Those First Impressions: Tiger Lily – Ain’t Misbehavin’ UK 7″

Tiger Lily L-R: Stevie Shears, Dennis Leigh, Warren Cann, Chris St. John, Billy Curry

I almost can’t believe that I have never written about this debut single, but today’s the day to put that to rest! The fact of the matter was that for every truly stunning band that leapt fully formed, as if from the head of Zeus, [basically, Roxy Music and… any others?] there are dozens more that build through the more typical iterative process. Building from modest beginnings through different names and faces until they arrive at the point where they are well known and established entities, that even a clueless teenager in Central Florida like I was might hear of them and take an interest. Tiger Lily were one such band.

Gull | UK | 7″ | 1975 | GULS 12

Tiger Lily: Ain’t Misbehavin’ – UK – 7″ [1975]

  1. Ain’t Misbehavin
  2. Monkey Jive

For the uninitiated, Tiger Lily was the band that formed in England in 1973 and four years later would be better known as Ultravox! Their debut single was a strange little Fats Waller cover that had been commissioned for a documentary on pornography or an actual softcore porn film. I’ve heard both stories. The single [sans picture sleeve] was produced by Austin John Marshall, who is best known as a producer of his [ex] wife Shirley Collins’ albums. The band agreed to this to finally get at least one of their tunes to wax, and they used the meager advance to buy Billy Currie an electric piano for live gigs as he came to the band as a violinist and only after that did they learn he could play keys.

“Ain’t Misbehavin'” was not far from the early [good] Rod Stewart material of the early 70s. Demure of tempo with the fiddle of Currie leading [while doubling on pizzicato touches] as the bass line went for the tuba sound that Waller probably wrote the song in mind with. The song became “rockier” as it progressed along.

Singer Dennis Leigh [a.k.a. John Foxx] affected a Ferryesque vibrato on the high end as he floated along the song as light as a feather. After the middle eight was where the song finally added the guitars for some rock crunch while the hot solo went to Currie on violin as the song faded out after a tight 3:18. For a gent who was producing folk music at the time, Marshall’s production sounded tight and powerful. As this song was a work for hire curio to get the band into a studio after two years from point zero, it can be best summed up as having done little damage.

The cash-in reissue Gull put out once Ulttravox! signed to Island Records in 1977

Much more interesting was the B-side, which actually sounded like the Ultravox! we might already be familiar with. Bass, drums, and rhythm guitar were locked into a unified staccato groove that was machine-like, threatening, and monolithic. Then the powerful bass line swaggered into play with a touch of acid fuzz guitar providing tasty contrast. Then Leigh made his presence known with three interjections of a simian “ooh, ooh, ooh” grunt before biting into the first verses with all of the spiteful venom that he would bring to some of the more arresting material on their debut album two years hence.

The chorus actually lost a little power as it dialed up the aggression, but in a way that was more common to garden variety rock of the time. Leigh was doubled on the choruses here for more power. Then it reverted back to the intro [but for only one bar instead of four] and began for the second time in much the same way. The middle eight featured Leigh mocking a real “Coca Cola King Kong” before aligning the instruments into the song’s powerful signature riff to take it to the cold ending finish.

Dead Good Records | UK | 7″ | 1980 | DEAD 11

Tiger Lily: Monkey Jive – UK – 7″ [1980 3rd issue]

  1. Monkey Jive
  2. Ain’t Misbehavin’

The third issue of this single, came, like clockwork, hot on the heels of Ultravox signing to another label in the fall of 1980: Chrysalis Records. And even though the band had yet to have hits in any of their incarnations, this time Gull merely licensed the tracks to Dead Good Records, who flipped the A/B sides in order to cater to the new Ultravox fans who might be interested in a little rock archaeology. That was certainly my case as I’d read about this single enough by the time I saw this sitting in the used 7″ bins [how I miss those!] at Retro Records. I probably found this in 1982 at the latest. Looking back, I’m shocked that the sleeve art in no way traded on the name value of Ultravox, even by the point of their earliest Chrysalis release. Surely, a snipe across the top corner might have told otherwise ignorant record buyers that the debut single from Ultravox had been catapulted through time for their pleasure.

Ultimately, “Monkey Jive” at least showed that the band had the concept of what their debut album would announce to the world in early 1977. Namely, that here was a band that was taking the foundations of glam rock and adding more aggression to their attack in a way that presaged the Punk Rock about to catch flashpoint. This record made sense adjacent to their debut album, once we discounted the mannered cover version that was its first lease on life. Juxtaposed next to their second album and all that came afterward, the band here had little in common with what Ultavox would mutate into as a monkey did with homo sapiens.

