Friday, December 26, 2008

Various Artists - Merkin Records Seedy Sampler

Black Pete must have been the only alternative band in Baltimore that wasn't included on this 1989 20-band sampler CD from Merkin Records:
  1. U. Violets - Gade (actually Ultra-Violets, must have been a legal issue that prevented them using the name on this CD)
  2. All Mighty Senators - Wink (band still active)
  3. Lambs Eat Ivy - Serpentine
  4. Bazooka Joe - Insomnia
  5. Dark Carnival - Back to the Factory
  6. Monkeyspank - Dr. Omar
  7. Jade - Line
  8. Lungfish - Return Descender
  9. The Pearl Fishers - Black Box (not the David Scott band)
  10. The Unknown - Empty House of Night
  11. Rise - God Bless the Creeps
  12. Elements of Design - I Love a Man with Rhythm
  13. The Last Picture Show - Destination (led by writer Louis Maistros as Lu Maestro)
  14. Braver Noise - The Smiths Have Gone to Heaven
  15. Seesaw - Rochelle Bridges
  16. Motor Morons - Another Girl (may still be active, though no shows since 2007; imagine Devo songs played by Einstürzende Neubauten)
  17. Mark Harp - The Drill (guitarist for Null Set/Cabal, also of the Beatoes, Motor Morons, Chelsea Graveyard, the Diamondheads, etc.)
  18. Infant Lunch - Cut the Cord
  19. Grey March - Beneath the Sea
  20. Reptile House - Turning Disease
There's quite a variety of musical styles here: punk, gothic, new wave, Springsteenian populist rock, funk, and more. Get the CD rip here or here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Black Pete - Mississippi Queen

In the late 80s industrial dance music was all the rage in alternative circles; labels such as Wax Trax in Chicago, Play It Again Sam in Belgium, and Nettwerk in Canada were putting out tons of releases, with many of the acts making the jump to major labels (Ministry, Skinny Puppy, etc.). But one of the only stabs at this genre from Baltimore that I can recall* was a one-off 12" by Black Pete, the duo of George Hagegeorge and ex-Null Set/Cabal singer Bill Dawson. A bass player was added for live shows, though I don't know if one ever happened. I think the record actually got issued by two labels somehow; here is the Calvert Street Records version. The A-side is a cover of Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" (which Ministry would cover in a similar vein 19 years later), and the B-side contains the two original tracks "Vicious" and "Ablaze". It sounds more like heavy metal guys adding a drum machine and sequencer to make industrial music rather than an electro band adding metal guitar, but whatever the case it's good for some retro cyber-headbanging. Hagegeorge is now a photographer; Dawson is now a tattoo artist based in Florida. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

* There was also Glitch. Any more?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Melon - Serious Japanese

Melon, the Japanese synthpop group founded by ex-Plastics Toshio Nakanishi and Chica Sato, released the "Serious Japanese" single in 1985, between their albums Do You Like Japan? and Deep Cut. A couple odd things about the single are that the song title is actually called "Serious Japan", and it did not appear on any of the group's albums. Another interesting fact about the song that I just learned today is that it is a reworking of the Plastics song "Diamond Head"; visit the Picnic Land blog to hear the original version. On the back cover thanks are given to, among others, "Angie for telling me dirty words", and the dirty words abound in this song, with Toshio and Chica rapping lines like "What's happening bitch", "Too much much shit", "Don't be so fucking serious", etc. An earlier version that included a sample from the movie Rumble Fish was recalled, though samples from The World According To Garp ("Don't you dare say 'sperm' in this house") and other films remain. As on Deep Cut, Nakanishi and Sato are joined by Gota Y (EMU-2 operator & rhythm programmer) and Prince Kudo (DJ & keyboard player). The 12" contains two extended versions of "Serious Japan"--Tokyo Mix (by Franswah) and San Francisco Mix (by Joseph Watt)--and a single edit by Franswah. This record is Melon's most fully-realized foray into the electro genre; get the vinyl rip here or here (new links 1/3/2010). And here is a live performance from YouTube (with the dirty words replaced with clean ones):

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Bridge - Love Dance

Before founding UK alternarock band Zerra One, Paul Bell released an electro single called "Love Dance" as The Bridge on the Second Vision label in 1984. It is about as close a copy of New Order's "The Beach" as you can get without being sued. The over-8-minute "Love Mix" (vocal) is on the A-side, with the almost-8-minute "Industrial Mix" (instrumental) on the B-side. The "Industrial Mix" should really have been called the "Dub Mix" or "Instrumental Mix" as there's nothing particularly industrial about it. Apparently there is another version of the 12" that adds a 7" mix and is titled "Industrial Love Dance"; I suppose that was the one for UK release, while this one is labelled "Export Only" on the sleeve (because people outside the UK didn't deserve a shorter version of the song?). You can probably recreate the 7" mix by stopping the Love Mix after about four minutes. All that aside, this really is a great dance record, and if you like "The Beach" but don't necessarily want to hear it again, "Love Dance" should do quite nicely. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Surface Mutants - You Take Me Somewhere Strange

This time the Lost In the Grooves blog has a summary (by Erik of Cult With No Name) upon which I cannot improve so I will simply paste it in here:
smalltime Sheffield combo Surface Mutants only managed one standalone EP, but nonetheless warrant special mention as one of the better obscure bands to record at Cabaret Voltaire’s legendary Western Works’s hard to resist confirming that ‘You Take Me Somewhere Strange (and you leave me there)’ does anything else than just that. the Cabs’ tinny, scratchy production gives the EP a quite pleasant, if decidedly dissonant, ambiance. the simple bass lines, frequent drum fills and taught guitars of ‘Train’ and ‘Help Below’ rely heavily on varying degrees of phaser, delay and reverb, with additional electronics hissing randomly in and out of the mix. the creepy title track, by contrast, abandons the undanceable funk for something that sounds nothing short of the early Cabs attempting to cover ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, complete with anguished, largely indecipherable, vocals. complete with ill-fitting goth cover art to (somewhat) mislead you, this record is certainly far from superficial.
The year of release was 1982. "You Take Me Somewhere Strange" has always reminded me of "Bela Lugosi's Dead," so I'm glad to see someone else feels the same way about it. Band member Pete Mutant replied to the blog entry:
Blimey. Just for verification, Kent had left to join the Chant, Nort [later of Hula] was with us on Drums and noises, Jules had left, Christine Parker was on sax, Angie Birkett on keyboards (and very good too). Richard [Kirk] was responsible for many of the indecipherable vocals.

Another reader found that Angie Birkett (now Holmes) is now active in the band Siiiii. Get the Surface Mutants vinyl rip here or here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Isolation Ward - Absent Heart

Thank goodness for the Internet and its volunteers who fill in information about mysterious records I've owned for years but know virtually nothing about. One such record is the "Absent Heart" 12" by Isolation Ward. Here is the Wikipedia entry for Isolation Ward (as of Dec. 2. 2008):
Isolation Ward is a New Wave/Experimental band from Brussels, Belgium. Founding members are Jean Pierre Everaerts (Bass), Stephane Willocq (Guitar), Thierry Heyndericks (Keyboards, Vocals, Trumpet), and Etienne Vernaeve (Drums). Contributing vocals/guitar included, Nathalie Bourlard (Vocals), Anne Kinna(Nanou) (Vocals: Lamina Christus), Sylvie Honnay (Vocals: Absent Heart, A Request), Niki Mono (Vocals: only for the last concert), Eric Vanhoutte(Guitar), and Jerry WX (Guitar). Formed in 1980, the band released Lamina Christus on 7" Vinyl in 1982(Issued through Radical Records, France Crepuscule Section Francaise/Radical RAD 008 ) and Absent Heart on 12 " Vinyl in 1983 on the Les Disques du Crepuscule label. Both of these releases were produced by Gilles Martin and Peter Principle. The band disbanded in 1983. Isolation Ward's final recordings, Point De Départ and Point Final were released on the Présence label in 1984.
"Lamina Christus" reappears as the third track (of three) on the Absent Heart 12", and it's no wonder they re-used it as it is their strongest song. Like many Crepuscule releases, the sound falls somewhere between Factory gloom and 4A.D. gothicism. Get the Absent Heart vinyl rip here or here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

