The Monochrome Set.
Well before Adam Ant brought Antmusic to unsuspecting world, he had been in an art-school band called The B-Sides with Hornsey School of Art classmates Ganesh "Bid" Seshadri, Lester Square and Andy Warren. Much as Adam's first set of Ants would do years later to form Bow Wow Wow, so too did Bid, Square and Warren abandon The B-Sides in the late '70s to form The Monochrome Set. (Though he made some excellent music in those days, it seems Adam Ant did not play well with others!)
The Monochrome Set's sound is the sound of cool. Their ridiculously hummable tunes flow as smoothly and sweetly as honey, reminiscent of Bacharach and David's catchiest '60s lounge-pop. Bid's foggy velvet vocals slide perfectly over top this musical bedding, projecting images of high-class yet smokey nightclubs filled with bored-looking patrons scarcely deigning to converse with one another.
And oh! that wit: From clever song titles ("I'll Scry Instead") to incredibly erudite lyrics ("Don't dance the polka in a dhoti/And whistle the Rite of Spring/Don't recite Hamlet's soliloquy/While munching onion rings" from "Ten Don'ts For Honeymooners"), all of which are delivered in the same laconic, off-handed style, The Monochrome Set affected the perfect too-cool-to-care stance that would normally piss people off, if only they weren't so damned funny.
From 1979 through 1985, The Monochrome Set issued five albums and several singles worth of material, with 1982's Eligible Bachelors being the best of the bunch and a fine jumping-in point for those unfamiliar with the band (although you can't go wrong with any record with their name on it). There are also a few best-ofs and singles collections which serve as both introduction to and history of the band.
After a five-year hiatus, they returned to the record racks in 1990 with Dante's Casino, released at first only in Japan, where the band had always been hugely popular. When that album's import sales proved the audience was still there, several more albums followed. The band finally called it quits in 1998, although their website indicates plans for reunion gigs in February of 2011.
This week's NW4NW entry comes from The Monochrome Set's 1982 masterpiece Eligible Bachelors. Here is the clip for "The Jet Set Junta" - enjoy!