Dec 10

ADAMSKI – “Killer”

Popular73 comments • 6,914 views

#645, 12th May 1990

From Yazoo onwards, collaborations between electronic musicians and soul singers have followed certain protocols. The singer is the star, the living presence on the right-hand side of that “featuring”: the producer is the mood-setter, the collective. Human vs robot, emotion vs rhythm, soul vs body, warm vs cold, blah vs blah. It’s not that the resulting records have been bad – smoky voices and harsh synths do sound terrific together – but the rules of engagement were laid down early and hard.

“Killer” shows us a different approach. What was startling about the record in 1990 – and what lets it keep its charge now – is that the music simply refuses to get out of Seal’s way. In fact, if you only knew Seal from the rolling smoothness of his latterday career “Killer” would come as a real shock: here he is, making his debut not as a highfalutin’ loverman but as an isolated paranoid battling through a tangle of wires and buzz. Adamski is truly as much the star here, putting together a tense, crisp piece of house music which doesn’t actually need his singer to be memorable (though surely needed him to reach number one).

The nature of the game becomes apparent very quickly: when Seal sings “Will you give, if we cry?” and as he emphasises “give” the keyboards suddenly flare angrily up, a surge of 303 squelch almost drowning him out. From then on the track matches him blow-for-blow for a while, backing him up with the snap of martial hi-hats then upstaging him with harsh acid textures. Both sides have moments where they relax – that house piano break (which dates the record badly, since it fits the song far less well than it did “Vogue”) and Seal’s widescreen musings about racism and sons of future kings. He’s never been the most comprehensible lyricist – but on “Killer” it doesn’t matter at all, since the meaning and meat of the song is all in the co-dependent struggle between voice and sound.



  1. 1
    wichita lineman on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Can I suggest The Space Jungle as the most inexplicable follow-up to a number one ever?

    I think it has helped to perpetuate a myth that this is Seal’s record and Seal’s alone, which I’m really pleased Tom has binned. More melancholy Euro nu-mellotron chords (the same ones that mean The Power is still close to my heart), only now with Warp-ed black metallic edges, and a genuinely soulful if ambiguous plea for unity. I didn’t see Kiss From A Rose coming at this point.

  2. 2
    Tom on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Offhand it’s hard to think of anything close.

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Having said that, it’s up there with Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow as pop’s most unfair label credit.

  4. 4
    Ciaran Gaynor on 14 Dec 2010 #

    The dog on the cover is Adamski’s, his name was Dis. I was surprised Adamski didn’t go on to have a string of hits, as this and N-R-G promised so much. The parent album, Dr Adamski’s Musical Pharmacy, was a complete mess of a record.

  5. 5
    Tom on 14 Dec 2010 #

    NB worth pointing out that this is not only a really good run of #1s but also a really consistent run of #1s, the sound of a new decade*: synths at the back, beats/voice/samples at the front – even though the emotional jumps from Sinead thru Snap to Adamski couldn’t be more different.

    *how foolish we were

  6. 6
    Mark G on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Still, Seal was to remake this record and credit it to himself, solely.

    How did it do in the chart? Surprisingly well, I recall..

    (looks it up)

    Yeah, Number 8, 18 months later.

  7. 7
    lonepilgrim on 14 Dec 2010 #

    The sleeve looks like a new aesthetic – possibly early DTP? – which feels like the 90s have arrived.
    I have this along with several other number 1s past and future on a CD appropriately entitled ‘UK Dance Number 1s’
    I’ve always enjoyed Adamski’s contribution – something of the Numan about this sound but with a funkier edge – the alienation blending into the rave nation

  8. 8
    Billy Smart on 14 Dec 2010 #

    I’ve always read this as being a sort of blues song. Space-blues, obviously, but a repetitious song about coping with suffering. Where Killer’s tremendous power dissipates a little is in the “racism … can only lead to no good” fade-out, which might be attempting to attain a universality and leave the listener with a message, but only lessens the effect for this listener. It also traps it in a very period-specific 1990 sense when every other record seemed to be an unwelcome didactic tutorial in positivity. Gary Clail’s ‘Human Nature’, or the works of Guru Josh, for example.

    Sixth form reaction was near-blanket approval, although Seal’s soul man persona was received with greater enthusiasm than Adamski, who was deemed to be an opportunistic wanker.

