New Wave Blind Spots: Squeeze

squeeze 1979 press pic
The early squeeze lineup with Jools Holland, will always be “Squeeze” to me

There’s almost 2500 posts at PPM and this is the first one on Squeeze. There’s a reason for that. In all candor, they were never a group that really excited me in any way. I know many at the time [late 70s-early 80s] felt that songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook were the Lennon + McCartney of their era. Well, that might have something to do with my antipathy. I never much rated Lennon + McCartney much less a duo who might be their echo nearly 20 years later! But the first time I heard Squeeze was a very different scenario.

Squeeze US debut LP promo on red vinyl
A+M Records | US | LP [red] 1978 | SP-4687

At the high school radio station I immediately gravitated to upon entering the student body, in 1978, we had a few current promos sent to us by I.R.S. and A+M Records. They were the only label that would service a 10 watt mono student station back then! We had received the first Squeeze album, and I heard the song touted on this album’s hype sticker. “Take Me I’m Yours” was to these young ears, a relentless earworm with the song built on a motorik synth pulse that was like a sonic tarpit I loved falling into. As we can see from the cover, it was very New Wave in its coloration! And so was that single! I loved that song but everything else that I heard from the album failed to ignite any interest.

Back in the day, A+M Records was the only major label with much of a handle on New Wave. They seemed to be all-in on it as compared to…Atlantic Records. They had no problem putting out quirkily packaged records that even today, I’d buy copies of if I saw them in a bin [at he right price]. Squeeze was the beneficiary of some pretty outlandish packing gambits.

US Squeeze 10" EP
A+M Records | US | 10″ | 1979

Like this little beauty. Not only was it a holy 10″ record [there were not too many of those in 1979…] but the die-cut cover brilliantly illustrated this with a 12″ sleeve being “squeezed” bu hands down to 10″ size. It managed to be a compilation of tracks form the band’s first two albums; usually in live or remixed single form. I never bought one of these but these days, I don’t think I could resist such potent gimmix packaging. Even so, I managed to accrue five releases in my Record Cell with Squeeze represented.

squeeze - if I didn't love you US 5"
A+M Records | US | 5″ 1980 | 1616-S

Squeeze: Take Me I’m Yours [Tiny Collector’s Edition] – US – 5″ [1980]

  1. If I Didn’t Love You
  2. Another Nail In My Heart

I remember seeing this in 1980. I think chasinvictoria had a copy and when I finally saw one in maybe 1992 in a Tampa record store I took the bait. The 5″ single was unplayable on many automatic turntables, but as I was never going to actually play the record; just feed my exotic format fetish, that was fine by me. When I looked this release up just now, I honestly thought that the B-side was “Pulling Mussels From the Shell.” See? I can’t tell these Squeeze songs apart, for the most part. It remains the only pure Squeeze release in my Record Cell… but I have a few appearances by the band on compilations.

various steppin into the 80s Dutch CBS
CBS | Netherlands | LP | 1980 | CBS 84171

Various: Steppin’ Into The 80s – Netherlands – LP [1980]

  1. Joe Jackson: Geraldine & John
  2. Paul Collins’ Beat: Rock ‘n Roll Girl
  3. Jules And The Polar Bears: Good Reason
  4. The Nits: The Young Reporter
  5. 20/20: Cheri
  6. Live Wire: Money
  7. The Only Ones: Another Girl, Another Planet
  8. David Werner: What’s Right
  9. Nina Hagen: Auf’m Rummel
  10. Bruce Woolley: English Garden
  11. The Romantics: What I Like About You
  12. White Honey: Nothing Going On In The City
  13. Mi-Sex: A Loser
  14. The Sinceros: I Still Miss You
  15. Squeeze: Another Nail In My Heart
  16. After The Fire: One Rule For You

This was another album that I first encountered in the collection of chasinvictoria. Goodness knows where he came upon a Dutch New Wave comp from 1980, but at least it’s a great one! Lots of New Wave and Power Pop. Most of which was more interesting to me than Squeeze, represented here once more by “Another Nail In My Heart.” This was another album that I eventually found my copy of maybe a decade later than chasinvictoria. probably at some record show. I bought this specifically for the David Werner and Nina Hagen tracks.

Chasinvictoria might have played “Auf’m Rummel” which translates to “At The Carnival.” I think I have only ever played the Hagen and Werner cuts off of this. It’s still my favorite song of the Nina Hagen Band era material. One day I need to digitize this and make a CD of it… and report back with my findings!

rhino - teenage kicks the best of UK pop 1
Rhino Records | US | CD | 1993 | R2 71173

Various: Teenage Kicks [UK Pop v. 1 1976-79]

  1. Nick Lowe: So It Goes
  2. Eddie & The Hot Rods: Do Anything You Wanna Do
  3. Nick Lowe: Mary Provost
  4. Wreckless Eric: Whole Wide World
  5. The Motors Dancing The Night Away
  6. Tom Robinson Band 2-4-6-8 Motorway
  7. Kursaal Flyers Television Generation
  8. Squeeze: Take Me, I’m Yours
  9. The Only Ones: Another Girl, Another Planet
  10. XTC: This Is Pop?
  11. The Boys: Brickfield Nights
  12. The Motors: Airport
  13. Jilted John: Jilted John
  14. The Rezillos: Top Of The Pops
  15. Rich Kids: Ghosts Of Princes In Towers
  16. The Undertones: Teenage Kicks
  17. Yachts: Look Back In Love (Not In Anger)
  18. The Pleasers: A Girl I Know (Precis Of A Friend)
  19. Skids: Into The Valley

