2017: My Year Of Bowie Guitarists

After seeing King Crimson in the fall of 2017, it occurred to me that 2017 was marked as a period where, for one reason or another, I seemed to be seeing a lot of artists who played lead guitar with David Bowie! With Bowie gone, it looked as though his sidemen were extra busy playing live all at the same time. Was it the zeitgeist, which had focused our attention on the Bowie legacy or was it all just a coincidence? No matter what, as the year began to unspool, I couldn’t help but notice that I was seeing a lot of Bowie sidemen.

NUMBER ONE: Adrian Belew

I had a studied history with Belew. In fact, the first time I ever saw him was in 1990 as part of Bowie’s “Sound + Vision Tour band!” That was also my first Bowie concert so it was a pretty large, multi-media spectacle. I’d seen Belew three further times with King Crimson in the 90s/00s as they became active again before hibernating. Possibly my favorite Belew show was the time my wife and I saw him with The Bears, his pop combo shortly after moving to Asheville in 2001. That show was magical.

Then, there was the Adrian Belew solo gig we walked out of five years later. A rare moment of Belew with his head in a place I could not happily follow. It was May 4, 2017 when I saw the Adrian Belew Power Trio for the first time, and found it to be a delightful, if intense dip into his less pop oriented catalog; with a hefty helping of King Crimson, which felt wonderful to hear after an 11 year drought. Impressively, they gave me a much wanted “Frame By Frame” that was Frippless and didn’t suffer for it at all! Best of all, he played the Bowie cut from his “Lodger” period that I most wanted to hear live, a great “Boys Keep Swinging” since fully a third of the song was his guitar solo. After a dozen years of steering clear of Belew, I’m ready for anything again, and the full review can be found here.

NUMBER TWO: David Torn

I first heard David Torn when he recorded the David Sylvian album “Secrets Of The Beehive.” I next really noticed him when the third Mick Karn album, “Bestial Cluster” arrived in 1993. He’s then all over Sakamoto, Anderson, and King Crimson member albums with a high water mark being when he played on “Heathen,” “Reality” and “The Next Day.” I was regretting missing Torn when he did a house concert at Streamside Studios locally. I didn’t have the cash at the time, so when Streamside brought him back on September 8 of 2017, I was ready to pounce. I have to say it was an underwhelming experience. Given that about 40 of us paid to sit in front of the artist, I would have felt embarrassed to have left in the middle of the show. It was nothing awful; just not very musical. That’s why I didn’t bother reviewing it at the time. As it turns out, I have another chance to see Torn again in a few weeks at Big Ears Festival we’re attending. We’ll maybe give it another try and if it’s unmusical, there will be enough people coming and going not to draw attention to our exit.

NUMBER THREE: Reeves Gabrels

I was immediately beholden to reeves Gabrels for being the straight shooting friend who was instrumental in saving Bowie’s bacon when he became artistically astray in the 80s. I greeted that first Tin Machine album like a starving man at a buffet table. [Now we can have some words about the second one…]. He was Bowie’s guitarist for a good decade run that saw him moving all over the stylistic map and Gabrels favored a rough, almost metallic tone that posited him somewhere on the axis between Belew and Fripp, so what else could I say but “hooray.”

I discovered that he was playing at the Grey Eagle on October 4, 2017 while eating my dinner and perusing the local freekly. He was scheduled to begin playing in about 30 minutes from that time and did I ever get my rear end in gear to get to the venue in about that to see this man up close and personal. And he even played a song from “Tin Machine” to my delight – the wonderful “Bus Stop.” I’d seen him with Bowie on two solo tours, and I felt privileged then, but that didn’t begin to encompass the beauty he was throwing down six feet in front of me at the Grey Eagle that night! Flat out, these were the most amazing, beautiful guitar solos I’d ever heard live. Period! Full details here.

NUMBER FOUR: Robert Fripp

Fripp, was, of course, the big enchilada. He’s definitely my preferred Bowie guitarist since he contributed heavy lifting to my two favorite Bowie albums, “Heroes,” and “Scary Monsters [and Super Creeps].” I had seen King Crimson in three diverse shows between 1997 and 2003 in the 90s configuration of the band. All of it had a lot to offer. Then my wife and I saw Fripp solo in our fair city on a soundscape tour/Q+A that was a lovely evening out with “The Headmaster,” as I refer to him. I’d like to say that I had a good question for Fripp in the Q+A that followed his set, but I was far too intimidated to even think of one that was intelligent enough in his presence. I had tried for weeks up front and only settled on one after the show!

I had been super interested in the revised King Crimson lineup of the 10s as they had quite a fantastic lineup that was for once capable of playing the full spectrum of King Crimson canon, and fantastically well, of course. I was thrilled to see them finally venturing to the southeast on October 26, 2017 in Raleigh. It was, any way you would care to slice it, the most perfect King Crimson event possible, ever. Even the songs from the one album of theirs that I can’t stand were amazing. The full monty can be found here.

The only Bowie guitarist still out in the wilds that I think I need to see would be Earl Slick. Of course, yesterday we discussed my one muffed chance to have seen Mick Ronson back in 1990. I can’t think of any other Bowie guitarists that I have a further need to see live, but it was fascinating how for one year, after Bowie’s demise, that there seemed to be a veritable parade of his lead guitarists playing for my enjoyment.

– 30 –

Posted in Bowie, Concert Review, Live Music | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Mott The Hoople Are Touring America In ’74 Configuration

L-R: Morgan Fisher, Ian Hunter, + Ariel Bender

A few weeks ago I was hanging around the Trouser Press Forum, and to what to my wond’ring eyes did appear but a thread discussing the fact that Mott The Hoople were mounting their first US tour since 1974 in the coming months! Holy…! I really like Mott The Hoople and consider Ian Hunter one of the best writers/rockstars of his generation. I have never seen him or obviously, Mott live. Sure, sure. We all know “All The Young Dudes.” It’s a Classic Rock song that was truly anthemic and legitimately attained classic status from the get-go. But I suppose I became more finely attuned to the wonders of Ian Hunter when his 1978 solo album, “You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic” was released in 1979.