  9. 9
    punctum on 14 Dec 2010 #

    There is something rather heartbreaking about the eagerness of Liveandirect, the mini-album Adamski released at the beginning of 1990. With titles like “The Bassline Changed My Life,” “You Me House,” “A Brand New World,” “Into Orbit,” “Love And Life” and “M25,” you could trace out a pocket proposal of how rave culture should have turned out; a genuine communality, a multicoloured rose of newness and togetherness. The record’s bouncy, optimistic toytown electronica reminds me somewhat of the hopefulness of B.E.F.’s Music For Stowaways.

    But there was also the facade which Jarvis Cocker later pinpointed with sore accuracy (“It’s six o’clock! I wanna go home – but it’s ‘No way,’ ‘Not today’…makes you wonder what it meant to them”), the pretence of community by people who’d hug you when high and then spit in your face if you approached them on the street, sober. Before long, the mutually assured forces of big business and the Criminal Justice Bill would render the whole enterprise neutered. And Boring Old Politics which, however old or boring, refused to go away and allow people a future; there were the riots, the unrest, Thatcherism tottering towards its inglorious demise (you might be able to sense how, the day after the poll tax riots, the strident siren song of “I’ve got the power!” sounded like insurrection, or a triumphant rebel refrain), the racism, the no such thing as society…

    “Killer” was a disturbing record from its cover inwards – Adamski’s pet dog scowling at the camera, at an angle, while a queasy orange psychedelic backdrop swirls in the background – and perhaps its most disturbing factor was the fact that the title is never uttered at any point in the song. Yet it didn’t need to be; the backwards boomerang of the fade-in intro quickly gives way to a brutal variant on post-Acieed beats, with a rhythm and right-angled bassline which are demonstrative and in your face but also questioning.

    Both lyric and vocal delivery – both provided by an unknown singer named Seal – personify anxious urgency. Seal’s vocal here is like a grainier, colder rationalist Richie Havens, but he is pleading for warmth and bonding and, indeed, a true society. “Solitary brother! Is there still a part of you that wants to live?” he cries as the music gradually escalates behind him; the car horns following in the trail of the charity fundraising sideswipe “Will you give (if we cry)?,” the scythes of stuttering cymbals which enter with “Tainted hearts,” the stately string synth lines which essentially halve the speed of the song’s topline in preparation for the chorus; all seem like totems of a crumbling Establishment which Seal is urging that we bring down. The cut-up of the “be” in the line “The way we wanna be” symbolises the attempts by unconcerned government to turn the living human into a docile machine but is instantly defeated by Seal’s half-ecstatic growl of “Yeah!” which in turn leads directly into a minor key Jack-The-House piano line, percussion dots and loops – and a sampled dog bark – raining all around. In the third line of the final chorus Adamski’s synth plays a tortured, high-register melody, like a weeping computer; and finally it settles with Seal’s closing, out-of-tempo warnings: “Racism in amongst future kings can only lead to no good…and besides…all our sons and daughters already know how that feels” before culminating in a sad smile of a 1967 memory: “Yeah, yeah, yeah…Love, love, love.” It is one of the most minimally articulate anti-New Right protests in all of pop – and little wonder that neither Adamski nor Seal ever surpassed this, that Adamski settled for novelty Elvis covers (and, later, anonymous ambient techno) or that Seal (with the aid of Trevor Horn, producing his most commercially successful work and also his worst) became merely a slightly higher-tech Cat Stevens. “Killer” is the necessary conscience of a culture which should have changed everything.

  10. 10
    Billy Smart on 14 Dec 2010 #

    #2 Watch: A week of The Adventures Of Stevie V, ‘Dirty Cash’, then two for Kylie’s quite glorious ‘Better The Devil You Know’.

  11. 11
    Billy Smart on 14 Dec 2010 #

    The Space Jungle was rubbish, of course, but N-R-G, Adamski’s only other hit, was berserk! It’s funny how all of the silly embellishments the “Woo!”s and “Whee!”s once struck me as a tiresome imposition of enforced jollity, but now seem integral to the actual fun that I derive from the piece.

  12. 12
    Tom on 14 Dec 2010 #

    #8 When the poll tax riots happened, Guru Josh was the only pro-Thatcher pop star the NME could find for comment, so I’ve always heard his records as rather more selfish than didactic: “1990…TIME FOR THE GURU [to coin it in]”.

