Bernard Sumner (left) and Johnny Marr (right) of Electronic
Electronic were an English alternative dance supergroup formed by New Order singer and guitarist Bernard Sumner and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. They co-wrote the majority of their output between 1989 and 1998,[a] collaborating with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, of Pet Shop Boys, on three tracks in their early years, and former Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos on nine songs in 1995.
The two first met in 1984 when the Smiths guitarist contributed to a Quando Quango track that Sumner was producing. Later in 1988, Sumner was frustrated because his New Order bandmates were not receptive to his desire to add synth programming to their music. He decided to produce a solo album but found that he did not enjoy working alone, so he called Marr for help.
Inspired by contemporary dance music like Italo house and acts such as Technotronic, their initial concept was to release white label records on Factory and remain an anonymous entity, in contrast to their considerable reputations with The Smiths and New Order. The track "Lucky Bag" and the name Electronic itself are two of the vestiges of this initial approach. In 1989, Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant suggested a collaboration when he heard of the budding partnership through sleeve designer Mark Farrow .
The fruits of this union became "Getting Away with It", Electronic's debut single which was released in December 1989 and sold around a quarter of a million copies. The drums on this record were played by ABC's David Palmer and the string arrangement was written by Anne Dudley. It was a Top 40 hit in America the following spring and they toured in support for Depeche Mode in August 1990. After this success, Sumner and Marr took a more commercial direction, blending synthesizers, guitars and analogue technology whilst retaining the template of contemporary alternative rock.
After a year of intensive recording (and eighteen months after "Getting Away with It"), the debut album Electronic was released to critical acclaim and domestic commercial success, featuring the Top 10 single "Get the Message" and another Top 40 single, "Feel Every Beat". The album sold over a million copies worldwide.
As well as its fusion with rock and pop, Electronic continued their interest in dance music by inviting DJs to remix their singles and album tracks; this was a trend that continued throughout their career. Prominent acts that worked on Electronic songs around this period include Danny Rampling, DNA, Dave Shaw and Quando Quango founder and Haçienda DJ Mike Pickering.
After the first album was released and promoted, Marr and Sumner recorded albums with The The and New Order respectively, regrouping with Neil Tennant in 1992 to record their fourth and highest-charting single "Disappointed".
Raise the Pressure
Electronic was resumed when these activities ended, and work began on the second album in late 1994. The core duo was joined by Karl Bartos, ex-percussionist and songwriter with Kraftwerk.
Raise the Pressure was released in July 1996 on the Parlophone label in the UK and Warner Bros. Like its predecessor it fused dance music with a guitar-led approach, but some reviewers felt its production was too rich and distracted from the songs. The album spawned two guitar oriented singles, "Forbidden City" [UK #14] and "For You" [UK #16], with the dancier "Second Nature" issued in February 1997 and reaching UK #35.
Electronic did not promote Raise the Pressure with a tour, although they performed its singles live on television shows including Top of the Pops and TFI Friday. Instead, they chose to swiftly record their third album. This was to be a reaction to the length of time they spent producing Raise the Pressure, with an emphasis on writing and demoing songs quickly before recording them. Marr and Sumner were joined by Doves bassist Jimi Goodwin and Black Grape drummer Ged Lynch, and together they made the album Twisted Tenderness as a more conventional four-piece group. The album did not return the group to their early nineties levels of popularity but was well received by critics.
Neither Sumner nor Marr has gone on record with any formal dissolution of the band despite both having moved on to other projects. However, in 2003 Marr did agree that the band had reached "its natural conclusion" and was happy with the way it ended on a positive note. Sumner recorded with New Order again and in 2009 formed a new band - Bad Lieutenant. Marr has since worked with many acts, including The Healers, Pet Shop Boys, The Cribs and Modest Mouse. Marr and Sumner played with the Doves for the Manchester v Cancer charity concert of January 2006 and the compilation album Get the Message - The Best of was released that September to mild promotion and sales [UK #194]. In July 2013 Sumner joined Marr at Jodrell Bank to perform "Getting Away With It". Marr was supporting for New Order, performing songs from his career.
- Bernard Sumner - vocals, guitar, keyboards (1988-1999)
- Johnny Marr - guitar, vocals, keyboards (1988-1999)
- Neil Tennant - vocals, keyboards, guitar (1989-1994)
- Karl Bartos - percussion, synthesizers, vocals (1995)
- Jimi Goodwin - bass, vocals, guitar, keyboards (1999)
- Ged Lynch - drums, percussion (1999)
|Year||Title||Chart positions|| Certifications|
|1996|| Raise the Pressure
|1999|| Twisted Tenderness
|2006|| Get the Message – The Best of Electronic
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
||U.S. Hot 100
||U.S. Club Play
||U.S. Dance Sales
||US Modern Rock |
|1989||"Getting Away with It"||Electronic||12||–||–||–||–||–||40||32||38||7||13||4|
|1991||"Get the Message"||8||–||60||37||–||–||–||–||–||8||15||1|
|"Tighten Up" (promo)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||6|
|"Feel Every Beat"||39||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||28||–||27|
|1992||"Disappointed"||Songs from the Cool World||6||17||77||20||23||14||–||–||–||10||6||9|
|1996||"Forbidden City"||Raise the Pressure||14||–||–||–||–||31||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Until the End of Time" (promo)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1999||"Prodigal Son" (promo)||Twisted Tenderness||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Make It Happen" (promo)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Late at Night" (withdrawn)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
|1989||"Getting Away with It"||Chris Marker|
|1990||"Getting Away with It" (US Version)||Greg Copeland and Judith Briant|
|1991||"Get the Message"||Gunther Deichman|
|"Feel Every Beat"||Peter Scammell|
|1996||"Forbidden City"||Tom Merriton|
|"For You"||Richard Heslop|
|"Late at Night"||Jason Smith|
|"Late at Night" (Version 2)||Jason Smith|
- a. ^ Twisted Tenderness was finished by late 1998; the earliest promotional copies were released the following February.
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