Illustration – Tidal Flow

3rd May 2024 · 1980s, 1981, Music, Postpunk

I love dipping back in to old compilation albums and discovering early efforts by two or three bands who went on to become big names. Stevo’s first compilation, Some Bizzare Album, uncovered this one.

There are early tunes by Soft Cell, Depeche Mode and The The, as well as seminal electro singles by Fad Gadget and The Normal. Which leaves half a dozen others who never made it.

It’s always a puzzle when you hear those because, while all these albums have two or three terrible songs, they also tend to have two or three others that are every bit as good as the ones that became famous.

So you wonder whether the fact they never made it was just down to lack of ambition, bad luck, or bad timing, or bad promotion.

Anyway, the stand-outs for me from this album are an early effort by Blancmange and Illustration’s song Tidal Flow, a fairly anthemic number with passionate vocals and strong melodies, made using early analogue synths (including the Korg MS10).

It got as far as being featured on the Old Grey Whistle Test but sadly the band didn’t appear, because it was played over a 1930s animation clip.

Illustration were formed in 1979 by singer Tony Harrison and guitarist Tim Johnson, joined by bassist Paul Lancaster, drummer George Terry (aka Morgan King) and Andy Prasher on keyboards – who was soon replaced by Julia Adamson.

Although they toured to promote the album and made a follow-up record, Danceable, with the legendary producer Martin Hannett at Strawberry Studios in Stockport, they broke up in 1981 before it could be released.

It eventually came out on Invisiblegirl Records in 2008. But this is the one for me. And I never did find out if Stevo meant to misspell “bizarre” like that.