Good heavens, Mr. Dolby, it's beautiful!
Thomas Dolby has released a new live CD and DVD -- The Sole Inhabitant -- featuring songs and performances from his current U.S. tour. If you're a novice fan of Dolby's, please consider these must-own primers into the music of a vastly under-appreciated artist. If you're a long-time fan, suffering from his extended absence from the music biz, the discs are an early holiday present to be treasured.
Performing only one-man shows in this tour, Dolby seems to be wowing his old fans while building a new audience. Playing in smaller clubs where fans can watch his every move, he unveils each song in layers, with one synthesizer track building on the next until finally each song takes form.
Songs such as "I Live in a Suitcase" and "One of Our Submarines" take on new life with this approach. Even his biggest hits -- "She Blinded Me with Science" and "Europa and the Pirate Twins" -- feel fresh and fun on the CD. "Hyperactive" has added punch live, the quick bursts of the beginning bars thumping through your headphones straight into your chest.
The DVD gives fans a peek at the magic going on at Dolby's fingertips. Despite his solitude on stage, Dolby is no mere DJ: He's a mad scientist, tinkering with machines that look straight off the set of a Lon Chaney movie, coaxing out the familiar strings of notes that tickle his fans.
For those who don't get the opportunity to see Thomas Dolby live, The Sole Inhabitant CD and DVD are necessary substitutes.
Next week's Stuck in the 80s podcast: An interview with Thomas Dolby.