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Thomas Dolby brought a witty element to the synth-pop boom with his quirky sounds, clever lyrics and mad professor image. Both the early singles Urges and Europa And The Pirate Twins were minor hitettes in the UK in 1981 whilst the next year’s Windpower finally gave Dolby a top 40 hit. The brilliant song She Blinded Me With Science was a major US hit in 1983 and was accompanied by a stunning video. Hyperactive with its propulsive dance rhythms was another huge hit but thereafter this innovative musician faded from the scene. This album proves that his music has stood the test of time very well. Besides the aforementioned classics, my favourites include Airwaves, Leipzig and One Of Our Submarines Is Missing. Retrospectacle is an enjoyable showcase of another angle on the glory days of synth-pop.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 April 2007
Thomas Dolby started his recording career playing keyboards for 'Bruce Woolley And The Camera Club' (who first recorded The Buggles 'Video Killed The Radio Star' and 'Clean Clean') back in 1979. Those early recordings, though competant, failed to set the world alight commercially and so Dolby decided to go solo. His subsequent synth pop transformation and 'Mad Professor' image soon began to pay dividens and his 'Europa And The Pirate Twins' single (though only a minor U.K hit) became an early 80's synth-pop classic. Dolby maintained this level of performance with further singles like 'Airwaves', 'Windpower', and the excellent, quirky and fun 'She Blinded Me With Science'. The combination of Dolby messing about with real-life 'Mad' professor Magnus Pike, just worked so well and the song was a massive U.S hit. Surprisingly, these excellent early records failed to do so well here in the U.k and it wasn't until Dolby released the first single from his second album the fast and danceable 'Hyperactive!' that he managed to break into the top twenty. Sadly, 'Hyperactive!' proved to be Dolby's only top twenty hit here. This most likely due to the fact that next single 'I Scare Myself' and parent album 'The Flat Earth' were both much less commercial and complex recordings and somehow the momentum was lost. Later records like 'Close But No Cigar' and 'I Love You Goodbye' were pretty decent but this compilation correctly chooses to focus in the main on Dolby's earlier and best recordings. If you have a love of 80's synth-pop you really should buy this.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 March 2012
Played this on my Ipod the other day, ripped from this CD and I was really pleasantly surprised how many commercial, poppy and catchy songs there were on it. Dolby has a homely voice but beefs that up with surprising and infectious lyrics.

His definite plus is his instrumental backing - usually busy and always interesting, with a wide range of almost everything. I agree with other reviewers as to which are the best tracks, though there aren't any that I'd call bad, which is not the norm for many Best Of compilations.

I bought his debut album The Golden Age of Wireless as a teen on vinyl when it came out and I played it a lot. Then, not heard of or anything by him for 20 years until buying this Retrospectacle CD. Brought back some happy memories and some nice nifty tunes.
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on 21 December 2007
Dolby's career seems to consist of witty takes on a variety of subjects linked with great tunes and well produced music. It's not always accessible, doesn't always work, but when it does, it's brilliant. This is a collection of the best of his work and if you only have one Thomas Dolby album, this should be it. Listened to on a good quality stereo the music positively leaps out of the speakers even though much of it was done on synthesisers.

Highlights for me:

Windpower "Switch off the mind and let the heart decide"
She blinded me with science - a somewhat unrepresentative novelty record but good nonetheless
Europa & the Pirate Twins, a story of unrequited love

But standing out are some of my very favourite tracks of all time, notably the incredibly atmospheric "I scare myself" with an amazing combination of instruments blending trumpet and classical guitar; "Close but no cigar" a great rock track and "I love you goodbye".

Dolby doesn't get played much these days which is a great shame. Perhaps he is too 80's for some people but this collection really stands out as something special.
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on 22 August 2015
This is a good cd : my favourite track is " she blinded me with science. - Peter
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on 7 April 2016
yes when it comes to something different then this is a brilliant composition
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on 30 June 2014
Bought for my husband to replace his last cd that had got damaged
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on 12 April 2015
Fantastic CD and service provider.
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on 18 November 2015
Thomas Dolby at his finest
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2008
Five stars. But only for the six songs listed below*.

EUROPA AND THE PIRATE TWINS
URGES
LEIPZIG
WINDPOWER
AIRWAVES
ONE OF OUR SUBMARINES IS MISSING

The remainder of RETROSPECTACLE - basically everything that followed THE GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS - is bland and forgettable. Indeed, rather than emphasizing musical progression, this compilation merely demonstrates diminishing returns and creative atrophy.

Debut album THE GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS was, almost certainly, Dolby's very own CITIZEN KANE. Infectious, challenging songs from a mad professor of music, with his self-built at-a-tangent synthesizer and a similarly skewed pop sensibility. It worked perfectly, the whole package. But just the once. On the first go. He peaked - and from then on...well, you can hear what happened afterwards for yourself.

So why review RETROSPECTACLE? Ah, because there's two wonderful treats, not to be found elsewhere: URGES and LEIPZIG. The A and B sides of Dolby's earliest solo releases. Plaintive, Bowie-esque, vocals and a low-key, verging on sparse, production endow both songs with a power way beyond their modest intentions. Only the brilliant FLYING NORTH comes anywhere close to recreating that initial burst of atmospheric genius. And guess from where that song hails?

Five stars for six songs out of a total of sixteen. It doesn't make for a very persuasive calculation on paper. But scratch the surface and you'll discover that even low strike rates can have significant merit. And because he's still around, Thomas Dolby deserves the critical plaudits.

*VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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