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 Various Artists compilation from 1990, and arguably contains some of the best work (I'd forgotten just 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

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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