Instructions – s/t (1982, Radio/WEA)

Once upon a time, possibly the late ’80s I threw a buck at the cassette version of this album in a cut out bin.  At the time I deemed it a wee bit left-field for my tastes and chalked it up as a loss.  More recently I came across another cut out incarnation of Instructions, this time on vinyl, and whadda ya know, it actually clicked with me a full quarter of a century later.  If you’re looking for point by point factoids on Instructions apparently lone release, What is Frank Listening To has all the particulars mapped out, even going so far as to offer song-by-song critiques.  Problem is you can’t hear much of the music.  That’s where we come in.

Yes, this is synth pop.  Nothing too heavy handed mind you.  The aforementioned link suggests similarities to Gary Numan and DEVO (among others) but there’s little here that’s as robotically rigid as the former, or as sardonic as the flower pot donning mofo’s from Akron.  Instructions wielded a decent array of hooks when it suited them – subtly on the smooth “Ha Ha Ha,” and more vividly on the beefier “Wicked Heart” and “The Extra.”  The What is Frank… review mentions that members of Instructions formerly dedicated themselves to decidedly safer, more mainstream endeavors before plunging into the de regour “wave” onslaught of the ’80s, though personally I wouldn’t submit that as a foregone conclusion.

I should mention that a quote on the back cover arouses a bit of an enigma:  “the fleshtones would like to express their gratitude to the many machines which made this project possible.”  A scan of the Instructions personnel reveals there is no crossover whatsoever with the band The Fleshtones so I’m thoroughly stumped as to what that blurb actually pertains to.  Lead Instructor Owen Smith is apparently not using an assumed name, as there is linkage between him and Instructions on multiple online sources.  Furthermore these folks hailed from Canada, whereas the Fleshtones were products of New York.  Anyway, if you can get past this unresolved triviality, you’ve got a decent little artifact on your hands.

01. Wicked Heart
02. So You Learn From Computers
03. Don’t Say Love
04. Suburban Dream
05. Ha Ha Ha
06. The Factory
07. The Extra
08. Naked Deer
09. Cleek
10. Ok

Articles Origin: Instructions – s/t (1982, Radio/WEA)


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