    “Human Nature” was higher-order finger-wagging though! That would be nowhere w/o the didacticism, its the fierceness of the condemnation that gives it any hook at all.

    #9 lovely in-depth discussion of the music there Punctum. Top comment.

  13. 13
    Steve Mannion on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Yeah I felt like this song sounded really nicely “alien” and somewhat edgier than what Vince Clarke had been doing (people may recall the remix of Yazoo’s ‘Situation’ that came out in 1990) tho he seemed like a clear influence on Adam Tinley (the other strongest one perhaps being Captain Sensible).

    ‘NRG’ was like a ravier ‘Pacific State’ and almost equalled the latter’s chart position. Its cheeky Lucozade bottle sleeve gave it a little publicity boost and prior to ‘The Space Jungle’ at least, Adamski seemed happy to stay in the background. It’s a cracking one-two for any debut bedroom producer to have wanted to play at being an unconventional pop star and I think people were initially v surprised by ‘Killer’ as ‘NRG’s follow up – markedly different in tone, a proper song etc. The bigger buzz revolved around Seal tho whose subsequent signing to ZTT was interesting (why not MCA? or Island?) and probably down to Trevor Horn’s apparent belief that the guy was the future of British pop (and/or soul). And Seal so nearly made it to the top himself with ‘Crazy’ which I still love a lot.

    #5 yes for me what makes this extended run of #1s so great is the modernity plus quality.

    Now to attempt some coherent thoughts on Vogue (and probably fail again)…

  14. 14
    Billy Smart on 14 Dec 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: Adamski performed ‘Killer’ on Top Of The Pops on four occasions. You’ll have to wait to discover about the Christmas one;

    19 April 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Sonia, Alanna Myles, The Adventures Of Stevie V and Faith No More. Jakki Brambles was the host.

    3 May 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Sinitta, Morrissey, and BBG with Dina Taylor. Simon Mayo was the host.

    10 May 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Kylie Minogue, Mantronix featuring Wondress, Beats International and Michael Bolton. Gary Davies was the host.

  15. 15
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 14 Dec 2010 #

    I like that Adamski’s dog is also nicely alien — viz two noses, one at front one on top

  16. 16
    flahr on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Great sleeve!

    As a dance track this one doesn’t really get going* – at every point it feels as if it’s about to burst into boshomania but it never does – but I reckon it makes it better as a song, meaning throughout it broods as the layers of mechanical beeping slide on and off of each other. A lot like Neu! if Neu! was more noisy**. Love it; 9.

    *I am not actually a clubber so I know even less about this than usual; it’s less obviously danceable than “Theme from S’Express” or “Ride on Time” is what I mean, probably because it’s slower and squelchier. I daresay those of you who spent the early 90s raving can point to a million times you danced to this

    **trying not to say ‘more of a racket’ here

  17. 17
    Tom on 14 Dec 2010 #

    I did not spend the 90s raving! But I also can’t remember any time I ever danced to this, though you could. I don’t think of it as a dance track particularly.

  18. 18
    Cumbrian on 14 Dec 2010 #

    This is pretty good. 8 seems a fair mark. The remake by Seal lacks something – I’d have to listen to the two back to back to try and put my finger on what it is but there is definitely something missing.

    Better The Devil You Know was damn good though. I was a bit young at the time to be into the zeitgeist aspect of Killer but one can only assume it was pretty strong to be able to hold that particular Kylie track off for two weeks.

  19. 19
    Steve Mannion on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Should’ve been ‘Devil’ at #1 instead of ‘Tears On My Pillow’. But everyone else so far in 90 had the “right” number one if you get me (er, New Kids don’t count as all the singles were pap).

  20. 20
    MikeMCSG on 14 Dec 2010 #

    At last ! This was the first number one since “Always On My Mind” that I was really enthusiastic about. I think Tom And Marcello have nailed all that’s good about it.

    Incidentally Marcello are you saying the Seal LP was Seal’s worst work or Trevor’s (surely in the latter case it was Philip Jap ?)

    #1 probably although “Complex”, “Ant Rap” and “De Do Do Do De Dah Dah Dah ” were odd choices too. All time winner would have been “La Folie” if “Golden Brown” had gone one place further.

    #3 I’d nominate also Dean Freidman’s “Lucky Stars” and Hazel O Connor’s “Will You” in that category.

