Sunday, April 27, 2008

Various Artists - The Invisible Frame

This 1983 mini-LP from Future Records contains two postpunk classics, "Lifes Illusion" by Ice the Falling Rain and "Telecommunication" by Blitz (actually a Blitz splinter band led by original Blitz singer Carl Fisher). Here's the full track listing:
A1 Blitz Telecommunication
A2 Ice The Falling Rain Lifes Illusion
A3 Two Regime
B1 And Also The Trees Wallpaper Dying
B2 Rhythm & Faith Young Too Young Girl
B3 The Visit All The Walls
Get it here or here.

"Telecommunication" appears on the Blitz album Second Empire Justice. I thought I would rip that and post it, but someone else has already done it: see Hangover Heart Attack. Here are a few more records that fall into that same category (i.e. I was gonna post it, but someone else already did):

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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pinski Zoo - The Dizzy Dance Record

In the same vein as The Box, Rip Rig & Panic, etc. (which is to say, no-wave free-jazz skronk, but without the vocals) was reedman Jan Kopinski's Pinski Zoo, from Nottingham. Or that should be is, since amazingly, the band is still active. Here is the info on this 1982 record, Pinski Zoo's second, from Kopinski's own website:

JAN KOPINSKI tenor / soprano saxophones / voice
STEVE ILIFFE electric grand piano / harmonium
MICK NOLAN percussion

1. It’s a Monster Steve
2. Spasm and Split
3. Dizzy Dance
4. Erase My Memory

For this 12” mini LP, Jan collaborated with famous Dub producer, Adrian Sherwood, who produced it at Berry street Studios. Dizzy Dance is about trying to hear many harmonies and rhythms as if they were crossing the street at once and picking your way through it. Steve Iliffe’s use of the harmonium is an interesting clue to his later masterful use of sounds with keys and samplers in the 90’s.

It came in a plain white open-centered sleeve--at least mine did--so there's no cover art. That's okay, because the music is great! Get it here or here.

Update: a helpful chap has found a cover image for me, I've placed it below. I will eventually incorporate it into the archive file, re-upload, and re-link; in the meantime, right-click below as Save Image As...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chain - Banging on the House/Chains 12"

Here's another of singer Peter Hope's post-Box collaborations from 1985 (I think; there's no date on the record or the sleeve), this one with Mark Estdale as Chain. Estdale was an audio engineer who worked on several great Sheffield records, many by Hula (who are really my favorites from that scene, but will not be included here since they have reissued their records for paid digital download); in Chain he contributes "drums and programming." Chain only released this 12" single (Native Records NTV 2): "Banging on the House" (with Robin Markin on piano, Simon DC Markham on bass, and Elaine Mcleod on backing vocals) backed with "Chains" (with Alan Russell on guitar, a press hammer sample from Dexian Ilust, a high tom sample from Hula's drummer Nort, and bass from someone uncredited, I would guess it's Markham again). "Chains" has the edge here, working into a killer funk groove a few minutes in, another Lost Classic, but the A-side is perfectly good industrial funk as well. Links removed: track reissued on Peter Hope's Exploding Mind - Hoodoo Dance.

The Box - Muscle In

After 1984's Great Moments in Big Slam LP (which I missed getting, somehow), The Box were dropped from Go! Discs. They recorded four more tracks in Cabaret Voltaire's Western Works studio in October 1984 and released them on the Cabs' Doublevision label as Muscle In (DVR 10). The manic Box energy is still there, but Charlie Collins's woodwinds are notably more melodic; take away the vocals and some of this material could pass for A Primary Industry (or their later incarnation, Ultramarine). Richard Kirk produced "radical remixes" of two of the tracks for a promotional 12", DVR P1.

According to this was a very limited edition, with as few as 200 copies pressed. Fortunately I have one of them, so I've included the so-called Muscle Mix 12" as well. Links removed: track reissued on Peter Hope's Exploding Mind - Hoodoo Dance.

Peter Hope & David Harrow - Sufferhead EP

After the demise of The Box in 1985, vocalist Peter Hope embarked on a number of one-off collaborations. I'm not positive of the chronology, but I think the first one was the Sufferhead EP (Ink Records, 1985), his project with synth whiz David Harrow (now known as James Hardway). The A side, "Too Hot," features a slamming breakbeat and some memorable lyrics from Hope, and is a genuine Lost Classic of 80s industrial dance music. The B side contains three songs: the rhythmic (but undanceable) "Buckle Down," and the more abstract pieces "(Excerpt from) Bright Boys" and "Snakes Washed In." Get it here or here. (Links removed at artist's request: look for reissues!)

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...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Music For Pleasure - Chrome Hit Corrosion

