As we mentioned last April, Wang Chung were the latest band to take the orchestral plunge that label August Day offered. The album has since been released in two formats, the ten track album and the boxed set version. Their new video above offers a cheeky update of their most iconic video. Were those masked string players a “Magical Mystery Tour” reference or did I just fall down The Rutles rabbit hole? As usual, we’re all about the boxed set of god version here @ PPM. It’s just what we do! Let’s have a look.
Wang Chung: Orchesography Boxed Set – UK – 6xCD 
Disc One – Orchesography
- Dance Hall Days
- Let’s Go
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight
- To Live And Die In LA
- Overwhelming Feeling
- Hypnotize Me
- Space Junk
- Electric Days
- The World In Which We Live
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Reprise)
Disc Two – Orchesography (Orchestra And Vocal Versions)
- Hypnotize Me (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- Let’s Go (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- To Live And Die In LA (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- Overwhelming Feeling (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- Dance Hall Days (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- Space Junk (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- The World In Which We Live (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- Electric Days (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Reprise) (Orchestra And Vocal Version)
Disc Three – Full Orchestral Versions
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Orcapella)
- Hypnotize Me (Orcapella)
- To Live And Die In LA (Orcapella)
- Dance Hall Days (Orcapella)
- Let’s Go (Orcapella)
- Overwhelming Feeling (Orcapella)
- Space Junk (Orcapella)
- Electric Days (Orcapella)
- The World In Which We Live (Orcapella)
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Reprise) (Orcapella)
Disc Four – Remixes
- Hypnotize Me (One Era Remix) 6:05
- Let’s Go (Soda Pimps Remix) 4:42
- To Live And Die In LA (Skintologists Love And Dub In LA) 5:16
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Reprise) (Aimes Remix) 5:22
- Dance Hall Days (Kim And Buran 80s Boogie Remix) 5:10
- The World In Which We Live (Sands Of Rio Remix) 6:11
- Overwhelming Feeling (Domestic Technology Spring And Bass Remix) 3:59
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Beats Remix) 5:11
- Space Junk (Chris Coco Balearic Dub) 9:02
- Electric Days (Extended Mix) 5:10
Disc Five – Dance Hall Days CD5
- Dance Hall Days (Orchestral Version) 4:24
- Dance Hall Days (Daniele Baldelli & DJ Rocca Vocal Remix) 5:29
- Dance Hall Days (Kim & Buran Disco Mix) 6:15
- Dance Hall Days (Psychmagik Remix) 4:04
- Dance Hall Days (Orcapella) 4:06
Disc Six – Everybody Have Fun Tonight CD5
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Orchestral Extended Remix) 8:40
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Rikky Disco Club Edit) 3:46
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Orchestral Version) 4:32
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Beats Remix) 5:11
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Rikky Disco Remix) 4:02
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Diskette Remix) 3:59
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Brassapella) 4:15
- Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Orchestral Extended Instrumental) 8:38
That’s a pretty interesting selection on the main album. They managed to squeak in a track [“Overwhelming Feeling”] from their excellent last album “Tazer Up” that you basically had to buy from their merch table or iTunes! And the loose tracks “Space Junk” that they recorded for their 90s greatest hits album after being apart for some years. The track that is most interesting to me is “The World In Which We Live,” for my money the best song they ever wrote. I have to say that with the full orchestra behind it, giving it a warm power alien to the more brittle mid-80s version, it has never sounded better. It’s actually spine tingling, now. If I miss on this box, then at the very least, I will be getting the CD of the “Orchesography” album.
Of course, the box has three discs only available in that configuration. The voice and orchestra disc [number two] is the one of most interest to me. If one is going to engage an orchestra, why not go all the way with it? There is also an orchestral instrumental disc and a disc of remixes. I have liked Kim + Buran and Skintologists mixes before, so they may be fun. Then they wrapped up the box with the two CD singles out commercially on DL/CD5 format. Topping it off with a artist-signed card insert, of course! What’s the outlay for six CDs? A decent $56.95, but these won’t last forever. Right now I don’t have the cash for this but we’ll see what happens down the line. Orders made here.
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Well, being a hardcore WC fan I’m somewhat biased, but let me highly recommend this fine set. The primary disc works like a charm as their music adapts so well to orchestral treatment. Equally fine is the orchestra and vocal version which reveals the orchestral details with even more clarity. The orchestra only instrumental disc sometimes teeters close to Muzak versions, but still well worth a listen. The remixes are a revelation. Like Mr. Monk I approach contemporary remixes with some reservations, but the remix disc and remixes on the two CD5s are uniformly terrific.
The entire Wang Chung back catalog is getting the deluxe reissue treatment with “Huang Chung”, “Points On The Curve”, and “To Live And Die In LA” coming out in October.
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Mr. Ware – Well, many of the remix stable are “known quantities” to the August Day label, with several of them having done Visage remixes I enjoyed during the fecund period of Noveau Visage. I imagined that the ones I mentioned would be good, but I’m pleased to hear that the quality control that the label exercises didn’t let you down on the others. I like how remixes can also be short now and not necessarily 12 minutes long, though in some cases, that’s necessary! That’s why I left in the remix timings on the post.
I hate to be a curmudgeon(*) but this “orchestral 80s” trend really bothers me. The orchestral arrangements rarely add anything. A lot of them just sound like they took the original tracks and added some string sections on top. I mean, I get it, they want to sell records/keep their profile up, and to the average shopper there’s a whiff of something unsavoury about new wave arrangements in the year 2019, but it just irritates me. The original records are great. Celebrate what they did, don’t try to dress it up to pretend it’s something it’s not.
On the other hand, The Bird And The Bee just dropped Volume 2 in their “Interpreting The Masters” series yesterday, and it’s all Van Halen covers rearranged with absolutely impeccable taste by the incomparable Greg Kurstin. Not a guitar to be found anywhere on the record, btw. Now that’s how you revisit old stuff properly. It provides a very interesting and original take on familiar material.
(*) This is a bald-faced lie.
jsd – I’ll never forget how thrilled I was to hear the Balanescu Quartet’s version of Kraftwerk back in 1993. I leaned on that record hard at that time.
When mr monk first broke the news about the flock of seagulls orchestral boxset,
that’s what drew me to this blog, and where i started commenting:
we had a long discussion about this, and pointed out suitable bands that
it worked on : ABC, Pet Shop Boys, and others with orchestral leanings.
Some that didn’t work : Midge Ure, and many others, although you can
pick and choose from the Trevor Horn symphonic release.
long story short, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Some of the wang chung songs work great, because they had strings
in them originally. Others are adapted to work, like hypnotize me.
Others are terrible like everybody have fun tonight, lets go, etc.
anyways, i love orchestral versions, so bring them all on.
i like them better than the limp acoustic and cover albums that
so many groups do.
negative1ne – I have to agree with your conclusion. The orchestras are a darn sight better than acoustic guitars for me.
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I’ll happily second that! It’s often interesting to hear a particular song re-interpreted in acoustic form (Joe Jackson’s starker “Different for Girls” for just solo piano springs to mind), but entire albums of that stuff are just cheap ways to fill out a record contract/milk the hits most of the time.
chasinvictoria – Uh, let me just state the obvious. Contracting out an orchestra is not exactly cheap.
The secret to making a great orchestral album of any great songs is simple … a proper orchestral (and somewhat daring) arranger. A good arrangement can really bring new life to a song you knew by playing to the orchestra’s strengths rather than just having violins ape the guitar parts, et al.
Not judging anything on this Wang Chung set because I haven’t heard it yet, but I have hear orchestral versions of rock songs that really took them in a different and delightful direction, and I too am less enthralled with the “let’s just add a lot of strings to it” approach when that happens.
Having said that, DEVO (of course) beat everyone to the punch by pre-Muzaking their stuff a lifetime ago!
I’m working on my uber Walking Dead fanedit (chronological marriage of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, thanks for asking) and was trying to figure out the song used when Rick Grimes has a helicopter ride and was amazed to find out it’s a Wang Chung song (Space Junk).
I had figured, playing name that tune, that it was Jamiroquai.
Hey, I don’t really listen to either of them. It’s an honest mistake that anyone could make, really.
But between this and the one song I’ve always liked by them (To Live & Die In LA) I am starting to think that I should give them another listen. Where does the uninitiated begin? I loathe “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” if that helps any suggestions.
Tim – I can unequivocally recommend “Points On A Curve;” a feature of any well appointed home. It took the art pop of the debut and slathered on the technology that we love so much. The album “Mosaic,” with EHFT has one of their best songs ever [the band’s -brilliant- response to FGTH, to hear them tell it; “The World In Which We Live”] but much of the rest is the band at their glossiest and most commercial. It’s an album with Michael McDonald on BVs for one track. It’s that kind of album. Nothing for you.
I really liked their reformation album “Tazer Up.” It’s my second favorite when it came out, but I need to revisit that one. I just finally heard “ Warmer Side Of Cool.” The one that followed “Mosaic.” It was more to my liking with more interesting music and arrangements. Tilting the game board away from commercial pop to equalize things after the go for broke effort of “Mosaic.” The Huang Chung debut album was finely etched art pop sort of like The Police vs Ultravox with fewer synths. A good effort that didn’t quite take flight fully for me.
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