Saturday, August 14, 2004

Voice Farm - "Elevate"

It's time for some Techno-pop. San Francisco's Voice Farm was a duo consisting of vocalists/keyboard players Myke Reilly and Charly Brown. They released two independent singles and 3 albums."Elevate" was the b-side of their second single "Double Garage". In 1982 they released the David Khane produced "The World We Live In" album on the Optional/Systematic label. In 1984 they also appeared on the KQAK Rock to Riches compilation album with the song "Reconstruction". In 1987 they released a self-titled album on the Residents' Ralph Records label, adding guitars and backing vocals to their danceable sound. In 1991 they added Ken Weller to the group and released "Bigger Cooler Weirder" on Morgan Creek Records. They had some dance chart success with the songs "Free Love" & "Seeing Is Believing" but the label didn't take advantage of the momentum and let the band die even after landing a spot opening for Depeche Mode during their "Violator" tour and playing at Madison Square Garden and the Cow Palace. Now you might say having major label distribution and opening for a major international act in arenas means Voice Farm might not meet the stringent requirements I have imposed on myself for this site, but rules are meant to be broken. Besides, as I am digging through my old records I am finding that I have limited myself to very tight parameters and there are many great bands that received the kiss of death upon signing to a major, Voice Farm included. Anyway, Myke and Charly found success in the music business another way: they produce music for television commercials.

You can still get Bigger Cooler Weirder here.

Go to the download page to get the Voice Farm - "Elevate" mp3 here


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only heard the first album - but it's so cool, especially
the final song. Plus Carol from Pink Section/Inflatable Boy Clams
plays on one track!
See Brooks Ayola's site for info on the Clams:
I know Michael Brown (aka Charly?) started off in a band called 'Situations'.

How about Our Daughters Wedding for another quirky synth duo?

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Bigger Cooler Weirder' was first originally released on Free Love Unlimited (Voice Farm's short-lived indie label). When it was re-released on Morgan Creek a year later, it featured several re-recorded songs from both their second album, 'f' and the self-released 'Bigger Cooler Weirder'. Six songs from the self-release of 'BCW': 'Ding Dongs 'n' Things', 'Blind Man', 'Too Bad', 'Follow The Lonely', 'Dream', and the show-stopper, 'You And Me' are now long-lost gems from their catalog. In 1995 they released their last album 'The Love Experiment' on Nice Tone Music, but I never found me a copy. Hope this helps.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thanks for the added details and suggestions. I appreciate getting feedback, especially when additional info is added. I couldn't find any info on a 1995 album. Does anybody know if they are still doing commercial work? I couldn't find a website - you'd think they'd have one.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another (old) link:

7:14 AM  
Blogger Jim H said...

I've never heard them before -- I did a little robot dance just now. Sounds like what Devo would play if they got transported out of Devo-land into another less structured universe.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Partrick Manor said...

I have loved VF since I first heard them back in 88! My friends and I followed them and Oblong Rhonda ( the backup dance troup) through clubs like Post Nuclear in L.A. to the Folsom street fair - even at Robert Mondavi's concert series in Napa Valley! The other post is right, the FIRST bigger, cooler, wierder is the best! "You and Me" has to be one of my all time favorite songs - although the instrumental Johnny Belinda has some fun memories of tripping out on E in S.F. and going to all of the dive bars and porn shops. Oh, those were the days :)

2:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my all-time favorite bands. I got lucky enough to get their vhs tape of a live concert. I went to just every single one of their concerts I could. I even used to clip articles out of the music magazines. Am looking everywhere for the Love Experiment album. After having kids I couldn't make the midnight shows anymore. Really, really miss seeing them.

2:45 AM  
Blogger vinnie_86 said...

This is definitely a band that should have gone far! I saw them open up for Depeche Mode at the Cow Palace, I hadn't heard of them until that show. By the beginning of their third song I was in the lobby buying the album. I told my friends who were with me that this was a band that will make it big. Too bad they didn't get the support from the label to do that. I still listen to the cd in my car often and listen to my album (vinyl) at home nice and loud to see the neighbors reaction to "Hey Free Thinker." Maybe someday, hopefully someday, they'll do a reunion show.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw them perfrom no less than 10 times at various locales in the bay area. one band member, a blond woman routinely took of her during some of the dances.

Anyway, the music is good and songs have very memorable melodies, with good lyrics to boot.

I would buy any next album by them without a preview.

5:32 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I was lucky enough to see VF several times and was lucky enough to find their last offering "the Love Experiment" after scouring the web for months (it's currently playing, and it's amazing).

Charly Brown has a design firm in San Francisco and there is an image of the VF studio on his website, though this forum won't allow an web link.

Considering the resurgence of electro and dance it would seem any new offering from VF would be warmly welcomed.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Jason Nuckels said...

June 2008 update - Voice Farm is BACK!. They've posted several videos under their own channel (voicefarm08), and have an official website ( A new CD is planned for Summer '08.

I was definitely one of the most DEVOTED VF fans from November 1987 when I saw them open for Depeche Mode @ The Cow Palace through the release of "The Love Experiment" in1995 (I'm the guy blowing a kiss to the camera and flashing the "peace" sign during "Free Love" in the live video). I was blown away when I walked in to the Cow Palace that night as they were playing "Super EQ Team" from "f". I also remember them performing "You And Me" (a song not released until "Bigger Cooler Weirder version 1)and the neat effect Oblong Rhonda achieved during the chorus, rising up from a squatting position as the curtain in front of them was lowered.

I then went to as many of their shows as I could, front-and-center, starting at their first post-Depeche Mode tour show at The I-Beam in SF. I saw them in San Jose, Palo Alto (where the live video was filmed), Berkeley, Stockton, San Rafael and even made the pilgrimage to The Roxy in LA to see their showcase for Morgan Creek (with The Longshoreman opening up for them). All the while I memorized Oblong Rhonda's dance moves. At one show in Berkeley Charly and dancer Barbie (the one that took her bra off in the live video) pulled me up onstage during the show finale of "Thank You"!

Eric, a couple of notes:

1. Ken Waller was a member of VF since (at least) 1987 (he played guitar on "f").

2. VF opened for DM on the (fall / winter leg of the) "Music For The Masses" tour (not the "World Violation" tour).

Glad to have them back!

1:07 AM  
Blogger voice farm said...

Hello -

Charly Brown from Voice Farm here.
Thanks for including us on your blog.
We're probably lost, but we're still here!
Check out our website at
We have free songs and weird movies and things.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay you have to hear the new album "Super Nova Experts". It is pure Voice Farm. I should know I used to work with them back in the 80's. This new album is weird and wacky, moving and fun fun fun to listen to all day.

12:40 PM  

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