Where to get the original version of "I Ran"; plus ...
M. Montgomery | 06/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When this, the Flock's explosion of a debut album, was released in 1982, "I Ran" started with a bang (literally, one drum stroke followed immediately by the first guitar note), not with the slow cutesy fade-in that someone inflicted upon it when they released the CD version much later. To each his own, but I have always thought it is a much better song in its original version.
Until today I thought that the original version of the song was available only on the old cassette. I have bought several compilations (for all the songs, not just theirs) and have always hoped for the old version but it had always been the one on the re-release CD. But Flockers who want to have the ORIGINAL of "I Ran"--fully titled "I Ran (So Far Away)"--can find it on "Chart Toppers: Modern Rock Hits of the 80s Vol. 1." (However even it is not quite identical to the original album version; for example, it has a slow fade for an ending, while the original album track ended abruptly: I presume it is the original single release. Anyway it is where you can get the original beginning...). I bought it used on Amazon. (It is a very good compendium of New Wave hits in its own right, also containing hard to find tracks like The Church's "Under The Milky Way" and After The Fire's "Der Kommissar, plus "Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday and "The One Thing" by INXS. You can also find the original beginning of "I Ran" on VH1's "More of the Big '80s," along with Der Kommissar, and a few fairly unusual '80s tracks including a great song I had forgotten all about: "Cry," by Godley & Creme).
This band was very talented. Their third, "The Story of a Young Heart," was their masterpiece. Following the overtureistic first title track, the album tells musically the story of a young person's "coming of age" from youthful optimism ("The Dancer," "The More You Live") through adolescent longings to be someone else ("I Wish I Were A European"), on to the inevitable guru ("Remember David") through a heart-rending break up with a girl ("Heart of Steel", "The End") and ending with silly-esque thoughts of Suicide (not for real, "Suicide Day" is written in too light a tone to be taken seriously). It is a whole album about the loss of innocence. The album never took off, partly because by the mid-80s new trends were hitting, partly because the band made (in my opinion) a crucial mis-step when they released the title track as their showcase single, instead of one of the several far better songs (especially Track 2, "the Dancer," a very "up-ish" song which would have shown the world a totally different side of the Flock at exactly the right time).
I recently found this used on CD in a small-town record store to my utter amazement. I have been looking for it for 10 years on CD.
The Flock's first self-titled debut and their second "Listen" are more similar to each other than either is to "Story of a Young Heart": that is, both of the first two are uncompromising early 80s new wave. The reviewers are right--every song on their first CD is strong. But not strong in the same way: from "I Ran" through two powerful instrumentals (well, Track 2 is almost an instrumental) to the contemplative ending track ("Man Made Machines"), it is a great ride through early-80s synth/pop new wave.
This band has several unique features. First, they use a guitar sound for accent that actually SOUNDS like a seagull's cry, it is their signature sound (even more surprising, they do it repeatedly without it ever sounding "hokey" or "forced"--it fits the music perfectly). Second, this band has an amazing ability to start their songs "over at one spot," then switch in amazingly powerful and complex transitions into a completely new musical theme "at another spot," while still maintaining a musical link between the early part and the main body of the song. I've been listening to rock music for decades and I've never heard anyone do something quite like this, except for, of all bands, Chicago's early hits (On the Flock's first CD, the best example of this technique is Track 8 "Standing In The Doorway," On their second CD "Listen," it is Track 10 ["It's Not Me Talking," their first single release] and to a lesser extent Track 6, "The Traveler." On "Story of a Young Heart," it is very prominent in Track 7 "Heart of Steel," and also noticeable in the title track and Track 8, "The End.") These guys wrote and played some unusually subtle music, which challenges the listener to pay attention and "get it." All this without losing an intense chordal and rhythmic sense throughout all their work.
"Listen," their second, has the minor hit "Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)," really an unusually good and strikingly original song, featuring another unique sound similar yet different in feel from anything on the first album. The second album, recently released on CD, is to me mainly a "growth" or "transitional" album, with more complex elements than the first, although the link is clear. It is also very good, but a bit darker. There is quite noticeable growth in songwriting.
