Friday, 31 January 2020

Magic Hour - Sunset Variations (1995)

Magic Hour were an American psychedelic rock band from greater Boston, Massachusetts, and were formed by the coming to gether of the criminally under-rated Crystalized Movements members Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar, and the only slightly more well-known Galaxie 500 members Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang. In 1993 Damon and Naomi were contacted by Wayne and Kate asking them if they'd like to replace the recently departed Crystalized Movements rhythm section, and after the first rehearsal it was decided they should form a new band rather than carrying on as Crystalized Movements. Their music was characterised by Rogers' long acid-drenched guitar solos, under-pinned by Damon and Naomi's rock-solid rhythm section. They released three singles and three albums, mostly on Twisted Village Records, before disbanding in 1996. Having loved Galaxie 500's work, I was keen to investigate what Damon and Naomi would get up to next, so I bought Magic Hour's 10" EP 'After Tomorrow' and was blown away by what I heard. I bought all the albums that they put out, but only just found out that I'd missed their first 7" release 'Heads Down', which has now been rectified. Two of the songs from the 'After Tomorrow' EP later turned up on their debut album, but the third song, a 15-minute version of the Godz 1967 classic, never made it to an album, so this post consists of both sides of the 'Heads Down' single, exclusively mixed together, the complete 'After Tomorrow' EP, the b-side of their third single, plus two songs gifted to compilations, and covers pretty much the whole of their short, but extremely memorable, existence. 



Track listing

01 Heads Down (single 1993, exclusive mix)
02 After Tomorrow (from the 'After Tomorrow' EP 1994)
03 World Of One (from the 'After Tomorrow' EP 1994)
04 Permanent Green Light (from the 'After Tomorrow' EP 1994)
05 America (b-side of 'I Had A Thought' 1995)
06 Sunrise Variations (from the 'Succour' benefit album 1995)
07 Out Of Touch (from the free 7" with Goar Magazine #11 1995)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Bang Bang Machine - Geek Love (1992)

Bang Bang Machine were a cult indie band from Evesham, Worcestershire in England, who were formed in 1989 by guitarist Steve Eagles, Lamp on drums, Stan Lee on bass, and enigmatic vocalist Elizabeth Freeth. The group experimented with different styles of music, and so the media found them hard to categorise, as they could covered alternative rock, Goth, pop, ambient and dance over just a few songs, and although they were sometimes classed as a Shoegaze band, musically they fell more between the Britpop and Grunge camps. Their most famous song, 'Geek Love', was released on their own Jimmi Kidd Rekordz label in 1989, and was inspired by the book by Katherine Dunn about a family of freaks in a travelling circus, and uses audio samples from the controversial Tod Browning film 'Freaks'. The single was championed by John Peel as a perfect example of a band self-financing their debut single, and were invited to record a session for his show in 1992. They were known for creating moving songs about unusual topics, and their song '16 Years' was about the Stefan Kiszko case, where an innocent man was jailed for a crime he did not commit. Their first two EPs from 1991 and 1992 contained a total of seven songs, including the lengthy 'Geek Love', and they could easily have issued them as their debut album rather than splitting them into two separate releases, so this bringing together of all the tracks from those EPs is what that album could have sounded like. 



Track listing

01 Geek Love (from 'The 'Geek' EP' 1991)
02 Flower Horse (from 'The 'Geek' EP' 1991)
03 The Fuck Machine (from 'The 'Geek' EP' 1991)
04 Lovely Lily (from the 'Evil Circus E.P.' 1992)
05 16 Years (from the 'Evil Circus E.P.' 1992)
06 Red Sun (from the 'Evil Circus E.P.' 1992)
07 Jane Says (from the 'Evil Circus E.P.' 1992)

Enjoy / Enjoy

New Fast Automatic Daffodils - The Peel Sessions (1992)

While they were an active group, New Fast Automatic Daffodils recorded three sessions for the John Peel show, in 1989, 1990 and 1992, the first two of which were compiled onto the album 'The Peel Sessions' in 1991. For this second post from the band I've located their third session to make a nice 42-minute album of new songs, alternate versions, and a cover of 'Purple Haze' that rivals XTC's cover of 'All Along The Watchtower' from their debut album. 



Track listing

01 Purple Haze (John Peel session 1989)
02 Man Without Qualities II (John Peel session 1989)
03 Jaggerbog (John Peel session 1989)
04 Big (Instrumental) (John Peel session 1989)
05 Get Better (John Peel session 1990)
06 Part 4 (John Peel session 1990)
07 Man Without Qualities One (John Peel session 1990)
08 Bruises (John Peel session 1992)
09 Kyphos (John Peel session 1992)
10 Music (John Peel session 1992)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Absurd Records - Another Absurd Collection (1980)

The flip of the recent Absurd Records post is a collection of the b-sides, so here they all are. 48 Chairs live up to the label's name by recording an instrumental version of John Cooper Clarke's 'Psycle Sluts', removing Clarke's words, which were the main thing! Cairo deliver an instrumental 'version' of 'I Like Bluebeat', which is what the ska bands of the 60's used to do, so keeping it real, and Bet Lynch's Legs give us their take on another couple of film themes. The other bands all give us further examples of the Manchester scene of the late 80's, and thanks to the Absurd label for bringing them all to our attention.