John Stuart - Summer Breeze

At the height of their success, Sheffield band Chakk had two singers, Jake Harries and John Stuart. Harries had the gritty voice, Stuart the soulful croon. According to Burl Veneer's Music Blog:

Richard Hawley is currently riding a wave of popularity in the UK as the "Sheffield Sinatra," but in 1987 he played guitar behind velvet-voiced ex-Chakk singer John Stuart on Stuart's only solo single, a cover of Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze." You will never hear a lusher version. (There's that unmistakable Designers Republic graphic style again.) Rounding out the backing band, billed as The Heavenly Music Corporation, are Dee Boyle (drums, also from Chakk), Darrell de Silva (sax), Jon Quarmby (keyboards), Justin Bennett (percussion), and Heather Allen (backing vocals), with production by Rob Gordon. Alas, that was all from The Heavenly Music Corporation as such. Stuart would go on to be a member of the Lovebirds (with Hawley) and Magic Bullets. He now lives in Barcelona and continues making lovely music as one-half of Forgetting, and on his own as, once again, The Heavenly Music Corporation.
Presented here is "Summer Breeze" and the B-side, "Black and Blue (Parts 1 and 2)"; get the vinyl rip here or here. (Please let me know if the Rapidshare caps downloads at 10 grabs; I am not happy about this new limitation and am looking for workarounds.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SLAB! - Death's Head Soup

Slab!'s final recording before a 19-year hiatus was 1989's "Death's Head Soup" single, which I will once again let currybet describe:

The final flurry of the band was 1989’s Cameo ‘Word Up - Sucker DJ’ sampling anti-Thatcher rant of knuckle down and eat your “Death’s Head Soup”. With a sole writing credit to Stephen Dray I have no idea whether it was a solo record or not, but it certainly was a long way from “Mars On Ice”...

I've been listening to "Soup" for nearly 20 years without realizing that was a Cameo sample, but now that I read that it's so bleeding obvious! How could I have missed that?! No, it wasn't a Dray solo record, the full lineup was:

Stephen Dray - Vocals
Paul Jarvis - Guitar / Samples
Nick Page - Guitar
Boleslaw Usarzewski - Bass Guitar

With : Dave Bryant - Drums
Kevin Sanderson - Percussion
Corrie Josias - Backing Vocals
Lynne Gerald - Backing Vocals
Simon Walker - Keyboards / Violin

They sure went out on a high note; I could listen to this driving beat and insistent fuzz-bass riff for hours, shouting along "Knuckle down, drink your death's head soup!" all the while. The B-side is the Descension album track "Switchback Ride"; the 12" single added a club mix of "Death's Head Soup." Get the 12" vinyl rip here or here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

SLAB! - Smoke Rings

The "Smoke Rings"/"Abbasloth" double-A-side single, released in 1987, was Slab!'s final recording with a horn section, and it's a killer! The tempo and the rhythm are akin to George Clinton's "Atomic Dog", but everything is so much heavier: the slapping bass, the slamming drums, the scraped guitar a la Sonny Sharrock. It's an amazing melting pot of funk and sludge that demands to be played LOUD. On the defunct BBC Collective website there is a good overview of Slab! records by user "currybet" which contains the following about "Smoke Rings":
“Smoke Rings”Slab!’s third single, “Smoke Rings”, a love song for nuclear missiles from the point of view the military, was a disaster. Later, when I met Stephen Dray, Slab!’s singer, he said that it had been led on by the record company asking for a ‘hit single’ - and it was the first time that Slab! had released an edited 7” single to accompany the 12” release. Mind you he also said that he thought the vocals on their debut single “Mars On Ice” sounded like they had been recorded in a toilet, and it is one of my favourite records ever, so what does he know?
I find it odd to see "Smoke Rings" described as a "disaster", as I recall reading several positive reviews of it at the time, and it seemed to be popular in the cutting-edge dance clubs. Perhaps Mr. Dray can give us a little more of the story?

In addition to "Smoke Rings", the 12-inch also includes a dub version, "Cruise Missile Smoke Rings", and the instrumental "Abbasloth", which has a similar monster beat but substitutes free-jazz horn freakouts for vocals. It is a MUST HAVE. Get the vinyl rip here or here. Check out the new Slab! website here. Check the comments here for occasional updates from Steve Dray (the mosesman) on the progress of the new Slab! album! See here for Slab!'s Music from the Iron Lung mini-LP. Click here for all my Slab! and Slab!-related offerings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Savant - Stationary Dance

One of the most respected independent electronic music labels of the 80s was Kerry Leimer's Palace Of Lights, on which he released several of his own recordings (as K. Leimer) as well as albums by Roy Finch, Marc Barreca, and Michael William Gilbert. Leimer's music was mostly in the ambient vein; he used the moniker "Savant" for his more rhythm-based works, the "Stationary Dance"/"Sensible Music" single (1981) and the LP The Neo-Realist (At Risk) (1983). Palace Of Lights went dormant after 1983 and Leimer disappeared from the music scene, concentrating on his and his wife's design business, Leimer Cross. After nearly two decades of inactivity, Leimer revived Palace Of Lights in 2002, reissuing his 80s albums on CD and releasing new work by himself and others. I would have expected "Stationary Dance"/"Sensible Music" to be included on The Neo-Realist CD, but it wasn't; the initial vinyl release is all there is. "Stationary Dance" is a classic piece of postpunk art-funk, with an infectious rhythm track (looped?) featuring prominent bass guitar, overlaid with atmospheric synth lines and cut-up spoken vocals. "Sensible Music" is instrumental only, with a slow but insistent rhythm and an overall sound that recalls Jon Hassell's work with Brian Eno. Musical contributors on the record are:
Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Jackal - Underneath the Arches

I was going to write "Here's another source record from the Heavy Duty Breaks megamix LP," but it actually isn't, and it's not even on the same label (Criminal Damage instead of Illuminated). The Jackal's mix of sampled and electronic breakbeats with sampled vocal fragments and crunchy guitars would fit right in, though, and it came out around the same time (1986), hence my confusion. So if you liked Heavy Duty Breaks, download this small set (just two tracks, "Underneath the Arches" and "Thunder Machine", nine minutes total) here or here. As with my previous post, the artist is a cipher, real identity unknown, any clues supplied in the comments will be appreciated.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Out - Tough Enough

I had planned to offer up the Sunfeast/Craving 12" by Play Dead offshoot M.A.D., but it turned up just last month on the Ad Nauseum blog; if you like Play Dead or the Danse Society then you shouldn't be without M.A.D. I don't know how I missed that blog before, but there is a lot of good music there. So, moving on to my next 12", here is "Tough Enough" by Out (1984). "Tough Enough" is one of the songs from the Illuminated catalog mixed into the Heavy Duty Breaks megamix LP; this 12" has the vocal mix on the A-side (6:36) and a dub version on the B-side (7:06). It's not as good as the only other track I know of by Out ("Business As Usual" on the Breaking the Back of Love comp), but it's a serviceable bit of midtempo 80s UK electrofunk. And for crate diggers there are plenty of useable drum breaks and synth and bass fills. Once again I have no idea who the band members are besides the songwriting credits of A. Sharkey and P. Butcher. My Lethal Poor post was wildly successful in drawing two of the three band members out of the woodwork; can lightning strike again? Please leave any info on this band in the comments. Download the vinyl rip here or here. (Sorry about the high levels and clipping on the A-side, my soundcard can't attenuate the phono preamp input enough on some of these hot 12" mixes. Guess I shouldn't have cheaped out and bought a preamp without an output volume control.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Umbrella - Make Hell...

Manchester band The Umbrella released this 3-song 12" in 1985, and nothing more. They had a great sound, 60s pop overlaid with raucous postpunk guitar and organ; pretty close to what The Last Shadow Puppets are doing today. I've had this record for over twenty years without knowing anything about the band, but thankfully someone has filled in some history on

James Gardner: Founder member, in 1990, of the pioneering Apollo 440 together with his school friends Noko and Howard Gray, and Howard's brother Trevor Gray. He had previously played keyboards with The Umbrella and a variety of well known artists, including Pete Shelley's band and Luxuria. He left Apollo 440 in 1993 to concentrate on composition, and in 1994 moved to New Zealand where he formed the contemporary music ensemble 175 East. He is an active broadcaster on music for the eclectic Radio New Zealand Concert.

Norman Fisher-Jones: Multi-instrumentalist and sonic visionary Norman Fisher-Jones, aka Noko, had already gigged with The Cure, and The Buzzcock's Pete Shelley before he released his first 12" with his own band The Umbrella. He formed Luxuria with Magazine's Howard Devoto in 1987 and released two albums with Beggars Banquet. Together with original Umbrella member, James E. Gardner, their school friend Howard Gray, and Howard's brother Trevor, he formed Apollo 440 in 1990. An original member, he'd be at The Hacienda if it was still open.

As for the other two blokes in the band, I still don't know who they are; backing vocals (female) are credited to Alex & Julia. Make Hell... was released on Immaculate Records, which also put out some of Pete Shelley's solo singles. The three songs are "Make Hell (For the Beautiful People)", "William Brel", and the instrumental "The Persuaders". Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lethal Poor - Trancefloor

This is the first of several posts that will feature just a single rather than a full album (because I have a bunch of singles that I've put off listening to while I've been ripping albums). In most cases the bands I'll be posting never did release a full album, or if they did they didn't include the single in question. While the next posts will be short on quantity, I have some very high-quality rips lined up.

The first is the sole recording by UK band Lethal Poor, from 1985. The two tracks, "Trancefloor" and "Honour", are both in the "gothic funk" style I love so much. Fans of 23 Skidoo, 400 Blows, A Certain Ratio, or The Men should find this right up their alley. The song credits are to "North, Winter, Musker", and I have ascertained that Musker is keyboardist David Musker (now a patent agent), but I don't know who North and Winter are. Please leave a note in the comments section if you know more. Regardless of their identity, this is one ill slab of vinyl; get the rip here or here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Billy Sheets' Undercover - Weekend In Dubrovnik

On This Record!

A MOSQUE IN THE ETHIOPIAN OUTBACK beams a message clear to the Pomona Freeway...

A BASS-PLAYING VAMPIRE stalks his prey in the heart of the Carpathians...

BOSNIAN YOUTHS BENT ON REVENGE besiege the ancient bathing houses of Dubrovnik...

BELEAGUERED TEEN-AGERS pursue masochistic sports... while

A ROVING MINISTER puts aside the cloth for matters of the heart!

So reads the copy on the back cover of this batch of six amusing songs from singer, keyboardist, and accordionist Billy Sheets and his band, produced by Devo's Bob Mothersbaugh and released in 1982 on Big Clock Records. The joke is played out in full on the first track, "Skanking in the Trailerpark," a hybrid of ska and eastern European folk styles. The European vein continues with "Gypsy Camp," and then comes the highlight of the record, the superb faux-spy-movie instrumental "Weekend In Dubrovnik." Side two's three songs ("Skating On Thin Ice," "Love That Lasts," "Downtown B.B.Q. (Shakin' It)") are in a more conventional party-rock mode, a la Joe King Carrasco and the Crowns. The full band line-up is:

  • Billy Sheets: lead vocal, accordion, keyboards, harmonica
  • Kent State: guitar, tambourine, vocals
  • Ricardo de Mayo: bass, keyboards, accordion, vocals
  • Sammy "Vic" Flores: drums (side A), vocals
  • Gajate: percussion
  • Alan Lyle: drums (side B)

Nothing astounding here, just a good solid slice of American new wave with a novelty bent. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Paul Roessler's Pandemonium Shadow Show

I always thought of Paul Roessler as the keyboardist for L.A. glam-punk-horror-metal-kitsch band 45 Grave, but he was also a member of techno-punk band The Screamers, and has played keyboards for about a zillion other acts, including Dead Kennedys, Nina Hagen, DC3, Saccharine Trust, Geza X, and many more. In the 80s he formed his own band, Twisted Roots, which featured his sister (and Black Flag bassist) Kira Roessler and at one time Germs guitarist Pat Smear. For the 1983 album Pandemonium Shadow Show (title used by permission of Ray Bradbury) Dix Denney is the guitarist, Michelle Bell sings, Gary Jacoby plays drums, and producer Paul Cutler plays guitar and percussion here and there. The liner notes mention that "Pat Bulsara contributed to guitar arrangements on It Must Be The Weather, White Limousine, Fill Your Heart." I'm guessing that "Pat Bulsara" is actually Pat Smear, who recorded a song called "Holy Bulsara" on one of his own albums; Smear and Jacoby also made music together as Death Folk. There are two fantastic tracks on this album, the closers on each side. "Fill Your Heart" closes side one, and could be a song by "White Rabbit"-era Jefferson Airplane, with its psychedelic lyrics and expansive chorus. Bell's voice does not have the fullness of Grace Slick's, but on the other hand, the band creates a groove here much more compelling than anything the Airplane ever did. The side two closer, "You're Perfect," is a sci-fi number about loving a robot that also works up a killer groove. Of the eight other songs, four are instrumentals and four are not; they're pleasant enough, but for me they are the appetizers leading up to the main course at the end of each side. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stranger To Stranger - Casting Shadows

While I'm at it, here's another 1980s album from Philadelphia, Stranger To Stranger's Casting Shadows from 1984. With a title like Casting Shadows, you probably won't be surprised at the heavy 4A.D. influence in evidence here. Lead singer Gary Eshbaugh is now in the band Rose Parade, but one page of their website is devoted to Stranger To Stranger, from which I have taken the following text:

From 1984 until 1991 Stranger To Stranger produced seven recordings. Stranger To Stranger's music was alternative in its flavor, borrowing from the early Cure and Echo and the Bunneymen. They played clubs and venues from Boston to Virginia, but experienced their greatest success at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. The title song from 1985's The Child in Me experienced particularly heavy airplay on college and commercial stations in that area. Subsequently, record sales in the area were very good and the shows at the 9:30 Club drew a good audience. Recently, an amalgam of The Darkest Dreams and Shatter the Night was produced as a CD by drummer Eric Carlson. That was the impetus for creating this page... I hadn't listened to the material in a very long time. I felt compelled to put up this page so some of our friends could get their hands on some vintage STS in MP3 format. We hope to come up with a good copy of The Child in Me in the not-too-distant future.

Stranger To Stranger was:

  • Gary Eshbaugh - Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards
  • Sean Hopkins - Bass/Vocals (1983-1987)
  • Rand Hanson - Guitar
  • Eric Carlson - Drums/Percussion
  • Steph Lentz - Bass (1988-1992)
The track list for Casting Shadows is:

01 Easter Night
02 Crowded Room
03 In Your Eyes
04 Voices Calling
05 Flux
06 Cry To Dream
07 Evening Opus (Pts 1, 2 & 3)
08 Lonely Winter
09 Wind On Skin

The aforementioned "The Child In Me" came after this album, but I have included it in the archive file as a bonus track because it's simply exquisite. (It's a copy of the file offered on the band website.) In the words of one of my favorite song blogs, it should have been a hit. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Various Artists - I'd Rather Be In Philadelphia

I'd Rather Be In Philadelphia, released by Burn Potential Records in 1983, is the best compilaion of early-80's Philly-area indie new wave there is. It contains early tracks by Bunnydrums, Pretty Poison, Book of Love, and Executive Slacks, all of whom would go on to greater success. Those familiar with Book of Love's synth-pop records for Sire ("You Make Me Feel So Good", "I Touch Roses") will be interested to hear the stripped-down instrumentation and production of "Henna." Pretty Poison on "Secrets" is not recognizable as the same band who later churned out that ubiquitous 80's hit "Catch Me (I'm Falling)." (See here for their self-released EP Laced.) Also present on this compilation are Philly's own No Wave band, the Stickmen. Articles on No Wave always focus on the New York scene--James Chance, Eight Eyed Spy--but the Stickmen could skronk with the best of them, and faster, too. (Wayside Music has released a CD of all the Stickmen's recorded output.) The full track list is:

01 Bunnydrums - Sleeping
02 Pretty Poison - Secrets
03 Sensory Fix - Last Match
04 Impossible Years - Flower Girl
05 Mother May I - When Children Play
06 Book of Love - Henna
07 Red Buckets - Something Else Again
07 Stickmen - Duraflame Dog
09 Girls Downstairs - Steam Rises Off the Jungle Floor
10 Executive Slacks - Sexual Witchcraft

A note on the recordings: this has to be the worst pressing I have ever heard. Usually I don't do wholesale click removal for fear of losing actual music; I just do spot removals of egregious clicks and pops. But this record has a substrate of clicks and pops all the way through; the record itself has tiny bumps all over it. So in this case I did run the whole thing through Audacity's click remover, and it sounds much better, but still far from perfect. I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who has this album whether theirs is as noisy as mine. Don't let the pops and clicks keep you from checking out this trove of rare regional new wave, though: get the vinyl rip here or here. Update 2/11/2012: My DF link is still up, but there's a better rip available at Systems of Romance.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mothmen - One Black Dot

The Mothmen's first album, Pay Attention, was a trippy dub affair which was released by Adrian Sherwood on his On-U Sound label in 1981. While the band produced the album themselves with no input from Sherwood, it's a dead ringer for Sherwood's own psychedelic dub style. That sound is nowhere in evidence on the band's second album, One Black Dot, released in 1982 on the Do It label. Their style this time around is more conventional, new wave-y with a bit of postpunk funk thrown in. There are hints of other bands throughout the album: the Police, Way of the West, Funkapolitan, The Blue Nile, Modern English, and Medium Medium, for examples. There are many inspired instrumental moments, and it's quite a good album over its ten tracks, but the sound never quite congeals into something distinctive, and there is no killer single (though "Temptation" comes close). The band lineup on One Black Dot is:
  • Bob Harding: vocals
  • Tony Bowers: guitar & sax
  • Charlie Griffiths: synth
  • Ronnie Hardman: bass
  • Chris Joyce: drums

Bowers and Joyce would go on to be part of the original Simply Red lineup. The rest of the Mothmen, I don't know about. Get the One Black Dot vinyl rip here or here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Perennial Divide - Beehead EP

How about some more Perennial Divide? 1987 saw them release just one record, the four-track Beehead EP:
  1. Beehead
  2. World Spread
  3. Gentle As A Fawn Is Warm
  4. Clamp

"Clamp" is a 40-second sound collage, so Beehead is essentially a three-song EP. But they're good songs, especially "World Spread," which after an excessively long intro settles into an energetic breakbeat groove with a popping bassline. The other two songs are the same kind of noisy, off-kilter funk that made Purge so great. Get the vinyl rip here or here. That does it for my Perennial Divide collection. There was another 12", "Burndown", in 1986, which was packaged together with a repressing of Purge; I didn't buy that one, as I already had Purge and didn't want to buy a second copy just to get a new 12". Then in 1988 there was an unofficial release of "Leathernecks," but I never found a copy. If you come across rips of either 12", please let me know in the comments.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Perennial Divide - Purge

By request, here is the only album released by Perennial Divide, the Swindon-based group active from 1986 to 1988 and consisting of John Corrigan, Johnny Stephens and Paul Freeguard. ("Perennial Divide" comes from Naked Lunch; it is Burroughs's play on the term "perineal divide," i.e. the "taint." But in the band's case it takes on additional sociopolitical meaning, evoking Britain's historical class system and the struggles of the working class for equality.) Corrigan and Stephens went on to form Meat Beat Manifesto, with Corrigan adopting the pseudonym Jack Dangers. Released in 1986, Purge was another exciting release from Rob Deacon's Sweatbox label, which grew out of his Abstract magazine and LP series. The cover art (of Swindon railway works) recalls Neville Brody's early sleeves for ClockDVA stylistically, and Perennial Divide's music explores the same realm of politically-charged noise-funk as that seminal band, though with more funk and less noise. There are some tasty basslines on this album, particularly in "Captain Swing." Purge is a bona fide postpunk masterpiece. The tracks are:

01 Blow
02 Parricide
03 Word of the Lord
04 Captain Swing
05 Rescue
06 The Fall
07 Trip
08 Tuna Hell
09 Burning Dogs
10 End of the Line

Some of the tracks run together, and I've made my best guess as to where one ends and the next begins. It won't make any difference if you listen to all the tracks in order (which you should!). Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Material - Live In Japan

When is a Material album not a Material album? Or rather, when is a Material album a Material album? Bill Laswell has produced lots of albums featuring the same rotating stable of musicians that are sometimes called Material, but most of them have given top billing to featured artists or sported other band names: Ginger Baker, Nicky Skopelitis, Aiyb Dieng, Bill Laswell, Deadline, Sacred System, etc. Live In Japan could just as well have been credited to Foday Musa Suso or Ginger Baker. But it has the Material moniker, the only album of original material (as it were) released during the brief association with the Restless label. The recordings on Live In Japan are taken from performances in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Imabari in August 1992 with the following lineup:
  • Foday Musa Suso: kora, dousongonni, guitar, percussion, vocal
  • Bill Laswell: bass
  • Bernie Worrell: piano, Hammond organ, Clavinet, synthesizer
  • Nicky Skopelitis: 6 & 12 string guitars
  • Aiyb Dieng: chatan, congas, talking drum, percussion
  • Ginger Baker: drums

The All Music Guide doesn't think much of this one:

It's a great lineup, and one that should have delivered much more musical interest than it does on this album. "Leaving Earth" is a six-and-a-half minute meditation on a one-chord riff; more than just boring, it's also badly recorded. "Desert Star" is an improvement, with a nice interplay of fretless bass and a bowed African instrument in a much improved mix. And "Out of Dreamtime" affords more dynamic variety, but it leads into an eleven-minute percussion solo which is well executed but drags on forever. Overall, this is a disappointing disc that could and should have been much better.

Hey, if you like good drumming, a long, well-executed percussion solo is fantastic! And something that gets lost in the plethora of Laswell productions is that he is an awesome bass player, but that aspect comes through throughout this album. And it's a generous 69 minutes long. What's not to like? Track list:

02-Leaving Earth.mp3
03-Desert Star.mp3
04-Out of the Dreamtime.mp3
06-Into the Seventh House.mp3
07-Dousongonni Song.mp3
08-The Receiver.mp3
09-The Creator Has a Master Plan.mp3
10-The Image of the One.mp3

I don't know where most of these songs originated, just that the last two are originally by Pharaoh Sanders. Anyone know? Let me know in the comments. Get the CD rip here or here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ballistic Kisses - Wet Moment

New York-based Ballistic Kisses released two albums: Total Access in 1982 (available at Mutant Sounds), and Wet Moment in 1983, both on the quirkily-named UK label Don't Fall Off The Mountain. Trouser Press doesn't think much of this one:
Wet Moment is a tedious cross between the B-52's and Gang of Four: minimal melodies, propulsive rhythms and bleak vocals. It's easy to believe freaked-out tunes like "Emotional Ice" and "Everything Leaks," but how alienated do you really want to feel?

But it's really better than that. True, there are not many melodies to speak of, and no real hooks to linger in your mind, but if you just like the sound of 80s minimal synthpop then there's plenty here to enjoy. There's so much, in fact, that it wouldn't all fit on a single record: the 54 minutes of music was spread out over a 33rpm 8-song LP and a 45rpm 3-song 12". The band lineup is:

  • Michael Hrynyk: keyboards, vocals
  • Richard McClusky: percussions, vocals
  • Michael Parker: vocals
  • Jeff Freund: guitars, vocals

There's some pretty cool bass guitar on several of the songs, too, which I presume is one of the "guitars" credited to Jeff Freund. Get the Wet Moment vinyl rip here or here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blue Zoo - Two By Two

Four-man UK band Blue Zoo released just one album, Two By Two (1983), produced by Talk Talk's Tim Friese-Greene. It led off with their sole hit single, 1982's "Cry Boy Cry," which peaked at number 13 on the UK chart. It's a great single, too, with a driving rhythm perfectly suited to, say, sports highlights clips, and features the powerful backing vocals of Stevie Lange in the chorus. (Stevie Lange also provided the chorus vocals to Gang Of Four's "I Love A Man In Uniform," and was the lead singer of Night, who were one of the bands featured in the campy Vincent Price horror film The Monster Club.) The other four uptempo tracks (which I will denote with an asterisk in the track listing) on Two By Two are nearly as engaging, impelled forward by a sequenced instrument that sounds like something between a hammer dulcimer and a glockenspiel; perhaps that is the Celeste 8 credited to Matt Flowers? The rest of the album consists of slower ballads, which are generally pleasant and have a few hooks but mostly have trouble coming to life. The full track list is:
  1. Cry Boy Cry*
  2. John's Lost
  3. Far Cry*
  4. (You Can) Count On Me*
  5. Love Moves In Strange Ways
  6. (I Just Can't) Forgive and Forget*
  7. I'm Your Man*
  8. Open Up
  9. Can't Hold Me Down*
  10. Something Familiar

Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Popular History of Signs - Comrades

A Popular History of Signs, led by Andrew Jarman, was an 80s synthpop band that didn't quite fit into any of the standard synthpop categories: not beat-heavy enough to fill dancefloors, too warm and melodic to be lumped in with "minimal wave" bands, and too thinly arranged to take their place with more melodramatic bands like Ultravox. Jarman's vocal style has been compared to David Byrne's, and it's a good comparison, though Jarman's voice is deeper and more wobbly. Jungle Records released the ten-song Comrades album in 1984; there is a thread of socialism running through several of the songs that makes it feel almost like a concept album. The opening track, "Body and Soul", was released as a single, and it is the strongest song on the album, with some nice bass work from Jarman. "Tidy" could pass for a Talking Heads song circa Fear of Music or Remain in Light; "Father and Son" is a touching downtempo ballad; "Comrades" contains echoes of David Bowie's "Heroes" in its melancholy, possibly doomed, optimism. Overall this a stronger album than the Trouser Press Guide gives it credit for. The band members on Comrades are:
  • Andrew Jarman: vocals, bass, keyboards, drum programs
  • Lindsey Smith: guitar, keyboards, drum programs
  • Paul Patient: percussion, pixie phones (?)
  • Christeen Isherwood: vocals, ideology

Get the Comrades vinyl rip here or here. Andrew Jarman is still musically active, currently with the band Southern Arts Society.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Exposure - Wild!

Here's a fairly obscure album from the 80s: Wild! by Exposure, Statik STAT LP 19, 1984. Of the nine bands named Exposure at, this is the ninth, and at the time I'm writing, this album is not listed on their page. Exposure was a multiracial five-man band that played the kind of new-wave-tinged mainstream rock that was so successful for bands like INXS and The Fixx. Members were:
  • Ashton Liburd: voice
  • Boy: guitar synthesizer
  • Tony Doyle: lead guitar
  • Paul Gold: bass guitars and voice
  • Ed Butler: drums and heavy percussion

None of these fellows seem to have many credits after Exposure; any info on their later careers is welcome. "Edge" on side 2 (track 8) could have been a hit, I think, but for the most part Exposure was stuck between genres, neither traditional enough nor quirky enough to really break through. Maybe not distinctive enough, either, although still pleasant enough to listen to. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Various Artists - For Your Ears Only

As mentioned previously, here is the massive 1987 Third Mind compilation album For Your Ears Only: 25 songs over two LPs, some tracks previously unreleased, some rerecorded, and some taken straight from already-issued albums. It is the most comprehensive overview of the Third Mind label in existence. In fact it's so much music I wasn't able to fit a complete 192kbps rip into a single archive file, so each LP is a separate download. The track list is:

LP 1

01 Bushido - Introduction (previously unreleased)
02 Bill Pritchard - Pas De Plaisanterie (previously unreleased)
03 Beautiful Pea Green Boat - And She Laughed Too (previously unreleased)
04 Attrition - Fusillade III (Both Barrels) (rerecorded version)
05 All Singing All Dancing - The Rising Tide (previously unreleased)
06 Bushido - Recalled To Life (rerecorded version)
07 CRedit - Almost Virgin (previously unreleased)
08 Beautiful Pea Green Boat - Paper House (from Future Tense)
09 Bushido - Time And Time Again (from "Voices"/"Time And Time Again" EP)
10 Attrition - Into The Waves (from In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts)
11 Bill Pritchard - Greek Street (previously unreleased)
12 All Singing All Dancing - The Grains Of Time (previously unreleased)

Get it here or here.

LP 2

01 Badland - Til the Stars Fall (previously unreleased)
02 Intimate Obsessions - Why Can't I (rerecorded version)
03 Tragic Venus - Paintbox (previously unreleased)
04 Frontline Assembly - Aggression (previously unreleased)
05 Konstruktivits - Nostalgia (from Black December)
06 Bill Pritchard - Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe (previously unreleased)
07 Bushido - Question Of Time (from Deliverance)
08 Simon Fisher Turner - I Love Your Suit (previously unreleased)
09 Jung Analysts - Entrails (previously unreleased)
10 Edward Ka-Spel - And The Lord Said RISE (previously unreleased)
11 CRedit - What Are These Words (previously unreleased)
12 Attrition - Day I Was Born (from The Attrition of Reason)
13 Intimate Obsessions - Erebus To Hades (from Erebus to Hades)

Get it here or here.

I always liked the Jung Analysts song, but I never found any records by them. I've just found their (or his, Terry Burrows) 1985 album Sprockendidootch over on Mutant Sounds, and it's great! I love how the Internet has given me a chance to hear the records I missed the first time around.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Solar Enemy - Dirty vs Universe

Here's another album from Gary Levermore's Third Mind label, which you may have already realized is a Fantod Favorite. Portion Control, longtime purveyors of "hard, rhythmic electronics", greatly expanded their pallette on their 1987 album Psycho-Bod Saves the World (even recording a ballad, "H.O.T. Matter"), and then disappeared. They regrouped in 1990 as Solar Enemy, a "side project" that just happened to contain only members of Portion Control and sound just like Portion Control. Solar Enemy released an EP in 1990 (Techno Divinity), an album in 1991 (Dirty vs Universe), and one more in 1993 (Proceed to Beyond--Rape of Europa). Offered here is Dirty vs Universe, unfortunately just the 10-track US version and not the German version with several extra tracks. Still, if you like the danceable Portion Control of "The Great Divide" (let's hear it for punchy sequencers!), then these ten tracks will be sure to please you. They are:
  1. Universe
  2. Welcome To Hell
  3. Inca Pisco
  4. Burm-Up
  5. Dark Angel
  6. Massive Radiation
  7. Carcajou
  8. Trojan
  9. Rotator
  10. Sundown

Get the CD rip here or here. Portion Control reactivated and began releasing new material, and new packages of old material, in 2004. Their latest album, Slug, was released earlier this year; you can sample it (and buy it!) here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Killer Moses

Slab frontman Stephen Dray put out some records under the name Killer Moses in 1995-96. As he tells it on the Unfit For Print blog (and I recommend you read the whole thing for the Slab history and to see the Slab resuscitation unfold):

Following SLab Paul [Jarvis] and I wrote a lot of stuff together largely based on the slab third album ( never released or even properly recorded but very diverse and way ahead of its time.... again!) At the same time I was writing with Sherman [a member of the last, unrecorded Slab lineup] who had basically single handedly got the NME to write about dance music and championed the Orb and Andrew Weatherall etc in his guise of Sherman at the Controls. He basically introduced electronic music to the NME audience. He was djing a lot and he and I wrote some tracks around 1990 one of which was released on Guerilla Records which was just about the leading dance label at the time. we chose the somewhat dubious name of Euphoria and the track was called Mercurial. It sold bucketloads and is on about 20 compilations....Anyway Euphoria sold and is still coming out on compilations... and me and Sherman got the princely sum of £150 each and a t shirt....After that I became Killer Moses and released 4 eps on Shermans own label called CLoak and Dagger. again it got lots of good press and reviews but the label went bust before an album came out. There are various Moses tracks on compilations... not sure how you categorise it really but the albumm was heroically dark.... a very narcotic Slab....

I would categorise it as instrumental dub/breakbeat, and "heroically dark" definitely fits; something like a cleaner Scorn or Ice. Offered here are three of the EPs:

Seizure EP (1995)
  1. Insomniac
  2. Drive In
  3. Big Wheel

Unseen EP (1995)

  1. Killer Moses
  2. The Hanging Garden
  3. Bogeyman

Succubus EP (1996)

  1. Icarus
  2. Sea of Fear

With tracks ranging from six-and-a-half to nearly twelve minutes, there's plenty to listen to. The A-sides are especially seductive: they gain intensity as they wear on, and you might find yourself headbanging without realizing you'd started. Get the vinyl rips here or here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

SLAB! - Sanity Allergy

Here is the elusive final album from the mighty SLAB!, Sanity Allergy, on Ink Records, 1988, ten more reasons to get excited about Slab's resumption of operations:
  1. Last Detail
  2. Fourth Warning
  3. Station KY
  4. Son of Sloth
  5. Born in a Wreck
  6. Sanity Allergy
  7. Cancer Beach
  8. Switchback Ride
  9. Land of the Midnight Sun
  10. Visiting Hour

These are some of the heaviest grooves ever committed to vinyl; the beats and scraping guitars and menacing vocals really do hit like slabs of granite, and I mean that in a good way! The uptempo instrumental "Son of Sloth" has the sheer animal vigor that more modern "action music" groups like The Crystal Method can only aspire to. The other uptempo track, "Cancer Beach," is catchy as hell with a killer bridge; don't listen to the people who slag it off! Get a vinyl rip of Sanity Allergy here or here, and keep an eye out for a new Slab album (which will not be posted here--support the band and buy it!).

See the delightfully-named blog Cliff Richard's Neck for Slab's first collection, Music from the Iron Lung, and their 1986 Peel Session.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pleasure and the Beast

Pleasure and the Beast was the band formed by Robert Pereno and L.A. (Lowri-Ann) Richards after the breakup of Shock. Shock is best known (when they are known at all) for their pulsating electro cover of the Glitter Band's "Angel Face" (which appeared on the popular Blitz new-wave compilation on RCA)--

Robert Pereno is the frontman, looking and acting uncannily like Will Arnett as G.O.B. Bluth, and one of those women is L.A. Richards. (Also seen are robotic mime duo Tim Dry and Sean Crawford, who became Tik & Tok after Shock disbanded, and went on to record several records of prime minimal synthpop on the Survival label.) Pleasure and the Beast recorded only two singles during their short career. The first, "Dr Sex", was released in 1983 and was produced by Jimme O'Neill of Fingerprintz (and later Silencers) fame. The 12" release, offered here, has an extended version of "Dr Sex" and four additional songs. The title track is upbeat synthpop with lecherous overtones; Pereno and Richards seem to be positioning themselves as a raunchy, new-wave Captain and Tennille. The next two tracks, "Snake" and "Creep", hit a gothic funk groove not unlike early Brilliant; "Rock the House" has a glam-rock shout-along chorus that echoes Shock's glam influences; and the record closes with the pseudo-liturgical "Hymn". The band is listed as Pereno and Richards only, though there are two women with Pereno in the back cover photo; no musicians are credited. For their second release, 1984's "Gods Empty Chair", Pleasure and the Beast expanded to a real band: in addition to singers Pereno and Richards, there are Marty Williamson (guitars), Cheyne (bass), Simon Ellis (keyboards), and Martin Hanlin (drums). This record, produced by Rusty Egan (Visage) marks a turn away from sleaze and toward more "serious" pop. "Gods Empty Chair" sounds like a second-generation copy of New Order (or a copy of Secession), while the B-side, "Sometimes", has a more intense sound in the vein of Killing Joke. Not bad! It's a shame they never made any more records. Robert Pereno went on to have some success as a DJ, but I don't know enough about that to expand on it; I don't know whatever happened to L.A. Richards. I don't have the 7" releases with the single edits, but you can get rips of both 12-inch records here or here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Various Artists - Future Tense

Like Four from the Madding Crowd, Future Tense is a four-artist compilation released by Gary Levermore's Third Mind label in 1986. Future Tense (TMLP15) was actually released first, with Four having the next catalog number (TMLP16). In fact, they released three compilation albums in a row, the third being the massive two-album set For Your Ears Only (TMLP 17/18, coming here someday) (and I definitely have it!). The Future Tense track list is:

The Beautiful Pea Green Boat (Obsessions LP posted here)
  • Paper House
  • The Vase

Bill Pritchard

  • Grey Parade
  • Cecile
  • The Invisible State
  • Springtime in Prague


  • Questions
  • Which Hand?
  • A Forgotten Dream
  • A'dam & Eva

The Legendary Pink Dots

  • Premonition 5 (previously released on the Rising From The Red Sand cassette on Third Mind)

Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Living In Texas - The Fastest Men Alive

1985 was a busy year for Living In Texas: in addition to the Glad Bad Sad & Mad EP and the Italia Live Eighty-Five LP, they also released this studio album, all on their own Chainsaw label. On this release the band is still a four-piece: Stephan James (vocals), Mathew Fraser (drums, backing vocals), Daniel Glee (guitars), Nicholas D. Denton (bass). They brought in Martin Young of Colourbox as producer, and he also plays all the keyboards on the album (which are very subtle, you'll have to really listen for them to hear them at all). "The Fastest Man Alive" and its instrumental version continue in the amped-up rockabilly mode of Glad Bad (but even faster, as you may have guessed), while the major-chord "Like Thunder" sounds like a precursor of modern pop-punk. "Bomb Generation", heard on the live album, gets its studio release here; "The Fairest Of Them All" sounds almost like Gene Loves Jezebel; and the remaining songs are all in the band's gothic mode. The full track list is:
  1. The Fastest Instrumental Alive (vocal-less version of the title track)
  2. Beautiful
  3. Alone She Cries
  4. Like Thunder
  5. The Fastest Man Alive (I'm calling this the title track even though it has "Man" where the album title has "Men")
  6. Bring On The Rain
  7. The Fairest Of Them All
  8. Bomb Generation
Cover art is once again supplied by guitarist Daniel Glee. I consider The Fastest Men Alive to be the last great Living In Texas record; get it here or here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Various Artists - Abstract No. 5

As promised, here is a new rip of the Abstract No. 5 LP from 1985 to replace the one that is no longer downloadable from Waves of Champaign. Rob Deacon started Abstract as a music magazine, then beginning with No. 4 a companion LP was released to accompany each issue, and from this project the great Sweatbox label was born. The cover touts "10 unreleased recordings," and at the time the album came out that was true, though most of the songs were eventually released by the respective bands. What is not true is that there are only 10 songs; there are actually 11, with the last track, "Sentient" by In the Nursery, omitted from all the packaging. The full track listing is:

  1. TEST DEPT. Fuel Foundation Of The Nation
  3. 400 BLOWS Fire And Water
  4. SWANS Sealed In Skin
  5. CINDYTALK Playtime
  6. COLOURBOX Manic
  8. AND ALSO THE TREES Maps In Her Wrists And Arms
  9. NYAM NYAM This Is The Place
  10. THE JAZZ BUTCHER Leaving It Up To You (live)
  11. IN THE NURSERY Sentient

