Digging Your Scene: Synth-Pop & Sophisti-Pop by The Smooth Operators

Enjoy 'Digging your scene' by The Smooth Operators! Sophisticated pop is a smooth, jazzy style of mainstream pop/rock that first appeared during the mid-'80s. Sophisti-pop artists, like Sade and The Blow Monkeys, merged jazz-soul characteristics with their sound. About three decades later bands like Work Drugs and Capital Cities borrowed elements from that style to create something new. Sophisticated pop sounds best on lazy days when the weather is extremely hot.

"Sophistication" by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel is originally from 1986 and was produced by Harley and Mickie Most. Like much of Harley's output from the same period, the song was due to be released on Harley's solo album El Gran Senor. However, the album was shelved and left unreleased after RAK Records went bankrupt later in the year. Although many of the songs would later be re-recorded for Harley's 1992 album Yes You Can, "Sophistication" remained unreleased. Despite this, Harley frequently performed the song live during 1989, after Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel made a return to touring with the "Come Back, All is Forgiven" tour.

The song features Andrew Gold on keyboards. Harley later recalled in 2015:

"Andrew Gold plays that wonderful, jazzy piano all through the song. He was brilliant. And didn't take a penny for the session. He was working in a different RAK studio while I recorded "Sophistication"; he had a partnership with Graham Gouldman, called "Wax". I was talking to Andrew in the kitchen, and he told me Graham was mixing a track and that he, Andrew, found the whole mixing process boring so usually sits it out. I played him "Sophistication" and said I'd love to hear a New York, Gershwin-like piano part and solo in there. He jumped up, walked to the piano in our room and said, "roll the tape". I left him to play his way, and it was very New York, very Gershwin. He was simply brilliant; a musician's musician; faultless and brilliant. I treasure that moment, that afternoon working with him. Always have. It's a fantastic solo."

Enjoy! Next up is a new episode of Boombox.

Track listing:

Capital Cities – Swimming Pool Summer (2017)
Alan Gorrie – That Kinda Girl (1985)
Naked Eyes – Promises, Promises (1983)
Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (1984)
Prefab Sprout – Bonny (1988)
Ice Choir – Afar (2012)
Kissing The Pink – One Step (1986)
Aztec Camera – Oblivious (1983)
Scritti Politti – Absolute (1985)
The Radio Dept. – Can’t Be Guilty (2016)
China Crisis – Black Man Ray (1985)
The Camfonics – No Need To Be All Alone (2016)
Woman’s Hour – Conversations (2014)
Sade – Never As Good As The First Time (1985)
Curiosity Killed The Cat – Misfit (1986)
Savannah – I Can’t Turn You Away (1981)
Work Drugs – For The Year (2017)
Culture Club – Time (Clock of The Heart) (1982)
Bryan Ferry – Kiss And Tell (1987)
ABC – Valentine’s Day (1982)
The Blow Monkeys – Digging Your Scene [Eddy’s Efficient Edit] (1986)
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Sophistication (1986)
Talk Talk – Have You Heard The News (1982)
Ultravox – Reap The Wild Wind (1982)
The Lotus Eaters ‎– The First Picture Of You (1983)
Paul Carrack ‎– When You Walk In The Room (1987)
The Motels ‎– Only The Lonely (1982)
Halo James ‎– Baby (1990)
Human League – Life On Your Own (1984)
A Flock Of Seagulls ‎– Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) (1982)


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