By then he was well teamed with Mick Ronson on lead guitar and the album even had John Cale throwing some punk era grit on the the searing “Bastard.” As much as I liked New Wave and considered myself a modern rock fan, I had to admit that if mainstream rock were all as good as this album, maybe Punk would not have been so needed? Of course, The Clash were huge Mott The Hoople fans and used to follow them on their tours before forming a band themselves. Mott were known for not building walls between their fans and themselves which informed The Clash completely in their attitude to being “rock stars.” Mick Jones even ended up producing one of Ian’s solo albums, the divisive to some [but I love it] “Short Back + Sides.” It got a lot of stick at the time for being “Ian Hunter’s Sandinista” but I can’t find any fault with that!

By then I owned several Mott The Hoople albums as well, with my favorite being their ’74 opus “The Hoople.” I bought it as a cutout at K-Mart and loved it to bits. When the next year brought the live album from the “Schizophrenic” tour as “Welcome To The Club” it has remained a fast favorite to this day. It did a magnificent job of capturing the full breadth of Hunter’s impressive songbook in a hot live setting. As a “live album guy” [I sometimes think I could live off of  just live albums if I had to] this has always been in my top five of all time. I was dying to see Hunter at the time, but in 1980 the closest he came to Orlando was a gig in Tampa in the fall of 1980 doing a fund raiser for independent John Anderson‘s US presidential bid with Todd Rundgren along too! I would have loved to have been there but at age 16 I was not traveling across the [admittedly narrow] state. Neither I nor any of my friends who might also want to go drove yet.

I had one chance in 1990 when touring behind “Y.U.I. Orta” that Hunter and Ronson appeared in Orlando. It was at the Point After, a college bar near the university I graduated from, and it seemed too déclassé to see these giants of rock in such a downscale setting so I didn’t go. Three years later Ronson was dead and Hunter would never play within my zip code again. That was around the same time that I passed on DEVO in Orlando as well, thinking “they are past their prime” like an idiot. When Mott The Hoople reformed in 2009 for a series of UK gigs where the full band trod the boards once again, I didn’t think that there would ever be a US tour. Ian tours America a lot, but nowhere near where I live. There have been occasional Atlanta shows but the timing was usually bad on them with other trips occurring right around the same time, and even without conflicting dates, there’s only so much money in my fist.

I told my wife about the new Mott tour, asking her “guess who’s touring America for the first time in 45 years?” and “Mott The Hoople” was the first thing out of her mouth. She looked at the ten dates far away from the southeast where we live, and noticed that they were playing Cleveland. Of course they were playing Cleveland! Cle is prime Mott real estate in America. The city took Bowie/Roxy/Mott to its collective bosom first before any other strongholds happened in America. Well, my wife made a leap that I had not even thought of. We can drive to Akron and stay with her family, saving tremendously on the cost of an out of town show. Duh…! So where will these gents be playing? A short run of UK and US dates.

Mott The Hoople lives again…!

Mott The Hoople ’74 | US/UK | 2019

US Dates

April 1 | Milwaukee, WI | Miller High Life Theatre
April 2 | Minneapolis, MN | First Avenue
April 3 | Chicago, IL | Chicago Theatre
April 5 | Detroit, MI | The Fillmore
April 6 | Cleveland, OH | Masonic
April 8 | Glenside, PA | Keswick Theatre
April 9 | Boston, MA | Orpheum Theatre
April 10 | New York, NY | Beacon Theatre

UK Dates

April 19 | Manchester | The Academy
April 20 | Glasgow | The Barrowlands
April 21 | Birmingham | The Symphony Hall
April 23 | Gateshead | The Sage
April 26 | London | O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
April 27 | London  | O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

I was able to get Mezzanine F tickets for $60 each plus fees thanks to having to register a Live Nation [spits] account. Well, I can’t complain. It was far less painful than the Simple Minds tickets I last bought. It’ll be great to see a Mott The Hoople show aiming like a marksman on their 1974 era as I expect most of “The Hoople” to get a playing. Of course, there’s a practical reason for this emphasis. Dale Griffin, original Mott drummer is no longer with us since the 2009 gigs. And Mick Ralphs formed Mott but left in ’73 to form Bad Company. He was in the 2009 lineup, but his health has deteriorated to the point where he can’t tour. So this meant that keyboardist Morgan Fisher and guitarist Ariel Bender from the ’74 era were tapped to play this time out. Fisher, in addition to his Mott credentials, has a vivid experimental/Post-Punk career worthy of diving into. I have wanted his “Miniatures” album since 1980, to say nothing of the Hybrid Kids.

The rest of the band for the tour comes from Ian Hunter’s Rant Band; meaning Steve Holley on drums, Paul Page on bass, and James Mastro [!] on guitar. It should be fun. The Masonic in Cleveland is a nice, refurbished music hall of some character. The Cleveland Rockers should be over the moon at this show, so I can’t imagine a better audience to see it with. As Ian Hunter will be 79 at the time of the gig, this will be one of the oldest musicians I’ve ever seen live, though not the oldest. More on that later… but anyone who fancies a Saturday Gig with Mott The Hoople like I’m seeing on April 6th, best of luck with getting those tickets.

– 30 –

Posted in Bowie, Core Collection, Tourdates | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Conny Plank: The Potential of Noise

After a long gestation, Plank’s story is now out in the world

Almost as soon as I began filling what would, in time, be referred to as the Record Cell, I have been aware of Conny Plank and his contribution to the music that I love. He was the “doctor” that delivered countless seminal recordings that have informed my world. His sonic and musical creativity first pegged my radar when I bought one of the first albums that I did after finally getting a stereo in 1979. Having been obsessed with “Autobahn” [in its brutal 3:30 US edit!] as a child, I could hardly wait to hear that song again. I bought the album and noticed that Plank had engineered the recording, which had been recorded in lnstudio. Duly noted and filed for future reference.

By the next year, I would see his studio on the inner sleeve of DEVO’s debut album. In 1980 he was the producer of Ultravox’s “Vienna” and that was another major inflection point for me. Then I saw his name on records by Killing Joke, Eurythmics, DAF, Eno, Cluster, Neu!, Les Rita Mitsouko and many more; encompassing both experimental rock and pop alike, with plenty of room for experimental pop. My favorite musical flavor of all.

