Monday, August 29, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #134

This is going to be a short entry, mainly because there's not a lot of information out there about Colour Radio.  They remain one of those "mystery" bands: it seems that the few people who know of them and have heard them, like their music, but no one can tell you much about them.

Here's what I know: Back in my high school days, circa 1985, I was digging through the cheap cassettes bin at a local record shop (the now-defunct Camelot Records for you locals) and found a tape with a sort of New-Wavey-looking cover by the band Colour Radio.  For half a dollar, it was worth the gamble.  Took the tape home and it never left the cassette desk for the next few weeks!

What I had snagged was Colour Radio's self-titled debut album, which had been released a year earlier with little-to-no fanfare by Gold Mountain Records.  Here were ten songs without a clinker in the bunch, all done in that sort of tough pop-wave style that would evolve into the big radio-friendly sound of 1986-87, although the style was rather embryonic here, not yet fully removed from the New Romantic sounds of 1982-83.  Keyboards are a focus, but so is guitar. (The record was produced by Rick Derringer, which explains the rock-star pose that permeates each track - yet the band pulls it off without falling into the easy trap of unintentional self-parody that pose often sets one up for.)  Lead vocalist Stephan Schneider's warble vaguely recalls Ric Ocasek.  He has a habit of clipping his words (a remnant, perhaps, of earlier paint-by-numbers New Wave singing?), which adds an appealing layer of off-kilter-ness to the goings-on. 

Over the years I wore the cassette out and replaced it with a proper vinyl copy of the LP, which would appear to be the only thing the band ever did.  Never released on CD, it remains a fantastic mystery that is well worth chasing down.  The only bit of information Google searches of the band has added is that Colour Radio was from Milwaukee, WI.

So, I appeal to my readers: can anyone out there add to the story of Colour Radio? Anyone ever see them play live? Were any of you in the band?  Please share!

In the meantime, enjoy these audio-only clips of two of my favorite cuts from the album: the stunning opener "Adrianna Dreams," and the cynically wonderful "Bound For Life." Enjoy!

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