Friday, 7 December 2007

Shop Assistants "Safety Net" (unreleased rough mix for single) (53rd & 3rd, 1985)

There's a story behind this particular song, and it's here, in all its glory. I do ramble on a bit, but look at that time! 2.18 am! I think alcohol may have been involved.
As it says in the blog post, this version of "Safety Net", without doubt the highpoint of the Shop Assistants short career, was the rough mix, and not the eventual version that was released. The comparisons between the two versions are pronounced: the stereo separation is greater, the vocals are higher in the mix....but at the end of the day, the most obvious difference is the lack of guitar. By the time it was finally released, David Keegan had quite literally COVERED the song in waves of squalling guitar. To be honest, it's those waves of nose-bleed guitars that give the actual single it's thrilling power, but it's really interesting to hear how it was initially recorded. Hearing this rough mix again, after so many years, still sends a chill up my spine.
I got this tape on a Saturday afternoon, in October 1985, the day after "Safety net" was recorded, and later on that Saturday evening, we watched the band open their set at Moray House in Edinburgh with it. I've posted that live version as well, plus the second song in the set "All That Ever Mattered", with Alex giving me a little shout out at the start :)

Shop Assistants "Safety Net" (Rough Mix) (mp3)

Shop Assistants "Safety Net/All That Ever Mattered" (Live at Moray House College, Edinburgh, October 1985) (mp3)

The Muscle Shoal "Summer's Here" (Treasure Island Discs, 1988)

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One of the best things about this little blog, so far, has been hearing from the artists responsible for some of the stuff I've posted. It's been informative, humbling and astounding, in equal measure. But, of all of the stories that have emerged, none has lifted my spirits more than finally finding out some information about The Muscle Shoal. Here's a band I knew next to nothing about, appeared to be virtually un-googleable, and seemed destined to languish in undeserved obscurity. Thankfully, we now have some meat to put on the bones, which has put a MASSIVE grin on my face. So, I think it's only right that I post up the first Muscle Shoal single (and one which I referred to in my earlier post), "Summer's Here". This was the single that first made me sit up and listen to the band, and I love it just as much today as the first time I heard it, 19 years ago. Enjoy.

The Muscle Shoal "Summer's Here" (mp3)

Friday, 16 November 2007

Intaferon "Getoutoflondon" (Intacontinentalballisticmix) (Chrysalis Records 12", 1983)

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Intaferon are a band that are absolutely perfect for the Blogosphere. Unloved in their own time, yet responsible for a short run of highly memorable, quirky, melodic singles. The subject matter was always clever and moving enough to tug at the heartstrings, meaning people tend to hear them once, then spend the rest of their lives going: "there was this record I heard about 25 years ago, and I can't remember who it was by, but it goes like this....." They're a band who've feature on some of the blogs I read frequently: over at Dust On the Stylus, and at Lost Bands Of The New Wave Era (updates! PLEASE!) And of course, the records remain unavailable on CD, to this day. Well, almost unavailable- the single version of "Getoutoflondon" was, IIRC, on the soundtrack to an Olsen twins film "Winning London", alongside Plastic Bertrand, of all people. It's also turned up on some of those US compliation CD's of forgotten 80's songs. So, if we stick to the rules of this blog, the single version can't be posted, but I'm pretty sure the 12" has never officially been re-released, so we'll have some of that.

Intaferon were a duo, featuring two Simons, a Fellowes (later to go solo as Simon F, and even later than that to release Techno records as F Machine) and a Gillham, who seems to have dropped off the radar completely, apparently to go and teach Philosophy. Their trick was to work with some of the best producers of the day- with David Motion on their epic third single "Baby Pain" and with Martin Rushent on this, their debut single. I've always been in awe of Martin Rushent, his productions are one of the things that completely define the 1980's for me- his work on "Dare", with Altered Images, and his REMIXES...... It's his remixes that blow my mind. Have a listen to the stretched version of "Radio" by the Members, or "Homosapien" by Pete Shelley to see what I mean. But the one remix that towers over all of them IMHO, is this one. It's 8 minutes of frenetic, amphetamine-drenched, febrile madness. It actually starts straight away by piling into the third verse, which breaks all of the rules of remixing, then proceeds to thumb its nose at any of the remaining conventions of the remixers trade. Linn drums twitter, on the edge of seizure, vocals echo into an unintelligible soup of delay and FX....

And then there's the edits! Like the Latin Rascals a few years later, Rushent was a master of the lightning fast edit. The song seems to jerk to a sudden stop, then re-start....sometimes with no regard for the beat. It's simultaneously exciting and confusing, and that's what makes it work.. At the end of the day, it's an absolute blast to hear a record where so many ideas are struggling to be heard, and yet the song still manages to survive. It's an iconic production, and one which still stands up to examination, even after nearly 25 years.

All this genius didn't help the single, unfortunately- it only reached number 93 in the charts. Rumour has it that the single's progress was initially stymied by some rather thoughtless promotion... someone in the Chrysalis press office had some flyers printed up before the single's release saying "Get Out Of London- In Two Weeks!", in an attempt to drum up press interest. Bad move. Some of the journalists, fearing they'd been targeted by terrorists, or disgruntled musicians, called Scotland Yard. The band's relationship with the press was never the same after that.

As I said, there are no legal compilations of Intaferon's output, though bootleg CD's do turn up on eBay from time to time. As ever, caveat emptor. Gratifyingly, martin Rushent is back producing again, after a few years where he seemed to have stepped back from the business. He has a myspace page, check him out here. maybe I'll leave him a message and ask if there are any unreleased Miro Miroe remixes in the vaults.....

no sites exist for Intaferon themselves, but if anyone knows any know where I am.

Intaferon "Getoutoflondon" (Intacontinentalballisticmix) (mp3)

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Bon Jovi - "Keep The Faith" (Unreleased Jesus Jones Remix) (Mercury Records, 1992)

Well, I'm very aware of the basic rules of this blog, which state:
1) Is it available on CD?
2)If not, would people be interested in hearing it?

I know the "real" version of this song certainly is available- but I'm going to take a punt on this particular version being of interest. It's been heard by about 50 people over the years, and no stock copies of it exist, there are just the Masters, the DAT's and the cassette copies that were dubbed off at the time. So it's a real oddity. I've played it to a close circle of friends and family over the years, and they've always got a kick out of hearing it, so, after 15 long years, here it is. I guess I should have asked Bon Jovi first...but hey, I lost their number :)
Why do I love this song? Well, not because it's perfect (it isn't), but because it has that indefinable quality to it- Zeitgeist. The ghost of the time (or to borrow a little phrase from Hawkwind: the spirit of the age). And I realise that I love this song whilst obviously having had a great deal to do with how it sounds; but if you can't cherish the things you've created, then what can you cherish?
So, let's rewind 15 years shall we? It's 1992, and i'm in a band (Jesus Jones. I'm the idiot bouncing up and down behind the keyboards). Now, one of the most marvellous things about being in a band is the constant string of seemingly random requests that come your way. Can you fly to Canada for three days to do some promo? Sure. Can you attend the launch party for a film you've never heard of? Sure- well, hang on, is there a free bar? There is? In that case- sure. Can you remix the next Bon Jovi single?
There are surprises around every corner, and this was one of the biggest. Myself and Mike Edwards were charged with remixing the upcoming Bon Jovi single, the first to be taken from their comeback album "Keep The Faith". We were, it has to be said, gobsmacked, and a little confused as to why they'd approached Jesus Jones in the first place. The song had a four-on-the-floor kick drum, a shuffling drum pattern, it was poppy, it was...well, for want of a better word, it was quite baggy . So someone, somewhere must have put two and two together, found they made five, but called us anyway.
And so it was, that on a chilly Wednesday morning, in September 1992, I arrived at Mike's house with a few records, a few ideas, and the rough tape of this song. We created the rough bones of the remix at Mike's house, in his bedroom studio. I love the fact that Bon Jovi recorded the album, with Bob Rock, in hugely expensive studios across the US, and this song got remixed in a tiny backroom in Kilburn, North London.
The Zeitgeist inherent in this remix comes, partly from the way it was created, and also the way It sounds. It was created using the pre-eminent technology du jour, Atari's Cubase, and by an Akai S1000 sampler. Cheap, affordable and easy to use, this technology was being used all across the UK to create an absolute torrent of new Dance Music, most interestingly for me: breakbeat hardcore. It was to two hardcore white labels I turned to get the breaks for this remix- "Don't Go" by The Awesome 3, and "Dis Generation" by Cosmic Brian. Once we'd got the breaks sampled, we steamed ahead with the tune. The bass line came from our trusty Juno 6, as did the acidic squelches, the Roland D10 keyboard gave us the hats, tambourines and little drum fills, and the rest of it came from Messrs Jovi. One of the funniest memories of the entire process is listening the vocal track and hearing the line "I am broken like an arrow" and actually hearing "I am broken like marrow" We couldn't understand it- who would be broken like a marrow? Why would you compare yourself to a marrow? Even now, I'm still wondering.
We basically turned the song into a slice of poppy hardcore, with a chirpy little keyboard line, and rolling breakbeats. We made a couple of major changes to the song structure, and it's these changes which, I suspect, may be the reason behind this Remix remaining unreleased. First off, we removed the line about "everyone bitchin' 'cos the times are tough".. it just felt wrong when placed into the context of a poppy remix. So we doubled up the first line of the bridge "everybody needs somebody to love". In hindsight, we were really messing with another artist's craft, and I can kind of see why they would be pissed off. But hey, it was all done with good intentions. The second change we made was to totally re-record the guitar solo. It was my greatest musical achievement EVER, finally getting to play a totally bitching solo! We chopped the original solo into around a dozen tiny segments (if you listen carefully, you can hear the repeated phrases) and replayed them, whilst we ran the backing track. It was great fun, and i reckon the solo that emerges sounds AMAZING (well, I would, wouldn't I?) However, I'm willing to bet Richie Sambora didn't feel quite the same. Whatever.
And that was it, really; we mixed it down on the 1st of October, in Master-rock studios, just up the road on Kilburn High Street. At the mixing stage, we also recorded a mental, fast version (about 150bpm) without the vocals, called the "Shariba" mix. That version will stay unreleased :)
So, it's a song with Zeitgeist- for it's use of the technology of the time, the fact that it was recorded in basic conditions, in a spirit of adventure, of emerging possibility, with naive optimism and some of the sounds that were in our heads at the time. It's wrapped up in how I felt and thought about music back then, how I thought it should be made, how I thought it should sound, and most importantly, it's wrapped up in memories of how my life was: how things were when the band was at it's peak, and all this madness was around us. I'm certainly not pining for those days, in fact, I'm rather glad to be free of them, but it's interesting to revisit the memory bank every once in a while.
This mp3 has been dubbed off a cassette, so the quality isn't perfect, but, enjoy. It's been a long time coming.
Oh, and don't tell Bon Jovi. Cheers.

Bon Jovi "Keep The Faith" (Jesus Jones Remix) (mp3)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Live At The ICA (Bootleg cassette, 1984)

Everyone has a favourite gig, just as they have a favourite record. Mine was not so much a favourite gig, more a full-blown, road to Damascus epiphany. After the events of the night of Saturday the 29th of December 1984, I knew that the day-dreams I'd had of joining a band had crossed over from mere dreams to being something which I could no longer control : I just had to be in a band. I didn't know how, at that point; and it took a few years before it happened, but it all stems from one gig.
I'd seen punk bands before this that made me love them, I'd even seen Duran Duran who made me love the idea of pure pop music, but I'd never been jolted into action. This gig was the impetus which I needed, and its sense of anger, violence and sheer physical release shaped everything I ever did as a musician.
So, on that Saturday night, I entered the ICA, to see The Jesus And Mary Chain. The gig was part of a week of performances, showcasing new and emerging talent. This meant you got a real mixed bag of shows, none more so than for this one. The Mary Chain were supported by pre-Raphaelite folksters Shellyan Orphan, who went down like a lead balloon with the sweaty crowd of punks, who'd obviously come down to take a look at the drunken bunch of Scots who were being hailed as the musical apocalypse. The entire front row watched in utter disbelief as Shellyan Orphan proceeded to come on stage, sit down on some stools, and then, to utter bemusement, got an artist friend to paint an Oil painting whilst they strummed their baroque ballads. Every now and again, the singer would say, mid-song, “Hey, what d'ya think of the painting?” In a wonderfully cut-glass home counties accent. I could hear the bloke next to me saying to his mate: “I'll tell him what I fuckin' think of his fuckin' painting if I fuckin' catch that poncey fuckin' twat outside later” It was nothing short of a miracle that the band escaped with their lives. Clearly, the audience had bigger fish to fry- absolutely everyone in the building was there to see the Mary Chain, and the tension was palpable as they shuffled onto the stage. And then......
....And then they did nothing. For about 10 minutes. In front of a virtually psychotic crowd, waiting for them to fail, waiting for them to pass out in a drug-induced coma (the papers were full of rumours that they basically lived on Amphetamines). The atmosphere at the front of the crowd was turning ugly, so I retreated to the side of the venue. I can see myself there now, I was wearing my long black crombie coat (de riguer at the time) a dark paisley shirt, buttoned to the neck, Tight black drainpipes and Shelly's brothel creepers. I was sandwiched between a bloke with a Leather Jacked festooned with the cover of “Punk's Not Dead” by the Exploited and some journalists, notebooks at the ready. We watched the crowd as they began to get more and more restless, shouting for the band to do something, anything. Anything at all.
After around five minutes, where they did little more than kick things on stage, the noise began. Gently at first, a small shrill whistle singing out over our heads. It went on for a few minutes more, until it morphed into recognisable feedback. The first few thwacks on the stand up drum were greeted with sarcastic cheers. Drumming for them at that point was of course Bobby Gillespie, with Shades covering most of his face, and dressed head to toe in leather. Jim and William Reid prowled around the stage, in an advanced state of refreshment. Jim, in particular, looked like he was unsure whether he was awake or not. William sat on the floor, with a black Gretsch guitar, aimlessly turning the knobs on his amplifier. And then, they finally started playing.
Six songs. That's all you got, and it was actually quite a long gig for the band (I remember the Electric Ballroom show coming in at a shade over 17 minutes) Starting with a piercing version of “In A Hole” and ending, 20 minutes later, with an inhuman shriek of noise, as “Jesus Suck” collapsed in on itself. In between those two points were twenty of the most exciting musical minutes I've ever seen. I've yet to see a band reach the same dizzying heights of nonchalant aggression since. I still don't think I'll ever see a better gig. I vividly remember every single second: Jim laughing at the stupidity of it all during “Vegetable man”, William's solo in “You Trip me Up” exploding from the bowels of the song in a sudden slash of simple was just wonderful.
Even the combative audience seemed to have been forced into submission by the wall of noise: the effect of the sheer brutality of the sound was to make you clench your fists (I had marks from my fingernails on my palms for the rest of the night) but the fists never ended up lashing out. The feedback had all of us in its thrall;gritting our teeth as this screaming monster of a gig passed over our heads.
At the end of it all, I felt drunk, giddy from the noise, unsteady on my feet. I emerged into the night air of The Mall with my teeth on edge, my ears whistling, and my heart absolutely pounding from the sheer magic of it all. It's been beating that way ever since.
There have been bootleg albums of the gig around for a number of years, I bought a few, eagerly expecting them to help me recreate the night in my mind, but they were without exception, all rubbish. Normally missing a song, or badly recorded, none managed to live up to the original bootleg cassette of the gig I bought in Camden market, a week later. The tape remains, for me, the definitive record of that night's show.
It's a pretty hefty download, around 30meg, but if you have any interest in the Mary Chain whatsoever, it's a must. Enjoy. I guess the download may mess with my fileden limit, so I'll leave this link up for less than a week-if you want this one, be quick about it :)