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Anum Preto: Post-Punk, Brazilian Style; Back with Self-Titled 2nd Album DL

anum preto anum preto cover art
Miado Rouco Records | BRAZIL | DL | 2020

Anum Preto: Anum Preto – BRAZIL – DL [2020]

  1. Perspectiva
  2. Observações
  3. Tetris Humano
  4. 2027
  5. Elogio Da Tragédia
  6. Cópia De Uma Cópia De Uma Cópia
  7. Onda Fria
  8. Retrato

It was late 2019 that I got an email from Anum Preto. They probably saw my profile name in Bandcamp and thought “this man could be interested in our music.” And they were right! I had a sample and seconds later immediately bought their “Inferno Interno” album on Bandcamp. How could I not as they were only asking $2.00 for the privilege of enjoying their plunge deep into the late 70s/early aesthetic that we’re all about here at PPM.

I noticed the steady stream of emails from the band’s Bandcamp page in the last 12 months and in a spare moment Monday nigh, I sampled their brand new single and was really enjoying the first 30 seconds of it so much I bought their entire back catalog for the discounted asking price. Being Bandcamp, the files are in a wide variety of formats, including several uncompressed, CD quality formats. Buy it all, and play it at night when you are being creative and imagine that it’s 1982 again.

“Perspectiva” showed that there were more influences than early Cure and New Order for vocalist/instrumentalist Aerson Moreira. The guitar tone here was a treble-charged dreamscsape straight out of the Will Sergeant playbook under which the skittering drum machine and washes of synth string patches gave a distinct whiff of Echo + the Bunnymen. This was a strong exploration of that dreamlike, yearning sound, but with a relatively fast tempo underpinning the song.

I liked the upbeat yet melancholic [the key change from verse to chorus] “Tetris Humano” [“Human Tetris”] about how we fit into our world. The urgent “2027” was solidly in the Joy Divsion camp with motorik drums with busy hi-hats punctuated by Syndrum® hits [a Joy Division specialty]. A strong bass line and shimmering synths did little to dispel the JOy Division vibe.

My favorite song here was the lovely “Elogio De Tragédia.” The music strongly recalled the languidly sweet instrumentals that were the domain of early China Crisis B-sides, but the singing gave this song, alone on this album, the heartbreaking and evasive melodies that I love from Brazilian music. The combination of the Post-Punk elements I enjoy with the Brazilian character of the music really brought this one close to my heart. Sample below.

But there were many more delights here. “Cópia [De Uma Cópia De Uma Cópia]” featured a tribal drum loop with delightful synths [including what sounded like a WASP synth run through a ton of sustain] and soft string chords run played a noise gate for a glorious sound. In spite of Aerson Moreira deliberately morose vocals on the verses, the music had an uplifting and buoyant cast to it; giving me music that was simultaneously melancholy and ecstatic. This track was definitely a keeper.

The album’s closer was the gorgeous “Retrato” which dove right into the heart of late period Joy Division/early New Order. The long instrumental intro was almost two minutes into the song, as the straightforward drum programming gave the double tracked guitars room to the spotlight while the synths were straight out of the “Love Will Tear Us Apart” play book. It makes a very strong climax to the second Anum Preto album.

When I reviewed the first album, I was considering that the way forward for the band was to further embrace synthesizers and this has largely played out. The synths share the focus along with the guitars for that balance that we enjoy so much. Mr. Moreira has widened the scope of the music from the first album and most intriguingly, has moved beyond the more traditional Post-Punk sound [though that’s why we’re here] on the song “Elogio De Tragédia.” The blend of the evasive, complex Brazilian melody line of the kind that makes samba so attractive to me, with the Post-Punk foundations of the music may point the way forward to a unique fusion of styles that I both enjoy. At least I hope so! If this sounds interesting to you too, then hit that button below. The new album is $6.00 for a DL in any format you’d care to want and helpful hint: the full discography for $10.75 is the right way to go.

post-punk monk buy button

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Record Review: Strange Cruise – Strange Cruise DLX RM UK CD [part 2]

strange cruise - rebel blue rocker cover art
EMI | UK | 7″ | 1986 | EMI 5549

Finally hearing “Rebel Blue Rocker,” it’s shocking that someone at EMI picked this song with its brash intro horns as the lead off single from”Strange Cruise.” All the elements of this song just seem to be awkwardly stitched together like some sort of misbegotten Frankenpop. Complete with an ill-suited, metallic, squealing guitar solo. The lyric refrain of “you didn’t hit, you didn’t run, now it’s time for fun,” called back lyrically to the equally bad opening track to the album. Worse, the showbizzy cold crescendo with Steve Strange growling “he’s a rocker, and he’s a reeeeeeebellll” had my jaw dropped in disbelief. The song was crudely constructed from awful parts that absolutely did not cohere in any way.

Just when I was grasping for a loose timber in this stormy sea of ill-conceived pop rock, “Communication [Breaking Down The Walls]” gave me a respite, even though it also had a 6-count drumstick intro that I would have to get used to with this CD. I really enjoyed the sophisticated tenor sax from Gary Barnacle and the synths were soft string patches and rhythmic electric piano instead of the cheesier Hammond patches and horn stabs used earlier. Strange sounded more in his in comfort zone with performance and lyrics this outing, and Wendy Cruise sounded well-integrated with the song here; her support vocals given just the right spotlight. The appealing melody didn’t hurt at all and ultimately, thanks to the great sax, this one could have been from “Beat Boy.” The track was well-balanced with some cool bass runs tucked away in the foundations of the song. Even the squealing guitar solo fit in well here. The only false note here was the fortissimo cold ending. It seemed abrupt and forced; What did this band have against coda fades? Maybe it was all down to a sense of trying too hard to be “real.” Refuting the “synthetic” Visage sound?

The next track was in my face with brash, cloying Motownish brass. The noxious vibe seemed familiar. “This Old Town” was reminding me of something I didn’t like. Wham? Culture Club? NO! After about my 6th run through of this album, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This felt for all the world like a “shallow cut” from David Bowie repulsive “Tonight” album! This could have been right at home on that record! The massed backing vocals and “jaunty” sax really grated. A rare fade at the song’s coda here did little to improve my demeanor.

“Animal Call” featured another 6-count on the sticks. The syncopated bass line and the digital synths presaged Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” from the “Dirty Dancing” OST! I did like the scratcher percussion details though. Strange sounded fairly at home on the song, which counted…for a little, but the chorus just missed the boat. The overly jazzy drum fills on the coda were another misguided touch on an album with no shortage of such hi-jinx. We got served up two-in-a-row 6-counts on “Heart Is A Lonely Hunter!” The extra fruity sax solo in the middle eight sounded like Gary Barnacle showing off on a song that needed more than that. The best we got here was some thunderthumb action from his brother Steve on bass.

EMI singing Strange Cruise thinking them a sure thing due to their cover of “The Beat Goes On”

More obnoxious faux-Motown bounce marred “Love Addiction” at the starting block in spite of some zippy rhythm guitar that I liked. Too bad about the twee keys here. This was another look back at Bowie Adrift At Sea on “Tonight.” This time worse, due to the mind-sapping ululating trills by Wendy Cruise used as the worst hook on the song’s chorus I’ve ever heard! She sounded like a horse whinnying to the beat on this one! Adding to the discomfort was the overly brash trumpet solo by Luke Tunney as was the “big finish” showbiz ending that screamed “1968!”

The most annoying vocal hook of all time, and the Big Vegas Finish to “Love Addiction”

Understated intro synths came out of nowhere for “12 Miles High.” Then the verse structure kicked into action and the tight rhythm section got some rare strong support with the heraldic synth chords that seemed to fit the bill here. The band were in a propulsive groove and Strange was matching them pound for pound. Maybe overstating a little but it was kind of endearing in a song this sharp. I loved the refrain of “We’ll leave the kids alone until they’ve learned to dance.” This was a song that managed to wear the neon colors and heavy shoulder pads of the mid-80s with no little verve. This was Strange unleashing his inner rocker in an environment that actually made some sense to my ears. The only misstep here was the abrupt cold ending at 2:51. A song working this well, should have played out a little longer.

The indifferent ballad “Where Were Their Hearts” was touched with with some of Strange’s worst singing here. He tends to sing really flat and the softer music bed did him no favors. Speaking of softer music bed, if I ever ask to hear the dreaded Fender Rhodes Piano sound please punch my lights out. You have my permission. That this often grotesquely overstated original album had the temerity to end on this boring, indifferent track almost seemed like a loss of faith. In my mind I was imagining a fondant layer cake of ever-increasingly jazzy crescendoes until the album exploded in the CD player. On this CD, however, there were now bonus tracks to contend with.


As if the original had been poor enough, the “Rebel Blue Rocker Rebel Mix” was not aided by the obnoxious added dub effects and length which made a bad thing even worse. Hearing Strange attempt a guttural growl in the coda was still highly discomfiting.

Insouciant flute and fretless bass gave “Silver Screen Queen” a vibe that was unlike anything else here, and the singsong chorus sounded crudely bolted on to the verse structure of this demure ballad. Where the band was playing instrumentally, it attained a breezy, carefree vibe. Reminiscent of the like-minded “She Loved Like Diamond,” but without the vocal overkill courtesy of Tony Hadley on the earlier track. The instrumental portions were almost lovely but the whole thing was slight and one could easily see how it would have gotten relegated to non-LP B-side status on an album as blazingly overstated as this one had been.

If I had seen the LP of this at any time from 1986 to the time when the CD came out, I would have bought it in a heartbeat. But having had the “Rebel Blue Rocker” 12” for almost 30 years, it’s true that the whiff it gave off scared me away from ever spinning it. The notion was always there to get the “Strange Cruise” CD once Cherry Red put this out, but I tend to buy a big batch of my CD want list every four to five years with the birthday money that my in-laws send my way every year [which usually goes to household expenses] and I’ve last done that in 2016, so I might have missed out on the window of opportunity for this CD had not Mr. Schwenko come to my rescue with this timely disc.

That said, the end result is probably something for completists only, and I’m guilty as charged. The last 20 years have seen me finally come around to embrace the “Beat Boy” album after writing it off immediately on release. With that record, the offending tracks were so bad that I think it overshadowed the more agreeable songs on that opus. This album played like its mirror image with at least two strong tracks that I could honestly embrace [“Communication” and “12 Miles High”] with the rest being merely indifferent to shockingly bad material. When a record is reminding me [more than once] of David Bowie’s “Tonight” this is almost as bad as things can get.

Steve Barnacle’s music was almost accomplished. In some places, it definitely was, but often the heavy stitching showed up in the arrangements that had bracingly disparate elements cheek-by-jowl with the sort of MOR pop elements that might have been right at home in the mid-80s but usually never in my Record Cell. Wendy Cruise was usually underutilized here and maybe the album would have been better with her taking a few leads here and there. Instead they leaned on her to buttress the never strong vocals of Steve Strange with some strategic harmonizing that was a gambit that also showed up on the later Visage recordings with Lauren Duvall. As for Steve Strange, we didn’t know how debilitating his drug habits were at this point. That this album even got made at all was probably a feat of some kind.

Ultimately, I can almost make the case that the best of “Beat Boy” could have the worst offenders swapped out for the two tracks I honestly enjoyed here to craft an even better third Visage album. But with Strange’s drug addictions that dogged him for long years past this point, it was perhaps for the best that he waited until he was in a better place to return to his comfort zone with the Phase II of Visage that managed to release a final burst of highly enjoyable accomplishments that I can still point to as the sort of late reformation that went down like a house on fire.

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Posted in Core Collection, Mid-80s Malaise, Record Review | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Record Review: Strange Cruise – Strange Cruise DLX RM UK CD [part 1]

Cherry Pop | UK | CD | 2014 | CRPOP 144

Strange Cruise: Strange Cruise DLX RM – UK – CD [2014]

  1. Hit + Run
  2. The Beat Goes On
  3. Rebel Blue Rocker
  4. Communication [breaking down the walls]
  5. This Old Town
  6. Animal Call
  7. Heart is A Lonely Hunter
  8. Love Addiction
  9. 12 Miles High
  10. Where Were Their Hearts
  11. Rebel Blue Rocker [Rebel Mix]
  12. Silver Screen Queen

Will wonders ever cease? A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that yes, I still only have the two singles from Strange Cruise; the divisive post-Visage band that Steve Strange briefly fronted in an attempt to cut the cord to the New Romantic movement that spawned him. The actual album was a different story. It was never easy to get where I was. I have never seen the LP and the 2014 CD was only available from UK dealers on Discogs.com every time I looked. And lately, I had been looking a lot.

Then, from out of the blue, the CD [new in the shrink wrap] arrived unannounced in my mailbox last week! It seemed that commenter Schwenko managed to buy two copies of this title by accident and he sent one out to me …because he’s a major dude!

