Adventures In Clubland
British pop band Modern Romance formed out of the ashes of first generation punk band Leyton Buzzards, a group led by Geoffrey Deane and David Jaymes. Their brand of punk owed equal debts to the mod sounds of The Jam, the snarl of Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks, and the sweet pop sound of The Raspberries. In short, they were indebted to the trends of the era but were quite content to make something new, a sound that was only indebted to melody. Leyton Buzzards could only go so far, and after one album, they split.
Modern Romance, however, was definitely something different, miles away from Leyton Buzzards. Their debut single, “Modern Romance,” continued the Buzzards sound and was merely okay, but the dance-minded b-side “I Believe In Me” showed promise. Follow-up single, “Tonight,” found them mining Human League and New Order-style New Wave synth-pop, and while nice, didn’t quite feel right, either. The flip side, however, was a different story—a jazzy yet contemporary take on pop standard “Fever” that found them blending a swing beat with synths in a style that reminds instantly of Soft Cell’s better moments.
But what they would do next would sound like neither their previous singles or Leyton Buzzards. Seemingly ditching their previous style for a straight up Latin Jazz and Rap hybrid, they would turn into one hell of a fun, groove-heavy band. This change worked; they would get in the upper stratosphere of the pop charts with follow-up singles, “Everybody Salsa” and “Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosie.” The former was, as suggested, a red hot Salsa number, while the latter continued the trend, except adding a rap element.
Adventures In Clubland, their debut album, appeared in 1981, and was a bit puzzling. Instead of compiling the band’s singles—all of which had done quite well—these songs were placed in a twelve minute “Clubland Mix.” To be fair, the mix is quite exciting and high energy; however, it would have been nice to have them in their complete form. “Clubland Mix” isn’t a bland, cheap mix that just pastes songs together, either; the songs are wonderfully interwoven, and one of their influences becomes clear: Sugarhill Gang, whose lyrics are referenced in this original mix.
The two songs preceding “Clubland Mix” are excellent, too; “Bring On The Funkateers” is a straight up rap number, and its nod to “Walk This Way” helps to show just how close Stephen Tyler was to rap with his Aerosmith classic. “Nothing Ever Goes The Way You Plan/Queen Of The Rapping Scene” is equally fun, a blend of disco and Latin groove, as well as a sexy French vixen rapping.
After that one-two-three punch, Adventures In Clubland loses some steam. It’s hard to follow such energetic numbers, and though the mellow groove of “Stand Up” and “We’ve Got Them Running” aren’t bad, they certainly lack the enthusiasm of the beginning of the record, and they feel more like the album tracks that they are than they do their exciting siblings found on the standalone singles. It was probably a fatal error on Modern Romance’s part to not include the hit singles in their original form, as Adventures In Clubland would prove to be a bit of a flop. (For the purposes of this reissue, though, the small bouquet of bonus tracks—including the band’s first two singles—help pick up the slack, as “Best Years Of Our Lives” and “Moose On The Loose” certainly bring back the heavy, hedonistic, delightful rhythm.)
Geoffrey Deane would shortly leave the band, and Modern Romance would continue on for a few more years, scoring moderately successful singles, until finally splitting in 1985. Adventures In Clubland, for all its flaws, captures the band in its exciting early years, a band that seemed to be all about having fun and making music to fit that occasion.
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