I first heard B-Movie on a flexidisc from Flexipop magazine that had a version of “Remembrance Day” coupled with Soft Cell’s “Metro Mr. X” and I saw it as a cheap way to check out this “Soft Cell” I’d been hearing about in the period before their album getting released. The Soft Cell was okay, but I really went for B-Movie. They sounded like they were influenced by Ultravox at a time when that assured that a band would be at the start of the queue with me. I never got their mid-80s album until some time in the early 90s but being vinyl, I never spun it. Instead, I had bought the Dead Good CD of “Volume 1: Remembrance Days” in 1992-1993 that collected their early indie singles and EPs. I had written about their re-emergence in 2012 but when I saw this in late July at Amoeba Hollywood, I had no idea and just pounced on it at full price. It just seemed the thing to do! Was it worth it?
#22 • B-Movie: Climate Of Fear US CD 
- Another False Dawn
- Come Closer
- San Francisco
- Forgotten Souls
- Ghost Land
- Climate Of Fear
- A Girl And A Gun
- The Remnants
- Feeling Gothic
- Nowhere Girl (Radio Edit)
- Nowhere Girl (Die Krupps Vs Leæther Strip Remix)
- Nowhere Girl (Extended)
- Nowhere Girl (Deathday Remix)
Wow! “Another False Dawn” really gotthis party started in the best way possible! First of all, you were served fat bass guitar and real drums [!] before Rick Holliday’s infectious synth riffage plants the hooks deep. It’s such a classic new wave sound they effortlessly re-create here. As if it were still 1982 and all was [relatively] well with the world. Songs like this were meant to fill rock club dance floors – if there were still such a beast. Steve Hovington’s wonderful vocals stay right in the sweet spot of everything I’ve ever heard from him until after the middle eight, where he leapt an octave to truly startle me as he closed out this marvelous song. So he did have a higher range than he usually let on, but really, his standard baritone is just a very comforting thing for me to hear.
“Come Closer” was a dramatic, piano-led tune with more darkly melodic rock that had all of its elements in such rewarding balance. The music here bypassed all of the sonic missteps that had made pop music such a minefield from the mid 80s onward. This music simply sounded fantastic! Not fussy or avant-garde. Just rock solid songwriting and sensitive, supportive playing.
When I saw the title “San Francisco,” I’d wondered if it was a cover of the iconic Scott McKenzie 60s hit. Far from it! It took that song’s conceit as a starting point for some incisive social commentary as well as a step out of their dance rock ethos with a period piece featuring a very 1967 bass break and a cod-Manzarek organ solo in the middle eight.
“If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear
Your corporate logo…
If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to have
A six figure income” – “San Francisco”
I really loved the tense, new wave urgency of “Corridors,” and Paul Statham’s fluid guitar solo in the middle eight was sweet and nourishing. The dramatic cold ending on repeated five-beat was just picture perfect. That contrasted nicely with the piano-led ballad of “Forgotten Souls.” This band, whom I’d always liked, but had never heard a straight album from, was really hitting the PPM sweet spot!
I was eating up the stately pace and gorgeous organ riff hook that wove through the magnificent “Ghost Land.” Naturally, that was followed by the angular new wave of the title track, which built to a freakout Eno/Roxy synth crescendo that was bursting with manic energy. The sardonic wit of “A Girl + A Gun” matched a laconic pace to a deeply cynical lyric for almost a throwback to the sort of vibe that “San Francisco” had offered earlier.
“All we need, is a girl and a gun
To make a movie, and lots of money” – “A Girl + A Gun”
“The Remnants” was a slowly paced ballad which returned after the fadeout with a choral code over some foley effects that picked up the pace considerably in its final minute. The closing “Feeling Gothic” may have been tongue in cheek but seeing as the release was on Cleopatra perhaps it was a tip of the hat to their label? The track itself was about as gothic as “Phantasmagoria” period Damned; in other words 6/10 on the Goth-O-Meter, but a good time nonetheless.
Speaking of Cleopatra Records, federal statute demands that all releases by heritage acts on the label must include a new recording of said band’s biggest hit, so they have bolted on four versions of “Nowhere Girl 2016” on to what was a fine album in no need of such tomfoolery. The Radio Edit isn’t toxic, nor is it anything to write home about. It sounded like Steve Hovington’s voice was pitched up on the track for reasons unknown. The extended version will do nothing to make one forget the iconic original 12” mix from 1982. Then there’s the remixes.
The Die Krupps vs Leæther Strip [rolls eyes] mix was a hard EBM version with a adrenalized BPM and Steve Hovington still sounding vaguely chipmunk-like. I suspect Melodyne involvement here. At least Rick Holliday’s synth leads seem to have been left intact. The less said about the Deathday Remix, the better. This interminable, nine minute version overstays its welcome… by a good nine minutes. The tempo has been shifted down so we have Hovington still pitched high but now slowed down. Not pretty! And his actual vocals on this album were so enjoyable, too. The last half seems to go on forever.
As much as I prefer the CD, maybe the best way to enjoy this fantastic album by the reactivated B-Movie might be to opt for the succinct 10 song DL version. The bonus tracks made this disc half again as long with what was chaff to my ears, but let’s accentuate the positive here. B-Movie have been back for two albums and and EP in the last six years, and based on the evidence here, I need to get my hands on the “Distant Skies” EP and the “Age Of Illusion” album. Hey ho! It looks like they just put out a new DL single of “Stalingrad” b/w “Somewhere Cold” and this month the CD EP will have a third exclusive track “Repetition.” The legendary Bowie song from “Lodger?” Join us one year, possibly far in the future, to find out!
CONCLUSION: enjoy…a lot…just turn it off after track 10
Be careful re the Distant Skies ep, I seem to recall the tracks are an unlisted bonus on the album.
I got stung:)
SimonH – That’s an important fact to know. Thanks!
Stalingrad is a good track…the vocals are under produced though. I’m unconvinced by Somewhere Cold. It doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Now if Repetition is the amazing Bowie track, it could be a moment of brilliance or complete failure.
Just picked this up, it’s not the Bowie track but it is rather good!
Hey Monk, a little late to the party here but somehow I missed the release of Climate of Fear four years ago (!) and stumbled upon it a couple weeks ago. I had a feeling you might have reviewed it at some point, so was not disappointed to find your write up which completely affirms my feeling for the album. All I can say is WOW. I did not expect something so amazing. Its sound is well placed in John Foxx-era Ultravox territory and yet is so contemporary. Good on them! Hope they treat us to another release at some point in the not so distant future.
drskridlow – Actually I think they already did! Unless I’m mis-remembering.
As a fellow B-Movie fan I think you’ll find this 2 hour interview with Steve Hovington fascinating… https://www.mixcloud.com/johnnynormal/ar068-the-johnny-normal-synthetic-special-b-movie-interview-feature/
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Nigel – Welcome to the comments! TWO HOURS? When/where will I find the time to listen to this? I’m not much of a “podcast guy,” but thanks for the tip. I’ll download it for future listening at some point.