A Flock Of Seagulls Reunite In Original Lineup For Orchestral Hits And AFOS BSOG

Holy Toledo! Paul Reynolds still has hair

I think we can all agree that when Paul Reynolds left A Flock Of Seagulls following their “Story of A Young Heart” album, that the group lost something they never replaced. His Post-Punk guitar prowess made songs like “Modern Love Is Automatic” into something that can still get the pulse racing 30 [mumble] years later. Well, the original lineup has reformed and they release a new album tomorrow, and synth-loving label August Day has made it happen again. Since August Day worked the Prague Philharmonic action with Visage several years back, they seek to repeat that triumph, this time with A Flock of Seagulls.

August Day | UK | CD | 2018 | ADAY 035

A Flock Of Seagulls [With The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra]: Ascension UK CD/DL [2018]

  1. I Ran [Orchestral Version]
  2. Modern Love Is Automatic [Orchestral Version]
  3. Telecommunication [Orchestral Version]
  4. Space Age Love Song [Orchestral Version]
  5. Ascension
  6. Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) [Orchestral Version]
  7. Nightmares [Orchestral Version]
  8. DNA [Orchestral Version]
  9. Electrics [Orchestral Version]
  10. Transfer Affection [Orchestral Version]
  11. The More You Live, The More You Love [Orchestral Version]
  12. Man Made [Orchestral Version]

As we can see, the band have re-recorded eleven of their classic period songs with added orchestral accompaniment. Sharp eyes may have noted that a new song, the title track “Ascension” snuck in there, giving those wanting something completely new a bit of a tease. How does it sound? Well, we can only hear the pre-release single, “Space Age Love Song,” so far, but Reynolds can definitely still cut it. The addition of a full orchestra instead of a monosynth string patch sounded much richer to these ears. I have to admit that I was getting a little thrilled by what I’d heard before it faded just as Mike Score’s vocal came into the mix. The descending french horn line sounded positively regal.

A month ago, August Day released the single and it’s out there on DL as well as deluxe CD formats! Five mixes on the DL and eight on the CD. All of this is well and good, but anyone who has observed the label working that Visage action knows that there will be more to it that this. The label has also prepped a full month five disc, autographed edition of “Ascension” that experience tells us, may be selling for more than its $60 asking price a little while down the road.

The Full August Day Monty – this time for AFOS

A Flock Of Seagulls: Ascension Limited Edition Box [ADAY 040]

  1. Disc 1: Ascension [orchestral album]
  2. Disc 2: Ascension [instrumental versions]
  3. Disc 3: Ascension [orchapella mix]
  4. Disc 4: Aurora Borealis – The Greatest Hits [re-recorded without orchestra]
  5. Disc 5: Space Age Love Song CD single

Included are postcards signed by all four members and some stickers. Discs 2-4 are exclusive to the full set, though “Aurora Borealis” will additionally be available as a DL from the August Day website and iTunes as of today. I sampled the “Aurorea Borealis” set on iTunes and it seemed to be pretty similar to the originals without headphones. I certainly wasn’t the biggest AFOS fan after 1982, but I do think that I may want to get the “Ascension” album. I re-purchased the debut album many years ago and was not convinced, but the addition of the orchestra made the song I sampled a definitely richer listening experience. The production by John Bryan and Sare Havlicek rests on their truly spectacular Visage laurels so I’m sure this will do us all favors. Those guys really know how to make fantastic sounding synth rock. If you are of a disposition to revel in the 5xCD boxed set, then it’s just $59.99 from here.

– 30 –

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32 Responses to A Flock Of Seagulls Reunite In Original Lineup For Orchestral Hits And AFOS BSOG

  1. James Pagan says:

    Has it been FIFTY years already? Merciful heavens! “Space Age Love Song”–my all-time favorite AFOS track–sounds dynamite with a full orchestra. Paul Reynolds’s axework is, as usual, impeccable.

    I remember some wag at Smash Hits referring to these birds in the mid-80’s as “a classic case of the haircut band going bald,” but bless ’em anyway. Long may they flap their wings!

    Cordially,

    James

    Like

  2. Gavin says:

    I watched the video for S.A.L.S. On YouTube and quite like the new version,but those photos-oh dear!
    They could have at least tried to look vaguely presentable and/or interesting for a new release after all these years!
    Good luck to,them though.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – We’ll see if they can get the all-important new album out behind this effort. I’d give it a shot. Not every band could craft a slice of near-Ultravox! like “Modern Love Is Automatic,” but they never came close to that again.