  21. 21
    Kat but logged out innit on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Love this of course, solid 8 like pretty much everything else on Best Dance Album In The World…Ever! Part 1. If you much prefer this to Seal’s soppy Lighthouse Family style ballads then I recommend you check out the Tiesto remix of The Right Life from 2008. Seal’s original is fine but Tiesto nixes all the duff mid-range 1997-style filler and replaces it with GRINDING BUZZ MENTALISM ripe for putting one’s hands in the air. That Youtube link is a bit iffy but stick it out until the excellent PICK POCK PUCK PACK DIMF DOOMF DUMF DAMF drum bit at 3.46.

  22. 22
    wichita lineman on 14 Dec 2010 #

    Re 20: Lucky Stars – yes. And no, you’re not just being nice. Didn’t they sound (quite literally) like a pair of muppets?

    I’m very fond of Ant Rap, mind, and that intro alone to Prince Charming could give Space Jungle a run for its weirdness money. I suppose I just think Space Jungle is the hands-down worst follow-up to an era defining single. What was the A&R man doing to earn his £250K? Apart from enormous quantities of happy meals?

  23. 23
    Steve Mannion on 14 Dec 2010 #

    imo Seal’s finest moment in recent years was the Thin White Duke Dub of his ‘Amazing’ single from the System LP but annoyingly this exact mix isn’t available on YouTube (apart from a dodgy clip of – that man again – Tiesto playing it out but WAY TOO FAST bah).

  24. 24
    anto on 14 Dec 2010 #

    This is a truly radical number one. Adamski and Seal could have stuck together and become a sort of post-rave Eurithmics.

  25. 25
    swanstep on 15 Dec 2010 #

    I knew this song only though the trevor horn/album version until about a year ago, and still much prefer that version, which I guess I’d give a 7 (whereas I’d give Crazy an easy 9). This original version to my ears really does sound like a demo, hence this strikes me as a pretty radical (bona fide, 4 weeks) #1 – a little like if Being Boiled (esp. the original sparse version without horns) had become a massive #1 (but even on its best days Killer doesn’t have half the menace and mystery of Being Boiled). At any rate, I reckon this is a 6 as a record, but I can understand why people ‘who were there’ would +1 it, as it were, for exactly the things I’m -1-ing it. There’s no doubt as Tom,5 says above that Killer as a massive hit caps an incredible run of #1s that really does amount to a kind of manifesto for space (as well as a kind of electronic hand-made quality) in pop and dance records.

  26. 26
    punctum on 15 Dec 2010 #

    #20: I get to pay a fair few visits to Seal’s oeuvre via TPL; not sure what I think of it/him as a whole at the moment other than “the sound of money being spent” and “I suppose it gave Trevor something to do in the nineties.”

    I bought the Philip Jap album on the strength of “Save Us” (one of the great #41s!). Actually not that bad but you can see why he never made it big, despite Peter Powell’s persevering efforts.

  27. 27
    weej on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Re: #25 – I bought the Adamski version when it came out and have loved it since then, while the Seal re-make just sounds like a slightly inferior copy. In particular

    * The synth sounds seem more generic and dated
    * The interaction between backing track and vocal is slightly off
    * It really is a backing track, the variety in it is gone
    * There are a couple of pointless “woah-a-oh-a-oh” bits which don’t work, and the vocal breakdown at the end doesn’t fir the mood at all
    * There’s a layering of guitar sounds on top of the chorus which just dilutes the overall effect
    * All of the most interesting little bits (like “we wanna be-be-b-b-b-b-bbbb-yeah”) have been cut

    I think what it all may come down to is a preference for a particular set of sounds – I’d rather listen to anything made on a 303 or an 808 in the late 80s than the more polished studio-based stuff of the early 90s.

  28. 28
    MikeMCSG on 15 Dec 2010 #

    #26 I remember Philip Jap winning the David Essex Talent Show in 1982 and the prize was his own TV show. This turned out to be a half hour showcase at 10.45 pm on a weeknight between Christmas and New Year. I don’t think it’s ever been repeated – Billy ? Peter Powell featured as his MC.
    I seem to recall around that time that PP, drunk on the kudos of “breaking” Spandau and Duran, became obsessed with spotting the next big thing and championed a number of duds like Buzzz, Bim, Leisure Process and Fashion. It almost became a kiss of death to have him on board.

