A3548565044 10


Rational Youth - Cold War Nightlife

Format: LP
Label: YUL Records YULP-01
Year: 1982
Origin: Montréal, Québec, 🇨🇦
Genre: Synth-pop, electronic, new wave
Value of Original Title: $35.00
Make Inquiry/purchase: email ryder@robertwilliston.com
Release Type: Albums
Websites:  https://rationalyouth.bandcamp.com/album/cold-war-night-life
Playlist: New Wave Post Punk Wave, Quebec, 1980's


Side 1

Track Name
Close to Nature
Beware the Fly
Saturdays in Silesia
Just a Sound in the Night

Side 2

Track Name
Le meilleur des mondes
Ring the Bells
City of Night
Dancing on the Berlin Wall


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Rational Youth - Cold War Nightlife (4)

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Rational Youth - Cold War Nightlife (3)

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Rational Youth - Cold War Nightlife (2)

A3548565044 10

Cold War Nightlife


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Cold War Night Life is the 1982 debut album by Rational Youth, containing their most well known song, "Saturdays in Silesia". Long out of print, it was re-released by EMI on CD in 1997 after an e-mail campaign by fans. It was subsequently re-released by Universal Music in 2019.

The online magazine and record label, Cold War Night Life, was named after the album. In 2017, it released a tribute album, Heresy, that featured a number of tracks from Cold War Night Life performed by electronic artists from Canada, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Norway and the UK.

In 2019, Cold War Night Life was re-released in deluxe 2-LP and CD formats by Universal Music Canada.

One of Canada's first Synthpop groups, Rational Youth was formed in Montréal in the summer of 1981 by Tracy Howe and Bill Vorn. Tracy had been a member of various top local New Wave bands such as The Normals, Heaven Seventeen and Men Without Hats; and Bill had been a member of the all-synth band "U". Both Tracy and Bill idolised Kraftwerk and when the German synth gods released "Computer World", the two Montréalers were inspired to start their own all-electronic group, which they named Rational Youth. Within months of their formation, they released their first single, 'Coboloid Race c/w I Want To See The Light', on the independent YUL label.

In the spring of 1982, they released the album 'Cold War Night Life', which included the hits 'Saturdays In Silesia', 'City Of Night', and the European cult fave 'Dancing On The Berlin Wall'. Bill and Tracy were joined by a third synthesist, Kevin Komoda, toward the end of the production of 'CWNL'. 'Cold War Night Life' was Canada's first-ever full-length synthpop release and the biggest- selling Canadian independent album of the 1980's. The album was also released throughout Europe to considerable success (on both sides of the Iron Curtain). Bill Vorn left Rational Youth at the end of 1982 to resume communications studies at the University of Québec, and to conduct research and development within the discipline of interactive robotics.

After Bill's departure, Tracy and Kevin carried on with the addition of Denis Duran and Angel Calvo, and toured extensively across Canada. In the spring of 1983, the group signed with Capitol Records and released the mini-album 'Rational Youth'. This record met with some success in Canada, but the chemistry which had existed between Tracy and Bill in Rational Youth's original conception was missing in the new configuration and this line-up disbanded at the end of 1983.

In 1984, Capitol Records asked Tracy to record a new album with Dee Long, of the legendary Klaatu, as co- producer. This project would become the album 'Heredity', which was released in March of 1985. The decision to release this album under the name Rational Youth was Capitol's, although Tracy concurred at the time, because he had never wanted to become a "solo artist". 'Heredity' was an eclectic and freewheeling collection, which, although something of a deviation from the classic Rational Youth analogue synthpop style (especially in its use of guitars, etc.), was released to great critical acclaim in Canada, and yielded the hit 'No More And No Less', as well as the singles 'Call Me', and 'Bang On'.

In the end, however, it would have been better to have released 'Heredity' as a solo album. Releasing it as a Rational Youth album had the effect, ironically enough, of creating an image of RY as simply a flag of convenience for Tracy as a solo artist - which is precisely what he had wanted to avoid. The album also created a new and different audience for Rational Youth, but also, understandably, alienated some of their core fans in Canada. After the release of 'Heredity', Tracy took a band out on the road and toured throughout 1985 and into early 1986.

In February of 1986, out of restlessness, and boredom with the music industry, Tracy decided to put Rational Youth on hold, indefinitely. The simple truth was that unless it remained true to the concept that Tracy and Bill had originally given birth to, there was no point in Rational Youth continuing.

Thanks to the efforts of fans through the Internet in Europe and North America, Cold War Night Life was re-issued on CD in 1997 through EMI Canada and October Records in Sweden, and the original Rational Youth duo of Tracy Howe and Bill Vorn got together for an official live reunion concert at the seventh annual Virtual X-mas festival in Lund, Sweden on the 13th of December, 1997.

Bill has continued to this day in his quest to marry music, art, and technology. The interactive robotic installations that he does have achieved international acclaim.

With the success of the reunion show in Sweden, and a general renewed public interest in Rational Youth, Tracy had hoped that Bill would join him in resuming the band's recording and performance activities. Unfortunately, the time constraints associated with Bill's academic and electronic art endeavours would not permit this, so with Bill's blessing and support, Tracy recruited a new Rational Youth line-up in Toronto from among that city's underground electronic music scene.

Jean-Claude Cutz (A.K.A. Pupka Frey), had released three albums and appeared on numerous compilations under the name DIN and was also a former member of Digital Poodle and Kinder Atom. He was an accomplished synthesist, composer and producer, as well as being an exciting live performer. Tracy enjoyed with J-C a musical partnership every bit as dynamic and creative as the original one with Bill Vorn.

J-C joined up with Tracy midway through 1998, along with Toronto synthesist Dave Rout, and the new-look Rational Youth made its debut at the Tivoli Festival in Helsingborg, Sweden in August of that year. Dave has since moved on to other projects, but in his time with the band he made a valuable contribution to Rational Youth, both on stage and in the studio.

In the meantime, Rational Youth had established a relationship with October Records in Sweden. October label chief Dennis Berggren had been responsible for re-releasing Rational Youth's classic 1982 album Cold War Night Life in Europe in 1998. Dennis encouraged RY to record new material and a single, "Everything Is Vapour", was released in June of 1999. The first new Rational Youth album in 14 years, "To The Goddess Electricity", was released at the end of 1999 to critical acclaim. Rational Youth toured throughout Scandinavia several times over the next two years, and played their final concert at the Tinitus Festival in Stockholm on 3 November, 2001.

Tracy Howe: vocals, synthesizers
Bill Vorn: synthesizers, vocoder, programming
Kevin Komoda: synthesizers
Mario Spezza: synthesizers on 'I Want to See the Light' and 'Coboloid Race'

Produced by Pat Deserio
Engineered by André Corbeil, Mark Lashchuk, and René Godbout
Recorded at Studio Ultra-Son
Mastered by Émile Lépine
Executive producer: Marc Demouy

Sleeve graphics by Alex MacDonald and Sue Halle
Photography by Roman Martyn

2nd edition with red label


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