      Like

  3. Tim says:

    Never saw this coming.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – That makes two of us. I put it down to the tenacious minds behind August Day Records. They seem to be fans of this sort of thing.

      Like

      • Tim says:

        I’ve seen some backlash to these orchestrated projects and, well, I like them (says the former violinist). So far I have the Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley and Ultravox ones. Haven’t listened yet to the Uvox but the others are just great. Elvis shared the backing vox with the vocalists and they even kept the integrity of that by not burying the backing vocals in the mx!

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – There’s an orchestral Elvis Presley album? Ex post facto, I’m guessing. Hell, many of The Big O’s hits were orchestral to begin with, so not much of a stretch there. Another recent development?

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          • Tim says:

            There’s three of them. I agree, there was originally some oirchestration. I love all three of them. My late brother and I were big Elvis fans when we were growing up, Rob got to see him on the last tour. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the king and these albums do the trick quite nicely. I’m a sucker for these orchesterssl projects. Bring on more if ’em. Can we start with maybe the smooth sounds of Tom Waits? I’m thinking Kentucky Avenue…..Tom Traubert’s Blues…..don’t even get me started on my wish list.

            Like

  4. Echorich says:

    I’ve listened to the orchestral take on Space Age Love Song a few times now. Each time trying to see if it had the magic that Visage’s Orchestral had….sorry it doesn’t. While the guitar and synth work, for that matter, seem alive (and kicking), the Philharmonic tends to be lost in the mix until finally showing up during the instrumental coda and then building out with winds and some brass from the bed of strings. Towards the end of SALS, they two seem to be tussling for control of the song. The decision to have the Philharmonic bring a more sombre counterpoint to the electronics was a very good orchestration decision, but it just doesn’t work, as a whole, the way John Bryan’s production did for Visage. I’m curious to hear the rest of the album – especially I Ran – which in my mind could have a great reimagining in a sort of John Barry/Bond-esque orchestration.

    Like

  5. negative1ne says:

    i dont think a lot of you understand the purpose of this release, or are missing the point
    if you don’t think the orchestral versions wont work, then this isn’t for you, so you should probably listen to the release without it.

    i was skeptical too, especially after the disaster that was the midge ure release, and most other ones. only the pet shop boys and abc, are suited for an orchestra. i haven’t heard the visage,so i can’t judge that one. echo is coming out with one too, and ocean rain, was pretty decent.

    anyways, the slower songs, and midtempo ones work out well, along with the radical reworkings of i ran, and wishing. i think it’s a good fit and most of the songs are ok. ascension is a 1 min 12 sec interlude, so nothing new there.

    the guitar work is excellent. and i will be getting the deluxe set to check out the instrumentals and other versions.

    overall, it’s a good release, and the song selection is limited to the first 3 albums, and covers most but not all of their singles. i wish they had done ‘never again the dancer’, but oh well. the only other problem is most of the songs are way too short. the main singles that everyone knows are well done, and ‘space age love song’ is a good single for song that had a basic release.

    good job on this project, and hopefully there might be some more music from the original members. we’ll see.

    later
    -1

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – Welcome to the comments! Nice to see you here. So the Midge Ure album you deemed a “disaster?” I’m not surprised. I think everything he’s recorded since “Quartet” has been uninteresting with only a few bits here [half of “Lament” and a third of “The Gift”] and there that work for me. I have avoided “Orchestral” since I felt it was following Visage a bit closely and thought that without John Bryan at the helm, it could be more weak tea from Ure. I think personally that Midge is a great guy [I loved the two shows I saw in recent years] and I want to avoid being too negative about him, hence my avoidance of “Orchestral.” Hmmm.

      I was not a big fan of AFOS. I loved the first EP and bought the debut album, but got rid of it a few years later. For a “synth band,” they had a totally hot guitarist who did all of the heavy lifting. Then he split. I saw them live in the early 90s configuration. They played a free downtown concert in Orlando while Score lived in Central Florida at the time. No big deal. When I re-bought the debut CD in 2001 I listened to it a few times and sold it off. I’m willing to give the “Ascension” album a chance. It could take the material to a new level, and the band seem up to it. I am willing to give it a try because I loved the Visage project! I think John Bryan and Sare Havlicek have great vision and taste. I was a big Visage fan initially through their association with Ultravox and Magazine, but I have to admit that the re-boot was way better than I was expecting. Everyone gave their all and the inclusion of Robin Simon was a masterstroke [thanks, Rusty!]. Even Mick MacNeil made his presence felt. The late Visage material was actually more emotionally rewarding than just technically dazzling like the old stuff.

