JE 36308 Flex
Produced by Lene Lovich, Les Chappell, Roger Bechirian, Alan Winstanley
Released on February 1980
UK CHART POSITION #19 . . . US CHART POSITION #94
Find it at GEMM
JE 36308 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

T he very smart second album was (and remains) a disappointment to me. Flex is creatively conceived, wonderfully produced, expertly played and still it’s something of a bore. In many ways, Flex reminds me of Elvis Costello’s second album: tightly compressed and too idiosyncratic. Lene’s voice is over the top all of the time, and the backing voices (for the life of me) sound like the wicked witch’s guards from The Wizard of Oz. Too bad they were so intent on pushing so many buttons at once, because some of the material is really terrific. You can champion tracks like “Angels,” “Bird Song” and “The Freeze” because they’re unflinchingly intelligent, but recalling them is another matter. After all these years, “The Night” and “What Will I Do Without You” are the only songs I can remember (I can remember half of Stateless). Her first album had warm passages that embraced me; the icy and remote regions of Flex are far more foreboding. I’ve had the same reaction to the music of Madness and Devo, two bands who also seemed to subvert their own salability by making scary, overcomplicated music. Maybe that’s the key to Flex’ flaws: it needn’t have been this complicated. Nina Hagen and Kate Bush (the two artists most alike to Lene) had remarkable voices and reached notes that were alien to listeners. Lene Lovich never had that kind of voice and so she contrived to make it sound alien all of the time, which is distracting as often as not. So you have a lead vocalist trying to sound strange, backing vocalists trying to sound strange, producers trying to create a strange and new environment for all of this strangeness, and the results are strangely unsatisfying. Some people really like this record; presumably those for whom a Nico Hagen hybrid is attractive.

TRACK LISTING

  1. BIRD SONG    4:27
  2. WHAT WILL I DO WITHOUT YOU    (Chris Judge-Smith)    3:35
  3. ANGELS    3:08
  4. THE NIGHT    (Bob Gaudio/Al Ruzicha)    4:31
  5. YOU CAN'T KILL ME    (Chris Judge-Smith)    3:45
  6. EGG HEAD    2:26
  7. WONDERFUL ONE    4:28
  8. MONKEY TALK    3:20
  9. JOAN    3:18
  10. THE FREEZE    4:40

    FLEX... PLUS reissue bonus tracks
  11. NEW TOY
  12. SAVAGES
  13. SPECIAL STAR
  14. NEVER NEVER LAND
  15. CATS AWAY
  16. DETAILS
  17. IT'S YOU, ONLY YOU
  18. BLUE HOTEL

    Tracks 1-10 written by Lene Lovich/Les Chappell unless noted

CREDITS

LENE LOVICH -- voices, saxophones
LES CHAPPELL -- guitars, synthesizers, other voices
MARK HAYWARD-CHAPLIN -- bass, additional voices
JUSTIN HILDRETH -- drums, additional voices
DEAN KLEVATT -- keyboards, additional voices
NICK PLYTAS -- keyboards
Roger Bechirian -- additional voices
Chris Judge-Smith -- additional voices
Peter Bord -- engineer
C-More-Tone -- cover art
Brian Griffin -- photographs

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/GER February 1980 Stiff LP SEEZ-19 picture sleeve
US February 1980 Stiff/Epic LP/CS JE/PET 36308 picture sleeve
AUSL 1980 Stiff LP L-37076  
JPN 1980 Stiff/Victor LP VIP-6713  
GER 1991 Line CD LICD9.01071O  
US September 1991 Rhino CDX/CSX R2/R4-70521 w. bonus tracks as FLEX... PLUS

 

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