Alphaville: So80s GER 2xCD 
Disc 1 – 12” Singles [85:10]
- Big In Japan (Extended Re-Mix)
- Sounds Like A Melody (Special Long Version)
- Forever Young (Special Dance Version)
- Jet Set (Jellybean Mix)
- Dance With Me (Empire Remix)
- Universal Daddy (Aquarian Dance Mix)
- Jerusalem (The Palace Version)
- Sensations (Club Mix)
- Red Rose (The 12″ Remix)
- Romeos (Extended Mix)
- Summer Rain (Extended Version)
- Mysteries Of Love (Remix)
Disc 2 – B-Sides [85:57]
- The Nelson Highrise (Sector One: The Elevator)
- Welcome To The Sun
- Golden Feeling
- The Nelson Highrise (Sector Two: The Mirror)
- Next Generation
- Vingt Mille Lieues Sous Les Mers
- Concrete Soundtraxx For Imaginary Films I
- Sister Sun
- Summer In Berlin (Demo Version)
- Like Thunder
- Big In Japan (Extended Instrumental Mix)
- Jet Set (Dub Mix)
- Romeos (Tribal Mix)
- Big In Japan (Remix ’88)
- Big In Japan (Torsten Fenslau Remix)
Last year I received a wonderful gift in the mail courtesy of chasinvictoria. While I had been busy Monastically scrimping and saving all year for the “big vacation” [and the Amoeba shopping trips that entailed], there were numerous things that came and went in my peripheral vision while I was focused on the long game. Some of these, like the Visage “Orchestral” DLX ED [with bonus mix EP] from the Visage webstore are now long gone, and all that I can have are regrets. This CD would have joined the Visage album on that list had not chasinvictoria so thoughtfully set me up with a copy.
I think I was distantly aware that Blank and Jones were planning a focused “So80s” volume devoted solely to Alphaville; the excellent German synthpop band through a mention on the New Wave Outpost site, but as monies needed to accrue for the trip, I did not falter. It was some time after returning from a delightful vacation [and all of the music from all three Amoeba’s in tow] when a mystery package arrived in my mail from chasinvictoria. He had pre-ordered the 2xCD and better still, it was the limited edition of 1000 that were signed by Marian Gold and Bernhard Lloyd for extra mojo.
Not that it needed any extra. This was a long desired exercise by Blank + Jones that was tailor made to sate the band’s ravenous fanbase. I was not quite a dyed-in-the-wool member of such, but owning their first three albums and a handful of singles probably made me more than a secret admirer in the grand scheme of things. Disc one started off with their hit debut single “Big in Japan;” the track for which they will ultimately be remembered though it was hardly my favorite opes of theirs. The remix here was courtesy of Zeus B. Held and hewed closely to the “old school” extended version methodology that the vast bulk of these songs adhered to. That is to say, re-edits and spacious expanse injected into the native DNA of the song.
I was a latecomer to the band’s first album period, diving in instead with the “Afternoons In Utopia” period. I had 12″ singles for the two US singles at the time, so I was familiar with the remixes for “Red Rose” and “Dance With Me.” I preferred the former as the latter sacrificed too much motorik German energy for clattering percussion that sapped the motivational force of the song to my ears. I was always disappointed with the 12″ version of “Dance With Me” as a result. The Thompson + Barbiero remix was not the usual winner from that team; all the more ironic because those two produced the original album sessions! They did a fantastic job mixing the LP version. I think they should have handed the 12″ off to someone else who wasn’t so close to the project.
I preferred the likes of “Sounds Like A Melody [Special Long Version]” that bumped up the Euroclassical threads running through Alphaville’s music and buffed those tendencies to a high gloss. The last half of the remix was a seemingly unending series of crescendoes and buildups that continued for much longer than anyone would have guessed up front. Another hot remixer of the period was Jellybean Benitez, and he wasn’t the first name I would think of when remixing “Jet Set,” but I liked the results here. One of the poppiest singles from the debut album, it became even more cheerful and upbeat on 12″ single.
Of the trio of extended versions from the final album of the period covered here, I had the US promo CD5s of both “Romeos” and “Mysteries Of Love” so these were known quantities. I had the second and third albums from Alphaville long before I finally got the better known debut album. “Romeos” was a stunner of a number in its original LP mix. Blacky Schwarz Ruszcynski’s berserk guitar solo that grabs your ears right off the starting blocks on the LP version was held back until the middle of the song here to signal the middle eight. The energy of the song instead of erupting and then calming down, tends to be more monolithic and remote on the 12″ mix. It has the sound of giants striding over the earth. It’s interesting to hear the remix but the all-guns-blazing approach of the LP mix is still my favorite.
Where this collection really went places for me. was with the singles from “Afternoons In Utopia” that had never surfaced in America. Cuts like “Universal Daddy,” Sensations,” and “Jerusalem” were like catnip to my ears. One of the more amazing things about this collection was that each CD is over 85 minutes long! Blank + Jones managed to cram a lot of 12″ single action onto each disc, I suspect by making them non-Red Book compliant; dropping the graphics and subcode information that is built into the Red Book spec but has largely gone unused in the decades of the format’s rise and fall. I appreciate the effort made in authoring to get every minute of music onto these discs. As it stands, each is a perfect achievement.
Next: … I wanted to hear the B-side [B-side, B-side, B-side]