Vivid (Parlophone CDR6514)
Chart Debut: 24th April 1999
Electronic are an odd little chapter in rock history, a sort of part-time supergroup formed by two people who never really seemed to want to be famous and never really seemed to have an identifiable image of their own. Even the name is odd - slightly bland and forgettable, but also misleading as a description of their sound. Amid all this confusion though, they managed to release a small but solid catalogue of recordings, and I don't think they ever released a bad single which isn't something I could comfortably say of either the Smiths or New Order.
Some of the singles were really very good indeed, and I realised gradually that their first one, 'Getting Away With It' was one of the best of recent(ish) years, but it's also a bit too obvious for these purposes. So instead we turn to what proved to be their last single: a follow-up ('Late At Night') was planned but ditched at the last minute. 'Vivid' is exactly the sort of hit that I wanted to write about here; at the time it can't only have been me buying it, but nobody ever seems to mention it now and it's certainly not the song that they're associated with now. Maybe it's not the sort of thing that people expected from the duo (as they definitely were by now - no big-name guests at this point in their career) but it's one that instantly appealed to me, thanks to Johnny Marr's insistent harmonica riff. Indeed, the song was apparently written mostly by Marr, who even fronted a demo version of the track before Bernard Sumner supplied the final lyrics and the lead vocal. In truth, those lyrics sound like a typical set of Sumnerisms, most notable for the fact that the words in each chorus are different, possibly not the most obvious commercial move to make. You could certainly make a case for them, but they do seem like the sort of thing he can write by the yard, and this is a record that grabs me more at a musical and performance level than a lyrical one, and I'd like to think he wouldn't mind me saying that.
Official website: Archived version. Try the unofficial Feel Every Beat instead.
YouTube if you want to: Actually, whether you want to or not the record company don't seem to want you to, but it is audible on Last.FM Or you can watch 'The Sweetness Lies Within' by Hefner, which has some of the same actors in it.
Where to get it: I listened back to the album Twisted Tenderness in preparation for writing this, and I must admit I still struggled to get into it, although it certainly has its moments; the version of 'Vivid' on there is a slightly longer and less tight edit. An expanded digital-only version includes several B-sides and remixes. The single cut is available as a download or on the Best-of Get The Message, with or without a DVD for those who really want to see the video.