The Flock's later albums following "Story of a Young Heart" were the releases of a band scrambling to stay in the picture, and it showed. For me, the only interesting track to come in the later stuff was a really nice song called "Hot Tonight," which I don't think was ever released as a single (It was on their 4th LP, I didn't like any part of their fifth and last one). Near the end they abandoned their signature sound to try, unsuccessfully, to fit in with the mid- to late-80s styles. It must have been a discouraging period for this outstanding band.
At its peak the band was dynamite, and in a different culture they would have gotten a great deal more enthusiastic attention. But, from the mid-80s through 1993 or so when alternative began rising, there was no audience for this band's best music among those who set the trends in music (whoever or whatever they are). The Flock are one of the better known of many excellent bands crowded out in the '85-'92 period by the rise of Rap, "hair bands", grunge, and other nihilistic trends that better suited MTV's incessant attempts to shape the culture toward more atonal, musically anarchistic, politically revolutionary "music."
A personal note: In 1982 I was in college and the Flock came to our town, to play in a small facility. I had heard the group on radio and may have already bought their cassette but chose not to go. My roommate did go and said they rocked the house, but that they ran out of songs [!] and had to start again at the beginning of their docket. Of all my musical bloopers, this one was the worst--I could have seen them riding the wave of their early success, in a small and intimate venue, and God knows what convinced me otherwise. I'll always wonder what it would have been like to see them live at the peak of their success.
(Later) Check out the Flock on YouTube! Some great clips! Reynolds was one heck of a guitarist!"
Uplifting, upbeat, unique, hugely enjoyable debut album
Clark | 01/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Flock of Seagulls are one of those bands who always seemed to be on the brink of something huge but never quite made it. This was such a shame as they wrote some truly great songs, mixing futuristic sounds and lyrics with a traditional four piece band arrangement. Perhaps those haircuts became millstones round their necks (literally), because it seems that people are more interested in ridiculing them for their hair rather than concentrating on the fact that they wrote some brilliant songs.This, their debut album, was first released in 1982. They weren't at the forefront of the New Romantics (Ultravox, Depeche Mode, Human League and OMD had already burst onto the scene) but they still made a very impressive entrance.The thing that set A Flock of Seagulls apart from their rivals is that their music was very upbeat. They very much had a dance edge to them, with some great catchy songs and bright sounding production from Bill Nelson. There is also an element of humour in Mike Score's lyrics, along with many references to sci-fi and futuristic themes.This CD has rearranged the track listing from the original UK vinyl release, which is a shame because in my opinion the album doesn't flow as well. However, it is still a great album and all the songs stand up as well today as they did when first released.The CD kicks of with what is without doubt their most well known song, the anthemic 'I Ran (so far away)'. This truly is a great song, one which perhaps became so great that it eclipsed most of their later work. The album version is definitely better than the single because it has the atmospheric and lengthy intro, sounding more like an experimental prog rock band than a poppy New Romantic one! It then kicks in with force, a simple underlying synth line and Paul Reynold's echoed guitar riff leading up to the ever building verses and choruses of Mike Score's tale of being kidnapped by aliens. It sounds like no other band, and also shows why this song still stands on its own today.That this song still gets played showed how unique it was, and even recently it has been given a new lease of life by being used in the video game 'Grand Theft Auto'!'Space Age Love Song' is beautiful, moving, and once again Paul Reynolds makes his mark with some superb sounding guitar playing. His style is very similar to U2's Edge with his use of delay pedal and 'ringing' harmonics yet he makes it his own. I'd even go as far to say that Paul's guitar sounds are BETTER than the early U2 recordings, though that is more down to the production than the playing ability. All the other hits are on this album too: 'Telecommunication', 'Modern Love is Automatic', 'Messages' as well as the superb instrumental 'D.N.A'. That the band only seems to be remembered for the hit 'I Ran' is a shame because a listen to these other tracks show just how good they were at writing catchy pop songs.The album closes with the only slow song, the dark sounding 'Man Made', prophesizing about the future where machines take control of the human race. If anything it showed how the Seagulls songwriting potential could go much further, and in later albums it did though with less success. There isn't one bad song on this album, nothing that could be considered a filler. Personally I also really like 'Don't Ask Me', though the best thing is that this is very much an album that can be played from start to finish without skipping tracks.Mike Score's vocals aren't the strongest around, but they suit the music perfectly as well as his imaginative lyrics. Ali Score's drums and Frank Maudsley's bass also suit the music well, giving a good grounding for the rest of the band. However, the standout of this album has to be Paul Reynolds's guitar playing. He managed to commit to record the kind of sound U2's Edge only ever managed to reproduce live (in the early days). His guitar playing is bright, melodic and definitely his own style. He interchanges rhythmic echo guitar with ringing chords and beautiful melodies. Truly the icing on the cake for a great collection of songs.The band later went on to produce two more albums with the original line up (Listen, Story of a Young Heart) though neither came close to the success of their debut. I do also think it is a real shame that neither of these albums have been re-released because they showed how the band had developed its song writing skills.'Listen' was rush recorded in two weeks and it shows. The songwriting was much more advanced, but they weren't given the studio time to develop the more adventurous songs they were working on. It is still a great album worthy of listening to, though many songs are nowhere near as 'poppy' as the debut.'Story of a Young Heart' in my mind is the album that should have made them huge, a collection of songs that captured the poppiness of the first album with the darker side of 'Listen'. Somehow it just never got the recognition it deserved, then Paul Reynolds left the band and A Flock of Seagulls were never the same again.So the first album 'A Flock of Seagulls' is a must have for any fan of this kind of music. From the timeless 'I Ran' to the moving 'Space Age Love Song' and instrumental 'D.N.A.' it is hard to put this album down. A great debut and a brilliant album. Buy this and beg, borrow or steal their next two albums (Listen, Story of a Young Heart) as well. Play them all and wonder why the Seagulls didn't go on to dominate the World. We can be thankful though that we at least did get these albums from them."
Too classic for words
dudesimon | Austin, TX | 08/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"future generations probably will not get it. but this album was a revolution, goofy hair and all. AFOS was making the music of the future in the 80s, and there isn't a bad song on this disk.Space Age Love Song is a perfect song. Absolutely perfect."
Enjoyable from beginning to end.
sauerkraut | 07/25/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've always had a lot of respect for A Flock of Seagulls. These guys have written interesting and catchy music with imagination. I like the way they combine the keyboard and guitar playing. Each instrument complements the other quite nicely. This debut album from A Flock of Seagulls is very solid and energetic. It's in a new wave synth pop direction with an equal dose of guitar playing. All ten of the tracks are satisfying. The album's musicianship, songwriting, and production are good. My favorite tunes are "I Ran," "Space Age Love Song," and "D.N.A." "Space Age Lovesong" is my favorite song from A Flock of Seagulls. That tune has imagination and catchiness all rolled into one. Mike Score's vocals really soar on it. It's truly a well-written song. Mike Score does a nice job with the vocals throughout the album. His voice is effective and unique. "D.N.A." happens to be a very impressive instrumental. Paul Reynolds' guitar work on it is really good. "I Ran" is also a cool and memorable tune. "Modern Love is Automatic" has an interesting intro. This album has both futuristic and imaginative qualities. It's worth a listen."
Best New Wave album, perhaps THE best album, of the 1980's
Bookman | Youngwood, PA United States | 04/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, maybe I'm a little biased because I've loved this band since their debut album was released. But if I had to pick my two or three all-time favorite albums, from anyone and everyone, A Flock of Seagulls would be there. It's simply that good. The theme of the album is futuristic and maybe a little bit dark, but that just adds deeper personality to each track. For the most part, all the Flock's albums have been good but the debut is far and away the best. I've always liked rock music, especially when keyboards and synthesizers are worked in, and the Seagulls do it to near-perfection. I just can't say enough good things about this album. AFOS starts out with the hit "I Ran" with the extended instrumental intro that wasn't part of the single. Another hit, "Space Age Love Song" follows, again this is a slightly longer album version compared to the edited single that was released back in the 80's. The rest of the tracks are stand-outs (with the possible exception of "Don't Ask Me", my least favorite track of the album). "Standing In The Doorway" has one of the greatest guitar riffs I've ever heard (this coming from a huge fan of Van Halen). "Telecommuncation" was a dance-club favorite, and the lyric-less "DNA" won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Song. The final piece, "Man Made" is most likely the best track of all. It builds itself up to a magnificent, hard-hitting, turn-the-volume-all-the-way-up ending that leaves you amazed and almost breathless.I HIGHLY recommend AFOS to anyone who loved (or even remembers) the New Wave era, or anyone who just wants good rock music. Go ahead and buy it, you deserve to treat yourself to some great ear-candy now and then."