Great Rock Albums of 1983: Thomas Dolby- The Golden Age of the Wireless

Thomas_Dolby_-_The_Golden_Age_Of_Wireless_(US)

In many musical circles, Thomas Dolby is considered a one hit wonder, only known for his classic song, “She Blinded Me With Science.” Me personally, I’ve always liked that song, always having loved humour in music and there is plenty of it to be found in “She Blinded Me With Science.” What I loved best is the background voices that hilariously repeat the title or just say, “Science!” Furthermore, the keyboards in it are played very well. However, for those of us who take our music slightly more seriously, Thomas Dolby is not a one hit wonder. As I reflect back to 1983, I think that he represented the crossroads between progressive rock and the synth pop that made up much of the 1980s. I also know that I wasn’t the only metalhead who liked Thomas Dolby, so for any of my metal brethren out there, don’t be afraid to step forward and admit it. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.

The trademark keyboards that I mentioned on the hit single can be found throughout the entire album. Some of the tracks are quite trippy bordering on space rock. “Weightless” and “Windpower” are two of these. I could easily listen to both of those songs along with Hawkwind or a Paul Kantner solo album and they wouldn’t be out of place. Dolby’s vocals add to the trippy feeling. He doesn’t try to make any of these songs sound commercial, barring “She Blinded Me With Science” but it’s the humour that makes that song for me. “Commercial Breakup” goes more in a traditional progressive rock direction while at the same time having a reggae feel to it, nicely done. What Dolby does on “The Golden Age of the Wireless” is employ the modern technology of the time into his music but he does so without compromising any of his musical integrity.

Track Listing:

  1. She Blinded Me With Science
  2. Radio Waves
  3. Airwaves
  4. Flying North
  5. Weightless
  6. Europa and the Pirate Twins
  7. Windpower
  8. Commercial Breakup
  9. One of Our Submarines
  10. Cloudburst at Shingle Street

Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby- vocals, synthesizers, wave computer, piano, kalimba, monk voice

Kevin Armstrong- guitar, backing vocals

Dave Birch- guitar, monk voice

Bosco- percussion

Mark Heyward Chaplin- bass

Justin Hildreth- drums

Simon House, Tim Kerr- violin

Simon Lloyd- leadline brass, flute

Daniel Miller- synthesizer

Andy Partridge- harmonica, percussion

Dr Magnus Pike- voiceover

Matthew Seligman- moog bass

Further backing vocals provided by: James Allen, Les Chappel, Judy Evans, Lesley Fairbairn, Mutt Lange, Lene Lovich, Miriam Stockley, Brian Woolley, Akiko Yano

I should have included “One of Our Submarines” in with the songs that stand out for me since it does. My conclusion here is what I have always thought all these years. Thomas Dolby was not a one hit wonder but a very underrated musician. Although many of them might not admit it, I think many of the synth pop bands that came after him would site him as an influence. For me, he was more than synth pop or a one hit wonder.

Next post: Nantucket- No Direction Home

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2 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1983: Thomas Dolby- The Golden Age of the Wireless”

  1. Nice piece. ‘Blinded’ maybe became a bit of an albatross for Thomas, ‘blinding’ people to his superb and often quite downbeat songwriting.

    Liked by 1 person

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