Though their decade-long contract with Virgin finally expired after 1983’s Hyperborea, electronic music innovators Tangerine Dream remained a hot property. Their albums sold steadily; they’d begun a lucrative parallel career soundtracking Hollywood blockbusters such as Risky Business and Firestarter; and their live reputation was second to none.
This latter attribute clearly struck a chord with the band’s new sponsors, Clive Calder’s UK-based Jive imprint, whose first TD release was November 1984’s Poland. A lavish two-disc live LP, the record was compiled from highlights of the two triumphant shows the Berlin-based trio performed at Warsaw’s cavernous Ice Stadium in December ’83.
Tangerine Dream had long since built up a sizeable following in Communist-controlled Eastern Europe, and they were one of the first major Western outfits to make significant inroads behind the Iron Curtain. They played a highly acclaimed show at East Berlin’s Palast Der Republik in January 1980, while their 1982 European tour itinerary included gigs in Hungary and Yugoslavia, in addition to a return visit to East Germany, where the band played eight concerts, including three nights at the Sport Kongresshalle in Rostock.
Edgar Froese and co could also boast of a loyal following in Poland, and they played six gigs when they first set foot on Polish soil during their Eastern European tour in the winter of ’83. As with the ’82 jaunt, Tangerine Dream wheeled out lengthy sets lasting at least 90 minutes, with their repertoire drawn mostly from newly composed, previously unreleased material, as well as a few choice selections from their recent studio sets Exit, White Eagle and Hyperborea.
Initially packaged as two on-trend picture discs, Poland was released in November 1984, and reprised the concept behind its in-concert predecessor Logos Live, offering fans a selection of the all-new material TD had prepared specifically for this run of dates. The similarities didn’t end there either. Like Logos Live, Poland’s four tracks (three of which clocked in at around the 20-minute mark) were each comprised of several shorter pieces segued during the main set – and, in the case of ‘Tangent’’s final four minutes (subtitled ‘Rare Bird’), the music was sourced from one of the encores the band later performed.
Even allowing for this and some subtle remixing, however, Poland was still a formidable record which both acknowledged TD’s illustrious past and offered glimpses of the direction they would pursue over the next five years. The shape-shifting ‘Tangent’, for example, included a movement subtitled ‘Polish Dance’, which sounded like a precursor of the sleek, machine-tooled sound the group later mastered on 1988’s Optical Race, while ‘Barbakane’s bubbly, radio-friendly third movement (also issued as standalone single titled ‘Warsaw In The Sun’) wouldn’t have been out of place on 1985’s Le Parc.
Long-term fans pining for the grandeur of the group’s 70s heyday, however, were also rewarded by the startling, ever-morphing titular track and the grandstanding ‘Horizon’, wherein Christopher Franke’s electronic beats ricocheted around the arena like a hailstorm, and the band piled on the noise during a truly epic final coda.