The Wait is Over: The Third It’s Immaterial Album, “House For Sale” Is Available Today From Burning Shed

it's immaterial - house for salew cover art

Burning Shed | UK | CD | 2020 | IICD001

It’s Immaterial: House For Sale – UK – CD [2020]

  1. Summer Rain
  2. Kind Words
  3. Just North Of Here
  4. Downriver
  5. Tell Me Why
  6. Up On The Roof
  7. The Gift Of Rain
  8. I Can’t Sleep
  9. In My Dreams
  10. How Can I Tell You

Good gravy! I had blogged a review of It’s Immaterial’s wonderful “Space” 12″ single today and when wrapping that post up, I wondered if the rumors of imminent release for the long-gestating “House For Sale” album on Burning Shed were officially manifest. I have received the occasional communique from the artists who had taken over the production and distribution of the album after the ugly crash and burn of the Pledge Music platform last year. So when I hopped over to the Burning Shed website, I saw that it was on release for today! But I have to say that it was most troubling that I had just received a Burning Shed email today, and there was no mention of “House For Sale” in it among the 7-8 titles it listed!

Apart from that communications snafu, this is wonderful news and especially since the band have said that Burning Shed will be fulfilling all of the pledged copies that fans had already paid for, going back to 2017. So, as I’ve done for the last several years, all I have to do is be patient and wait, and my copy should be arriving when the USPS sees fit to deliver it. [which is no longer assured in these, the End Times…] As I am patient to a fault, I will eagerly await its arrival along with other titles imminent and pre-paid for. A rare occurrence in this Monk’s life.

The Burning Shed site revealed that the tapes were found some years ago when Jarvis Whitehead and John Campbell were moving their studio and the unfinished masters were discovered, so this won’t exactly be a pristine 1990 album popping out of the audio wormhole. This will be as much a current album from the band as once could hope for with modern recordings and performances blended together with that which previously existed. No wonder it was taking a longer time than many had hoped. And for anyone who is familiar with their second album, “Song” as produced at Castlesound Studios with the amazing Calum Malcolm, know ye that he was also behind the boards for the tapes which formed the basis of this release. Rapturous news for anyone familiar with the astonishing “Song” album.

Of course, I pledged for the CD and this can be pre-ordered at Burning Shed currently for $19.95, but there is also an LP [albeit with eight tracks, not ten] for vinyl aficionados for the sum of $33.26. It shapes up like this.

it's immaterial - house for salew cover art

Burning Shed | UK | LP | 2020 | II001

It’s Immaterial: House For Sale – UK – LP [2020]

Side 1

  1. Summer Rain
  2. Kind Words
  3. Just North Of Here
  4. Tell Me Why

Side 2

  1. Up On The Roof
  2. The Gift Of Rain
  3. In My Dreams
  4. Downriver

We can see the album has lost “I Can’t Sleep” and “How Can I Tell You” and the running order has shifted to take the vagaries of vinyl into account. Fans of intelligent, emotive pop whether of a digital or analog persuasion would do well to put this one in your own private Record Cell like I did. Watch this space for the inevitable [pun intended] It’s Immaterial Rock G.P.A. once I have all three albums in hand. I suspect they may evade the artistic pitfalls that usually wreak havoc on the rankings of even the most highly regarded bands I collect. Until then, hit that button!

post-punk monk buy button

– 30 –

Posted in Surviving The 90s, Want List | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Record Review: Scritti Politti/Sweetie Irie – Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me UK 7″

scritti politti - take me in your arms + love me UK 7" sleeve

Virgin ‎| UK | 7″ | 1991 | VS 1346

Scritti Politti/Sweetie Irie: Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me – UK – 7″ [1991]

  1. Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me
  2. Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me [instrumental]

Wow. Last summer I wondered when I was going to ever find a copy of this single and in May I finally got my mitts on a über clean copy of the 7″ single. I’d have preferred a 12″ [or especially the CD5] but I would have still wanted the 7″ for the pop mixes of this non-LP single.  And a 7″ in the hand is worth a 12″ in the bush.