Track listing

01 Blah Blah Blah - 'Why Diddle?' ABSURD 1 
02 Eddie Fiction - 'U.F.O. Pt 1' ABSURD 2 
03 48 Chairs - 'Psycle Sluts' ABSURD 3 
04 Gerry And The Holograms - 'Increased Resistance' from 'Meet The Dissidents' ABSURD 4 
05 Gerry And The Holograms - 'Untitled 2' from 'The Emperor's New Music' ABSURD 6 
06 The Mothmen - 'Please Let Go' ABSURD 6 
07 Cairo - 'Version' ABSURD 7 
08 Naafi Sandwich - 'Slice 2' ABSURD 8 
09 Bet Lynch's Legs - 'High Noon' from 'The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent' ABSURD 10
10 Bet Lynch's Legs - 'Some Don't' ABSURD 11
11 Cairo - 'Cuthbert's Birthday Treat' ABSURD 15

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

China Crisis - African And White (1983)

China Crisis formed in 1979 in Kirkby, near Liverpool, Merseyside with a core of vocalist/keyboardist Gary Daly and guitarist Eddie Lundon, and were part of a wave of new Liverpool acts in the late 1970's, led by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, including Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, A Flock of Seagulls and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Sharing an affection for Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, David Bowie, and Brian Eno, Daly and Lundon played with various Knowsley post-punk groups and began writing songs together. The pair eventually asked drummer and percussionist Dave Reilly to join them in 1981, and in 1982 they released their debut single 'African and White' on the independent Inevitable Record label. The success of the single led to a record deal with Virgin, and they released their debut album 'Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It's Fun to Entertain' in December 1982. A re-release of 'African and White' reached No. 45 in the UK Singles Chart, and the follow-up single 'Christian' brought them to national prominence, although by this time Reilly had left the band. He was replaced by ex-Waterboys drummer Kevin Wilkinson, and Gary Johnson was added on bass for the recording of their second album 'Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two', which was released in November 1983. The album was a Top 20 success in the UK, and China Crisis spent 1984 and 1985 making their biggest chart run, beginning with their only UK Top 10 hit single 'Wishful Thinking', and including 'King In A Catholic Style' and 'Black Man Ray'. Their third album 'Flaunt the Imperfection' was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame and reached No. 9 in the UK Albums Chart in May 1985, and the band were so honoured to work with Becker that they officially listed him as part of the group on the album's credits, consisting of Daly, Lundon, Johnson, Wilkinson, and Becker. During those first couple of years many of the sometimes stand-alone singles they released had otherwise unreleased songs on the flip, and this collection shows that they weren't just throw-away filler. 'African And White' has always been a favourite, and for once I didn't go off the band when they became successful, considering 'Black Man Ray' and 'King In A Catholic Style' as some of their best work.  



Track listing

01 No More Blue Horizons (Fool Fool Fool) (single 1982)
02 No Ordinary Lover (b-side of 'No More Blue Horizons (Fool Fool Fool)')
03 Watch Over Burning Fields (b-side of 'No More Blue Horizons (Fool Fool Fool)')  
04 African And White (single 1982 (extended mix))
05 Be Suspicious (b-side of 'African And White' 1982)
06 Scream Down At Me (single 1982)
07 Cucumber Garden (b-side of 'Scream Down At Me')   
08 Performing Seals (b-side of 'Christian' 1982) 
09 Greenacre Bay (b-side of 'Christian' 1982)
10 Forever I And I (b-side of 'Working With Fire And Steel' 1983)
11 Dockland (b-side of 'Working With Fire And Steel' 1983)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 24 January 2020

Modern Eon - Pieces Of Modern Eon (1981)

Modern Eon formed in 1979 in Liverpool, and were part of the 'New Liverpool Scene' that sprang up in 1979-1980 around 'Eric's Club', including such bands as Echo & the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Dead or Alive, Pink Military and more. The band started when Alix (real name Alex Johnson) returned from living in Canada and found England in the middle of the Punk phenomena. Alix and Danny Hampson started out in a band called Luglo Slugs, rebranding a number times, firslty to Tank Time, then to One Two and shortly thereafter, Modern Eon. Their first appearance on vinyl was on a compilation called 'Street to Street: A Liverpool Album',  with their 'Benched Down/ 70s Sixties' in November 1978. Their first actual record was a self-released EP called 'Pieces', which came out on their own Eon Records, and this led to their signing with Inevitable Records, and a second single for them called 'Euthenics'. Their songs were fueled by powerful tom-tom driven, inventive drumming, with odd analog electronics and saxophone, and influences from Echo And The Bunnymen and Joy Division can be heard in the moody and melodic feel of the songs. In early 1981 they signed to DinDisc and re-recorded 'Euthenics' for them as a single, and this was followed by two more critically acclaimed releases, and their sole album 'Fiction Tales' in June 1981. Upon completion of the album, a tour was arranged supporting The Stranglers, but during rehearsal sessions Cliff Hewitt, whose drumming style had been such an integral part of the bands sound, seriously injured his wrist. He did contribute to scheduled appearances for the John Peel, Richard Skinner and In Concert Radio One radio shows, but it soon became apparent that the rigours of a tour would be too much for him and a suitable replacement was not easily found. The solution was that they toured with Cliff's drum tracks on a tape machine and let Cliff operate it. The end of 1981 found Modern Eon at work on demos for a second album and Cliff back on his drum stool but sadly, Modern Eon faded away, never to release a follow up album. Some of the songs from their early singles were re-recorded by DinDisc for 'Fiction Tales', and so the original 7" versions are included here, along with four songs from a Richard Skinner radio session which never made it to vinyl. 