      Like

      • JT says:

        “I saw them live in the early 90s configuration. They played a free downtown concert in Orlando while Score lived in Central Florida at the time. ”

        Did we see this show together? I have a vague recollection of it.

        The problem with AFOS is Paul Reynolds. He so far outpaced the rest of the band musically that without him they have no value whatsoever. Try listening to anything on their first album, but mentally block out the guitar. You’re left with the most repetitive, blocky, remedial, low-effort nonsense imaginable. *Particularly* Space Age Love Song. The built-in beats on a Casio synthesizer are more musically interesting. These guys were just a really shitty band who usually sound like they’re struggling to just stay in time with each other. Then Reynolds came in and sprayed some awesome over it all. Mike Score’s sci-fi lyrics made it contemporary at the time, and Mike Shipley’s magic at the console glued it all together. In spite of all that: I actually really like their first album (and parts of the second; glad to see the under-discussed deep cut “Electrics” on this new release), but if we’re being honest, this band is all smoke and mirrors.

        So to my point: arranging this stuff for orchestra is futile. There’s not enough counterpoint or interest in the arrangements to give an orchestra much to do. The first few Visage albums had so much more going on in both the arrangements and the musicianship that there was something for an orchestral arranger to use as a starting point. But in this case, I can’t even imagine how to begin to keep these AFOS songs engaging in this context.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          JT – You are correct sir! That was the only show we ever saw together, other than Kraftwerk. And a vague recollection of it would be all you would have had. I remember your and my decision not to follow the small group we were with to [ugh!] H**ters afterward more than a note played. You nail it to the door of the New Wave Church with your assessment. AFOS fail me because there’s no there there. Funny you should mention smoke and mirrors because it was 300 viewings of the “I Ran” video on MTV that drove the point home that the synth lead to this song was a two-finger modulation for the whole freaking song! The rest of the band [bar Reynolds] were so rudimentary that after the age of 20, I lost interest. I would give the orchestral recordings a shot because: 1] Reynolds is there, having played jazz in his years out of the band and good for him. 2] John Bryan had used the Prague Philharmonic to great effect with 4 arrangers on that Visage album. True, the songs had miles of complexity to start with thanks to Ure/Currie/Devoto/Formula as compared to AFOS, but I would not discount what a good arrangement could do to those rudimentary songs. The french horn counterpoint I pointed out in the snippet I heard only helped.

          In a completely unrelated point, I just found out that AFOS are currently touring North America with Gordon Deppe of Spoons on guitar! I would go just to see him and have him autograph my copy of “Arias + Symphonies!!” Canada’s finest New Wave album ever! So AFOS asked him to play guitar and he’s as good as Reynolds was so I will make time for AFOS if they come around.

          Like

          • JT says:

            They couldn’t get Reynolds to stick around for a tour?
            Sheesh.

            I just watched the Space Age video. I kinda liked that they all threw their individual “gang signs” at the end, which I seem to recall from back cover (or inner sleeve) portraits on one of their LPs. That was a nice touch. But they look so damned… old…

            Like

            • postpunkmonk says:

              JT – They are old. We are getting old, though not quite that old. Deppe came into the band late last year because he lives in North America [where the band tour] and is also a hot guitarist. Smart move from Mike Score in asking him to play. I’m surprised he said yes, since Spoons are still together, but they are not as active. For what it’s worth, I love Spoons far more than AFOS.

              From the August Day website:
              “Inspired by our new wave 80s foray, in 2018 we approached A Flock Of Seagulls and posed the ridiculous notion of getting all four original members to record together again. The last time this had happened was 1984 and ‘yes’ it was crazy idea. At this point, we had owned a kitchen sink for far too long and once again we decided to sell it (along with everything else) to pay for some long intense sessions with the 50 piece Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The Flock reside all over the world and after a lot of flights and jiggery-pokery the 12 track ‘ Ascension’ album somehow appeared at the end of a hard working but fun experience.”

              So getting Reynolds [and the others] for the album was probably a big expense. He might not be able to drop everything and tour with Score’s band [who are on the road a lot] so until such time as the flow of cash would allow for it, Deppe is their man on guitar. I don’t think Ali Score or Frank Maudsley are touring with Score now either, though if a promoter could pay enough, I would bet we could see a reformed AFOS original lineup one-off tour.

              Like

          • Keith Clark says:

            So true about Deppe on the guitar and Sandy on bass PPM. I caught the Spoons live back in May 2014 here in Calgary in a dingy small club and was amazed how much they rocked out on their keyboard hits. JT’s comments on Reynolds are hit home as well; I’ve been spending my commuting time with AFOS’s first few CDs and agree that his axe skills are what makes those releases. With headphones, the rest of the generic sounds just blend into the background thankfully. I’ve also just started alternating VOTB’s first 2 as well as those releases have some great guitar to go with the girls’ fantastic voices.

            Like

            • postpunkmonk says:

              Keith Clark – Welcome to the comments! All Spoons fans are more than welcome here. One day, when I feel like taking up a week or more, I will delve into the Holy “Arias + Symphonies.” Beehive fan as well? Those people rocked! How fortunate we were to have seen them on their 1st US tour [possibly their last for all I know] where my friend Tom and I hung out with Tracey + Melissa and some other fans after their set talking music. They were just like their music; so down to earth.

              Like

    • Tim says:

      These ABC and PSB orchestral albums that you write of….do you have linkage for those? I am not familiar with either and would like to be.

      Like

  6. Tim says:

    I was over on a pledge music site last night and Sophie Ellis Bextor uus doing an orchestrated hits collection. Ahem, paging the bands I like to the orchestra pit, please take your call.

    Like

  7. negative1ne says:

    ok, listening through these:
    ====================================

    this is a very strange deluxe version.

    as mentioned before, the mix of orchestral and new wave music is not new.

    there’s quite a lot of collaborations of these.

    however, in this boxset, you get even more:
    —————————————————–
    1 the new album – ascension, which is the reworked tracks with orchestral parts
    added to them
    [available separately]

    2 instrumental versions – these are are actually the same songs, but with some
    orchestral parts (unfortunately)

    3 orcapella versions – these are purely orchestral versions

    4 reworked album – these are the tracks without the orchestral parts
    [available separately]

    5 space age love song single – featuring 2 mixes that weren’t on the digital release
    [available separately]
    ===============

    i am not a classical musical fan at all….. i don’t think i own any releases like that.

    however, i do like the sounds of strings and orchestras when added to pop and dance music
    (like ABC, etc).

    so, being a huge fan of flock of seagulls, i think all these are great.

    however, theres some overlap of the tracks, and the fact that dna, and ascension
    are already instrumentals, so those are covered a couple of times.

    i don’t think i’ll listen to the pure orchestral version much, it’s a nice novelty.

    the space age love song single is great, and you can get it separately, it’s one of my
    all time favorite songs from them, and a few of the remixes are really cool.

    ———————

    what all this music has done for me, is allow me to mix and match versions, and even
    create some of my own remixes.

    the unfortunate thing, is the ‘instrumental’ versions still have the orchestra in them,
    i would have preferred the pure instruments only.

    anyways, its a very cool and unique boxset, but i would only recommend it for
    hardcore flock of seagulls fans only.

    for anyone else, it’s overkill.

    rating, 4.5 out of 5 stars.

    later
    -1

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – I hear you. There are only a handful of artists that I would go down such a thorough road for. AFOS is not one of them. I got on the bus early; “Modern Love Is Automatic” got a lot of airplay as an import on my college station of choice. It was a major track in 1981 and still holds a lot of weight with me today. But after the debut album came out [that reprised 4/5 tracks on the first US EP] I quickly lost interest. The availability of so many versions if the material us a boon to remixers though. One of these days I need to move in that direction since I have more than a few stems and multitracks some of my favorite artists have released.

      Like

  8. Tim says:

    I agree, this is such a niche product, it’s like niche cubed. I don’t even think superdeluxedition covered it and they even had time for the Martika SDE (yes, sadly such a thing exists).

    Like

    • negative1ne says:

      Tim, not only did SDE cover it, they gave away a free copy of the boxset to boot.

      I go to that site everyday, and multiple times somedays, when there is a lot of activity. I’ve had to post a lot of the more obscure boxsets out to him, but at least paul is trying to get things done. I don’t think 80’s are his target market, or his specialty.

      later
      -1

      Like

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