed that for two members of the band to break ranks and then trade on a name as close to the mother band’s name – The Sisterhood – was a pretty churlish and childish move. But they were a great rock soap opera for a while there from 85 – 87.
        I have to give Eldtrich credit that over the course of his career he has not tried to repeat himself. From the Goth of and leading up to First Last And Always to the orchestral drama of Floodland and the dirty rock attack of Vision Thing, there’s a progression that always kept me listening. The last real official release – Under The Gun featuring the always engaging Terri Nunn was an amazing recording swansong.

        Like

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