Monday, February 23, 2009

The Promenaders

The Promenaders were a pseudonymous project of musical anarchists (or eclecticists, depending on your point of view) Lol Coxhill and Steve Beresford, among others, and in some respects can be seen as a precursor to their long-running Melody Four group with Tony Coe. A note on the back cover sets the scene:
Pot-pourris of old and new favourites ... unique renditions of established melodies ... some insights into their own personal contributions to contemporary music. That's what you can expect from the Promenaders' first long player. It's been skilfully recorded to capture all the flavour of a Brighton performance ... music, announcements, sun, sea, holiday makers, ATMOSPHERE.
Yes, it's postpunk busking circa 1981, with irreverent versions of a whole slew of songs done medley-style, arranged to fit the (self-imposed) limitations of the Promenaders' instrumentation:
Recorded live by Dirk Pitt on Brighton Beach, with Free Bonus Track (the last track) from their performance in an "Exclusive Brighton Discotheque." And now for the incredibly long song list:
  1. Nellie The Elephant
  2. Louie Louie / The Promenader's Shuffle / Whistle While You Work / Calling All Workers / The Dambusters March / Do Re Mi / Eine Kleine Nachtmusik / American Patrol / South Of The Border / Let's Twist Again
  3. My Grandfather's Clock / Al Capone / Ghosts / The James Bond Theme / Holy Family / Walkin' The Dog / Prommin' The Bass / Oklahoma / Parade Of The Penguins / I Could Have Danced All Night
  4. Chicago
  5. Moon River
  6. Rock Around The Clock / Tin Roof Blues / Philly Dog / Promenaders Jazz It Up / Saturday Jump
  7. Stranger On The Shore / Rondeaux Makes It Up
  8. Happy Talk / The Hokey Cokey / Knees Up, Mother Brown
  9. "A", You're Adorable / There's A Long, Long Road A-Winding / Do Re Mi / My Favourite Things / You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To / Chim Chim Cheree
  10. (Won't You Play A) Simple Melody / Tibetan Promenade / Nellie The Elephant

The last track, which is introduced as "Won't You Play A Simple Tibetan Melody," may be the funniest song you hear all week. This is the Promenaders' only album, released by Y Records in 1982; get the vinyl rip here (new link) or here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Living In Texas - Kingdom EP

From a fan's perspective, one of the worse practices that the major labels refined in the 80s was a long wait between albums, the limitation of bands' releases to a mere trickle to be dispensed every few years. In the 60s it was not uncommon for bands to release two or more albums per year, then the 70s ushered in the one-album-per-year schedule. But in the 80s the labels found they could keep working an album for years, gradually releasing songs as singles to prop up sales of the album. (I blame Michael Jackson's Thriller for this practice.) The flip side was that independent labels found another way to compete with the majors: in addition to releasing fresher, more adventurous music, they could release it at a faster pace, without necessarily waiting for an entire album's worth of material. A band could produce a steady stream of singles and EPs (4-6 songs) to keep put music in front of the public several times a year. (And with the impending demise of the CD we may see that model come back.) That was a double-edged sword for fans: more music from favorite bands is a good thing, but the vagaries of independent distribution also made it easy to miss something. Thus it is that twenty-odd years after the fact I am still finding music by Living In Texas that I missed when it was new. One of those records is the Kingdom EP, released by the band on their own Chainsaw label in 1984, consisting of four songs:
  1. Department Store Graveyard
  2. Kingdom 2
  3. Lollipop Sperm
  4. Godemocrafasc

"Department Store Graveyard" is an odd gothic dirge; "Kingdom 2," previously presented here in a live version (as "Kingdom III"), benefits from a studio recording. The long jam is similar in structure and rhythm to the great early Modern English B-side "The Perfect View" but with more energy. The two songs on the flip side bring in the "jungle" drums for the band's trademark "voodoo gothic rock" sound. Kingdom is another top-notch release from an overlooked band; get the rip here or here, and check back for more archival material from Living In Texas.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vigil - FLAC

This entry is a repeat of one of last month's posts, but with a key difference. The original post linked to a standard 192kbps mp3 rip from vinyl. An alert reader turned up a copy of the CD release, however, and a quick order made it mine. So I am breaking with my normal policy to present a FLAC rip of this special CD, one of the first rock CDs to be digitally recorded, mixed, and mastered. The archive is spread over three files (join with HJSplit or 7Zip):

RS: File 1
BD: File 1
DF: File 1
HF: File 1

This rip eliminates the distorted sibilants in my vinyl rip, and of course the surface noise; it is pristine. (CD ripped to FLAC with Exact Audio Copy.)

For those who missed the band info the first time around, here it is again:

Continuing our brief musical tour of Baltimore in the 1980s, here is the sole major-label release of Vigil, previously known as Here Today. Here is the capsule history of the band from the Vigil MySpace page:
Vigil was a modern rock band that recorded and performed in the mid to late 1980's. Once upon a time in the "Land of Pleasant Living" aka Baltimore there was a group of musicians known as Here Today: Jo Connor, Andy R, X Factor and Gregg Maizel. They recorded a classic song called "Whistle in the Yard" and soon signed to CBS records, changed their name to Vigil and were promptly dropped. Vigil was quickly signed by Chrysalis Records and recorded their debut lp in glorious digital. It was released in 1987 and sold enough copies to allow them to record another lp but only one track, "Therapist", was released by Chrysalis, appearing on the Nightmare on Elm Street 4 soundtrack. Eventually the second album was released on cassette only as Onto Beggar and Bitter Things.
Vigil was influenced by UK bands, particularly those of the Gothic persuasion, and as a result their expansive, dreamy sound was quite different from most of the other Maryland bands of the era. "I Am Waiting" was released as a 12-inch single, but it was the wah-wah-guitar-fuelled B-side, "I Love You Equinox", that garnered all the airplay on WHFS:

I have never found a copy of the self-released, cassette-only second album, but I presume that the first three songs on Vigil's MySpace player come from it, since they are not on the first album. The full track list of the first album is:
  1. Until the Seasons
  2. I Am Waiting
  3. White Magic Spell
  4. Gargoyles
  5. I Love You Equinox
  6. Whistle in the Yard
  7. The Celiba Sea
  8. The Garden
  9. Born Again
  10. The Benefit of the Doubt

Vigil singer Jo Connor now fronts the Jo Connor Band, which "performs classic Vigil songs along with new faves."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nort - G.O.D.A.M.B.

Sheffield's mighty "industrial funk" movement of the 80s fizzled out by the end of that decade. Cabaret Voltaire went house and then split up; Eric Random went AWOL; Chakk and Workforce disintegrated; and the band that best embodied the whole genre, Hula, disbanded despite securing a US record deal with Wax Trax. Hula's catalog has thankfully been reissued in digital form in recent years, but here is a related item that has not. Nort was Hula's drummer, and he put out a solo album in 1988 on Ediesta Records, Games Of Dance And Muscle Blood, usually listed in acronym form as G.O.D.A.M.B. Nort provides drums, percussion, voice, tapes, samples, bass guitar, treatments, sequencers, and keyboards, and is supported by a rather large cast of musicians:
  • Justin Bennett - drums, percussion, violin, samples, treatments, keyboards
  • D. I. Anii - drums
  • D'Silva - saxophone, keyboards
  • Sara - Voices
  • Alan Fisch - samples, treatments
  • Barry Harden - bass guitar
  • Dave Heppinstall - keyboards, voice, treatments, percussion
  • Sarah Morrell - trumpet
  • Alan Russell - guitar
  • Phaedre Selmes - voices
  • Phil Wolstenholme - kazoo

It's not quite a Great Lost Hula Album, but about half of it could be: the opener "It's A Dream" could almost fit on Voice, the short "Luther's Scream" sounds like Murmur-era Hula, and there are a couple ambient tracks that would sound at home on Hula's improvised Shadowland LP. Three other rhythm-oriented tracks are in the distinctive Sheffield funk vein but are more akin to Workforce's uptempo "Back in the Good Books." Which leaves a few tracks of odds and ends somewhere between ambient and rhythmic. G.O.D.A.M.B. is thus an essential record for, well, anyone who follows this blog! Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Nort has been active in two bands of late, Yonni and The Cherokees. He has also published an autobiography, A Kill Ease, through

The cover of G.O.D.A.M.B., while it has some interesting elements, is a bit of a mess. It was designed by Metroviral Visuals, which was Anthony Bennett, now a respected sculptor (and MBE awardee) whose bronze tribute to Beatrix Potter now stands in Bowness-on-Mere.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Living In Texas - The History of Rock & Roll

I'm back with another Living In Texas record, once again provided by the band's singer Stephan James. The elusive The History of Rock & Roll EP, released in 1986 by the Italian label Supporti Fonografici, is Living In Texas in their absolute prime, every bit as lively and raw as Glad Bad Sad and Mad. It opens with an Adam and the Ants cover (!), "Lady", and while the Ants really rocked on their original, LIT rock even more. "Lady" is followed by "A Taste of Mary," a bit of psychobilly with voodoo drums and spooky backing vocals; and that's it for side one. Side two consists of the rocker "Apple Red Convertible," an Italian-language version* of "A Taste of Mary," and "No:" which is... a rap! With main vocals by drummer Mathew Frazer! Rap songs by rock bands are usually cringeworthy, but "No:" is surprisingly good. And that's it, just five tracks. Producer Martin Young (of Colour Box) adds keyboards, and the manic cover art is by guitarist Daniel Glee, as usual. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

* "At least we tried to sing in Italian. At least we tried!", it says in the liner notes.