Rupert Hine: 1947 -2020

Musician Rupert Hine

Rupert Hine was a gifted musician and technologist

Sad news last Friday night as chasinvictoria contacted me with the news that the great Rupert Hine had died at 72. No cause of death has been mentioned yet. I’d first heard Hine when I managed to see the video for the immense “Surface Tension” on the primordial days of MTV…when they would still play music that great if it had a video to fill out the hours!

the fixx shuttered room cover art

I actually owned this album for a year or so when it came out

Almost concurrent with this time was seeing Hine’s name pop up in a producer’s capacity on other artists albums. I first noticed him on the debut album by The Fixx, who I found attractive enough at the time to invest in a copy of their “Shuttered Room” album. It was decent New Wave, but nowhere near as exciting as “Surface Tension” had been. As the 80s progressed, I saw Hine’s name on many more albums, including some top sellers. But the artists were not really in my wheelhouse. Acts like Howard Jones, Tina Turner, lots more of The Fixx, as well as singers like Chris DeBurgh. While I was glad to see an artist I liked have any level of success at all, much less the multi-platinum certification he attained with the likes of Tina Turner on her “Private Dancer” album, I preferred his own albums to what he produced during his “day job.”

For a couple of years in the early-mid 80s, concurrent with his second and third A+M solo albums, Hine was gigging as a musician on albums that he did not produce and I can only guess he was spending time at Compass Point Studios, since he added his keyboard prowess on albums such as the [perfect] second Tom Tom Club album, “Close To The Bone” and Robert  Palmer’s excellent “Pride” album. Still caught up in Palmer’s slipstream, he also played keys on the hit album by The Power Station. I have to say that I much prefer these albums to most of his production jobs as the artists were much more my cup of tea.

I bought his “Wildest Wish To Fly” LP in the radical US edition of it, but didn’t go much further. His music certainly didn’t overflow in the bins where I lived. Once CDs became a thing, I was buying a lot from catalogs of imports from all over and wasted no time in obtaining, finally, the tremendous “Immunity” album.  By that time, I had also been exposed to the fantastic Thinkman album via the video for “Best Adventures” which was like the “Max Headroom” film on steroids. With the best possible soundtrack.

It was where Mr. Hine had assembled a “band” to populate the sleeves and videos as actors for hire to perhaps make the socially questioning yet highly technological music a little more “marketable” than were it solely represented by the older and craggier artiste himself, who was actually the “band.” Good lord, we simply cannot have a 40 year old man making “rock music.” It’s not done. I just wanted music that futuristic and driven. When I found out years later that Thinkman was a sly marketing concept instead of an actual band, I thought it a creative approach to what was a marketing issue.

It took a year or two for the Thinkman album to finally get a CD issue but I was on it like white on rice. It’s still an all time best album that we recently looked at in detail. Two more Thinkman albums followed in 1988 and 1990. Around that time I saw that Rush had enlisted Hine to produce their 1989 album “Presto.” Given that Hine was something of a poster child for hi-tech rock music [he was part of the committee that defined the MIDI standard in the early 80s], it was surprising at the time that  “Presto” evidenced something of a retreat from the sound that Rush had been steeped in during the 80s until that time.

By the time of “Presto” and 1991’s “Roll The Bones” [which I didn’t hear until this century] that band had begun their retreat from the Police-meets-Ultravox sound that had been their métier throughout the 80s. In that respect, I wonder what the result might have been if the band had gotten to Hine several years earlier. My mind melts down imagining him giving them some of the spicy sauce he was using around the time of the first Thinkman album! But giving his charges his indelible stamp was absolutely not how he rolled. A producer can be anything on the spectrum from a drill sergeant to a therapist, and Hine was inclined toward the latter role.

Also around that time was another of my favorite Hine production jobs; the first Underworld album. I felt that this was one of his more congruent productions to his own though it remained until the late 90s until I finally got the first Underworld album. At the time of issue, a friend gave me a promo CD5 of “Underneath The Radar” and that was it for a decade for me. I had been such a huge fan of the  band’s past as Freur, that I held back for years to investigate their more straightforward rock of Underworld [Mk I]. This was a few years before the band radically rebranded as a dance act [or Underworld Mk II].

