[The Fad is the Flag] -- Embracing elements of both new wave and early industrial music, Frank Tovey (9/8/1956 - 4/3/2002) was an electronic musician and vocalist based in London, England. Starting in 1980 and continuing through early 1984, Tovey performed using the name Fad Gadget, releasing four studio albums under that moniker. Then, from late 1984 through 1992, he released another six studio albums under his own name. This week on the Flashback, we revisit Fad Gadget's third studio release, Under the Flag, released 40 years ago this week on 9/1/1982.
Tovey had become a father shortly before recording Under the Flag, and he was reportedly afraid of the world in which his newborn daughter would grow into adulthood. He channeled those fears and anxieties into writing ten songs for what amounts to an almost concept album. I mean, at least the opening and closing tracks, "Under The Flag I" and "Under The Flag II," are thematically connected through their lyrics about a British man with a newborn baby during the Falklands War. I suppose it's up to the listener as to whether tracks 2 through 9 maintain a cohesive narrative about the fledgling father. Other reviewers say it's a bit of a mixed bag. But I would counter that, in tone and feeling if not lyrically, the entire album does convey something of an individual's defeatist attitude toward what was then the present day (i.e., the early 1980s), as well as a hint of nihilism for what days may yet come.
Yeah, totally not applicable to the early 2020s, eh?
Anyway, give it a whirl. My favorite track is "For Whom the Bells Toll," one of Under the Flag's two singles, the other being "Life on the Line," which is also a good listen. But the other track that, for me, is a close second, if not equal, to "For Whom the Bells Toll," is "Plainsong." It might throw you a bit in the beginning, but stick with it. Trust me.
And do let me know what you think of this coldwave offering. Is it synthpop or futurepop?
Flashback: Under the Flag (September 1982)
That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!