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Rational Youth

Cold War Night Life-Recordings 1981-84 (5xLP + 7'' Box)

Label: Vinyl-On-Demand

Format: Box-set LP x 5 + 7'' + booklet

Genre: Electronic

In stock


One of Canada’s first synth-pop groups, Rational Youth was formed in the summer of 1981 by Tracy Howe (The Normals, Men Without Hats, Heaven Seventeen) and Bill Vorn (U, Sacred Noise). Inspired by the influential Kraut-rock band Kraftwerk, they set out to create their own brand of modern electronic music. Within months of their first meeting, Tracy and Bill, along with Mario Spezza, recorded and released their first 12” single “I Want To SeeThe Light” b/w “Coboloid Race” on the newly formed YUL Records imprint. With the release of their second single, Cite Phosphore, and a handful of high profile opening shows, Rational Youth’s new electronic sound paved the way in expanding Montreal’s local new wave scene on the radio and in discos.

Encouraged by the local reaction, Bill and Tracy soon started work on their debut LP “Cold War Night Life”, and enlisted YUL Records partner and producer Pat Deserio, already well known for his production and musical output as Kebekelektrik, Dogs Of War and Bombers. During the recording sessions of Cold War Night Life, Bill and Tracy were joined by another synthesizer player, Kevin Komoda, who had already played and done sessions for Pat Deserio and other local bands like The Blueprints & Action Men On Assignment. When Cold War Night Life was issued in early 1982, it was the first all-synthesizer release in Canada and became one of the biggest selling Canadian independent LPs. The album was also released in Europe, where songs like “Dancing On The Berlin Wall” and “Saturdays In Silesia” became club favourites and still remain so to this day. By the end of 1982, Bill Vorn had left the band to further pursue his studies in communications and experiments in robotics.

In 1983, Tracy and Kevin decided to move forward, taking the band in a more rock direction and adding bass player Denis Duran and drummer Angel Calvo. A subsequent cross-Canada tour led them to being signed by Capitol Records, and the quartet recorded a self-titled 5 song mini-LP in 1983, also produced by YUL Records’ Pat Deserio. Even with real drums and bass added, there were still layers of synths and guest musicians from the local scene including Roman Martyn, who once played with Howe in their post-punk group Heaven Seventeen.

By the mid-summer of 2011, YUL Records boss Marc Demouy tracked Kevin down and became the catalyst in reuniting the original Cold War Night Life trio. The Cold War Night Life trio re-worked Rational Youth’s first 12” single “I Want To See The Light” and “Coboloid Race” in time for it’s 30th anniversary, and added the extra surprise of adding alternate mixes from the 1981 sessions which were recently uncovered. Coincidentally, almost 30 years later to the day that Rational Youth were touring across Canada, Kevin Komoda found two Rational Youth live cassettes as well as a box full of Rational Youth negatives and other memorabilia.

The initial idea was to release these shows on cassette only as a limited edition collector’s item, but the news of these live tapes quickly spread and sparked a renewed interest in Rational Youth. What was supposed be, and still is, a limited edition cassette release soon transformed itself into a 3 CD set with rarities, a 5 LP plus 7” box set as presented here on VOD-Records, and now, a Spring Tour in Scandinavia in Sweden, where the band have an enthusiastic and loyal following. Tracy Howe and Kevin Komoda are now assembling a band with the possibilities of shows in Montreal and Toronto before heading across the Atlantic in 2014.

Cat. number: VOD 124
Year: 2014
Limited edition of 500 copies, comes with numbered certificate and extensive booklet.

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