M – “NEW YORK – LONDON – PARIS – MUNICH” & “THE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT” (1979/1980)
You know M, pharmacy or have at least heard their famous pop single “Pop Muzik”. For ages, illness I’ve been curious to hear what their albums sounded like. I’d originally guessed they sounded something like the Buggles. I was kinda half-sorta right.
The first LP from ’79, advice “New York – London – Paris – Munich”, gives way to off-kilter disco right after the perfunctory “Pop Muzik” intro. Not exactly straight-ahead disco, but a slightly mutated UK variation. A little like The Buggles crossed with Rick James and Roxy Music (don’t get too excited, it isn’t that good.)
The reason this post happened is because of the second album, 1980′s “The Official Secrets Act”, easily one of the strangest follow-ups of its era. “M” was the pseudonym of British vocalist/musician Robin Scott, and the huge success of “Pop Muzik” must’ve made Scott seriously self-conscious about wanting to stay out of the spotlight, for “The Official Secrets Act” seems like a very willfully uncommercial affair. As in a potential career-killing one.
Tapping into a rich vein of Cold War paranoia, “Secrets” is a concept album of sorts, features almost no pop/disco beats, and in fact seems heavily influenced by the era’s edgy post-punk rather than dancefloor shenanigans. One song sounds almost exactly like The Residents, another features Scott shouting in a Lydon-esque growl, and yet another is one of the album’s few concessions to the “New York – London – Paris – Munich” sound, except that its wonderfully off-kilter structure is based around a 9/4 time signature. I liked this album a lot.
Anybody out there have a rip of M’s third LP from ’81, called “Famous Last Words”? I’m kinda dying to hear it. (Not to be confused with Supertramp’s 1982 LP “…Famous Last Words…”, of course.)