Berlin: Pleasure Victim DLX RM – US – CD 
- Tell Me Why 5:34
- Pleasure Victim 3:50
- Sex (I’m A…) 5:07
- Masquerade 4:07
- The Metro 4:10
- World Of Smiles 3:51
- Torture 2:40
- Sex (I’m A…) (Single Remix) 3:31
- Tell Me Why (Single Remix) 4:10
- The Metro (Euro Single Remix) 4:28
- Masquerade (Single Remix) 4:04
- Sex (I’m A…) (Extended Remix) 8:08
- The Metro (Extended Remix) 6:19
- Masquerade (Extended Remix) 7:22
We’ve been anticipating this one most of the year, thanks to the transparent stream of news that label maestro Scott Davies drip feeds us on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums. When my spouse recently asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I simply her sent a link to Rubellan Remasters for the last four releases. They are now on rack and today it’s the 2nd album [or mini-album, since it’s was originally seven tracks] which we’ll start looking at.
I was into Berlin from the point of hearing the original 7″ of “Tell Me Why” in late 1981, and when Geffen picked up the top selling LP from Enigma [which was not in my local stores at the time, only in intriguing ads in Trouser press] I bought a copy in late 1982 once it was easy to obtain. I was always disappointed by the re-recording of “Tell Me Why” on it and quite frankly “Sex [I’m A…]” gave me hives. These two factors contributed to me never really embracing this release back in the day, and it was cut free in the Great Vinyl Purge. Now that it finally exists on CD, in a format worthy of my attention, this has now changed, And dramatically, for what it’s worth.
Let’s get right to the starting line. The re-recording of “Tell Me Why” has a pixelated energy that I recall the original not having; being more smooth and sophisticated of mien. At least my 39 year old memory is. I don’t have the record. It’s still rather expensive. But one day, one hopes! Had I not ever heard that early version first, I might have more fully embraced the song as performed here. It’s the great blend of guitars, analog synths, and real drums that we love here at PPM. Technopop, as I’d call it. I like the gimmicky synth stabs as they fairly reek of New Wave. It’s still a step forward in vibe from the quirkier New Wave of their rare debut album, “Information.” As much as their next album for Geffen, 1983’s “Love Life,” was a move to something even more removed from the forge of New Wave that had birthed the band.
The delicate title track almost had a John Barry Bond Music vibe to it, as it was a stab at a more commercial dusky ballad perfect for an overcast fall day following a failed love affair. None of the New Wave quirkiness that was so evident on “Tell Me Why.” The music bed was almost all synths with real bass and drums ceding the spotlights to the synth strings and heavy portamento lead keys. The sound was thin and introverted, but appropriate to the song and lyric with good singing as usual from Terri Nunn. I have the UK 7″ single as shown nearby where only UK Mercury made this one a single. Berlin have an interesting number of singles that were with only one or two territories in addition to singles [you can guess which ones] which are international calling cards.
Then there’s “Sex.” Normally I’m more than happy to listen to a band deep into the Moroder well of sequenced electromotive power, but there was always something callow, and distasteful about this song for me. It comes down to attitude. Prince can be blunt and vulgar and make it sound wonderful. Not so much with John Crawford. His pen lacks the wisdom and playfulness that The Purple One brings to erotic song. Crawford sounds like a boy out of his depth with the conceit of this song. The song is simply Crawford stiffly intoning “well I’m a man” while Ms. Nunn adopted various female sexual personae in response. As if the difference in perceptions was somehow profound and [dare I say] risky. I have squirmed in embarrassment for the band every time I have heard this song, which proudly wears its immaturity on its sleeve.
Next: …Masks Of A Different Kind