In 1985, Tony Carey (ex-Rainbow) followed up his 1983 Planet P Project with a double LP concept album. It had a single that was a minor hit on the radio, but it quickly disappeared afterwards.
The concept reeks of 1980’s cold war paranoia. The narrative begins with the protagonist moving from town to town, spreading the word that there's a pink world of fallout and radiation coming down ("Pink World"). Warning that “it rolls like an avalanche and it will carry us away”, the people soon make a symbol of him as a leader ("What I See"). He soon crosses paths with a seven-year-old boy named Artemis ("Power") and sees he has a special power. Although he is only a small mute boy, he is feared and respected for his telepathic powers ("A Boy Who Can’t Talk"). The protagonist takes him under his wing to protect him from the thousands who wait outside just to walk where he walks.
Behind all this story, a secret society of anonymous men stands behind it all ("The Strangers"). They come when they're summoned, and they do what must be done, they live for the movement, and they take pride in being some of the lucky, and the chosen, and the perfect men. Meanwhile the masses hail Artemis as ‘the second-coming of the man who sets men free’ ("The Shepherd"). “They say he wears a halo if you get up close to him, and they say he is the shepherd and we all must follow him”. Artemis knows he has to do something, so he makes a barrier with his mind, pushing the radiation away. The emotional high point of the album comes as the conflict escalates to nuclear war (Behind the Barrier). “The true believers looked on and laughed till the last cruise missile had flown. And the minutemen stood as they knew they would, and the world was temporarily sane. And the radio said ‘My God cover your heads, and get out of the falling rain!’ Get behind the barrier.” The second LP deals with the events after the nuclear holocaust and reveals that Artie does not turn out to be who everyone thinks he is.
The sound of the music was made to be modern but now sounds worn and dated, sporting electronic drum kits, cheesy synths, and a hair metal guitar sound reminiscent of Tesla. But the songs here are great if you can get past the 80s feel. Especially great are the folkish “A Boy Who Can’t Talk” and Floydish “Shepherd”. The songs are catchy and melodic, and you will find yourself singing them after a while.
Planet P is basically a supporting band for Tony Carey, who wrote all the music. The guitar and bass fall in the background and Carey’s synths take center stage. They drive the music as the lead instrument, and contribute to the dated sound and feel. Carey’s singing is great throughout the entire album, and it really is a must have for all fans of the experimental 80s. Or all people who can tolerate the experimental 80s that listen to artists like early Peter Gabriel.
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