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Sep 12

Modern English: “Hands Across the Sea”

Modern English -- Ricochet Days

Driven to abstraction.

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Over the weekend, I was going through a series of compilation CDs that I created back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, made up of assorted songs from vinyl albums that I no longer listened to but from which there were individual songs I wanted to keep. So I would transfer the songs I liked to CD on my Pioneer stereo-component CD recorder (I didn’t yet have a USB turntable like I do now, which makes the digitizing process much easier) and then I’d sell the album on Ebay. I did this over the course of about 8 CDs worth of songs, at which point my vinyl selling sort of petered out. I haven’t done any since and still have most of my records.

So this weekend I was taking these CDs — which as it turns out don’t have very good physical longevity compared to digitizing the music directly to computer and then burning it onto disc — and ripping them to my computer before they became unplayable. And in the process, I rediscovered a bunch of songs that I haven’t listened to in a long time. And mostly, I’m still glad I kept the ones I did, because they’re just great songs, plain and simple. So in the coming weeks, I’ll probably be pulling out songs from these CDs for Reselect. Like today…

Everyone and their grandfather knows Modern English for one song, and one song only: “Melt with You.” And for good reason — it’s a great song. But with any great one-hit-wonder type song looms the likely specter of being vastly overplayed, and “Melt with You” most certainly is. On the radio, at public events, and in movie/TV soundtracks. And for me at least, it has sort of become background wallpaper, which is unfortunate. It lost its ability to affect me very much sometime after the 5,000th time I heard it.

So for all of you who are in this same boat and really don’t know anything else by Modern English, I offer you this excellent song, “Hands Across the Sea,” from their generally quite good 1984 album, Ricochet Days. Of course you true Modern English fans (of which I don’t really consider myself one) will know this, but for most other people, I doubt you’d have heard it much in recent years — I haven’t. It’s the best song on the album, and even when I first got the album back in college, I found “Hands Across the Sea” to be even better than “Melt with You”: it’s more textured and subtle, not quite forcing itself upon you the way that “Melt with You” does. But the melody is beautiful, and the harmonies of the chorus are perfect. Lyrically, it doesn’t vary much from the “Melt with You” sentiment, the “stick with me, we’ll be great together” sort of thing. But no matter, it’s a song that transports me back in time to what was (little did I know then) an easier time in my life, and even if you are only discovering the song now, it certainly still has the power to carry the listener to another frame of mind (hopefully a better one, natch). Enjoy.

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