    By the way does anyone else recall the 10-year old Adamski’s first TV appearance on Nationwide in 1980 performing the atonal “Babysitters” with his kid brother as The Stupid Babies ? I seem to remember Peelie gave it a few plays.

  29. 29
    Mark G on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Yep, it’s on Earcom 3 – Fast Product.

  30. 30
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Leisure Process! “Make way, here comes a love cascade…”

    As for Philip Jap, “Total Erasure” wasnae bad.

    Thank God for early 80s compilation albums for introducing both of them to me.

    Anyway, this version of “Killer” is well, a killer track, and far superior (and far more innovative, musically and in terms of production far rawer) than the version that Seal released a bit later on (the less said about the other version that will be troubling a bunny the better I think – talk about stripping away fragility and vulnerabilty). The fact that part of it was “reused” (in a rather more different styley) in “Future Love Paradise” also demonstrates an admirable versatility.

    The comparison with “Being Boiled” is a fine one to make: this was indeed the sound of tomorrow today. Of course it would never last, but I don’t think anyone saw Adamski fading away quite so quickly as he did.

  31. 31
    punctum on 15 Dec 2010 #

    #28: Maximum respect to Leisure Process, featuring Glasgow’s own Ross Middleton and non-Glaswegian Gary Barnacle and produced by Martin Rushent. Really should have been huge (and they were in the Scottish charts but that’s another story) – four faultless singles and then that was it, which presumably explains why their work has not resurfaced on CD. “Love Cascade,” “A Way You’ll Never Be” (featuring Level 42!), “Cashflow” and “Anxiety” – all great.

    I bought the Chromium Dioxide tape of Fabrique by Fashion with its Bonus Side of 12-Inch Mixes and still have it. I liked “Streetplayer.”

    Yep, Stupid Babies and Earcom 3, still in the house.

    The other dud Pidda Powell picks I remember included Space Monkey, Robert Marlowe and Matt Fretton, as well as the ones who actually managed to scrape together a hit or two, i.e. JoBoxers, Jimmy the Hoover and The TRUTH.

  32. 32
    Billy Smart on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Re #28: Philip Jap turned up on two editions of The David Essex Showcase;

    THE DAVID ESSEX SHOWCASE: with Dale Hargreaves, Flamingos, White and Torch, Mari Wilson, Rikki Patrick, Arrival, Philip Jap, Captain J. J. Waller (1982)

    THE DAVID ESSEX SHOWCASE: with UK Players, Juan Martin, Richard Digance, Hazon Aneka, Philip Jap (1982)

  33. 33
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Gary Barancle was in Leisure Process? Thanks for that info, Punctum. I had no idea. I just recall his name, a few years later on, as the quintessential session musician saxophonist, backing up a lot of SAW acts in their period of transition from more artistry to mere hackery (I think he even got a credit on Big Fun and Sonia’s colloborative single: which, to damn with faint praise, was far from being the worst thing that Big Fun were associated with), as well as featuring on a fair bit of “sophsti-pop” from the last few years of the decade.

  34. 34
    Tom on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Just to interrupt with a quick shout out to Popular commenters who don’t look at the main site – yr participation in this would be marvellous.


  35. 35
    Lex on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Going back to this – which I don’t remember from the time but picked up, possibly via osmosis, at some point in the early ’90s – it seems a lot more muscular and a lot less dated than its contemporaries. Possibly because it takes itself very seriously – not just Seal’s vocals but the doomy, unsmiling music. I like that about it: it’s not the kind of record that’ll get wheeled out as an example of “wacky early ’90s rave”. I’d give it a 9.

    I’ve never heard Adamski’s other stuff, but Seal’s solo follow-up to this, “Crazy”, seems like a natural next step – less clubby, but its electronic decoration and kind of amazing breakdown provide the same excellent space-blues feeling that Billy identifies at #6. I also really love “Kiss From A Rose”!

    This is where what must surely be an almost unparalleled run of quality at No 1 comes to an end :(

  36. 36
    lex on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Also fucking hell I’ve FINALLY realised that this is the perfect comparison point for Kelis’s latest album.

  37. 37
    MikeMCSG on 15 Dec 2010 #

    #31 Robert Marlowe’s “Claudette” was a good single ,a synth-pop romance placed in the French resistance movement but perhaps a bit dated for 1984.

