The Members - 1980 The Choice Is Yours
After moderate success with their debut album At The Chelsea Nightclub in 1979 (a top 50 chart placing and a the hit single Sound Of The Suburbs), The Members set off on a 125 day long world tour. Upon their return to the studio in 1980 the scene had moved on, ska was on the way in and post punk was on the out, and it seemed that the Members had been left behind.
This re-release of 1980 The Choice Is Yours marks the first time that a lot of the tracks have been available on CD and if you own and love the original record it might be worth your money as it also includes 6 bonus tracks including a reworking of Rat Up A Drainpipe from their first album. However, the album itself is disappointing. Although more polished and slick than its predecessor, the grit and energy have disappeared to be replaced by, at times, completely over the top and cringe worthy (even for 1980!) production.
Gone is the character from lead singer Nicky Tesco's voice, gone are the moment capturing lyrics. It sounds like The Members have decided they needed to follow the trends and try to fit in in order to repair some of their commercial failures. The songs are more soulless and the ska vibe has been rammed on top as subtly as a quiz show host with a sledgehammer. It's no wonder that this was the album that caused the band to be dropped from their major label contract with virgin, it lacks a clear direction and focus. Whilst the songs aren't bad in their own right, there is nothing that really stands out and so you are left with a collection of aimless mediocrity.
The saving grace are the bonus tracks, Ballad Of John And Martin is a return to their earlier song style. Disco Oui Oui is an obvious mockery of then contemporary disco but grooves along powered by an irresistibly catchy funky bassline and tight disco beats culminating in a quirky synth led chorus which won't fail to make you smile. I think if The Members had chosen to record a disco album their history could have been quite different! Love In A Lift is also strangely uplifting and sounds a bit like it could have been recorded by a funked up Razorlight or similar. I would like to have seen an album taking the best bits of The Members' first and second LPs and including some of the singles, that would have been a CD worth owning.