This was inspired by occasional guest contibutor and regular commentator, FlimFlanFan, who in passing mentioned that he was a huge fan of Fad Gadget.
For those otherwise unfamilar, Fad Gadget was, initially, the stage name of the late Frank Tovey (8 September 1956 – 3 April 2002), one of the pioneers of electonica here in the UK. He wasn’t one who ever chased commercial success at any point in his career but he was namechecked by almost everyone who was anyone in the genre over the ensuing decades.
In 1979, Fad Gadget became the first (outside of label founder Daniel Miller) to release a single on Mute Records. He would be part of the label for the rest of his life, at no time ever being under the threat of being dropped. From 1984 onwards, he recorded under his own name. Anyone who happened to catch Depeche Mode on stage at various times could have chanced upon Fad/Frank as he occasionally went on tour as the support act. His death was caused by a heart attack, at the age of 45, which ultimately was no surprise as he had suffered from heart problems from a very early age.
I don’t actually have much in the way of Fad Gadget songs in the collection, although I know a lot of his material as a former flatmate from student days was a huge fan. One of my favourites, and it was the one mentioned by flimflanfan, was Ricky’s Hand, the second single recorded for Mute Records in 1980.
It actually has a substantial wiki page devoted to it:-
“Ricky’s Hand” is a song by Fad Gadget, released as a single in 1980. It was the second Fad Gadget single, following “Back to Nature” the previous year. The track was not included on any studio album, predating a debut LP by several months, but does appear on several compilations. Mute Records founder Daniel Miller collaborated on the writing, playing and production.
Lyrically the song was a sardonic cautionary tale on the perils of drink driving: “From the pocket it pulled five pound / Ricky bought another round… Ricky contravened the highway code / The hand lies severed at the side of the road”. The cover of the original vinyl single showed the hand in question being burnt by drops of beer in the fashion of a corrosive warning symbol.
The music was in a predominantly industrial style with an insistent electronic beat. A plaintive motif opened the track and recurred during the chorus, occasionally augmented by a distinctive ‘choir girl effect’, as it was described in the credits. An electric drill was also listed among the instruments; it can heard on the recording punctuating each mention of the song’s title.
Great stuff, even if I say so myself and nobody other than FFF agrees!