Jesus And Mary Chain CD's available here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Natural-Ites And The Realistics "Picture On The Wall" (CSA Records, 1983)

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Here's the first of what I hope will be a string of Reggae tracks on Down With Tractors- the only reason I've not posted more is that It's tricky to check just what has come out on CD, and as you know, this blog likes to try and focus on stuff that's otherwise unavailable. I'm pretty sure that this has never been re-issued, which is's one of the most strident, yet sweetly melodic Roots anthems that I can think of. Back in 1983, I came across this record in the same way that a lot of others did: via the huge airplay that it got on the evening shows on Radio 1, particularly of course, via John Peel (they were even called upon to record a session for Peel after the release of the single). The single also made it into Peel's Festive Fifty in 1983, reaching the dizzying heights of nuber 10, which shows just how popular it was. (For all your Festive Fifty needs, I'd implore you all to check out Steve's excellent blog) If I can use a dirty word here, it was an undoubted crossover success, even threatening to be a proper hit single. There's an exhaustive history of the band here, which I'd encourage you to check out.

The song itself needs no real explanation: there's a lilting horn section providing the counter-melodies, and there' just enough of a blues inflection in Ossie Gad's voice to give the song that feeling of joy and spiritual power. This version is the edited 7" version, I know i've got the 12" somwhere, i'll try and find it(off to dig in those crates again!!)....but for now,Enjoy.

Natural-Ites And The Realistics "Picture On The Wall" (mp3)

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Bourgie Bourgie "Apres Ski" (MCA 12" B-side, 1984)

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There are certain voices that sum up the 1980's for me: Billy MacKenzie, Martin Fry, Pete Wylie, Green, Morrissey (and many more) ...but one of the names on my list never seems to make it onto anyone elses- Paul Quinn.

Paul, to me, has a voice which is the Yang to Billy Mackenzie's Yin. Whilst MacKenzie was sometimes histrionic and over-wraught, lapsing into a pleading falsetto; Quinn's voice is an altogether different beast. His voice is deeper, more Rock'n'Roll, occasionally emerging as a low, bluesy howl. Yet both voices have that power, that range of expression, that spread of emotion that few others matched. Oddly, i've always felt Billy's voice, despite its falsetto swoops, was more masculine, whilst Paul Quinn, with that lascivious low drawl, had more of a feminine quality to his voice. I'm guessing that the paradoxes within each persons vocal style are the hooks that keep us all interested, keep us in thrall to these sounds.....

Whilst Billy Mackenzie is more readily accepted as an iconic performer, Paul Quinn seems to command less attention, which is a pity. I suppose this is partly due to a lesser commercial profile, but also to a sense that here was a performer who was slightly rootless: his disparate output encompasses work with The Jazzateers, duets with Edwyn Collins and Vince Clarke, as well as this short-lived outfit, Bourgie Bourgie. He never really seemed to find a home, somewhere to ground his art. If he had, I suspect things might have been different.

But enough musing, let's think about THAT voice. If you've never heard his version of The Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes", you've never heard the definitive version of the song. For an artist to eclipse someone like Lou Reed is pretty rare, but Paul Quinn manages it effortlessly. His low mournful voice, dripping with regret and pain, just nails it. Remind me to post it at some point in the future.....

But today's slice of Quinn genius is this B-side from the debut Bourgie Bougie single. The A-side ("Breaking Point") has its admirers, but for me it's always been about the B-side. "Apres Ski" kicks off with a truly memorable little riff, before wandering off into an extended bluesy jam. It sounds as though the second half of the song was extemporised in the studio; such is the sense of joy and release as the band just, sort of, mess about for the last four minutes. The feeling of a band right on the edge of it's creative powers is what makes me love this song so much. It even ends apologetically, the drummer still trying to keep the song going just that little bit longer... To appreciate the song fully, you had to have the 12" version, which feature the full version: the 7" single had both it's A and B sides cruelly truncated. For those of you who are curious about the A-side, here's some youtube action:

And here's "Apres Ski" in all it's seven and a half minutes of glory. Enjoy.

Bourgie Bourgie "Apres Ski" (Extended Version) (mp3)

Friday, 2 November 2007

Swans "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Product Inc Records, 1988)

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Well, I'm sure I don't have to fill you in on Swans. Of all of the early no-wave/industrial bands coming out of New York's burgeoning Art-Rock scene, they were the loudest and the nastiest, for a while. The early albums are just these huge slabs of churning noise, topped off with Michael Gira's distinctive howling vocals.

So it was something of a surprise when they released this cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in 1988. It's a magisterial slice of doomy pop, which always sounded to me like it should have been a HUGE hit. Oh well, what would I know? It came in a multitude of editions, and in two distinct versions: the "Red" one features Michael Gira on vocals, the "Black" one has his collaborator Jarboe turning in a slightly more mournful, slower vocal. Apparently, Gira was unhappy with his vocal performance (I can't quite see why) and though Jarboe's version has been reissued, I believe this version is still unavailable. That's a great shame; I've heard plenty of Joy Division covers, and without exception, they all seem to be dreadful. This song has a gravitas and tension that pays homage to the original whilst taking it into a new direction (it's a nice touch to have simplified the main riff by a couple of notes, letting the song breathe)

As a further delight, the "Red" version of the single came on lush Red Vinyl (natch). That's it above- it's better to look at than the sleeve, which is Red type on a Red background.

Swans "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (mp3)

Haircut 100 "Nobody's Fool" (demo) (Flexipop hard vinyl test press, 1982)

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We take the acquisition of music a little too much for granted nowadays, don't we? A download is but a mouse-click away; itunes can call on a library of millions of songs (but good luck finding exactly what you want!) and every magazine or newspaper you buy seems to disgorge at least 1 free covermounted CD.

So it's always nice to look back at a time when the height of musical technology was to be presented with a FREE RECORD, taped to the front of a magazine! Imagine that! Well, it wasn't without it's drawbacks- the record was actually a flexidisc, which meant sometimes it was creased, it wouldn't play properly, the needle on your record player would gouge holes in the flexi...... Welcome to the world of Flexipop Magazine. At the start of the 80's however, this free music/added bonus of a magazine concept was very funky indeed, and my heart would beat just a little faster when I arrived at the newsagents to see a pile of the magazines, with their flexis proudly attached to the cover: a yellow John Foxx one, The Cure (green) OMD (blue, with Nash The Slash as well)........ For those of you who remember, and perhaps those of you who are curious, there's a full list here. Amongst all of these other bands sat the subject of today's post: Haircut 100 (March 1982, Green) "Nobody's Fool" should be instantly recognisable to anyone with any knowledge of the band: it was a single after all, reaching number 9 in the charts later that year.

What's not so readily known is that this version of the song is actually solely written and performed by Haircut 100's driving force, singer-songwriter Nick Heyward. The band themselves seemed to be falling apart, due to the pressures of their new-found fame, and this song was earmarked as Nick's first solo single. In fact, it finally emerged as the last Haircut 100 single to feature Nick (the band carried on for a year or so without him, to no discernible success whatsoever). whether the band actually featured on the final single, or whether they were there merely in name, i don't really know. However, having had at least some knowledge of what it's like when bands start the process of falling apart, I can imagine the rancour and bitterness this song must have caused amongst his bandmates when they realised nick was setting out on his own and leaving them behind.

This version is fairly simplistic (as one might expect from a solo demo) but with all the added charm that demos have: yes, the vocals are shaky, the production is shonky...but there's a joyous sense of propulsion to the song: it drives along, whooping and crashing, with Nicks vocals powering along over the top. And there's one more thing that makes this copy special: it's a hard vinyl test pressing. Flexipop records were, obviously Flexis; but in the interests of promotion, the magazine had a limited number of hard vinyl copies made up of each one. These are incredibly rare: the Cure one goes for several hundred pounds, and there's an article on Goth in this month's Record Collector magazine which notes that the Bauhaus hard vinyl pressing goes for around £250! If anyone has the magazine to hand, have a little look at the handwriting on the Bauhaus label: exactly the same as on the record above- obviously it was one person's job to sit in the Flexipop offices and write out all the labels (in the same Black felt tip, too!) Well, though it's nice to know that my record is only one of 50 copies, and it's nice to be able to hear the song in some semblance of decent quality, I doubt that it's worth as much as the other Flexipop rarities. No matter, I love it just as much, regardless.

If you don't own any Haircut 100 records, then get yourself sorted. Pronto. It's less than a fiver :)

Haircut 100 "Nobody's Fool" (Demo Version) (mp3)

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

The Impossible Years "Scenes We'd Like To See" (Dreamworld 12", 1983)

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First off, a slight apology for the lack of posts, I guess i'm going to have to try and make up for lost time and post as much as possible over the next couple of days.

Next, it looks like I made it onto Hype Machine! To anyone who has arrived at this small outpost of musical whimsy as a result: welcome. Today's post relates to the TV Personalities , but mainly to Dreamworld Records, the Label that Dan Treacy set up after Whaam! records had folded. (Full history lesson here ) My connection with Dan goes back to my days at University, where I was friends with a guy called Colin Gregory. Together with his best friend from Sheffield, Dave Walmsley, they had been in a band called The Page Boys, putting out one single ("My Kind Of Girl") on Whaam!. During the course of our time at Uni, they decided to form a new band, and I actually joined them for a few weeks. I'm not sure we even had a name, though we may have been Jonathon's Chocolate Factory for a few days (!) and we restricted our musical output to furtive rehearsals in empty lecture halls where we practiced the fruits of our new venture. These included a synth-led instrumental called "Gnat In A Storm" and a song called "Telephone" which was dominated by, you guessed it, the sound of a telephone ringing. After a few weeks of this, it became clear that their ambition was greater than mine, so I left them to it. I joined my best friend Nick in a situationist art-punk duo called The Violet Wardrobe, and Jonathon's Chocolate Factory became 1000 Violins. Obviously, I kept in touch, and when I left Uni, I would follow the Violins around when they came down to play gigs in London. This led me to the TVP's, and my eventual position as sometime doorperson at Dan's club, The Room At The Top, in Chalk Farm. All of this led to my "C86 years" and I'm sure I'll get into that at some later date, but for now, let's return to Dreamworld.

There's been a compilation of Dan's output on the Whaam! imprint (here; essentially a reissue of the vinyl "All For Art...And Art For All!" compilation, with some TVP's demos tacked on), but there's no sign of any compilation of the stuff that appeared on Dreamworld. Indeed, when I saw Dan in the late 1990's , he was trawling round second-hand shops, trying to collect some of the missing links in the Dreamworld discography, with a view to just such a compilation. Unfortunately, other events got in the way, and it would be a few more years before Dan got himself sorted out (further details here) so I'm guessing the compilation remains on hold. Dreamworld was a poppier label than it's more psychedelic predecessor, and boasted some great acts: The Mighty Lemon Drops, 1000 Violins, and Go! Service/Blue Train, better known today as It's Jo And Danny. But some of the releases are a little more obscure; I can remember that the records Dan was trying to find and complete his compilation were the Jane Bond LP, and Dreamworld's first release, and the subject of this post, "Scenes We'd Like To See" by The Impossible Years. It didn't attract as much attention as other Dreamworld releases due to the fact that it's creators were the other side of The Atlantic: whereas The Mighty Lemon Drops could come down from Dudley at a moment's notice and play The Room At The Top, The Impossible Years were stuck in Philadelphia. Consequently, not many people got to hear this EP, which is a great shame. It's a beautifully constructed selection of songs, blessed with chiming guitars, sunny harmonies, poppy optimism and killer melodies. the best two tracks on the EP are "Attraction Gear", a fuzzy, psychedelic love song, and "Flower Girl", a fuzzy, psychedelic......oh you get the picture. The record itself is in the Bible for £12, though due to it's relative scarcity, I guess a price of anything up to double that would be fair.Looking around, I i notice there's one on sale on the 'bay for a fiver, which is an absolute steal, if anyone out there likes these mp3's enough to want to purchase the EP, I suggest you do so sharpish, it won't be there for long.

The Impossible Years "Attraction Gear" (mp3)

The Impossible Years "Flower Girl" (mp3)

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Muscle Shoal "Accept Yourself" (Mush Recordings 10", 1991)

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Here's another of those records, rather like The Bicycle Thieves single I posted, that I know nothing about. Well, not quite nothing, but hardly anything... When I worked in Rough Trade, in the late 80's, one of the people who was in and out of the shop every now and again was someone who managed this band, The Muscle Shoal. He lived near the shop, somewhere in W11, and that's all I can remember: even his name escapes me. I presumed at the time that the band were based in West London as well, though I never found out for sure. At that time, in 1988, they'd released one single, a 12" called "Summer's Here" and that was it. It was an insanely catchy slice of jangly pop and it's never been far from my record player, but I was convinced that was all they ever recorded. However, a few years ago, on one of my regular trawls through the bargain basement of The Record And Tape Exchange, I found this. It's dated 1991, which is rather odd- what were they doing for three years? I certainly don't recall reading about them, or hearing of any releases in that three year period... My best guess is that here was a band, full of hope and confidence, who released a strong debut single, got some record company interest, got a publishing deal, and promptly got lost inside the record business machine. Hey, it happens. This 10" single seems to have been self-financed, and looks like it was the band tidying up the loose ends on a career that never really got started.

Due to the myriad of references to the Muscle Shoals, they're a band who are also completely un-googleable. Like I say, all I have are two singles. The debut ("Summer's Here") will have to wait until I can locate it, but this single is almost as good : it's a piece of jangling pop wonder, with great harmonies, great lyrics (clever use of except/accept) and that all-important sense of self-belief. And i know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: if anyone out there can shed any more light on this one, do let me know.

The Muscle Shoal "Accept Yourself" (mp3)

The Muscle Shoal

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Gangway "My Girl And Me" (Irmgardz, 1986)

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Now that, is UNQUESTIONABLY, my favourite picture sleeve of all time. I mean, just look at it! I still can't pick it up without a big daft grin on my face. Consider this a challenge: if anyone else out there can find a better sleeve, i'd like to see it.

It's 1986. i'm working in Our Price Records, Watford High Street. My partner in crime is charming young man called William Learmonth. Together, we are "High Fidelity" before Nick Hornby ever thought of putting pen to paper. We charm all the young girls into submission with a combination of winning repartee, devil-may-care attitude, and most importantly, the best records we can lay our hands on. The sort of songs that, when played, will make those self-same girls approach the counter, fluttering their eyelashes, to ask us: "Oooh, this is lovely, what is it?"

Well, what this is, is one of the greatest slices of slightly-camp, lounge pop ever created. It's the sort of record that should have been on Compact records, should have been recorded by Mari Wilson, was The Divine Comedy but better, was My Life Story but with more pop was the sort of record that should have been a huge hit, but wasn't. Gangway were a highly accomplished Danish band, whose career should have been kick-started in this country by "My Girl And Me", but, inexplicably, it wasn't. They signed to London records over here and the single was re-recorded in 1988 (by David Motion, who did Strawberry Switchblade, Intaferon, and...ahem a couple of Jesus Jones songs...) and was totally ruined. The flow of the original, it's wit and swagger seemed to have been lost. And as if that wasn't enough, the wonderful sleeve was replaced by THIS, which is, quite frankly, totally shite.

Here's the video of the re-recorded version:

Overall, it's just one of those songs which somehow fell through the cracks. How and why seems to be a combination of bad luck, bad timing, and the capriciousness of the music business. At least it'll have it's moment in the blog-spotlight. I suspect that "My Girl And Me" will have a longer life in the blogosphere than it ever would have had in the normal charts. Enjoy.

Gangway "My Girl And Me" (Original Version) (mp3)

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Chuck Wagon "Rock'n'Roll Won't Go Away" (A&M Records 1979)

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When I was a little Punk Rock kid, many years ago, The Dickies were one of my favourite bands ever. I was too young to see that the press thought they were a bit naff, didn't have much street credibilty, but I didn't care. The silly cover versions made me smile, the buzzsaw guitar riffs made me pogo around my bedroom, and the coloured vinyl 7"s were teenage objects of desire. So, for me, the Chuck Wagon single became something I just had to have.

here's a little background info on Chuck: he was born Bob Davis, and was one of the founding members of The Dickies, playing keyboards, saxophone and guitar. This single shows that the manic punk fun of The Dickies wasn't all there was to Chuck- it's a wonderfully mellow snippet of early synth-pop, with backwards-treated vocals hinting at someone perhaps more shy than a showman cavorting around the stage in a punk band. In the middle of the band's success, Chuck had some sort of major problems with his girlfriend and sadly committed suicide. This single is the merest hint of what sort of talent we lost.

The record itself is also notable for being one of the trickiest Dickies-related items to find. Copies of "Banana Splits" are ten-a-penny, and most of the rest of the bands catalogue is never much more than an ebay auction away: however, this single bombed spectacularly, and as a result is hardly ever seen. It was released as a purple vinyl 7", but i've got a stock copy on black vinyl, as well as a stamped promo copy (also on black vinyl).

Chuck's death affected me quite a lot as a kid, I felt like some of the fun had been taken from my musical world: certainly it seems as though The Dickies themselves were similarly affected- drugs and other problems saw them fall into a slump after Chuck's death that would take them the best part of a decade to ride out. Here's a little footage of Chuck/Bob, which has been posted up on youtube. R.I.P.

The ever-reliable Captain Oi! records have reissued most of the Dickies essential albums, full details are here. the band themselves are still going, and have a myspace.

Chuck Wagon "Rock And Roll Won't Go Away" (mp3)

Victims Of Pleasure "When You're Young" (Rialto 1982)

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Well, here's another single from Victims Of Pleasure, this time it's their debut single "When You're Young". My copy isn't the first issue (which came out on their own label) but the reissue on Rialto, from the following year. I've blogged about VOP before, of course (they were the subject of the first real post on this blog) but this post is as much about the genius of Colin Thurston, who produced this single. My 1980's were defined by quite a select band of producers: Martin Rushent, Martin Hannet, and Colin Thurston. He produced "Secondhand Daylight", the second Magazine album, and after that I was hooked. his slick, sometimes glacial productions shimmered across the rest of the decade, impressing and amazing me every time. For someone whose style was always supposed to be somewhat detached, impersonal and aloof, there's a warmth and honesty that draws me to Thurston's work.

And what of this particular song? Well, its sense of open-eyed wonder and naive optimism still gets me every time. This was how I felt about everything in the very early 1980's: disappointment and not reaching all your goals wasn't part of my mindset- everything seemed not just possible, but probable. Some of that hope and confidence still drips from the grooves of this (slightly scratchy) single.

