I’m listening to The Red Guitars’ single Good Technology via a music streaming service on my phone. For a moment I stepped back in time – or did the past simply catch up on me? 

 From Hull -The Red Guitars  

 Recorded in 1983  The Red Guitars were a self-defined anti-corporate band who released their single on their own independent Self Drive record label, clocking up over 60,000 sales and topping the independent charts. 

With its screeching sustained guitar, pulsating drums, low thundering bass and measured angsty vocals, the song still sounds good.  It’s one of those one-off tracks that became embedded into a generation of Melody Maker and NME readers to become classic, and no doubt can be found on some John Peel compilation or post punk playlist.

Lyrically the song scrutinises the advancements of modern science and in particular the notion of ‘good technology.

The Red Guitars / Good Technology

We’ve got photographs of men on the moon

We’ve got water that is good for us

We’ve got coffee that’s instantaneous

We’ve got buildings that are very tall

We’ve got cigarettes that are low in tar

We’ve got policemen can tell us who we are

We can reproduce a work of art

We’ve got missiles can tear the world apart

Good, good, good, good, good, good technology

Back then the threat of an all-out nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union was very real.  So, on the one hand we had the joys of instant coffee and low tar cigarettes and on the other the prospect of total annihilation.

Sign of the Ttimes: Assorted publications  reflecting  the threat of a nuclear Armageddon.

The 1980s also saw the emergence of commercially available synthesisers such as the Yamaha DX7 and the Roland Juno 60,  whilst bands such as Kraftwerk and the Human League were making their way up the charts. The 1980s also saw the rise of home computers such as the Commodore 64 with its games consul and floppy discs: the digital age had arrived.  The Red Guitars had their finger on the pulse and were casting a critical and prophetical eye on a world that we now take for granted.

The Roland Juno-60. The 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer manufactured by Roland from 1982

We’ve got trains that run underground

Aeroplanes that fly very fast

We’ve got music that is popular

We’ve got machines that sound like orchestras

We’ve got ability to transplant a heart

We’ve got freezers full of body parts

We’ve got computers that can find us friends

We know roughly when the world will end

Good, good, good, good, good, good technology

Today technology is synonymous with digital, but it wasn’t always that way. There was a time when steam trains and those dark satanic mills were at the  cutting edge of technological progress.  Yes, history informs us that the past was never so blissful, but that’s hard to imagine when you’re looking at a painting by Monet or Cezanne.  Maybe less so looking at the output of Edvard Munch.

Credit…2016 Edvard Munch/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; The Munch Museum, Oslo

Either way the tendency is to look back at such times with fond affection, take day trips to visit our industrial heritage because now the past looks picturesque, rustic, charming, ideal for a period drama

We’ve got animals with transistors in

We’ve got pills that can make you slim

We’ve got factories turning frozen chickens out

We’ve got ovens that cook in seconds flat

We’ve got plastics that are indestructible

We’ve got deodorants that make us smell of flowers

We’ve got detergents to clean up the sea

We’ve got sounds can turn you inside out


From the late 80’s microwaves were a commonplace item in the home, with many of us happy to set the timing, switch it on and let the magic begin – something that we continue to do to this day with a wide array of devices, it just works and we can chip our pets without a second thought. 

Sometimes I wonder what it is all about

There’s lots of leisure time to sit and work it out

There’s a TV show I’ve got to see

Good, good, good, good, good, good technology

Good technology

The Red Guitars with probably one the best  guitar  intro’s out there and a class 1980’s opening video too.

Words BG © 2021