Thursday, March 21, 2019

"Living on Video" by Trans-X

Song#:  2714
Date:  05/10/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  61
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Synthpop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  This Canadian act mainly consisted of electronic musician Pascal Languirand. He originally worked with Steve Wyatt as a duo, but when Wyatt left in 1983, Languirand did most everything himself and hired on Laurie Ann Gill as a vocalist. The same year, Trans-X assembled and released their first album titled Message on the Radio. One single from the album, "Living on Video," began to get attention and in '84 it made the charts in a few countries including the UK where it got to #9. There was little interest in the song at the time in the US, but then ATCO Records discovered Trans-X and took them on. An updated version of the album titled Living on Video was created and the title track was given a new remix and pushed out as a single. The associated MTV video helped the song along and it ended up cracking the US Pop chart. Although it hung around for three months, the tune just couldn't manage to fully break into a major hit. The album was not able to chart and after one more Canadian release that went nowhere, Languirand pulled the plug on Trans-X. He would go on to do solo work in the New Age genre and occasionally revive the Trans-X name.

ReduxReview:  At the time, this probably sounded cool with all its synthesized sounds and effects. Now it sounds so dated and cheezy. These days with the advancement of technology, musicians are making sophisticated recordings that sound ten-times as better in their own living rooms. When Languirand first recorded this in the early 80s, synthpop was just really starting to emerge and it wasn't all that easy to do. He threw in the kitchen sink on this one with all sorts of sounds coming from all directions. It's a goofy tune with a Europop feel and schlager influenced keyboard melodies. There was nothing like it on US radio and I'm not sure stations knew what to do with the thing. As a song, it's pretty awful. Yet there is something so endearingly fun about it that I can't help but smile when I hear it. It reminds me of the days when I had my little 4-track synth/drum machine/sequencer setup and was recording synthpop experiments. I kinda get where he's coming from and I can appreciate what he did with this track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Languirand was influenced by electronic music pioneers like Giorgio Moroder, Tangerine Dream, and Kraftwerk. In fact, it was an album by Kraftwerk that inspired the name Trans-X. In 1977, Kraftwerk released their sixth studio album Trans-Europe Express. Languirand was a fan of the band and the album and took a shorthand approach to the album's title for his own work, hence Trans-X. Kraftwerk's album received positive notices when it was first released, but save for a couple of countries it wasn't a big chart success (#119 in the US). However, its stature and influence has gained momentum over the years. It has been cited on many historical "best of" lists including Rolling Stone's 500 Best Albums of All Time (#325).


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