Victims Of Pleasure "When You're Young" (mp3)

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Last Chant "Run Of The Dove" (Chicken Jazz Records, 1981)

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Here's yet another of those records that I know absolutely nothing about. I'm sure that I bought this single (in Record & Tape Exchange, obv.) because it was on Chicken Jazz, who'd released the Waterboys single "A Girl Called Johnny". (though this single came first). I remember being somewhat disappointed with the single when I first got it, but when the middle of the 80's rolled round, the fact that it was basically an EXACT copy of the Velvet Underground meant it scored some major points and stayed in my collection. It's a piece of dark, brooding psychedelia: it broods and builds, swells and surges: it's a quite extraordinarily confident record, which seems all the more confusing when nothing further was heard from its protagonists. Sometimes, great bands have enough power and drive to get that one great single out: then no more. It's the Mayfly principle at work. Live fast, die young, and leave a wonderful 7" piece of vinyl that people will blog about for years to come.

And yes, that's my digital camera that's made the sleeve look so bad. I apologise. One of these days, I promise I'll get a scanner. As ever, if anyone out there has any more info on the band, let me know.

The Last Chant "Run Of The Dove" (mp3)

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Phut Phut Splodgenik "86, The Year Of The Bean" (Completely Different Records 1986)

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The main criteria for bunging stuff up on this little blog has to be: 1) Is it unavailable on CD? 2) Is it suitably difficult to find, therefore people might be interested in hearing it? As long as tunes fulfill those two criteria, they're in. This tune scores particularly heavily on point 2). Let me explain......

1986 finds me working in Our Price records, more often than not at its two branches in Watford. I was a cocky little kid, and not above telling the shop managers which records they should and shouldn't be ordering from the reps. The reps were the mobile salesmen from various record labels, who would pass by our shops on a weekly basis, park their Granada estates outside and stagger in with an armful of promotional stock. They would then attempt to coerce you into ordering as many copies as possible of their priority acts for that week. Often, the deal would be sweetened with the rep passing over FOC (free of charge) stock, so the shop would make a clear profit, or else we'd end up with some Belouis Some slipmats, or a Danny Wilson promotional T-shirt (oh, the glamour.) On this visit, the rep for Pinnacle had, amongst a pile of other stuff, this little beauty. It's Max Splodge (surely you guessed that?) of Splodgenessabounds "fame", in one of his many attempts to repeat the success of "Two Pints Of Lager...." This time, the target of his attention was Sigue Sigue Sputnik. "The Year Of The Bean" is a barely-disguised pastiche of "Love Missile F-111", with a lyric attempting to join the Sputnik vision of cold, robotic modernity to the 100th birthday of the Baked Bean. And it's therefore got LOADS of fart noises on it. These, it has to be said, are funny the first time you hear them, but lose their, ahem, sparkle soon afterwards. Perhaps the central failing of the record is that it seeks to try and make SSS funny, when in truth, they were doing a pretty good job of it themselves, albeit unintentionally.

So far(t), so good. The rep played the single in the shop, the manager thought it was daft, so did I; but I reckoned it would sell. So, I got the rep to put us down for 3 copies, and asked if we could get one now, and put it out in the racks. The rep went out to his Granada, coming back with a disconsolate look on his face. "Sorry lads, that's the only copy they gave me. You can buy it now, if you're desperate" Well, we weren't desperate, but we bought it anyway (it was always good to look after the reps, you'd get paid back somehow, in the future). As it turned out, I was wrong about the single: no-one wanted to buy it. Except me. Yes, over the course of the next few weeks, I became rather attached to it's juvenile charms, and persuaded the manager to let me have it as a staff purchase. We put it's number down on our order sheet, next to the three copies that we still hadn't received.

And they never turned up. I can remember phoning in the Pinnacle order over the next few months, spouting a long list of catalogue numbers down the phone "Rough Trade RT 121 for 6, Demon 56 for 10......" and every time I got to this records catalogue number "....and Mad 03 for three copies..." the computer would just emit a squawk and the girl on the order desk would say "I'm sorry, that's no longer on our lists" It had vanished. But now, it seems that it never even made it as far as the record buying public anyway: according to this it seems to have been the victim of a record company that went into liquidation, and hardly any copies ever saw the light of day. Rumour has it that Max Splodge himself doesn't even own a copy. If that's all true, I'm guessing that the copies that were given to reps were the only ones to reach the public, if indeed they ever did. If the record had a thousand-copy print run (fairly standard) there would probably have been around 50 copies which were given to the reps to drum up interest. My copy is one of those. Whatever, it's probably one of the rarest records I've got, as well as being one of the silliest. If anyone else out there knows anything more about this particular slice of buffoonery, you know where I am.

Max Splodge is still very much with us, his myspace is here. There's a great Splodgenessabounds reissue, which you can get here containing pretty much all you'll ever need (including the 40 seconds of GENIUS which is "Yarmouth 5-0")

So, to finish, enjoy, but be warned: may contain fart noises.

Phut Phut Splodgenik "86, The Year Of The Bean" (mp3)

The Bicycle Thieves "Ghost Dance"/"Louise" (Clear Spot Records, 1986)

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I just can't resist a request, so for Nick (see the comments on the Faith Global post), here's a forgotten gem from 1986. I got this single from a bloke I knew called Roger, who'd been putting on some gigs at Queen Mary college in Mile End in London. I'm not really sure why I was up there paying him a visit, but i found myself in the promoters office, with it's requisite detritus of singles, posters, fanzines, flyers, gaffa tape and overflowing ashtrays. Roger sat me down, and while we were chatting, said "Hang on, have a listen to this, it's by a band I'm sort of looking after at the moment" He played me "Louise" and I absolutely loved it. So much so that I begged him to let me have a copy. "Sure" he said, rooting around his desk for a spare. "Actually, that's the only copy I've got at the moment, you can have it if you like" So, it was secondhand when I got it, and it's obviously been played a little *too* much, but it's been one of my most cherished records from that day to this. It's a driving, heartfelt slice of pop melancholia, with a melody The icicle works would have killed for, and just the right amount of chiming Rickenbacker verve and swagger. It's actually the B-side to this single, but take it from me, it's easily better than the other side.

And what of The Bicycle Thieves? Well- and I'm sure you won't be surprised, nothing.I've got a 12" by the band which came out on Waterfront records a few years later, and it's not a patch on this. There's no record of them anywhere on the Internet. If anyone out there knows anything about them, I'd dearly love to know.

The Bicycle Thieves "Louise" (mp3)

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Faith Global "Earth Report" (Survival Records 12" 1982)

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Of all the bands I've ever obsessed over, early Ultravox! come top of the pile. I've blogged about how it all started, and it all came to a glorious head when I was asked to contribute a quote to the sleeve notes for the recent CD reissue of "ha!-ha!-ha!" (My favourite album, EVER.) John Foxx-era Ultravox! made three albums, "Ultravox!", "ha!-ha!-ha!" and "Systems Of Romance", but it's the first two albums that really do it for me. And the common thread running through those two albums? Their original guitarist, Stevie Shears. Stevie was replaced just before "Systems..." by Robin Simon, and while the exact reasons have never really been made clear, it seems as if he wasn't thought to be capable of making the new guitar sounds they wanted, as the band explored differing textures and moved towards a synthesiser dominated sonic palette. That, to me, was a crying shame. It was Stevie's coruscating, amphetamine-drenched waves of guitar that made the early recordings: "Distant Smile" (from "ha!-ha!-ha!") is a great case in point; the two-note riff, on strings stretched way further than sounds necessary, still stands as some of most primal, exciting rock music I've heard. It's Stevie who blazes all across "Young Savage", it's Stevie whose riff lights up "Hiroshima Mon Amour". And they replaced him. Oh well.

