Telex Offer a Newly Discovered, Previously Unreleased Take on Sonny & Cher’s 60s Hit, ‘The Beat Goes On’ as One Final Preview Before the Momentous Release of their 14-Track Compilation on Mute
Next week will see the release of This is Telex, a monumental 14-track compilation from the Belgian synthpop pioneers. From the trio’s debut single, ‘Twist à Saint Tropez’ in 1978 through to their final album release, How Do You Dance? in 2006, This is Telex encompasses a career-spanning collection of gems. While the release includes newly mixed and remastered tracks by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, fans are also treated to two previously unreleased, recently discovered recordings, plus tracks from their writing collaboration with Sparks – ‘Drama Drama’ and ‘Exercise Is Good For You’ – as well as their cover of the Sparks hit ‘The Number One Song In Heaven’ – this release is a melting pot.
In anticipation of the compilation, the group have offered one final preview by way of their never-before-heard take on Sonny & Cher’s 60s hit, ‘The Beat Goes On’, renamed on this occasion to ‘The Beat Goes On/Off’. The recording was only recently discovered when Telex were compiling this collection, which is the first release in an ongoing partnership with Mute. This is Telex will be released on limited edition coloured vinyl, cassette, and CD, with sleeve notes by David Stubbs.
Telex are Marc Moulin (1942- 2008), Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers. The band formed in 1978 in Brussels, just one of a handful of synthpop pioneers at a time when electronic pop was regarded as novelty, with suspicion, as a harbinger for future dystopia and alienation. Telex were concerned about the consequences of new technology for human communication, a theme explored on tracks like ‘Something To Say’, while their name is taken, ironically, from a now obsolete piece of communications technology, adding a retro-futurist air to their legend.
However, it was on their cover versions that they deliberately played up the disparity between the ice-cool electronic approach and the sweaty, fleshy, frenetic passion of pop. Their debut album Looking For Saint Tropez contains covers of Plastic Bertrand’s pop-punk ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ and Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, in which, so to speak, all of the rock is removed leaving nothing but the clock; a ticking, vocoderised, supremely deadpan robot parody of the original.
Included on This is Telex is the band’s previously unreleased, kaleidoscopic synthpop reimagination of The Beatles’ 1968 track, ‘Dear Prudence’.
They would cover, too, Sly Stone’s ‘Dance To The Music’, an irresistible piece of electro-irony, exuberantly celebrating the drums, bass, organ, and guitar of the original with their own, synthesized replacements. Had Telex merely confined themselves to such covers they might have been regarded as a rather clever comedy band. But this was by no means the only string to their bow, or rather, knob on their analogue instrument. They also cut ‘Moskow Diskow’, a rollicking, swerving, steaming dancefloor classic – a track which lays down the railroad for as yet unimagined electronic musics such as House and Techno. Years ahead of its time, its reputation has only been enhanced over time, as other more datestamped electropop has fallen by the wayside. So, it’s unsurprising that this classic track, now newly mixed and remastered is also included on the forthcoming compilation.
The band famously entered the Eurovision Song Contest, representing Belgium with ‘Euro-vision’. Moers says he regarded their entry as “very Situationist International, the worm in the apple,” and they resolved either to come first or last. They didn’t achieve that goal but became part of the Eurovision saga. Moers saw Johnny Logan (who went on to win the contest twice for Ireland) and told him, “you’re going to win”. Logan replied, “Yeah. But if I win it’s good for me. If you win, it’s good for music.”
Yeah. But if I win it’s good for me. If you win, it’s good for music.
Telex announced their retirement in 2008, following Moulin’s death. This new partnership with Mute will see a comprehensive reissue series of the back catalogue, starting with the new compilation.
Lacksman and Moers have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting their back catalogue, though they insist that what they are doing is “newly mixing” rather than remixing. This is evident on the collection, in which they have sought to boost the original mixes while preserving the spirit in which they were made. This often involved judiciously subtracting from, rather than adding to, the original multi-track recordings. “We simplify,” explains Dan. “We take away tracks, to create something more efficient, more Telex. It feels like we are starting to make new music like a young band. It’s a miracle.”
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