1. Kane Gang – Motortown
The Kane Gang were a short-lived band that originated in the North East of England in the early 1980s. They started out as an electronic pop trio, but soon morphed into a unique band with a style that was part US blue-eyed soul, English pop, with witty and often acerbic lyrcis. Unfortunately, the band imploded while recording their third LP and that was that.
“Motortown” is an acerbic satire about the Nissan car company’s new car plant that opened in the mid-1980s near Sunderland. At the time Nissan were hailed as saviours of the local economy, which was declining due to coal mine and industry closures. The Kane Gang put the whole hype into perspective with some suitably acerbic commentary.
2. Emerson Lake and Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man
Keith Emerson was no stranger to re-interpreting the works of classical composers – he had re-arranged Mussorgsky’s “Pictures At An Exhibition” for ELP, generating an entire LP in the process. Having always liked Aaron Copland’s piece, ELP proceeded to re-work it for their 1976 LP “Works”.
They then proceeded to film a promotional movie for the tune in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal in the middle of the Canadian winter. Not sure how impressed the band members really were at being asked to film this video in sub-standard temperatures, all wearing winter coats that made them look like Michelin men.
In the film, Emerson is playing a unique and expensive multi-bank polyphonic synth – the Yamaha GX1 – a leviathan with a ludicrous price tag, owned by a handful of pioneering keyboard players at the time, including Emerson (who ended up with two), Stevie Wonder, John Paul Jones and Rick Wright of Pink Floyd.
Copland actually heard ELP’s version and was not entirely appalled by it…