Normal, The – Warm Leatherette

Usually I review brandnew music, but now it’s time for a classic. A milestone in minimal electronic pop, with 2 classic tracks: ‘Warm Leatherette’ and ‘T.V.O.D’.
It was the first single on the legendary Mute label, originally released in 1978. Apparently it has been repressed, because I bought a new copy of this 7” single this week, but the sleeve only mentions ‘Mute001’. These are the only songs I know that are recorded by The Normal, a one-man project: Daniel Miller handled the synthesizer, drum machine and took care of the vocals. Miller was also the founder of the Mute (and Novamute) label.

The repetitive, cool electronic style of the two songs and the monotonous, almost robotically vocals remind a lot of Kraftwerk. I suspect that The Normal influenced many early synth acts, like Fad Gadget or Human League. The subject matter of ‘Warm Leatherette’ is not very cheerful, although I would not take it too seriously: “Hear the crushing steel, feel the steering wheel” and “warm leatherette melts on your burning flesh”. This car crash theme is probably derived from the novel ‘Crash’ by J.G. Ballard. Apparently Grace Jones has also covered the song though I haven’t heard her version.

Though ‘Warm Leatherette’ is the best known song, ‘T.V.O.D.’ is actually the A-side of my single. Also highly monotonous and repetitive, but very effective and sounding a little more cheerful. “I don’t need a tv-screen / I’ll just stick the aerial into my skin / and let the signal run though my veins”.
Two timeless minimal electronic classics, that still sound fresh…

artist: Normal, The
label: Mute
details: 7', 2 tracks. Mute001