  38. 38
    weej on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Re #35 – By my reckoning the run has one to go… but this may turn out to be a view not shared by many, we’ll just have to see.

  39. 39
    lonepilgrim on 15 Dec 2010 #

    when I was studying at the University of London in the mid 80s Peter Powell showed up to the Students Union to to add his seal of approval to a band called Rouen. His presence only served to confirm them as worthy and anonymous.

  40. 40
    LondonLee on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Not to get too bogged down in labels but is this really a House record? I’ve never thought about it as such because you can’t really dance to it.

    Whatever it is though it’s great and think 8 is a little stingy. Great pair of number ones but I’d give this the edge over ‘Vogue’

  41. 41
    thefatgit on 15 Dec 2010 #

    “Killer” is such a desolate record, and for very personal reasons, I cannot comment further. Next…

  42. 42
    Steve Mannion on 15 Dec 2010 #

    LondonLee I don’t think it’s too far away from Colonel Abrams ‘Trapped’ in the House overlap stakes but yeah I don’t imagine this was working in clubs as well as numerous other charting dance hits at the time. But it’s roughly the same tempo as your Dirty Cashes and ‘Naked In The Rains so surely not a complete danceloor dealbreaker.

  43. 43
    Rory on 15 Dec 2010 #

    @3: to be fair to Mike Oldfield (and I am nothing if not fair to Mike Oldfield), “Moonlight Shadow” was like any other Oldfield vocals-based track, treating the singer as an interchangeable instrument (an early version had Hazel O’Connor singing), and given his singles’ previous chart performance, there was no inkling that this one would do so well. Once it became a hit, though, the incongruity and injustice of the credit became obvious; he gave Maggie Reilly her due by crediting her vocals on the sleeve of 1984’s “To France“. By the late 1980s he was using the “featuring” credit that emerged (or reemerged) around this time (for example, “Islands” featuring Bonnie Tyler). Who knows, perhaps its wider use was partly inspired by the example of “Moonlight Shadow”?

    As for “Killer”, I missed it at the time; as far as I can tell it didn’t do anything on the Australian charts. My introduction to Seal was my brother’s later infatuation with “Crazy”. “Killer” sounds interesting enough, but to be honest my initial “sorry, I wasn’t there” response is around a 5.

  44. 44
    LondonLee on 15 Dec 2010 #

    It’s probably too edgy and jerky (and emotional) to be what became known as a ‘chill out’ record but there are a lot of the spacey and trippy elements of that stuff bubbling under here.

  45. 45
    lex on 15 Dec 2010 #

    You can definitely dance to this – just because it’s kind of bleak doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work in a club (cf 00s Kompakt material…)

  46. 46
    Billy on 15 Dec 2010 #

    Is it sacrelidge to say I really like the ATB cover of this ten years later? Stays very similar to the original except whacks a massive 4/4 beat over the whole thing, which is what I always felt the original lacked.

    Ten years on from that, I was sure we’d see another cover version to continue the pattern (we’ve had ‘Dirty Cash’, ‘Infinity’, ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ and ‘Ice Ice Baby’ all covered in the last year or so), but I guess the chance has been missed. Would probably be a RedOne production with Tinie Tempah rapping over the middle or something…

  47. 47
    Martin Skidmore on 17 Dec 2010 #

    I remember a good cover of X-Ray Spex’s ‘Identity’ by Adamski, possibly with someone else, as Diskord Datkord.

    Also, for fans of Tom, can I recommend his first contribution to my site about comics? http://comiczine-fa.com/reviews/1500-2000ad-covers/

  48. 48
    Lena on 17 Dec 2010 #

    This is absolutely like the Kelis album in sound and feel; and the video, however dated, does have people dancing in it!

    I’d just like to say in advance that the next one up is a favorite of mine, and that the great run of #1s isn’t over just yet…

  49. 49
    Erithian on 17 Dec 2010 #

    This one truly is a cracker – great vocal, and Adamski’s never running out of sonic ideas that make it a classic of the genre (precisely because there isn’t a massive 4/4 beat over it). In Which Decade last May I gave it the nod over Blondie’s “Call Me” because of “the way it creates its own world and demands your attention”, and I’ll stand by that. I’d forgotten about the house piano break – your views are diametrically opposed to mine re house piano, and those few seconds do take the track down a peg or two.