After his time in Ultravox (and following a brief sojourn in Cowboys International) Stevie Shears returned to the musical arena with his new band, Faith Global. Comprised of himself, Jason Guy on vocals and associated session musicians backing him up, they released this, their debut single, and a following album "The Same Mistakes" It's a classic slice of early 80's new wave, lots of whooshing synths and earnest vocals.It's let down slightly by a tentative production job, but the melodies are strong and precise, and the tune buries itself neatly in the back of your mind.The entire thing reeks a little of The Psychedelic Furs a bit TOO much, and there's not enough of Stevie's guitar histrionics for me, but I love it nonetheless. The albums great as well, remind me to rip a few tracks from it some time in the future.

And what of Faith Global? Well, like so many of the bands I feature on this blog; nothing much. Stevie doesn't seem to have done anything since, and I can't find any trace of Jason Guy whatsoever. If anyone has any information about either, I'd love to hear it! The single turns up on eBay from time to time, because it's a bit of an adjunct to the Ultravox! story, it doesn't go for huge money, so snap it up if you see it.

Faith Global "Earth Report" (mp3)

Friday, 24 August 2007

Spudeit Dive "Virgin Sands" (Sunken Beauty Records 12", 1983)

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God, I love The Record & Tape Exchange. I know it's Music and Video Exchange now, but it'll always be the Record & Tape to me: I even ended working there for a couple of years when I was between Jobs in the late 90's... Here's a little bit of a history lesson about me and Record & Tape, it meanders a little, but we'll get there, so bear with me...

When I was a kid, I lived in the middle of nowhere, deep in the Wiltshire countryside. If I needed to go and shop for vinyl, it was either an hours cycle ride into Devizes, which basically had a Woolies and a couple of small music shops with tiny selections of records, or I'd have to wait and cadge a lift off my parents if they were going to Bath, Bristol or Swindon. I'd only really get to go shopping for records every couple of months, and even when I did get myself to a shop, I'd never really have a huge amount of money, so all my purchases had to be debated, pondered upon, and agonised over. All of that changed in 1981, when my father got a new job in London, and we moved to Hatch End, out in the North London suburbs. At first I was devastated to be leaving the landscape of my childhood behind, with all of it's memories, it's friendships and it's carefree happiness. This feeling of melancholia lasted about as long as it took me to work out that for about two pounds, I could get on a train, then a tube and be in the centre of Notting Hill Gate, in about an hour. I'd been to the Record & Tape in Notting Hill before, on school trips up to London; but now it could be my local record shop! I was like a kid in a sweet shop for the next six months, and my record collection grew exponentially. The great thing about R&T was it's bargain basement, full to bursting point of great vinyl at stupidly low prices. Because I still didn't really have much money, this is where I concentrated my shopping: buying things on the cheap because I liked the label they were on, because I'd seen positive reviews, because I'd heard them on the John Peel Show. All of this leads to a vitally important fact about the way my taste evolved: because I grew up buying piles of stuff at knock-down prices, it meant I ended up listening to, and loving, stuff that other people had discarded. I was being drawn to the underdogs of the musical world. Records that would otherwise have ended up unloved and alone. Sometimes it felt like a bit of a mission. To be honest, sometimes it still does.

This record is just such one of those purchases. I'd heard it on the John Peel show in 1983, taped it, loved it, memorised its details. One day shortly after that, it turned up in the basement of 38 NHG. I remember it cost me 40p. It's a fantastically dark record (I referred to the early 80's doom-rock that was everywhere in this post and this is the record I was promising to dig up and post for you) It's saturated with earth-shuddering bass, and it's liberally covered inwhat sounds like waves of church organ (or at least, an approximation of it) to give it that authentic Gothic feel. It's Bauhaus-y in it's sense of drama and scope, yet there's a little less glamour, and slightly more psychedelia in there.... And what on earth are the lyrics on about?

"Virgin Sands, walk over us.....swaying in the wheat"

Existential angst doesn't get more daft than that, does it? It's wonderfully overblown in it's vision and execution. I also remember Peel remarking on that line, and getting SERIOUSLY caught out by the ending, which seems to have been engineered specifically to frustrate him (make sure you listen to the end of the track, you'll see what I mean.)

And what of the band themselves? Well, nothing. Nothing at all. there's no real record of them on the Internet, bar this entry on Discogs. I don't recognise any of those names, and they don't seem to have done anything else. It's frustrating that there's no way of verifying whether the information is true or not.... Anyway, whatever its provenance, it's a truly great record, and deserves it's moment in the blog-spotlight.

(And as a little post-script, I still shop in 38 NHG, was just in there on Tuesday night. I bought "Amour Amour" by the Mobiles. It cost me 10p. Old habits die hard)

Spudeit Dive "Virgin Sands" (mp3)

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

King Kurt "Zulu Beat" (Thin Sliced Records, 1982)

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Thanks to a post that Mick put up, where he described a single by The Tubes as being his favourite coloured vinyl got me thinking: what was my favorite coloured vinyl single? Well, it's a toss-up between "Paranoid" by The Dickies on the clearest clear vinyl EVER ( it's like a piece of glass) the Plasmatics "Monkey Suit" and "Butcher Baby" both on splatter vinyl.... Or could it be the Luminous vinyl copy of "Moving Targets" by Penetration? I got several copies of that, one to keep, one to sell, and a couple which were totally mashed and cost me mere pennies. These last copies are for my walls; they function like nightlights-when you switch the lights off, they emit a nice calming glow :)

But I guess my real favourite is the record above: King Kurt's splendid "Zulu Beat" It eventually sold about 20,000 copies, and if those had all come in one great big bunch, they'd probably ended up on TOTP; as it was, the record was a bit of a labour of love-released in batches of around about a thousand, trickled out over a few years, with different covers, sleeves, and in different coloured vinyl. There's a wonderfully comprehensive list of all the variations here. The copy above is from the "Sick-th" edition, in a wonderfully pale pink vinyl, with splatters of other colours: every time I remove it from its sleeve, it brings a smile to my face.

The record itself, if you've never heard it, is unashamedly primal rockabilly. It does sound like it was recorded in a wardrobe, but the sense of daft confidence oozing from it's grooves manages to overcome any shortcomings in the quality of the sound. And to be honest, it sounded GREAT when it was blaring out of the speakers of (so it seemed) every student nightclub I went to between 1982 and 1986.

