The '80s was a horrible place to be if you hated synths, bad wavey hairstyles, men wearing make-up and women wearing ties. But if you sifted through the detritus, some artists armed with a Roland, a Korg and a Simmons drum-kit passed muster with audible aplomb.
Thomas Dolby, real name Thomas Morgan Robertson, was certainly a bit different (still is, some would argue). He looked and dressed like some crazed professor by donning nerdy specs, a white lab jacket and surrounding himself in promo shots with test-tubes, gyroscopes and maps.
Pre-empting the geek look by some 30 years, his obvious talent was musical composition with songs such as "Europa and the Pirate Twins", "Airwaves", "Radio Silence", "She Blinded Me With Science" and "Hyperactive", later becoming a producer (Prefab Sprout's "Steve McQueen" album for one example) and then a composer of the infamous Nokia ringtone - but don't hate him for it.
Nowadays, he spends time in his own converted lifeboat (called Nutmeg!) which doubles-up as a solar-powered recording studio - how cool is that? - with the first spoils of these sessions by the English coastline being released as a new album in the autumn.
Aptly-titled as "A Map of the Floating City", the album should finally see the light of day in September, although it has been previewed already by an EP, "Oceanea", issued in the spring. Dolby has also designed and released his online trading and battle game, "The Floating City", which you can register for at his website (www.thomasdolby.com).
Eccentric and fun, Dolby is just the sort of performer we need in the bland old 2010s - and now you can see him on tour, minus his boat but definitely including his eccentricities.
His UK 'sailings' will cast-off on 6th November in Shepherd's Bush, before heading downstream to Bournemouth then Birmingham, Oxford, Glasgow and finally Sheffield. More shows could be added in due course but meanwhile these few will go on sale this Friday at 9am, priced at £21.50/£25.