RIP Pete Burns when I started collecting vinyl in the early 2000s Dead or Alive I pleased to say I have collected the most all the singles most of the LPs and import CDs (he had a massive following in Japan).
I am pleased that the ultimate DOA compilation is coming out at the end of this month Sophisticated Boom Box and 19 disc compilation of all their albums, one live album, 1987 live show, promo videos and more. If you going to make a song that is remember over 30 years later that is achievement.
To celebrate Pete Burns and DOA with their floor stomping disco music to their proto-goth early years I am going go through a Top 15 DOA List with notable additional mentions (and probably a blog too) so here goes. .
DEAD OR ALIVE TOP 15 TRACKS
1. Dead or Alive – Flowers – 1980
If people like Punk with a little mix of Goth this is a good place to start is 1980 and Pete and his band “Nightmares in Wax” were big on the underground Liverpool with many singles already under their belt this raw live performance from Pete shows something that is more akin to the “The Doors” and “The Cure”
2. Dead or Alive – I’d Do Anything 1983
DOA released their first album under the new wave producer Zeus B.Held and this single “I’d Do Anything” is still “dark” DOA with progressive lyrics and interesting vocal range from Burns and the dash of electronic synth this a well packaged single.
3. Dead or Alive – That’s The Way (I Like It) – 1983
I nice cover from DOA and a minor hit on their first album with the androgyny being both in the Punk and New Romantic scene coming into the forefront of music then Burns came lapping up the lyrics with a fun video to boot.
4. Dead or Alive – Something In My House – 1987
DOA by their third album “Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know” knew how to create dance music, with fast beats, repetitive synths and lick of a guitar here and there this little gem was created. I like the video to it really tells the story of the song with striking black and photography.
5. Dead or Alive – Rebel Rebel – 1994
DOA and of other bands had been “children” of the creationist era of music the children who heard Bowie and other strange characters they grew up and created their own images, sounds and shapes. I find it fitting that Burns done a cover of Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” they lyrics seem very fitting to the man himself who was always pushing the boundaries.
6. Dead or Alive – Your Sweetness Is Your Weakness – 1991
DOA went in a different direction in the early 90s releasing “Fan The Flame Part 1” a lighter direction in turns of Hi-NRG and tone from the previous albums which was more ballad driven in many ways and many songs about love, loss and melancholy. This song is very different in all those areas focusing on Burn’s range with shot in amazing black and white (an interesting medium in its own right).
7. Dead or Alive – My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me to the Doctor) 1985
This single is from the “Youthquake” album which had that well know hit Another single was this one with fast synths, memorable lyrics and Burn’s powerful vocals make this an interesting single and the start of DOA’s journey into dance music.
8. Dead or Alive – Whirlpool – 1982
With its raw vocals from Burns, echoing instrumentals and immersive lyrics that capture the feeling of going “down” into the “whirlpool” this was the more experimental period of the DOA tenure still with punk roots well embedded in this moody single.
9. Dead or Alive – Misty Circles – 1983
With a firm mixture of dance tracks on their first album there was also some “darker” singles embedded this being one of them with moody lyrics, sound instrumentals and a flamboyant Pete sporting dreads, a large hat and colourful clothes this a nice a slice of New Wave.
10. Dead or Alive – Number Eleven – 1981
With its chanting choruses, organ piano and rambling echoing lyrics this was again the early days of DOA with their proto-Goth and Punk side that maybe not a lot of people do not know about this one I like with its group vocals weaving in and out of instrumentals creating a very dream-like atmosphere.
11. Dead or Alive – Nukleopatra – 1995
This song is a nice blend of humourous lyrics with a bit of trance tempo through into the mix something that is quite refreshing when listening to this song of how differing DOA’s back catalogue is.
12. Dead or Alive – Son of a Gun – 1987
This song is a mix of melody, beats and of course repetition. The lyrics are tongue and cheek something that Burn’s would do more frequently in the stock of his songs towards the end of the eighties. A real gem of a dance track.
13. Dead or Alive – The Stranger – 1981
We are going back to the early years again with this soulful haunting piece with an abpt title. The arrangements in this song a much akin to early DOA something which I realise listening the tone in the early years is darker, brooding, echoey and dream-like while the latter years are lighter, camper and brighter. So maybe unique thing about DOA is the slow shift from 1983 onwards to more techno dance tracks.
14. Dead or Alive – Nowhere To Nowhere – 1980
Rambling lyrics, setting a story with power and again powerful vocals from Burns. The organic arrangement of the instrumentals as stated below gives a tone which is differing DOA and lyrics go together well in this arrangement.
15. Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
I have decided to do a compact Top 15 with notable mentions as additions this goes without saying as firstly DOA’s well know song and secondly a dam good dance track with a quirky video, fantastic chorus, punchy lyrics and memorable instrumentals that goud you onto the dance floor 30 years on and it still a powerful fun track so here goes.
- The Peel Sessions 1981
- The Peel Sessions 1982
- I’m Falling Single 1980
- It’s Been Hours Now Single 1980
Pete Burns was a one off and his image and music will continue his legacy will be an well versed and diverse catalogue of music differing in tone, genre, melody and contrast depending on what era you choose and that is how to remember him through the legacy of music that is being shared.
Paul Isaacs 2016