!!!

Well, that got my attention. So now it was finally time to hear the album that caused me to furrow my brow when I first heard about it. Reviews at the time were not kind. I managed to buy a “Rebel Blue Rocker” 12″ somewhere along the way in the early 90s at a record show, but I had not played it, like so much of my vinyl. You know me. I’ll wait decades until I have all of the releases, then digitize it, clean it up and make a homegrown REVO CD of the kind that sometimes get made for real; sometimes not. I did manage to buy the much more scarce “The Beat Goes On” UK 7″ from a US dealer of choice a year or two ago and I had digitized that disc in a fit of wanting to hear what was in the big box of records I occasionally buy. What I heard did not inspire. How would the full album play out? The fact that Wendy Cruise [née Wu] of The Photos was also here was…intriguing.

“Hit + Run” began with a sound completely alien to all of the Visage albums that preceded this one. One heard the sound of drumsticks making a 6-count [!] and we immediately knew that this record had been made Post-Live Aid. Rock was back, baby! Did ‘ya miss me? Where’s the Hookers and Blow®? All that pasty, effete New Romantic stuff was out the window. Pretty much. Instead we got gated drums by Pete Barnacle, with muscular bass by his brother Steve [who was a veteran of the previous Visage lineup and who wrote the music here] as well as sax player to the stars Gary [Barnacle] joining the boisterous horn section. Trombones were courtesy of Pete [“Landscape”] Thoms [him again…<insert stinger>] and the trumpets from Luke Tunney.

All of it was definitely of its time. Strange’s lyrics exhorting “hit it…shoot it…aim it…go for it!!’ were the antithesis of his previously introverted image. The massed vocals on the chorus were completely jarring to any ear attuned to the vibe that Strange had until now put out on his records. None of it sounded the least bit convincing in his hands. It was all too enthusiastic and was as upbeat as an Up With People® concert. When it ended on a cold brass crescendo with ten seconds of drum fills, I had to think “this is so wrong on so many levels.”

Next came the one song here that I was familiar with. “The Beat Goes On” was a favorite Sonny + Cher song as a child for me. I put it down to the bass guitar. This version had an even jazzier walking bass line with fruity sax, and gratuitous DX7 horn stabs even though there was plenty of actual brass already in evidence. Steve and Wendy sang the tune as a duet, just like the progenitors. Except that Steve managed to sound not unlike Cher taking the lead with with Wendy having a love affair with her vibrato. The faux Hammond organ fills here actually hurt.  The one aspect of this that I actually liked was the big fat slab of white noise synth percussion that dropped in to say “hi” every bar. Did I say that sax was fruity? The muted trumpet solos were pure vintage 1968 and sounding very much at sea in this melange that wrapped up a one bar flourish right out of a 60s sitcom theme. You know the kind I mean. They might have dropped in “shave and a haircut” instead and at that point I would not have batted an eyelash.

Next: …Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted in Core Collection, Mid-80s Malaise, Record Review | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Shriekback Crowdsource Train Is On Time For Album #16

A viddy is worth at least 10,000 words, right?

It was aaaaaalmost two years ago when we last saw Shriekback having one of their regular bouts of album recording, of which they are both successful and abundant. The last 16 years have seen what I’ll call six canonical Shriekback albums in addition to more “side projects” and and archival reissues than I can begin to name here. Back then, Shriekback were using the Indiegogo platform for album 15. The band wanted to get together in a room the old fashioned way to see what would result and their fans pledged $45K to overtake their $35K budget. And it was a corker. So what could go wrong now? We might instead ask what has gone right.

For starters, the last year has seen a pandemic sweep the world in the last year, so the bitter irony is that Shriekback now have to record in their separate locations and minimize any physical collusion. And exactly none of the former big money levels of buy-in sponsorship [visit in the studio, intimate gigs] that go a long way for meeting the goal are now possible. They are off the table. Bummer.

So what’s a plucky band, still in their creative prime and raring to go going to do? Well, the Shrieks have now cannily enabled crowdfunding on their own website, so no longer will 5-to-whatever percent of the take go to overhead. Sure, sure. The 800 lb. gorillas of crowdfunding have a big presence, but you can get lost there trying to find that special band worthy of your love. And Shriekback by now have cultivated a reliable fan base who knows the score and keeps them off the streets, working productively. I’ve tossed a few shekels in their direction in spite of my Monastic vows of poverty. Happily! So they are going it alone this time to raise £30K [$42,309.60] in the next 28 days.

