Your Spectrum
Issue 2, March 1984 - Smash Software
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Before the cassette tape there was the record, and those who've been following recent software trends - as opposed to Duran Duran - may have noticed a relationship springing up between the two.
So much so in fact that many of the major music publishing companies launched computer-related products in the summer of '83, in the hope of latching on to what they saw as 'micro mania'. EMI released a single by Chris Seivey complete with a B-side program you could pump into your ZX81, and Island Records countered with an LP by ex-Buzzcock, Pete Shelley, called XL1. The success (or otherwise) of these records from the point of view of their including a computer program is, according to the respective companies, rather difficult to assimilate. However, Chris Seivey has announced plans to write the programming material for B-sides of other 'name' recording artists, and Pete Shelley is back in front of a computer monitor as well as a microphone - so the feedback couldn't have been that bad.
Indeed, even rock-regurgitator Shakin' Stevens has included a Spectrum program on his latest album. Written by a rather well-known software house, it's difficult to say whether this was purely for the sake of gimmickry - but it's possible to suspect so.
In the forefront of this combination of music and computer technology remain Mainframe, a band from Hemel Hempstead. Lead by John Molloy and Murray Munro, Mainframe produced a single, complete with a program for the Apple computer, as far back as October 1982. The innovation was soon repeated with the release of a second single - one which included programs for both the ZX81 and Spectrum.
With the band's pioneering experience in the area dating all the way back to 1981, Mainframe seems by far the most experienced at using this hybrid concept. But reports from the major music companies is mixed, and it certainly would appear that there were a few problems - not least due to the fact that the recording work was
undertaken by music producers rather than computer technicians. As a result, many record buyers and computer users found themselves out of luck in their attempts to feed the dubbed programs to their computers in a form which would load.
However, things move fast in the music industry and the idea of linking music and computing is far from shelved. Indeed, it's said that EMI is looking to create a broad umbrella for ideas which will interrelate with all the new technologies - music, home computing and videos!
Other music biz names are also in the running to achieve the perfect match of music and computing - especially Virgin and Island Records. Virgin already runs a software house and, with its large distribution chain and wide variety of recording artists, would be in a good position to exploit the idea in 1984. Island Records too has not been idle in its attempts to break into the software market and hungry punters may soon be rewarded with the release of a new range of titles from a company being set up in April, called Island Logic. As well as Pete Shelley, the signs are that many other Island recording artists have been bewitched by the evil eye of the micro monitor, including well-known reggae band, Aswad.
Gimmick or not, with the increasing interest of the major music companies in commercial software and the pioneering work of Mainframe, who knows - 1984 could be the year of the musical software package.
Find out more on Mainframe by writing to MC2 Music, nn xxxxxxx xxxxx, xxxxx xxxxxxxxx, xxxxx.
Roger Munford
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