Posted in music

Happy birthday Vince Clarke (Erasure, Depeche Mode, Yazoo & VCMG)

English Synthpop pioneer Vince Clarke, as well as singer-songwriter, musician, and producer (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly, Erasure, and VCMG) was Born 3 July 1960. Inthe late-1970s, Clarke and schoolmate Andy Fletcher formed the short-lived band No Romance in China. In 1979, he teamed up with Marlow & Gore to form French Look. Another band, named Composition of Sound, followed in 1980 with another addition of Martin Gore and also, Fletcher. Clarke provided vocals until singer Dave Gahan joined the band, which was renamed Depeche Mode. At that time, he adopted the stage-name by which he is currently known: Vince Clarke. The band initially adopted a slick synthesisedelectropop sound, which produced the album Speak and Spell and the Clarke-penned singles “Dreaming of Me”, “New Life” and “Just Can’t Get Enough” in 1981.Clarke left Depeche Mode shortly after. Clarke then teamed up with singer Alison Moyet (at the time known by the nickname of ‘Alf’) to form the popular synthpop band Yazoo(known as Yaz in the U.S.), which produced two albums and a string of hits including “Only You”, “Don’t Go”, “Situation”, “The Other Side of Love”, “Nobody’s Diary” and “Walk Away from Love”.Yazoo split in 1983, and Moyet went on to have a successful solo career. Yazoo reformed in 2008 for a series of live dates to celebrate 25 years since the duo’s split.

Then In 1983 Clarke teamed up with Eric Radcliffe and it was their idea to collaborate as one-off associations with different artists on each new single, under the name The Assembly, notably with singer Feargal Sharkey they scored the Top 5 hit “Never Never”. In the meanwhile he founded the label Reset Records with Eric Radcliffe. During 1983 and further on in 1984, he produced four singles “The Face of Dorian Gray” “I Just Want to Dance”, “Claudette” and “Calling All Destroyers” for his friend Robert Marlow, which were released on this label. They also produced an album, which was shelved but was released much later in 1999 under the name The Peter Pan Effect. In 1985, another collaboration took place with Paul Quinn of Bourgie Bourgie, the result was the single “One Day” by Vince Clarke & Paul Quinn. However, the project never took off, and Clarke moved on to other projects.

In early 1985, Clarke put an ad in Melody Maker for a singer, and one applicant was Andy Bell, who was a fan of his earlier projects. He teamed with Bell to form the group Erasure, and the duo became one of the major selling acts in British music with international hits like “Oh L’amour”, “Sometimes”, “Chains of Love”, “A Little Respect”, “Chorus”, “Love to Hate You”, “Take a Chance on Me” and “Always”.The band has released 16 albums to date and have enjoyed a long string of hit singles spanning their more than two decades together, most recently topped-off by the 2005 top five hit “Breathe” taken from their Nightbird album. In 2006 Erasure produced a country-western style acoustic album consisting of mostly non-single cuts from their previous albums. This album, Union Street was preceded by the single “Boy” originally included on their 1997 Cowboy album.

On 26 January 2007, Erasure  announced the release of their sixteenth (thirteenth studio) album, entitled Light at the End of the World. Released in the UK on 21 May 2007, with a US release the following day, it was preceded by the single “I Could Fall in Love with You”, released on 2 April 2007. The second single, “Sunday Girl” was subsequently released.The album was produced by Gareth Jones and was a more “dance oriented” effort than some of their more recent work with Clarke making reference to the new material sounding potentially a bit more like Andy Bell’s 2005 solo effort Electric Blue.Erasure went on to tour with Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Harry, Margaret Cho and other artists, for the 2007 True Colors Tour of the United States, a tour which benefited gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender freedoms and rights. Erasure then went out on their own, headlining the “Light at the End of the World” tour in North America and Europe.The band released a new EP, Storm Chaser, in September 2007. The EP contains nine tracks, one of them the winner of an online fan remix contest, for the track “When a Lover Leaves You”, from the Light at the End of the World album.The most recent Erasure album, Tomorrow’s World, was released in October 2011, featuring production by Frankmusik.

Vince Clarke also teamed up with Stephen Luscombe of Blancmange, Pandit Dinesh and Asha Bhosle. The group, West India Company, released a four track, self-titled EP.Clarke worked with synthpop producer Martyn Ware (of Heaven 17 and The Human League) in 1999 as “The Clarke & Ware Experiment” and released the album Pretentious. The duo collaborated again in 2001 for the album Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle, which was created with “3D music technology” specifically designed for listening in headphones. 2001 also saw the release of the Clarke-produced album Erasure’s Vince Clarke which featured The Peter Pan Effect, an album that he and Eric Radcliffe produced for his long-time friend,Robert Marlow. Clarke wrote “Let’s Get Together” for the pop girl group Girl Authority for their second album, Road Trip. The song was originally meant to be for Depeche Mode, but was never recorded by them. Clarke also co-wrote “What Do I Want From You?” withFreeform Five, for their album Strangest Things (2005).Also in 2001, Clarke founded Illustrious Co. Ltd. with Martyn Ware, to create new forms of spatialised sound composition using their unique 3D AudioScape system, collaborating with fine artists, educational establishments, the performing arts, live events, corporate clients and educational settings round the world.

In 2004, Clarke provided additional music for an episode of Johnny Bravo entitled “The Time of My Life”. This was a collaboration withRichard Butler (singer). Clarke was an essential component of a 2000 project called Family Fantastic. They produced the album Nice!. In 2008 Family Fantastic released a second album, entitled Wonderful.On 21 May 2009, Clarke was awarded by an “Outstanding Song Collection” prize, during the Ivor Novello Awards ceremony of the same day, in recognition of 30 years in the music industry.Clarke was featured in the BBC Four documentary Synth Britannia.Clarke collaborated with his former Depeche Mode colleague Martin Gore for the first time since 1981 as techno duo VCMG on an instrumental minimalist electronic dance album called Ssss, released on 12 March 2012. The first EP entitled Spock was released worldwide exclusively on Beatport on 30 November 2011. The second EP Single Blip was once again first released exclusively on Beatport on 20 February 2012. Their third EP Aftermaths was released on 20 August 2012.In 2012, Vince collaborated with the band The Good Natured on a track called “Ghost Train”, available as a free download on their website, in exchange for a Tweet.Also in 2012, Vince produced a cover of the Depeche Mode song “Fly On The Windscreen” featuring Ane Brun.

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