46 Flat Earth by Thomas Dolby 1984
The worst thing on Thomas Dolby's second lp is the track he had written for Michael Jackson who rejected it
It sticks out like a sore thumb slapped too hard on bass guitar.
I'm not sure what the buying policy was for my local Boots but whoever was responsible obviously had high hopes for this lp as they had bought loads. As a result it featured in their bargain bin for years afterwards.
I always though Thomas Dolby had done himself no good with the boffin like image he seemed to cultivate, having Magnus Pike on an early single certainly hadn't helped (Ive read that Dr Magnus Pike seemed to be a bit miffed that in the states he was better known for his appearance on She Blinded me with Science , the worst thing on his debut lp , than his scientific disciplines)
What I love about this lp is its sense of texture and layers. Be it the Russian dialogue and clicking typewriters in Dissidents , the sounds of insects in Mulu or the creaking ropes in Flat Earth.
Behind all that texture song structures that seem to go back to a much earlier age . Most obviously in the almost straight playing of I Scare Myself
but listen to the verses below and imagine them played only on a piano in a 1940's bar
The lp has two of my favourite pieces of music , first up here is a live version of the title track , that misses the gorgeous "hold me, believe me" harmonies and the sense of sound layered on sound of the lp version but it worth a listen still the same
Second up is screen kiss , where he builds a short story around an actress he used to know
Screen Kiss - Thomas Dolby
With a thousand miles of real estate to choose from
You begin to know the value of your freedom
Both of these songs I would have been happy if they had meandered on for another 15 mins or so. In fact the lp always finished with a sense that it has ended too soon . The fact that the last track is Hyperactive always makes me feel like I've been shaken awake from a dream
You can get a recent re release of Flat Earth here with some extra tracks including the fantastic Field Work that he recorded with Ryuichi Sakamoto