Dramatis – In Concert – Paris Theatre – 1982- BBC in Concert Series – BBC Radio 1 –
Dramatis, a band that may not ring a few bells, in concert for this Monday – recorded in 1982 at The BBC’s Paris Theatre for the Radio 1 In Concert series.
Dramatis were a British synthpop band from the early 1980s. Chris Payne (vocals, keyboards), Rrussell Bell (guitars, keyboards), Cedric Sharpley (drums), Denis Haines (keyboards) were originally members of Gary Numan’s backing band. Dramatis formed after Gary Numan quit touring, the backing band got together to form Dramatis. A five piece electronic pop outfit, they tried to capture the Numan fans using techniques colleges. Many Numan fans would turn up expecting to catch a glimpse of their idol, but he never materialized. Dramatis did have some chart success with Love Needs No Disguise but this was probably due to Numan singing on the single which he actually co-wrote with the band. They released six singles and one album before disbanding in 1982. Two of their singles reached the UK Singles Chart: the 1981 single with Numan “Love Needs No Disguise” which reached number 33, and the 1982 single “I Can See Her Now” which reached number 57. Dramatis have also written a number of themes for T.V. programs and where much in demand for their multi-instrumental talents.
Dramatis released an LP called “For Future Reference” which, if it had not been for the die-hard Numan fans, probably would have gone completely unnoticed (even if it had been released in the US, which it wasn’t), despite some fun, hook-laden songs (“Oh 2025” for example). This album will likely only appeal to the Numan fan masses or fans of early 80’s synth/new wave material. The material does not really stand the test of time, unlike the bulk of Numan’s material. Numan appears only on the track “Love Needs No Disguise”. The album has been re-issued under different names “The Dramatis Project” and Future. Their first single was Ex Luna Scientia which used heavily processed vocals and (probably) a vocoder to hide the fact that there wasn’t a natural lead vocalist or charismatic frontman. The record has an almost prog rock feel, which isn’t a bad thing. Whatever you thought of the record, it was excellent, you had to give them credit for not just cashing in on Gary Numans signature sound.
The same couldn’t really be said for the follow up Oh! Twenty Twenty Five which, while not terrible, sounds like a second string Numan song. On the picture sleeve the band have been given a new romantic makeover which they don’t look completely comfortable with.
They reunited with Gary for Love Needs No Disguise which finally gave them a UK top 40 hit.
Their short career is represented on The Dramatis Project & Futur confusingly credited to Tubeway Army featuring Gary Numan. This is part of the inner sleeve notes from the The Dramatis Project.
Dramatis released the album for future reference, and recruited Gary Numan as guest vocalist on one of the tracks Love Needs No Disguise, which made No 33 in the UK single charts in 1981. Their label of the time, beggars banquet, odiously thought that a Gary Numan – related project was worth a punt, and so the band were given studio time to cut the entire album. Vocalist Russell Bell lacked the robotic tone and alien character of Gary Numan, but they could still craft an appealing electronic pop sound, best evinced on the track On Reflection, which marries attractive synthesizer tones with a sense of the dramatic that the projects name suggests. Its fresh pop sound was not unlike contemporaries New Muzik, who similarly charted electronic pop waters. Elsewhere, the band even show signs of a Prog Rock influence, with the romantic piano flourish of Take Me Home and the ghostly shards of synth wafting behind the songs simple three-word lyric constructing an authentically eerie background. The use of viola also evokes mid-period Roxy Music, when violinist Eddie Jobson was in the band, with a soundtrack quality that is not without merit.
So there you have it – hit the play button and dive back into 1982.