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Retrospectacle: Best of
Thomas Dolby
Retrospectacle: Best of
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1

Though he first arrived in the early '80s amid a wave of MTV-ready British electro-pop acts, Dolby had deep ties to the singer-songwriter tradition which gives his work a resonance that's kept his records sounding fresh. D...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Thomas Dolby
Title: Retrospectacle: Best of
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 4
Label: Capitol
Original Release Date: 4/4/1995
Release Date: 4/4/1995
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: New Wave & Post-Punk
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 724382764229, 0724382764250, 724382764250

Though he first arrived in the early '80s amid a wave of MTV-ready British electro-pop acts, Dolby had deep ties to the singer-songwriter tradition which gives his work a resonance that's kept his records sounding fresh. Despite his colorfully eccentric science-nerd image, Dolby quickly established himself as an artist of substance, with a bittersweet, introspective lyrical sensibility that set him apart from most of his video-friendly contemporaries. That didn't stop him from scoring his breakthrough hit with the wacky "She Blinded Me with Science," whose frenetic charm remains intact a decade and a half later. The 16-song Retrospectacle is a fine sampler of Dolby's '80s work, compiling such evocative numbers as "Europa and the Pirate Twins," "Airwaves," "One of Our Submarines," and the charmingly unhinged "Hyperactive!" --Scott Schinder

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Member CD Reviews

B. Jason O. (panicBoy) from MANCHESTER, NH
Reviewed on 4/20/2007...
Yeah, yeah. That damn Science song is on here. But, wow, so much more. Killer cuts are "Europa," "Leipzig," "Airwaves," "One Of Our Submarines." This is old-school nerdcore at its finest.

CD Reviews

A Wholly Satisfying Compilation!
Knyte | New York, NY | 06/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a curious 7-year old, I used to sneak to watch music videos at 10:30pm, which was way past my bedtime, and I would be subject to a whipping if I got caught. But my love for music was too strong. I would watch this video show that aired between 10:30 and 11pm for a glimpse of that royal, white-gloved and red jacketed Prince of Pop, Michael Jackson. The year was 1984. And Thriller was still the coolest album of all time.

But instead of seeing the "Thriller" video one night, I saw a scary (at the time) video featuring a wacky, older white guy singing about how hyperactive he was, at one point turning into a skeleton and singing like a chipmunk. That video traumatized my young mind, but when the credits appeared I made it a point to never forget his name: Thomas Dolby.

Now, 22 years later...I have come to love his music. Ironically, it's in 2005/2006 that Mr. Dolby seems to have made it a point to re-emerge. I'd like to help aid in that resurgence with a review I have been wanting to write for almost six months now. It's a shame that my day job keeps me so busy, and that my true love - writing about music - has to suffer. But at this late hour (3am) I can no longer put this review off. It must be written.

The album begins energetically with "Europa and The Pirate Twins," a bright, fresh-sounding early 80s synth fiesta that sounds like the theme song to some zany movie or coming of age TV show like "The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole," if anyone remembers that show. I like this one alot. The synthesized claps are great.

"Urges" follows, and I love this song too. The zaniness continues on this ode to sexuality which is in my opinion, impossible not to like if you are even remotely into New Wave. The third song, "Leipzig" has a breezy vibe to it that I really, really love. It's a great third song with great synth instruments.

The fourth song, "Windpower" has a British swagger to it that will get your head nodding. Great track. "Airwaves" is just beautiful. Think Christopher Cross with more edge. And a more affected vocal. "She Blinded Me With Science" needs no introduction except to say it captures the early 80s perfectly.

"One Of Our Submarines" has a great lift section of the song, and the rhythm section of the song reminds me of some of the synthy background music featured in that great mid-80s space opera, Robotech. Big fan. "Screen Kiss" is one of the first mature sounding songs on here that veer away from synths and feature a more evolved Dolby. It's songs like this that form the perfect backdrop for my new life on Chicago's northside. One in which the neighborhood of Lakeview and it's quaint shops put me at ease in a profound, amazingly exciting way that I had never experienced before this fall.

"Hyperactive" is the song that started it all for me. I think it needs to be remade. I think an artist like N'Sync's JC Chasez could do it well, actually. "I Scare Myself" is also more sophisticated than most people give TD credit for. It's sonically as beautiful as a carely woven wicker basket.

"Pulp Culture" doesn't really do it for me. While it's certainly consistent with Dolby's other work, I usually end up skipping it. "Budapest By Blimp" is a sprawling, epic track. But "Cruel" is simply delightful. Like a feature tickling one's back during a cozy encounter with a loved one, "Cruel" (featuring an angelic female guest vocal) is EASILY my favorite song on the album, and it is constantly on repeat.

"Close But No Cigar" is a close 2nd favorite of mine, as it oozes a certain wistfulness that screames optimism despite its sobering message. Great song. Also needs to be remade.

The album ends on a solemn and glorious note with "I Love You, Goodbye" which never fails to stir admiration for Dolby's musicality. Featuring a plethora of instruments that defy anyone's expectations of a synth practitioner, Dolby rewards the listener with a song that he seems to pour his heart, spirit and voice into.

This album got me through a very stressful time at work. Admittedly, my zeal for my ad agency job has diminished substantially because of the insane hours that are demanded of me. However, I will always remember this album helping me to stay grounded and motivated. It's amazing what music can do to help heal the psyche. Thanks for sharing this Retrospectacle, Mr. Dolby. I'm finally feeling much better that I can put into words what I've always wanted to say. Well done. And to all those reading, this album will not dissapoint. Not one bit!

Knyte, from New Jack Swing 4Ever.

Pieter | Johannesburg | 06/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The early to middle 1980s was the era of Eurythmics, OMD, Soft Cell and Yazoo, synth artists following in the wake of 70s pioneers like Kraftwerk, Suicide, Bowie in his Eno period, The Normal and Gary Numan who was still hitting the UK charts then. Although beautiful and timeless, the music of these rock or pop aligned acts (as opposed to the hedonistic eurodisco of the time) was mostly serious and often dark. Thomas Dolby brought a witty element to the synth-pop boom with his quirky sounds, clever lyrics and mad professor image. Both the early singles Urges and Europa And The Pirate Twins were minor hitettes in the UK in 1981 whilst the next year's Windpower finally gave Dolby a top 40 hit. The brilliant song She Blinded Me With Science was a major US hit in 1983 and was accompanied by a stunning video. Hyperactive with its propulsive dance rhythms was another huge hit but thereafter this innovative musician faded from the scene. This album proves that his music has stood the test of time very well. Besides the aforementioned classics, my favourites include Airwaves, Leipzig and One Of Our Submarines Is Missing. Retrospectacle is an enjoyable showcase of another angle on the glory days of synth-pop."