One 2 One – Sal’s Birdland – Artificial Joy Club

Being a teenager in the ’80s in Canada, I got a lot of my music from the music video cable TV station MuchMusic.    One of the pop acts I remember was a duo called One 2 One.  I remember them primarily because I thought the singer was hot, and she had a great and unique voice.  I was thinking about one of their songs the other day and decided to look them up on YouTube.  It turns out that they were responsible for quite a few great songs that I remember from the 80s, as well as some from the late 90s too under a different name.

I decided to put together a collection of music by that duo (the singer named Louise Reny and the guitarist and producer Leslie Howe) and I ended up finding a bunch of great pop songs in the process and one amazing song that’s currently among my favourites.

These were all sourced from YouTube videos, and sadly, the audio quality for most of them was pretty bad.  But amazingly I’ve been able to edit them to sound great.  After more than 15 years of audio editing I’ve got quite an arsenal of tricks and techniques to make songs sound better.

So here’s a track by track rundown of that collection and my impressions of the music and production on each one.

One 2 One

01 There Was a Time

This is one of those songs that I didn’t realize they had recorded.  It’s pretty great ’80s synth-pop.  The lyrics are pure fluff, but it’s ’80s synth-pop.

02 Angel in My Pocket

This might be their biggest “hit”, though they were really only big in Canada.  It’s a really great pop song.

03 Black on White

I had never heard this song before, but it’s another great pop song.  From what I’ve read, the album these came from won some awards, but I’m wary of such things because they can be utterly meaningless.

04 Hold Me Now

This is the song I was thinking of that got me started down this rabbit hole in the first place.  I remember watching the video for this song back in 1988 and getting just the biggest crush for the blonde chick singing the song.  Well you gotta admit she’s perty.  I also remember there was this girl I went on a road trip with that same year who was dressed up pretty much exactly like that, with the hat and the boots and short jeans.  The ’80s were weird.  This is another great pop song, probably my favourite that the band put out in this incarnation.

05 Love Child

A cover of a song by the Supremes, I can’t say it’s my type of thing.  But it’s performed well.

06 Do You Believe

Another synth-pop fluff song, not bad for what it is.

07 We’ve Got the Power

With this one I find a song that really grew on me, despite some kind of clunky lyrics that try to be inspirational.  I like it fine.

08 Peace of Mind

The lyrics to this one are really, really dumb.  They try to be profound but end up sounding, well, stupid.  Other than that, it’s a great melody.

09 Friends

We’re veering into “Adult Contemporary” territory here.  Cliche lyrics that end up meaning nothing, but I read somewhere that a teeny-bopper Alanis Morissette sings backup vocals.  It’s really hard to tell though, because the vocals are overdubbed and layered up so thick.

10 Big on Emotion

This song tries to sound kind of rockin’ but misses the mark.

Sal’s Birdland

11 California Au Revior

The duo shifted gears and reformed as an “alternative band” called Sal’s Birdland.  The timing for this was of course the early 90s, so no surprise there.  What is surprising is just how amazing this song is.  I was not expecting to find such a genuine and heartfelt statement like this from a band who was churning out cheese just a few years prior.  In “California Au Revuoir”, the band manages to capture the sound of boredom, longing, regret and hope, all at once.  It’s kind of stunning to hear actually.  Finding this song is what made me decide to make this collection actually.

12 Not Like Madonna

This one is more standard “alternative rock”, with lyrics about the singer’s refusal to be like, well, Madonna.  Decent alt-rock but nothing special.  I found this track in very low quality, probably ripped at 96kbps, but I managed to make it sound good.

13 So Fucking Happy

Another standard alt-rock track, but the sound quality of this one was even worse, and it still sounds pretty bad as a result.  The music and lyrics are average, but the line “I got a heart that’s packing heat – it’s always loaded” is pretty cool.  I imagine this was ripped as an mp2 file more than 2 decades ago and has been kicking around the internet ever since, traded by angsty teens and nostalgic adults who used to be angsty teens in the 90s.

Artificial Joy Club

14 Sick & Beautiful

Sal’s Birdland changed their name to Artificial Joy Club and they were a little more successful.  In fact their album “Melt” was one of the top Canadian albums of 1997 from what I recall.  And this song was everywhere too.  It was so pervasive that I remember getting quite sick of hearing it actually.  Which is too bad, because this song might just be the best thing the duo ever did.  The lyrics certainly are the best I’ve heard in any of their songs.  It’s nice to hear this again after not hearing it for nearly two decades, now that it’s not been overplayed by commercial radio.

15 Crawl

A track that’s totally new to my ears.  It’s quite good, though a little straight-down-the-middle alt-rock.

16 No Shame

I really like this one too.  It’s got some highly personal and sometimes nonsensical lyrics, and a nice analog synth solo.  One of their best.

17 Spaceman

A very tuneful pop song kind of like the ones they used to do, but with their current sound and with lyrics about coming down from a drug high.

 

And that’s a pretty decent overview of what they were about.  The original production on their music was a little thin and washed-out sounding, but I blame the ’80s for that.