Thomas Dolby: “Hyperactive!” (1984)

The followup to “Blinded By Science” was pretty hard to follow, a kind of Art of Noisier.

Kronomyth 1.9: Blinded by sounds.

I admit to being totally bewildered by this song when it came out. The Golden Age of Wireless was still in regular rotation on my turntable and I was sure that Thomas Dolby’s next album would be even better. Or not. The Flat Earth left me feeling flat and I had no earthly idea what Dolby was on about in Hyperactive! A freaky video didn’t help matters. I had the same reaction to “Close (to the Edit)” and, years later, “Batdance.”

Today, I can appreciate “Hyperactive!” as a song ahead of its time. Dolby had originally pitched the idea to Michael Jackson, and you can hear where this is Dolby’s vision of a post-Thriller world. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arrangement is still offputting sometimes, especially when Dolby tries to rap, but for ideas per square inch you couldn’t pack this any tighter. A slightly longer version was released as a 12-inch mix and features the “hyperactivate” section up front; otherwise, it’s very similar to the 7-inch version.

For the flip side, Dolby re-used some of the music from “Blinded By Science” and “Europa and the Pirate Twins” to create the Art of Noise-y dub mix, Get Out of My Mix, credited to Dolby’s Cube (perhaps a reference to the cube-shaped heads used in the “Hyperactive!” video). An extended version of the mix appears on the US 12-inch single. In the UK, the B side was White City from the upcoming album. “White City,” too, is a song ahead of its time and suggests that I may need to re-evaluate my opinion of The Flat Earth.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Hyperactive (Thomas Dolby)
B1. White City (Thomas Dolby)

Original 12-inch single version
A1. Hyperactive! (12” Version) (Thomas Dolby)
B1. Hyperactive (7” Version) (Thomas Dolby)
B2. White City (Thomas Dolby)

Original 7-inch single version (US)
A1. Hyperactive (Thomas Dolby) (4:12)
B1. Get Out of My Mix (Special Dance Version) (5:24)

Original 12-inch single version (US)
A1. Hyperactive (Thomas Dolby) (5:00)
B1. Get Out of My Mix (Special Dance Version) (Thomas Dolby) (7:58)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch and 12-inch single in January 1984 in the UK (Parlophone Odeon Series, R/12R 6065), the US (Capitol, B-5321, V-8576), Germany (EMI, 006 200014-7) and Japan (EMI, EMS-17432) with picture sleeve. Also released as promotional 7-inch single in 1984 in the US (Capitol, PB-5321) feat. A only. Reached #17 on the UK charts and #62 on the US charts.

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