‘Rock Me Amadeus’ should need no introduction to anyone of a certain age. A massive hit for Austrian artist Johannes “Falco” Hölzel, it’s a bold, synth-drenched electrofunk track which in many ways paved the way for the sound of contemporary funk. Falco himself was tragically killed in 1998, in a road accident in the Dominican Republic. His other hits included ‘Der Kommissar’, ‘Jeanny’, and ‘Vienna Calling’, but it was ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ which was his signature piece, and has become a de facto Austrian national anthem, even featuring as part of the Eurovision Song Contest when it was held in Vienna in 2015.
Canadian artists, Front Line Assembly, have certainly not been sleeping on Falco, and even now recognise that his music was way ahead of its time. The version put forward by the Vancouver, British Columbia band, is just one of twelve tracks on their nineteenth studio album, ‘Wake Up The Coma’. The album brings in some friends to help as well. Nick Holmes, from Swedish death metal band, Bloodbath, sings on the title track; Robert Görl of D.A.F. sings on the opening song; and Chris Connelly, known for his work with Ministry, adds his vocals to the final track. For ‘Rock Me Amadeus’, Jimmy Urine, from NYC electropunk band, Mindless Self Indulgence, is cast in the role of Falco, and he brings with his rendition a rollicking enthusiasm that is a worthy salute to the original.
The video conjures up images of the 80s, such as Max Headroom, and indeed, it’s shot using vintage video effects. Directed by Jason Alacrity, who’s worked for the likes of Combichrist, Astrid, Skinny Puppy, and Polaris, as well as clips for his own group, The Alacrity, we see Jimmy Urine in red shades and a pink skinny tie, in a trio of old TV sets. Laser lights, and a rotating bust of Mozart are cross-sectioned with clips of sun, sand, and sensual sirens.