Not many notable synth-pop / new wave artists from the late-70’s, started as wrangling folk troubadours, although much of Robin Scott’s history is unusual.
Scott, a talented songwriter from South London, released his début long player, Woman from the Warm Grass, in 1969, before commencing a multi-media project for BBC Radio 3.
A background built in progressive rock, with experimental tendencies shaped Scott’s works in the early-1970’s, as did his association with numerous emerging artists, including David Bowie, John Martyn and Ralph McTell.
Left restless by his experiences, Scott would leave the UK, deciding instead to travel around Europe and the US, before returning to work with artists such as Camel, Terry Britten, Roogalator and Ronnie Scott (no relation).
Entering EMI’s ‘Search for a Star’ National Talent contest in 1972 earned the then 25-year-old a contract; however Scott turned the British company down due to EMI’s unwillingness to support his backing group.
Time spent writing Heartache & Teardrops – a musical play – filled the the following few years for Scott, while the burgeoning producer worked in studio with a number of artists on other projects.
With the EMI debacle behind him, Scott produced Roogalator’s second single (“Love & the Single Girl”), releasing it on Virgin in 1977, only for it to sell poorly. Unwilling to pick up the follow-up album Play it by Ear, Scott formed Do-It Records with brothers Max and Ian Tregoning, eventually releasing Roogalator’s first long player later that year.
As the 70’s turned, the face of the music industry changed with the emergence of punk rock. Artists, such as Adam and the Antz (long before they became pirates, but only a short time before they became “Ants”), The Slits and Julian Temple worked with the fledgling indie label before Scott handed the reigns of Do-It to the Tregoning brothers.
Scott, frustrated by the narrow-minded attitude of the major labels, would soon leave London once again in 1978, settling in Paris with girlfriend Brigitte Vinchon (a.k.a. Brigit Novik). It was in Paris that M came to fruition.
With the once aggressive punk rock movement diversifying into post-punk cynicism, new wave sarcasm and synth-pop escapism (amongst other things), Scott found a comfort zone in left-field electropop.
Indeed, early versions of “Moderne Man” and “Satisfy Your Lust” appeared around this time, but it was not until shortly afterward that M’s backing band would come together.
Made up of session musicians, Julian Scott (Roogalator bassist and Robin’s brother), a then unknown Wally Badarou and programmer John Lewis, M began recording in early 1979, while backing vocals came from Novik; now Scott’s wife. With a sequence track composed by Scott and Lewis at London’s Electrophon Studios, the group had completed the album with engineer Dominique Blanc Francard in Paris by March.
Picked up by MCA Records, M’s initial effort, “Moderne Man” failed to chart; however it’s follow-up, “Pop Muzik”, would prove to be both a critical and commercial success. Drawing upon his experiences in the music industry to that point, M’s breakthrough summarised the previous twenty-five years of both the pop music its parent industry in three succinct minutes.
Aided by an early promotional video, “Pop Muzik” would only be held off the top of the UK Singles Charts by Art Garfunkel’s “Bright Eyes”; however the single would top the US Hot 100 Chart, eventually proving to be M’s sole chart success. As 1979 drew to a close, M’s debut album – New York * London * Paris * Munich – hit the shelves; however it could not repeat the success of “Pop Muzik”.
Scott released two more album’s with the band, but as the ’80’s began, M’s time had passed. Electropop and progressive dance had gone underground and Scott would soon return to his folk roots with Novik.
“Pop Muzik” would find success again in 1989 thanks to remix, while stadium rockers U2 mixed the track with their single “Mofo” to open shows on their 1997/98 PopMart tour.