The Greatest Hits Of 1986
Marc Issue

Publication Date:
October 1986



THE ART OF NOISE are the words made flesh of some of the best ideas to be tried out in pop this decade. They were the authors of the first record released by the exquisite Zang Tuum Tumb label, Into Battle With The Art Of Noise.They had dance floors in stitches, and experienced sound engineers shaking their heads in disbelief, and still no-one knew, although they probably guessed, who was making the racket. The crowning achievement of all this was their election as “Second Most Popular Black Act of 1984” in the United States! Er, I’m sure you know, they’re white….
Unfortunately, words made flesh being what they are, they wanted their picture in the paper along with all the other idiots, and it was this compulsion for fame and adulation which led to their artistic undoing. The writing was on the wall for the Art of Noise some time previously, when the ground staff of the Art of Noise decided that the plans for their personal appearance at the Ambassadors’ theatre in London were not to their liking, and so they didn’t turn up. Paul Morley journalist and test pilot for ZTT Records, the more interesting part of the Art of Noise, announced that they had been shot. So it was that the Art of Noise ground staff upped and left their conceptual parent, amidst a good deal of mutual slagging off from both sides.
The ground staff signed to China records and released a semi-successful single, Legs, and an unsuccessful album, In Visible Silence, before enjoying a modicum of commercial warmth with a brace of partnerships. Since they changed their record labels, the Art of Noise have had a couple of minor hits in tandem with other-off-the-wall artists – they found and resurrected the long-forgotten Duane Eddy, he of the twangy guitar whose best work was done in the 50s and 60s and made a new version of Eddy’s signature tune, Peter Gunn. They then got together with Max Headroom – a media concept whose integrity was still more or less in tact at the time of going to press – and caused a small ripple with Paranoimia.
The Art of Noise ground staff will, nethertheless, continue to enjoy happy and glorious careers in record production for other people. They are well suited and roundly admired for their work in this department – Gary Langan, for example, has produced Hipsway (hurrah!), Drum Theatre (huh?), the new Spandau Ballet LP (about time someone did), and mixed the Billy Idol LP which was produced by the mighty Keith Forsey.
It seems that without the ZTT conceptual juggernaught to keep them just so, Art of Noise are doomed to become the Lieutenant Pigeon of the 80s. Younger readers should ask their parents, older brothers and sisters – or else consult their dealers – about Mouldy Old Dough.
by Marc Issue

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