Rockists who tried synth-pop?
April 4, 2012 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Which artists had an uncharacteristic attempt at synthpop/electronica in the 70s/80s?

I know of Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Paul McCartney. Did any other big names throw a synth track deep into their late 70s/early 80s albums? I'm not worried if it wasn't a successful experiment but definitely don't want artists that specialized in synth music.
posted by meech to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Lou Reed
posted by Bobby Bittman at 5:25 AM on April 4, 2012

Alice Cooper
posted by Lucinda at 5:42 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Alice Cooper's "Clones (We're All)" and Flush the Fashion

Ian Anderson's Walk into Light

...are a few of the more dedicated attempts that come to mind.
posted by bendybendy at 5:46 AM on April 4, 2012

Neil Young's Trans album, maybe?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:15 AM on April 4, 2012

Herbie Hancock.
posted by workerant at 6:18 AM on April 4, 2012

I was going to say Neil Young, but there are many more
posted by eustatic at 6:21 AM on April 4, 2012

The Beach Boys
posted by hydrophonic at 6:34 AM on April 4, 2012

"Born In The USA" is pretty synthy, no? "Tunnel Of Love" is dripping with drum machines, too.
posted by littlerobothead at 6:38 AM on April 4, 2012

Robert Palmer, Looking for Clues
posted by BobbyVan at 6:43 AM on April 4, 2012

To some extent, Yes did this on their "90125" album.
posted by davebush at 6:56 AM on April 4, 2012

Does Kiss' pitiful attempt at disco count?
posted by COD at 7:13 AM on April 4, 2012

It's neither somebody who wasn't synthy sometimes, or 70s/80s (it's mid 90s) but I always thought David Bowie's forays into drum and bass were quite strange in his context anyway.
posted by solarion at 7:32 AM on April 4, 2012

Edgar Winter's 'Frankenstein'? It's not Klaus Schulze or somebody, but it's got a lot of synth in it.

And if you're taking Herbie Hancock, you might also consider Stevie Wonder.
posted by box at 7:59 AM on April 4, 2012

I suppose "uncharacteristic" kinda depends on what you make of all the synth experiments that showed up on The Who's 70s era albums, but I'd add Townshend's 1980 solo hit to your list.
posted by 5Q7 at 8:37 AM on April 4, 2012

Box: And if you're taking Herbie Hancock, you might also consider Stevie Wonder.

I just watched an incredible documentary about how/why that happened. In which the biggest synthesizer in the world befriends Mark Mothersbaugh after helping to bring about "Music of My Mind", "Talking Book", "Innervisions" and "Fulfillingness' First Finale"! It was tragic, yet heartwarming.

I guess I'd make an argument for Van Halen's "Jump," 1984. In'nerestin' question: psychedelic grody hard-rockin bands late '60s thru the '70s so often had keys ... then wha??? Synths replaced b3s and clavs and the guitar players were all "OH HELLZ NOOOOOO!!1!"?
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:21 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

George Harrison - I've Got My Mind Set on You
The poor man..
posted by obscurator at 9:56 AM on April 4, 2012

Queen's "Hot Space" was plenty uncharacteristic.
posted by monospace at 10:00 AM on April 4, 2012

Sparks. They asked Giorgio Moroder to produce their Number One in Heaven album after they fell in love with the sound of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love."
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:15 AM on April 4, 2012

I just listened to The Ramones Howling at the Moon the other day and forgot how many keyboards are in it. And how freakin fantastic it is. Are you sure that’s enough snare? Dee Dee!
posted by bongo_x at 11:31 AM on April 4, 2012

David Bowie's Low, which synthesized a lot of European electronica (specifically Neu! and Kraftwerk) and brought it to the ears of the masses.
posted by nicktf at 12:37 PM on April 4, 2012

Cheap Trick, Mighty Wings
posted by BobbyVan at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2012


I remembered another one that sort of fits, which is at some point after 1974, the very grody, psychedelic guitar-driven sound of Funkadelic was subsumed by the sassy synth-driven sashay of Parliament; the path which led to the ultimate party moment of the eighties!

Now I'm listening to More Bounce to the Ounce.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:51 AM on April 7, 2012

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