Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rational Youth - "Live 1983" 2xCD

Synthpop resuscitation

Rescued from cassette oblivion by electro-industrial label ArtOfFact and Rational Youth synth keyboardist Kevin Komoda, this double-set captures the Canadian synthpop pioneers at the height of their powers, in 2 shows from Winnipeg and Ottawa.

The first disc is the Winnipeg set, and it contains 15 tracks of electro-pop that's as well-done as anything out there of it's era. Having no previous experience with this influential group (shame on me), I hear pretty much what I'd expect --  synths, live drums and guitars, and sensitive, melodic vocals. Regional hits like "Dancing On The Berlin Wall" or "Holidays In Bangkok" sound crisp and clean, and as with all of this disc, it's of a superb recording quality. 

The second disc is "Live In Ottawa", and though it features a similar set as the Winnipeg disc, it's also a superb archival recording, somewhere between audience bootleg and soundboard quality. 

Rational Youth's music is best compared to their peers, Vancouver synthpop darlings Images In Vogue (who gained notoriety for opening a show for Duran Duran and for giving Kevin Crompton a boost towards his Skinny Puppy future). Sadly, Rational Youth never achieved the status of notoriety of IIV, and they remain but a footnote in Canadian pop music history. For fans, this is a must-hear set, and for unfamiliar listeners like myself, it's a good education.

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