Zooming with Shriekback for an hour IS POSSIBLE in the new world order

So what are the perks to net the desired moolah? A wide variety of buy-ins for any budget, of course.

  • £20 – Your basic pre-release CD/DL of album
  • £40 – CD/DL + handmade postcard to you [I opted for this level the last time]
  • £50 – CD/DL + BONUS 3xCD level – Live in 80s NYC with early-mid 80s’ concerts from fine clubs like Danceteria, Peppermint Lounge, and The Ritz on ye olde silver discs, autographed by the band! Exclusively available with this level.
  • £80 – CD/DL + BOOK: Shriekback – Selected Lyrics. Annotated by Andrews/Marsh and autographed by the gents
  • £85 – CD/DL/Postcard + 1 HOUR ZOOM CHAT with band for [<12 people]
  • £90 – CD/DL/Postcard + HOLY RELIC. An object of resonance from the band. Sweaty stageware. A studio tracklist from “Big Night Music.” Lyric sketches.
  • £100 – CD/DL + HANDWRITTEN LYRIC [of your choice]
  • £300 – CD/DL + COMMISSIONED 2 MIN SONG to your title
  • £300 – CD/DL + VINYL LP of album #16, signed and numbered [only 100 avail.] with YOUR NAME on the sleeve.

None of the super big ticket [£1K + up] items like special shows or studio visits this time. So they’ve got to make up with quantity. The last time they than 450 fans kicking in an average of $100. But that included multi thousand dollar “executive level” packages that go a long way to covering financial goals. They will beed more fans buying in to make up for it. So tell one and all.

I’m excited the most by the package with the three bonus discs from the NYC concerts they had in the 80s. But I’ve got 28 days to pledge, and that’s $70 on my end. That’s probably not in the budget this time. In the end I will probably opt for the basic CD. I can do that much. What about you? If you’re in, then hit that banner below and put your money where your mouth is.

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Record Review: Landscape – “Einstein-A-Go-Go” UK 12″

Landscape at the height of their New Romantic pomp ca. 1981

We’ve covered the 1981 technopop brilliance of Landscape’s “From The Tearooms of Mars…To The Hell-Holes Of Uranus” in days gone by here, and this time out we are going to focus the PPM laser on the ubiquitous hit from that waxing as released on 12″ single. This was the singgle that went to the UK top 5 in 1981, though there were better songs on the album [“European Man,” anyone?] there were few this insistently hooky and yet very quirky and left field. Strangely enough, for a song that big a hit, I can’t seem to find evidence of any picture sleeve for it.

RCA | UK | 12″ | 1981 | RCA T 22

Landscape: Einstein-A-Go-Go – UK – 12″ [1981]

  1. Einstein A-Go-Go [extended remix] 5:29
  2. Japan [extended version] 5:05

While the album/7″ version is probably best known for it distinctive, piccolo-like, winsome lead synth melody that bounced through the actually very dark song like someone whistling in the dark, the 12″ mix gave more spotlight to the beat. The drums sounded like a loop of Richard James Burgess playing his distinctive Simmons SDS kit into a digital delay. But he could have been playing live. After all, this was the guy whose timing as a drummer was so tight that he got the nod from Trevor Horn to play the kit on “Video Killed The Radio Star” in advance of any primordial drum machines that existed at the time and were found wanting.

The mix here had an extended intro with the political phone calls we all remember with that incessant beat underneath like a mechanical heart. Burgess’ vocal remained at first, before veering out into dub space following the first two verses. Curiously, the “god don’t play dice with the world” verse in the middle eight was excised only to reappear later in the mix after more dub hijinx. The ping-ponging, binaural drop hook was still bracing 40 years later, and spoke of the Kraftwerk-like precision that Burgess sought to invest this music with quite successfully.

Of course, with all of the musical ideas that this track was positively fizzing with, I was always struck by the lyric, which posited a crazed Christian terrorist willing to play god and destroy the sinful world with atomic bombs. That kind of right-wing radicalism mated with catchy pop music seemed an outlier to nowhere 40 years ago and now it seems all too uncomfortably likely for my tastes.

