At the risk of teaching some proper egg-sucking here, I’m sticking my neck out to suggest New Muzik’s ‘From A To B’ is one of those albums you love, but very few other people seem to know about.
Of course, I might be wrong. Has been known. They might not be the best-kept secret I think they are. It might well be that ‘From A To B’ has been on heavy rotation in Electronic Sound-buying households for decades. If it hasn’t, it really – really, really, really – should’ve been.
You will surely know the name from killer singles ‘This World Of Water’ and ‘Living By Numbers’. The album they’re taken from is a ripe example of the all-killer-no-filler school of 1980s releases. It’s a proper long-player, with an A-side and B-side, sequenced to be listened to with peaks and troughs in all the right places. The soaring ballardry of ‘A Map Of You’ is a breather only three tracks in. The hits open the B-side, but it’s no hardship getting there.
The A-side closes with the astoundingly good ‘On Islands’. The lyrics – “We’re all islands / In the sea / And the islands / All want to reach / Other islands passing by” – could’ve been about life today. It didn’t even graze the charts when it was released as a single.
The “hits” fared slightly better. ‘Living By Numbers’ peaked at Number 13, while follow up, ‘This World Of Water’, topped out at 31. And that was that. There are two more albums– 1981’s ‘Anywhere’ was cast from the same pop mould as ‘From A To B’, while, as band members dwindled, 1982’s ‘Warp’ saw New Musik stripped down to frontman Tony Mansfield and synth player Clive Gates. The album went down a more experimental all-electronic route (the title track is a corker) and is one of the first full-lengths to fully utlise the sampler. In 1982.
But by then the New Muzik ship had sailed. And sunk. ‘Anywhere’ felt like a pale imitation of the debut. Maybe if ‘Warp’ had been the sophomore album things might’ve been different.
Following its release, the band folded and Mansfield went on to produce some almighty artists. His wizardry when his knees were tucked under a Fairlight put him in demand. He has a writing credit on several Captain Sensible tracks, including ‘Glad It’s All Over’, which is pretty much a version of ‘Living By Numbers’.
Mansfield did some production work on A-Ha’s first album, as well working on Mari Wilson’s ‘Showpeople’ and ‘Bouncing Off The Satellites’ by The B-52’s among others. Sightings since have been few and far between – a production job here and there, including Ana Rorroja’s Number One album ‘Puntos Cardinales’ in the 1990s. There’s been almost nothing since the early 00s. Some digging is in order. New Musik deserve some proper attention.