Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Flaunt It: Album Review

The debut album by the glam-punkers Sigue Sigue Sputnik is given the box-set treatment.

Release Date:  9th October 2020

Label: Cherry Red Records

Formats: 4CD

Formed around 1982 by former Generation X bassist Tony James, Sigue Sigue Sputnik brought together unknown and experienced musicians to form what was hyped as the ‘the ultimate product from the ultimate group’.   They were plastered around the media before they had even played a note let alone released any music and became regulars on London’s glittering circuit.

Fronted by Martin Degville, a fashion designer, they were excessive, camp and hailed as the fifth generation of rock ‘n’ roll who allegedly signed a four million pound contract with EMI (later revealed to be closer to £350,000) and were ready to take on the world, possibly the universe.

Flaunt It, produced by the legend that is Giorgio Moroder, was released in 1986 and reached the Top 10 in the UK.  It boasted two top 20 singles along with tracks that were released as exclusive singles in Germany and the USA and was also known for its sale of advertising space between tracks with the likes of i-D Magazine and L’Oréal taking up the offer.  The ads are missing from this repackage with the exception of spoof Sputnik efforts which are whimsical in their inclusion.

Love Missile F1-11 was a top 3 hit in the UK and a top ten hit around the world, fueling their undoubted claims of world domination.  The single was like nothing before it (and probably not since), a continuous driving electro bassline, random guitar screeches and film soundbites and the quite remarkable echoes and reverb which went from high to low pitch and squeaked away into the distance.  Degville was no singer and it showed but, somehow it added to the track.

Essentially, Sigue Sigue Sputnik made two songs for Flaunt It.  Love Missile F1-11 and Atari Baby.  The F1 bassline re-appeared over several tracks and slowed down, speeded up or edited.  It was always recognisable but, despite the repetition, it avoided being boring.  Atari Baby includes snippets of Je t’aime… Moi Non Plus (Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin) and has a nod towards Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed) in a percussion-less, semi-ambient track although may have been better suited as an album closer.

Sex Bomb Boogie, Rockit Miss USA and 21st Century Boy then ensue.  All with the F1 theme, but it’s the latter that is probably the highlight of the album.  Adapting its title from 20th Century Boy (T. Rex), it probably couldn’t be more different.  It’s slightly more ‘musical’ than the rest of the album with a perfect structure in between its wondrous effects.  As a track, it works and works well.

The album then seems to fizzle out with the remaining tracks but, it somehow holds a charm.  Yes, it’s dated in some respects but in many, it is still ahead of its time.  There was nothing like it before and, has been nothing like it since.  Flaunt It will remain an iconic album on many levels.

This re-release comes with three additional discs.  The Remixes disc contains eight versions of Love Missile (including the 7” single mix which is a more cohesive version than the one included on the album and, the quite brilliant Westbam Remix) and two each of Massive Retaliation and Sex Bomb Boogie.  They are all variations of a theme but despite the multiple versions retain the interest for their duration.  Disc three, Remixes, Rarities and B-Sides containing three mixes of 21st Century Boy and a live version of Suicide which neatly leads on to the final disc, Live At Abbey Road.

The live cd reveals why Degville opted for a career as a fashion designer and not a singer but despite this, the feel is a punky one to which his vocals are particularly suited.  Doubtless, his stage presence was something to be witnessed.  It’s difficult to establish how much of it is ‘live’; there are countless (stunning) effects abound the music and the guitars appear to be of the moment but, drums don’t quite seem right.  Included is Shoot It Up (the original title for Love Missile F1-11) together with fur other tracks that made it onto Flaunt It, Jayne Mansfield and a slightly toe-curling version of Twist & Shout.

Flaunt It may be one of those lost albums of the 80s.  It’s actually a real blast, exciting and exhilarating and this box set provides a flashback to something that for a short while was exciting in British music.  One for fans of the era’s pop culture and a hope that music can sometimes offer something different.

Watch the official video for Love Missile F1-11 here:

Sigue Sigue Sputnik online: Website / Facebook / Instagram

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