It's always the best
That seem to crack and break
So it always seems right
To make The Same Mistakes
Stevie Shears must have known that his time with Ultravox! was coming to an end when he first heard a copy of the band's second album. Released at the very height of the punk explosion in November of 1977, Ha! Ha! Ha! was a raucous rejoinder to those critics who had dismissed Ultravox! as pretentious art rockers, hopelessly out of sync with the times--all rampaging guitars and sheets of wailing feedback it gave the spiky-haired bands a run for their money. But even to the band's guitarist, the standout track had to be not one of the more aggressive songs such as "Rock Wrok," or "Distant Smile," but "Hiroshima Mon Amour," a plaintive ballad for drum machines and synthesizers, to which his most important contribution was a saxophone solo. The future, it seemed, would belong to the machines.
Shears of course was not the only guitarist to struggle in the dance hall days of the late seventies and early eighties. Those schooled in the funk grooves of bands like Chic and Parliament prospered, but more rock-oriented players, like Shears, or Japan's Rob Dean, had an increasingly hard time among the banks of Arps, Korgs, and Oberheims that now crowded the recording studios. Even Gary Numan dropped the guitar for his most successful album, The Pleasure Principle. So when Shears slipped out of sight following Ha! Ha! Ha! no one seems to have much wondered why.
The first inkling that Shears had remained actively involved in music came in the form of a twelve inch EP released under the moniker of Faith Global on the independent label Survival Records in 1982. "Earth Report" had the wide-eyed optimism and soaring ambition of bands like Echo and the Bunnymen and The Wild Swans, with a sound that was decidedly less commercial than that followed by Shears' former band mates. Shears played not only guitar, but bass and synths, too, conjuring up a colourful, almost impressionistic swirl of sound to support newcomer Jason Guy's stirring vocals.
Comparisons were made to the Psychedelic Furs, perhaps not unfairly, but with a pair of strong b-sides, the record garnered favourable reviews and augured well for the album to come. The Same Mistakes contained nine tracks, two of which in fact featured Furs saxophone player Duncan Kilburn, together with some session players. Dave Henderson, writing in Sounds, gave the album a resounding four stars, adding, "Here is a confident new dance music that doesn't steal religiously from funk, and has no intentions of falling into an electrobop typecast."
The b-sides were re-recorded without the abrasive drum machine, giving the tracks a smoother, moodier feel. Surprisingly the single itself is not on the album; back in the post-punk era value for money was still a reality.
The Same Mistakes
01. The Same Mistakes
02. Forgotten Man
03. Hearts and Flowers
04. Knowing The Way
05. Love Seems Lost
06. Coded World
08. Slaves To This
09. Facing Facts
UK LP Survival [SUR LP 003] 1983
10. Earth Report
11. Coded World [version]
12. Love Seems Lost [version]
UK 12" Survival [SUR 124] 1982
Faith Global are...
Stevie Shears: guitar, synthesizer, piano, bass, sleeve design
Jason Guy: vocals, acoustic guitar
bass on 01, 02, 03, 04, 07: Neil Hughes
drums on 01, 02, 03, 04, 06, 07: Graham King
saxophone on 02, 04: Duncan Kilburn
bass on 05, 10, 12: Steen
snare on 10, 12: Dave Modesty
guitar on 05, 12: Adam Hart
Faith Global has been stuck in my head for decades. The opening bass riff from the title track of the album bounces my head into a slamming piano chord which makes way for intertwined snakey guitar lines. Guy's bizarrely appealing vocals launch into odd abstract vocals about... something. All this in the first thirty seconds. In part evoking the krautrock-influenced Sons and Fascination period of Simple Minds, in part kin to England's Trance by Placebo (no, not that Placebo, the original one) and definitely recalling a Talk Talk Talk without Richard Butler's bravado, this record has everything I want in post-punk. I don't know what it's all about, but I know it was important to those who made it.
-- Second Chameleon
The album has a charmingly ramshackle quality, like it was bolted together in somebody's garage out of spare radio parts and disused lighting grids. I don't think it is appreciably better than the single, however, and the fact that both b-sides ended up as album tracks suggests that Shears and Guy weren't exactly brimming over with ideas at this point. No surprise, then, that there was no follow up. Still, there's lots to like here and "Earth Report" will always be a personal fave.
-- Crash The Driver
Read another appreciation at Down With Tractors.