Another band I consider a lost gem of the 80s is Music For Pleasure, from Leeds. After some early singles on indie Rage Records, they released one album and associated singles on Polydor in 1982-83. Saltyka's blog collects most of Music For Pleasure'1980-83 output ; he describes them as having
a sound somewhere around The Chameleons (not so folk-like),Killing Joke (not so wild),early Duran Duran (not so easy listening), The Church arond '84-'85 ( for example the beautiful "Winterscene") .Can you imagine the band Tenploe Tudor playing synth-pop ("Human Factor") and Michael Cretu playing as a guest musician with his '83 sound in the song "Madness At The Mission"? And so on.
Those are all good comparisons; I've always thought of them as sounding like Simple Minds in their New Gold Dream/Sparkle in the Rain period, with the keyboard textures of the former and the greater energy of the latter. Chrome Hit Corrosion is a four-song EP from 1984 on the band's own Whirlpool label (having been dropped by Polydor). The lineup for this release is: Mark Copson (voice), Christopher Oldroyd (drums), Ivor Roberts (bass), and David Whitaker (PPG and Emulator); the same as the original 1979 lineup except for Roberts replacing Martin King on bass. Notice there are no guitars; Whitaker plays some pretty good faux-guitar on the synths, especially a big fat riff in the second half of "Walking." He would later replace Lyndon Scarfe in The Danse Society. Copson puts more into his vocals than on previous records, at times growling in a way that we would later hear from Ian Astbury and Glenn Danzig. Music For Pleasure released another single ("Disconnection") and an album (Blacklands) before breaking up; I don't have either of those, but I'm always on the lookout. Get Chrome Hit Corrosion here or here.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Box - Secrets Out

Continuing the catalog of Sheffield band The Box, composed of ex-Clock DVA members Charlie Collins (sax, flute), Paul Widger (guitar, vibraphone), and Roger Quail (drums), plus Terry Todd (bass) and Peter Hope (vocals), here is their first full-length LP, Secrets Out (Go! Discs VFM4, 1983). I've already written about The Box here, so I won't repeat it, except to reiterate that The Box's version of skronk/no wave is second to none. Pete Hope sounds like a cross between James Brown and Tom Waits after a triple espresso. Now that I've thought about it for a week, I've found a good comparison band for The Box: the Fire Engines. The Box produced the same kind of aggressive, abrasive, free-jazz/rock hybrid music, but took it even farther afield. Secrets Out contains a generous helping of twelve songs, though only one of them is over three minutes long. Get the album here or here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Men - Herminutics (Chicago, 1981)

I bought this record in a sale bin back in the 80s and was pleasantly surprised at the contents: while the band was from Chicago, the music sounded like it came straight out of the UK postpunk scene. Herminutics is a six-song EP with a "Dance" side and a "Listen" side. There's a remarkable breadth to the musical style from song to song; at different points the Men sound like all four of the Pop Group's splinter groups (Pigbag, Rip Rig + Panic, Mark Stewart + Maffia, Maximum Joy; that's all of them, isn't it?). "Sacrifice of the Gods," on the Dance side, sounds just like something from A Certain Ratio's first two albums (vocals aside) and benefits from a dual-bass lineup. The Listen side is weirder, opening with "Middle Man" and its processed spoken vocals which land somewhere between the bureaucratic paranoia of Mark Stewart and the psychedelic ramblings of The Mars Volta. The side closes with "Four D", possibly the weirdest piano ballad ever recorded. Who were The Men? The credits list them as Arturo Eduardo MacQuilkin III, Reggie (Mars) McFadden, Sven Herman, Jack Santee, and Steve Georgiafaundis. I've gleaned a little information on them from the web:
Men were a Chicago punk/industrial band from the early 80s, sharing or featuring ex-members of the more popular band The Mentally Ill. Founded by Snat 5 Records head Art MacQuilkin, they released a 12" in 1981. (The Chicago Punk Database)
There's also a brief discography on, which lists this EP and an album, Matrix of Compassion. I have that too and will post it here eventually.

How did The Men get so completely overlooked? They rank with the best postpunk/no wave bands of the era, yet I've never met anyone who has ever heard of them. I hope you will take the time to download this exceptional record and give it a listen. Get it here or here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

VA - Breaking the Back of Love (1985)

The Breaking the Back of Love various-artists compilation was released by Saderal in 1985, featuring the kind of Gothic funk acts that Illuminated was known for. In fact, some of the acts were even on Illuminated, and had been featured on the previous year's Illuminated megamix, Heavy Duty Breaks, an excerpt of which appears here as "Heavy Duty Brakes." Here we also have The Leather Nun's notorious fisting song, "F.F.A.," retitled as "F.F. America." But there are also some little-known gems here: Colour Me Pop's "Beat Me Till I'm Blue" chugs along nicely with some bongos and a lead bass, and Out's "Business As Usual" builds on a catchy synth hook for a song that could have been an alternative club hit if the stars had aligned right. The cover model is Lilly A.K. (I think), who has two songs on here. "Passionate Strangers" is a soaring, fast-tempo number that reminds me of another forgotten classic, "Life's Illusion" by Ice the Falling Rain (coming here soon), and "Take Me Now," with Youth, sounds like Food-era Brilliant (no surprise there). Who was Lilly A.K.? Whatever happened to her? She sings two songs on here, she sang some backing vocals on an Edward Ka-Spel album, and other than that I've turned up nothing. If you have any further information on her, please let me know in the comments. The full track listing is:
A1 400 Blows Pressure
A2 Lilly A.K. and Youth Take Me Now
A3 Portion Control Raise The Pulse
A4 Out Business As Usual
A5 Colour Me Pop Beat Me Till I'm Blue
A6 The Leather Nun F.F. America
B1 Lilly A.K. Passionate Strangers
B2 Sex Gang Children Into The Abyss
B3 Colour Me Pop Go
B4 Heavy Duty Brakes Heavy Duty Brakes
B5 Dormannu Degenerate
I've added two bonus songs, stragglers by bands already on the album : "Tough Enough" by Out (from a 12" single) and "The Girl Who Shares My Shirts" by Colour Me Pop (the A-side whose B-side is "Beat Me Till I'm Blue"). Get it all here or here.