  50. 50
    Chelovek na lune on 18 Dec 2010 #

    Oh, as inevitably these threads go…digging thru the memories of long-forgotten parts of my former record collection. I seem to recall (maybe 1988/89ish?) didn’t another project (it may have been Diskord Datkord, it may have been something else) of Adamski release a cover version of….was it Bowie’s “Heroes”? (perhaps it was a B-side). IIRC it was pretty bloody dire actually and in no way led me, at least, to expect the shower of (all too short-lived) genius and wonder that was “Killer”. If anyone has any ideas what I’m talking about, I’d be grateful, not least for confirmation that my memory is not playing tricks on me. (Apologies that this is very much less worthy than my last such detour, to Morgan McVey and thus to Buffalo Stance)

  51. 51
    Chelovek na lune on 18 Dec 2010 #

    Bad etiquette to answer my own question, I know, but a quick bit of digging round says that it was “Rebel Rebel”, not “Heroes”, and the name it was released under was The Legion of Dynamik Diskord. Not worth seeking out IMHO, though…

  52. 52
    DietMondrian on 20 Dec 2010 #

    I’ve just listened to the two versions back to back and Seal’s remake plods somewhat by comparison. And as others have said, it just lacks something – that appealing acid squelch, for one. Far too polite and muted. Eight for the original, five for the remake.

  53. 53
    swanstep on 21 Dec 2010 #

    @dietmondrian. Yeah, after listening some more I think you’re right, so I hereby retract my previous support for the remake.

  54. 54
    Billy Smart on 24 Dec 2010 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Just the one TV appearance listed for Adamski;

    THE WORD: with Bill Dean, Adamski, The Farm, Shanya Schulma (1990)

  55. 55
    Billy Smart on 27 Dec 2010 #

    MMWatch: Dave Jennings, March 31 1990;

    “This is more like it. ‘Killer’ isn’t the brutish thing its title suggests. It’s a medium-paced dance track built around a rock-solid baseline, laced with eerie synthetics and topped with the plainitive voice of guest singer Seal – who sounds firmly in the grip of lovely desolation. ‘Killer’ fits more than enough to fit on the dancefloor, but it might also suit your mood if you have to go home alone once the club has closed. Emotive and effective.”

    Jennings awarded single of the week to Blush by The Hummingbirds. Also reviewed that week;

    Happy Mondays – Step On
    E-Zee Posse & MC Kinky – Everything Starts With An E
    Jesus Jones – Real Real Real
    Public Enemy – 911 Is A Joke
    The House Of Love – The Beatles & The Stones
    The Shamen – Pro-Gen
    Technotronic – This Beat Is Technotronic
    I Ludicrous – Preposterous Tales In The Life Of Ken MacKenzie

  56. 56
    Chelovek na lune on 27 Dec 2010 #

    “Blush” by the Hummingbirds. Loved it, still do. Better than “Killer”? Not sure. They are of such different genres that any straight comparison between the two seems meaningless.

  57. 57
    wichita lineman on 5 Jan 2011 #

    Smash Hits watch:

    May 16-29 1990, cover stars Beats International: ‘THEY’RE JAM HOT!!! (whatever THAT’S supposed to mean)’. Miranda Sawyer’s joint Singles of the Fortnight are Beats International’s Won’t Talk About It and Touch Of Soul’s We Got The Love (“Black Box crossed with a nursery school”, apparently).

  58. 58
    wichita lineman on 26 Jan 2011 #

    NOW! watch:

    The dance-heavy and very enjoyable Now! 17, Disc 2, ran like this:

    1. Technotronic feat. MC Eric : “This Beat Is Technotronic”
    2. Lonnie Gordon : “Happenin’ All over Again”
    3. 49ers : “Don’t You Love Me”
    4. Jimmy Somerville : “Read My Lips (Enough Is Enough)”
    5. Cliff Richard : “Stronger Than That”
    6. Jam Tronik : “Another Day in Paradise”
    7. JT & The Big Family : “Moments in Soul”
    8. Mantronix feat. Wondress : “Got to Have Your Love”
    9. Bizz Nizz : “Don’t Miss the Partyline”
    10. E-Zee Possee featuring MC Kinky : “Everything Starts With an ‘e'”
    11. D Mob featuring Nuff Juice : “Put Your Hands Together”
    12. Adamski feat. Seal : “Killer”
    13. Orbital : “Chime”
    14. Tongue ‘n’ Cheek : “Tomorrow”
    15. Electribe 101 : “Talking with Myself”
    16. Sydney Youngblood : “I’d Rather Go Blind”

