Friday, April 25, 2008


We go back to 1980s Sheffield today for the entire catalog of industrial funk band Workforce, who put out just two 12-inch singles, but they're among the best of that time and place. The first was "Skin Scraped Back" in 1985, released on Cabaret Voltaire's Doublevision label (and that stamp of approval should carry more weight than anything I could write). The record contains two mixes of the title track plus "Heap the Blame." The lineup:

Paul Wheatcroft: Vocals Guitar Violin Keyboards
Alan Fisch: Drums Percussion Tapes/Treatments
Rod Leigh: Guitar Keyboards Tapes Voice
Tim Owen: Wind Instruments Percussion Keyboards
Special thanks to Adi Hardy Bass Guitar

The throbbing bassline really makes the song tick; Workforce comes across as a harder-edged Chakk. I found an interesting post on the Sheffield forum from Tim Owen about Amrik Rai, the NME music writer who co-founded FON Records:

He always seemed to have some project or other up his sleeve when I briefly knew him. I played in Chakk rivals, Workforce for a while [sax, percussion, keys, tapes]. Rai interviewed us for NME after our first Peel Session and single, but the NME interview mysteriously never saw the light. I put it down to the fact that he was also the manager of Chakk, and didn't want similar [although more experimental] bands such as Workforce and Hula to steal Chakk's thunder.

In 1986 Workforce released their second and last record, the "Back in the Good Books" 12-inch on Rorschach Testing.

Again, there are two mixes of the title track (which cranks the tempo up a couple notches from "Skin"), and one more song, "This Is the One," which sounds uncannily like Chakk. The lineup is the same but now three members have "programming" in their credits, and special thanks go to Terry Todd (of The Box) who I presume played bass. And that's all there is from Workforce, except for another remix of "Skin Scraped Back" from Abstract Magazine 6 (Audio/Visual), which I have included for completeness' sake. Get it here or here.


Anonymous said...

OOOH ! GodDAMN you've hit the jackpot again! (it's me again) THANKS.

Fantod said...

You're welcome! It's going to be difficult to match this again, though.

Scott said...

I have been hunting for these since leaving the Uk 15 years ago (and the shipping company losing my packing crate full of vinyl). I am so totally grateful for your genius (and your music taste).
Thank you from the bottom of my heart (and, in New Zealand, the bottom of the world).

Nabil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I loved the first Workforce John Peel session in particular. I have the Skin Scraped Back and the Back in the Good Books 12" vynals by Workforce from the 1980s. I read somewhere that the band were not happy with the 12" singles and preferred the version of Skin Scaped Back that appeared on an Abstract label's compilation - Audio Visual(1985), which I also have. The Skin Scraped Back 12" insert refers to 'Conductors and Miscreants' released on Rorschach Testing (ROS2) - I've not been able to find this yet! Has anyone heard it?

FuseRed said...

both peel sessions are here - link still works

Hanna Brizhata said...

sorry, but can you reload this records?

Anonymous said...

I loved the Peel sessions, particularly the first one, and was delighted to find that they've been uploaded to SoundCloud by the singer:


Anonymous said...

(Actually it's the second session I prefer, but "Compromise" is my favourite track of theirs so they're pretty much even :-)