When Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner got together to form Electronic in 1989 some wondered whether two leading elements from Britain's two biggest independent bands of the Eighties (The Smiths and New Order, respectively) could integrate enough to establish a new sound. Their debut single "Getting Away With It", dispelled any doubts. Released on December 4th 1989, it occupied the top end of the UK charts for the whole of the Christmas period and beyond, whilst in the USA, Radio spontaneously embraced the track, with it subsequently reaching the Billboard Top 40, despite their being no album. By the time their debut album "Electronic" was released in the late summer of 1990, leading UK journalists hailed it "the unreachable pop triumph of the age" and "a finely judged blend of winsome pop and vigorous dance beats."
Four years later, and after a most successful interim single "Disappointed" (not on their debut album, and featuring Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys on vocal) sees them releasing their follow up album "Raise The Pressure" released on July 8th 1996 with the single "Forbidden City". "Forbidden City" is one of several tracks on the album co-written between Johnny, Bernard, and Karl Bartos (ex Kraftwork). The bulk of the album was recorded throughout 1995 in a variety of British studios. Produced by Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner, and engineered by Jim Spencer the album also features the backing vocal of Denise Johnson, who also appeared on the first album ("Get The Message") and drumming of Ged Lynch (who also plays with Manchester's Black Grape). Most of the ides and framework of the songs were laid down at Johnny Marr's Manchester Studio, with the guys preferring to overdub and mix down elsewhere; e.g. Real World Studios. "Raise The Pressure" surpasses the first album in every respect, the songs, that voice, and the guitarist who, without a doubt, inspired a generation.
Twisted Tenderness, realesed 1n 1999 the third album by Marr and Bernard Sumner as Electronic, is a record that's going to make a lot of people go 'yes!' If Neil Young had given up on the ill fated vocoder experiments of 'Trans', and started a headline grabbing romance with mid eighties electro soul diva Sharon Redd instead, Twisted Tenderness is the child they might have raised together, with Arthur Baker as furry Godfather. This record sounds free, not just of the prevailing anxieties that currently surround the music industry, but also of the burden of expectation which has been such a factor in Johnny and Bernard's previous collaborations. "Because of the weight of our past - which I should add we're both fiercely proud of - we've always been aware of a magnifying glass upon us", Marr explains. " So in turn we tended to put a magnifying glass on what we did, to make sure that it was perfect. The problem with perfect music is, it tends to be boring". The vitality of the album reflects a drastically speeded up production process. Where previously Electronic's working method was "to chip away together diligently for about eight years", this time they'd get together only when they had a song more or less ready. Marr wrote everything he did on guitar and then put the technology on top "rather than the other way round".
"Sometimes we find ourselves looking for something new. We stand outside ourselves, not knowing quite what we should do". No one ever taught Bernard Sumner's lyrics at GCSE, but 'Twisted Tenderness' first verse, a minute and a half into 'Make it Happen's invigorating clank and grind overture, cuts to the heart of what Electronic's music is all about. "I am a fraction, part of a broken man". In spite of New Order and The Smiths being so different, we both made music which was quite emotional and when we work together and get it right", he stops for a moment to find the right word, "it's spirited". The guitar break in 'When She's Gone', the irresistible title track, the harmonicas that spring like steel traps: these are just a few of the things which raise Twisted Tenderness head and shoulder above some of 1999's more loudly trumpeted returns. It shimmers, it startles and on occasions it rocks like a beast.