This was another pop song covered by Green Gartside with a Dancehall Reggae toaster adding counterpoint to the shimmering candyfloss that flows out of Green Gartside’s tonsils as naturally as breathing. I have to admit that I was not familiar with this Gladys Knight + The Pips song but did that really matter? This was another of the covers that Green had recorded with British Electric Foundation producing, presumably for the 2nd “Music Of Quality + Distinction” album, with the Stevie Wonder cover winning a berth on the actual album. Virgin issued the this single and a similar cover of The Beatles “She’s A Woman”  as non-LP singles [not associated with either a Scritti Politti or B.E.F. album] in the absence of any Scritti Politti material in the long lulls known to occur between their albums.

Sweetie Irie

Sweetie Irie in the flesh

The synthetic backing was built from drum machines and swooping synths with a devilishly funky clavinet dancing amid the snare tattoos and bass programming. It had quite a sunny Carribbean bounce to it, and the gossamer multi-tracked vocals of Green were contrasted mightily by Sweetie Irie’s gruff toasting. In that aspect, he filled exactly the same function as did Shabba Ranks on “She’s A Woman.” Hearing this now puts me in the mood for Tom Tom Club and the mind boggles at the notion of a Tom Tom Club/Scritti Politti crossover. But tracks like this one would fit right in with their aesthetic, I think. The arrangement by Green and B.E.F. had all of the complex melody and countermelody structure that always made Scritti Politti records so stimulating. The B-side was simply an instrumental mix but playing the two cuts back to back with zero gap made it really seem like a 12″ mix with a long coda.

Looking back, I can imagine that records like this and “She’s a Woman” definitely pointed the way forward for Green Gartside, and maybe we should not have been so taken aback at him sharing the “Anomie + Bonhomie” album with rappers taking the spotlight. I have to admit, in 1999, I was entirely uninterested in the notion and when I got the “Tinseltown To The Boogiedown” US CD5, it spent an all-time briefest stay in my Record Cell before being recycled. Now, I look back on such knee-jerk reactions as hasty and ill informed, so I will be buying the fourth Scritti Politti album as well and any and all remixes of the singles. With the goal of the all-encompassing Scritti Politti BSOG eventually in my sights. Obtaining this fine single was yet another step on that path.

– 30 –

⇓ BSOG – boxed set of god: a collection of everything not on the albums by an artist

Posted in Record Review | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Record Review: Altered Images – Bring Me Closer UK 12″

altered images bring me closer cover art

Epic ‎| UK | 12″ | 1983 | TA3398

Altered Images: Bring Me Closer – UK – 12″ [1983]

  1. Bring Me Closer [extended version]
  2. Surprise Me

1983 brought with it many changes as the New Wave/Post-Punk and even New Pop trends of 1981 began to mutate in an increasingly conservative pop marketplace. We had heard [and loved] the last Altered Images single, the dip into the Giorgio Moroder sound that was “Don’t Talk To Me About Love.” As produced by Mike Chapman, the record also crossed into Blondie “Heart Of Glass” territory and with the same producer at the helm. I remember being at either a Peaches Colonial Drive  or Record City Colonial Drive when the “Bring Me Closer” single manifested.

We picked it up and were struck by the “New Look” sophisticated, 1983 model, glammed out Clare Grogan on the sleeve. We also noticed that production this time was not by Mike Chapman but by the stalwart Tony Visconti! Unusual given that their last album, “Pinky Blue” had been at the hands of Martin Rushent. Then a producer of “the moment” following his Human League triumphs. I wonder what the famed Bowie producer would bring to the table this time?

The extended A-side was lush, string and conga-driven widescreen disco, ala Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra! With wah-wah rhythm guitar for miles. Clare was singing but she was almost swamped by the high powered backing vocalists that I had a real problem with in the mix. Ms. Grogan’s was a…distinctive voice. Her high, chirpy vocals were a love/hate thing with the public, but enough loved the band to give them a run of top 20 hits in the UK. I felt here that Mr. Visconti was hedging his bets and not letting Grogan be Grogan.

