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.
Landscape: Einstein-A-Go-Go – UK – 12″ 
- Einstein A-Go-Go [extended remix] 5:29
- 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 payEinstein-A-Go-Go
I am the judge for the judgement day
There’ll be no warning no alarm
I’ll be the one who’s saved”
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.
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!