Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Everything about this album appealed to me when it came out in 1986. First, the cover: growing up I always loved those late ‘60’s early ‘70’s Japanese robots, and the image here really hit the right nostalgia buttons with me. The robot itself was a cross between a Battlestar Galactica Cylon, Mach I and a futuristic Samurai warrior. The Japanese characters added some international flair and the overall color scheme was bright and as in your face as it got. This was an album cover you could pour over for hours, back in the day when such things were a priority and a benefit.
The music was cyberpunk a mere 3 years after Bruce Bethke’s book of the same name was published and years before it became really popular as a musical and lifestyle movement. It predated techno by at least 2 years and I have to say was probably most likely extremely influential for bands such as Pop Will Eat Itself and Renegade Soundwave. It was also prescient in the ways they used real paid commercials between tracks which also gave the album a bit of a Bladerunner concept feel.
Mega corporations, A.I., sex, nuclear war and dark dystopian overtones permeate the album but there is also a very real sense of fun at work here. Ex Generation X guitarist Tony James was the mastermind behind SSS and his guitar work on this album still sounds pretty revolutionary. He mixed the sonic terrorism of Suicide with Chuck Berry licks and came out the other side a winner, at least for a little while. Other than Love Missile F1-11 (which was used in the film Ferris Beuller’s Day Off) the band never really broke in the States, although they were a massive success everywhere else on the planet for at least a year.
I still listen to this record often and it never fails to bring me back to the summer when I was 17 years old, drinking Molson Canadian in a field somewhere in Milton, Ontario Canada getting out of my mind. Life was good back then.