The velvety production was nothing I would have expected from the group, but was not off putting in itself. It sounded like an army of steely-eyed, flat-bodied professionals doing that they did best on the additional keyboards, BVs, strings, and saxophone [Andy Hamilton of “Rio” fame!]. The 12″ mix had lots of dropouts where different aspects of the mix got the spotlight for a few bars. Rhythm guitar. Congas. The best aspect of the song to me were its lyrics. The refrain below was sung with a smooth, creamy phrasing.

“Something that you do to me fills me with unease” – Bring Me Closer 

So much so, that the brain of this listener did a double take once it began processing the lyrical content of this whipped cream napoleon of a song. It was that ironic juxtaposition of happy music with contrary lyric that I had reacted to on their last album [see: “I Could Be Happy”] that had given me the frissons of pleasure that I would now look to this band for going forward. But the music here was neither happy, nor sad; merely lush, so that perhaps represented a variation on their theme.

The B-side was also produced by Visconti but “Surprise Me” was a real throwback to the ebullient sound of “Pinky Blue,” albeit produced by a very different hand at the boards. If anything, I liked his production better than Rushent’s. The latter tended to emphasize the sugar in the arrangement, and I felt that “Surprise Me” was more “nutritionally balanced” than the sound that Rushent had brought to the band.

So this single represented new branches in the Altered Images tree, for sure, but alas; it failed to click with the British public. “Don’t Talk To Me About Love” made # 7 [UK] but “Bring Me Closer” got as high as #29 [UK]. The next two singles continued the downward trajectory with “Change of Heart” barely hitting the Top 100 [#83 UK] and that was that! Altered Images were finished.  I considered it a brutal and premature end for the band. Looking back it all seemed so cutthroat, but then again, it was the Thatcher era. I suppose the early 80s was the last time where a band could develop [even wildly] over the course of three, very different albums. In that respect, Altered Images were in good company with the likes of fellow New Pop band ABC who certainly matched Altered Images penchant for an admirably wide stylistic profile.

– 30 –

Posted in Record Review, Scots Rock | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

“Record” Review: Peter Godwin – “You! [Johnson Somerset Mix]” DL Single

peter godwin you johnson somerset remix

Peter Godwin | DL | 2020

Peter Godwin: You! [Johnson Somerset Mix] US – DL [2020]

  1. You! [Johnson Somerset Mix] 9:40

When Peter Godwin surfaces with his first new single in too many years, it was with a surprising new musical partner in Garbo Dastorg. The sound of the single featured a strong Rock vibe for the first time in ages for Godwin. Maybe even going back to the first two Metro albums. Mostly bass/drums/guitars over which he plied his sophisticated trade. I enjoyed the change from the expansive Johnson Somerset vibe his last decade of work featured but that’s not to suggest that I felt that the thread with Somerset was played out.

I’m a big fan of Somerset’s vibe. It’s a distinctive and spacious, cinematic sound that has enhanced modern remixes and recordings of favorites like Bryan Ferry and Simple Minds in the last decade or two. So I’d heard that Somerset was going to remix the new Godwin single, and when I chanced to look yesterday, I found out to my chagrin, that it had been issued on July 3rd in iTunes! So naturally, I immediately dropped virtual coin to get this sound …like, pronto.

The 9:40 remix began with a stomping house beat of some finesse. Nothing brutal, as ride cymbals and synth drone enhanced the minor key atmospherics of the number. Like any Somerset remix, it may have had a strong 4/4 beat, but it played out in cinematic slow motion, with builds and breaks occurring over several bars at a time. Dastorg’s stinging guitar leads, along with Godwin’s vocal, were the only elements familiar from the pop version of the song. Of course, here they were drenched in long, slow, reverb as was the style. If this was House music, this was haunting house music.

On the middle eight, and later in the song’s climax, Godwin’s vocal was given tremolo filtration to match the throbbing energy of the mix. This had been done when the original mix dropped out to highlight the devastating lyric in the pop version of the tune. The difference was in the climax, here, that Godwin’s vocal sound degenerated and eventually dropped; leaving the synth harmonics sans beat the last word in this instance. When it’s all over, the new remix was over twice the length of the pop version, but hardly felt it. Johnson Somerset likes them eight to ten minutes long. It’s just the way he rolls, thank goodness.

nuevo sunset rise cover art

Sunset Rise | DL | 2009

I appreciate how Peter Godwin is having his cake and eating it too, with both versions of this new single being clear winners. I can only hope that he’s got more music up his sleeve like the relative rash of releases he hit us with in the 2009-2013 period which saw the Neuvo album and several digital singles to break up the long drought from the release of his “Images Of Heaven” compilation. If we want to get picky, in the 37 years since “Correspondence,” Godwin’s gifted us with six solo singles [and a remix or two] and the Neuvo album, which sincerely needs to get back “into print” which shouldn’t be too onerous, seeing as it was DL only! What I’d give for a reissue of Neuvo’s “Sunset Rise” in Bandcamp as a lossless WAV or even better, a CD! Until then, we have this remix to tide us over. Mr. DJ, hit that button.

post-punk monk buy button

 

Posted in Core Collection, New Romantic, Record Review | 15 Comments

REVO Remastering: Fourth Time Lucky For Peter Godwin’s “Torch Songs + Heroics” [REVO 057C]

It’s a cold fact of life that the real labels will often remaster and reissue a title beloved by many several times, and even my simulated vanity label has done this on occasion. No more occasions than for this title. Back in 2009, I finally made what was one of my favorite self-compiled CD-R projects ever when I put together a selection of Peter Godwin remixes and non-LP singles that he had once talked about releasing ages ago called “Torch Songs + Heroics.” How I loved that collection. I loved it so much I could not keep my hands off of it! When against all odds, Peter Godwin began his slow trickle of modern material a decade or so ago, I have dutifully revised the track listing to make it more complete and canonical. There have been a second and third remastering of the material with REVO catalog numbers 057A, and 057B, but those are now passé. Because this summer I finally got moving on making it seriously canonical and finally secured a copy of the long-rumored “Window Shopping” Netherlands 7″ remix and of course there were a few newer wrinkles in the Godwin saga. But first, let’s review the original 2009 edition.

peter godwin - torch songs + heroics cover art

REVO | 2xCD-R | 2009 | REVO 057

Peter Godwin: Torch Songs + Heroics 2xCD-R [2009]

Disc 1

  1. America In My Head [7″]
  2. Torch Songs For The Heroine [7″]
  3. Cruel Heart
  4. America In My Head [12″]
  5. Torch Songs For The Heroine [ballad]
  6. Cruel Heart [inst.]
  7. America in My Head [dance mix]
  8. Torch Songs For The Heroine [dance mix]
  9. Emotional Disguise [12″]
  10. Luxury [extended ver.]
  11. Images Of Heaven [7″]
  12. Emotional Disguise [inst.]
  13. Spoken Images
  14. Emotions Francaises/inst. [segue mix]

Disc 2

  1. Images Of Heaven [12″]
  2. Baby’s In The Mountains [new york remix]
  3. Images Of Heaven [razormaid ver.]
  4. The Art Of Love [new york remix]
  5. Rendezvous
  6. The Art of Love [new york dubmix]
  7. Rendezvous [french ver.]
  8. The Art Of Love [UK remix]
  9. Another World
  10. Rendezvous [english remix]
  11. Naked Smile
  12. Rendezvous [french remix]

26 tracks dating from 1981 to 1998. About an hour per CD of some of the best material from the New Romantic era as well as the modern chanson work that Godwin had been exploring at the Fin de siècle. But subsequent digital singles needed to be here.

peter godwin - disguise

“Disguise” in 2012

Click here for review.

“Sky Falls” in 2012

Click here for review.

“The Art Of Love Remix” in 2013

Click here for review.

“You!” in 2020

Click here for review.

