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In a sort of limbo session phase (via TALKING HEADS, KIRSTY MacCOLL, et al) after the split from seminal Manchester indie outfit The SMITHS, guitarist Johnny Marr teamed up in 1989 with NEW ORDER frontman Bernard Sumner to form ELECTRONIC. Together with initial guest vocalist/co-writer Neil Tennant of the PET SHOP BOYS, their – what seemed to be at first – one-off single `Getting Away With It’ bubbled under the Top 10, while all parties concerned returned to their respective day jobs; Marr to feature on sets by THE THE (`Mind Bomb’) and BILLY BRAGG (`Don’t Try This At Home’).
Squeezed somewhere between the latter sets, spring 1991 saw the re-appearance of Messrs Sumner and Marr through ELECTRONIC’s sophomore single, `Get The Message’. Lyrically cool and stylish, the platter soared into the UK Top 10, paving the way for their eponymous parent album ELECTRONIC (1991) {*7} to reach the dizzy heights of No.2; it also hit No.109 in the States where NEW ORDER had recently blossomed. Although `Feel Every Beat’ didn’t fare as well (only scraping into the Top 40), the riff-tastic rpm’s pounded the very grooves of tracks like the aforementioned debut single, `Idiot Country’ and `The Patience Of A Saint’, the latter a collaboration with Neil Tennant and his PET SHOP BOYS cohort Chris Lowe; Madchester lass Denise Johnson (best known to “Screamadelica”/PRIMAL SCREAM fans) was also in tow to provide the necessary diva-vocal touches. Renewing their musical association with Neil, ELECTRONIC looked to have signed off the following summer with yet another classy pop Top 10 record in `Disappointed’.
The long-awaited RAISE THE PRESSURE (1996) {*6} set featured an array of guest talent (including Denise), while veteran KRAFTWERK muso Karl Bartok lent a hand on several songs, two in particular `Forbidden City’ and `For You’ became quick-fire Top 20 hits. Carefree and like some antidote for the vibrant Brit-pop scene, it embraced the charm of the rather twee LIGHTNING SEEDS rather than anything that the godlike Gallagher brothers could spew.
1999’s TWISTED TENDERNESS {*7} – their third UK Top 10 entry – pumped up the volume a tad, tracks such as lone Top 20 hit `Vivid’, plus the 7-minute breakbeat `Make It Happen’, `Haze’ and `Late At Night’ taking a sinister and sonic sojourn, utilizing distortion and some much-needed oomph. One of the more intriguing songs was the duo’s reinterpretation of STEVE WINWOOD’s BLIND FAITH-era gemstone `Can’t Find My Way Home’. But that was that as both Sumner and Marr re-joined their respective outlets: the latter as leader of Johnny Marr + The Healers (for the solitary `Boomslang’ set in ’03), the former to NEW ORDER and subsequent offshoot BAD LIEUTENANT.
© MC Strong 1994-2006/GRD // rev-up MCS May2012

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