Record Review: Landscape – “Einstein-A-Go-Go” UK 12″

Landscape at the height of their New Romantic pomp ca. 1981

We’ve covered the 1981 technopop brilliance of Landscape’s “From The Tearooms of Mars…To The Hell-Holes Of Uranus” in days gone by here, and this time out we are going to focus the PPM laser on the ubiquitous hit from that waxing as released on 12″ single. This was the singgle that went to the UK top 5 in 1981, though there were better songs on the album [“European Man,” anyone?] there were few this insistently hooky and yet very quirky and left field. Strangely enough, for a song that big a hit, I can’t seem to find evidence of any picture sleeve for it.

RCA | UK | 12″ | 1981 | RCA T 22

Landscape: Einstein-A-Go-Go – UK – 12″ [1981]

  1. Einstein A-Go-Go [extended remix] 5:29
  2. Japan [extended version] 5:05

While the album/7″ version is probably best known for it distinctive, piccolo-like, winsome lead synth melody that bounced through the actually very dark song like someone whistling in the dark, the 12″ mix gave more spotlight to the beat. The drums sounded like a loop of Richard James Burgess playing his distinctive Simmons SDS kit into a digital delay. But he could have been playing live. After all, this was the guy whose timing as a drummer was so tight that he got the nod from Trevor Horn to play the kit on “Video Killed The Radio Star” in advance of any primordial drum machines that existed at the time and were found wanting.

The mix here had an extended intro with the political phone calls we all remember with that incessant beat underneath like a mechanical heart. Burgess’ vocal remained at first, before veering out into dub space following the first two verses. Curiously, the “god don’t play dice with the world” verse in the middle eight was excised only to reappear later in the mix after more dub hijinx. The ping-ponging, binaural drop hook was still bracing 40 years later, and spoke of the Kraftwerk-like precision that Burgess sought to invest this music with quite successfully.

Of course, with all of the musical ideas that this track was positively fizzing with, I was always struck by the lyric, which posited a crazed Christian terrorist willing to play god and destroy the sinful world with atomic bombs. That kind of right-wing radicalism mated with catchy pop music seemed an outlier to nowhere 40 years ago and now it seems all too uncomfortably likely for my tastes.

“Bible says we must pay
I am the judge for the judgement day
There’ll be no warning no alarm
I’ll be the one who’s saved”

Einstein-A-Go-Go

The B-side was an earlier single from their 1979 jazz-funk debut album recorded before the band were quite so immersed in technology. “Japan” was a single from that album given a much longer leash here. The band were only a half-step from their jazz fusion beginnings with this instrumental track that sounded like Pat Metheny Group dropped into a blender with YMO.

Landscape ca. 1979 … what a difference two years makes

But the spotlight was equally shared here between the the entire band. An immediate pull was the excellent bass of Andy Pask, with Burgess on an acoustic kit. The horns of John L. Walters and Pete Thoms [almost any time we hear a trombone in a non-Ska band, it’s played by Thoms] were also still untreated and acoustic at this stage of the game. And Chris Heaton’s synths were the icing on the strangely hybrid. The track here was not radically mixed from the 1979 single, just longer. Leading me to believe that the long version was the original take that was subsequently edited down to 3:22 for the 1979 LP/7″ single.

I’ve had this single almost ever since it came out! I probably bought my copy in 1983 at Crunchy Armadillo Records, as I recall. It was $2.00, used. But the one that has vexed me for 40 years was the 12″ of “European Man!” It has always been my go-to Landscape track and another of the extended mixes from the “Blitz” album that I’ve waited half a lifetime [more, actually] to finally hear. Or not yet, hear in that case. I can now see some US dealers with a copy for sale and I’m thinking that I had better get this one before it becomes a 41 year wait to hear it!

-30-

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11 Responses to Record Review: Landscape – “Einstein-A-Go-Go” UK 12″

  1. djjedredy says:

    Great write up! It was such a short single, I remember buying and thinking it would be longer on the LP, no apart from the telephone intro. I can’t believe it was only last year I got to hear the 12″ version which blew me away. “European Man” is also my go to track and the 12″ version is ace.

