Martin Rev is best known as one half of the seminal duo
Suicide. Clouds of Glory , his second solo effort, was released
on the French label New Rose in 1985. Electronic Sound "Ignore this at your peril"
Lilac Time, The No Sad Songs
Tapete CD TR310 4015698000672 11 Oct 19
A prose-poem, which Stephen Duffy composed especially for the release of the new and ninth album by his band The Lilac Time, contains the lines: "I was a flower child, now I'm a flower man."
It took a long time before one became the other. When viewed from space, Stephen Duffy's path may well appear labyrinthine, filled with loopholes and trapdoors. Yet a sober perspective reveals path of a musician and poet who is independent in the very best sense of the word.
Nevertheless: A lot has happened since the young boy kept his Praktica camera trained on street scenes in the Birmingham of the Cold War. Back in 1979, an 18-year-old Stephen Duffy was founding member of Duran Duran. Yet he did not board the train to superstardom. The visionary instinct of the young artist had other intentions. He might have had Bob Dylan, Nick Drake and The Incredible String Band in mind, but he himself was not allergic to success. He quickly understood that a songwriter with an acoustic guitar had little access to the merry-go-round of the charts in the early eighties. Instead, he emerged as Stephen "Tintin" Duffy, trading his guitar for a synthesizer and making chic, clever and sparkling POP music in capital letters. The young man with the melancholy expression even landed two international hits with Kiss Me and Icing on the Cake. But before the record company was able to put their plan into action and turn Duffy into the next Rick Astley, he took flight. He mothballed his pop persona and founded a band with his brother: The Lilac Time.
On their debut in 1987, they made what Stephen had long dreamed of: Flower Music. The single Return to Yesterday conjured visions of Simon & Garfunkel. In an era of slapping basses and smacking snares, the instrumentation was exceptional: mainly acoustic, with guitars, banjos, fiddles and accordions, all beautifully arranged by Nick Duffy, who was also responsible for composing the instrumental pieces on the record.
Keep in mind that the New Acoustic Movement, which brought forth bands like Belle And Sebastian and The Kings Of Convenience, was still more than ten years away. Often in diametrical contrast with this melancholy folk pop were Stephen Duffy's lyrics, with descriptions of suburban tristesse placed seamlessly alongside biting commentary on the issues of the times and courageous reports of the singer's moments of excess and aventures amoureuses.