And then there was the “bootleg” 2015 version of “Images Of Heaven” by Godwin’s partner, widescreen remixing maniac Johnson Somerset! The man is routinely used by Bryan Ferry and Simple Minds for his distinctive, low BPM remixing. But Godwin had been partnered with Somerset for a long time now, with the Neuvo album of 2009 written together between them. Then there was the little sticking point of this single, which I had ignored earlier, owing to its rarity.

peter godwin window shopping dutch 7" cover

Polydor | Netherlands | 7″ | 1983 | 821 520-7

Peter Godwin: Window Shopping – Netherlands – 7″ [1983]

  1. Window Shopping [remix]
  2. The Art of Love [Zeus B. Held 7″ remix]

I finally sourced a copy of this from Europe last February, with shipping not being terribly taxing since it was a 7″ single. €13 later, it was mine and while yes, the A-side was indeed a Georg Kajanus remix, I was astonished to find that the B-side, only identified as “The Art Of Love” on Discogs, was in fact a remix by the great Zeus B. Held! So… come for the Kajanus, and stay for the Zeus B. Held! Never had $15 been so well spent! So with these seven additional tracks in hand the time was night to revisit my favorite homeburn CD-R set for the fourth and final time which happened this summer. I was so thrilled, that I managed to also de-noise the vinyl rips that Oglio Records had done of the “America In My Head” single mixes this time!

peter godwin torch songs + heroics cover art

REVO | 2xCD-R | 2020 | REVO 057C

Peter Godwin: Torch Songs + Heroics 2xCD-R [2020]

Disc 1

  1. America In My Head [7″]
  2. Torch Songs For The Heroine [7″]
  3. Cruel Heart
  4. America In My Head [12″]
  5. Torch Songs For The Heroine [ballad]
  6. Cruel Heart [inst.]
  7. America in My Head [dance mix]
  8. Torch Songs For The Heroine [dance mix]
  9. Emotional Disguise [12″]
  10. Luxury [extended ver.]
  11. Images Of Heaven [7″]
  12. Emotional Disguise [inst.]
  13. Spoken Images
  14. Emotions Françaises/inst. [segue mix]
  15. Images Of Heaven [12”]
  16. Baby’s In The Mountains [new york remix]
  17. Images Of Heaven [razormaid ver.]

Disc 2

  1. The Art Of Love [new york remix]
  2. Window Shopping [7” remix]
  3. The Art of Love [zeus b. held remix]
  4. Rendezvous
  5. The Art Of Love [new york dubmix]
  6. Rendezvous [french ver.]
  7. The Art Of Love [UK remix]
  8. Another World
  9. Rendezvous [english remix]
  10. Naked Smile
  11. Rendezvous [french remix]
  12. Disguise
  13. Sky Falls
  14. The Art Of Love [johnson somerset remix]
  15. Images Of Heaven [johnson somerset remix]
  16. You!

New songs are in red and now each disc sits at a peak 79+ minutes; the limit of my disc burning capability. And of course it goes without saying that the 16 page booklet was re-written/re-compiled for each edition since not only did the liner notes change, but it also contained a full Peter Godwin discography which expanded with each edition. So now, almost a decade later, I have the ultimate Peter Godwin rarity collection in my hands…

needle rip…With the exception that today I remembered to look at iTunes, since a few months ago commenter Gavin mentioned to me in June that Johnson Somerset was doing an epic 10 minute remix of “You!” and I’ve been so busy that I only thought to look for it on iTunes now, and yes, it’s there. So my once perfect collection will now be less than perfect. Like anything in this fallen world, I suppose. But as soon as I get home from work I’m buying that track!

peter godwin you johnson somerset remixYou can as well for a pittance at the usual places that offer olde fashioned downloads for the grandad set.

