Music for Parties
Silicon Teens Music for Parties LP (Sire, 1980)
There is a long list of subgenres that have been unacceptable to the critical czars of rock & roll, the rock establishment. Until recently, bubblegum music has not been given any due. Humor in rock & roll has never been valued. Punk rock not from London or New York is shunned. Non-Anglo/American rock & roll is pretty much ignored (unless it is Krautrock). Novelty records are ridiculed. And party records aren’t taken seriously.
In some ways, critical blindness to the above genres is fine. Too often critics and academics analyze music as if they were boning a fish. Word after word slices through the meat of the music and what we are left with is dead, dry bone.
Luckily, rock & roll spawned a fan culture, a universe of freaks who talk and write passionately about bands and records, people who do not know or care about the rules our cultural czars come up with. It is with this attitude I present to you the Silicon Teen’s Music for Parties LP.
Read the sleeve of Music for Parties and you would think that the Silicon Teens were “real” band. In reality, the Teens are one guy, Daniel Miller, the man who created Mute Records with his seminal synth punk/industrial “band,” the Normal.
The Silicon Teens are like the Normal in that they are pretty much synthesizer, drum machine and vocals. But unlike the Normal, the Teens are not full of dark humor and angst. Instead, the Teens are, as advertised, Party Music. Because they are all electronic and were around when all electronic bands were rare, they are considered a novelty. Toss away the two labels and what you really get is a rock & roll band.
The Teens cover some classic rock & roll songs (Judy in Disguise, Memphis Tennessee, Let’s Dance, Red River Rock, etc.) and play some tasty originals. All the songs are poppy and full of fun. The direct, anti-experimental approach the Teens take to rock’n roll makes me think that if the Ramones or the Rezillos went electronic, this is what they would sound like. For a recent example, I point you to Amsterdam’s Nazis from Mars.
One would think that with Daniel Miller’s legacy, the Silicon Teens would be taken seriously or at least given their due. They are not. Though they were clearly out in front in applying electronics to pop and should be seen as punk pioneers, The Teens rarely rate mention by rock & punk intelligencia. But, who cares anyway? Critical ignorance means you can find this record in bargain bins with ease. And please do. You won’t be disappointed.
T.V. Playtime is one of the Silicon Teens' originals. Just like Eddie was originally a hit for Heinz Burt, the bass player for the Tornados. It was written by Geoff Goddard in tribute to Edie Cochran. The original single was produced by Joe Meek.
"Memphis TN" did come out on a Sire sampler 10-15 years ago. "TV Playtime" is a good choice; always wondered if that was perhaps an anwers to The Normal's "TVOD."