Modern English helped define the sound of the early '80s new wave movement, most significantly with their terrifically catchy hit "I Melt With You." From Essex, England, the group was originally formed in 1979 as a punk band called the Lepers, and then a year later revamped their lineup into Modern English with an emphasis on moody Joy Division-esque lyrics and a dark synthy sound akin to that of Roxy Music. Their debut album, titled Mesh & Lace, released on 4AD records (home today of The Breeders and TV on the Radio), embraced an offbeat, dissonant sound, and it wasn't until the 1982 follow-up, After the Snow, which contained the aforementioned "I Melt With You" (also included on the Valley Girl soundtrack), that their sound caught on and became essential to the sonic fabric of early '80s rock.
This show, captured at the Ritz in New York City by the King Biscuit Flower Hour, was recorded in 1984 upon the release of their poorly received third album called Ricochet Days. The band is introduced by Donna Donna from WXB, "the station that dares to be different," who introduces the band by saying "you are in for an evening of thoroughly modern music." This hour-long set represents a lot of material from their new record which includes, in addition to the title track, "Rainbow's End," "Machines," "Blue Waves," and "Rainbows End."
The crowd at this show is enthusiastic, but it's when Modern English end their set with the smash hit, "I Melt With You" that the crowd is, not surprisingly, wildly responsive, enticing them back for onstage for a two-song encore of "Tables Turning" and "Gathering Dust."
Modern English began to unravel in the mid-'80s when Stephen Walker and Richard Brown were fired, though in 1990 Grey began reworking the Modern English moniker under different incarnations. To date, Modern English has sold nearly four million records worldwide and "To Melt With You" remains one of the most well known songs of the early '80s.