Thomas Dolby has come to epitomize 1980s one-hit wonders alongside the likes of Kajagoogoo and Flock Of Seagulls. It’s a shame, really. As I’ve written before, his music has so much more to offer. So it’s with some reticence that I highlight his “one hit” which was released in late 1982, then offered up as an Extended Play at the beginning of 1983, and finally tacked on to subsequent releases of his 1982 debut album, The Golden Age Of Wireless.
Once again, I don’t have a hard and fast date for the release of the Blinded By Science EP, but I know it was January 1983, so January 31 seems as good a day as any. This EP is an oddity, in that it is basically just half of the updated Golden Age… record, but with all songs presented here as extended remixes of the album versions.
This EP is also responsible for the common misrepresentation of the song as “Blinded By Science,” which it never was. It’s always been “She Blinded Me With Science” and Blinded By Science is the name of the record. But that’s getting a bit pedantic.
A couple of months ago, I obtained a copy of this record on vinyl. The reason I wanted to include this title today is the quality of the mixes. Despite being a Dolby fan for decades and buying up every (digital) release I could get my hands on, I was unaware of this release since it never made it to CD. Granted, four out of the five tracks here were reissued as part of 12 x 12 – a Thomas Dolby remix retrospective that gathered twelve of his 12″ singles – but Blinded By Science remains a point of interest for both the version of “Airwaves” found here and, for the collector in me, the original 1983 pressing of the five songs together.
For my money, “She Blinded Me With Science” is the least interesting song on the record. That could be because it’s been played to death and because it is such a touchstone of 80s synthpop, but in general, I’ve always found every other track from Golden Age… to be more sophisticated both musically and lyrically. “One Of Our Submarines” is based on having an uncle who served on a submersible during World War II. “Windpower” and “Flying North” have a dreamy, almost psychedelic feel between the combination of music and lyrics.
The EP is a collector’s item, no doubt – in the sense that only a collector would be interested. It doesn’t have any rarity and all of the songs here can be found elsewhere – even the extended version of “Airwaves” presented here seems to show up on some copies of Golden Age… while the shorter version of the song shows up on others. Of course, it is interesting to me as a longtime fan of his music, but also as a snapshot of how the label chose to package the new single before appending it to his prior year’s release (which hadn’t made much of an impact at all until “…Science” was released). I’m not advocating that everyone go out and buy a copy today (even though you could probably find one in any decent record shop in the country), but if anyone reading this happens to attend Johns Hopkins, maybe you could ask Professor Dolby to sign my copy for me.