Rhino released a spate of the D.I.Y. series of New Wave era compilations in 1993; the year that New Wave Comps on CD officially became a trend. Our friend Squeeze are here with their first UK Top 10 single, the enchanting “Take Me I’m Yours.” But I’ll admit that this whole CD is pretty fabbo from start to finish. I see The Only Ones are here again with the same track as on the last record we examined. Memo to self: review this album one day.

Rhino - starry eyes the bext of UK pop 2
Rhino Records | US | CD | 1993 | RS 71174

Various: Starry Eyes [UK Pop v. 2 1978-1979] – US – CD [1993]

  1. Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
  2. The Undertones: Get Over You
  3. Yachts: Yachting Types
  4. Joe Jackson: Is She Really Going Out With Him?
  5. Starjets: Schooldays
  6. Bram Tchaikovsky: Girl Of My Dreams
  7. The Squares: This Is Airebeat
  8. XTC: Life Begins At The Hop
  9. Squeeze: Up The Junction
  10. The Jags: Back Of My Hand (I’ve Got Your Number)
  11. The Radiators: Let’s Talk About The Weather
  12. The Records: Starry Eyes
  13. Zones: Mourning Star
  14. Purple Hearts: Millions Like Us
  15. The Distractions: Time Goes By So Slow
  16. The Searchers: Hearts In Her Eyes
  17. The Revillos: Where’s The Boy For Me?
  18. Mo-Dettes: White Mice
  19. The Tourists: So Good To Be Back Home Again

I also own the Rhino companion volume to the previous CD. Once more, Squeeze are represented. This time by the more representative kitchen-sink dullness of “Up The Junction” than a more lively single like “Take Me I’m Yours.” Why was this in the Record Cell? It was the only way to get the holy Revillos on CD in dark ages of 1993! Not that the rest of the volume was chopped liver.

irs records - just in time for christmas
I.R.S. Records | US | CD 1990 | X2 13052

Various: Just In Time For Christmas – US – CD [1990]

  1. Squeeze: Christmas Day
  2. Rebel Pebbles: Cool Yule
  3. Klark Kent: Yo Ho Ho
  4. Torch Song: Hark
  5. Reckless Sleepers: Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday
  6. Steve Hunter: We Three Kings
  7. The dB’s: Home For The Holidays
  8. Molly Johnson And Norman Orenstein: Silent Night
  9. Deborah Holland: It Only Comes Once A Year
  10. Timbuk 3: All I Want For Christmas
  11. Kennedy Rose: More Than One Night A Year
  12. Dread Zeppelin: All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
  13. Wall Of Voodoo: Shouldn’t Have Given Him A Gun For Christmas

By 1990, when this compilation came out, I.R.S. Records was a shadow of its former self. The scrappy New Wave oriented label of 1979 had in a decade lost its bearings and its top selling band when R.E.M. jumped ship to WEA. Why did I buy this? I was compiling a Klark Kent kompilation and a track appeared only here. Plus, it had the Torch Song track from their xmas flexidisc [that you can’t afford] here on a freaking CD! I.R.S. was in such artistic dire straits by 1990, that to this day I have never played this CD! So I can’t very well vouch for the merits or of the Squeeze track…for good or ill.

Squeeze managed to get a US hit by 1987 with the annoying “Hourglass” single after nearly a decade of existence where they actually split up for a few years and only their fans may have noticed. me? I still can’t be bothered since the band that made “Take Me I’m Yours” quickly vanished to be replaced with what seemed like run of the mill Pub Rock to these ears. Your mileage may vary.

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Posted in New Wave Blind Spots | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Record Review: Propaganda – “Wishful Thinking” UK DLX RM CD [part 2]

The B-side of the original LP, with the requisite Paul Morley liner notes

My entrée to the world of Propaganda had been their 12″ single of “Duel;” one of the most vivid examples of the Hegelian dialectic between the Apollonian and the Dionysian rendered into song. The same song as performed and arranged in drastically different ways. The “Do-Well” cassette version of the single had included a mix called “Bejewelled” which had the aggressive “Jewel” and the soaring “Duel” spliced together in a crude approximation of what would evolve into the “mashup.” It was a crude proof of concept for what was perfected with the track that opened the second side of the original LP.

“Jewelled” began with the famous programmed piano glissando from “Duel’s middle eight sped up into double [or even triple] time before uniting the industrial beat of “Jewel” with the guitar and even synth horns of the kinder, gentler “Duel” track. The bulk of the vocal was Ms. Brücken’s shouted, rather than crooned delivery of the lyric and this time the two tracks were clearly unified to create a perfect synthesis of the two opposing approaches to the song. I loved the inarticulate screams of Claudia juxtaposed against the dubbed out horn hook. The sweetly singing vocal from “Duel” was eventually mixed into the proceedings smoothly for Claudia duetting with herself in the climax as the “valkyrie” vocal take degenerated into more screaming under the luxurious croon of “Duel.” Until the track dropped out to leave only the pulsating industrial rhythm as an abrupt coda.

