In 1984, British experimental rockers the Legendary Pink Dots relocated from London to Amsterdam; core duo Edward Ka-Spel and Phil Knight (aka The Silverman) remain based in Holland to this day. Their first release after the move was The Lovers, an album of all-new material that was recorded live: side one was a September 1984 performance at an Amsterdam nightclub, while the suite of four interconnected songs on side two was originally recorded for the Dutch public radio station VPRO the same year. As with all of the early Legendary Pink Dots releases, the original press run on the miniscule Ding Dong label was extremely limited, but in 1985, The Lovers was the first Legendary Pink Dots album to be reissued through the band’s ongoing association with the Belgian label Play It Again Sam, making it the band’s most visible release up to that point. It’s an unusual introduction to the group, but then, that could be said of almost any of this idiosyncratic band’s releases. The four live tracks on side one are interspersed with clanking, near-industrial tape loops that hark back to the band’s noisy synth roots, but the songs themselves are straightforward synth-rock powered by Roland Calloway‘s fluid, danceable bass lines and Ka-Spel’s elegant vocals: Japan circa Quiet Life and Gentlemen Take Polaroids is a fair point of comparison. The far more ambitious material on side two is better still: the two-part title track frames the side with genuinely lovely string parts scored by violinist and pianist Patrick Wright, overlaid with occasional bits of sound effects (rainstorms, children at play, etc.) and an oblique narration by Ka-Spel in lieu of traditional verse/chorus parts. In between, the lengthy “Flowers for the Silverman” and its instrumental introduction “Silverture” return to the gothy dance pop of side one, combined with the narrative form of “The Lovers.” All CD versions of the album add both sides of a contemporaneous 12″ single: “Curious Guy” is one of the Legendary Pink Dots’ most straightforward pop songs, albeit with an extended violin solo by Wright, while the eleven and a half minute improvisation “Premonition 16” returns to the band’s noisier, less structured roots, complete with a wild-eyed and slightly disturbing lyrical and vocal freakout by Ka-Spel.
by Stewart Mason
(The date of this review is unknown)