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