on 21 July 2008
I first heard this band via a John Peel session in '79 or '80 and quickly became a rabid fan. I still have every vinyl release they made. Excellent singing (John Peel voted Barbara Gogan best female singer in a year end poll), strong tuneful songs, very good dreamy guitar work - a perfect marriage of post-punk angst and pop perfection. Great to see it finally on CD - and this is a well put together compilation as it also hoovers up all the contemporary b-sides which are as strong as anything on the album proper.
on 4 July 2008
For some reason Amazon hasn't mentioned that there are five bonus tracks on this CD. They are: I Radiate, Some Fun, War Song, Don't Talk To Me (I'm Shy), The Square (Live).
A great album which has been unavailable for many years, well done Cherry Red for getting it out on CD at last.
on 2 May 2016
Superb rare retro synth music from the early 80s by a very underrated band who were best known for the single I'm In Love With A German Film Star but were so much more than that.
An unreserved, five star purchase, this is highly recommended if you have any interest in early 80s British Synth Music.
on 7 June 2009
If your only recollection of the Passions is " I'm in love with a German Film Star" then you have missed out. This album was released at the same time as the single and there are many more tracks equally as good. " Someone Special" is excellent and the others contain guitar playing at its best. That The Passions did not trouble the charts again is hard to fathom but this album stands as testimony to their talents and with 5 bonus tracks is great value.
on 20 November 2014
It’s always unfair when a great band has a one hit single and that’s all most people care to know about them. The Passions were a brilliant band with loads of potential that never had much of a chance to be realized. The Passions debut LP, Michael and Miranda, was very stark sounding post-Punk, but by this, their second album, they had become a lush sounding band with a style that crossed many styles.
Even though this is a really good album, it should be said that the production on Thirty Thousand Feet Over China is pretty terrible. The audio quality sounds very much like a low-fi demo recording. The midrange is massively overpowering and shrill while the other instruments sound thin. I’m not sure if this was intentional or if the producer was just deaf, but it’s probably one of the worst sounding recordings made in 1981 for a band on a major label.
Most people know the UK chart hit ‘I’m In Love with a German Film Star’. It’s an atmospheric song with a soothing vocal performance by the talented Barbara Gogan. The band at this time was primarily based around dreamy guitars with the bass and drums used more to help fill things out slightly. But the band can partly be blamed for alienating their newfound following by releasing the bizarre and experimental song ‘Skin Deep’ as their next single. I think it’s a great song but it’s built around echo effects and limited vocals, and was best left as an album track or even a B side. Instead, they should have followed it up with ‘Someone Special’. This dreamy track has washing rhythm guitars and subtle new wave drumming that could have likely hit the right chord with the buying public. After ‘Skin Deep’ failed, the band tried a second release of the more poppy pre-German Film Star single ‘The Swimmer’. It was re-packaged in a different sleeve with a different B side, though still didn’t help them recover from the commercial suicide of ‘Skin Deep’. And while The Passions could make a pleasantly dreamy song, they could also be very catchy. Their quirky and frantic track ‘Bachelor Girls’ is my favorite song on the album.
The CD is augmented with a number of bonus tracks, which were B sides of the various singles. ‘War Song’ is pretty bland, though ‘I Radiate’ is another of the upbeat and catchy songs, and was the B side of the ‘Skin Deep’ 7” single. Perhaps the single would have fared better had they swapped the A and B sides. ‘(Don’t Talk To Me) I’m Shy’ was the B side to German Film Star and is a claustrophobic, experimental song that harkens back to their debut album.
The mastering on this CD issue is spotty but it does sound better than the early 90’s reissue on the Great Expectations label. All songs, with the exception of the B side ‘Some Fun’, were drawn from original studio master tapes; ‘Some Fun’ is from vinyl. Unfortunately, the excellent B side ‘I Radiate’ is in mono for some reason instead of stereo, as it is on the vinyl. Cherry Red had claimed for some time to be making an effort the re-release on CD The Passions’ other 2 albums, though it has not yet happened. I do hope it does eventually because their album Sanctuary is my favorite and deserves to be heard in its entirety. The Passions could have had a long and productive career had the public and their record label given them more than a fleeting opportunity. Their entire back catalog deserves to be re-released and re-discovered.
on 24 February 2015
I came across The Passions perform 'in love with a German Film star' on a recording from TOTP2 and had to have the CD. This album and the other tracks are excellent and I loved every track. I wish I had been more aware of The Passions in the 80's and bought the Albums then. I hope that more of their work is released soon on CD.
on 12 August 2015
Bought this year's ago on vinyl and loved it. Now have it on cd and still like it, but not as much. The passing of time has changed my tastes, slightly, but that's OK. There are still some beauties on here and no regrets.
on 31 December 2012
Like most people, it seems, I remember The Passions solely for their stately "I'm in Love with a German Film Star" single. And, like virtually everybody else, that's what aroused initially my interest with regard to this long awaited, rather low-key reissue of the band's second LP.
"German Film Star" is, obviously, a pivotal track - not just for The Passions, but for the early '80s post-punk era in general. Unfortunately, it's SO good that placing it at the front of the LP does the remaining songs an enormous disservice & was, on reflection, a unfortunate mistake. Though I don't remember them from 1980-81 (though I recall Smash Hits reviewing them!), the other singles here - "The Swimmer", "Skin Deep" are all almost as impressive, & the album as a whole is surprisingly free of filler. Personally, I tend to skip "German Film Star" nowadays (I've heard it so many times already!) & begin at track 2, the lovely "Someone Special" - the rest of the LP sounds near-perfect then.
Though 30,000 Feet Over China has been unfairly ignored in the 3 decades since it's original release, Cherry Red's exemplary reissue (including all of the contemporaneous b-sides, etc) will hopefully address that somewhat? It's undoubtedly a terrific LP - certainly far superior to anything The Cure (for instance) managed to contrive, prior to Pornography - & the more people that (finally) hear it now, the better...
My solitary (very minor) gripe is that the subsequent standalone "Africa Mine" 45 isn't included, though perhaps they've saving that for the (hint) Sanctuary / Cars Driven Fast remaster?
on 10 May 2009
Well, I hadn't heard this album for more than 20 years: I'm not sure what made me buy it this time round but the nostalgia nearly knocked me over. A lot of rubbish was foisted on us in the name of pop, back in the 80's but this is a masterclass in how it should have been done.
The music is founded on the gorgeous, clear and uncomplicated vocals of Barbara Gogan and Clive Timperley's dreamy, ringing echoplex guitar and is the sort of stuff you'd expect to be played at 2a.m. at the end of the party. The album's best known song, German Filmstar, is a prime example of the style although it's not the best on the abum. That distinction goes, in my opinion, to The Swimmer with its slow start leading into a cymbal & snare crescendo and joyful vocals.
I won't spend too much time on the other songs, but as another reviewer has mentioned, the album comes with extra helpings, including I Radiate and Some Fun, two outstanding pieces of "serious" pop music.
I can't recommend this highly enough but, if you're taking a trip down memory lane, make sure you have a nice comfy chair nearby cause you may need a sit down....
"I'm keeping my head above water, running with the tide, waiting for the next wave to take me for a ride"
on 27 September 2013
Fantastic collection but it is disappointing to note that the long since deleted single African Mine does not appear on here .Much better vocals than contemporaries such as Elizabeth Frazer ,Annie Lennox or Claire Grogan, not that I think that any of them were to be sniffed at .