Romanelli: Connecting Flight – US – LP 
- Departure [Part I + II]
- Chain Reaction
- The Other Side Of Time
- Connecting Flight
- Passion [Part I, II III, IV]
Back in 1982, I happened across this album at the wonderful Crunchy Armadillo Records where it was probably $3-4.00 used. What probably grabbed me immediately was the cover art, which was a heavily overpainted airbrushed photo by the same artist, Iain Gilles, who had painted the iconic Visage album debut two year earlier. It was even in the same blue color scheme! And boy howdy, did it look very synthy.
So I picked up the record and looked at the back cover to get a better handle on it, and what I saw was very encouraging.The credits cited Roman Romanelli for playing: Prophet 10, Arp, Fairlight, Moog, clavinet, and piano. A well rounded blend of analog and digital synths. I also recognized the drummer… Mr. Rusty Egan of Visage. At that point, it was coming home with me, even as I further saw that John Luongo and Flood were involved with the mix and production.
Song lengths went from almost four minutes to six and a half at most. Erring on the side of moderation. I had wondered if this was a “lasp gasp of Prog” album, but something told me that it was a little more aware than that. No vocals, but I was more than ready to give it a chance. The interesting thing is that back then it was Technopop, but since then we’ve retroactively developed the jargon and genres to give a better picture of this album.
It existed at the perfect crossroads of Space Disco, Technopop, Synthwave. The flowing soundscapes were cinematic, but the music was more immediate than soundtrack work. The melodies were stronger and more highly developed. That the instrumentation was down to Romanelli with bass and guitars from Jannick Top and Patrice Tision, with Egan credited with “rhythmiques,” meant that is was more lively than if Romanelli had tried to do a Vangelis here and play everything.
But Romanelli’s chops were sufficient that invoking the Grecian synthmaster was certainly within the realm of the appropriate. What was delivered here was an engaging instrumental synth album that managed to adroitly step between the pigeonholing that I had attempted to try earlier in this post. And as such, the shame was that it utterly fell through the cracks in the music marketplace of 1982.
It didn’t quite sound like a Visage record of that era, though the production was of that caliber. Nor did it skew pop. Its eye was on something a little more ambitious…but not too ambitious! This would never pass muster when viewed through a Prog lens! It’s a little too playful for that.
Faking It Files
So I bought this album and enjoyed it as a far tributary of the river Visage. Then in 1983, I was watching music videos used to fill time on HBO and saw something I never expected to see or hear: Helen Reddy Goes New Wave, performing a vocal version of “Imagination” from Romanelli’s “Connecting Flight” album!
It was surprisingly good and one of the better examples of False New Wave. It wasn’t every day that a singer derided by people Magazine [as if they were arbiters of hipness!] as the “70s Queen of Housewife Rock” could make an attractive technopop single. Look at that cover. She’s rocking an George Hurrell cover photo on that! And that apparently, wasn’t the end of it. MCA managed to spring for the club currency of the day with an extended 12″ remix of the single!
But that was as far as promotion went. 1983’s “Imagination” would be Helen Reddy’s major label swan song. Which was ironic, since had I ever seen a copy of either the LP or the 12″ I would have bought it! So if I want bonus tracks for any CD I plan on making of “Connecting Flight,” This would be prime suspect number one.
But maybe suspect number one should be this single by Anusia, instead? Because this was also the vocal version of “Imagination” but with the music being the actual Romanelli version of the song. And the 12″ mix actually managed to give us an extended remix of the song, where none existed under the Romanelli aegis, in spite of the several 12″ singles available [“The Pulse,” “Connecting Flight”] in various markets.
And just to show that it all comes back to Visage, what I also didn’t know in 1982 was the Romanelli had been a member of the French Space Disco band Space from 1977 to 1981. Back in 1978 we were in the middle of things and had no idea that Space Disco would be a subgenre one day in the far flung future. I remember hearing things like Mandré back then but no one knew what to call it yet. And the leader of Space was Didier Marouani [right], who had a huge hit in Europe in the late 70s with the track “Magic Fly” putting Space Disco that was not adapted from Star Wars OST on the map. And the final Visage album, “Demons To Diamonds,” had one of its songs [“Star City”] co-written by Marouani. Tying the knot that had begun with Rusty Egan and Roland Romanelli 33 years earlier.