When searching for Enigma’s roots, Michael Cretu’s solo albums from the late 1970s and early 80s are a great place to start. The first two albums are Moon, Light and Flowers (1979) and Legionnaires (1983). Is there something “enigmatic” to be found here – or is it plain, early 1980s German pop?
Before the release of Enigma’s breakthrough album, MCMXC a.D. (1990), Michael Cretu released three solo albums (you can read my review of his third album, The Invisible Man, here) and contributed on his then-wife Sandra’s music (for whom he made some smash hits (I’ll never be) Maria Magdalena and In the heat of the night, among others). We must not forget the Cretu and Thiers project either).
Love Me! Do not leave me!
I know that many Enigma fans have been disappointed with Cretu’s first solo albums, mainly because they have expected them to sound “just like Enigma” – when they really are not New Age music all, but early 1980s German pop.
Michael Cretu’s 1979 debut album is Ausgewählte Goldstücke. It was also released in English, called Moon, Light and Flowers. For me, its style reminds a bit about Abba – which was super popular at the time; light romantic pop ballads with focus on vocals. This is, to quote the Beatles: She loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah-material – here from Cretu’s Love Me:
Love me, and do not ever leave me
You’re the only one
You’re not just for fun
Love me / don’t believe them
when they say I don’t really care
That just isn’t fair
It’s cute as the EP’s cover to the right, but far from Enigma’s style. One thing is certain though; Michael’s vocal was never better than this. On songs like Shadows over my head and Song for unknown heroes he does the highs and lows effortlessly, without heavy reverb and other effects. So yes, this is great to hear for any Enigma fan!
The album Moon, Light and Flowers currently does not have distribution, so it is not available on Spotify or iTunes. It can be bought as an LP on Ebay, or as a German CD released in 1994.
A much better place to start the search for Enigma’s roots is Legionnaires (recorded both in German and English). This synth album, released in 1983, has more of the atmosphere of later albums. The sugar sweet style is almost all gone. Its more existential and thoughtful. The first track, Legionares, is like the intro heard on Enigma. Track 2, Total Normal, (English title; Today, Today) has a lot of youthful optimism.
I absolutely love this instumental piece called Goldene Jahre, which shows early signs of Mr. Cretu’s genious:
There are other excellent tracks here, like Zeitlose Reise (Targets) and Der Planet Der Verlorenen Zeit (We look at the stars). It is NOT Enigma, obviously, but never the less a great and interesting listen – especially for us who are into synth music. If not, these old albums are not for you.
Play Legionnaires on: