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.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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
“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
- K. LEIMER: SYNTHESIZERS, TAPES, VOICE, GUITAR.
- DAVID KELLER: FRETLESS BASS, GUITARS, PERCUSSION.
- JAMES KELLER DRUMKIT, GUITARS, PERCUSSION.
- MARC BARRECA: SYNTHESIZERS, TAPES.
- ROBERT CARLBERG: PERCUSSION, ENGINEERING.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
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.
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.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
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
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)