Record Review: Our Daughters Wedding – Digital Cowboy

EMI America | US | EP | 1981 | MLP-19000

EMI America | US | EP | 1981 | MLP-19000

Our Daughters Wedding: Digital Cowboy US EP [1981]

  1. Target For Life
  2. Red Alert
  3. Lawnchairs
  4. Dance Floor
  5. No One Is Watching
ODW - lawnchairsUS7A

Design Records | US | 7″ | 1980 | ODW913LR

Here was another record I read about in the pages of Billboard prior to its release. The 1980 indie 7″ release of the single “Lawnchairs” had made waves on the “rock disco” chart that the magazine published and the band was featured as they signed to EMI America and set about to record their five song EP for the major label. It was 1981; the labels were pushing the EP format since it was a cheaper investment that sold for less than an LP price in the middle of a recession where not only was the dollar pinched, but these things called video games were siphoning money from the pockets of youth all across America in preference to records [!] to the extent that even the record industry was suffering from a recession after a decade of explosive growth.

I bought this EP probably when it got released, sometime during the Summer of 1981 as I was either just preparing to enter college or was a raw green freshman. I was all over technopop pregnant with synthesizers at the time, and this record was on e of the few US-based examples of the form. The appearance of Colin Thurston in the producers chair was a fairly auspicious omen, with his engineering and production work by this time encompassing the Iggy Pop/Bowie Berlin axis as well as Post-Punk giants Magazine and young upstarts Duran Duran.

“Target For Life” featured  lots of frantically played eighth and sixteenth notes over the solid beat of sessionmaster Simon Philips on skins as well as member Layne Rico’s Synare® providing the urgent timing. We know they were frantically played because the EP’s cover assured us that “no sequencers used.” The familiar New Wave trope of paranoia reared its head here, and vocalist Keith Silva’s vocals were appropriately enervated. That the synths were played and not sequenced probably added to the human feel by having the timing less than microchip perfect. It probably made for a more exciting live show as they had to maintain a certain energy level to play this stuff live.

omd - messagesUK10AThe band recut a new version of their breakout hit “Lawnchairs” for this EP and having heard only an iTunes sample of the original 7″ version, the song sounded almost identical, but for the electronic percussion on the original. What that means was that as much as OMD’s “Electricity” was a faster recording of “Radioactivity” by Kraftwerk, “Lawnchairs” was a two note inversion of the familiar “Messages” riff by OMD. I remember reading an interview with Keith Silva in the pages of Trouser Press and he was waxing eloquent over the godlike superiority of the 10″ version of “Messages” as an example of synthpop nirvana. Well, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, since the riffs are almost identical. It says much about the durability of the riffs used that having been familiar with the OMD record first, I still would allow this one to exist if I ran the world. As much of an OMD knockoff as it is, it’s still a great record!

ODQ - movingwindowsUSLPAThings got more interesting on the B-side of the EP with music that seemed more musically complex with “Dance Floor” featuring some great bass synth work from Scott Simon. The arrangement of this one and the following number, “No One’s Watching” step away from the singsong pleasures of a track like “Lawnchairs.” The five tracks vary in tone and intensity while being cut from similar sound design cloth. It’s decent enough music but I suppose it spoke volumes that when the first [and last] ODW album, “Moving Windows” appeared the following year, I didn’t bother picking up a copy; even a used promo copy.

By 1985, I severely thinned out my vinyl chaff for CD trade value and this record was a casualty of the Great Vinyl Purge. I did relent some time in the early 90s when I bought a copy of the EP after seeing it in the used bins at Murmur Records [or maybe Alobar by that time] and it’s sat in my Record Cell ever since. I finally spun it to the hard drive a week or two ago and it’s a fine EP, but nothing more. There was a fairly comprehensive Almacantar CD of ODW that compiled most, if not all, of their output that was released ten years ago that I dawdled on buying and now it’s a three figure disc. I guess I’m fine with that!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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5 Responses to Record Review: Our Daughters Wedding – Digital Cowboy

  1. Taffy says:

    OK, I’ll bite. I liked this EP a lot, and Lawnchairs was on my own constant rotation back in 81/82. There was a 12″ single called Elevate Her which was a really fun, funky slice of synthpop, which I believe made it onto Moving Windows. I saw the band live between Xmas and New Years 1982 at a NYC club called the Red Parrot, and my sketchy memory is that they were quite lively, attacking their keyboards with gusto.

    Like

  2. Gavin says:

    I have always been a huge fan since buying the Digital Cowboy EP as a teen.
    I love their stuff,have the LP and several singles,plus the great collection “Nightlife”
    They even once appeared live on a short-lived British show starring Hazel O’Connor called “Jangles”-its on YouTube.

    Like

  3. SimonH says:

    Really wanted the album to be better than it is! Not that it’s bad of course. Just out of interest it’s being reissued on CD and vinyl this year.

    Like

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