Plank died in 1987 when cancer took its toll on the producer at the early age of 47. His son Stephan has now spent what seems like a decade making this film as both a tribute to the artistic legacy of his father, and also an examination of his absence during the time in his life when his father held court in the outskirts of Köln, Germany. Where the adventurous would journey to the famed Conny’s Studio for some of that Plank magic on their recordings.

Of course the elephant in the room would have to be Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk! Plank recorded not only the first four Kraftwerk albums, but also was present for the primordial origins of the band from 1969 as the band Organisation, whose “Tone Float” album will cost you three to four hefty figures if you simply must have the one “official” legit pressing from the UK. Given that Hütter is beyond reticent to even acknowledge the pre-“Autobahn” era of the band, it was exciting to see that Michael Rother of Neu! interview by the younger Plank. true, Rother never recorded with Kraftwerk in the studio, but when he and Klaus Dinger split from the Kraftwerk mütterschiff that was as profound an impact for their absence in Kraftwerk as it was from their presence in the equally groundbreaking Neu!

Stephan Plank [L] interviews Michael Rother [R} for his film

Of course, many of the artists who Plank touched appeared in this film. Annette Humpe, Midge Ure, Jaz Coleman, Gerry Casale, and Hans Joachim-Rodelius were all present. Given the gestation of this film, it was fortunate that the filmmakers were able to have representation by now deceased musicians such as Fred Chichin of Les Rita Mitsouko and Holger Czukay. Czukay in particular took pains to tell the younger Plank how his father found him in the way of his work as a child. Then the scene of Annete Humpe asking how much time his father spent with him as a child also cut to the quick.

One of the pleasures of the documentary is not of seeing more of what I knew about Plank, but in learning new things even at my old age. When Karl Hyde of Underworld appeared, I had to ask my wife, “what’s he doing here?” As it turned out, the band had decamped from Wales to Conny’s Studio in order to record their debut single, “Doot Doot.” They recorded a version of that song with him that i have never heard, since their label released the demo version instead. Knock me over with a feather. Here’s more of Hyde’s interview with scenes that are not in the final film.

Plank journeyed to Atlanta to interview two members of Whodini

Another revelation was provided by the early electro hip hop band Whodini. I knew that they had worked with Thomas Dolby on their debut album. I’m familiar with “Magic’s Wand,” but I had no idea that Plank also produced two tracks on that album. Jalil Hutchins and Drew Carter waxed eloquent about how they were sent to Germany at the behest of Clive Davis [I guess he’s not all bad…] to record with Plank for a sound that would electrify. They remembered Stefan as a young boy and had fun playing with him even as they were cowed by all of the gold and platinum records adorning the walls of the guest bathroom at the compound.

The film also related the memorable tale of how Daniel Miller could afford three days of DAF in Germany for Plank to record their second, more musical album. Miller recounted how days one and two were spent simply talking as the youthful label owner was quietly panicking. Of course, on day three, they got it all down on tape! That pointed to Plank paying attention to all aspects of a recording session. It was so much more than just mike placement and FX boxes, but for the most part, the film eschews too many dives into the tech bucket to look at the gestalt that Conny brought to his work.

The last scenes of the film showed Plank bringing his family to the farm [now luxury condos, of course!] where he spent his youth with a parade of rock musicians coming in one door and out of the other. One got the feeling that he had decided not to fully emulate his father and stay immersed in work to the detriment of his family relationships. Much was spoken about how Plank’s partner Christa Fast was the person who kept the entire operation moving along, but as she had died in 2006, she was sadly absent from this film in a contemporary sense.

Fans of the PPM sound, as we can call it, would find a lot to enjoy in this film. Cleopatra Entertainment are distributing the film in America and the DVD is out there, though it’s got only a slideshow as any extras. With that in mind, here’s a festival Q+A between the director, Stephan Plank, and moderator Paul Williams [not the gnomish songwriter].

– 30 –

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

How Does the New Heaven 17 BSOG Compare To My Attempt?

Finally, someone got off of their keister and compiled an actual Heaven 17 BSOG!

Heaven 17 fans have been abuzz in the period where the blog was inactive lately! But that didn’t stop the world from spinning or the comments to pile up elsewhere. But it’s true! Demon Records Group are releasing a 10xCD Heaven 17 BSOG with a prodigious amount of compiled rarities. One of the things I really respect about this was that they went for maximum saturation. None of this “keep the sacred album intact” and lose 35 minutes that could be filled with rare remixes! We prefer density of content to polite sprawling and worse, lost content because the space after the album was being wasted.

On March, 29th – the same day that the Simple Minds “Regeneration 2001-2014” box is released, my money will be being set aside for this product instead. The ten discs are jam packed with rarities as we will see below. The format is a 12″ x12″ box complete with large format 36 page book of liner notes and ephemera. As close as we’ll get to that H17 coffee table book, I’m afraid. The ten CDs comprise all of their Virgin Records releases, so nothing will be included from later than the early 90s era of post-modern mixes that saw “Temptation” actually improved and hit the UK top five for the second time in a decade. What’s in store for us?

Demon Records | UK | 10xCD | HEAVENOX01 | 2019

Heaven 17: Play To Win – The Virgin Records Years UK 10xCD [2019]


  1. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  2. Penthouse And Pavement
  3. Play To Win
  4. Soul Warfare
  5. Penthouse Side
  6. Geisha Boys And Temple Girls
  7. Let’s All Make A Bomb
  8. The Height Of The Fighting
  9. Song With No Name
  10. We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time
  11. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [7” version]
  12. I’m Your Money
  13. Play To Win [7” version]
  14. Penthouse And Pavement [7” version]
  15. The Height Of The Fighting (He-La-Hu)
  16. The Decline Of The West [by B.E.F]
  17. B.E.F. Ident [by B.E.F]
  18. Are Everything
  19. Play
  20. Honeymoon In New York [by B.E.F]
  21. He-La-Hu