The only remains of the Jazz that was a part of “The Murder Of Love” came down to the piano given the spotlight in the deceptive intro to the 6:47 remix of the song. Then it was all down to grinding, machinelike percussion and programmed floor toms. The the synth bass took over and a far more rhythmic take on the track got its change to shine. The vocal lines were dubbed out to minimize their presence in the early part of the mix. The synth bass riff was given its own breakdown as shovelfuls of dubbed out percussion were the focus of the middle eight. The famous Steven Lipson Jazz guitar solo was now a distant memory. resulting in a tougher mix of the much smoother LP cut. The breakdown in the coda allowed for the tom toms to seamlessly beatmatch with the hard splice into the “Abuse [There]” remix of “Dr. Mabuse” that followed. Itself a dub mix of the middle weight “never look back” movement of the 12″ remix.

Then came the remix album’s unexpected coda; the minimal bleep proto-techno of “Thought,” which we would find out was a remix of the band’s cover version of Throbbing Gristle’s “Discipline.” One of the three songs the band had in pocket when ZTT came calling. Rendered here as a digital cartoon followed by a second coda: a measure of the dubbed out strings and horns playing the famous David Sylvian topline melody of “p:Machinery.”

ZTT | UK | 12″ | 1985 | 12 ZTAS 21

Then we were in bonus track territory. Most of which were unique to this CD. “Strength To Dream [Outtake 04.02.84]” was the isolated synth bass and drum track with dubbed out strings from, the coda to “Dr. Mabuse” for a brief palate cleanser. Next followed the third 12″ remix of “p:Machinery,” the ßeta Wraparound Version with guest guitarist John McGeoch and the 10:47 minute take of the song. Complete with reprise coda of the theme for the last 1:15 of its running time.

The relentless train-like rhythm of the track was given the prominence with eerie sustained strings building the mystery in the long, methodical introduction. The familiar theme of the song finally appearing almost four and a half minutes in. But there’s less machinelike precision here, owing to the more chaotic element of McGeoch’s guitar. Which carried the familiar, bombastic riff usually given to the synthetic brass in most mixes of the song. Until the mixes climax where guitar and “brass” traded off on the riff in a call-and-response fashion until the got the final, abrupt word before the ghostly coda.

Another unreleased cut was “Murder of Love [Murderous Instrumental” which was a shorter instrumental mix of the LP version of the track. All flanged brass stabs until the middle eight where the Jazz movement of the song gave the Fairlight the spotlight instead of the creamy Stephen Lipson guitar solo we all know and love.

The unreleased mix of “Dr. Mabuse [Outtake 24.04.85]” sounded like a shorter [5:41] mix variant on the “13th life mix” that played very close to what the “13th Life Mix” would become. Only differing once the middle eight happened, with slightly more backward Susanne Freytag before “don’t be a fool” appeared. The strings sounded more prominent but the biggest change was the last half minute of the track. As the song mix rhythm faded to the rhythm and more animal sounds before a hasty synth flourish.

The “Secret Sense Of Rhythm” mix of “Frozen faces” was just that; the twitching rhythm track to the song and an overlong and skeletal “mix” at 5:10. Better was the “Voiceless ßeta Wraparound Edit” of “p:Machinery” which traded off on the organ rondo that the live arrangement of the song had been built upon. I can’t recall ever hearing a studio recording of the track that quite sounded the same as this one did.


The album has as much of a flow as its predecessor did and when listening to it, the tracks that segued, did so magnificently. With the flow paying off in spades. And getting deep cuts like “The Murder of Love” and “Sorry For Laughing” in extended remix form was a real treat. To say nothing of the “Duel/Jewel” mashup that worked like a charm. The bonus material was mostly a great glimpse under the hood of the bits and pieces deemed transitional and superfluous by ZTT at the time but are now valued as holy relics by the ZTT/Propaganda faithful. Only the “Frozen Faces” rhythm track was less than valid. And this was the first time that the full length ßeta Wraparound mix of “p:Machinery” reached the silver disc, so its appearance here was greatly appreciated.

Listening to this album again reminded me how much I enjoyed this [divisive at the time] excursion into the remix album mania that was building in the Post-Post-Punk era in Britain. The band were not amused by ZTT whipping this out as a cash cow without their participation, and it was one more dollop of fuel to the band’s antagonistic fire between themselves and their label at the time. But I would maintain that Bob Kraushaar and Paul Morley got value from their “39 studio hours of bending, repeating, arranging, and editing.” And we got the better end of things from this even more expansive 74 minute CD of the enhanced program here. At least until the 40th anniversary 2xCD edition comes around in three years.

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Posted in Core Collection, Deadpan Women, Record Review | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Record Review: Propaganda – “Wishful Thinking” UK DLX RM CD [part 1]

Salvo | UK | CD | 2012 | SALVOCD055

Propaganda: Wishful Thinking DLX RM – UK – CD [2012]

  1. Abuse 3:30
  2. Machined 6:54
  3. Laughed! 8:54
  4. Loving 0:47
  5. Jewelled 7:44
  6. Loved 6:43
  7. Abuse 4:18
  8. Thought 2:38
  9. Strength To Dream (Outtake 04.02.84) 2:29
  10. p:Machinery (The Beta Wraparound) 10:47
  11. The Murder Of Love (Murderous Instrumental) 4:29
  12. Dr Mabuse (Outtake 24.04.85) 5:41
  13. Frozen Faces (A Secret Sense Of Rhythm) 5:09
  14. p:Machinery (The Voiceless Beta Wraparound Edit) 4:25

I have a history that goes back a long way with “Wishful Thinking.” It was in the spring of 1985 that I first heard Propaganda and made a bee-line to Murmur Records to buy the “Duel” 12″ single; igniting a lifetime of Propaganda fandom that has yet to ebb. I bought the other 12″ single that were available, “Dr. Mabuse” and was astonished that it was even better. I’ll go as far as saying that I felt that it was Trevor Horn’s finest production and my mind has not changed even 37 years later. I waited the rest of the year for “A Secret Wish” to come to CD format, but it was worth it! From that point on I bought any and all Propaganda releases as the default position.

It was some time in 1986 when a trip to Murmur revealed “Wishful Thinking;” a remix album of material that had not surfaced on any of the subsequent Propaganda 12″/7″ singles. At the time, it was a fantastic thing to get long ZTT remixes of deep cuts from the album, such as “The Murder Of Love” and their JosefK cover, “Sorry For Laughing.” I had the LP for a few years, until I finally found a CD somewhere. As was my practice in the dawn of the CD era, I duly traded off my LP once I replaced it on the silver disc. But in the 90s, drunk with the possibilities of collecting, I found another LP of the title and re-bought it, to join the 40-50 other Propaganda releases in my Record Cell.

That was the status quo before 2012 when Salvo/ZTT reissued the title packed with bonus tracks. I needed one, but didn’t see a copy to buy until the first trip to Amoeba Land [a.k.a. California] in 2014. I bought a used copy that was lacking the booklet, but beggars can’t be choosers! You see a Propaganda CD you need for sale used, and you buy it. Booklet or no.

“Dr. Mabuse” already had a couple of 12″ mixes which were cataclysmic and cinematic to the max, so here we got short dubs that were brief and to the point, allowing the relentless machine chug of the industrial rhythm track to act as a siren; pulling us into the world of the remixes here. A short mix that acted as appetizers for the meal that was about to unfold. The first of these was “Abuse” and if memory serves, it was the version of the song that appeared in the opening scene of the John Hughes film, “Some Kind of Wonderful,” but not in the soundtrack album. The brief dub mix stopped only for a split second before seamlessly segueing into “Machined;” a nearly seven minute remix of “p:Machinery” that was all about the relentless bass loop that propelled this song forward like a charging stallion.

Many of the ornate elements on the earlier “Polish” 12″ mix were pared away to sharpen its rhythmic focus. The vocals were still there but were dosed with reverb and EQ’d lower in the mix to become just another element in the sound. The guitar of John McGeoch, who would also be on the “p: Machinery [ßeta] single was in evidence here, but is a minimal, dublike fashion. As were other elements of the melodic portion of the cut. The “horn riff from hell” was also dubbed out here to introduce, instead of to relieve tension. The nine minute mix was down to the rhythm, usually alone with dub elements of the track teased in. With the horn riff only materializing, in the climax of the mix.

Then the tribal drum machine of “Laughed!” – the nearly ten minute remix of “Sorry For Laughing,” followed. It was the high point of this album as no commercial single of the incredible song had been released. The stentorian sweep of its melodramatic synths being phased down endless corridors of sound as the thunderdrum movements churned and danced for nearly half of the song’s running time before the vocals finally entered at midpoint. Barely a dubbed out echo at first with sounds of Claudia Brücken laughing mixed over it. Eventually the song played out as a tougher, more minimal mix until its final percussive flourish.

Next: …Bejewelled Perfected

Posted in Core Collection, Deadpan Women, Record Review | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Music?

record cell 2022
From the floor of my Record Cell, CD racks seem like skyscrapers…

The Record Cell may be my sanctum sacntorum, where all of my music, books, and video discs reside; along with the computer I work on, but it was never an inviting place. Our home is small, and this was the only room available for all of these things. So the room was jam-packed to the walls with stuff. All the way up to the ceiling. One could barely see the walls. There was stuff on the floor. You could barely see that. Worse still, portions of the LP racks were covered up with these boxes and piles. Rendering certain portions of the musical alphabet unreachable without moving stacks of stuff first.

It was so untenable a space, that last fall, when we took a 10 day staycation to paint the interior of our home, we declared the Record Cell room off limits and did everything else. Because the amount of things that would need to be moved would have taken up all of the time off with no time left to paint! but that has finally changed this year.

