Fabulous Flip Sides Album of the Year: Berlin with orchestra - Interview with Terri Nunn

New orchestrated recordings of “Take My Breath Away” and all of Berlin’s Top 100 singles and more balance beauty and power on “Strings Attached” from August Day Recordings
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Berlin strings

TOP FABULOUS ALBUMS and EPs of 2020

1 Strings Attached – Berlin

2 Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven – Cutting Crew

3 Destinations – Darryl Way

4 Hello Weakness, You Make Me Strong – Gracie and Rachel

5 Forthright – Jessica Lee Morgan

6 The Making of Me – Imogen Clark

7 A Different War – Danielia Cotton & The Church Boys

8 Whoosh! – Deep Purple

9 Blvds of Splendor – Cherie Currie

10 26 East Vol. 1 – Dennis DeYoung

Look for the Top Fabulous Songs of 2020 list, including Berlin’s “Hideaway,” coming December 31.

GOLDMINE: Congratulations on Strings Attached, my favorite album of 2020. What a collection!
TERRI NUNN:
Wow! That’s so sweet. Thanks so much.

GM: Let’s start with both sides of your final charting single of the 1980s included on the new album, “Like Flames” and “Hideaway.” “Like Flames” is so much fun with the “na na na na” vocal lines.

TN: Ha ha ha. It’s funny because, at the time, we weren’t sure about the “na na na na” but now you listen to the charting pop songs and pretty much every one of them has “na na na na” or “la la la la” or “whoa whoa whoa whoa” as part of the choruses.

GM: The flip side of the original single was “Hideaway,” which makes for a beautiful finale on the new album. When you sing, “You’ll be my hero,” it is so powerful. I absolutely love it.

TN: Oh, thank you so much. That is one of my favorite songs that John co-wrote. It is a beautiful love song, a nurturing, loving message that can be sung by lovers or a parent to a child.

Berlin flip side

Berlin

Flip side: Hideaway

A side: Like Flames

Top 100 debut: October 25, 1986

Peak position: No. 82

Geffen 7-28563

GM: Speaking of a child, when my wife Donna and I were having our daughter Brianna in mid-May of 1983, “The Metro” was my favorite single on the charts. The combination of the strings and keyboards and the placement as the opening number, following the overture, is great here. When I hear you sing about the London rain, I recall a video from the prior decade of you singing “The Metro” with the Los Angeles Band Lunden Reign, who named the group in part, due to that song.

TN: How do you know them?

GM: Laura Espinoza is a friend of mine, in fact, I wrote the album notes for their second album Confession.

TN: Laura is a friend of mine too, but I didn’t know that Lunden Reign was named after that line from “The Metro.”

GM: Laura told me that there were three reasons for the name. The band was in London, with their singer being Nikki Lunden, and Laura being a fan of “The Metro,” so she wrote it on a napkin as Lunden Reign and that became the name for the band. When their first album was reviewed in Goldmine as an edgier Heart, I thought that sounded perfect for my taste, bought the album, and became a fan and quick friends with Laura. Now Laura is part of a new group called Make Believe Friends and they have recorded one of my favorite songs of the year called “Thank the Academy,” still with the edge I loved from the two Lunden Reign albums. On your new album, “Masquerade” is another one with a similar power as “The Metro” with the bass and drums.

TN: That is our Roland TR-808 drum machine, which interestingly enough they still sample to this day. Our whole Pleasure Victim album was filled with that because that was all that we could afford. I heard a recent Nine Inch Nails song start with a TR-808 drum machine.

GM: Before Nine Inch Nails, around the time of Pleasure Victim, Trent Reznor was in a pair of bands, The Innocent and Exotic Birds, in my hometown of Cleveland.

TN: Cleveland! WMMS! They were the first radio station outside of our hometown here in Los Angeles to give us a chance on the radio and put us in regular rotation, which is a big deal for a band. We will never forget that. We sounded weird, although at that time there some other electronic bands happening, but we were kind of on the beginning of that. There was power pop and punk going on, but WMMS, bless them, John Gorman and Kid Leo just rah-rah-ed Berlin in Cleveland. Because of them, a lot of the rest of the country followed suit, as they looked to WMMS and KROQ in Los Angeles to see what was really happening.

GM: Now Kid Leo is on SiriusXM Underground Garage with Little Steven.

TN: How cool is that?

GM: The first time I heard you on the radio was with “Sex (I’m A…)” from Pleasure Victim. What a bargain that album was, too, at a reduced price from Geffen with a $6.98 list, so seven songs, seven dollars, or less at most stores, including “The Metro,” “Masquerade,” and “Sex (I’m A…)” with dramatic male and female parts like Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.”
TN: I remember that Meat Loaf song. That was a big one.

GM: Your new recording of “Sex (I’m A…)” sounds like a spy film song.

TN: Ha ha ha. John is reprising his role. The first takes on how they tried to make this song sound orchestrally didn’t grab me, because this song isn’t meant to be pretty. This is not a romantic song, but a sex song. So, they went back and came back with the orchestration that you hear on it now, and it is great, with more of a surging James Bond kind of feel.