A couple are quite experimental; the Test Dept. track is a political speech on the Welsh miners' strike followed by Test Dept. accompanying the bagpipe-heavy miners' band; the 400 Blows track is a sound collage not easily recognizable as "music" but with some structure and rhythm that is revealed through attentive listening. The Colourbox track features a great guitar solo by guest William Orbit; if only he had turned toward rock instead of Madonna, then I'm sure I would have listened to more of him in the 90s. The Jazz Butcher track is a John Cale cover, which if I recall correctly was banned from the radio for its mention of Manson Family murder victim Sharon Tate. Abstract No. 5 is another great selection of cutting-edge 80s rock; ripped from oddly mottled vinyl @192kbps, it is available here or here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Richard Bone - Joy of Radiation 12"

Another small file for you this time, I'm afraid. I was all set to rip the Abstract Magazine #5 LP, with Colourbox, The Jazz Butcher, Cindytalk, etc., when I did a quick blog search and found that, once again, someone has already posted it, this time on the Waves of Champaign blog. He's also scanned the magazine into a separate file, much more thorough than I would have been, so hurry on over there and download it if you don't have it already. Another record I've been meaning to post is Richard Bone's classic 1983 album of minimal synthpop Brave Tales, but I still can't find my copy. I did, however, find the 12" of "Joy of Radiation", with an extended version of "Joy" on the A-side and three tracks on the B-side: "Sordid Affair", "Do Angels dance", and "A bit of Joy", so I hope that will do for now. Get it here or here; click the Survival tag for other records from the great Survival label available on this blog.

Friday, August 15, 2008

400 Blows - Pressure, Runaway/Breakdown

A recent visitor left some enthsiastic comments about 400 Blows, who are part of the Illuminated megamix album Heavy Duty Breaks, so I thought I'd offer up some more. 400 Blows may be best known today for "Black and White Mix Up" (a rather ridiculous remix with Mad Professor of "Groove Jumping") on Andrew Weatherall's exquisite Nine O'Clock Drop anthology of eclectic 80s dance music, but they left a pretty decent body of work beyond that. I have always thought of 400 Blows as the poor man's 23 Skidoo, following in their footsteps from dub to electro-soul and being almost but not quite as good. Which is still really good! 400 Blows' first album, If I Kissed Her I'd Have To Kill Her First, is already available on Rho-Xs (with great albums by A Certain Ratio, Rip Rig + Panic, This Heat, and more in the same post!), but I have a couple of 12-inch singles to supplement the album. The first is "Pressure" from 1984 (and the first LP), a mostly-instrumental song with a killer dub bassline presented in three versions plus the found track "Perspective 2". The second is from 1985, the electro-soul double-A-side of "Runaway" (a Rockwell cover, of all things!) with lead vocal by Cheryl Lucas, and the original "Breakdown" sung by Linda Duggan, in two versions each (remixed from the Look LP). That's eight tracks in all, packaged in a single zip file; get it here or here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Melon - Deep Cut

Back to Japan: Deep Cut, released in 1987, was the second album from ex-plastics Toshi Nakanishi and Chica Sato as Melon. (See here for their first album, Do You Like Japan?) On this album the band also includes Kudo (turntable, keyboard) and Gota (drums, computer programming, keyboard, guitar, backing vocals); guest musicians appearing on some tracks are Guy Pratt, bass; John L. Walters, Lyricon; Preston Heyman, percussion; Frank ricotti, percussion; and Colette, backing vocals. (See the listing for specific track credits.) Deep Cut opens with a cover of Les Baxter's "Quiet Village" (made famous by Martin Denny), and the whole album has a loose "techno-exotica" theme, as evidenced by the song titles:
  1. Quiet Village
  2. Uptown Downtown
  3. Hard Core Hawaiian
  4. Hawaiian Break
  5. Time Enough For Love
  6. Somewhere Faraway
  7. Faraway
  8. Pleasure Before Your Breakfast
  9. Funkasia
  10. The Gate of Japonesia

Also notable is the electro vibe that Gota brings to Melon's sound (which was state-of-the-art back then), with "Pleasure" and "Funkasia" being real dancefloor contenders. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Living In Texas - S/T LP

I found another Living In Texas album hiding on my shelves, their first full-length album from 1984, on their own Chainsaw label. I can't remember ever listening to it all the way through, but I did while ripping it, and I've fallen in love with "This Blood Religion." It's a full-fledged gothic ballad, beautifully arranged with three divergent vocal tracks during the verses. And the band's Theatre of Hate influence reveals itself also: Living In Texas had a different instrumental lineup (no saxophone) and singer Stephan James doesn't have Kirk Brandon's distinctive wail, but "Here Come the Boat Traders" would be right at home on a ToH tribute album. These two songs and one other, "Me (The Other Side of)", appear on the Living In Texas live album posted previously, but they all come across much better in these original studio versions. This album was packaged in a rather lavish gatefold sleeve; the cover art is a bit drab, but there's a great spread inside the gatefold, by "The Rorschach Design Studios," which I'm guessing is actually guitarist Daniel Glee. I've included the interior art in the .zip file; get it here or here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Makaton Chat - Strange Beach

Makaton Chat were a four-piece band from Stockton, UK, who released one single (Federal State Chance, 1982) and one album (Strange Beach, 1983) on Trans Records. Band members were:

  • Anthony Lindo: lead vocal, keyboards
  • John Hodgson: keyboards, vocal
  • Paul Fowler: drums
  • Richard Holmes: bass

On Strange Beach they are joined by:

  • Sally Jones: saxophones
  • Roy Neave: guitars
  • Steve Graham: guitars
I would classify their music as "UK alternative pop," somewhere along the lines of Haircut 100. There are a few really stunning tracks on Strange Beach (Dormant Skyline, Lines, Festival), and several more good ones, ten tracks in all. Get the vinyl rip here or here. I'm not sure when Makaton Chat broke up; there are a couple live clips on YouTube from 1986:

These performances show the band as a five-piece; does anyone know who the guitarist was for that gig (Dovecot Arts Centre, 1986)?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Urbie Green - Green Power

"The superb Urb on reverb," it says on the back. The concept for this Project 3 Total Sound Stereo album from 1971 is to have master trombonist Urbie Green use some effects on his trombone. The effects are tape reverb (on "Spirit in the Dark") and the "King-Vox Ampliphonic Unit" on "Green Power," "Comin' Home Baby," and "Sidewinder." The Ampliphonic Unit "electronically duplicates each of his notes one octave lower," so the three tracks it's used on have an extra fat trombone sound. "Green Power," Green's sole original composition on the album, is also the funkiest, with tasty breakbeat drumming by... well, the drummer isn't credited, but it's probably Grady Tate, who is the only drummer credited on any of the tracks. The liner notes have a track-by-track breakdown; they are so informative (and amusing) that I've transcribed them here:

Spirit in the Dark A piano chord, a tentative statement by Urbie, and before you know it, everybody is swinging: "funk" style! Urbie wanted to come as close as possible to the feeling established by Aretha Franklin on this tune, while imparting his own interpretation to it. Notice how subtly Urbie leads the rhythm section in and out of double time feelings. The "mysterious" tape-reverb sections were conceived by Urbie, who also had a hand in its execution, along with engineer Don Hahn.

A Time for Love Don Heitler on electric piano (left) and Dick Hyman on organ (right) provide an intimate setting for Urbie's very personal and beautiful rendition of this Johnny Mandel masterpiece. Urbie's control of the instrument and his superb phrasing combine to make this an unforgettable performance. The tune fades out in a mist of delicate tones from the two keyboards.

Green Power This is Urbie's own composition, and it takes someone of Urbie's abilities to play it! Urbie uses the specially amplified trombone on this tune, which electronically duplicates each of his notes one octave lower. As usual, Urbie is "all over the horn", and his exciting performance here includes some remarkable "triple-tonguing" sections. The electric piano solo is by Dick Hyman, and the unusual musical and percussive effects emanating from your left channel are from Vinnie Bells' guitar.

