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Licensing to the rescue: Freur’s 'Doot Doot' scores new lease on life

July 10, 2009 |  4:50 pm


Hearing interesting and innovative new music in TV commercials is more than commonplace now; it’s become something of a cliché.

What’s really creative is to dig deep into the endless catalog of music out in the world and unearth a real gem, one of those perfect sonic moments that for whatever reason never really had the impact it deserved.

Slogging through the endless coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial, I wasn’t facing the TV when the strains of Freur’s 1983 debut single “Doot Doot” stopped me dead in my tracks. Looking up, I saw that it’s being used by Palm in a jarringly bright and colorful new spot to launch the highly anticipated Pre (we didn't spot it online -- feel free to leave a link in the comments).

Aside: The song was also among the '80's new wave nuggets used to soundtrack the special flashback episode of “Gossip Girl” this season.

Freur was an extremely short-lived and heavily art-damaged UK band most famous for featuring Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, who went on to form the famed techno outfit Underworld (who themselves underwent a major transformation before becoming the act we know now -- see the bizarre space-cowboy funk-rock of their debut album, “Underneath the Radar”).

Long before Underworld became dance messiahs, Freur’s “Doot Doot” was a moody underground favorite, which in America only found airplay on college radio stations and goth nightclubs. Only going as high as No. 59 on the UK charts, it was Freur’s one and only brush with fame during their short tenure.

But 26 years later, “Doot Doot” still retains a dreamy, melancholy beauty that few tracks from the early '80s come close to matching. It also kind of sounds eerily like what Kanye West was going for on “808s & Heartbreak.” But until someone samples and/or re-imagines it into something memorable enough to stand on its own, “Doot Doot” remains a ghostly musical anomaly, floating endlessly through space.

--Scott  T. Sterling

See Underworld at the HARD Summer festival in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 8.

Photo credit: Oglio Records