GM: Exactly! You think about rock and an orchestra and immediately Moody Blues comes to mind, and that’s pretty, but for some of these songs, I agree, that is not what is needed. So, thank you. I am happy that you encouraged them to go back and give it this powerful treatment, but the opposite is “Take My Breath Away.” That one Donna said is so pretty when I played it for her.

TN: Aw. We had a feeling that they would crush that one and they did.

GM: Giorgio Moroder co-wrote that No. 1 gold single, along with other hits in the 1980s and the prior decade.

TN: He sure did. It was quite an exciting experience for us to work with him on the Top Gun soundtrack. Before Top Gun he had huge success with Flashdance. He had his own sound. He was so interesting that all of the artists who worked with him wanted to sound like him. They lent their sound or vocals to what he was doing, and we were no different.

Berlin Top Gun

GM: There is a pair of singles from your Love Life album with catchy choruses included on the new album. “No More Words” now has brass on it and “Now It’s My Turn” is very dramatic.

TN: “Now It’s My Turn” is the first single from the new album and that one, to me, also has a very James Bond-like feel to it, and we are doing this video for it, based on the James Bond film Goldfinger. In the intro, they have these bodies that are dancing and projecting patterns, words and images on to the bodies, and we are trying to create something similar.

GM: “Will I Ever Understand You” has a great drum solo and another one with vocalized syllables, “aye ee aye ee ah.”

TN: That’s true, right? “AYE EE AYE EE AH!”

GM: You also include a new song, from last year’s Transcendance album, “On My Knees,” about a love in decline, with lines “lover lying next to me” and “not the same as it used to be” filled with sadness, pleading and begging, but still being a pretty song. I am happy that you included something new. Near the end of the album, you included “You Don’t Know,” which didn’t chart in the U.S. but made the Top 40 in a few other countries.

TN: Yes, it did well in Europe.

GM: Now that we have discussed all the vocal songs on the album, let’s go back to the beginning to the instrumental overture, “Take Your Turn.”

TN: “Take Your Turn” wasn’t created by us. It was interesting. When we saw the name, “Take Your Turn,” we said, “We don’t have ‘Take Your Turn’ as one of our songs. We didn’t know what it was. We listened to it and realized that it is an overture, like when you are watching a Broadway show with an overture of the music you are about to hear. They took little snippets of the songs that you are about to hear on the rest of the album.

GM: You can definitely hear “Take My Breath Away” and “It’s My Turn” within it, so “Take Your Turn” is a pretty good title. With Cutting Crew, the same orchestras, The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and The Slovenian Symphonic Film Orchestra, created an overture for their new album for August Day Recordings immediately before “(I Just) Died In Your Arms.”

TN: How is that album?

GM: It is beautiful. You wouldn’t expect an orchestra with Berlin or Cutting Crew and both turned out beautifully and they also added a couple of newer songs like you did with “On My Knees.” These two August Day Recordings albums are my favorite pair for 2020.

TN: Wow. Thank you again. I appreciate it. I didn’t know how people would feel about us being with an orchestra, but the response has been fantastic.

GM: If you think about Procol Harum performing “Conquistador” with The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, I think that is a great marriage of a rock band and an orchestra. That is what I am reminded of on your liveliest songs. I absolutely love that sound and I also love the cover painting of you.

TN: Oh, thank you so much. So do I.

GM: As you work on the videos for the album, I think about you drawing from your young acting days on television on Lou Grant, Ed Asner’s newspaper drama series after The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended.

TN: That was an honor. I grew up watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my mom, who is from Ohio, like you. That was our mother daughter time on Saturday nights. We would sit there together, back when TV was time based. You didn’t get any chances to see something but at the time when it was on, except, maybe the reruns in the summer. Mom and I had our date every Saturday night for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and it was just a brilliant show. It was well written, funny and deep. It was such a connector for me and my mother. So when I started working in television as an actor, the chance to work with Ed Asner was absolutely stunning for me. They loved the first show that I did with him, so they asked me back for another show. On the first one, I was an unwed mother, who thought that going on welfare would be the best life ever. Then they brought me back as a serial killer who they were trying to save from the electric chair, and I didn’t want to be saved. That was a really interesting part to play. The series was written to be a lot deeper than The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It got into a lot of different issues at the time. Those shows are among the highlights of my life.

Ed Asner and Terri Nunn, 1981, CBS

Ed Asner and Terri Nunn, 1981, CBS

GM: Last year, Brianna and I saw The Who with a fifty piece orchestra, and you can imagine how great that was. It is certainly among our all-time favorite concerts. When things clear up with the pandemic, do you anticipate doing some shows with an orchestra?

TN: I would love to do that. When we have had to the opportunity to play with an orchestra for benefits, there is a company who have all the charts written for our songs. We would go to a city and hire the local orchestra there and do a two to three hour rehearsal and then we would do the show that night. It worked so well. It was so much easier than grabbing eight buses and stuffing them with orchestral musicians and their instruments. It gave the local orchestras different opportunities to play rock music and it was fun for them, too. Every time we did that, the orchestras loved it. I hope we can do that when we can play concerts again and see your readers there. Thank you for including me in your Goldmine series. I really appreciate this.

L to R: David Diamond, Terri Nunn, John Crawford, photo by Marc Green

L to R: David Diamond, Terri Nunn, John Crawford, photo by Marc Green

Related links:

http://berlinpage.com/

https://www.augustday.net/