Saturday, April 19, 2008

Chakk - 10 Days In An Elevator

Chakk, the industrial funk outfit from Sheffield, only released a single album, 10 Days In An Elevator, on MCA in 1986. They got signed to MCA on the strength of their singles on the Doublevision on FON labels (and presumably some demos), got a huge advance, spent it building FON Studios, and proceeded to record the album. However, somewhere they lost the special ingredient that made their singles so spectacular (available here), and 10 Days is a bit of a sprawling mess of funky basslines, tape manipulations, sax riffs, and shouted slogans that never quite comes together. On the plus side, there's plenty of it: packaged with the 8-song album was a bonus 4-track EP. It's far from terrible, in fact I quite enjoyed listening to it again to prepare this post. In advance of the album's release, "Imagination (Who Needs a Better Life)" was released as a single, with three different mixes on the 12". But with no clear followup single* the album stiffed and Chakk were dropped from MCA. They posted a strong return to form, once again on the FON label, with the "Timebomb" single (also available on my first Chakk post), but without enough success to keep the band together. Here, then (or here) is the entire 10 Days album plus the EP, and all three mixes from the Imagination 12", which exhausts my Chakk collection until I get ahold of the legendary Clocks and Babies cassette. Anyone?

* I stand corrected (said the man in the orthopedic shoes): a quick search on GEMM reveals that "Big Hot Blues" was the followup single, then the album sank. It also shows a 12" single of "Brain" with album track "Years I Worked" as the B-side, released on FON, presumably after being dropped by MCA but before Timebomb. There's another one to track down...

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks ! I was worried you had abandoned us...

Fantod said...

No, just away from home for a week; it's nice to be back with my records!

Anonymous said...

thanks for this, i have them on vinyl but no record player. i also was disappointed with the LP, the EP that comes with it is much better.

Anonymous said...

i seem to remember 'big hot blues' coming out before the LP, and that the 12" mix (different from the EP that comes with the album) was a better track than the cut down LP version, should track it down. never heard of the 'brain' before! i've been listening to the LP again and enjoying it more than ever, thanks for the post.

Fantod said...

Another version of "Big Hot Blues," eh? I'll have to track that down as well. Thanks for the note!

Eden 263 said...

Chakk could have and should have been huge, thanks for posting this, it is superb.

Cthulhu Funk said...

Just found your blog and I think you’ve blown my mind! I was harboring the misapprehension that there were very few individuals who really appreciated this sort of experimental funk! Consequently, are you still looking for a copy of Chakk’s Brain/Years I Worked 12”? It’s a relatively scare promo item – I’ve got a copy if you’re interested in a rip. However, there is a small catch: due to the grade of promo-quality vinyl considerable surface noise is audible at the beginning and end of each track. The a-side is actually a quite sample heavy “industrial” / instrumental version of the LP track “She Conceives Destruction” whilst the b-side is virtually the same as the final mix. Anyhow, let me know if you’re interested and I’ll zip it and send it on. I’ve some other Chakk Singles including all of their MCA material (Big Hot Blues / Imagination / Stare Me Out + Timebomb: Bombed Out Remixes) as well as many other unique 12’’s including Podmore and Hope’s Kitchenette as well as numerous scarce Sheffield funk and industrial LPs. Anyhow, thanks - let me know if you ever happen upon a copy of “clocks and babies” or any of the seemingly endless slew of Clock DVA demo tapes circa the late 70’s.

Electroaimant said...

Yes, 10 days is a bit of a mess, a bit like Sheffield.

Stare Me Out was produced by Sly and Robbie; a lot of these gritty funksters mixed and matched with their dub influences. The spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves.

I have Timebomb and You, already ripped and crackly, and I love the fierceness of these songs, you can really bellow it out at any tea-guest available.

A Certain Ratio said...

Great Blog! I've just dug out Jon Stewart's excellent cover of Summer Breeze. A very long-lost Chakk rarity!

uiyui said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Audiostar said...

I just found a 1986 MCA CD copy of this, DMCG 6006 believe it or not for .35 cents and it is great... Kind of reminds me a little of, if Gang of 4 was produced by Alan Wilder and Flood. Very smooth grooves and electronics ahead of there time...

Anonymous said...

What would truly be interesting would be to hear the Sly & Robbie sessions for the album, which were dumped for being too weird. The material on the album was re-recorded and/or remixed.

The best post-Chakk project was Sim Lister and Mark Brydon's work on Cath Carroll's "England Made Me".

Anonymous said...

Back in 1984/5 I was doing front of house sound at the Dorset Institute of Higher education student Union's saturday night gigs in what was an old converted Church in Weymouth. Chakks bass player cam in with a band - it wasn't CHAKK but they blew us apart which is why I subsequently bought ten days in an elevator on cassette. Ive been looking for the CD version which I've finally bought tonight for 54 quid! 26 years later ...... I always thought this band were amazing funilly enough I cant for the life of me remeber the name of theband that came and played that night ... only that it lead me onto CHAKK. I'd love to know what happened to the band members and what they are did since and are doing now does anybody know - also about the technology they were using at the time. As fo rthe genre - is there still an idustrial funk scene going? Although I'm now living in portugal - I still miss John Peel's presence - ther was a time when you could tune in and know you were going to hear amazing music - now the music scene seems so dead. Many manythanks for this web site and the Zip which is great!

Fantod said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone, I've been away from the blog for a while so it's good to see it's still getting thoughtful visitors. I didn't know about the Cath Carroll connection, I will have to check that out. Mark Brydon spent most of the 90s as half of Moloko with Roisin Murphy; the music is pretty enjoyable but definitely lacked the harder edge of Chakk. A couple members were in Heights of Abraham, more of a chill-out band and also missing the hard Chakk edge.

As for industrial funk as a genre, I'm afraid it died along with the 80s. I hear echoes of it once in a while--in Chicago band Mah Jongg, for example, or Ghostland Observatory--but it seems mostly to be mentioned with derision, when it is mentioned at all. But I invite all readers to add suggestions for contemporary bands that are continuing the sound.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. I have been searching for this album for years. You're an absolute star.

joeandand said...

Interesting to read your excellent Chakk post. I was at Leeds Uni in the mid eighties and saw them play there live. An excellent live band as I remember.
I too dug the Elevator album out again a year or so ago and agree that time han't helped it a great deal. It is a bit of a mess and was at the time disppointing. Thanks for the digital versions though I'll give it all another go on the walkman...
Reading the comments I am surprised (unless I missed it) that no one mentioned that Sim Lister and Jake Harries
went onto form the Heights of Abraham with the creative giant that is Steve Cobby. I am sure I was told once that Steve Cobby was a junior/ trainee engineer at Fon Studios at the time Elevator was recorded which is how they all met.
The first Heights of Abraham album on the legendary Pork Recording label out of Hull still sounds pretty fresh.
will pop in again now I have your details..
Many thanks
Joe

Anonymous said...

Many, many thanks for the audio zip file - one of the great and undeservedly forgotten industrial funk bands of the 80s. The flaws are what makes them interesting. I lost my audio cassette of this many years ago and had found a few tracks floating on the web, but resigned to never hearing the complete album again. Am I right in thinking that Richard James Burgess of Landscape produced this one? Again - thanks for the easy access to the zip - auditory philathrophy of the highest order.

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