Viewed today through the rear-view mirror, the album and its singles managed to successfully point to their former glories as Freur while being an album of high-tech rock music that was actually recorded live in the studio! The B-Side, “Shokk The Doctor” was as good as anything from the “Doot Doot” period! And Karl Smith and Rick Hyde returned the favor to Hine by portraying Thinkman members in media appearances for the later albums under that name.

And a few years back, my friend Ron sent me a copy of the Jona Lewie album that Hine had produced. I still need to spin this one but was holding out for the available, but tricky to find DLX RM CDs of that title. Songs I have on 7″ and Lewie compilations reveal an interesting linkup between the technique of Hine and the eclecticism of Lewie, who was never afraid of synths and drum machines for as big a fan of Professor Longhair as he was.

better off dead soundtrack cover atrOne of Hine’s mid-80s production jobs, his production of the “Better Off Dead” OST, came to my Record Cell years later by way of a cover of the song “Arrested By You” from the Dusty Springfield album “Reputation.” The song had been sung by Hine on the album, along with a mishmash of tracks by Cy Curnin and E.G. Daily – the queen of the mid-80s OST song. What a coup it must have been to have Dusty Springfield sing a song that you had written! I also note today that a rare Thinkman cut is there as well, but the CD is out of my price range! Maybe an LP to get that song but maybe not! Even the LPs of this one are too rich for my blood! So I may have to give up on that complete Thinkman collection [for now].

rupert hine the deep end cover artThe last solo album that Hine released was in 1994, probably down to his production career taking all of his time. I only recently found out about “The Deep End” and not surprisingly, it was a German-only release that I’ve not come across in my travelings. Like the later two Thinkman albums, which came down to mail-order sales for me. This one is hard to source, like the other two A+M solo CDs that I also still need, “The Wildest Wish To Fly” and “Waving, Not Drowning.” Actually, all of the Thinkman CDs took work to obtain, now that I think of it. I imagine at no point did the music of Rupert Hine waltz easily into my Record Cell with a minimum of effort. Great things rarely do. Condolences to the artist’s friends and family in this difficult time. Below are the Hine-related recordings in my Record Cell. Surely anyone reading this had been touched by Hine in one way or another, so please discuss.

tom tom club - close to the bone cover artrush roll the bones album coverdusty springfield - arrested by you cover art

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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20 Responses to Rupert Hine: 1947 -2020

  1. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,

    Yes, I saw this a few days ago, and figured you might comment about it.
    I heard a lot of his music for the Fixx, some with Howard Jones, and might
    have heard the Rush tracks too. I’m pretty sure I’ve previewed the early
    Underworld tracks, but I’m more a fan of the UW MK2 version and on.

    Another sad day for music, and there’s been a lot of them lately.
    But I’m glad for the contributions he made, and the career he had.
    It’s made an impact on my collection and fandom.



  2. SimonH says:

    Have picked up the A&M albums and the first Thinkman album over the last few years, fantastic stuff. Didn’t know he was involved in Robert Palmer’s Pride, must go back and listen, haven’t heard it for years but did buy it at the time.


  3. slur says:

    Just been looking again to be sure but to me he’s best work is still with The Fixx, of course he was a man with knowledge and experience but the artists he worked with are too much middle of the road for my tastes while The Fixx originally balanced on the fine line between Wave/Pop Rock with an excellent singer. I’ve only seen / heard a few tracks of his solo stuff but I recall not being impressed back then so I never tried to dig deeper. After reading your appreciation maybe time will come to try again..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vlad says:

    Sad, sad news! I also knew him first from his production work with The Fixx – the band that was one of the biggest let-downs to hear for me when I actually did after years and years of reading about them. But his production job with Jones (“Human’s lib”) and de Burgh (“Man on the line”) is stellar and made me curious to hear his solo work. When I did first, I had a hard time getting it – probably too prog for me at the time. But when I “got” it it paid off handsomely! Very unusual and rich music, keep finding something new with every listen. Overall my fave is “Wildest wish to fly”, but “Waving not drowning” has one of my favourite songs ever, “The set-up” – sad but stoic, very haunting and captivating (and I love the video). Nice singing voice, too, interesting face and a kind smile, you somehow knew he was a great guy without even knowing him personally.

