Information Society: Beastie Boys X Thomas Dolby X Pet Shop Boys
For no apparent reason, the first lines of “Think” popped into my head this morning. So just like that, boom: my next music story!
Information Society merged the style and electronic sound of Thomas Dolby, the beat and sampling of the Beastie Boys, and the melody and pop-sensibilities of the Pet Shop Boys to create their own brand of music along the alternative scene spectrum.
I was SUCH an Information Society fan, listening to their debut all. the. time! I was blessed to have a very dear friend in high school who also adored Information Society.
She drove this horrendous beat up light blue Ford and it had the most glorious bass ever! I’m not sure anything by Information Society will sound as good to my ears as being in the passenger seat of that unfortunate car with that absurd bass turned up while laughing with my sweet pal, Jen, circa 1988.
Information Society was ahead of the curve with that 1988 cover: while living in London in 1992, I can attest that there was a HUGE resurgence of disco in the early 90s in Europe. It was impossible to go to a club or pub without hearing “Dancing Queen”, met with happy enthusiasm night-after-night by folks in varying states of sobriety.
(In fact, fellow alternative musicians, Erasure, would have some success in the US with ABBA’s “Take A Chance on Me” in 1992.)
“Hack” got some airplay upon its release, but definitely was not as well-received as Information Society’s debut. There were a few songs that I was pretty obsessed with. “How Long,” for instance, made it onto a few of my mixed tapes in 1990!
“Think” is a forgotten gem of the dance strain of the alternative scene of the late 80s/early 90s.
UPDATE on 10/31/19: Someone posted the original video with FULL song, including the missing energetic ending!
When I originally wrote this story two years ago that ending was annoyingly, inexplicably, and cruelly cut off on all the versions out there. I realized immediately that, as a fan, I missed that piece of the emphatic ending. So glad the complete versions got uploaded!
I think most remember the music, the energy, the beat, and the danceability, but I believe the strength of Kurt Harland’s voice equally contributes to making Information Society’s work stand up all these years later.
I dug up this live version of “Think” and I was immediately struck by two things: (1) The music still sounds SO great and (2) Wow! Kurt sounds REALLY good. Shockingly good.
If Kurt’s voice was wavering or weak, the music could still be appreciated. But that strong voice is a reminder that Information Society was legitimately talented.
They had some enormous popularity for a brief slice of the late 80s, but the truth is they most assuredly deserve to be distinctly remembered almost 20 years later for their contribution to that celebrated dance/electronic scene alongside Renegade Soundwave, EMF, and Baby Ford, to name a few.
Until her 40’s, Bonnie’s worst nightmare included writing and sharing personal stories publicly. At her friends’ suggestion, she bemusedly started Bonnie’s Mixed Tape on Medium in 2017. She remains shocked that anyone reads her stories and that P.S. I Love You, the Writing Cooperative, Song Done Wrong, and the Ascent have published her work.
Bonnie loves all types of music, but really, really, really loves the 80s!
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