Home Improvement

This has been a very busy summer. The long planned move to re-floor our entire home has finally happened after nearly two decades of hating on the flooring. But it’s been a lot of work. It started in earnest late last year, and was in the planning/hiring stages through spring. We would need to clear out most of our possessions to make the install as easy as possible for the crew. The notion occurred; that with the room empty, we could finally paint it [and the closets} which we had neglected last year. And when the room was empty, what better time would there be to remove the ceiling texture we also hated?

ceiling texture

We had removed the “popcorn” ceiling texture in the bathroom years ago. It’s a big expense, but it was worth the effort to have smooth ceilings. The trillions of spiders in the woods where we live love to make webs on this surface, which then needs to be vacuumed off, leading to unplanned and imperfect removal of the crumbly texture. So trust me, it’s something you want to see go from your home. So the plan grew into: another 10 days to do the following. We would rent a storage container to put in our driveway for a month in which most of our belongings would stay while the flooring was being installed. One we filled that, The handyman crew would remove the ceiling texture and paint and plaster the ceiling. We would then prep and paint the two closets and the Record Cell room. We would re-do the shelving in the master closet. Then the flooring crew would do their work, which they estimated at four days. We would be at work again by then. As you may imagine, it was a lot of labor and expense.

Due to availability, we were not sure exactly when it would happen, but it was in late May that I started doing the necessary work to become ready for the starter’s pistol. That was when I moved all of the music/video/heat sensitive electronics to helpful neighbor’s homes. Getting the records ready and moved took two solid weekends since I needed to deep clean the plastic milk crates that held the records. I had done this once in the 18 years we’d lived there at least a decade ago. I was not bringing all of that dust into my neighbor’s homes.

The flooring was ready to happen by the week of July 5th. It was done by the 11th and since then we’ve been moving everything back into the house each weekend. I also took the time to do a radical re-think of the Record Cell. The large bookshelf was moved elsewhere, and the 800 title spin rack I had just gotten to the floor earlier this year, was deemed expendable. I made a new layout that left a maximum of floor/wall space showing. I finessed the layout from paper to reality until I felt that the proportions were good and usable. I moved in the space to “get a feel” for it and it seemed to be a huge improvement. When I looked into the room’s doorway, I did couldn’t even see the CD/LP racks from most angles! This nerve wracking space would no longer vex us.

But movement forward comes at a cost.

The Culling Is Coming

I already had at least 500 CDs [mostly singles] off rack in boxes of 25. I was now losing almost the same amount of floor racking from the two foot square spin rack going away. So it now becomes cogent to really weed and cull the music collection. According to Discogs, my collection entails about 6200 titles. But that’s only an estimate. I sit looking at Discogs [at work…cough!] and try to remember what I own, and click the title as part of my collection. To sell a title, it has to be the exact release as shown in the Discogs database. So I need to review my collection and make sure I have the right pressings noted as being in my collection. Then I can sell them.

When I sold on Discogs [2013-2018] I would list items. People could buy them from me, and I would pack and weight them; determining the exact shipping costs to whatever part of the world [usually Germany] and then charge a final cost that meant that the buyer paid as close to the exact shipping cost as possible. I did not want to make a profit on shipping, but I sure didn’t want to lose money!

But selling on Discogs has become something that is much more complex than it used to be in the last few years. The website instituted onerous mandatory shipping policies in order to make buying as seamless and happy-making as any other “one-click” web retailer. No doubt to goose an IPO or stock valuation! As a hobbyist merely thinning out my collection, it’s really challenging to take into account every possible weight/cost factor shipping to dozens of world zones. The mechanisms built into Discogs says a CD weighs this much. A record that much. But a triple gatefold 180g album is a very different weight from a cheap 70s Dynaflex LP on RCA. A CD can come in a cardboard sleeve…or a “fat boy” box. And none of the formulae take into account the weight of packaging. It takes more bulk to get something halfway around the world without damage. So I have my work cut out for me and if I want to avoid taking a bath on shipping costs [in many cases, in excess of the valuation of the disc being sold] it make me frankly break out in hives.

Even so, I definitely see the need and desirability to cull anywhere from 20-30% of my collection in order to get what I have on rack and dispense with the chaff. To that end, I’ve begin checking/correcting my Discogs database. I hope to finally have the full collection in a spreadsheet before I begin selling off so I will have records of everything. Then the sales will begin as early as Fall. Deciding what to sell will be the easier task by far! And undoubtedly, the return of the sidebar sale buttons will accompany this time. Wish me luck. The work never ceases.

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Posted in Record Collecting, Uncategorized | Tagged | 11 Comments

Want List: Ultravox “Rage In Eden” Ultrabox Coming for Album’s 41st Anniversary

ultravox ©1981 Trevor Key
Ultravox rocking vintage looks with state-of-the-art sound ©1981 Trevor Key

In the biggest open secret for some months, Ultravox’s much-mooted “Rage In Eden” ultrabox was finally announced today in an official capacity. Rogue retailers in Europe had played their hands early last year which must have vexed the minds at Chrysalis, but at PPM we try not to twitch at mere rumors and run with the authenticated word. Which means that today we can say with certainty that on September 30th, 2022, almost 41 years to the day from its original date of release [Sept. 11, 1981], we can buy one more copy of Ultravox’s magnifico phase two peak, “Rage In Eden.”

