M (Robin Scott) may go down in Top 40 history as a glorious one-hit wonder but, oh, what a hit! Easily the highlight of his first LP, “Pop Muzik” combines the moronic appeal of a brilliant semi-electronic novelty record with the sturdy danceability of a hot disco mix. Give this Englishman (with assists by Wally Badarou and Julian Scott) credit for partially paving the way for hip-hop and modern electro-pop in one fell swoop. Other cuts on the LP, such as “Cowboys and Indians” and “That’s the Way the Money Goes,” are just as silly but less immediate, leaving the listener free to observe how much Scott can sing like Bowie.
He shifted gears on The Official Secrets Act, playing superficial foolishness against an underlying current of fear; “Join the Party,” “Working for the Corporation,” “Your Country Needs You” and “Official Secrets” conjure up murky images of a threatening world. Scott clearly derives pleasure from inventing unexpected melodies and bending his tunes with quirky production touches.
Scott confirmed his status as a doodler on Famous Last Words: no two tunes are alike. Everything’s a little odd, but never unpleasantly so. In short, this third LP possesses only the limited value of cleverness in a vacuum. One longs for less calculation, and references beyond the studio.
In 1981, Scott collaborated on an album with Yellow Magic Orchestra keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto. In 1989, “Pop Muzik” was re-released as a CD single to, in Scott’s words, “celebrate ten years of obscurity.”