Educating Peter # 37

March 3, 2013

I’m afraid that this instalment of Educating Peter will have be a short one because I’ve been busy, busy, busy during the week, and not had a chance to listen to this week’s suggestion by Michael until now, and I only have a few hours to go before this assignment report listening session commentary is due, and typing this sentence isn’t helping.

Hurry, Peter, hurry!

Alison Moyet – “Invisible (1984)

Link

Before I listen to it, I want to mention that Wikipedia says “Invisible” was written by Lamont Dozier. Mighty good.

OK. Now I’ll listen to it.

0:00-0:20 – Ack! It’s the “Ice Crystal” setting on the synthesizer again. Nooooooooooooooo!

0:20-1:07 – Alison has started singing, officially announcing the verse.

So far, I’m enjoying the music – but I’m not enjoying the sounds making that music.

Alison’s voice rises above all of that, however, with its booming mezzosoprano. (I think Alison’s voice is a very good example of what’s known as “the chest voice”. It’s slightly husky, slighty boomy, but not rough.) Judging by her voice, it’s entirely possible that Alison could sing louder than any other instrument placed near here.

Having typed that, I don’t Alison’s voice is anywhere near loud enough in the mix. Or maybe I’m just focussing on those dreadful synthesizer sounds too much. (Nope. The backing track is too loud – and too annoying.)

Considering this was written by Lamont Dozier, and presumably emulating Motown with its “R&B/Soul”-ness, that’s one decidedly limp rhythm backing track. It sounds more like one person has a synthesizer and another person has jingle bells, and that’s all the record company could afford, so the producer has had to bravely encourage the two musicians with a not-fooling-anyone voice, “OK guys, let’s be Motown!”.

1:07-1:46 – Here’s the chorus. (It certainly took its time getting there.)

Ah, I remember this now. “In-viz-a-bull, ah feel like ahm in-viz-a-bull…”

Oh how I wish that “Ice Crystal” sound would go away. But I’m fully aware that “wishin’ ain’t gettin'”.

Trivia: Alison contributes her own backing vocals with the phrase “Just like a number” “Just like your love”, from 1:28-1:30. I find that unusual because it’s the only time that backing vocals appear in this chorus. Strange. (Backing vocalists in choruses usually do a little more than sing just one line lasting two seconds.)

More Trivia: From 1:35-1:38 Alison sings the phrase “When you get the need to flirt…”. At the end of it there’s a very weird bit of exhaling. I don’t know what possessed Alison to do that there.

1:46-2:29 – It’s the next verse, and Alison’s starting to sound desperate. (She sounds really desperate at 1:52 when she sings “rings and rings…”.) But those synthesizers are still there. Grrr.

2:29-2:48 – Chorus. Just like the first one, but shorter.

2:48-3:08 – It’s middle eight time. (Well, we have had two choruses, and the standard rules of songwriting explicitly state that if you’re going to have a middle eight in a pop song, it has to be after the second chorus – no ifs, buts, or “But I want to something different this time!”. No sirree.)

The producer has added a bit more bass for the middle eight, but the backing track is still as limp as wet lettuce. Motown this ain’t.

3:08-4:00 – Chorus – and repeat. (It’s getting near the end of the song, and the standard rules of songwriting say that you must repeat the chorus at the end.)

3:08-4:00 – And as the song starts to fade, we say “Bye-bye” to Alison and her booming mezzosoprano. And, thankfully, to those synthesizers. Bye-bye, synthesizers!

***

I liked “Invisible”. Probably not as much as “All Cried Out” (that had a nice bluesy hook in the chorus), and definitely not as much as “Only You“, but I enjoyed it. Except for how it sounded.