In the months following the band’s triumphant ascent of the UK charts with their massive hit “Vienna,” the pull of promotion, back in the day when that meant flying to Germany to tape a TV appearance left the band on the run and pushed to the limits as they [finally] became stars in the sort of musical environment that was not simply “their time,” but was a scene that the band had laid the foundations for as far back as 1978.

It was possibly for that reason of being run ragged that Ultravox decamped to Conny Plank’s studio in Germany that summer with nothing written to record what became “Rage In Eden” but the best of intentions. It took by all accounts, a harrowing three months of the band resorting to grit and determination to craft an album, that by no coincidence was as claustrophobic and insular as they would ever make. No matter the cost to the band’s psyche, the end results spoke for themselves and “Rage In Eden” became the hidden litmus test of Ultravox fandom. The last classic album in a series of three before the band decided to leave Conny Plank behind for different climes. And now it’s been revisited in a number of formats and packages.

ultravox rage in eden CD + DVD box
Chrysalis | UK | 5xCD + DVD-A | 2022 | CHRB 1338

Ultavox: Rage In Eden Boxed Set – UK – 5x CD + DVD [2022]

CD 1: Rage In Eden [Original 1981 Analog Master]

  1. The Voice
  2. We Stand Alone
  3. Rage In Eden
  4. I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)
  5. The Thin Wall
  6. Stranger Within
  7. Accent On Youth
  8. The Ascent
  9. Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)

CD 2: Rage In Eden [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix] (Previously Unreleased)

  1. We Stand Alone [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  2. Rage In Eden [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  3. The Thin Wall [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  4. Stranger Within (Full Length Version) [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  5. Accent On Youth [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  6. The Ascent [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  7. Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind) [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  8. I Never Wanted To Begin [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  9. Paths And Angles [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]
  10. I Remember (Death In The Afternoon) [Steven Wilson Work In Progress Mix]
  11. Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind) [Steven Wilson Work In Progress Mix]

CD 3: Rarities: Singles/B-Sides/Rehearsals

  1. The Thin Wall [Single Version]
  2. I Never Wanted To Begin [7” Version]
  3. I Never Wanted To Begin [Extended Version]
  4. The Voice [Single Version]
  5. Paths & Angles
  6. Private Lives [Live at Crystal Palace 13/6/81]
  7. All Stood Still [Live at Crystal Palace 13/6/81]
  8. I Remember (Death In The Afternoon) [Instrumental Rehearsal] (Previously Unreleased)
  9. Accent On Youth [Instrumental Rehearsal] (Previously Unreleased)
  10. Paths & Angles/The Thin Wall [Instrumental Rehearsal] (Previously Unreleased)
  11. Untitled I [Rehearsal] (Previously Unreleased)
  12. Untitled II [Rehearsal] (Previously Unreleased)
  13. The Thin Wall [Work In Progress Mix]
  14. Stranger Within [Work In Progress Mix]
  15. The Voice [Instrumental Work In Progress Mix] (Previously Unreleased)
  16. We Stand Alone [Work In Progress Mix]

CD 4: Live at Hammersmith Odeon 16/10/1981 [Part I] (Previously Unreleased)

  1. The Thin Wall
  2. New Europeans
  3. Sleepwalk
  4. I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)
  5. Stranger Within
  6. Mr. X
  7. Rage In Eden

CD 5: Live at Hammersmith Odeon 16/10/1981 [Part II] (Previously Unreleased)

  1. Accent On Youth
  2. The Ascent
  3. Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)
  4. Vienna
  5. Passionate Reply
  6. Passing Strangers
  7. We Stand Alone
  8. All Stood Still
  9. The Voice

DVD [Audio Only]: ‘Rage In Eden’ Album and B-Sides– Steven Wilson Mixes (Previously Unreleased)

  1. 24/96 5.1 Surround Mix
  2. DTS 96/24 5.1 Surround Mix
  3. DOLBY AC3 5.1 Surround Mix
  4. 9624 LPCM Stereo Mix

‘Rage In Eden’ album and B-Sides – Original 1980 Production Masters

  1. 96/24 LPCM Stereo Mix]

The first disc is the classic album. The second disc was Steven Wilson’s remix in 2.0 as necessary for his 5.1 surround mix on the DVD. Unfortunately, the multitrack masters for two of the album’s songs were missing. So we won’t be hearing “The Voice” or “I Remember [Death In the Afternoon]” get the Wilson touch. Wilson himself posits that the multitracks were often sent out to TV shows for an “exclusive mix” to accompany a mimed performance and these were often never seen again. It’s why generally the biggest singles from many albums have missing multitracks. I remember that in 2004, “Promised You A Miracle” was unable to be part of the first 5.1 mix of “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” so this sort of thing happens with sad regularity. Fortunately, these projects soldier ahead, since there’s still a lit to look forward to. In a rare move, the second disc even has a couple of Wilson remixes of “work in progress” material in addition to the final recordings and B-sides.

Disc three has all of the released rarities followed by rehearsals and early mixes to show how the album gelled. The full Hammersmith Odeon show from their 1982 “Rage In Eden” tour is spread over discs four and five. And as a ‘live music guy” who really enjoyed the similar live set in the “Vienna” box, I’m looking forward to this, but this time it’s all down to the last two albums, with no transformative takes on the earlier Foxx material. By this time, Ultravox had conquered the naysayers that had been nipping at their heels since they began, so we’ll get to hear their victory lap as it happened. And the DVD has the album in high res 2.0 and 5.1 mixes by Steven Wilson.

People who know me know this will be my choice. The official store has the box for a sane $69.00 but I managed to get the last one at a substantial discount from a US dealer, which also helped. But there are three different packages for those of an LP persuasion. First up is a 180g 2xLP with a half-speed master cut for the best sound possible. It’s the straight album below for $30.00.

ultravox rage in eden half speed mastered 2xLP
Chrysalis | UK | 2 x LP | 2022 | CHRH 1338

Also available is the de riguer clear vinyl LP box with a large chunk of the CD box content spread over all eight sides with the album, B-sides and single mixes, and the live album included, again, for $69.00. If I were a speculator [I’m certainly not one of those] with more than two nickles to rub together right now I’d be hoarding as many copies of this as I could since the last “Vienna” LP box was sold out in pre-order and now sells for hundreds of dollars.

ultravox rage in eden clear LP box
Chrysalis | UK | 4 x LP [clear] | 2022 | CHRL 1338

Finally, Chrysalis are doing something differently this time in releasing a “Rage In Eden” Pic-Disc LP with artwork based on the poster that came with the original album. I have the “Quartet” and “Lament” Pic-Disc LPs but there were no earlier ones. This one is a webstore exclusive and will set you back $30.

ultravox rage in eden exclusive pic disc
Chrysalis | UK | Pic-Disc LP | 2022

According to Discogs, I own eight pressings of this album and now I’m set to reach…number nine. The official webstore has a variety of bundles and packages that trim the costs a bit, but annoyingly, there’s no bundle with the boxed set and the snappy “Rage In Eden” t-shirts that are calling out to me like sirens. Only $24.00 for the privilege. As well as tote bags…does anyone ever really want tote bags?

ultravox rage in eden t-shirts
I really want that navy design

I often wax eloquent about the weekend of my 18th birthday in late September, 1981 when I went to a great record store with my birthday cash and splashed out for Gary Numan’s “Dance,” Ultravox’s “Rage In Eden,” and John Foxx’s “The Garden.” I had gone specifically for “The Garden” and didn’t even know that the other two albums were out! It looks like I’ll get some more of that Synth Rock magic for my 59th birthday. Stay tuned for the run down after this is in house. Until then, D.J. hit that button!

post-punk monk buy button

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Posted in 5.1, BSOG, Core Collection, Designed By Peter Saville, DVD, Live Music, New Romantic, Scots Rock, The Great B-Sides, Want List | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Want List: Classix Nouveaux – The Liberty Recordings 1981 – 1983 UK Box

Classix Nouveaux are under represented in my Record Cell

Commenter JT opened a can of worm s yesterday with his citing of Classix Nouveaux as perhaps the quintessential New Romantic band. I remember reading about them when their eponymous album was released in America in 1981. I also recall the press linking them to the New Romantic trend, which I generally had lots of time for, but there was that image that I had to overcome first. Sal Solo looked like Nosferocktu and the overall image had a whiff of desperation to me. This from a guy who loved Visage records already! Another factor that may have colored my judgement was the fact they were signed to Liberty Records; a subsidiary of EMI about on par with Harvest. In America, the first Duran Duran album had been released on Harvest owing to Capitol not fully biting on their prospects.

To me Duran Duran were at least a B-list New Romantic band. Derivative, but they had their charms. I was less sure about Classix Nouveaux. I did not heard the band until over a year later when I got MTV and they would play “Guilty” in that “wild west” period where they would play almost anything owing to scarcity of videos! It was a good pop tune, but I was not convinced by Mr. Solo’s baritone. It sounded forced to me. So I never bit the Classix Nouveaux bait in a contemporaneous fashion.

It remained until I found my Monastic calling in the early 90s when I would run across Classix Nouveaux albums again. And wanting to experience as much of what I had missed a decade earlier, following my Associates revelation, I bought a copy of their US album. I had never seen a CD yet, [their first, a compilation arrived in 1997] and that might be as good as it got . In 1993, anyway. Back then, unwanted used LPs were often a dollar. Sometime later in the 90s, I managed to find a Canadian copy of their second album, which was not released in America. “La Verité” was an album where I had not heard a single from but its relative scarcity meant it was an instant purchase. In fact, I ran across it more than once and bought a second copy due to forgetting I already had one!

terpsichore silly not to

It’s important to keep in mind that after all of these years, I still had only ever heard “Guilty.” In fact, to this day, I have never spun any of my three Classix Nouveaux LPs. But in the 90s, I did buy another EMI album with many members of Classix Nouveaux on it. “Terpsichore [Silly Not To]” was a great compilation of early 80s dance tracks. Not only Classix Nouveaux, but also spinoff bands M.A.O. and Airport + Dean also figured here. The latter two with cuts that were only on that LP. It all sounded pretty good to these ears. Especially Airport + Dean, who were aiming for JAPAN rather successfully.

