The Normal

Warm Leatherette

Composed by Daniel Miller

Song Review by

The Normal's icy, monochromatic 1978 single "Warm Leatherette" was inspired by J.G. Ballard's controversial novel Crash, which presents a subculture that fetishizes car crashes in disturbing, erotic detail. Like the book, the song wraps its lurid, subversive sentiments in clinical, detached terms. A relentless drum machine and hissing synths accompany lyrics like, "A tear of petrol is in your eye/The hand brake penetrates your thigh/Quick, let's make love," which are made all the creepier by Daniel Miller's deadpan delivery. Miller, the Normal's sole member, also founded Mute Records; "Warm Leatherette" was the label's debut single and the Normal's first and only official release (although Live at the West Runton Pavilion (6/3/79), a rare, one-sided live album with Robert Rental released by Rough Trade, does exist). An adaptation of sorts itself, "Warm Leatherette" was covered by industrial artists such as Pankow and Sleep Chamber as well as by Grace Jones, who made it the title track of her 1980 album. But it's Miller's original, dispassionate study of twisted metal and passions that remains a classic and a milestone in the development of post-punk, new wave, and electronic music -- all of which his label championed in the '70s, '80s,'90s and beyond.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
T.V.O.D./Warm Leatherette 1978 Mute 3:23
No Image 1991
Various Artists
Connoisseur
Just Say Yesterday: Volume VI of Just Say Yes 1992
Various Artists
Sire 3:19
Hardest Hits, Vol. 2 1994
Various Artists
SPG 3:23
Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 1 1994
Various Artists
Rhino
Electropop Essentials 1999
Various Artists
Hip-O / Hippo 3:19
Machine Soul: An Odyssey Into Electronic Dance Music 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 3:20
Rough Trade Shops: Electronic 01 2002
Various Artists
Mute 3:21
Me Without You [Original Soundtrack] 2002
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution / Epic/Sony/Legacy 3:22
Aktion Mekanik: Selected by Terence Fixmer 2002
Various Artists
Music Man Records
This Is Electroclash [3CD] 2003
Various Artists
Hypnotic / Cleopatra 3:18
Death Disco: Songs from Under the Dance Floor, 1978-1984 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:22
Just Say Sire: The Sire Records Story 2005
Various Artists
Rhino 3:20
Nick Rhodes and John Taylor Present Only After Dark 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Extended Seventies: The Dawning of the 12 Inch Era 2006
Various Artists
Optimum 3:20
Mute Audio Documents 2007
Various Artists
Mute 3:22
Some Bizzare Album [Bonus Tracks] 2008
Various Artists
Some Bizzare 3:21
A Man & A Machine 2008
Various Artists
Le Maquis
Elektro Diskow 2011
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Gold 3:21
No Image
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 3:23
The  New Romantics [EMI 2009]
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 3:22
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