…Like me.

post-punk monk buy button

– 30 –

Posted in Core Collection, New Romantic, Remastering, Want List | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Record Review: Andy Summers + Robert Fripp – I Advance Masked US CD

and summers robert fripp i advance masked cover art

A&M Records ‎| US | CD | 1992 | 75021 4913 2

Andy Summers + Robert Fripp: I Advance Masked – US – CD [1992]

  1. I Advance Masked
  2. Under Bridges of Silence
  3. China – Yellow Leader
  4. In The Cloud Forest
  5. New Marimba
  6. Girl On A Swing
  7. Hardy Country
  8. The Truth Of Skies
  9. Painting And Dance
  10. Still Point
  11. Lakeland/Aquarelle
  12. Seven On Seven
  13. Stultified

I remember hearing about the match up between Andy Summers of The Police and Robert Fripp, who was still active in King Crimson at the time. It was an MTV news spot in 1982 and The Police had yet to issue their world conquering “Synchronicity” album which was still in the pipeline for 1983. In other words, I still thought that The Police were a fine band. As usual, I had been buying Robert Fripp albums since reading about “Exposure” in the pages of OMNI magazine. Then I managed to see the music video for the title track on MTV and that was that! I soon had a copy of this album in the Record Cell.

andy summers robert fripp i advance masked cover artThe title song was built on a very sturdy rhythm section that throbbed like a finely tuned engine. It pulsated with guitars as synths, basses, and even guitars. The compulsive rhythms almost commanded one to dance like a dervish. Then the part I live for began at 2:35 when Fripp began his inhuman ostinato solo that erupted in earnest and never ended. Eventually Summers joined in with contrapuntal, open chords to broaden the scaffolding of this impressive number. When I hear Robert Fripp pick that many notes per second I just hold my breath involuntarily until it’s all over. This 5:10 track seems like about 3:20 to me.

“Under Bridges Of Silence” was completely different, with tinkly acoustic percussion with clouds of guitar synth wafting through the landscape. Eventually, an unearthly guitar could be heard wailing on the far horizon of this song. Ostinato playing returned in “China – Yellow Leader,” which was a medley track of two minds and moods. This time the vibe was placid instead of enervated as on “I Advance Masked.” The two players indulged in call and response soloing on the second half of this longish number.

Summer’s penchant for open chordal explorations manifested on “In The Cloud Forest” as it did on the Police at their most abstract fringes. Fripp met him with soulful leads that flickered like a serpent’s tongue. The two broke out acoustics for “Girl On A Swing” for something a lot more pastoral than the album thus far. Fripp added one of his high neck solos this time. “Hardy Country” referred to the writer, who also hailed from Dorset, like these two did. This one was intense. It felt like it could have been included on side two fo King Crimson’s “Discipline” and featured the occasional crash of white noise percussion, as did the title track. “The Truth Of Skies” began with a foreboding drone, until clouds of guitar synths began roiling on the horizon to offer some challenging listening.

Acoustics were broken out later on to shake the album’s arc up on “Painting And Dance.” Providing a calm and mannered vibe that still advanced like a clockwork. Fripp’s leads here took on an almost Grecian aspect by sounding like a bouzouki. The minor key chord progressions of “Stultified” seemed to foreshadow the feel of Fripp’s work on “Gone To Earth” a few years later, though the brief, unsettling track was nowhere near the epic length of the songs on that Sylvian opus.

At the time Andy Summers was undergoing a divorce when the sessions were happening for “I Advance Masked” so being preoccupied with that, he concentrated on adding counterpoint to what were mostly Fripp’s song structures; making this an album weighted towards the Fripp axis. It stood out as a snapshot more of where Fripp was at at the time of recording the second album of the reactivated King Crimson while sounding nothing like “Beat.” Instead, it pointed the way forward to the headspace Fripp would explore following that band’s breakup after a third album. I actually can’t remember an earlier occasion where Fripp indulged in acoustic guitars but as he would soon be teaching his Guitar Craft courses in a few years, that sound would be something he’d gravitate to in a major way.

As for Andy Summers, The Police would become one of the biggest bands on the planet in the next year following this project. By the time that he and Fripp reunited for 1984’s “Parade,” he would find himself on a more equal footing with his partner as he said he was in a much happier state of mind. But “Parade” is an album I’ve yet to hear. It’s been long years since I’ve seen a CD of that one, and truth be told, I only got this CD in 2001 when traveling to Toronto. It had been a long time since I’d seen one in The States and felt that it was now or never. As it’s currently $30-50 on Discogs, it looks like I was right to do that!

