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Great Moments in New Wave: “I Melt With You”

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Poor Modern English: doomed to live up to the greatness of one song, reduced to rerecording it to get some attention, some fine work not up to iconic status largely ignored. It was ever thus for “one-hit wonders” – even those with lots of good songs.

In ’82 Hugh Jones (Echo and the Bunnymen, Icicle Works, Stan Ridgway, The Colourfield, Del Amitri, That Petrol Emotion, The Connells, Kitchens of Distinction) produced a little-known band from Colchester’s second album, After the Snow. Modern English would be just another nice little band if it weren’t for the greatness of “I Melt With You,” which opens with the vacuum chamber rush of a guitar chord, followed immediately by a thunderous explosion of drums and bass that sent (especially American) revelers stomping across new wave dance floors in ecstasy for the rest of the ’80s.

The crushing drum backbeat propels the lower body, while a sweet tune playing off of the archetypal desire to stand outside of time in syncretizing love engages the emotions.

After “Melt” swept across America, the band was called to play before a writhing mass of tens-of-thousands in Daytona Beach for Spring Break ’83, having never played a venue bigger than a pub. According to Jones, “When they played the first three bars of ‘Melt,’ the crowd erupted with recognition; it terrified the band so much they stopped playing and stared at each other,” before recovering to finish the song.

One is reminded of Otis Day and the Knights pausing in astonishment at the Dexter Lake Club when the wayward Deltas walk in.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.ubersportingpundit.com/hotbuttereddeath/ James Russell

    The pedant in me feels compelled to note that After The Snow was, in fact, Modern English’s SECOND album, preceded by Mesh and Lace in 1980.

  • Eric Olsen

    Okay, it’s fixed – where have you been James? Kind of disappeared.

  • Dawn

    I wore many grooves in the album (yes I owned the WHOLE album, not just the single)and in my opinion it was a fine album altogether, with of course a great song on it.

    The movie “Valley Girl” with Nicholas Cage and E.G. Daily made it a classic though.

  • Eric Olsen

    It’s on many a compilation, as well it should be. That’s a classic soundtrack.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Yeah, but I think it was a classic among new-wave fans, and deservedly so, long before Valley Girls. The remake was unnecessary, IMO: The original needs no changes, and it’s (still) getting better all the time.

  • Eric Olsen

    It looks like the soundtrack came out about a year after the song – I think it was very well-known among the new wave crowd in that time, but the soundtrack helped spread it to a more general audience.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Yes, the movie did come out about a year or so later, if I remember correctly. I was working in heavily free-form progressive / punk / new-wave radio and clubs at the time of the song’s release, so my view likely is skewed. Still, I clearly remember the song being hugely beloved (in my circles; of course I have always tried to avoid the mainstream) way before the film’s emergence even though it did take the masses a while to catch up to the rest of us.

  • http://www.martinlitho.com Ralph Del Rio

    Bands like Flock of Seagulls, The Dream Academy, Naked Eyes all released powerful singular hits. But Modern English’s I melt with you was probably the most powerful of those types. Valley Girl and The Last American Virgin did alot so did Tuff Turf Repoman and the Breakfast Club stuff.
    I think of the American Pie movies and the like and I sometimes wonder if the same stuff is happening again. I think not. In conjunction, MTV is just not what it used to be.

  • Eric Olsen

    There were a lot of movies in the ’80s where the music and attitude/life style portrayed by the film complemented each other and made each other better. MTV, being new, audio and visual helped emphasize this. There is nothing comparable now as MTV doesn’t do much music and everything is much more fragmented.

  • Dawn

    That, and MTV’s taste truly sucks harder now, than it even did then. The years of the hair bands was the time when I just stopped watching them altogether.

    I only watch now to see young people make complete fools of themselves so I can pat myself on the back and say, “Damn, I was never that stupid!”

    Or was I?