VOD124 RATIONAL YOUTH Cold War Night Life 1981-1984 5Lp w. Booklet

One of Canada’s first synth-pop groups, Rational Youth was formed in the summer of 1981 by Tracy Howe (The Normals, Men Without Hats, Heaven Seventeen) and Bill Vorn (U, Sacred Noise).

Inspired by the influential Kraut-rock band Kraftwerk, they set out to create their own brand of modern electronic music. Within months of their first meeting, Tracy and Bill, along with Mario Spezza, recorded and released their first 12” single “I Want To SeeThe Light” b/w “Coboloid Race” on the newly formed YUL Records imprint.

With the release of their second single, Cite Phosphore, and a handful of high profile opening shows, Rational Youth’s new electronic sound paved the way in expanding Montreal’s local new wave scene on the radio and in discos. Encouraged by the local reaction, Bill and Tracy soon started work on their debut LP “Cold War Night Life”, and enlisted YUL Records partner and producer Pat Deserio, already well known for his production and musical output as Kebekelektrik, Dogs Of War and Bombers.

During the recording sessions of Cold War Night Life, Bill and Tracy were joined by another synthesizer player, Kevin Komoda, who had already played and done sessions for Pat Deserio and other local bands like The Blueprints & Action Men On Assignment. When Cold War Night Life was issued in early 1982, it was the first all-synthesizer release in Canada and became one of the biggest selling Canadian independent LPs. The album was also released in Europe, where songs like “Dancing On The Berlin Wall” and “Saturdays In Silesia” became club favourites and still remain so to this day. By the end of 1982, Bill Vorn had left the band to further pursue his studies in communications and experiments in robotics.

In 1983, Tracy and Kevin decided to move forward, taking the band in a more rock direction and adding bass player Denis Duran and drummer Angel Calvo. A subsequent cross-Canada tour led them to being signed by Capitol Records, and the quartet recorded a self-titled 5 song mini-LP in 1983, also produced by YUL Records’ Pat Deserio. Even with real drums and bass added, there were still layers of synths and guest musicians from the local scene including Roman Martyn, who once played with Howe in their post-punk group Heaven Seventeen.

By 1984, with Tracy Howe as the sole remaining member, Capitol Records extended an offer to record a full length LP, which became “Heredity”, released in March 1985. Produced by Dee Long (Klaatu), “Heredity”, although distanced from the original pure synthesizer vision started in 1981, the LP showcased Howe’s ability to write and create crafted pop songs like “No More And No Less”, and also revived his Heaven Seventeen punk anthem “I’ve Got A Sister In The Navy”.

Within the 10+ years that Howe put Rational Youth on indefinite hiatus, their early vinyl recordings (1981-1982) became much sought after collector items, and had been re-branded as “minimal-synth”. A growing fan base and the power of internet finally led to Cold War Night Life being re-released on CD in 1997. This re-release, in conjunction with EMI Music Canada and October Records in Sweden, led to an official reunion with Bill Vorn with a legendary 1997 concert held in Lund, Sweden.

Excited by the renewed public interest in Rational Youth, Tracy had hoped that Bill would join him in resuming the band's recording and performance activities. Unfortunately, the time constraints associated with Bill's academic and electronic art endeavours would not permit this, so with Bill's blessing and support, Howe recruited Jean-Claude Cutz and Dave Rout for tours and recording. At the encouragement of October Records label boss, Dennis Berggren, this new trio recorded and released “To The Goddess Electricity” in 1999, to much critical acclaim.

In 2009, it was a chance meeting between Bill Vorn and YUL Records boss and former Rational Youth manager Marc Demouy, which led to the welcome reconciliation between Tracy Howe and Demouy. Their meeting sparked the idea of re-recording and releasing “Dancing On The Berlin Wall”, since it was never an official single, and would commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The CD EP was officially released in 2010 on YUL Records, and was mixed by Jean-Pierre Isaac, known for his work with Mitsou and Les BB.

By the mid-summer of 2011, YUL Records boss Marc Demouy tracked Kevin down and became the catalyst in reuniting the original Cold War Night Life trio. The Cold War Night Life trio re-worked Rational Youth’s first 12” single “I Want To See The Light” and “Coboloid Race” in time for it’s 30th anniversary, and added the extra surprise of adding alternate mixes from the 1981 sessions which were recently uncovered.

Coincidentally, almost 30 years later to the day that Rational Youth were touring across Canada, Kevin Komoda found two Rational Youth live cassettes as well as a box full of Rational Youth negatives and other memorabilia. The initial idea was to release these shows on cassette only as a limited edition collector’s item, but the news of these live tapes quickly spread and sparked a renewed interest in Rational Youth. What was supposed be, and still is, a limited edition cassette release soon transformed itself into a 3 CD set with rarities, a 5 LP plus 7” box set as presented here on VOD-Records, and now, a Spring Tour in Scandinavia in Sweden, where the band have an enthusiastic and loyal following. Tracy Howe and Kevin Komoda are now assembling a band with the possibilities of shows in Montreal and Toronto before heading across the Atlantic in 2014. Taken and slightly edited from http://www.rationalyouth.ca/

The 5Lp (w. Bonus 7" for members/subscribers) provides an almost complete overview of their works from 1981-1984

A1    Close To Nature    00:04:40
A2    Beware The Fly    00:04:05
A3    Saturdays In Silesia    00:04:14
A4    Just A Sound In The Night    00:05:07
B1    Le Meilleur Des Mondes    00:03:14
B2    Ring The Bells    00:05:13
B3    City of Night    00:04:03
B4    Dancing On The Berlin Wall    00:04:34

LP 2:   YUL RECORDS 1981-1983
A1    I Want To See The Light    00:04:23
A2    Coboloid Race    00:05:21
A3    Cite Phosphore    00:04:11
A4    Le Meilleur Des Mondes (7" version)    00:03:30
A5    City Of Night (Danse Mix)    00:07:31
B1    Saturdays In Silesia (7" remix)    00:04:10
B2    City Of Night (Original 1982 mix, unreleased)    00:04:12
B3    Power Zone    00:03:40
B4    Saturdays In Silesia (12" Extended Mix)    00:07:18
B5    Dancing On The Berlin Wall (Illegal Rams Horn Remix)    00:05:40
B6    Pile ou face    00:02:37


A1    Bill Vorn    Intro (CInema V Show Intro) 0:00:57  (1981 Cinema V show intro)    00:00:57
A2    Saturdays In Silesia (1981 demo)    00:04:29
A3    Just A Sound In The Night (1981 demo)    00:05:52
A4    Dancing On The Berlin Wall (1981 demo version         00:03:18
A5    Tracy Howe & Kevin Komoda    Affection Theme    00:03:28
A6    Bill Vorn    Arcade    00:02:08
A7    Kevin Komoda    Lakeshore Drive    00:04:02
B1    City Of Night (7" unreleased radio mono mix)    00:03:55
B2    In Your Eyes 1983 demo mix 1)    00:02:52
B3    Holiday In Bangkok (1983 demo mix)    00:05:36
B4    Intro / Le Meilleur Des Mondes (Ottawa Live 1983)    00:02:47
B5    In Your Eyes (Ottawa Live 1983)    00:02:50
B6    City of Night (Ottawa Live 1983)    00:06:27
B7    Bill Vorn    Outro (CInema V Show Intro)  01:00:03

A1    Nothing Left To Say    00:03:00
A2    Just A Sound In The Night    00:04:35
A3    I Want To see The Light    00:05:22
A4    Beware The Fly    00:03:55
A5    Ring The Bells    00:05:05
A6    Before The Flood    00:03:42
A7    Man In Grey    00:03:24
B1    Dancing On The Berlin Wall    00:04:03
B2    Holiday In Bangkok    00:05:55
B3    Saturdays In Silesia    00:04:53
B4    Pile Ou Face    00:03:51
B5    Latin Lovers    00:05:31
B6    Close To Nature    00:04:06

A1    In Your Eyes    00:02:51
A2    Just A Sound In The Night (1983)    00:03:49
A3    Latin Lovers    00:04:03
A4    Holiday In Bangkok    00:05:30
A5    The Man In Grey    00:03:22
A6    In Your Eyes (Extended)    00:05:19
B1    Hot Streets    00:03:02
B2    I've Got A Sister In The Navy (1984 Alternate Mix)    00:03:41
B3    No More No Less (Unreleased Extended Paul Northfield Mix)    00:06:25
B4    Freeze (LP version)    00:04:59
B5    Heredity (LP version)    00:04:15
B6    Close To Nature (1984 unreleased ESP Mix)    00:04:16

A1    I Want To See The Light 1981 Alternate Mix)    00:04:27
A2    Coboloid Race (1981 Alternate Mix)    00:05:15
59,00 € incl. MwSt plus shipping