– 30 –

Posted in Core Collection, Record Review | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Record Review: Ronny – If You Want Me To Stay UK 12″

ronny - if you want me to stay UK 12" sleeve

Polydor ‎| UK | 12″ | 1981 | POSPX 247

Ronny: If You Want Me To Stay – UK – 12″ [1981]

  1. If You Want Me To Stay [dance mix]
  2. If You Want Me To Stay [instrumental]

I recall reading about Parisian model Ronny and her alliance with the Blitz scene in 1981 but the records just never made it down to Central Florida, where I lived at the time. A lifetime later, I now have the first two of her trilogy of singles. Her second 12″ was sent to me by the late Ron Kane ages ago. It was a Vangelis-powered affair that failed to convince. Some months ago I ran across a scarce copy of her debut single in the US at a favorite online retailer. Now, I’ve finally heard the cover of the last Sly Stone hit from my childhood. As produced by Midge Ure and Rusty Egan. Aha! Now I’ve got your attention.  What’s it like, you might ask?

Well, for a start it’s got that compulsive bass line that was the song’s calling card right up front as Sly Stone had with Larry Graham six years earlier. Once I hear this sing, that’s it. I’ve got that bass line stuck in my head for the rest of the day. The electric piano also hewed close to the template of the original. In fact, in spite of the fact that this was produced by Midge Ure and Rusty Egan in 1981, this was actually a far cry from the sort of synthtastic dance monsters that they were concocting in Visage or even what Ure was doing elsewhere. Even though the musicians weren’t credited here, on hearing this I’d bet that besides Egan on drums, we have Barry Adamason on bass with Dave Formula playing the keys here; both of Visage as well.

The keys were mostly electric piano and organ fills, with only the scantest of synth strings added for atmosphere. In spite of the powerfully synthetic approach that Ure was known for here, this was perhaps the least transgressive modern cover he’d ever put to tape. There are synthetic hi-hats [ala Talking Heads ‘Take Me To The River” cover] as well as a touch of synth in the song’s climax, that were perhaps the only overtly modern bolt-ons here. The biggest difference was down to the vocals of Ronny herself.

She managed to emote perhaps a tad deeper than even Sly Stone had! And she didn’t alter the gender pronouns in the lyrics. The dance mix had a extended instrumental break before the final third, where Ronny had a French spoken interlude complete with foley effects of matches striking and drags of a different kind taken from a cigarette. It’s a slightly more intimate cabaret version of the song, coming from Europe instead of America but otherwise this record was very close to the vibe of the excellent original. As we can hear.

The Instrumental on the flip side was just that. Ronny’s spoken interlude in the middle eight was still intact, but the rest of her vocals were scrubbed. Truth be told, her sprechgesang approach on the rest of the song hardly differed from her voice over on the middle eight. This was merely a chance to admire the band not so much re-working a Sly Stone classic as simply inhabiting it.

As for Ronny, one can’t look at her and not see Annie Lennox ca. “Eurythmics” just waiting to happen. With Ronny’s contralto vocals, short, stylish hair, a penchant for men’s suits, and photos by Peter Ashworth, it looked like Ms. Lennox was looking at not just Grace Jones for inspiration. When Eurythmics broke through in late 1982/early 1983 they even got Ashworth to shoot their photos.

ronny ©1982 peter ashworth

From the “To Have + Have Not” single sleeve ©1982 Peter Ashworth

Alas, this record had seen much better days. I could get a barely adequate file out of the ClickRepair software that I swear by. This record had seen a lot of abuse as it was filled with considerable noise throughout. I bought this not only to hear more of Ronny, but also because it was a Midge Ure production, and I have an eye on making a compilation/boxed set of god with all of his outside productions from ’79-’84 that will serve as a sort of mirror to this very blog upon its completion. Probably some time in 2032! So I will be trying to buy another copy of this one, even though it’s pretty scarce on the ground in America. Most of the copies of this come burdened with shipping costs from Europe A.K.A. “ouch!” And then there’s the holy grail of “To Have And Have Not.” Her third single as produced by PPM hero Peter Godwin. Watch this space…

– 30 –

Posted in Deadpan Women, New Romantic, Record Review | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments