Wednesday, April 05, 2006

more about thomas dolby

Yeah. I'm a big dork. You all read my little piece about Thomas Dolby, and specifically "She Blinded Me With Science". I didn't recall everything from memory. I had to do some research to get the name of the album and the year, for instance.

I did a "little bit" of research on the matter in order to write that post, and I kept some of it to myself.

Indeed, as Bill pointed out, Thomas Dolby was the keyboard player for Foreigner on their colossally successful "4" LP. He also played keyboards for Def Leppard on the "Pyromania" album, using the pseudonym "Booker T. Boffin".

Everyone aside from Bill might think that Thomas Dolby was a one hit wonder. You might have to think again. His current gig is creating polyphonic ring tones. You've all heard the ubiquitous annoying Nokia theme song? That's his work. He adapted a 19th century guitar piece into what is most likely the most recognizable polyphonic tone.

Another thing I kept to myself was that the album "The Golden Age of Wireless" was released and resequenced five times. I don't mean re-released or re-issued. I mean that is was released five different times in its initial run. It has a bit of a legend surrounding that. Today we wrinkle our noses at a record that's released even twice, wondering where the bonus tracks are. There were none on "Golden Age". Just a different track listing and slightly different production.

Of course we didn't think about it back in 1982, or 83, or whenever, but what a title! It didn't mean anything then. Only now, some 24 years later are we "really" in the golden age of wireless. What did we have that was wireless back then? A remote control for the TV? Maybe. If you were really fancy, you had a wireless mic, and you might have had a wireless electric guitar. But that's about it.

Right now, you probably have no fewer than four wireless devices within an arm's reach as we speak.

How did he know?

3 comments:

Scott said...

Wow. I seriously always thought Thomas Dolby was the son of the guy who invented Dolby noise reduction. I imagined him as this bored rich kid who spent his free time in his dad's lab, with unlimited access to all that sound technology they came up with. That's not a knock on his music or anything...it just seemed to make sense that he could come up with that stuff because he'd been surrounded by it his whole life and understood it better (or from an earlier age) than other musicians. Man was I wrong.

H said...

Dang, I always thought "The Golden Age of Wireless" referred to radio's early years, when a little box on your dining room table could play voices piped in through thin air.

Bill Purdy said...

I recall Dolby Laboratories sued Thomas Dolby, evidently displeased with the way he recklessly sullied their carefully-developed brand image with his salacious devil-music. Dolby (the laboratory) won, sort of, forcing Dolby (the musician) to use the name "Dolby" (which is, in fact, a nickname, like Booker T. Boffin, except much much better) only if he uses it in conjunction with "Thomas."

Whatever. Thomas Dolby can nonetheless count himself among the short list of significant and influential rock musicians (Brian Eno - Roxy Music, Mark Mothersbaugh - Devo, Danny Elfman - Oingo Boingo, for instance) who have forged post-rock careers as musical visionaries in non-pop music fields. David has already listed Dolby's extra-pop accomplishments, but Eno should be recognized for producing approximately one out of every three relevant rock records since, well, he left Roxy AND composing the ubiquitous MS Windows startup sound; Mothersbaugh for scoring lots of TV shows (including the groundbreaking Liquid Television) plus all the Wes Anderson movies; and Elfman for scoring, in addition to just about every Tim Burton movie ever, the theme to The Simpsons. Nice pedigree.