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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sigue Sigue Sputnik - Love Missile F1-11

I'm not sure that Tony James or Martin Degville knew exactly how mindblowing this concept is... yes, still is. Entertaining as it is to look at... weird and wacky as it sounds, it's actually a grandiose piece of concept pop that William Gibson might have been rather interested in pondering.

If Johnny Mnemonic was the archetypal cyberpunk terrorist, Sigue Sigue Sputnik was on his iPod (or whatever they had in Sputnik City, 1990).

In trying to retro-engineer the original versions of the songs that became the first album (I have a copy of The First Generation), you get the impression that this was the foundation of what was to become the automated mix era of music.... a combination of samples, dropout, four-track cassettes, voxpops ripped from TV, radio, and all manner of guerrilla-styled audio adventures.

That Sputnik carried that mentality into its video presentations must have seemed like sheer lunacy at the time. But you have to concede in retrospect that it acerbically and accurately predicts the plasticity of pop culture to come, not to mention the total artificiality of its soundtrack.

Seriously, how far removed is the preening and posing of Neal X from a modern day Heidi Montag or Kim Kardashian? X probably had less plastic in his bodysuit than Montag does.

Yet Sputnik has more social relevance – intended or not - than many "smart" bands have had since. Added to this mix of crazy subterfuge is the context of global annihilation anxiety (1986!) and the hysterical excess and aspiration of the 80s (1986!).

The culmination – probably the zenith – of which is the iconic song and video "Love Missile F1-11".

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