Thinkman - 1986 The Formula

EricEric USA
edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Thinkman
ALBUM: The Formula
LABEL: Island
SERIAL: 257 723-222
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2001, Voiceprint, MPVP009


LINEUP: Rupert Hine - vocals, keyboards, guitar, programming

Additional Musicians: James West-Oram - guitar * Stewart Copeland - drums, percussion * Lisa Dal Bello - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Best Adventures * 02 The Formula * 03 Legend * 04 The Ecstacy Of Free Thought * 05 The Conflict * 06 The Challenge * 07 The Days Of A Champion * 08 There Shines Our Promised Land


Producing albums for a bevy of well known acts including Rush, Saga and The Fixx as well as three marvelous but poor selling solo albums of his own in the early 80's, Rupert Hine at the peak of his powers found himself at a crossroads.

He had material for a new solo album as a follow-up to 1983's shimmering 'The Wildest Wish to Fly', but his label - Island didn't want to know.

Based on Hine's solo track record, the label didn't want to take a chance on another low-seller, wanting a band effort instead.

Hine in a stroke of genius gave them just that - a 'virtual' band - Thinkman made up of actors and comedians who appeared in videos, promo shots and interviews, but had nothing to do with the album itself.

If this all sounds very Milli Vanilli, not even close. Hine of course played on the majority of the album bringing in a wealth of talent including Stewart Copeland from The Police when programmed drums just wouldn't do.

James West-Oram from The Fixx on guitar and Canadian Lisa Dal Bello filling in on background vocals.

The Songs

A concept album, musically 'The Formula' is a hi-tech lovers dream. Richly produced with dizzying hooks, 'Best Adventures' opens the album like a Technicolour dream with the title track and Lisa Dal Bello's sultry vocals adding erotic spice.

Unlike many hi-tech albums where the gizmo-intricacies over take what would otherwise be good songs, Hine in Thinkman knew when to stop, giving the songs size and room to breathe.

Vocally, Robert Palmer comes to mind and from the full throttle art-pop of 'The Conflict' to the dense Euro-disco influenced 'The Challenge' and the Ultravox, classically influenced 'There Shines Our Promised Land', this is an album where futuristic electronic sounds and AOR blend seamlessly into an outright masterpiece.

In Summary

All three Thinkman albums are still in print on CD and have my highest recommendation.

While you're at it check out the jazz-rock meets 10cc pop of Hine's previous band Quantum Jump while skipping his first two solo albums from the early '70s - 'Pick A Bone' and the schizophrenic 'Unfinished Picture'.

Much better are the aforementioned 'The Wildest Wish to Fly', 1981's 'Immunity' and the brilliant 'Waving Not Drowning' released in 1982 all of which have much to offer for the discerning hi-tech fan.

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