  1. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry
  2. Who’ll Stop The Rain
  3. Let Me Go
  4. Key To The World
  5. Temptation
  6. Come Live With Me
  7. Lady Ice And Mr Hex
  8. We Live So Fast
  9. The Best Kept Secret
  10. Let Me Go [US 7” version]
  11. Temptation [7” version]
  12. Come Live With Me [7” version]
  13. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry (Part 1)
  14. Let Me Go [instrumental]
  15. Let’s All Make A Bomb [new version]
  16. Song With No Name [new version]
  17. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry (Part 2)


  1. Five Minutes To Midnight
  2. Sunset Now
  3. This Is Mine
  4. The Fuse
  5. Shame Is On The Rocks
  6. The Skin I’m In
  7. Flamedown
  8. Reputation
  9. And That’s No Lie
  10. This Is Mine [7” version]
  11. …(And That’s No Lie) [7” version]
  12. Counterforcce
  13. Counterforce II
  14. Skin
  15. Mine [instrumental]
  16. The Heaven 17 Megamix


  1. Contenders
  2. Trouble
  3. Somebody
  4. If I Were You
  5. Low Society
  6. Red
  7. Look At Me
  8. Move Out
  9. Free
  10. The Foolish Thing To Do [featuring Jimmy Ruffin] [Version 1]
  11. Contenders [7” version]
  12. Contenders [US 7” edit]
  13. Trouble [7” version]
  14. My Sensitivity (Gets In The Way) [featuring Jimmy Ruffin]
  15. The Foolish Thing To Do [featuring Jimmy Ruffin] [Version 2]
  16. The Foolish Thing To Do [featuring Jimmy Ruffin] [instrumental]
  17. Excerpts from ‘Diary Of A Contender’


  1. Big Square People
  2. Don’t Stop For No One
  3. Snake And Two People
  4. Can You Hear Me?
  5. Hot Blood
  6. The Ballad Of Go Go Brown
  7. Dangerous
  8. I Set You Free
  9. Train Of Love In Motion
  10. Responsibility
  11. The Last Seven Days
  12. The Foolish Thing To Do
  13. The Ballad Of Go Go Brown [version]
  14. Train Of Love In Motion [7” version]
  15. Slow All Over
  16. Work
  17. Giving Up


  1. Penthouse And Pavement [original demo]
  2. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [original demo]
  3. Play To Win [original demo instrumental]
  4. Soul Warfare [original demo]
  5. Are Everything [original demo]
  6. BEF Ident [alternate version]
  7. Decline Of The West [alternate version]
  8. Rise Of The East [alternate version]
  9. Music To Kill Your Parents By [alternate version]
  10. Uptown Apocalypse [alternate version]
  11. A Baby Called Billy [alternate version]
  12. Rhythmic Experiment 1
  13. Rhythmic Experiment 2
  14. Boys Of Buddha Experiment
  15. At The Height Of The Fighting [original rhythm track]
  16. Rhythmic Loop Experiment
  17. Funky Experiment
  18. Song Experiment
  19. Heavy Drum Experiment
  20. Play To Win [original demo with vocals]
  21. Groove Thang
  22. Temptation [original demo]


  1. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [12” version]
  2. I’m Your Money [12” version]
  3. Play To Win [12” version]
  4. Penthouse And Pavement [12” version]
  5. Let Me Go [12” version]
  6. Temptation [12” version]
  7. Who’ll Stop The Rain [12” version]
  8. Come Live With Me [12” version]
  9. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry [Parts I & II – uninterrupted single version]
  10. Sunset Now [extended version]
  11. This Is Mine [extended version]
  12. …(And That’s No Lie) [remixed to enhance its danceability]


  1. Penthouse And Pavement [Remix]
  2. Let Me Go [Endless Version]
  3. Play To Win [Endless Version]
  4. Contenders [Dance Version]
  5. Contenders [Go Go Version]
  6. (Big) Trouble
  7. The Ballad Of Go-Go Brown [Extended Version]
  8. Train Of Love In Motion [The Mainline Mix]
  9. Temptation [Brothers In Rhythm Remix]
  10. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [Rapino Club Mix]
  11. Penthouse And Pavement [Tommy D’s Master Remix]
  12. Let Me Go [“Hon, Its Flawless” Mix]


  1. Play [12” version]
  2. Penthouse And Pavement [instrumental 7” version]
  3. Penthouse And Pavement [instrumental 12” version]
  4. Who’ll Stop The Rain [US dub version]
  5. We Live So Fast [12” version]
  6. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry [dub version]
  7. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry [The Extended Dance Version]
  8. This Is Mine [Filmix]
  9. This Is Mine [Cinemix]
  10. Contenders [US Club Mix]
  11. Trouble [US Club Mix]


  1. Temptation [Brothers In Rhythm Remix Edit]
  2. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [Rapino Edit]
  3. Penthouse And Pavement [Tommy D’s Master Edit]
  4. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [Democratic Edit]
  5. Let Me Go [I Trance Alone Mix]
  6. Temptation [Brothers In Rhythm instrumental]
  7. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [Democratic Rapino]
  8. Penthouse And Pavement [Mr Big Buckles And His Amazing Ride]
  9. Temptation [7″ backing track]
  10. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang [Democratic Instrumental]
  11. Penthouse And Pavement [Original Vibe Mix]
  12. Let Me Go [Let Me House You]
  13. Penthouse And Pavement [D’s Super Disco Dub Mix]
  14. Temptation [Orchestral Theme From Temptation]

All of that is going for £89 [$114.69] in pre-order with amazon UK offering a signed edition [no word on how many copies available] for buyers who have to have it on day one. Since I already have Martyn Ware’s autograph, I’ll be likely to pick this up once it “hits the market” at what I’m betting will be less that three figures, if I time my purchase right. But with these BSOG’s, one cannot be lax. They all seem to accrue in market value so dawdling is not an option. So yeah, I’m pre-sold in buying this; whether its perfect or only near perfect. I’ve made my own box for this band in 2006 and I even remastered and re-compiled a 2nd edition in 2009! So yeah, I’m serious about my Heaven 17!

What I would like to see is how this compares to what I’ve done on my own as an enlightened amateur. So without further ado, my own Heaven 17: Civil Defence Box

REVO | 6xCD | 2011 | REVO 039A

Heaven 17: Civil Defence Box 6xCD

Disc 1

  1. Fascist Groove Thang + B.E.F. Ident #1
  2. Decline Of The West
  3. I’m Your Money
  4. Are Everything
  5. Groove Thang
  6. I’m Your Money [specially fortified dance mix] + B.E.F. Ident #2
  7. Are Everything [specially fortified dance mix]
  8. Play [7” ver.]
  9. Penthouse + Pavement [7” ver.]
  10. Play To Win [12” ver.]
  11. Penthouse + Pavement [7“ inst.]
  12. Play [12” ver.]
  13. Penthouse + Pavement [12” ver.]
  14. At The Height Of The Fighting [He-La-Hu]
  15. Penthouse + Pavement [12” inst. ver.]

Disc 2

  1. Honeymoon In New York
  2. He-La-Hu [inst. ver.]
  3. Wichita Lineman
  4. Perfect Day
  5. Let Me Go [12” ver.]
  6. Temptation [12” ext. ver.]
  7. Let Me Go [inst. ver.]
  8. We Live So Fast [7” mix]
  9. Who Will Stop The Rain [ext. ver.]
  10. We Live So Fast [ext. ver.]
  11. Who Will Stop The Rain [dub ver.]
  12. Come Live With Me [12” ext. ver.]
  13. Let’s All Make A Bomb [new ver.]
  14. Song With No Name [new ver.]
  15. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry [parts I + II uninterrupted single ver.]
  16. Chase Runner

Disc 3

  1. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry [ext. dance ver.]
  2. Sunset Now [ext. ver.]
  3. Counterforce
  4. Counterforce II
  5. Sunset Now [12” inst.]
  6. This Is Mine [ext. ver.]
  7. Skin
  8. Mine
  9. …And That’s No Lie [7” ver.]
  10. This Is Mine [filmix]
  11. The Heaven 17 Megamix
  12. This Is Mine [cinemix]
  13. …And That’s No Lie [remixed to enhance dancability]
  14. Contenders [UK dance ver.]

Disc 4

  1. When Your Heart Runs Out of Time [7” ver.]
  2. Excerpts From ‘Diary Of A Contender’
  3. When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time [12” ver.]
  4. Contenders [US 7” ver.]
  5. When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time [drumless]
  6. Penthouse + Pavement [john potoker remix]
  7. Contenders [inst. ver.]
  8. The Foolish Thing To Do [feat. Jimmy Ruffin ver. 1]
  9. Contenders [go-go ver.]
  10. The Foolish Thing To Do [inst. ver.]
  11. Contenders [US Dance ver.]
  12. My Sensitivity [gets in the way]
  13. The Foolish Thing To Do [feat. Jimmy Ruffin ver. 2]
  14. Trouble [at mill mix]
  15. The Ballad Of Go-Go-Brown [ext. ver.]

Disc 5

  1. [Big] Trouble
  2. Slow All Over
  3. The Ballad Of Go-Go Brown [version]
  4. Train Of Love In Motion [mainline mix]
  5. Work
  6. Giving Up
  7. The Last Seven Days
  8. The Foolish Thing To Do [feat. Glenn Gregory]
  9. Designing Heaven [radio mix]
  10. Temptation ‘92 [brothers in rhythm mix]
  11. Designing Heaven [pei mix]
  12. Fascist Groove Thang ’93 [rapino club mix]
  13. Desinging Heaven [starck mix]
  14. Penthouse + Pavement ‘93 [tommy d’s master mix]
  15. Designing Heaven [le corbusier mix]

Disc 6

  1. Designing Heaven [mies van der rohe mix]
  2. We Blame Love [radio mix]
  3. Designing Heaven [rodgers mix]
  4. We Blame Love [7” inst.]
  5. Den Himmel Designen
  6. Theme From Unreal Everything
  7. We Blame Love [ext. ver.]
  8. Holiday
  9. We Blame Love [spacebaby mix]
  10. Sign O’The Times
  11. We Blame Love [matt darey dub mix]
  12. With Or Without You
  13. We Blame Love [ext. inst.]
  14. Temptation [demo ver.]

All very interesting! Tracks that they have but I don’t are blue italic. Tracks I have that are missing from the official box are bold. Cuts on my box from after the Virgin era are grayed out. They seemed to have included every 7″ UK mix and I only opted for those when the results were significantly different enough, since I have the 2006 “Greatest Hits” CD/DVD packed with 7″ edit goodness as shown at left. I did include the US 7″ mixes and I never knew there was a unique US Let Me Go” edit. That was interesting, but a problematic error on their end was leaving the crucial “We Live So Fast” US 7″ remix out. It was the song perfected [it seems even faster…] and is a holdout from “Play To Win: The Virgin Years.”

I opted to include the Glenn Gregory vocal turns from the first B.E.F. album. Sure, they’re covers, but they have every member of H17 on them. And they’re great covers. I also added the Glenn/Claudia single sides for ZTT… because I could! They included two mixes from the “Endless” compilation. I used Potoker’s remix of “Penthouse + Pavement,” but skipped on “Let Me Go,” which simply has a different sampled vocal intro… maybe all of 10 seconds longer. I never had the “Endless” cassette version, where the “Play To Win” version resided, so that’s nifty.

Their lack of “Chase Runner” from the :”Electric Dreams” OST and especially the specially fortified dance mix of “Are Everything” are problematic. On the other hand, they have the “Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry” [dub mix]” which I have on USP 12″ but I swear that there’s nothing unique about it. Was I wrong not to include it?  Finally, they have all of the 1992-1993 post-modern remixes from the “Higher + Higher” greatest hits era that saw “Temptation” so dramatically reconfigured. I only have a few of these, and all of disc 10 is material that I have yet to track down in any other form. That gives this set a full 28 tracks that I did not include in my effort, which was undertaken twice knowing that it was incomplete both times.

The official hype sticker!

Sometimes I wait for a decade or more to source a scant few tracks. Some times I throw caution to the wind and go for it anyway. Knowing full well that it’s possible to think one has a “complete collection” only to find out the bitter truth years later. We’re not getting any younger, so I tend to be finally moving in the more pragmatic direction. And I’ll be moving to buy one of these bad boys sometime this year. I’ve seen these mondo BSOG projects for Erasure and Dead Or Alive and while I could cheer from the sidelines, I do not need that much of those bands. Not so for Heaven 17. I have always loved their political electric funk and the fact that they reformed in 1997 and have been fairly active [though not as active as I’d prefer…] since then has meant that as a still active band that I collect, their value has kept rising in my esteem.

– 30 –

Posted in BSOG, Core Collection, Want List | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Steven Jones + Logan Sky Crack The Subscription Puzzle With Annual VIP Membership

Jones + Sky offer a subscription that will work for this Monk | collage ©2019 Lena Nisula

One of the more pleasant aftermaths of the end of Visage, following the death of Steve Strange, was that it became very interesting to follow the path of keyboardist Logan Sky following the culmination of Visage with their last recorded works. Sky linked up with singer Steven Jones [who performed at the last Visage concert held following Strange’s demise] and they interleaved their previously separate efforts into a fruitful partnership.

Since 2015, they have ramped up their output to the point where they released three of their albums within a twelve month period, and began to cover an ever wider swath of neo-technopop real estate. That Sky was a dedicated user of analog synth tech meant that their work dug deeply into the ’81-’84 stylistic period that got quickly thrown under the bus when digital synths moved in on the musical turf. Their work is normally sold via a Bandcamp store where buyers may DL their catalog in everything from VBR MP3 to various flavors of CD quality files at modest prices. [hint: pay more than the asking rate] After discovering the Logan Sky career path following Visage, I have been buying their CDs from the store since that’s just the way I roll. But I always think about buying their earlier DL only works that were once cassette tapes as well as DLs; issued and OOP long before I took notice.

I recently got an email from Etrangers Musique, the duo’s imprint, touting their new VIP Membership concept. Other acts I enjoy have attempted a subscription model but I could never wrap my head around paying a monthly fee for what might be a small amount of music per year. If I had more money to throw around, it would be less of a stretch for me. But I don’t. In fact, I’m always trying to reduce the amount of money I spend on music [believe it or not]. What do Jones + Sky do differently from the pack that prick up my ears?

Steven Jones + Logan Sky – VIP Membership

  • Six albums on DL from their library [as shown above]
    • Steven Jones + Donna Destri: Strange Magic
    • Steve Jones + Logan Sky: Desire Lines
    • Steve Jones + Logan Sky: Polaroids
    • Steve Jones + Logan Sky: Corrupt State
    • Steve Jones + Logan Sky: Hans Und Liselotte
    • Steve Jones + Logan Sky: The Electric Eye
  • Everything the duo releases for a year going forward in DL
  • a 20% discount on any physical merch bought in their store
  • And an exclusive cassette compilation of various loose tracks: Rare Vol. 1
The physical goods included with the VIP membership

I feel good about giving these two £1.60/a month because they are not resting on their laurels! Their productivity began at a respectable clip and has only increased with time! I’m happy to subsidize that! Some people say £5/month to support a favored artist is a good thing – the price of a latte. But I buy a chai latte annually. The buy-in here is modest and I have full confidence in the artistic vigor of Jones + Sky. They would have been favorites in 1982 for me and that says a lot. The band used to drop little “12” singles” [1-3 tracks every few months between bigger projects] as DLs throughout the year to the mailing list. I’m guessing that these will now be for the VIP club. But what about that cassette?

Etrangers Musique | UK | Cassette | 2019

Steven Jones + Logan Sky: Rare Vol. 1 UK Cassette [2019]

  1. Deluxe Tourist (prologue)
  2. Desire Lines (BAmbrose mix)
  3. Transform This Space (extended)
  4. Paper Thin (demo)
  5. 3am (demo)
  6. Atmospheric Disturbances
  7. Supply Data (Russian intervention)
  8. Time Paths (kinological version)
  9. Past & Future Lives (demo)
  10. The Language Of Intrigues (Satanicpornocult remix)
  11. Lieselotte Is Not An Object (Daygun remix)
  12. Electric Eye (Mathey B remix)

I need to work all the way back to the band’s origins and the first two releases. “Desire Lines [BAmbrose mix] was an example of superb, roiling technopop; instro heaven.  I had previously heard “Transform This Space [ext]” when it was part of a loose EP dropped in 2016 with Lauren Duvall singing BVs as Sky’s synths prowled like a tomcat with all of the portamento he slathered on. The rhythmic explosions of white noise interjected to destabilize the rhythm contributed to the song’s lurching, biological energy.”

3am [demo]” was another brief wintry ballad with just two synth patches and a drumbox competing with Jones’ terse, haiku-like vocal. “Supply Data [Russian intervention]” was obviously a left over track from the politically focused “Corrupt State” album! The curdled mood piece was more concerned with pointing insinuating fingers that with laying down a memorable melody, but when the mood was set this capably, I’m more than up for some of that. One of the delights of watching this band move is the balance between bangers, ballads, and soundtrack mood pieces that they juggle most capably.

Speaking of soundtrack mood pieces, “Atmospheric Disturbances” was  a brief stab at a briskly paced juddering instro that began rhythmically before allowing the “red alert loop” to shut the song down in its tracks. This seemed to be a likely margin sketch from the “Electric Eye” project. “Time Paths [kinological version]” was an alternate dub mix of the same cut from “Electric Eye.”  There was only a hint of Steven Jones’ vocals and lyrics at the end of this one. 

“Past & Future Lives [demo]” was a bleak ballad with piano/synth bed under Jones’ yearning vocal shows him venturing into Karmic themes he’s not one to shy away from. His background as a yoga instructor delightfully informs some of his musical work even though it’s the least likely coupling one could imagine.

I said last year that I’d love to hear what a bass guitar could add to their mix and viola – here we are [albeit in sampled form] with “Language Of Intrigues [satanicpornocult remix]!” The Japanese sampleadelic project lent a wonderfully glitchy, dissonant jazz-funk coat of shatterpaint to this piece that sounded radically shifted from the usual technopop milieu of Jones + Sky. This was the most adventurous remix I’d ever heard of this duo’s music. There’s another mix of this song coming out in eleven days with Digital Mike vs Steven Jones + Logan Sky with a radically different sound but this tape is the only place where the Satanicpornocult remix manifests.

The tape closes with the band getting some heavier remixes. “Liselotte Is Not An Object [daygun remix],” sustains the tension for quite a few bars in the intro before the down pitched vocals of Jones were dubbed in, reeking of Cab Volt vocal samples over the sequencer loops. “Electric Eye [mathey b edit]” also traveled down the Cab Volt road before veering off surprisingly into italohouse territory. 

Jones + Sky are a pair of restless gents who generate a lot of eddies and currents away from their main tributaries. A project like this one that builds an eclectic mood while weaving a tapestry of these small, quick projects that are too good to leave on the editing room floor makes “rave Vol. 1” a treat for fans and an ideal perk to kick off their VIP program with. And if it pays homage to Ultravox in the title, so much the better! If £20/year for this sounds like a good price to invest in this partnership, then click here and join the in-crowd. I’m there as soon as I can get past my trips this spring.

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Record Review: New Wave Hits Of the 80s – Just Can’t Get Enough Vol. 7

Rhino Records | US | CD | 1994 | R2 71700

Various Artists: New Wave Hits of the 80s – Just Can’t Get Enough Vol. 7 US CD [1994]

  1. Haircut 100: Favourite Shirts [Boy Meets Girl]
  2. Josie Gotton: He Could Be The One
  3. The Blasters: I’m Shakin’
  4. Split Enz: Six Months In A Leaky Boat
  5. Paul Carrack: I Need You
  6. Animal Nightlife: Love Is the Great Pretender
  7. Fleshtones: Ride Your Pony
  8. X – Blue Spark
  9. Musical Youth: Pass The Dutchie
  10. Bad Manners: Samson + Delilah
  11. Wide Boy Awake: Chicken Outlaw
  12. Trio: Da Da Da I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha Aha
  13. Joe “King” Carrasco + The Crowns: Party Weekend
  14. Fashiøn: Love Shadow
  15. Bill Nelson: Flaming Desire
  16. Laurie Anderson: O Superman [For Massenet]

I can recall the early 90s when the first New Wave Comps began to manifest. The first batches came from Oglio with their Richard Blade curated series and from Rhino with the “Just Can’t Get Enough” series. The latter was an especially far-reaching program with 15 volumes and four themed supplements between ’94-’98. At the time, I didn’t fall too hard for these, but I can remember chasinvictoris, then in the throes of his “Chas’ Crusty Old Wave” radio show, hitting this action but hard. Just one of these volumes could sate a dozen requests. Me? I already had the original albums of most of the songs on these volumes. Either that, or I planned on buying them. But volume 7 was Monk bail, largely for the appearance of the rarely anthologized Fashiøn single “Love Shadow.”

Yes, there was a time where I would buy a CD just to hear one song on the shiny silver disc. But even though I eventually got the “Height Of Fashiøn” CD years later, this CD was worth hanging onto. I’ve been recently revisiting it and it was an exceptionally well curated  disc of material. It’s very scanty on the over-anthologized New Wave songs we’ve heard too many times already. The closest thing to that here might be the Haircut 100 song, and really, “Love Plus One” would better fit that profile! “Favourite Shirts” hewed much closer to the post-New Romantic vogue for latin funk ala Kid Creole than the Culture Club-esque pop that they had a bigger profile in America with.

We’ve all heard “Johnny Are You Queer” a few too many times, so it was nice to hear a different girl group New Wave cut from Josie Cotton. Her fun throwback sound was better served by something a little less crass. I recall when The Blasters emerged in late 70s L.A. scene with their greasy take on R+B/rockabilly. I had always planned on getting their slash debut album but until then, there’s “I’m Shakin’.”

The scope of this comp is almost best illustrated by how it featured Split Enz “Six Months In A Leaky Boat” instead of “I Got You.” Actually, the latter had turned up on volume 2, but this was an interesting choice for the second Split Enz track in this series. No one has ever complained about hearing “Six Months In A Leaky Boat” too many times!

Paul Carrack had an interesting career that first saw him fronting Ace whose late 70s hit was “How Long.” I next noticed him as a keyboard player on Roxy Music’s “Manifesto” and “Flesh + Blood.” He made a successful solo turn in 1982 with “I Need You> as included here. It’s a good blue-eyed soul record. I once bought the full “Suburban Voodoo” CD but found that it was not as succinct as the pleasures in this single.

I have the 1982 12″ of Animal Nightlife’s “Love Is The Great Pretender” but the  version here was a re-record from their album in 1985. A far slicker, and bloodless version of the campy song. Too bad that the ’82 version was not here instead, but the fact that Rhino picked this song that never got a US release for this anthology shows class.

I have never been a fan of L.A’s X, owing to the tuneless wailing of Exene Cervenka, so “Blue Spark” was a revelation! The riff rocker sported John Doe lead vox and Exene actually harmonized with Doe for a change. I didn’t think she was capable. Billy Zoom’s high pressure guitar riff hook needed no apologies.

The one song here I have to hit the skip button on is probably the biggest hit here: Musical Youth’s “Pass The Dutchie.” Not my cuppa. Not by a long shot. Bad Manners was always a ska band that I never paid too much at the time, but their cover of “Samson + Delilah” was a more acceptable form of cod-reggae than the preceding song.

Wide Boy Awake was the band fronted by Kevin Mooney ex-Adam + The Ants. “Chicken Outlaw” was like a more listenable version of what Haysi Fantayzee were trying to do [and what ultimately Malcolm McLaren did first and best]. The full 12″ version was used here, and I’m thinking that maybe the succinct 3:05 7″ mix might have worked a little better for me. This was the second longest song here and it showed.

Trio’s great “Da Da Da I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha Aha” is one of those songs that I never tire of. Its deadpan minimalism always manages to put me in a good mood. It;s probably the second most anthologized song here, but every home needs at least one copy. The fantastic cheesy Farfisa-driven New Wave classic that was “PArty Weekend” by Joe “King” Carrasco + The Crowns is a must. I sing this one all of the time and one of these days, I need to remaster the first three albums, which sit [this one in multiple copies!] in my Record Cell! MCA just put out a three-in-one best of for this period and I want the whole enchilada. I truly loved the one Joe King show that I caught at The Junkyard in Maitland back in ’93/’94. The man is a non-stop energizer bunny of Tex-Mex party rock!

