Timeline: Trevor Horn's Top 20


Trevor and SDE Editor Paul Sinclair

Trevor Horn (and band) will play a special gig on Thursday night this week at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. We are promised an evening full of hit singles in which Trevor has had a hand, and amongst these will almost certainly be tracks from Buggles, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Yes, Grace Jones, t.A.t.U and Seal (in fact Seal is there as a guest vocalist).

Anyway, here at SDE we thought it would be a good time to look back through some of Trevor’s work and achievements and our resident ZTT enthusiast Rob Puricelli (who worryingly admits to having an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with Mr Horn) has put together this splendid interactive Trevor Timeline™ to highlight the some of the Producer’s best sonic gems.

So click below to move inside the wonderful world of Trevor Horn’s career in music. Enjoy!

49 responses to Timeline: Trevor Horn's Top 20

  1. James Auman says:

    Trevor is a great producer no doubt, but I love his songwriting, singing and bass playing just as much. Just listen to the two Buggles CD’s, the YES Drama CD, and then go listen to Yes “Fly From Here” and The Producers. Nothing has changed. Trevor is amazing!

  2. Darren Rigby-O'Neill says:

    The original version of “It’s Alright” WAS produced by Trevor Horn with Steve Lipson, Mark.

  3. mark dynamix says:

    excellent layout and very nicely done but just one thing. the original version on intreospective of It’s alright by PSB was not produced by trevor horn. it was only the 7″ single and extended 12″ that was a trevor horn production. Sorry to nitpick!

  4. David Moxley says:

    No Dollar :( That’s a shame. Monsieur Horn wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for Dave & Thereza,ok so they were not exactly Diana Ross & Stevie Wonder and not strongest of vocalists but those 4 tracks he produced paved the way for the music he did afterwards,if anything they should be up there with Buggles etc,regardless of 20 spaces on the time line,make it a top 30 then ! I have seen on forums in the past about the jibes at Dollar etc,how they are considered an embarrassment.Like it or lump it they were at the beginning.

    You should hear the multitracks for Hand Held & others,they are amazing :)

    Found this as well,pretty cool ! https://soundcloud.com/dollarsite/dollar-mirror-mirror-trevor

  5. For the more geeky and technically minded Horn fan, I can highly recommend this book that studies his production, the technology used and the song composition and cultural impact too.


  6. trash says:

    Couple of additional comments…

    Dollar – yes indeed. Great pop songs. lovely production work.

    I wish Slave to the Rhythm would get a remaster/reissue. The original CD does not do it justice. It’s probably my favourite Horn production alongside ABC (of course) and just beating Seal’s Human Being (which no-one seems to like except me).
    I have to say I have never liked the Frankie sound – I found the whole thing overblown and hard on the ears. I prefer Horn’s more subtle/less bombastic production work (for example on the Seal albums).

    Another aside – Just finished reading a special collection mag covering Macca’s work. I hadnt realised that Press to Play had gotten such a critical drubbing. I LOVE that album. The mag reviewed Flowers quite favourably so I bought it to give it a listen and (aside from a couple of tracks – one of which is Ou Est Le Soliel) I can’t say I enjoyed it much…

  7. Nick says:

    I always thought his first production job was ‘This Is The Season For Us’ by Phil Bert & The Foxes, which I think was recorded when he lived in Leicester. Not sure exactly when this was released though; definitely sometime in the ’70s. It sounds like he sings lead on this too.

  8. bob says:

    Sorry, it’s late and I’ve had a few glasses of wine and didn’t read some of the recent threads. But anyway, Trevor’s production on Give Me Back My Heart was loved by Tony Hadley I remember, and was instrumental in Spandau working with him.

  9. Mike says:

    Where is Dollar ? If it wasn’t for these guys,things would have been a lot different ! Hand Held In Black And White,Mirror Mirror,Give Me Back My Heart & Videotheque. Not all about Art of Noise you know lol

    • bob says:

      Give Me Back My Heart is one of my favourite 80’s singles. To understand Trevor’s true genius as a producer listens to the original version of this song by Dollar and then his production of it. Ditto with Instinction by Spandau Ballet.

  10. Tony Dagnall says:

    A wonderful timeline was that and thank you for it, but it’s a shame that Trevor’s production on the debut and so far only LP by the band Captain wasn’t mentioned. Philip Jap but not Captain? Very strange. Released in 2006 on EMI, This is Hazelville by Captain was a smart and solid pop album by the five-piece band and Trevor produced the entire record. It’s a sumptuous production too, and particularly on the single Glorious, which is pure magic and comes highly recommended. I seem to recall it was the first time in some years that Trevor committed his full production to an otherwise unknown band.

  11. Adam says:

    Seal’s debut album turns 25 next year. Time for an SDE? Please?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      That would be good. There was a surround mix on SACD of this album I believe, although it’s hugely hard/expensive to get hold of. That should be dusted down for any deluxe!

  12. Jesper Hall says:

    Great work on the timeline :-)

  13. peter m says:

    Where is dollar?
    ‘Give me back my heart’ is supposed to be Trevor’s
    favourite track he’s produced.

