15 November 2009

BBC In Concert by The Teardrop Explodes

Of course, the choice was my own. But what if I failed?

The very first thing I did in my first year in university was head downtown with my friends to buy concert tickets. I had a two-speed Toyota Corolla that made a delightful humming sound when barrelling down the Don Valley Parkway like a sewing machine trying to achieve escape velocity. But it made me a popular guy among the people in residence, seeing as we were so far from the action at our remote commuter campus. We had all been to the student loan office earlier in the day, and I had cash to spare--my dad had doctored the student loan applications in such a way that I had received the maximum amount as a grant.

New Wave. No Wave. New Romantic. Post Punk. Mod. Ska. Rock a' Billy. They were all big in Toronto in 1981, and the record companies and promoters saw the city as the gateway to the North American market. So as we stared up at the chalkboard listing all the upcoming concerts at Records On Wheels, it was an embarrassment of riches. Echo & The Bunnymen. The Jam. The Stray Cats. New Order. Wah! Blurt. Nash The Slash. I bought tickets for 'em all that day, coming back to my dorm room with a deliciously thick slab of waxen cardboard.

By the time The Teardrop Explodes, one of my favourite bands of the period, showed up the following April to promote the recently released Wilder, I was a seasoned, even somewhat jaded, concert goer. Nothing was ever going to quite match the Siouxsie & the Banshees show I had seen back in November. Her Siouxsiness had actually spoken to me as I stood in line in front of the venue. She insulted me, true. But that made it all the better. How could Julian Cope top that?

They say that the decisions a man makes are the measure of his worth. And I was about to test my worth. The morning after The Teardrop Explodes were scheduled to play The Concert Hall, turned out to be the date for the final exam for one of my courses. I was in a bit of a bind. Having spent most of the year hanging out at clubs and listening to or talking about music, I really did need to spend that night studying if I wanted to pass. If I wanted to be a man.

But I went anyway. The Teardrop's had undergone some changes by this point. Alan Gill, the guitar player who had penned their breakthrough hit "Reward" while on hiatus from Dalek I, had left the band. His replacement, Troy Tate, added a pointillist sensibility to The Teardrop's sound, sending a colourful spray of notes across new tracks such as "Like Leila Khaled Said," while bassist Aflie Agius (on loan from Martha Ladly's The Scenery Club), provided a distinctly funky edge to the older songs like "Thief Of Baghdad."

In his outrageously brilliant autobiography, Head On, Cope records how the band consumed "a frenzied chemical picnic" in Detroit before daring to venture across the border. "By the early hours of the next morning we passed into Canada, our mouths forced into amphetamine smiles and our lips chewed and raw." Of the gig in Toronto the next night, he has less than fond memories. "I think we were shit. We did two sets that night, one was unremarkable and the other sucked big logs." I wouldn't disagree, but I didn't enjoy it any less as a result.

By the end of the year the band had dissolved into a lysergic pool of chaotic infighting and mad hallucinations, leaving behind their third album, Everyone Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes, sadly incomplete. Cope claimed he had a choice, too. "I could give up fame, or drugs. I chose to give up fame." It was a choice that has made for a mixed solo career, some of it exceptional, some of it not. But give him credit for refusing to concede to the hunger of fans for a reunion, the all too often sad postscript to the story of so many bands from the period.

Here are The Teardrop Explodes just before they headed out on the tour that threatened to derail my academic career, still fit, trim, and in fighting shape, and doing their best for the BBC. This 1981 live set was originally scheduled for an official release, even had a catalogue number, but was cancelled at the last minute, no doubt by Cope himself, who nursed ill feelings about his time as a pop star for far too long. It is a brilliant document of the band at the height of their fame, with both "Reward" and a reissue of "Treason" in the charts, and the world waiting expectantly for the follow up to Kilimanjaro. Check out the deliriously mad version of "Sleeping Gas," the languid, trippy, blissed out outro to "The Culture Bunker," and the wonderfully understated reading of "Suffocate." Hardcore fans will take special delight in "Screaming Secrets," a track which eventually saw the light of day on the Saint Julian album, here given the full Teardrop treatment.

And the exam? I think I must have passed. But truth be told, I remember the gig much better than anything from the course.

-- Crash The Driver


The Teardrop Explodes - BBC Live

01 Books
02 Thief of Baghdad
03 Sleeping Gas
04 Passionate Friend
05 Like Leila Khaled Said
06 Suffocate
07 Poppies In The Field
08 The Culture Bunker
09 Reward
10 Went Crazy
11 Screaming Secrets
12 When I Dream
13 The Great Dominions
14 Treason

UK CD Windsong [150] 1995

26 October 2009

Days In Europa (Second Version) By Skids

The Skids were fronted by a pair of towering talents. With his chiseled jaw line and stentorian voice, Richard Jobson was a natural front man, commanding the stage with the authority of an army officer leading his troops into battle. And Stuart Adamson was every bit his equal, buttressing Jobson's voice with muscular guitar riffs and soaring lead lines that called to mind amassed bagpipes sounding across the highlands of their native Scotland.

The band formed in Dunfermline, a working class neighbourhood on the outskirts of Edinburgh, where a career in music offered one of the few alternatives to the mines where Jobson's father had toiled. Like so many others, Adamson had been inspired by the punk revolution. Together with his friend William Simpson (bass), he set out to find a singer who could both hold a tune and look the part. They found their man in Jobson, a local punk they had seen about town sporting a full-length black leather trench coat and black and white hair. Tom Kellichan (drums) completed the original line up shortly thereafter.

The Skids played their first gig in August, 1977. The songs were mostly Adamson's at first but Jobson soon proved an adept wordsmith, mixing a schoolboy fascination with the glories of war with a burgeoning respect for the work of the symboliste poets from Mallarme and Rimbaud, to Duras and Plath. The results could be obscure and enigmatic, but were still somehow strangely inspired, urging Adamson to ever more heroic melodies and chord progressions. Early singles "Sweet Suburbia," "The Saints Are Coming," and "Into The Valley" made the charts in 1978 and early 1979, the latter going top ten, in advance of the debut album.

The punk-inspired sound of Scared To Dance was dated by the time it appeared, but Adamson and Jobson had already moved on, developing a new interest in synthesizers, drum machines, and the polished textures of the new dance music being played at the London clubs that Jobson frequented while in the nation's capital. For Days In Europa, they brought in Rusty Egan, formerly of The Rich Kids, and now part owner of the Blitz Club, to play drums, and Bill Nelson, the guitar wizard who made his name with Be Bop Deluxe, to produce. Adamson's guitar style owed an enormous debt to Nelson's fluid, coruscating fret work, and having his hero in the recording booth served to bring out the best in this hugely talented player and songwriter (it is not for nothing that U2's The Edge has cited him as a key influence on his own playing). Jobson, too, stepped up his game, spinning such gossamer lines as, "I sacrificed the methods of my dreams / On the latter, these new poets, stole the scene / Oh, I'm sure they feel I can't betray / Egyptian girls can only say" ("Peaceful Times").

The album was preceded by two singles, "Masquerade," the first to reveal their sleek new sound, and "Working For The Yankee Dollar," but Days In Europa, for all its obvious achievement, never managed the commercial breakthrough for which both the band and label had hoped, making it only to #32 in the UK. Part of the blame was laid on the album cover, which depicted a woman crowning an Olympian with a garland, the Germanic lettering and muscular bodies recalling the fascist stylings of Leni Riefenstahl, while others pointed to Jobson's incomprehensible lyrics, partly buried in Nelson's guitar heavy mix. Virgin decided that the album needed both a new cover and a new mix. The new cover featured an elegant couple in evening dress, caught in an embrace (the original cover still visible as a painting in the background), while the new mix was provided by Bruce Fairburn, a Canadian producer who had made his name with popular West Coast rock acts like Prism and Trooper. Fairburn gave the album a kind of glossy lustre, bringing forward Jobson's booming voice. The running order was changed, too, dropping "Pros and Cons" on British copies for the earlier single, "Masquerade."

The second version of Days In Europa has always seemed to offend the band's loyal fans, who felt Fairburn had turned their post punk darlings into an American style rock band, and later reissues on cd have returned to Nelson's mix, but I've always preferred Fairburn's. Perhaps this is because this is the way the album was first released in North America, and hence the way I first came to adore this particular slab of wax. But even so, there is something to be said for the more balanced and coherent soundscape of the second version, with Egan's terrific hi-hats sparkling brightly in the top end of the spectrum, and Nelson's battery of sequenced synthesizers swirling from high to low.

The rip of the second version of Days In Europa posted here is sourced from a British copy. It is identical to that which was released in North America except that "The Olympian" has been retained from the original running order. Long time fans of the band are encouraged to reconsider the Fairburn mix, while new listeners should seek out The Captain Oi! cd reissue, which includes the original mix and a clutch of associated singles and b-sides. Egyptian girls don't last for long.

-- Crash The Driver


Skids - Days In Europa

01 Animation
02 Charade
03 'Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori)'
04 The Olympian
05 Home Of The Saved
06 Working For The Yankee Dollar
07 Thanatos
08 Masquerade
09 A Day In Europa
10 Peaceful Times

UK LP Virgin [OVED 42] 1979

05 October 2009

Arias & Symphonies by Spoons

I sleep in your nova heart
As things come apart

No-one had heard a Canadian record like Arias & Symphonies when it hit the airwaves in 1982. Here was a bona fide New Romantic record from a home-grown talent, sounding as though this relatively unknown band from Burlington, Ontario, were seasoned habitues of the Blitz club in London, England. It wasn't just good. It was great.

This was primarily down to the band landing John Punter, who had produced both Roxy Music and their stylistic successors Japan. It was on a trip to Canada with Japan in 1979 that he became acquainted with Spoons, as they both shared distributor Quality Records. At the beginning of 1982 he worked with them for three days on the "Nova Heart" / "Symmetry" 12". This went top ten on release in April and paved the way to a further collaboration in the form of a full-length album. These sessions were the first time Punter worked with a group outside the UK.

Arias & Symphonies, released in October, is full of the suburban concerns Spoons displayed on their quirky debut single "After the Institution" (1980) and first album Stick Figure Neighbourhood (1981). But the drums have been streamlined and machined, the synths sequenced and arpegiatted, the vocals sheened and the guitars layered. The cover photo, used with permission of the Austrian National Tourist Office, gives the album an air of European grandeur, especially with its elaborate typography and heraldic insignia. The band portraits on the reverse, shot by noted photographer Peter Nobel, further attest to the influence of Ultravox, with the band all kitted out in white and posing before neo-classical buildings.

But it was not simply Punter's polished production and arrangements that make this the very pinnacle of the Canadian New Romantic scene. The song-writing is first rate, melodic and compelling, with a variety of tempos and moods on display. What the songs have in common is a sort of play-acting, extrapolating to the absurd, whether it's about communications theory ("One In Ten Words"), quantum physics ("No Electrons"), pirates ("Walk The Plank") or the ever-dramatic life-or-death struggle known as, um, winter ("Smiling In Winter"). The title song is a sumptuous slice of pop in the grandiose style of "Vienna," with Deppe's vocals approaching the operatic as he laments the things that parents expect of their children.

Smack dab in the middle there's "Nova Heart," with its over-the-top verses and lovely chorus. And the middle eight is a thing of beauty: instruments leisurely encircle the precision drum machine (Derrick Ross, automated), building to a lead synth line from Rob Preuss (only 17, eye-shadow, longing looks) as good as any Billy Currie mustered. Sandy Horne (long hair, ballet shoes, swooning followers) lays down bass grooves and trills expertly in the background. Vox Angelica they used to call it. This one belongs up there with the first Duran Duran and Visage albums, Vienna and Spandau Ballet's "To Cut A Long Story Short."

What follows is our usual high-quality rip of the vinyl album. We've exactly preserved the inter-song timings and have erred on the side of under-processing the audio. No extra compression or noise reduction here, and the high VBR rate ensures you'll enjoy all the top end sizzle of those double time hi hats.

Listen to this rip and then go to the Spoons site and order the Limited Edition compilation. You'll get several later hit tunes you can sing along to in the kitchen, two selections from the debut album and that magnificent "Nova Heart" EP, with its fab b-side, "Symmetry." And just to complete the experience, don't forget the "Nova Heart" video as well.


Arias & Symphonies
01 Trade Winds / Smiling In Winter
02 One In Ten Words
03 No Electrons
04 No More Growing Up
05 Arias & Symphonies
06 Nova Heart
07 South American Vacation
08 A Girl In Two Pieces
09 Walk The Plank
10 Blow Away

Canada LP Ready Records [LR 27] 1982.10
USA LP A&M Records [LP-4920] 1982.10
Canada CD Universal Music [7697421972] 2000

Recorded at Sounds Interchange, Toronto & Air Studios, London.
Mixed at Air Studios, London.

Sandy Horne: Bass, Vocals
Derrick Ross: Drums, Percussion
Rob Preuss: Jupiter IV, SH-2000
Gordon Deppe: Guitar, Vocals

Produced and mixed by John Punter
Photography by P.L. Noble

The album was accompanied by two singles, "Arias & Symphonies" / "Trade Winds" [SR 271] which charted at #18 and "Smiling in Winter" / "South American Vacation" [SR 272] which only made it to #30. That second seven inch is obscure enough that discogs knows not of its existence. That's what you've got us for!

-- The Second Chameleon

04 October 2009

Listen To The Radio (Atmospherics) By Tom Robinson

A dull amber glow, numbers dimly lit. Kilohertz and Megahertz. AM and FM. Volume and Tuning. Slowly sliding up and down the dial, a static white hiss, punctuated by sudden bursts of sound. The news or weather, a commercial for a local car dealer, the latest entry in the top forty. The signal drifts in and out of tune, searching for that sweet spot where Schoenberg accompanies Bachman Turner Overdrive. Waiting for the long dash that signals two o`clock. Exactly.

Radio remains the most enchanted of media. Like some spirit, the voice passes silent and invisible through the open air, to come crackling in the depths of our speakers, a mysterious visitor in the night, a guest in the morning. And the very fact that it is nothing but a voice, nothing but something to be heard, only adds to the enchantment. As listeners, we have to complete the signal, imagine the colours, the smells, the textures. Radio lets us add ourselves to the message, become part of its meaning. In its glow we commune with ourselves even as we commune with the other.

It is this quality of radio, its uncanniness, its ability to seem both intimately familiar and perfectly strange, that is captured in Tom Robinson's 1984 single, "Listen To The Radio (Atmospherics)." The song first appeared two years earlier as the opening track of North By Northwest, Robinson's debut lp, following a string of mid-seventies successes in TRB, including the now classic chant along, "2-4-6-8 Motorway." Robinson's outspoken and trenchant criticisms of the Thatcher government, together with his open embrace of the struggle for gay and lesbian rights, kept him in the spot light in the early days of punk rock, but his albums sold poorly, leading him to disband TRB and try again with the short-lived post-punk outfit, Sector 27. 1983's "War Baby" saw him belatedly return to the charts as a solo act, and in the following year a cover version of "Listen To The Radio," by the Canadian band Pukka Orchestra, made it into the top twenty north of the 49th Parallel. Sensing a possible breakout hit, Panic Records issued a re-recorded version, giving it a new arrangement and more radio friendly production, and adding a co-writing credit for Peter Gabriel, who apparently suggested some of the lyrics.

Robinson's voice is one of the most moving of the mid seventies and early eighties. Smoky, at times weary, but somehow still defiant, it carries the listener with its impressionistic tale of the life of a minor bureaucrat behind the iron curtain where only the radio brings news of the outside world. "Atmospherics after dark," he sings. "Noise and voices from the past / Across the dial from Moscow to Cologne." Only radio brings such consolation, put the coffee on and smoke another cigarette.

Here is the twelve-inch, extended version of "Listen To The Radio (Atmospherics)," together with its b-sides and, as an added bonus, The Pukka Orchestra's funked out eighties dance version. Tell us which you prefer!

--Crash The Driver


Tom Robinson - Listen To The Radio (Atmospherics)

01 Listen To The Radio (Atmospherics)
02 (Atmospherics) Part 2
03 (Don't Do Me) Any Favours

UK 12" Panic [NICT 3] 1984

The Pukka Orchestra - S/T

04 Listen To The Radio

Canada LP Solid Gold [SGR 1022] 1984

26 September 2009

Flowers & B-52's Updates

The internet can be a very wonderful thing indeed. Especially when it brings such a warm and encouraging response as we received for our posting of The Complete Works of (The) Flowers. Among the many appreciative comments we had not one but two from the Head Flower herself, Hilary Morrison, a woman whose voice has left an indelible impression on anyone who ever listened to the clutch of singles and ep tracks that her band gave us. We were absolutely thrilled to hear from her, let me tell you. You can read our original post and the comments that followed here.

And thanks to our good friend Dualtrack, whose blog should be required reading for any thinking person, we have updated our .zip file of The Flowers, with a much improved rip of "(Life) After Dark." Get it here.

Our recent post of David Byrne's original mixes of the tracks on The B-52's Mesopotamia was missing two of the longer, dancier versions that appeared on some early release copies of the ep. Thanks to VanceMan (whose brilliantly titled blog, Another Misty Bus Queue Morning, is also very much worth visiting), we have now rectified these omissions. If you downloaded the previous version, you'll want to get this updated one for the fantastic mix of "Cake" alone. Download it here.

Thanks to everyone who has helped make The Same Mistakes such a pleasure, and stayed tune for more!

18 September 2009

Simple Minds - Travels In Europe

You've seen the pictures smuggled back from Europe, remnants of a surreptitious journey. They were taken in the nineteen-fifties, nineteen-sixties, nineteen-seventies... and are invariably in black and white. These frames are glimpses into a grey-scale world -- decadence and pleasure towns thriving under an economic pall. Someone got shot crossing a border. Here's a photo of a shadow on a pebbled street. High contrast, with the light from a lampost leaking into the top-right corner.

And here's a picture of a parade, taken just outside the Presidential Palace. Men are marching through town squares. It's rumoured that plunder is hoarded somewhere inside, forgotten remnants of the last war. And always train stations, platforms, locomotives. These stations are useful. These stations, we love them.

travels in Europe?There's always a journey by train, a trip to meet victims of some barren bureaucracy. We pull out of the station, crawl on to the next city on the agenda, travel the swerve of coastline. The carriage sings as it goes. Crossing borders here is a challenge; not just arbitrary lines on a map, each is a real boundary between one set of laws and the next. You see the land as you crawl by night. It's expected that you insist on the privilege your first class ticket provides. What's the point of power if it is unwielded? That's what these places teach, the empty squares full of scaffolding.

Any act of love here is a luxury; time is measured so close, in static drum beats through the snow. The clothes worn here date back to the war, but people refuse to remember. It's not time yet to move on. Half a continent lies in denial of violence and vivisection. There are marines in the next room at the hotel. Somewhere a voice echoes through a shower stall. Such relationships lie unacknowledged.

At the kino, each image flickers on from the previous, like wheels over railway ties: statues, parks, galleries move by endlessly. It's never daylight. Art and jazz fill the twilight world in these pleasure towns. Here you can purchase a new warm skin; a novocaine suit, expensive to the touch.

This is not a world of stability. In a single moment a president could fall. You'd lose your job, security, self-confidence, bank account, identity. Like a film going backwards, falling into the snow. The filmstrip curls a bit at the edges. It becomes brittle. Pick up the image and it might fall apart, a formless negative of the world it supposes to capture. Shattered into crystals, silver on silver. Everything turns white here.

Europe, full of silent men in lonely rooms, looks to the West. And the West stares blankly back. In fear of the age of empires. In fear of the dance of violence. In fear of Gods.

-- Second Chameleon (with thanks to Jim Kerr)


Simple Minds - Travels In Europe
01 New Warm Skin
02 Kaleidoscope
03 Film Theme (dub)
04 I Travel (special remix version)
05 Celebrate (extended version)

These rarities, uncollected on any official CD release, have been ripped from our own collection of the following releases:

I Travel 7inI Travel 7"
A1 I Travel [edit] (3.06)
B1 New Warm Skin (4.35)
7" Arista [ARIST 372] 1980




I Travel flexifree flexidisc
A1 Kaleidoscope (4.13)
B1 Film Theme (dub) (1.23)
7" flexi Arista [ARIST 372-C] 1980




I Travel 12inI Travel 12"
A1 I Travel (special remix version) (6.13)
B1 Kaleidoscope (4.13)
B2 Film Theme (2.25)
12" Arista [ARIST 12372] 1980.10.10



Celebrate 12inCelebrate 12"
A1 Celebrate (extended version) (6.42)
B1 Changeling (4.04)
B2 I Travel (3.47)
12" Arista [ARIST 12394] 1981.02.20


12 September 2009

The B-52's - Mesopotamia (David Byrne Mixes)

In an earlier post, we noted the dilemma many New Wave groups faced as the days of skinny ties and twitchy pop began to give way to the grey overcoats and angular, funk -inspired dance music of Post Punk. Like Lene Lovich, the B-52's had epitomized the retro dayglo orange fun of the late seventies scene. On songs such as "Rock Lobster" and "Planet Claire" they had mixed twangy guitar lines, kooky organs and beehive hairdos into a sweet and frothy confection, filling college dorm dance floors and even making inroads onto mainstream radio. But as the eighties dawned, they too went looking for ways to expand their musical range, and assert their willingness to take artistic risks without abandoning their abiding commitment to the groove that moves.

To help them make the transition from New Wave to Post Punk, from the college dorm to the local art gallery, they enlisted the help of David Byrne, hoping he might do for the five-piece from Athens, Georgia what Brian Eno had done for The Talking Heads, secure their place as critical darlings while paving the way for further commercial success. By the time that Byrne came to work with the band in 1982, he had fully absorbed Eno's interest in African polyrythms and analogue synthesizers, and was already beginning work on his first solo effort, a score for Twyla Tharp's dance company that he would call, The Catherine Wheel. He soon stripped the B-52's' sound down to a dancey, primitive beat, the kitschy Secret Agent Man style guitar lines losing out to sleek synthesized bass lines, brass arrangements, and inventive percussion effects of the kind that were beginning to emerge from the nascent hip hop scene in New York. The resulting sound was considerably darker and more atonal than the band's earlier efforts, full of angular, abstract grooves that stood in stark contrast to the increasingly earthy and distinctly southern sensuality of Kate Pierson's and Cindy Wilson's vocals. It was adventurous, challenging music, but perhaps more reflective of Byrne's private preoccupations of the time than the interests of the band or its record company. At some point, the band and its producer fell out with one another and the sessions were abandoned. To recoup some of the costs, six of the most fully developed tracks were released as an ep, called Mesopotamia, a name which captured the sense of a band reaching deep into the past for the sound of the future.

Mesopotamia has always had its defenders. I certainly remember liking it a great deal more than their first two albums at the time of its release, but in general it has been regarded as a misstep by the band's fans. When it came for a cd reissue, it was completely remixed so as to efface any sign of Bryne's involvement, and it is this sanitized version which is today most readily available. But back in 1982, by some fortuitous accident, initial copies of the ep were released on the Island Record label in the UK and parts of Europe that included Byrne's longer, dubbier, and altogether more interesting mixes of several tracks, offering a brief glimpse of what The B-52's' third album might well have sounded like had Bryne been allowed to complete the project.

The version of Mesopotamia presented here is ripped from an early release UK copy on Island Records, complete with the black inner sleeve. The first side includes the extended mix of "Loveland," while the b-side offers versions of "Cake" and "Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can" that are far superior to those released subsequently. Thanks to VanceMan for the tracks from side two!

--Crash The Driver


The B-52's - Mesopotamia

01 Loveland
02 Deep Sleep
03 Mesopotamia
04 Cake
05 Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can
06 Nip It In The Bud

UK EP Island [ISSP 4006] 1982

22 June 2009

P'o - Whilst Climbing Thieves Vie For Attention

After three experimental albums as Dome, former Wire members Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis found themselves contemplating the empty space of the Waterloo Gallery. The Gallery had been used for their exhibition with Russell Mills, but now stood vacant and beckoning.

Together with drummer Peter Price, they began to entertain the idea of a band to fill the space, one that might bring together the spoken word and sound collage techniques they had grown increasingly interested in. Among the group of artists with whom they shared this beckoning space was David Tidball, who contributed words and ideas, and Alison Conway, better known as A.C. Marias, joining in on bass, guitar, and additional vocals.

The early rehearsals were promising, and the group began to plan live dates, but these plans were cut short with Tidball's announcement that he was emigrating to South America. Lest the sound be forever lost, they booked time at Blackwing Studios, that favourite haunt of 4AD-types, and set about recording as much of their set as they had worked out, trusting the results to producer Eric Radcliffe. A new dimension was added to the proceedings with the addition of a Fairlight CMI, the first polyphonic synthesizer to employ digital sampling technology to generate musical tones and textures. One could record any audio source, from a radiator hiss to someone moaning ~oh yeah~, and play it back as a melody, or build monstrous chords, layering note on note. Other bands, perhaps most notably those on the ZZT label, would soon employ the Fairlight to humorous effect, using pistol shots as percussion elements, or turning a single voice into a heavenly choir, but it was arguably the P'o consortium that first truly explored its full musical potential, stretching its sampling engine in all manner of unforeseen ways, "knitting with music," as Gilbert called it.

The resulting album, first released on Court Records in 1983, has grown in status over the years, becoming something of a holy grail for many Wire aficionados. Here we present the out of print and now nearly impossible to find cd version, in answer to an earlier request. It includes the full version of "I Will," which had been severely truncated for the vinyl release, plus four alternate mixes.

-- Crash The Driver


P'o - Whilst Climbing Thieves Vie For Attention

01 Time and Time
02 Back to Back
03 Holy Joe
04 Earl
05 Vanite
06 Only One I
07 Today's Version
08 I Will
09 Mhona
10 Blind Tim
11 Crystal Streams
12 Zinc Lasso (Noose)
13 Back to Back (Alternate Mix)
14 Vanite (Alternate Mix)
15 Today's Version (Alternate Mix)
16 Mhona (Alternate Mix)

UK CD WMO [11CD] 1998

18 June 2009

The Complete Works of (The) Flowers

He said he really liked me and did I take the pill?
I sprayed myself with Charlie and got ready for the kill.
Flowers were the Scottish Joy Division. That's one of those throw-away lines journalists like to use, but there's something to it. Both the throbbing octave bass lines and razor guitars are present (courtesy Andy Copland and Fraser Sutherland), along with a probing intellect in the lyric department and a willingness to go just one step beyond. Both bands made it onto Earcom compilations, documents of the Fast Products label Bob Last established in Edinburgh in December 1977. The Flowers were on Earcom 1, while Joy Division waited until the second instalment.

"Criminal Waste" is a confounding song full of lines about wounds, poison and lies. I might guess it's about Sid Vicious. But this is mere prelude to the phenomenal "After Dark", a song that starts with a limping beat and becomes something quite different as the incisive lyrics bite home. The dissection of human relationships is explicit and disturbing, a prime expression of the punk distaste for sex. Each verse builds on the previous in an inexorable accumulation, like a ball of metal and concrete gathering momentum down a hill. The climax has Hilary Morrison yelling about dancing in the disco in similar fashion to how Curtis hollered about dancing to the radio.

There is panic here. And a fear that cannot be hidden by bravado. This is the sound of someone trapped in the system of societal expectation and representation. A woman lost in the marketplace, trying to force her way to something better.

The first of their two singles inaugurated the Pop Aural label in November 1979. It's a tamer affair; some effort has been made to rein in the energy and smooth the edges, though the production is still crude. "Confessions" sounds diffident but for me that's part of its charm. Hilary sings of needs and wants as though it's already too late to invest any passion in these ideas. "The game is clear, the name is fear, but I want to know just what is next." This is still the voice of a person questing for something beyond the given scheme of things. "I want to fight, but I need a starting point." Me, I hope she found it.

The version of "(Life) After Dark" on the flip really should have stayed under wraps. This points to a new wave direction (pointillist drums, flanged bass) not taken by the band.

The music of Last's labels was compiled onto Mutant Pop 78/79 for release in North America. Crude and exciting efforts from Scars, The Mekons, 2.3, The Human League and Gang of Four made this a vital outburst of post-punk -- the first time listeners in Canada and the USA had been exposed to these acts. The Flowers contributions were "Confessions" and "After Dark". It might not be too much to claim that the record holds the best efforts from all the assembled acts.

With their third and final release Flowers, like many other bands of the time, took an audio leaf from Gang of Four. The trio of tracks on "Ballad Of Miss Demeanour" are better produced than before. The band's target is explicitly expanded from sexual politics to the consumer landscape. The Marxist-tinged "Food" could easily have been on Entertainment! The cover of this record, the third single on Pop Aural, is quite a brilliant piece of graphic design.

Determining any more about this band is a difficult enough proposition. They couldn't even decide from record to record if their name was simply "Flowers" or "The Flowers". My investigation has revealed that Morrison was perhaps married to Bob Last, which might explain her appearance singing backup on two other Pop Aural singles, Restricted Code's "First Night On" (1980) and The Fire Engines' "Big Gold Dream" (1981). Here, as with The Flowers, she was credited as "Hl Ray", as though she wanted to be a member of Tubeway Army.

Simon Best, drummer, originally was sound man for The Mekons. He was in Delta 5 long enough to get writing credits for their debut single "Mind Your Own Business" (1979) and "You", the b-side to "Anticipation" (1980), though I do not believe he played on any of their recordings. Later on he arranged those mad strings on Fire Engines' "Candyskin" (1981), certainly his finest achievement.

Here then, we present, for the first time anywhere, the collected works of Flowers. All are original TSM rips except "(Life) After Dark, which was kindly donated by our good friend Dualtrack.


Earcom 1
B3 Criminal Waste (3:41)
B4 After Dark (3:18)
UK LP Fast Product [FAST 09a] 1979

A1 Confessions (3:05)
B1 (Life) After Dark (4:10) [version]
7" Pop Aural [pop 001] November 1979
recorded at Cargo 24 & 26 August 1979
produced by Bob Last
engineered by John Brierly

Mutant Pop 78/79
B3 After Dark
B4 Confessions
US LP PVC Records [PVC 7912] 1980

Ballad Of Miss Demeanour
A1 Ballad Of Miss Demeanour (3:04)
B1 Food (2:42)
B2 Tear Along (2:58)
7" Pop Aural [pop 003] 1980
A1, B1 recorded at Castlesound, Pencaitland 15 Feb 1980
B2 recorded at Cargo, Rochdale December 1979
produced by Bob Last

P.S. Don't confuse this band with that which became Icehouse, or any of the several other minor acts of the same moniker.

-- Second Chameleon

16 June 2009

Missing Persons - Missing Persons EP

If the idea of New Wave bands in the the UK brought to mind serious-faced young men in skinny ties, chopping away at guitars, or staring intently at Korg synthesizers, in Los Angeles and its environs, it seems to have been associated with camera-friendly female vocalists often supported by jobbing session musicians looking to cash in on the latest craze. What is most surprising is how enduring some of that music has proved to be.

Take for example Missing Persons. Like Berlin, or SSQ, they had the requisite fashion-forward singer in Dale Bozzio, a former Playboy Bunny who had previously provided backing vocals for Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage album. It was during those sessions that she met drummer Terry Bozzio, whom she married in 1979. Together with another Zappa alum, the wildly talented if occasionally overly showy guitarist, Warren Cuccurullo, they formed Missing Persons, recording their debut EP in Zappa's brand new Utility Studios. Released on the Kosmos label in 1980, it showcased Dale's distinctive vocals, somewhere between a dreamy observer of modern life and a ticked-off Valley Girl whose parents won't let her borrow the car. Dale's partner, Terry, provided not only some inventive drumming, but helped out with the swirling, bubbling battery of synthesizers that gave the music a deep gloss sheen. Local alternative station KROQ put the second track, "Mental Hopscotch," into regular rotation and the EP sold some 7000 copies, mostly in the Los Angeles area. Capitol re-released the EP in 1982, and it went on to rack up a further 250,000 sales, an amazing achievement when one considers that the record was already two years old, and an indication of just how far ahead of the curve the band had been when they first formed. The subsequent album, Spring Sessions M (an anagram of the band's name), yielded a further hit single in the oft-covered "Walking in LA," but to my mind their finest moment remains here, buried away on the b-side of the EP, after a not entirely unsuccessful cover of The Doors' "Hello I Love You." "Destination Unknown" is one of the most perfect slices of synth pop ever committed to vinyl, the percolating arpeggiators and gently propulsive beat blending perfectly with Bozzio's girlish voice, the lyrics reflecting on the utter strangeness of the journey we find ourselves on in the modern era. The descending bass synth variation that comes in as the song fades into the distance is an especially nice touch.

Here then is the Missing Persons EP, as it was first released on Kosmos records, newly ripped from a pristine vinyl copy.

-- Crash the Driver


Missing Persons - Missing Persons EP

01 I Like Boys
02 Mental Hopscotch
03 Hello I Love You
04 Destination Unknown

USA 7" EP Kosmos No Serial 1980

22 May 2009

Daphne's Purple Closet

You don't remember Daphne's Purple Closet. But then, again, you do. Anyone who hung out at the local punk/new wave/goth club, any one who listened to college radio, any one who bought hand-made cassettes from a box labelled "local bands" at the only hip record shop in town, remembers Daphne's Purple Closet, or at very least a band just like them. Part Siouxsie and the Banshees, and part The Cure, the singer never wandered much beyond her three or four note range, but you had a mad crush on her all the same, what with that punky hair and torn up fifties dresses, and too cool for school eye liner. She never spoke to you, probably wouldn't have given you the time of the day even if you had screwed up the courage to ask, but it hardly mattered. You requested the songs. You went to the gigs. You bought the cassette. You remember.

This blast from the hey day of the Canadian New Wave scene of the mid eighties should bring it all back to any one who went to college or played in a band in the post punk era. Daphne's Purple Closet were formed in Toronto around the talents of lead singer Jamie Browning. They established a strong following for a few months in 1984-85, playing clubs in the London-Toronto-Ottawa corridor, and scoring regular airplay on stations like Ryerson's CKLN, and Western's CHRW. On her web site, Browning describes the band as "Gothic sugar punk space-pop," all qualities in ample evidence on this very groovy, six-track cassette, self released by the band in 1984. The production is clean and crisp, and the songs a testament to just how strong so many of the regional post-punk scenes were at the time. If you liked those bands, if you went to those clubs, if you remember that girl, this is for you.

-- Crash the Driver


Daphne's Purple Closet - S/T

01 Open Mind
02 Human Manner
03 Panic Is On
04 Three Piece Suit
05 Nursery Rhyme
06 Cheese and Crackers

Canada Cassette-only Self Released 1984.