    He was a great producer, very inventive but sensitive to artists’ work. His clients seemed to flourish under his guidance as he didn’t force his sound on them (unlike, say, Horn or Mansfield). And what also makes me sad is that his mooted collaboration with Ultravox didn’t materialise. I can only imagine how “Quartet” would’ve sounded with him at the controls. Quite possibly we’ve lost a masterpiece… The source is this TV show from March 1982: (for those who don’t use the YT, presenter asks Rupert about “the forthcoming album with Ultravox”, but he declined to elaborate as “I don’t think we’re allowed to talk about that yet”).


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Vlad – Hine definitely had prob roots, yet he wrote “Arrested By You” as well. I had no idea that he was circling Ultravox! Well, “Quartet” might not have been so sterile with him at the helm. And you’re so right about him not imprinting a production with his DNA. The antithesis of an “auteur” producer.


  5. KeithC says:

    Very sad to hear of another passing from someone who has had a hand in a lot of my fave CDs esp The Fixx in the early days. Great post as well; really enjoy the extensive write-up; thought there might be a mention of Martin Ansell’s ‘The Englishman Abroad’ as Hine arranged and produced it. Not sure is was a great seller/loved by critics but really love how that CD sounds.

    I would also like to think he would have had a positive affect on Quartet; one of my top 5 fav bands but most of that CD sounds as if it’s still in the shrink wrap.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      KeithC – Re: “Quartet.” I know! The irony was that the band wanted to get away from the rich sounds Plank gave them that “didn’t sound so good in a disco.” Since when were Ultravox ever a trendy dance band? What a misbegotten aim!


  6. zoo says:

    I’m a pretty big fan of the admittedly un-cool Canadian band Saga. Their brand of pompous yet concise, new wave-influenced prog-pop isn’t for everyone, but I’m an unabashed fan. I never realized until recently that Hine produced what many consider Saga’s best album, World’s Apart. He also produced their follow up, Heads or Tails, which is shorter on song quality, but still sounds fantastic.

    I also never realized Hine worked with Rush. I’m with you, Monk. I would love to have heard what he could do with their early-mid ’80s albums rather than coming in for Presto and their return to guitar rock.

    In general, I’m most familiar with Hine’s work with The Fixx, but I’ve listened to a bit of his solo stuff and Thinkman and really enjoy it. When you look at a list of all of his production credits, you really see what an impact he’s made to music the past four decades.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – Out of deference to other sensibilities, I neglected to mention Saga in the list of unloved artistes Rupert had produced. Way too many plays of “On The Loose” on MTV in 1982 hardened me to their “charms.” Pop Rush wannabe material for me. The original Canuck LP cover really lays it on the line!
      saga worlds apart canadian cover art
      But they got Hine first!


  7. I think the first time I was really aware of Hine as a person was that initial Thinkman video, “Best Adventures.” After that I noticed his name on lots of projects, and in general it meant that you could count on good production and arrangements, even if the music was not to your taste. Lots of what he touched turned to gold, so I understand why he devoted more time to the “day job” but everything from Thinkman or Hine solo I’ve heard I’ve enjoyed.

    I believe I am correct in saying the only Hine solo album I ever picked up was Waving Not Drowning but I suspect I got rid of it in one of my (much rarer than the Monk’s) poverty purges. If anything good comes from his untimely death (from cancer, as I understand it), I hope it will be a super-deluxe Thinkman retrospective and/or reissues of his solo work. Some RMs of selected Fixx albums (and Palmer’s Pride) would not go amiss either.


  8. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,
    Nice tribute to Rupert Hine from Duncan Shiek:

    There are also 2 other interviews with Rupert Hine there also.



  9. It’s 12 months (4th June 2020) since I lost my darling Roop, however, I know he’d want me to celebrate the wonderful time we had together rather than be in any way miserable or disconsolate. I also know he’d have loved to share more, unreleased music with you – his many fans and friends. So, for a few days only, I hope you’ll enjoy listening to Never More Me, a song he wrote for me not long after we first met in 2008. Love and hugs Fay Morgan Hine x

    Fay Morgan Hine MCIPR

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Fay Morgan Hine – Thanks so much for sharing this link with us for the rare Rupert song. That’s quite a gift to give to his fans. Thanks so much for sharing this song and it’s a wonderful way to remember his spirit and artistry.


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