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Walking Into Mirrors

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Album Review

Built around material Warman first premiered live with his band Three Minutes, Walking Into Mirrors erupted around the Australian hit single "Screaming Jets," a masterful, electronics-driven slab of wartorn paranoia whose edginess was only amplified by the presence of Peter Gabriel on effectively keening backing vocals. Warman wrote the song within half an hour of watching Apocalypse Now, furthering that movie's claim on early-'80s rock immortality (the Lords of the New Church's "Russian Roulette" was similarly inspired). But to judge Walking Into Mirrors solely by that cut is to overlook a wealth of equally electrifying cuts, similarly recorded with much of Gabriel's own band and packed with many of the same dynamics that inhabited his own then-current album (Peter Gabriel 3). Hints of the John Foxx-era Ultravox (not to mention the inevitable Gary Numan, too) shine through some of the sparser numbers, an impression heightened by both Warman's own, occasionally robotic vocal intonations and the sense that the entire album is an idiot dancing on the edge of Armageddon; the early '80s, of course, saw civilization perched on one of its way-too-regular nuclear precipices, and Walking Into Mirrors echoes both the scientific realities and the science-fiction romances of that scenario. As is the fate of so much music that sets out to sound purposefully futuristic, there are moments that have dated somewhat. At its best, however — "Screaming Jets," "(SOS) Sending out Signals," "Searchlights," "Martian Summer" — Walking Into Mirrors remains a brittle pulse, foreboding and ferule and as invigorating today as it was on release. Unavailable for some two decades, Walking Into Mirrors was finally reissued in late 2002 — coincidentally at a time when its own political concerns were again taking center stage. The original ten-track album was bolstered by a half-dozen bonus tracks, plus the suitably atmospheric videos for "Screaming Jets" and the title track.

Customer Reviews

Step back in time....

I was in Oz in 81/82 when a mate of mine told me to buy this album. "Screaming Jets" was a huge hit at the time and the fact the Peter Gabriel was on it added credibility to Warman. I was in an iTunes daze when I suddenly remembered the single and tried frantically to remember Warman's name. Don't have the album anymore so, nice one iTunes!

David Bowie meets Gary Numan

I actually came across this album completely by chance when I was doing a search for Peter Gabriel song and came across a song called "Screaming Jets". The credit went to a guy named Johhny Warman and it turned out that Peter Gabriel contributed his distinctive voice on background vocals. I was intrigued by this dark, tribal track which according to Wiki was written in 25 minutes after Warman saw Apocalypse Now. I bought this 1981 album which very much sounds of it's time. This record is the perfect crossroad where David Bowie meets Gary Numan, a combination of the waning of glam rock and the birth of industrial. It opens with the title track which has echoes of Trevor Horn & The Buggles, then moving into Radio Active and Searchlights which are heavily embedded in the flood of the New Wave movement. Martian Summer could easily be an early David Bowie glam rock ballad on par with Drive In Saturday. "Screaming Jets" is haunting as is and Peter Gabriel makes it a lost classic. "Three Minutes" could be a New Wave version of Bowie's "Five Years". "Will You Dance With Me" is similar in tone, an end of times dance song for a new decade. "Sending Out Signals" is a straight forward New Wave track and was the first single and is very catchy. "Dancing Dolls" is almost a robotic Thomas Dolby sequel to "Radio Silence". "American Machines" would fit into Gary Numan's "Pleasure Principle" singing about the glory of artificial mechanics. The rest of the tracks are bonus tracks which continue where American Machines leaves off, good songs if not a redundant theme. I wished this reissue had been remastered although there's nothing blatantly bad in the digital transfer. Anyone with an fondness of the 80's and New Wave should consider this lost gem.


Born: London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Born in Bethnal Green, London, Johnny Warman made his stage debut as a child, when his local school choir was judged proficient enough to appear in two productions at London's prestigious Royal Opera House, alongside Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi. By the mid-'70s, however, he had gravitated to rock, forming the band Bearded Lady and releasing a 1975 single, "Rock Star." It went nowhere and, when the band split, Warman signed solo with Ringo Starr's Ring-O label, releasing a single in 1977 and a Germany-only...
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Walking Into Mirrors, Johnny Warman
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