Easy Come, Easy Go Dick Hyman's Lowrey organ, recorded in stereo, together with Jule Ruggiero's driving fender bass line and Grady Tate's "shuffling" drums pave the way for Urbie's commanding trombone. Solo work is shared by Urbie and Dick Hyman. As the tune closes, listen to Urbie hit a series of high "B♭'s" (almost two octaves above middle "C") and then effortlessly jump down three octaves for the final note!

Comin' Home Baby Urbie uses a larger ensemble on this tune and on "Lumps." Adding to the power here is Marion Milam on trumpet, George Opalisky on soprano sax, Jay Leonhart on fender bass, Tony Mottola and Howie Collins on guitar and Kathy Preston vocalist. After the first rocking chorus of this tune, Urbie switches to amplified trombone for an incredible display of the technique of articulation. Dick Hyman's organ solo is followed by a free for all jazz chorus. As the tune draws to a close, Urbie plays a masterful cadenza. Some additional ensemble "wailing" is climaxed by a long unison "fall-off".

Secret Love A Latin flavored rhythmic feeling (bossa-rock) is established in the introduction and forms the background for Urbie's handling of the tune. Urbie plays this tune with a mute, which gives a new sound "color" to the album. Notice the marvelous counterpoint of Russell George's repeated bass notes in the first chorus. A brief drum break by Grady Tate announces Urbie's jazz chorus. Dick Hyman is featured on the organ and his jazz work is wonderfully compatible with Urbie's.

This Is All I Ask Urbie's mellow trombone sings out the introduction of this Gordon Jenkins standard. As the first chorus begins, Dick Hyman's piano interlude tastefully embellishes Urbie's phrasing. A subtle but insistent rhythmic pulse (established by Julie Ruggiero on fender bass, Grady Tate on drums and Don Heitler on organ) carries through both choruses until Urbie's cadenza brings the tune to a close.

Sidewinder The combination of Russell George's fender bass, Grady Tate's drums and Dick Hyman's electric piano establishes the perfect feeling for this tour-de-force by Urbie. Urbie is playing the specially amplified trombone, which magnifies the power of his unique playing. Also featured in this arrangement are Dick Hyman on electric piano and Vinnie Bell, whose guitar solo is punctuated by Urbie's insistent rhythmic accompaniment.

Isn't It Odd This lilting bossa nova (in waltz time!) is the product of the creative mind of composer, Dick Hyman, whose piano playing begins the arrangement. Urbie glides his golden sound through the melody with supreme control. Also "gliding" (or is it "sliding"?) is the rhythm section as it wends its way through an ingenious structure of chords and rhythmic accents. Vinnie Bell's guitar provides the sitar-like sounds in the second chorus, as well as the "waterfall" effect of the introduction.

Lumps Dick Hyman, composer of this tune, starts off on the electric piano (right) and is answered on the left by Howie Collins' guitar. Urbie's melodic phrases are answered by the ensemble in like manner. The addition of Phil Bodner on baritone sax adds to the power. Urbie plays an incredible three and one half octave fall off at the end of the chorus. Solo work is again shared by Urbie and Dick Hyman throughout the tune which rocks its way into the fade ending.
(Yes, they did spell "fender" with a lower-case "f" throughout.) In case you didn't figure it out from the liner notes, Dick Hyman is all over this album with plenty of electric piano and organ pyrotechnics. The Project 3 label was not known for anything funky, so it's pretty surprising to hear a few of these tunes "swinging 'funk' style," as the notes say. Green's trombone prowess is amazing; he really can make the horn seem to speak, with as much expression as a singer. The "ampliphonics" may have been just a gimmick, but they're are fun to listen to for three tracks. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ronald Shannon Jackson - Mandance

Very few drummers are also bandleaders, but the bands that Ronald Shannon Jackson has put together (as The Decoding Society) are smokin', and none moreso than the lineup of 1982's Mandance:
Henry Scott, trumpet and flugelhorn (tracks 3-7)
Zane Massey, saxophones (tenor, alto, soprano)
Vernon Reid, guitars and banjo
Melvin Gibbs, electric bass
Reverend Bruce Johnson, electric bass
David Gordon, trumpet (tracks 1, 2, and 8)
Lee Rozie, saxophone (tracks 1, 2, and 8)

And of course Jackson on drums throughout. As someone who grew up listening mostly to rock music, when I ventured into jazz I naturally gravitated toward jazz with a rock edge, and this is one of the rockingest jazz albums I've ever heard. They just don't let up! The list of musicians that Jackson has collaborated with is a veritable Who's Who of free jazz and its modern variants: Ornette Coleman, James Blood Ulmer, Albert Ayler, Bill Frisell, Peter Brötzmann, Bill Laswell, and Albert Mangelsdorff, to name a few, not to mention the players on this spectacular disc. The tracks are:
01-Man Dance
05-The Art of Levitation
06-Belly Button
08-When Souls Speak
09-Alice in the Congo

Originally released on vinyl by Island's Antilles imprint, this rip is from the Japanese CD release on Polystar @192kbps; get it here or here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blue Rondo - Bees Knees & Chickens Elbows

For their second album, Bees Knees & Chickens Elbows, Blue Rondo a la Turk dropped the "a la Turk" from their name, several band members, and everything that made their sound distinctive, i.e. the postpunk edge and the retro big-band sound. What's left sounds like countless other mildly funky British blue-eyed soul bands of the day. The original concept shines through a bit in "Masked Moods" with its smoky lounge vibe, and the rest of the songs are pleasant enough to listen to, but the spark is gone. The band had already broken up anyway by the time the album came out in 1984, so Bees Knees stands more as a last gasp than a document of an evolving band. I wish I could sound more positive about it, but I can still feel the disappointment I felt in 1984 when I got the record home and put it on the turntable. Maybe you will like it, though; get the vinyl rip here or here.

I had a request for Blue Rondo's Too Soon to Come album: that is simply a compilation of tracks from their two original albums with no new material, so if you grab the two album rips here, you've got everything that's on Too Soon to Come.

Blue Rondo a la Turk - Chewing the Fat

What if Pigbag had been led by Desi Arnaz, and he sang in English? That's what Chris Sullivan's band Blue Rondo a la Turk sounded like. With a postpunk take on Latin rhythms, a full horn section (see here for the complete band lineup), and vintage zoot-suit fashions, Blue Rondo in 1982 prefigured the swing craze that would reach full force over a decade later. (Oddly, they did not sound anything like Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk.") Sullivan was quite the dandy; see this profile of him in which he details his fashion history, and even takes credit for starting the New Romantic fashion movement. To be fair, he is also a skilful songwriter, singer, and a painter as well: he painted the album cover art. Chewing the Fat, released in 1982, is full of infectious Latin grooves and more straightforward pop fare. High points include a fantastic cover of Luther Ingram's "I Spy for the FBI" and the originals "Klacto Vee Sedstein" (a single) and "They Really Don't;" even a bit of Spandau Ballet shows through in the guitar intro to the single "The Heavens are Crying." The UK and German releases of the album differ slightly: the German version includes the 1981 single "Me and Mr Sanchez," while the UK version replaces that with its B-side, "Sarava." I have the UK version, so that's what I've presented here, but I also have the 45 so I've added "Me and Mr Sanchez" at the end. The full track list is:
01 Change
02 I Spy for the FBI
03 Coco
04 The Heavens Are Crying
05 The Method
06 They Really Don't
07 Sarava
08 Klacto Vee Sedstein
09 Carioca
10 Me and Mr Sanchez

I found a Blue Rondo TV performance clip (of "Carioca:) on YouTube: just to the left of Chris Sullivan (your left, his right) in the center ring is Christos Tolero, who as far as I can figure was the Paul Rutherford of the group, with his trademark Mephistophelean mustache and goatee:

Get the Chewing the Fat vinyl rip here or here.