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  2. RichardAnvil says:

    Many years ago I got in contact with John Walters (did you know he was the producer for the band Swans Way, remember them? After one line up change they become Scarlet Fantastic) who told me lots of very interesting facts about the recordings with Landscape. One that stuck with me was that he told me that the 12″ of European Man wasn’t an extended version but a completely different recorded, longer version (at least the music). It was of course the only track they recorded with Colin Thurston as producer. And I think you are pretty much correct that there was no picture sleeve for Einstein, just as there wasn’t for It’s Not My Real Name, though there were two for European Man, the one for the release before Einstein and a different one for the re-release after Norman Bates.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      RichardAnvil – Wow! So the “European Man” 12″ was a new recording with a different arrangement??!! That then makes me think that Thurston’s famous “Night Versions” for Duran Duran the same year where the exact same thing happened were not strictly down to Duran Duran alone being green to remixing technique. Possibly we can lay this at the feet of the common producer here? Interesting. But I’ll say this for him, in his favor. If all 12″ versions were re-recordings, it would have been a more interesting world.

      I always had Swans Way on the “investigate” pile but never managed to see any records! Always a problem.

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  3. Ade.W says:

    Those two landscape LPs could be by different bands as far as my ears are concerned. Just gave Einstein a spin, not heard it for a while, still sounds good. Swansway appear on a lot of 80s comps but nearly always the same track, “soul train”.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Ade.W – I remember hearing about Swans Way and they seemed to have that “sophistipop” cred at the time that would have made me check them out. Had any importers bothered at the time. That’s something that has an impact. If no business people want to take a chance on importing the goods, music will be difficult to hear in other territories. I can recall reading that The Tourists broke up and that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart formed Eurythmics afterward. I was hot to hear those records, but I only managed to find the “Never Gonna Cry Again” 7″ in the fall of 1981. I saw nothing for a yeas. Then, about a year later, I saw the “This Is The House” 12″ single in a used bin and thought it was my birthday! Then nothing until MTV was playing “Sweet Dreams” 24/7. It was at that point that importers seemed to be interested in selling the band. It took me decades to get the early singles by that band due to the extreme scarcity. Part of that was down to simply no one caring at first. If the importers don’t want to take a chance, neither can you.

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  4. Gavin says:

    I had never heard any of their 12″ versions,so I went to listen to them on the tube of you-I have to say I was disappointed. The Einstein extended version I found to be rather lacklustre and lazy,plus that incessant drum still sounds like someone punching a wet cardboard box.
    I have all of their albums,though rarely play them. Considering their combined talent and equipment,I always feel a bit short-changed.Sorry!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – Ah, but that incessant drumbeat sounded like someone punching a wet cardboard box …full of uniform ceramic beads! I could listen all day to that! I think that Kraftwerk might have been jealous of that beat and between Landscape and The Art of Noise, it may have contributed to their “nervous breakdown.” Say what you will about the first one [I’ve never heard it] and “Manhattan Boogie Woogie” and the Landscape III singles all found their way to the “out” bin early on. But I maintain that “From The Tearooms Of Mars…To The Hellholes Of Uranus” was one of those singular second albums out of an otherwise indifferent three LP arc. Much like with Fashiøn [whose “Fabrique Deluxe” box I finally ordered last night!].

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  5. Rupert says:

    I saw many gigs by Landscape in their original incarnation and have to say they were a much better band then the embarrasingly dressed-up old-age new romantics they tried to become. (Though of course their production and studio contributions to all & sundry were immense.) Landscape’s first album is a knockout, as were the singles they self-released. Live, the music was often more improvised and extended than the studio sessions, and the audience a really wide mix of rockers, hipsters, jazz fans and punks. Even “Jesus”, the old hippy, would sometimes turn up at The Nashville and hand out percussion to the front row…

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  6. Rupert says:

    There’s an interesting interview with Richard Burgess here: http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/richard-james-burgess-interview/

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  7. Pingback: Landscape – Einstein A Go-Go + Re-ups (12″) | myvinyldreams

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