Trevor Horn & Sarm Orchestra-Reimagines The Eighties

Producer Trevor Horn first came to prominence as part of the duo The Buggles and the Number 1 hit, Video Killed The Radio Star, in 1979. After that he was briefly a member of prog rock group Yes. At the time many eye brows were raised at this unusual move.

He found more success as a record producer for acts such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Grace Jones, Seal and even Dollar, not forgetting Sheffield's ABC debut iconic album The Lexicon of Love.

On this album Durham born Horn has gone on to record with the Sarm Orchestra versions of 80's hits - with some working better than others.

The Tears for Fears 1985 hit, Everybody Wants To Rule The World sung here by Robbie Williams, works to a degree but the vocal seems to miss the innocence of the original vocal sung by Curt Smith.

Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark is almost unrecognisable in the version sung by Gabrielle Aplin - this slower version does not sound as bombastic as the original version and is probably one of the tracks on the album that sounds as good as the original.

When Seal performs David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes you think why have they tried to replicate the Bowie song? The original is the definitive version so why even try?

X Factor winner Matt Cardle though does a good job of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's The Power of Love and Marillion lead singer Steve Hogarth gives a soulful version of Joe Jackson's Its Different For Girls.

The Grace Jones hit, Slave To The Rhythm sounds good with Rumer's vocal and has the lushness of the original, but lacks the directness and mystery that Grace Jones gave the track.

Tony Hadley gives a new slant to What's Love Got To Do With It - Hadley gives it his best shot that would even impress Tina Turner. When Yes had their big stateside hit in 1983 Horn had given back the microphone to Yes 

singer Jon Anderson though Horn did co write the track and produce it. Here he provides a good vocal to the track that even gives the song a slight jazz touch midway through.

Horn takes over the lead vocals on A-Ha's Take On Me which for me doesn't work in this new version, the track now sounds too drab and mournful.

The New Order hit Blue Monday done here with the Rev Jimmie Wood sounds like it could become a favourite at Last Night of the Proms, this rousing and bouncy version comes out shining here.

The main thing though that pulls all these tracks together is the orchestration and the new arrangements. And why no Video Killed The Radio Star you might ask, that was 1979, though if you really want to be picky he could have done a new version of The Buggles 1980 hit, Living In The Plastic Age. Now that would have been unexpected. 

© 2019 Graham Clark