“Love Shadow” was the reason why I bought this CD so, ’nuff said! I have used a fair number of electrons outlining my devotion to this band at this time with the sterling production of Zeus B. Held. As we have also recently gushed over Bill Nelson’s frenzied e-bow workout, “Flaming Desire.” Then the program came to a stunning conclusion with Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman [For Massenet].” Including this song which stood apart of everything else in the 1981 firmament spoke highly about the high caliber of the curation of this series.

By the mid 90s, New Wave Comps were a dime a dozen, yet this volume was so fresh at capturing an expansive slice of the dozens of styles that sat under the New Wave umbrella. The selection of songs here is second to none at avoiding New Wave cliché and it sidestepped all of the songs that I can go the rest of my life without hearing again, and yet it’s strongest virtue is how it captured music from that era that was not synth pop! Too often, the whole New Wave = Synth pop trope that clings to the neck of New Wave like a resilient albatross threatens to recast the actually more diverse history of the movement in our rear-view mirror. I’m pleased that compilers David McLees and Andrew Sandoval took the high road when putting this volume together.

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Record Review: Mick Karn – Dreams Of Reason Produce Monsters

Virgin ‎| UK | CD | 1987 | CDV 2389

Mick Karn: Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters UK CD [1987]

  1. First Impression
  2. Language Of Ritual
  3. Buoy
  4. Land
  5. The Three Fates
  6. When Love Walks In
  7. Dreams Of Reason
  8. Answer

When JAPAN fissured into various splinters, I did not immediately pursue Mick Karn’s solo career, seeing as how I had heard his debut solo single, “Sensitive” back in the layoff following “Tin Drum” and their live swansong “Oil On Canvas.” I was appalled at the club-footed attempt at pop from this art rocker. I haven’t played the 7″ since and sat out “Titles,” his debut solo album that followed. I moved on with various Sylvian projects but when I chanced to see “Dreams Of Reason Produce Monsters” in the bins [was it as Digital Sounds, the then innovative CD-only store… I think so] I decided to take a chance on it. That was one of the best moves I have ever made because I have been enraptured with this album for 32 years and that shows no signs of stopping.

The album began with a ponderous fretless bassline of brutal simplicity; just two notes slithering across the soundfield while the lumbering, measured drum pattern laid down a tribal rhythm not a million miles away from where Julia Fordham would take her breakout “Happy Ever After” the next year. But here is was the furthest thing from pop. More classical than jazz, even when the heraldic horns burst into the bass heavy music bed with the musical theme.

The thrilling arrangements here were by Karn and Steve Jansen; his ex-bandmate who played drums and keys but the bulk of the music was down to multi-instrumentalist Karn. He played bass, keyboards, various reeds, accordion, drums, percussion, and dida. No lead guitars manifest on this album. The vibe on this one was incredible. It suggested primeval monolithic power buried deep beneath the earth for eons, now awakening. If all of that sounds a little Prog, I’ll just avert my eyes, whistle and point out that the song title was first used by ELP!

“Language Of Ritual” began with ethnic field recordings of bazaars on the other side of the world jostling with more methodical beats and a phalanx of clarinets and bass clarinets. As the song progressed through its length, it became gradually Westernized with the introduction of piano until as the coda played out, all vestiges of the Turkish city where the song began were faded out completely, giving the piano the last word.

Of course, we fell in love with Karn’s fretless bass in JAPAN, but thus far, his serpentine fretless bass runs were thin on the ground. Not here. Moreover, the hatchets had been buried by now over the girlfriend problems that had broken up the band. Karn had enlisted David Sylvian to sing and write lyrics for a pair of songs here and the obvious single was the jazz pop of “Buoy.” It was full of hooks yet left field enough to satisfy on that level. You know… the Prog level. This wonderful single had 3/4 of JAPAN playing and singing on it and it suggested that the band who had made “Tin Drum” still had some fight left in them.

Ambient washes of synth heralded “Land,” the one song here where Karn did not compose the music. This was a berth given to Steve Jansen and it fit right into the album like a puzzle piece. The gentle marimba wove a haunting melody through the number while it retained the methodical rhythmic bearing of much of the music here. This was music that was quietly insistent and it would brook no interruptions of its forward movement, no matter how slowly it progressed.

The second half of the album began with “The Three Fates” which was one of the lighter moments here. The lead melody gave Karn a chance to give his expressive accordion playing the spotlight. Sounding here like nothing less than Toots Thielmans playing one of his harmonica solos that fairly radiate sunlight. The song is so soulful, you’d be forgiven for not noticing that this was the second song title cribbed from ELP in the album!

The second song with David Sylvian singing was “When Love Walks In,” A somber ballad, it felt more like something from Sylvian’s “Brilliant Trees” album than the first song. The jazzy underpinning kept the song half hidden in shadow. This led aptly into the title track that followed. “Dreams Of Reason” was a melody that stated its theme and kept it moving in a multipart rondo for the entirety of the brief song.

Finally, the mood, which has been darkening ever since “When Love Walks In,” calcified with the closing chorale “Answer.” The album was ending on a serious, questing note as the church organ and massed choirs of children, women, and men erupted into a fully blown hymn.

Karn with one of his sculptures of the era

Karn felt that the album had been a flawed reaction to the accolades he had collected for his bass playing up to that point, and his insecurities with that praise fostered the intention here to stake his claim as a composer as opposed to a bassist. He considered it his weakest album, but I can’t disagree more, no matter how much I cherish his fretless playing. The studious tone of this album, with hints of lighter playfulness, mark it was a sound that grabs me by the lapels and doesn’t let go for the very swift 40 minutes of its running time.

When I hear this album, it feels to me like the next logical step of a mind that had already created the amazing “Sons Of Pioneers” six years earlier. I’ll go further and claim that of all of the post-JAPAN albums, this one is the one that I return to the very most as it never fails to delight the ear and mind.

– 30 –

Posted in Core Collection, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments