Space Invasion (Ronco, 1980)

Space Invasion

Space Invasion r

Every Thursday.
The Beano reached a milestone on 15 November 1980 – issue #2000. A striking pose. Four characters in a human pyramid with Walter on top passing an issue of the comic to Gnasher who is perched on a stack of them from the floorboards up. To the right is our hero, Dennis The Menace, pulling the bottom one out (Jenga-style) and quipping:
“I’ll show you a picture of the cover of the very first Beano on the back page, readers.”

The cover price said 8p but we paid a little more. I used to purchase my copy in Nolan’s or Nugent’s. On this occasion, I went for the former. They sold records too and as I paid for The Beano I noticed Space Invasion in the racks. The sleeve immediately grabbed my attention. This was amazing. I would see it here and there over the next two years or so, always picked up and scanned but not purchased until 1984. The concept was simple: 20 tracks of varying styles linked together by a common theme. It remains the ultimate crossover compilation which introduced me to a number of different musical fields.

Space Invasion begins with a song about UFOs; Hot Chocolate’s No Doubt About It, an intergalactic slow-burner. Then it’s time for some computerised exotica – The Yellow Magic Orchestra’s mind-expanding Theme From The Space Invaders / Firecracker. I’m heading down to The Penguin which doubles up as a chipper and an arcade. First time on my own, summer of 1980. The sound of this track mixed in with the noises from the video games is still in my mind. The arcade and the machines are long gone but the chips are still the best in the south east of Ireland. Equally compelling are Deep Purple and the godlike drumming festival that is Fireball. Best not think about it while driving.

Treats abound on Galaxy, War’s spaced-out funk masterpiece while OMD’s oblique Messages gets snipped by the Ronco shears. Still shimmers. Meanwhile The Shadows plied their country / disco / twang crossover banger Riders In The Sky on Top Of The Pops during February ’80. Next comes a brace of lush grooves: Dollar’s weightless 1979 number Who Were You With In The Moonlight and The Manhattans sweet Shining Star. This atmospheric vibe continues with Chris De Burgh’s nicely trimmed A Spaceman Came Travelling and The Carpenters deadly cover Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft. Kudos to Klaatu. The experiment was to be known as World Contact Day.

Side 2: we stay in the ’70s. It starts with the Manfred Mann Earth Band’s hugely enjoyable 1977 take of Springsteen’s Blinded By The Light which then blends into Elton John’s dramatic Rocket Man, not really such a long long time as it fades away at 3:25. Still in 1972, Genesis’ Watcher Of The Skies. There was a radio version of similar length to this unique Ronco edit. I still wonder why it wasn’t used. Whooosh! Hawkwind’s sublime Silver Machine which memorably covered by James Last on Non Stop Dancing 1973. On: Eve Of The War from Jeff Wayne which contains more inexplicable editing.

We move onto a glorious disco glitterball on Sheila B. Devotion’s Spacer, a collaboration with Chic. Risqué era. Hooks, harmonies and melodies. And then back to the musical version of The War Of The Worlds for Justin Hayward’s plaintive dirge Forever Autumn. Elsewhere Dollar make a second appearance on the zippy romanticism of Shooting Star. This is followed by a Brit funk classic – the timeless grooves of Atmosfear’s Dancing In Outer Space. We wind down with the sound of Space’s thrilling Magic Fly, truncated into 2:20 of disco meets new wave meets Daft Punk. Analogue synthesisers at their best.

Favourite tracks
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Theme From The Space Invaders / Firecracker

The Carpenters – Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft

Sheila B. Devotion – Spacer

Lest we forget
Atmosfear – Dancing In Outer Space


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17 Responses to Space Invasion (Ronco, 1980)

  1. andynoax says:

    I have this album too – I got it some time ago.

    ‘Who Were You With In The Moonlight’ was actually a hit in 1979 and while you rightly mentioned some tracks that have been chopped, my recollection is that I was really disappointed that this song was chopped in half!

    The Justin Hayward song is ‘Forever Autumn’, not ‘Autumn Leaves’ and I disagree with you on that one as it’s one of my favourite tunes – this is because the War Of The Worlds LP got a lot of plays when I was young.

    It’s a good collection this, same about the ruthless chopping of certain tracks but it was rare to have a themed collection where the songs weren’t themed by genre but by an abstract subject.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Thanks Andy – corrections made. Shooting Star is ’78 – got mixed up with it and Who Were… Not sure why I had Autumn Leaves in my head but “plaintive dirge” is not necessarily a bad thing in my book. I do like the track. 🙂

  2. Feel the Quality says:

    Add another person to the the list of “fans of Forever Autumn”. Still has that slightly sinister vibe to it which reminds me of shitting my pants as a kid when I saw the cover of the War of the Worlds vinyl.

  3. little ern says:

    Had this album-picked it up from my local Woolworth’s when they having a sale of Ronco albums.

    ”Blinded By The Light” was by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and the Sheila B.Devotion track is called ”Spacer”

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Thanks Ern, corrected. When was that? Woolworth’s shut their Irish outlets in 1984.

    • Martin Davis says:

      Just acquired a cassette copy of this from Ebay. Hopefully it works.

      Looks like an interesting selection of tracks but something I am curious about, presumably the Carpenters track isn’t the full length version. Is it the single version, an edit of the single version or one where Ronco chop a bit here and there to bring the length down?

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        Hi Martin. I never owned the 7″ but the version here is the exact same length (4:00) as the single.

        • Martin Davis says:

          Thanks for that helpful response Paul. I seem to remember the single version being on a Carpenters Greatest Hits compilation I once acquired so I have heard it before.

          Years ago my parents made a space themed mix tape for use at my brother’s birthday party. Seem to remember it having “Rocket Man” and amongst other things “Here is the news” by ELO, “Walking On The Moon” by The Police, “Flash” by Queen and the full length version of “Calling Occupants” which was copied at the end of the tape and cut off early.

          Do you think any of these tracks would have worked well on the Ronco compilation?

          • nlgbbbblth says:

            Hi Martin -definitely think Walking On The Moon would have fitted in. The 7″ mix of it and Message In A Bottle have never been released on CD. Every compilation uses the longer album versions.

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  6. nlgbbbblth says:

    Epilogue: Nolan’s of New Ross ceased trading on 8 February 2020

    “The doors have closed at Nolans.
    We would sincerely like to thank all our customers for their loyal support.
    We have been truly overwhelmed by everyones reaction and best wishes over the last few days.
    We would also like to thank all our staff for their service throughout the years, especially Rachel Bradley who was a great worker and an even greater friend.
    An end of an era in South Street but we hope people continue to support New Ross as they have done throughout the years.
    Best wishes and good health to you all. Thanks for the great memories.
    Michael, Martina, Nicola & Paul.”

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