“Bible says we must pay
I am the judge for the judgement day
There’ll be no warning no alarm
I’ll be the one who’s saved”

Einstein-A-Go-Go

The B-side was an earlier single from their 1979 jazz-funk debut album recorded before the band were quite so immersed in technology. “Japan” was a single from that album given a much longer leash here. The band were only a half-step from their jazz fusion beginnings with this instrumental track that sounded like Pat Metheny Group dropped into a blender with YMO.

Landscape ca. 1979 … what a difference two years makes

But the spotlight was equally shared here between the the entire band. An immediate pull was the excellent bass of Andy Pask, with Burgess on an acoustic kit. The horns of John L. Walters and Pete Thoms [almost any time we hear a trombone in a non-Ska band, it’s played by Thoms] were also still untreated and acoustic at this stage of the game. And Chris Heaton’s synths were the icing on the strangely hybrid. The track here was not radically mixed from the 1979 single, just longer. Leading me to believe that the long version was the original take that was subsequently edited down to 3:22 for the 1979 LP/7″ single.

I’ve had this single almost ever since it came out! I probably bought my copy in 1983 at Crunchy Armadillo Records, as I recall. It was $2.00, used. But the one that has vexed me for 40 years was the 12″ of “European Man!” It has always been my go-to Landscape track and another of the extended mixes from the “Blitz” album that I’ve waited half a lifetime [more, actually] to finally hear. Or not yet, hear in that case. I can now see some US dealers with a copy for sale and I’m thinking that I had better get this one before it becomes a 41 year wait to hear it!

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Posted in New Romantic, Record Review | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

New Album “PRSNT” Expressly Made For Short Attention Spans At 6 And A Half Minutes Long

The white vinyl is almost gone…act now supplies are limited

Yesterday, I received an email from DJ Shelf. Did I know about a provocative new album with Ryuichi Sakamoto contributing to it? One that was only 6:30 long? He sent me the press release from the project’s progenitor, Modern Obscure Music, which took longer to read than to actually listen to the album! The conceit of the project was down to research that said that a third of streaming listeners will skip to the next song within 30 seconds. The product of ever shortening attention spans in the modern, a-go-go, digital world.

the residents commercial album cover art

This notion reminded me that in 1980, The Residents recorded “The Residents Commercial Album.” Every song on it was a languorous minute long in comparison! the Residents reasoned, that most pop music is a repetition of verse/chorus three times and if you cut out the fat, you can deliver the crux of the song in just a minute. So the LP was 20 one minute songs per side for a convenient “Top 40 on a disc.” But that was forty years ago! The pace of society has sped up dramatically as the internet has shaved attention spans down to the nub. So this album is poised to take the next step forward in adapting to a changing society.

Who is on this album? Lots of artists unfamilar to me, save for Sakamoto. But we can hear the Visible Cloaks song in its entirety below in the player.

Modern Obscure Music | SPN | LP | 2021

Various: PRSNT – SPAIN – LP [2021]

  1. Laurie Spiegel – Fly By
  2. Pedro Vian & Pierre Bastien – Memory
  3. Lyra Pramuk – Cage
  4. Chassol – ya!
  5. Nicolas Godin & Pierre Rousseau – Page Turner
  6. Pascal Comelade – Segons com
  7. Visible Cloaks – Lifeworld
  8. Raul Refree – Vid2020
  9. Lucrecia Dalt – cosa
  10. Kelman Duran – Dead cat
  11. Lafawndah – From name-less city
  12. Ryuichi Sakamoto – silence

The brief to the artists was to attempt to make a tiny yet, fully “functional” song that hit all the marks we expect from music; just in a very succinct window. By that standard, “Lifeworld” was an effective haiku of a song, so I’m inclined to agree that the goal was achieved. If you have any Holly Herndon albums in your collection, this may have your name on it. Though I suspect that Ryuichi Sakamoto’s track may have a lot in common with John Cage’s “4:33!”

Appropriately, the proceeds from the album will be donated to mental health charities to help fight the impacts of over consumption and digital addictions. There is a DL, of course, but there are also limited white and black vinyl LPs that will undoubtedly have amazing fidelity with only 6:30 to spread over two sides The white vinyl went on pre-sale with just 31/500 copies remaining available. Since this is both art and a fund-raising benefit, it will set us back €49.00. The black vinyl edition is also for 500 copies but it has not gotten quite the attention yet that the white version has. Yet. It is €47.00. The DL only €9.00. Interested parties should click the button below sooner rather than later. If they want that white vinyl copy!

post-punk monk buy button

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