Track listing

01 Benched Down / 70s Sixties (from 'Street To Street - A Liverpool Album' 1978)
02 Second Still (from the 'Pieces' EP 1979)   
03 Special Patrol (from the 'Pieces' EP 1979)  
04 Choreography (from the 'Pieces' EP 1979)
05 The Look A Smack (from the 'Pieces' EP 1979)
06 Euthenics (single 1980)
07 Waiting For The Cavalry (b-side of 'Euthenics')
08 Visionary (b-side of 'Child's Play' 1981)
09 After The Party (Richard Skinner session 1981)
10 The Foist (Richard Skinner session 1981)
11 From The Window (Richard Skinner session 1981)
12 Garland Leaves (Richard Skinner session 1981)
13 Cardinal Signs (b-side of re-issue of 'Euthenics' 1981)
14 Mechanic (single 1981)
15 Splash! (b-side of 'Mechanic')

Enjoy / Enjoy

Absurd Records - An Absurd Collection 1979 - 1980 (1980)

While rummaging through my collection of punk/new wave 7" singles I found a few by bands on the Absurd Record label. This was a label run from Manchester, who put out eleven 7" singles in 1979 and 1980, from a roster of bands that seemed to have absolutely nothing in common. I have a surf-guitar version of 'Ghost Riders In The Sky', a ska track that I doubt very much is by a ska band, and two slices of experimental indie instrumentals, and they are probably the most normal records that came out on the label. The bands themselves seem to be the most avant garde, experimental art-rock groups that existed in Manchester in 1979, with Blah Blah Blah and 48 Chairs producing some weird and wonderful music. Eddie Fiction was in fact Edmund Garrity (otherwise known as Ed Banger of punk band Ed Banger And The Nosebleeds), and he gives us his opinions about U.F.Os. Gerry And The Holograms second single was in fact a conceptual and unplayable record. Each record was pasted with glue to the inside of the picture sleeve, and Absurd Records label boss Lawrence Beedle has been quoted as saying that it took the best part of a week to paint and glue them into the bags, and the numbers made are unknown, but probably around 500. The music itself does not actually exist, as the records were unsold singles from Rabid Records' catalog, with a paste-on Gerry & The Holograms label on one side to fool the buyer into thinking it was a real record. I actually quite like the Cairo single, although it's a very basic ska tune, and Naafi Sandwich had already recorded a few cassette albums before they were given the chance to release two slices of their music. 'Riders In The Sky' is the sound of a bunch of friends covering a classic track with the most basic of instruments, but it was good enough for the label to give them a second go, and so they attacked Ennio Morricone's 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly', renaming it 'Some Like It Hot' in the process. The Mothmen are actually the most musically competent band on the label, and went on to some success, but can Absurd claim to have been their starting point? Don't ask where ABSURD 9, 12, 13 & 14 are, as it's all part of the Absurd mythology.  



Track listing

01 Blah Blah Blah - 'In The Army' ABSURD 1 
02 Eddie Fiction - 'U.F.O. Pt 2' ABSURD 2 
03 48 Chairs - 'Snap It Around' ABSURD 3 
04 Gerry And The Holograms - 'Gerry And The Holograms' from 'Meet The Dissidents' ABSURD 4 
05 Gerry And The Holograms - 'Untitled 1' from 'The Emperor's New Music' ABSURD 5  
06 The Mothmen - 'Does It Matter Irene?' ABSURD 6 
07 Cairo - 'I Like Bluebeat' ABSURD 7 
08 Naafi Sandwich - 'Slice 1' ABSURD 8 
09 Bet Lynch's Legs - 'Riders In The Sky' from 'The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent' ABSURD 10
10 Bet Lynch's Legs - 'Some Like It Hot' ABSURD 11
11 Cairo - 'Movie Stars' ABSURD 15

Enjoy / Enjoy ???

Mike McGear - Do Nothing All Day (1981)

Peter Michael McCartney, known professionally as Mike McGear, is a British musician and rock photographer who was a member of the groups The Scaffold and GRIMMS. Oh, and by the way he's Paul McCartney younger brother. When the Beatles became successful, he was working as an apprentice hairdresser alongside future actor Lewis Collins, and was also a member of the Liverpool comedy-poetry-music group The Scaffold, which included Roger McGough and John Gorman. McCartney decided to use a stage name, so as not to appear to be riding his brother's coattails, and after first trying out Mike Blank, he settled on Mike McGear, 'gear' being the Liverpudlian equivalent of 'fab'. The Scaffold recorded a number of UK hit singles between 1966 and 1974, the most successful being the 1968 Christmas number one 'Lily the Pink', and in 1967 he composed the band's next biggest hit 'Thank U Very Much'. In 1968, he and McGough released the album 'McGough & McGear', which included the usual Scaffold mix of lyrics, poems, and comedy, after which he signed a solo deal with Island Records, releasing 'Woman' in 1972, as well as another album with The Scaffold, 'Fresh Liver'. The Scaffold then added several more members and released two albums on Island as GRIMMS, an acronym for (John) Gorman / (Andy) Roberts / (Neil) Innes / McGear / McGough / (Vivian) Stanshall), but after the second album McGear quit due to tension between himself and one of the poets in the group, signing to Warner Brothers Records and releasing what is generally regarded as his finest album, 1974's self-titled 'McGear'. The record was a collaboration with his brother and his band Wings, and mixed melodic pop, hard rockers, heartfelt ballads, and a dose of eccentricity, as well as containing one of his best ever songs in 'The Man Who Found God On The Moon'. 'Leave It' had already been released as a single and paved the way for the album to become his biggest success, and when it was recently re-issued McGear raided his vaults to uncover a number of previously unreleased recordings - enough in fact to make up a companion album to 'McGear'. It includes the earlier single 'Dance The Do' (with Vivian Stanshall), as well as subsequent singles 'Do Nothing All Day' and 'All The Whales In The Ocean', to which I've tagged on his 1981 tribute to Princess Diana as Mike McGear & The Monarchists, 'No Lar Di Dar'. Add in a few choice out-takes, a couple of road safety ads and an alternative take of 'Leave It' and you have a great little collection which shows just how much talent runs through the family. 



Track listing

01 Sweet Baby
02 Dance The Do
03 Leave It (alternative version)
04 Do Nothing All Day
05 A To Z
06 Keep Cool (Version 1)
07 Girls On The Avenue
08 All The Whales In The Ocean
09 Blowin' In The Bay
10 Keep Cool (Version 2)
11 I Juz Want What You Got - Money
12 Let's Turn The Radio On
13 No Lar Di Dar (Tribute To Diana, Princess Of Wales)
14 God Save The Gracious Queen 

Enjoy / Enjoy

New Fast Automatic Daffodils - Music Is Shit (1991)

The New Fast Automatic Daffodils (or The New FADS as they were later known) was formed in 1988 by former members of the punk rock group Pariah, Dolan Hewison, Justin Crawford, Perry Saunders and Icarus Wilson-Wright. The name comes from a poem by Adrian Henri that mixed an advertisement for a yellow Dutch car with a Wordsworth poem, and although they were often associated with the 'Madchester' scene of the late 1980s, they were never really part of that scene as their music was more angular post-punk than indie-dance. The band's debut single 'Lions' was released in 1989 on Playtime records (then home to Inspiral Carpets), followed the same year by the 'Music Is Shit EP', and in 1990 they signed to Play It Again Sam Records for the 'Fishes Eyes' single and their debut album 'Pigeonhole'. Further singles followed in 1991 and 1992, and their second album 'Body Exit Mind' came out in October 1992, reaching No. 57 in the UK chart. In 1994 the band shortened their name to New FADS and released two more EPs and a final album, before splitting up in 1995. This album is made up of songs from those early 12" EPs, plus a rare contribution to a 1990 Various Artists compilation, and arguably contains some of their best work (I'd forgotten how good 'Lions' is).



Track listing

01 Lions (single 1989)
02 Fate Don't Fail Me Now (b-side of 'Lions')
03 Your Dreams My Nightmares (b-side of 'Lions')
04 Beam Me Up (from the 'Music Is Shit' EP 1989)
05 A Man Without Qualities (from the 'Music Is Shit' EP 1989)
06 Music Is Shit - Parts 1-3 (from the 'Music Is Shit' EP 1989)
07 Jaggerbog (from the Various Artists compilation 'Home' 1990)
08 Big (Baka) (b-side of 'Big' 1990)
09 Fishes Eyes (Underwater) (b-side of 'Fishes Eyes' 1990)
10 White (b-side of 'Fishes Eyes' 1990)
11 Pigeonhole (b-side of 'Get Better' 1991)
12 I Found Myself In Another Room (b-side of 'Get Better' 1991)


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Mick Ronson - Just Like This (1976)

By late 1976 Mick Ronson had finally split with his long-time manager Tony DeFries, and as he wanted to record again he put a band together, and in November 1976 they entered Bearsville Studios to record a new album. Problems with the record company meant that the raw tapes were never mixed, and were subsequently consigned to the vaults, but they were exhumed and mixed in 1993 when the album finally received a limited release, although that issue is now impossible to find. The recent Mick Ronson box set 'Only After Dark' included all the songs from the album, so I've extracted them and slightly updated the artwork so that you can hear it without having to shell out for the whole box if, like me, you already own his other two records. I've always thought 'Slaughter On 10th Avenue' and 'Play Don't Worry' were very under-rated albums, as they both have some great material on them, but this one sounds even better, and it's a mystery why the record company couldn't hear that, as it has some crunching rock guitar, beautiful soaring solos, and just great songs.



Track listing

01 Just Like This (T-Bone Walker)
02 I'd Give Anything To See You
03 Takin' A Train (Jay Davis)
04 Hard Life
05 (I'm Just A) Junkie For Your Love (Ricky Fataar)
06 Crazy Love (Blondie Chaplin)
07 Hey Grandma (Skip Spence)
08 Is That Any Way
09 I've Got No Secrets
10 Hard Headed Woman
11 Roll Like The River (Ronson, Mick Barakan, Bobby Chen, Burt Carey)

All tracks composed by Mick Ronson, except where stated.

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 17 January 2020

Ski Patrol - Everything Is Temporary (1981)

For the last post of bands that recorded for the Malicious Damage record label we have Ski Patrol, who were formed in 1979 from the ashes of two Sunderland bands, The Wall and The Debutantes, by singer Ian Lowery and guitarist Nick Clift. Based in London at the time, they were inspired by the darkwave and punk-funk sounds of British post-punk bands like Joy Division, Gang Of Four, and A Certain Ratio, as well as being influenced by the Jamaican rhythms and politically charged environment in London. Their angular, moody songs fused Lowery's dark lyrical preoccupations with Clift's ringing, textured guitar chord phrasing, and after being joined by fellow North-Easterners Peter Balmer on bass and Bruce Archibald on drums, the band began playing shows on the London circuit opening for The Carpettes. By December 1979 they had recorded four songs at Alaska Studios in Waterloo, two of which became their first single 'Everything Is Temporary'/'Silent Scream', which was released in March 1980 on their own Clever Metal label. In early 1980, Archibald quit the band and was replaced by Alan Cole, and their reputation for explosive onstage gigs and angular songwriting soon captured the attention of Malicious Damage, a label that had already released music by Killing Joke and Red Beat. In June 1980, a second single 'Agent Orange'/'Driving' was released on the label, with the lyrics to the A-side referencing the defoliant used in the Vietnam War, and with synthesizer atmospherics being provided by Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman. In 1981, Peter Balmer had left to join Fad Gadget and was replaced by bassist Francis Cook, and the band recorded a session for the BBC's John Peel show, with a version of one of the songs becoming the band's third single 'Cut'/'Faith In Transition' in the summer. The band's final recording session in April 1981 yielded three new songs, 'Version Of A Life', 'Extinguish' and 'Concrete Eternal', none of which were ever commercially released, as the band finally fell apart later that year. One last single was released on Clever Metal Records in 1982, but by then Ian Lowery had moved on to form The Folk Devils, another fine indie outfit, and Ski Patrol left behind a legacy of just a dozen songs, eleven of which are complied here. Just one listen to 'Agent Orange' or 'Cut' will make you wish they'd stayed together long enough to record an album, as their compelling post-punk/dub sound really stood out from other bands of the era. 



Track listing

01 Everything Is Temporary (single 1980)
02 Silent Scream (b-side of 'Everything Is Temporary')
03 Agent Orange (single 1980)
04 Driving (b-side of 'Agent Orange')
05 Cut (single 1981)
06 Faith In Transition (b-side of 'Cut')
07 Extinguish (John Peel session 1981)
08 Where The Buffalo Roam (John Peel session 1981)
09 A Version Of A Life (previously unreleased)
10 Concrete Eternal (previously unreleased)
11 Bright Shiny Things (single 1982)

As a lot of these 80's post-punk bands will be an unknown quantity for most people, I've included a Youtube link for one of the songs for you to check them out.

Enjoy / Enjoy

Boards Of Canada - Old Tunes (Volume 2) (1996)

Time for some more old tunes from the emergent Boards Of Canada, recorded onto cassette some time in 1996 and sent out to record labels as demos. Once again it's a really nice collection of early work from the brothers and should be enjoyed by any fans of the band.



Track listing

01 We've Started Up
02 Jimbo Rehearsing
03 Staircase Whip
04 Statue Of Liberty
05 Dave (I'm A Real Traditionalist)
06 Peace/Tony/Devil
07 To The Wind
08 Iraq Says
09 Nine-Rubber Wisdom
10 On A Rolling Sea
11 Iced Cooly Beatnik
12 David Came To Mahana'im
13 Sir Prancelot Brainfire
14 North Sea Arbeit
15 Mushyz
16 Heysanna Hosanna
17 Fly In The Pool
18 Mukhinabaht
19 It's A Whole 'Nother Year
20 Kiteracer 2
21 BMX Track
22 Hiscores
23 Geometric Piss
24 Zander Two
25 Magic Teens
26 Apparatus
27 Music For Pylons
28 Alpha Rainbow
29 Northern Plastics
30 Buckie High
31 I Love My New Shears
32 Solarium
33 Breaking Nehushtan
34 Orange Hexagon Sun
35 Lick
36 Powerline Misfortune

Enjoy / Enjoy

Fiat Lux - Ark Of Embers (1985)

Fiat Lux are an English synth-pop band formed in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1982, by Steve Wright (vocals) and David P Crickmore (guitars, bass, keyboards), and joined shortly afterwards by Ian Nelson, younger brother of Be-Bop Deluxe's Bill Nelson, on saxophone and keyboards, complementing the classic line-up of the band. Wright and Crickmore had both attended Bretton Hall College, Wakefield, where they studied drama, with Wright later joining theatre company Yorkshire Actors where he met musician Bill Nelson. After impressing him with a demo tape, Nelson produced two of the demo's tracks, 'Feels Like Winter Again'/'This Illness', releasing them as a single on his Cocteau Records label in November 1982. The single gained radio airplay and led to the band signing a record deal with major label Polydor, and they had minor hits on the label with their singles 'Secrets' and 'Blue Emotion'. Crickmore departed after the chart failure of their fifth Polydor single release 'House Of Thorns', but the band continued recording some songs with session musicians for a proposed second album, although this was abandoned when the group split up in 1985. Thirty four years later the album finally surfaced on a retrospective collection of their work, and although the synth-pop genre is now somewhat dated, the songs themselves are pretty good, and so it's definitely worth hearing if you have fond memories of Tears For Fears, Erasure, A-Ha or Soft Cell.  



Track listing

01 The Moment
02 Breaking The Boundary
03 Blue Emotion
04 Embers
05 No More Proud
06 Photography
07 Splurge
08 Secrets
09 Aqua Vitae
10 In The Heat Of The Night
11 Solitary Lovers

Enjoy / Enjoy

Hiromi Uehara - Piano Jazz (2004)

Pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara was born in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1979. She began studying classical piano at age 5 at the Yamaha School of Music, where her teacher was a jazz fan, and she shared her love of the music with Hiromi, encouraging improvisation even on the classical pieces of Mozart, Hayden, and exercises from the Hannon Book. She achieved a high level of playing at an early age, performing publicly before reaching her teenage years, and at age 14 she travelled to Czechoslovakia for a performance with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to her continued classical studies and performances, Hiromi became increasingly interested in jazz, and even had the opportunity to sit in with Chick Corea during one of his concerts in Tokyo. After high school, she worked performing jingles for television commercials, and this piqued her interest in orchestration and arranging. In order to learn more about this, she attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she was immediately immersed in the jazz community there, performing in clubs around Boston and meeting artists such as Ahmad Jamal, who immediately took an interest in the young player. Before she graduated, she signed with the Telarc record label, which released her first CD 'Another Mind' in 2003. On each of her successive releases — 'Brain' (2004), 'Spiral' (2005), and 'Time Control' (2007) — her talents as pianist and composer have continued to evolve, impressing fans and critics around the world. In 2004 she was interviewed by renowned pianist Marian McPartland for her jazz radio show, and in between talking about her life she played a variety of jazz pieces on the piano. This broadcast is now quite hard to find, so as the majority of the pieces are covers of jazz classics this is a good introduction to Hiromi's work if you are unfamiliar with her. Jazz fans should already be aware of this precocious talent, and her discography now numbers over a dozen albums, both with her jazz trio, and her jazz-fusion band Hiromi's Sonicbloom. I probably have more live bootlegs from her than any other artist, as she is definitely at her best in a live setting, and some of her best concerts can be found on Youtube, so if you are a fan of jazz then you do need to include her music in your life.   



Track listing

01 The Tom And Jerry Show (H. Uehara) 
02 Blue and Green (Evans, Davis)
03 Softly as In A Morning Sunrise (Hammerstein, Romberg)
04 With You In Mind (McPartland)
05 Lullaby Of Birdland (G. Gershwin)
06 I Got Rhythm (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin)
07 There Will Never Be Another You (Gordon, Warren) 
08 Caravan (Tizol, Gillespie)
09 Portrait Of Hiromi (McPartland) 
10 Straight No Chaser (Monk)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

400 Blows - Year Of The Dog (1984)

When I first heard 'Beat The Devil' on the John Peel show (where else?) in 1982, it was so unlike most of the stuff that was around at that time, and sounded so fresh and interesting that I bought the single straight away. The band were formed in 1981 in Croydon, South London by Edward Beer, along with two friends, Alexander Fraser and Rob. That debut single was released on their own Concrete Productions record label, and the following year they signed to the Illuminated label and subsequently released an album, "...if I kissed her I'd have to kill her first..." (a quote from serial killer Edmund Kemper to his sister, who was teasing him about wanting to kiss his teacher). The album was a mixture of tracks like 'Beat The Devil', and numbers with a more up-front dance beat, and this paved the way for their next two singles, 'Return Of The Dog' and 'Declaration Of Intent', both of which featured a more rhythmic structure which was aimed squarely at the dance market. By the time of 'Pressure' and 'Moving' they had fully embraced the dance scene, but perhaps surprisingly I didn't consider this a sell-out, as they kept just enough post-punk sensibility in there to keep them firmly in the indie-dance end of the spectrum. 'Groove Jumping' is one of their best examples of this, with a memorable and catchy tune overlaid with found sounds and effects. The band carried on releasing singles until 1992, but their best work was definitely between 1982 and 1984, and so this collection concentrates on the singles released during those two years. Where the songs also appeared on an album, the single versions are drastically different, and so are worth including as new pieces in their own right. 'Strangeways (Revisited)' is a reworking of the track 'Strangeways', which first appeared on the 'A Sudden Surge of Power' cassette compilation in 1982, alongside other artists in the same genre such as Test Dept and Chris & Cosey. If you haven't heard of the band, and they are a well-kept secret, then do check them out as their first album is a great snapshot of the indie/dance scene of the early 80's. 



Track listing

01 Beat The Devil (single 1982)
02 The Beat Continues (b-side of 'Beat The Devil')
03 The Return Of The Dog (single 1983)
04 French Donkey (b-side of 'The Return Of The Dog')
05 Declaration Of Intent (single 1984)
06 Black And White Mix Up (b-side of 'Declaration Of Intent')
07 Perspective 1 (b-side of 'Declaration Of Intent')
08 Pressure (single 1984)
09 Perspective 2 (b-side of 'Pressure')
10 Groove Jumping (single 1984)
11 Strangeways (Revisited) (b-side of 'Groove Jumping')

As a lot of these 80's post-punk bands will be an unknown quantity for most people, I've included a Youtube link for one of the songs for you to check them out.

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 10 January 2020

T. Rex - Do I Love Thee (1975)

The second of my two posts using band recordings from the recent 8 CD box set from T. Rex concentrates of songs recorded during album sessions in 1974 and 1975. Once again the sound quality is excellent, and there are a couple of treats on here, including a heavy rock version of their early hit single 'By The Light Of The Magical Moon'. One again, I think this album holds up really well as a cohesive whole, with none of the songs sounding out of place, and I hope you agree.



Track listing

01 Bolan's Zip Gun
02 Lock Into Your Love
03 I Never Told Me
04 Do I Love Thee
05 (By The Light Of A) Magical Moon
06 Brain Police
07 Sanctified
08 Two Tone Lady (She'll Be Good To Me)
09 Video Drama
10 Love For Me
11 Funky London Childhood


Red Beat - Machines In Motion (1982)

Red Beat was formed in 1979 in High Wycombe by the three brothers of the British synth-pop musician Howard Jones, and Roy, Martin and Paul Jones based their early sound on the music of Killing Joke. In the summer of 1980 they moved to London and recorded their first single 'Red Beat', which was released on Killing Joke's Malicious Damage label. John Peel was impressed by the single and offered them a session for his radio show, which they recorded in December 1980, but by this time Martin Jones and Majid Ahmed had dropped out due to musical differences. Further disruption followed, and by 1981 the band had fallen out with Killing Joke, and so started their own record label Manic Machine Products, on which they released their next two singles. In 1982 the band recorded new songs for Miles Copeland's I.R.S. Records, but this didn't result in a record deal, and by the end of the year the group were no more. The three Jones brothers formed a new band called Wheel Of Change, which recorded some songs for Stiff Records in 1983, but this didn't lead to a record deal either, and so they once again changed their name to Red White And Phoenix. Their lasting legacy, though, were the songs they recorded as Red Beat, in the post-punk/reggae style pioneered by Killing Joke in the early 80's. It's worth noting that every copy of 'Red Beat' that I found online is actually the first half of 'More Or Less Cut', but this copy is ripped from my own 12" single and so you can finally hear 'Red Beat' in all its glory. 



Track listing

01 Machines In Motion (12" single 1979)
02 Red Beat (b-side of 'Machines In Motion')
03 More Or Less Cut (Dub) (b-side of 'Machines In Motion')
04 See (single 1981)
05 Survival (b-side of 'See')
06 The Wheel (John Peel session 1980)
07 Child (John Peel session 1980)
08 Tribe (John Peel session 1980)
09 Shadow Boxing (previously unreleased)
10 Dream (12" single 1982)

As a lot of these 80's post-punk bands will be an unknown quantity for most people, I've included a Youtube link for one of the songs for you to check them out.

Enjoy / Enjoy

Chicken Shack - Andalucia Blues (1970)

Chicken Shack were founded as a r'n'b trio in 1965 by Stan Webb (guitar and vocals), Andy Silvester (bass guitar), and Alan Morley (drums), and were later joined by Christine Perfect (vocals and keyboards) in 1967, and at one point also included Chris Wood, later to join Traffic. The band named themselves after the Jimmy Smith album 'Back At The Chicken Shack', and were at the forefront of the British blues boom of the late 60's alongside Fleetwood Mac, Black Cat Bones, and The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. They made their first UK appearance at the 1967 National Jazz and Blues Festival, and signed to Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon record label in the same year, releasing their first album 'Forty Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed And Ready to Serve' in early 1968. The band enjoyed some commercial success, and Christine Perfect was voted Best Female Vocalist in the Melody Maker polls two years running. They had two minor chart hits with 'I'd Rather Go Blind' and 'Tears in the Wind', after which Perfect left the band when she married John McVie of Fleetwood Mac, and she was replaced by Paul Raymond from Plastic Penny. After being dropped by Blue Horizon in 1971, Paul Raymond, Andy Silvester, and Dave Bidwell all left to join Savoy Brown, and so Webb reformed the band as a trio with John Glascock on bass and Paul Hancox on drums. This line-up recorded their 1971 album 'Imagination Lady', but the line-up didn't last, with Glascock leaving to join Carmen, while Webb was recruited for Savoy Brown in 1974 and recorded the album 'Boogie Brothers' with them. Since 1977 Webb has revived the Chicken Shack name on a number of occasions, with a rotating membership of British blues musicians including, at various times, Paul Butler (ex-Jellybread, Keef Hartley Band), Keef Hartley himself, Miller Anderson, and ex-Ten Years After drummer Ric Lee, but their most productive and critically acclaimed period was definitely 1968 to 1970, when they produced some of the best British blues on record. This album collects singles, b-sides, radio sessions and out-takes that slipped through the net during those three years, and if you don't know the band and like what you hear, then you really should check out their first two albums, which are classics of British blues.  



Track listing

01 Six Nights In Seven (b-side of 'Worried About My Woman')
02 Worried About My Woman   (single 1968)
03 Night Is When It Matters (BBC session 1968)
04 It's Okay With Me Baby (single 1968)
05 When My Left Eye Jumps (b-side of 'It's OK With Me Baby')
06 Hey Baby  (b-side of 'When The Train Comes Back' 1968)
07 The Things You Put Me Through (b-side of 'Tears In The Wind' 1969)
08 I'd Rather Go Blind (single 1969)
09 Night Life (b-side of 'I'd Rather Go Blind')
10 Hideaway (previously unreleased 1970) 
11 Smartest Girl In Town (previously unreleased 1970)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Brian Eno - I Dormienti (1999)

'I Dormienti' is an album of music by Brian Eno, taken from an installation that took place at the undercroft of the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London, from 9 September to 6 October 1999. The event featured the work of Italian painter, sculptor and set designer Mimmo Paladino, who became established in the early 80's as one of the main exponents of the so-called Transavanguardia, a form of Neo-expressionism and Lyrical Abstraction. His exhibition was in the form of drawings and terracota sculptures - about 30 reclining figures with about 20 attendant crocodiles he called 'I Dormienti' ('The Sleepers'). Eno's music came from well-concealed speakers and consisted mainly of a three-note Neroli-esque sequence, electronic noise, and treated, sampled voices speaking in syllables. The material condensed onto the album is a single track consisting of ten or so layers of the aforementioned syllables, speech excerpts, the standard Eno treated piano, and various drones and echoes. It's very much in his ambient style, with the repetitive sequences creating a relaxing atmosphere, and is much more musical that his work for the White Cube installation.  



Track listing

01 I Dormienti

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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Crispy Ambulance - From The Cradle To The Grave (1981)

When Crispy Ambulance arrived on the Manchester post-punk scene in 1980, they were instantly dismissed as Joy Division copyists, but as their Factory/Benelux recordings prove, they were actually an innovative and undervalued band. The band initially came together as a duo in 1977 to perform covers of Magazine and Hawkwind material, with Alan Hempsall and guitarist Robert Davenport later being joined by bassist Keith Darbyshire and drummer Gary Madeley. At a gig in July 1978 they were seen by members of Joy Division, who encouraged their manager Rob Gretton to check them out, which resulting in a support slot for Joy Division on their tour to promote 'Unknown Pleasures'. In January 1980 the band recorded their debut single at Graveyard Studios, choosing 'From the Cradle to the Grave' and 'Four Minutes From the Frontline' as their strongest numbers in an ever-changing live set, and the record was released on their own Aural Assault label to little acclaim. In May 1980 Rob Gretton became a director at Factory Records, and persuaded Crispy Ambulance to release their next recording through the label. 4AD had also expressed interest in the band at the same time, but Factory won out and the 'Unsightly and Serene' 10" EP was released as FAC 32. In July 1980 the band recorded a four song session for Piccadilly Radio, and while both 'The Presence' and 'Concorde Square' would later be re-recorded with legendary producer Martin Hannett, 'Eastern Bloc' and 'A Sense of Reason' remain exclusive to the session. Similarly, all four songs taped for John Peel the following January were also kept exclusive to the radio session. 
Their third single was the 12" 'Live On A Hot August Night', which was not actually live, but recorded at Cargo Studio in Rochdale with Hannett. It comprised two extended tracks, 'Concorde Square' and 'The Presence', and remains some of their best work, even though Tony Wilson (who never liked the band) shifted the release to his Factory Benelux offshoot in order to get them off his beloved Factory label. The band finally released their debut album in 1982, and it not only remains one of my favourite ever records, but it's generally regarded as one of the best releases on the Factory label. This collection shows the band's progression from that first single, through the radio sessions, to their work with Factory, all of which culminated in the superb 'The Plateau Phase' album. As a post-script, in 2014 the original quartet reconvened for some British dates, performing with Section 25 and Minny Pops in Manchester, and two years later they released an album of new material entitled 'Random Textures'. It's pretty good, so if this post whets your appetite for some music that's a bit more challenging than normal then check it out. 



Track listing

01 From The Cradle To The Grave (single 1980)
02 Four Minutes From The Frontline (b-side of 'From The Cradle To The Grave')
03 Deaf (from 'Unsightly And Serene' 10" EP 1981)
04 Not What I Expected (from 'Unsightly And Serene' 10" EP 1981)
05 Eastern Bloc (Piccadilly Radio session 1980)
06 A Sense Of Reason (Piccadilly Radio session 1980)
07 Drug User-Drug Pusher (John Peel session 1981)
08 October 31st (John Peel session 1981)
09 Come On (John Peel session 1981)
10 Egypt (John Peel session 1981)
11 Concorde Square (from 'Live On A Hot August Night' 12" single 1981)
12 The Presence (from 'Live On A Hot August Night' 12" single 1981)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 3 January 2020

Killing Joke - Red (1981)

Killing Joke were formed in 1978 when drummer Paul Ferguson met Jaz Coleman when he briefly joined the band that Ferguson played in. They both left Mataya Clifford to form Killing Joke, and placed an ad in Melody Maker which attracted guitarist Geordie Walker and bassist Youth. The band played their debut gig on 4 August 1979 at Cheltenham Roadmenders supporting the Ruts and the Selecter. By September of that year they'd started the Malicious Damage record label with graphic artist Mike Coles, as a way to press and sell their music, and with Island Records distributing the records they released their debut single, as the 'Nervous System' 7" and the 'Turn To Red' 10" EP. Their early material fused together elements of punk, funk and dub reggae, and 'Turn to Red' came to the attention of John Peel, who was keen to champion the band's urgent new sound, and gave them extensive airplay. They followed 'Turn To Red' with two more singles in much the same style, if even heavier in parts, and 'Requiem' and 'Wardance' established them as a band with a bright future. Their debut album 'Killing Joke' was released in October 1980 to critical acclaim, and rather than tour the album the band preferred to carry on working in the studio and released 'What's THIS For...!' just eight months later. For this album they hired sound engineer Nick Launay, who had previously recorded with Public Image Ltd, and they toured extensively throughout the UK, with both fans of post-punk and heavy metal taking an interest in songs such as 'Follow the Leaders'. I've always loved the dub reggae sound of that first 10" EP, and in 2014 the band slipped out a dub mix of 'Turn To Red', so I've spliced the two together for a ten-minute workout of my favourite track of theirs. In December 1979 Island re-released 'Turn To Red' as a 12" single with an additional track in 'Almost Red', and so over half of this collection of rare b-sides and Peel session tracks from 1979 to 1981 is actually taken up with just tracks from that first release, but as that is by far my favourite record of the band's career then I'm quite happy with that.  



Track listing

01 Turn To Red (And Redder) (exclusive mix of lead track from 'Turn To Red' EP Oct. 1979)
02 Nervous System (from the 'Turn To Red' EP Oct. 1979)
03 Are You Receiving (from the 'Turn To Red' EP Oct. 1979)
04 Almost Red (from the re-issue of 'Turn To Red' Dec. 1979)
05 Change (b-side of 'Requiem' 1980)
06 Nuclear Boy (John Peel session 1979)
07 Malicious Boogie (John Peel session 1979)
08 Pssyche (b-side of 'Wardance' 1980)
09 Follow The Leaders (original 7" single version 1981)

Enjoy / Enjoy