10 May 2009

Rarities From A.C. Marias

When it's ebbing for them
it's waving for me.

Since we gave you the fantastic A.C. Marias album One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing) we have been hot on the trail of her more obscure items. Now we can offer eight tracks that trace the arc of her musical output from the very origins.

Which means Dome, the Gilbert & Lewis project that came about in 1980 as the first incarnation of Wire broke up. This is the purest art formulation of these musicians' many disguises and is perhaps best appreciated in a gallery setting. Listening to the ebb and flow of the muted sounds from CD can be a tiring experience, although there are joys as well to be found in the four albums they issued in rapid succession on their own Dome label. These have been reissued by the wonderful Mute label with titles two per CD, as Dome 1/2 and Dome 3/4 (although the last album was originally not called Dome 4 but Will You Speak This Word).

The second track on the first Dome record is "Cruel When Complete," written and sung by A.M.C., as she was then credited. All the characteristics of her later work are already in place here. We have included this as her most characteristic contribution to Dome. She cropped up again on Dome 3, which is really one extended riff and never that interesting to me. Their final album was a much superior effort. Give it a try if you think that rarified rumblings and ramblings are your kettle of eels. Just don't expect pop music or guitars.

Shortly after, in 1981, the debut A.C. Marias record was issued as DOM 45.1. Two tracks, "Drop" and "So" initiated her penchant for one word titles. Given how similar these were to her Dome contribution, it would have been reasonable to assume this was a one-off project, yet another zany outing from the Wire boyos.

The not dissimilar "The Whispered Year" found its way onto the obscure Touch cassette "Meridians 1," which I bought in 1983. Touch was in the habit of including postcards, art inserts and all sorts of intriguing design elements into their compilations, which mixed every kind of pop and art music together with phonography and enthological forgeries. These tapes are long out of print and will not be reissued, since the rights cannot be cleared. Nonetheless it is evident from the detailed history on the Touch site that they are appreciated for their place in music culture.

By this time A.C.M. was in the group P'O with Gilbert, Lewis, David Tidball and Peter Price. They issued one album, Whilst Climbing Thieves Vie For Attention, an item so obscure even I didn't own it until WMO (Wire Mail Order) re-issued the CD in 1998. Discogs has a hilarious picture of the lads. They look like a post-punk band or something.

Conway wrote and sang one track on the Bruce Gilbert album The Shivering Man, a collection of work he had done for dance (which is how the two first met, I assume). When the record was combined with This Way to form the CD This Way To The Shivering Man Mute dropped several tracks, including the now rare "Eline Cout II." With its sequenced patternings and insistent rhythm, this was a distinct move into a more palatable sound. In fact it's quite lovely, and a template for what was to follow. As a side note, Conway also provided the cover art for these Gilbert albums.

That same year, 1986, the single "Just Talk" crept out on Mute. Two years later followed "Time Was," the Canned Heat cover you already have as a bonus addition to her one and only album. Here we provide "Some Thing," a great mix of "Sometime" from the album. The production on this solo work is a distinct step up from the low-fi sounds she had previously been dealing with.

Conway's final release was the single "One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing" which came in an alternate mix. The b-side, "Vicious," is a long and not entirely satisfying cover of the Lou Reed song (from Transformer), with David Rogers on bass and Steve Wright on guitar.

In addition to these entries in the discography, you will definitely want to buy the He Said album Hail, a phenomenal work that includes Angela Conway vocals on "Pump" and "I Fall Into Your Arms."


A.C. Marias Rarities

01 Cruel When Complete [Dome] (3:15)
02 Drop (4:33)
03 So (2:31)
04 The Whispered Year (3:41)
05 Eline Cout II [Bruce Gilbert] (4:42)
06 Some Thing (4:12)
07 One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing [single version] (3:17)
08 Vicious (8:45)

Thanks to the various sites and sources from which we compiled together this collection.

-- Second Chameleon

02 May 2009

The Art Of Parties EP by Japan

When the ads for Japan's The Art of Parties EP appeared in the Spring of 1981, every New Romantic worth his or her eyeliner took notice. Gentlemen Take Polaroids, their fourth album, and first for new label Virgin, was, after all, a genre-defining event. Mixing the sophistication of late Roxy Music, with the warm ambiances of Eno's solo work, and the sinewy grooves of Chic, GTP had quickly become a touchstone for all connoisseurs of arty dance music, a resounding rejoinder to any critic who claimed the new music was merely a fashion accessory. On songs like "Methods Of Dance," "Taking Islands In Africa" and the Satie-influenced "Nightporter," it was not a matter of form eclipsing content, but of form becoming content, the one wholly a function of the other. I remember setting a friend's speakers in the window of our college residence rooms after the last of our exams, playing this album over and over for all those assembled on the lawn below. As Sylvian's world weary voice floated over the grassy quad, we all passed into a sun-soaked longueur.

What then would The Art Of Parties bring? Well the cover offered a somewhat more casual-looking David Sylvian, a plaid shirt rolled up at the sleeves and over sized glasses peeking out from his teased blond hair. He appeared to be holding headphones up to his one ear, while dreaming of a Chinese boat making its way across some distant river. Not much in the way of clues, then. And the record? The a side featured the band's most richly sumptuous dance track to date, wildly syncopated rhythm guitars and horns bursting across Steve Jansen's cascading drums, and Sylvian offering one his most irresistible choruses. Add in Mick Karn's increasingly baroque fretless bass, Richard Barberi's shimmering oriental synth textures, and some female backing vocals, let the whole thing run for nearly seven minutes, and you needed the three subdued instrumentals that followed just to gather your senses.

This Canada-only EP has suffered a cruel fate in the digital age. Two of its b sides ("The Experience of Swimming" and "The Width of a Room") were used for bonus tracks to the most recent reissue of Gentlemen Take Polaroids. The lavishly-produced box set version of Tin Drum, meanwhile, included the a side and the remaining b side ("Life Without Buildings") on a separate disc, but left off the other b sides in favour of various remixes from the album. So here is The Art Of Parties EP as it first appeared in the stores, with the original b sides restored to their rightful running order. Can you dance to it? Probably not. Is it art? You bet.

-- Crash the Driver


Japan - The Art of Parties EP

01 The Art of Parties (Extended)
02 The Width of a Room
03 Life Without Buildings
04 The Experience of Swimming

D. Sylvian: Vocals, Guitars, Treated Piano, Synthetic Brass
M. Karn: Fretless Bass, Finger Cymbals
S. Jansen: Drums and Percussion
R. Barberi: Synthesizers

Produced by John Punter and Japan

Canada 12" Virgin [VEP 305] 1981

21 April 2009

One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing) by A.C. Marias

I name this moment eternity
And wait for it to pass.

Three Rooms

There's no-one in the first room. A light shines in through the far side window, splintered by the vertical blinds into parallel courses, channels that guide dust from the ceiling to the floor and back again. The couch is red and comes to life under the play of filtered sunlight. "Dappled" is the word people use when they want to be poetic. A student of dance lives here; you can tell from the magazines on the coffee table. But she's not at home.

In the next apartment, several people have gathered for cigarettes and tea. The blinds are drawn. No faces can be seen in the shade and circling smoke. Eyes are closed in the pregnant twilight. Everyone concentrates, hands held in a circle. Above the couch (brown this time) a volunteer floats gently, swaying from side to side. It's as though he was suspended by an invisible string, an anchor extended from the ceiling to his heart.

Down the street a sign swings in the wind... tick... tock... tick... tock. It marks the corner pub where people gather at the end of their workday. Or maybe a little bit before the end. It's alright to be early; it's a friendly place. You can chew the fat and discuss how hot it was at noon, or who is most likely to win the big game this weekend. In the middle of the room a woman in red dances, solo. But she's not on her own; she's with everyone else in the bar. And everyone is with her.

Women share secrets. A man starts his own private dance, carefree. Another strums a guitar repetitively. Sunlight streams in the windows, bleaching the colour from the scene. It could be anytime. It could be the nineteen-thirties.

Later that evening, back in the first flat, the dancer is sitting on the couch, reading a book on aviation. From the radio comes a message. "We must be on you, but cannot see you -- but gas is running low. Have been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet."

The dancer thinks about cataloguing the gestures of all the men she saw in the bar. She picks up a sketchbook and a medium-hard pencil and begins to draw. An hour passes in almost silence. If you were on an island in the Pacific ocean the time would be 8:43am. The island being small, you'd be able to hear the gentle surf no matter where you sat.

There is a burst of static from the radio. "We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait."

She looks up at the radio in anticipation. Nothing happens. Outside there is the sound of passing traffic, a sudden squeel of brakes.

"We are running on line north and south." The line crackles back to silence, one last time.

One of our girls has gone missing.

Angela Conway : dancer : choreographer : video director : musician
collaborated with Gilbert and Lewis from Wire in Dome and P’o
recorded as A.C. Marias:
"Drop" single, 1981
"The Whispered Year" on Touch cassette Meridians 1, 1983
"Just Talk" single, 1986
"Time Was" single, 1988
One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing) LP, 1989


One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)
01 Trilby's Couch
02 Just Talk
03 There's A Scent Of Rain In The Air
04 Our Dust
05 So Soon
06 Give Me
07 To Sleep
08 Looks Like
09 Sometime
10 One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing
11 Time Was
UK LP Mute [STUMM 68]
UK CD Mute [CD STUMM 68]
released 29 August 1989
track 11 is on the CD version only

"The Real Atrocity" by Joy Division

See that we're the real atrocities
Author, Imagist, Visionary, J.G. Ballard is dead. In the course of his long career, from the surrealist science fiction of The Crystal World, through his explorations of the psycho-sexual geography of the city (Concrete Island, High Rise, Crash), and his later autobiographical forays into his own past (Empire Of The Sun), Ballard's work defined a generation with its apocalyptic imagery of drained swimming pools, car crashes, and bodily mutilation. His was the poetry of Auschwitz, the Kennedy assassinations, and the unspeakable violence at the intersection of two walls. Condensed, compressed, and ruthlessly logical, it constituted nothing less than a new mythology by which we might experience the twentieth century.

Ballard's influence in post-punk music is wide and deep. Simon Reynold's encyclopedic history of the period, Rip It Up And Start Again, includes no fewer than twenty references to his novels, and even those barely scratch the surface. Ultravox, John Foxx, Gary Numan and The Normal all borrowed heavily from Ballard, and not simply as a resource for song titles, lyrics, and themes. Ballard gave them something more, a kind of musical grammar that paired a cool, clinical detachment with an unflinching emotional honesty, a combination which was perhaps most deeply realized in the work of the late Ian Curtis.

Here, as our tribute to Ballard, is an exclusive mix of Joy Division's "Atrocity Exhibition," the song Curtis named after a Ballard short story. This version is previously unreleased in any form.


The Real Atrocity

01 Atrocity Exhibition [Real Atrocity Version] (4:14)

19 April 2009

Three Singles by The Psychedelic Furs

One of the real pleasures of The Same Mistakes is being able to collaborate on the writing and design with The Second Chameleon, extending an obsessive dialogue that he and I have been carrying on with regards to the music of the Post Punk era since the time when we were, well, Post Punks. It's not only a conversation that I enjoy, but one from which I always learn something new about the music that I thought I already knew through and through.

Last week's post on The Psychedelic Furs' Radio One Sessions was no exception. No sooner had I clicked on "Publish," I had an email telling me that there were four cracking good tracks from the early days of the band that had not managed to make their way on to one of the various album re-issues or best of collections for the band: "****" from the "Sister Europe" 7"; "Dash" from the flip of "Dumb Waiters;" and "Danger (Remix)" and "I Don't Want to Be Your Shadow (Extended Version)" from the "Danger" 12". As these are all very much worth having, I've ripped the singles in their entirety to preserve their original context, and zipped 'em up here for your pleasure.

Feel free to join the conversation--add a comment below!

-- Crash The Driver


Sister Europe 7"

01 Sister Europe
02 ****

UK 7" CBS [S CBS 8179] 1980

Dumb Waiters 7"

03 Dumb Waiters
04 Dash

UK 7" CBS [CBS A1166] 1981

Danger 12"

05 Danger (Remix)
06 Don't Want To Be Your Shadow (Extended Version)
07 Goodbye (Dance Version)

UK 12" CBS [CBS A13 2865] 1982

14 April 2009

Radio One Sessions by The Psychedelic Furs

Not all music is driving music. And not all driving music is for all cars. In fact there is some music that is only driving music for very specific cars, perhaps even very specific model years. My case in point: The Psychedelic Furs.

Formed in England in 1977 by Richard Butler (vocals), and his brother Tim Butler (bass), together with saxophone player Duncan Kilburn, the band went through various line up changes until they found John Ashton (guitar) and Vince Ely (drummer). A well-received Peel session in 1979 led to a deal with CBS records. "Sister Europe," their first single for the label, was a funereal affair, a sluggish, mid-tempo bass and drum pulse against which Richard Butler, already fully in command of his rasping, world weary voice, mused idly about a sister who had returned home. If the saxophone reminded one of Roxy Music, the flanged guitars and air of profound resignation were pure Low-era Bowie, spliced with Joy Division (perhaps not surprisingly as Martin Hannett produced both bands). An audacious and compelling debut, perfectly suited for the time. But driving music? Not exactly.

The eponymous album that followed showed that the P Furs were, in fact, capable of rising above the merely morose, with some storming tracks like "Fall"and the comparatively jubilant "We Love You," but somehow the band never really got in my bones. They seemed too obvious. too derivative, or sometimes just trying too hard. Echo and the Bunnymen and PIL did this kind of thing so much better. That was until I plugged a tape with the first album and its follow up, Talk, Talk, Talk into the cassette deck of my 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger.

The car had been left to me by a reclusive uncle, a man who had lost his job building jet fighters following the Avro Arrow debacle of the 1950s, and seemed to have rarely left the house until his death in 1980. I visited him once. Wet towels hung from doorways as make-shift humidifiers, and stacks of newspapers in every corner of every room. I never quite knew why he wanted me to have the car. Perhaps I said something right that day. But man was I pleased to learn of my inheritance. The car was practically new. In fact, it looked like it had just come out of the show room; its slant six engine, reputed by some to be the finest achievement of the American auto industry, positively gleamed under the hood. And there was enough room in that trunk to fit the gear for an entire band.

Driving late at night, through the glittering, rain-soaked streets of Toronto, the street car wires humming over head and the cassette player cranked all the way up, The Psychedelic Furs suddenly made sense. Not just sense. They spoke a kind of truth. I was in love with the nuclear bomb. I was in love with Sophia Loren. With Brigitte Bardot. The people dead in cars. I saw them. It all made sense. But only here, in this car, listening to this tape. I got it at last. Got it in my bones.

Collected here are the various sessions that the P Furs did for various BBC Radio programs, between 1979 and 1990. Tracks 1-4 are from that first session for John Peel (7/25/79). Tracks 5-7 are from the band's second Peel session (2/18/80) and tracks 8-10 for their third (2/2/8). Tracks 11-12 were recorded 9/4/81 for Richard Skinner, and tracks 13-16 were recorded 2/7/90 in session for John Campbell.

And that tape that sounded so good in my 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger? Still got it--thanks Second Chameleon!

-- Crash The Driver


Psychedelic Furs - Radio One Sessions

01 Imitation Of Christ
02 Fall
03 Sister Europe
04 We Love You
05 Soap Commercial
06 Susan's Strange
07 Mac The Knife
08 Into You Like A Train
09 On And Again
10 All Of This And Nothing
11 She Is Mine
12 Dumb Waiters
13 Entertain Me
14 Book Of Days
15 Torch
16 Pretty In Pink

UK CD Strange Fruit [SFRSCD003] 1997

07 April 2009

"Kansas" And "Raintime" By The Wolfgang Press

Somebody here is older
Macbeth times two
A lazy suit
And bloody hands

The history of the English 4AD label has been well documented. My personal understanding of their musical output is represented by four stages: dark & forboding English men; trilling & swooping angels; drum machine pop; gnashing & strumming Americans. Several of these occurred simultaneously and even in the same band, but think of some typical acts and see if it doesn't mostly fit: Bauhaus & Modern English; Cocteau Twins & Dead Can Dance; Colourbox & Frazier Chorus; Pixies & Red House Painters. (4AD continued after that, of course, but my interest waned.)

Somewhere in that history was The Wolfgang Press, who were birthed in the strange fires of Rema Rema and Mass before releasing their own inchoate first album The Burden of Mules. No sense or pattern was to be found in these dark entries. But in 1984 this deviant energy was wedded to the slick programming of Martyn & Steven Young, the expert engineering of John Fryer and Robin Guthrie's dreamscape production. With Scarecrow -- two long songs and an insane cover of "Respect" -- the band gelled.

This isn't to say one could make much sense of tracks like "Ecstacy," which opens with crows cawing over some sort of nightmare soundtrack before dissolving into a swirl of Spanish (?) trumpets and vocal exultations. The difference is that now it sounds as though Mark Cox, Andrew Gray and Michael Allen actually mean to make the sounds they are making. We can no longer assume they are the mistakes of a band new to their instruments and studio recording.

After that I watched attentively for each further release. The EPs Water and Sweatbox appeared in 1985, followed by the album The Legendary Wolfgang Press And Other Tall Stories, which compiled the three EPs (two tracks shortened and two others remixed). The "proper" album Standing Up Straight, released in 1986, showed that TWP were a mature band with their own idiosyncratic direction. If anything 1987's Big Sex EP (with its outstanding cover image of insect parts) was even better. Here were four songs of great power and presence, like some sort of deadlier Talking Heads. Bird Wood Cage was the last astounding album from the group -- not their last album, but the last worth mentioning.

Two singles followed, and it is these we have up on offer today, since they are virtually unavailable. This is astounding to me, since "Kansas" (video link in our last post) shows the band at their pinnacle. As in all their best songs, one can hear funk straining at its limits, draped in buzz-saw guitar, grimy soundtracks and the apparent ravings of a street-corner preacher.

The a-side is an extended workout (produced by Flood) entitled "Assasination K./Kanserous", which starts with hillbilly banjo that turns the song inside out. The version of "Kansas" on the flip side is not the same as the album version or the Flood Mix (as used in the video) found on the compilation Everything Is Beautiful. Then we are gifted two tracks unique to this single, "Scratch" and "Twister", both wonderful. The former seems to concern itself with interior decorating, certain sly insinuations excepted.

that chair's a fake
that chair's out of place
bad choice in kitchenware
bad choice of plates

who reads these books?
and who bought these tapes?
you've got things walking around
that should be put away

get up! get up!
get up! get up!


that chair's a fake
that chair's out of date
the sofa looks like football boots
these shelves aren't straight

and that's a funny tie
that's a funny shape
this wardrobe's wearing thin
it's getting in the way

Yes, it's true; Mick can sing about absolutely anything and I will listen attentively!

The second EP, "Raintime", contains two remixes of the title tune and one of "Bottom Drawer". These are worthwhile additions to the album takes, the latter having a bass sound that absolutely slays! These tracks were issued on CD with "Assasination K./Kanserous". (On that disc "Longtime" is simply an extended version of "Raintime (Remix)" from the 12").

This CD abandoned the b-sides from the previous EP to the vinyl dustbin of history.

Until now!


A01 Assasination K./Kanserous (8:48/7:39)
B01 Kansas [version] (3:29)
B02 Scratch (3:46)
B03 Twister (3:29)
UK EP 4AD [BAD 902] 30 January 1989
US EP Rough Trade [ROUGH US062] 1989

C01 Raintime (Remix) (4:06)
D01 Bottom Drawer (Remix) (5:37)
D02 Slowtime (4:53)
UK EP 4AD [BAD 907] 02 May 1989

E01 Longtime (6:01)
   Bottom Drawer (Remix) (5:37)
   Assasination K./Kanserous (7:39)
   Slowtime (4:53)
UK CD 4AD [BAD 907 CD] 02 May 1989

Produced by Flood and The Wolfgang Press.
A01 and B01 engineered by Hugo Nicolson.
B02 and B03 engineered by Lincoln Fong and Nigel K. Hine.
C01, D01, D02 engineered by Hugo Nicolson and Lincoln Fong.
A01 and B01 backing vocals by Ruby James.
A01 banjo by Martin Pleass.

We've included all the tracks from the two vinyl 12" singles, plus the extended version off the CD. If anyone has the longer version of "Assasination K./Kanserous", please contact us!

Note: These are exclusive vinyl rips... and it's amazing how good these discs sound! If more CDs were mastered this way, we'd be in sonic heaven. No post-processing or noise reduction has been applied, so as not to mess with the frequencies. Only the usual amplitude normalisation and trimming, plus a little tweak here and there.

Now get out there and buy The Legendary Wolfgang Press And Other Tall Stories, Standing Up Straight and Bird Wood Cage (which includes Big Sex). Impress your friends! Scare your friends!

-- Second Chameleon