Tape of the week: In Gorbachev we Trust, by The Shamen
by Giles Turnbull
So many of my musical discoveries over the years came from listening to the radio, and this, The Shamen’s finest moment, was one of them.
I heard “Jesus Loves Amerika” on the radio and loved it. Hard, brutal rhythms, but a vocal track you could hum along to as you cycled through the bitter Cambridgeshire winter. House music you could dance to, but you could also listen to. Techno that challenged the mind as well as the body. I wanted it.
This was The Shamen’s transition from guitar rock to dance music, and you could feel the tension in every track. The drum tracks pulsated while the guitars riffed and cranked in the background. It was completely different to everything else around at the time. I played my cassette copy of “In Gorbachev we trust” over and over again, but miraculously it survived and is still playable today. (Good job too, because finding a new CD copy of the album is difficult.)
(Someone’s got some electric copies, though.)
I got a free copy of The Shamen’s follow-up album, “En-Tact”, because our college magazine had been sent it to review, and I was the lucky journalist-wannabe told to write the review. I was disappointed, though – it didn’t seem to have the energy or innovation of “Gorbachev”. Subsequent releases, and the transformation (via Mr C) into cheeky synth-pop chart act, didn’t encourage me to buy any more Shamen albums. I did get to spend some time bragging about how “I was into them when they were cool.” People hate people who brag like that.
But “In Gorbachev we trust” remains an unsung classic of the 80s; too clever and too politically-charged for the pop charts, but nevertheless a perfect example of pop music’s endless mutation into new sounds. Raptweare indeed, we shine tonight.