Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Mobiles - Drowning in Berlin

Could you get away with calling your band The Mobiles nowadays? It all sounds a bit nu-rave to me, but maybe that is strictly just me. I'm sure it doesn't matter too much to Eastbourne and Hastings' The Mobiles, cos they did it in 1981 and we'd not even had the carphone yet. Apart from in spy movies. Speaking of which - and I'm sure I'm hardly the first person to notice this but exactly how many carphones do Carphone Warehouse sell these days?

I really do still love this record and it's only just occurred to me that I know nothing whatsoever about the band. I only know where they're from cos I just looked at the start of their entry on Wikipedia. Before I read the rest of it, I'm willing to bet that some of the band members ended up in other bands who went on to bigger things and it's going to surprise me. Let's have a look.

No, I'm wrong. One of them moved to Madrid and another is a health professional. The single got to number 9 in the charts though so it was a proper pop record and everything. It also states that 'they claimed to have been sacked from their day jobs because they took a day off to appear on Top of the Pops.'

In my quick hunt around the internet I learn that the line in the song that starts out in German but ends with "in Berlin" is in fact "Sind Sie allein in Berlin", which loose internet translation tells me could possibly mean "you are alone in Berlin". I've not known that for 26 years now. Depending on who you ask. The internet claims this was a hit in 1982. The label on my 7 incher states 1981. I'm also surprised to learn that I've never really studied the sleeve properly, else I'd have known that The Mobiles drummer's name was Eddie Fragile and the keyboard player suffered a mix-up at the registry office and ended up being called Jhon.

I've always thought of this single as a bit of a lost Goth classic, and assumed that cos it got into the top ten and was all over the radio that Sisters of Mercy fans had erased it from history. The YouTube footage I've found would suggest that The Mobiles were a much more New Romantic affair. However, an Amazon review of their re-released material on CD has this to say 'The Mobiles released their debut single `Drowning in Berlin' in late 1981. It became a surprise hit in early 1982, and was just a taste of the talent and quality this young band possessed. It was a bizarre combination of New Romantic and Gothic, giving it a very unique sound and feel'. So I'm right. As of this moment I'm bestowing the title of Noir Romantic PIONEERS on them. That same review adds, most importantly of all, 'The bizarre fairground section adds a chilling element that sends this brilliant song to perfection. It should have gone to #1'. Yep, the merry-go-round bit was always a great odd touch. Still is.

So here's the video footage of them on Top of the Pops, introduced by Pee-dah Powell. Recorded merely hours before they found themselves out of work. I had much more fun with this one than Daisy Ruddy Chainsaw.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Get your German right Thatch. If you need a translation you can always ask me. It actually means 'Are you alone in Berlin?' Fact.