  59. 59
    Steve Mannion on 26 Jan 2011 #

    Cliff mixing it up with the ravers

  60. 60
    Paulito on 1 Feb 2011 #

    @58 Some good tunes there, but only two that have stood the test of time: “Killer” (as discussed) and – by far the pick of the bunch – the indescribably wonderful “Got to Have Your Love”…they don’t make ’em like that any more *sighs*

  61. 61
    Billy Smart on 1 Feb 2011 #

    #60 B-but that list has THE BEST POP THING EVER ‘Chime’ on!

  62. 62
    Paulito on 2 Feb 2011 #

    You’re right Billy, “Chime” does still sound pretty good. I remember reading at the time, probably in Smash Hits, that it was the cheapest-to-make top 40 hit yet recorded. It cost them 28p to produce, or something like that.

  63. 63
    swanstep on 2 Feb 2011 #

    Chime is new to me…. and I’m really enjoying it. I recognize many bits of Chime, however; I think everyone from Rammstein to Mu-ziq to Chem Bros (and probably many others) has borrowed from it.

  64. 64
    Steve Mannion on 2 Feb 2011 #

    Other tracks from that Now! side very much standing the test of time for me: ‘Talking With Myself’ and the brilliantly gonzo ‘Everything Starts With An E’ ramping up the aesthetic of their mates S Express in style. Both these tracks were originally released the year before iirc.

  65. 65
    swanstep on 3 Feb 2011 #

    @#64. Thanks for the recommendations. Both those tracks are new to me too and I like them both a lot.

  66. 66
    DanielW on 3 Feb 2011 #

    I remember this song being the first record that I positively willed to get to Number 1 that actually DID! A truly magnificent single that blew me away the first time I heard it and still sounds excellent now (probably because it hasn’t been overplayed – infact I can’t remember the last time I heard this song on the radio)

    Was disappointed when the follow-up single “The Spaced Jungle” turned out to be bloody awful…

  67. 67
    stueeavfc on 4 Jun 2011 #

    I remember buying the 12″ on the first day of release and thinking ‘I hope this goes to Number One’. It’s that bassline and the sort of strangeness about it.. Adamski should have stuck to doing what Vince Clarke did at one stage and just looked for good vocalists to sing on his tunes.

  68. 69
    seekenee on 20 Mar 2013 #

    Always liked this one. Saw Admaski play this at a multi band thing in Dublin late 1990 with (I think) a disembodied Seal vocal.

    #33 – Gary Barnacle (sax) played on London Calling and a bunch of early Style Council

  69. 70
    hectorthebat on 17 Mar 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Gary Mulholland (UK) – This Is Uncool: The 500 Best Singles Since Punk Rock (2002)
    Mixmag (UK) – Nominations for the Greatest Dance Track of All Time (2012)
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – The 100 Best Songs from 1990 to 1998 (1999) 73
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – The Top 100 Songs from 1984-1993 (1993) 55
    Face (UK) – Singles of the Year 4
    Melody Maker (UK) – Singles of the Year 9

  70. 71
    Paulito on 29 Apr 2015 #

    Returning to Tom’s review and his well-observed analysis of the yin-yang template for electronic vocal/instrumental duos: is there an even earlier prototype than Yazoo, in the form of Soft Cell? Or is it too much of a stretch to describe Marc Almond as a ‘soul’ singer? I’d certainly wager that Almond intended his gutsy (if rather wobbly*) vocalising as a fusion of soul and torch-song cabaret.

    *I seem to recall a great one-line gag in Smash Hits back in the day: “The answer is (c) Marc Almond. All the others are singers.”

  71. 72
    Mark M on 29 Apr 2015 #

    Re71: I’d argue not, and that Marc Almond’s vocal frailty and indeed (at that stage) tendency to tone wobbliness was integral to Soft Cell’s charm. Couldn’t be further from Moyet’s bulldozing Essex blues power, which I never really enjoyed.

  72. 73
    Gareth Parker on 30 Apr 2021 #

    A strident and passionate number one hit. I would give Adamski and Seal a 9/10.

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