    • Damien says:

      I like the idea of the timeline, but it can’t be taken seriously… it’s hugely flawed!! Where’s *the* defining seminal work by Trevor, with Dudley, Jeczalik, Darlow, Wooley, Langan, founding his landmark production team, on the Dollar quadrilogy? The Dollar single ‘Hand Held In Black And White’ in August 1981 was *the* defining Trevor Horn production with most influence, praised by Martin Fry and Stephen Singleton, and responsible for the change in production of ABC’s output in 1982. Thereza Bazar’s vocals for Dollar single ‘Give Me Back My Heart’ were the first ever sampled by JJ Jeczalik in the Fairlight CMI and was named by Trevor as his favourite production track of all time.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Yeah, Dollar probably should have been in the mix… although not sure it makes the timeline ‘hugely flawed’ :) We wanted to include some quirkier, less obvious stuff too and the self-imposed guideline was to stick to 20 items.

        • Damien says:

          Thank you Paul, I understand your point that not all of Trevor’s productions could be included in the timeline, but it was such a landmark in terms of experimenting in new technology, it’s always interesting for the opportunity to arise to hear more about what went on behind the scenes in that particular starter period, as well as the casual listener to ZTT’s artists are not always aware of it.

          • Marvin Kehoe says:

            I agree, seems odd the usual ZTT mainplayers have been included in the timeline while Dollar lead to their existence and had around half an album produced, but nice that a couple of less well known one-off productions have been unearthed. Looking forward to Thursday night :)

        • garax says:

          Yeah to Dollar – but actually I really liked the less obvious stuff at the start of this – I learnt things.

      • Johnny says:

        I second that

        • Ok, ok, I hold my hands up and admit that maybe not including Dollar was a bit of an oversight. However, in my defence, I only had the aforementioned 20 slots (it was originally 10, but I managed to persuade Paul to double it!) and before we edited it down, there were 30+ entries!

          But, as Paul said, we wanted to keep it concise and possibly highlight some of the less well known or quirkier productions along with the biggest and most popular. I guess the old adage about pleasing some/all of the people some/all of the time couldn’t be more fitting ;-)

          As a Horn obsessive, I’m well aware of the part that Dollar played in his emergence as a top producer, and the ‘Dollar Rig’ is a fascinating subject in its own right. Maybe I’ll do a detailed piece on that on my own blog (link in my name above).

          I’m really glad that many of you enjoyed it though, and even more glad that it has broadened some people’s knowledge of this great man’s work.

          I believe there are still tickets left for tomorrow night’s gig so if any of you want to berate my Dollar neglect by buying me a pint, feel free to seek me out! I’ll be the one in the Frankie t-shirt! ;-)

          • Marvin Kehoe says:

            cheers Rob, looking forward to reading your investigations into Trevor’s ‘Dollar Rig’ update on your blog. Now what t-shirt to wear tonight… The Age Of Plastic ?, Art Of Noise – AWHYDWMBG? or would Frankie Say War be more appropriate? …decisions, decisions! :)

  14. SteveW says:

    But when will the sublime Insignificance OST (ZTT) be released on cd?!??!

  15. graham says:

    other great productions in my book include Tubular Bells 2 – Mike Oldfield and Simple Minds Street Fighting Years, rumour has it Mr Horn and Mel Gaynor did not see eye to eye, hence Stewart Copeland and others working in the studio and Mr G on stage

  16. bob says:

    He really worked his magic on that great Spandau Ballet single, the original track on the album was fairly poor and the band were floundering at that point. That single kind of bridged the gap between their old sound and carried them through to their new sound.

  17. Nigel D Day says:

    That was a great read. I’ve not listened to Slave To The Rythm in years and am now off to dig it out.

    Only other one I would have put in a list like this would be Propagandas Dr Mabuse.

  18. Straker says:

    Cherry Pop needs to do a 2 discer of Philip Jap’s output. Total Erasure is an epic track.

    Any Dollar stuff on Thursday?

    • Philip Jap released his one album and a dozen other tracks on his website about 18 months ago but they’ve now been removed. Could that be an indication of some label interest? Or did his generosity come to an end?

      Who knows, but there are indeed some crackers in his small catalogue!

  19. ant says:

    Please can someone asks Mr. Horn if he will ever release those great tracks that he produced with Wendy and Lisa

  20. gary C says:

    found the list of band members, quite a line up for Thursday…I reckon some PSB on the set list.

  21. baward says:

    ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ what a genuinely great sounding album, shame there was only about one and a half songs on it.

  22. garax says:

    This is great – it’s taking me ages to get through as every entry seems to throw up more things for me to go investigate – many thanks. Once question though – what is this talent show that Talk Talk and Thomas Dolby are supposed to have been on with Philip Jap? I wasn’t aware of this.

  23. gary C says:

    Who is else is playing in the band on Thursday?

  24. Stefano says:

    Nicely done.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks Stefano!

      • Philip says:

        I love the effort that’s gone into the timeline Paul, brilliant work! but it’s glaringly missing Trevor’s most influential work responsible for kickstarting his production career – where is the landmark Horn production in 1981 for Dollar?

        I’d like to be able to click on the ‘Dollar period’ in the timeline, where Trevor and his production team formed, moving to experimenting with and involving technology. There was an Ian Peel interview, where Trevor mentioned he was one of a few people to have a rig which he called ‘the Dollar rig’, a modified Roland TR808, Simmons kickdrum and Roland sequencer hooked up to a Minimoog, and in Trevor’s words tighter than MIDI. JJ experimenting with Thereza’s vocals for weeks on Trevor’s Fairlight.

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