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Howard Jones at Saint Andrews Hall, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Howard Jones has never gone too far away. But his new album, "Transform," brings him back to what fans first loved about him 35 years ago.

The set, which came out May 10, is the British artist's first "proper" album in a decade, following the ambitious multi-media project "Engage." It returns Jones to the pop melodicism of 80s hits such as "New Song," "Things Can Only Get Better" and "No One is to Blame," with plenty of synthesizers and a sonic boatload of hooks -- as well as collaborations with electronic stalwart bt.

The album has put Jones back on the road, too, ready to "Transform" those who knew him back when into the dancing youths of their 80s yesteryear...

• Jones, 64, calls "Transform" "a full-on electric album" and says it's something that he's been fielding a lot of requests for in recent years. "The fans have been begging me to do a synth record again, so, really, it was about time. I'm really excited about."

• Jones says by phone that he was prodded back in that direction when former Take That frontman Gary Barlow asked him to compose some songs for the soundtrack to the 2016 film "Eddie the Eagle" about notorious British Olympic ski jumper Michael Edwards. "The film is set in the 80s, so (Barlow) said it needs to have an 80s flavor, but a contemporary sound at the same time. I wrote two songs for it, and they came really quickly. At the same time I was working on the remastering of the first two albums, so my head was sort of back to the 80s, really thinking about how I approached that original song and why people liked them. After I wrote the 'Eddie the Eagle' songs I thought maybe that could be the basis for a new album -- back to my roots, my electronic roots."

• Jones and bt -- whose All Hail the Silence, his group with BBMak's Christian Burns, is opening for Jones this summer -- collaborated on three songs for "Transform. “We’re huge fans of each other. His production and his sense of incredible space and detail in his work, it's just mind-blowing. And then me with my melodies and my chord changes and lyrical direction -- we share the same passion, I think, so it's kind of an idea collaboration really."

• Jones says his tour, which also includes Men Without Hats ("Safety Dance") "really is a proper electronic lineup and everyone really digs everyone else's music. There will be a lot of band-swapping during the evening, I'm sure, because everyone knows each other. It's gonna be a great, really fun tour."

• As for this year marking the 35th anniversary Jones' debut album "Human's Lib" -- which spawned his hits "New Song," "What Is Love?," "Hide and Seek and "Pearl in the Shell" -- he says that, "I don't know how to gauge it. It seems like a long, long time ago to me, like longer than 35 years because I've done so much stuff in-between. But at the same time it's very much part of my present as well, 'cause people know those albums and they love the music. But really I think just going out there and being on tour -- just being around, really -- is cause enough for celebration."

Howard Jones, Men Without Hats and All Hail the Silence perform Wednesday, June 19, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors at 6:30 p.m. $35. 313-961-6358 or saintandrewsdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.saintandrewsdetroit.com

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