King Kurt are, unfortunately, very poorly represented by CD reissues, there's a lot of dodgy live CD's and the like, it's caveat emptor if you're in the mood for shopping- but should you wish, fill your boots. The band themselves appear to be back after a long hiatus, check them out on myspace.

King Kurt "Zulu Beat" (mp3)

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Fallout Club "Wonderlust" (Happy Birthday Records, 1981)

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I really need to get a new Scanner, don't I? Oh well. Here's another slice of rare early-80's electropop, and a poignant little tune, to boot.

"..And if we must, return to dust....then let it be; but give me just this moment...."

Within a few short years of penning those particular opening lines, the co-writer and singer of this song was gone. Trevor Herion (that's him on the sleeve) committed suicide sometime in the mid-80's. Details about Trevor are a little sketchy, but there's a small site here

"Not much, if anything at all is known about the life, work and tragic death of Trevor Herion, he was an Irishman in his mid 20s living in a squat with members of The Psychedelic Furs when he was first discovered as a replacement for the lead vocalist in a band called The Civilians. After the break-up of The Civilians he was to go on to form a band called The Fallout Club. After the dissolve of The Fallout Club, Trevor released a handful of singles and one truly terrific album called Beauty Life in 1983. Sadly a few years later, apparently suffering from severe mental troubles, he took his own life."

This single is also notable for being one of the first real Thomas Dolby productions (he produced the song, as well as co-writing it) Also featured is Matthew Seligman, who would go on to work with Dolby, as well as various other musicians, from Morrissey and The Stereo MC's, to David Bowie.

It came out on Happy Birthday, which is a label I don't know a great deal about; they released a couple of Fallout Club singles, as well as one by Low Noise (another Dolby project) and of course, the album "Pleasure" by Girls At Our Best. Herion himself released a couple of solo singles, one called "Kiss Of No Return" which came out on a German label called Imperial, and eventually, a solo album "Beauty Life". One of the singles from that album has been posted up on youtube (it's not actually a video, just a rip of the song)

The song itself is a wonderfully sprawling piece of melancholy electropop, Herions slightly gauche, yet heartfelt vocals cascading across the mariachi trumpets and pulsing syn-drums. It was released on 7" and 12" (I have both), but it's this 12" version that really shines.

Buy new Thomas Dolby stuff here. There's also links to the rest of his site, which contains loads of info and a blog..............

Fallout Club "Wonderlust" (12" Version) (mp3)

Friday, 17 August 2007

Ed Sirrs "I Think I Think Too Much" (Oval, 1979)

I'm on a roll today, aren't I? Two posts in one day! Such is the impatience and enthusiasm which results from being new to the mp3 blog game :)
And my over-exuberance is your gain, that's for certain. not only do you get the unreleased Age Of Chance track below *points down*, but you can also have this much-overlooked gem as well.
Ed Sirrs is one of this country's most respected music photographers, working with some of the best musicians in the business. He shot some of Nirvana's most iconic images, as well as being heavily involved with photographing The Manic Street Preachers ( it was Ed that shot THAT image of Richey with "4 Real" carved into his arm)
He also photographed my band many times, though quite why I never asked him about this record, I'm not sure.
"I Think....." is a great little slice of punked-up electro-dub, coming over like a restrained Dr Mix & The Remix, with that little drum machine gently pulsing away, and the buzzing synth line over the top....if it had to be strictly defined, I suppose it might be labelled "no wave".
Ed does a nice line in self-deprecating vocals, bemoaning his own lack of success and good fortune. Ed, you're too modest. The single crept out in 1979 on Charlie Gillet's Oval imprint, never really reaching the wider audience it deserved. If you see one these days, it'll probably set you back somewhere between £10-20.

Ed Sirrs "I Think I Think Too Much" (mp3)

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Hobbies Of Today "Metal Boys" (Waxworks, 1979)

"Your house is burning down, what do you save?"
It's become the question that bulks out most interviews I read now; when I was growing up it used to be: "The four-minute warning has just sounded, what do you do?" . The answer was invariably that you'd kiss your loved ones/pets/schoolmates etc and tell them how you'd always loved them and you'd see them on the other side. But now, all that seems to have been superseded by this "saving stuff from the flames" business. And it's always stuff. Possessions, valuables, whatever. It's a measure of how materialistic we've become, I suppose: we used to worry about kissing our loved ones goodbye, now we worry about how we'll get that HUGE plasma screen out of the lounge before the flames ruin the screen.
Well, let's just apply the "saving stuff from the flames" argument to the one thing that all of us vinyl freaks out there would rather not think about- the record collection.
It's a scary thought, isn't it? What would you save? For the most part, I wouldn't be that bothered (yeah, right) seeing as most of the old punk stuff is now on CD, most of the rest of the collection is available somewhere on line.......
Of course, there's exceptions. I've got a couple of Lee Perry acetates with unreleased dub mixes which are completely irreplaceable, and most of the old Ska and Rocksteady sevens would have to be saved...oh, and the old-school hardcore 12"s, and the Lemon Jelly "Soft Rock" 7"......
Oh bugger.
This isn't going at all well, is it?
Right. Let me come out and say definitively, that my Hobbies Of Today single would really be one of the only things I'd save in the event of an unforeseen conflagration. What is it? Well, it's nothing, really. A long-forgotten 7" from a band from Manchester. Look at that sleeve! the lettering on the hand-printed cover was done with those plastic stencils you bought from John Menzies! The label (Waxworks) was a vehicle of convenience for this particular release, and I never saw anything else on it......
The driving force behind the band was Kevin Hobbi, who appeared to release at least one solo single after Hobbies Of Today's demise(it's somewhere in here, and will cost you £100): the band only recorded this one single, and had a track on a local compilation LP (I remember that from looking at adverts in the back of Sounds) and that was it.
And, there's the rub. That's why I'd save this particular piece of vinyl from the flames. I bought this in 1979. It came from the Small Wonder mail order catalogue-I can remember buying it with a copy of The Only Ones "Another Girl,Another Planet", with the "Flower" sleeve, and some other punk singles, whose identity are lost in the mists of time. I remember getting the postal orders from the Post Office, and the wonderful burst of excitement when the postman turned up with my single a couple of weeks later...and that copy that arrived with the postman, in 1979, on my doorstep in Wiltshire, is the only one I've ever seen. I've looked in an awful lot of record racks over the years, hell, I've even WORKED in second-hand record shops, yet I've never seen another copy.So that's why it escapes the flames; not because it's the greatest record ever made, but because I know I'd never replace it.
But why does it matter so much to me? Because it's just such a great little song: it's in the combination of that amateurish drum machine with the synths buzzing over the top- it's in the way the melody strains to go up a note when it reaches the chorus,it's in the wonderfully constructed harmonies, and most of all it's in the utterly unforgettable guitar riff....this record has haunted me since I first heard it, and it haunts me still.
If you ever catch me staggering out of a burning building, I'll be spluttering, coughing, wiping the soot from my eyes, and clutching a copy of this single.

Hobbies Of Today "Metal Boys" (mp3)

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