So now when JT gives this band the stamp of approval, I have to wonder if I had been missing out for 41 years by now. I look into things and lo and behold… the minds at Cherry Red manifested a one-stop-shopping event for the band last year while I was distracted with an impressive BSOG featuring their ’81-’83 output across four CDs.

Cherry Red | UK | 4xCD | 2021 | QCRCDX106

Classix Noveaux: The Liberty Recordings 1981-1983 – UK – 4xCD [2021]

Disc 1 – Classix Nouveaux [US ver.]

  1. Foreward 3:23
  2. Guilty 3:17
  3. Nasty Little Green Men 3:14
  4. No Sympathy 4:06
  5. Inside Outside 4:19
  6. 623 2:28
  7. Robots Dance 3:54
  8. Every Home 3:15
  9. Tokyo 2:39
  10. Run Away 2:41
  11. The Protector Of Night 5:23
  12. Test Tube Babies 2:47
  13. Night People 3:53
  14. The Robots Dance (New Version) 5:03

Disc 2 – Night People [UK. ver.]

  1. Foreward (Instrumental) 3:24
  2. Guilty 4:41
  3. Run Away 2:39
  4. No Sympathy, No Violins 4:06
  5. Inside Outside 4:19
  6. 623 (Instrumental) 2:30
  7. Every Home Should Have One 3:55
  8. Tokyo 2:39
  9. Or A Movie 4:30
  10. Soldier 3:46
  11. The Protector Of Night 5:25
  12. Inside Outside (12” Version) 4:11
  13. We Don’t Bite (Come A Little Closer) 3:26
  14. Inside Outside (7” Version) 3:20
  15. Old World For Sale 2:37

Disc 3 – La Verité

  1. Foreward 1:08
  2. Is It A Dream 4:16
  3. To Believe 3:47
  4. Because You’re Young 3:46
  5. Six To Eight 1:58
  6. La Verité 5:14
  7. Never Again 4:04
  8. It’s All Over 3:55
  9. 1999 3:45
  10. I Will Return 5:42
  11. Finale 2:36
  12. Never Again (The Days Time Erased) (Short Version) 3:51
  13. 627 2:30
  14. Never Again (The Days Time Erased) (Long Version) 5:19
  15. Is It A Dream (7” Version) 3:38
  16. Where To Go 3:13
  17. Because You’re Young (12” Version) 6:10
  18. Because You’re Young (Edit) 3:22
  19. It’s Not Too Late 3:24
  20. Is It A Dream (Edit) 4:01
  21. Chemin Chagrin 3:41

Disc 4 – Secret

  1. All Around The World 4:21
  2. Manitou 3:55
  3. Heart From The Start 3:30
  4. The Fire Inside 3:48
  5. Forever And A Day 3:39
  6. Never Never Comes 2:59
  7. The Unloved 5:20
  8. When They All Have Gone 6:01
  9. No Other Way 4:52
  10. The End… Or The Beginning? 3:09
  11. The End… Or The Beginning? (Long Version) 5:48
  12. The End… Or The Beginning? (Instrumental Version) 3:06
  13. Switch (7” Version) 3:56
  14. Forever And A Day (Extended Version) 6:45
  15. Switch (Full Length Version) 6:46
  16. Manitou (Extended Version) 5:56
  17. Manitou (Instrumental Version) 3:08

Well, this is the kind of clamshell summary that Cherry Red do so well. Many of the rarities are here, although there were tongues wagging in the Disogs comments because the 12″ mix of “Is It a Dream,” their one hit in the UK, was not in this box. That does seem like a grievous omission. But as I’m hardly a hardcore Classix Novueaux fan, I will look the other way as I pencil this in on the infinite want list.

The one seemingly crazy thing the compilers have done here, two… if you count dropping the 12″ version of their biggest UK hit, was to feature two discrete discs of the band’s UK/international and North American versions of their debut! I will admit that as a music snob, I always consider the version released in the band’s own country as the canonical one. To this day I have never owned the first Clash album since the US/UK versions conspired to make me buy it twice. This box solves that problem for me, though I am still unconvinced that the world need two copies, both largely similar in content, if not form, of their debut. Especially when other tracks fans were clamoring for were cut for reasons of space.

The asking price for this is a modest buy-in: £19.99, which seems to be a great price. I can buy it for $24.99 plus shipping in the US. Mastering quality reviews on Discogs seem to point to a-OK, so that’s good. Now all we have to do is to buy it. Given my recent problems in the Record Cell, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

post-punk monk buy button

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Posted in BSOG, New Romantic, Record Review, Want List | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Classic Pop’s New Romantic Special Attempts To Parse the Slippery “Movement”

This 2019 special edition came in three different covers: this copy was Spandau Ballet

It’s been a while now, but knowing my predilections, commenter Jordan asked me if I’d be interested in a copy of the Classic Pop “New Romantic Special Edition” from 2019. Not being one to turn down too many free offers, I said “yes” and the mag has been in house for a while now and with my limited reading time, it’s taken me ages to finally get through it. And in doing so, it once more brings me back to the conundrum I’ve been trying to analyze since at least 1980. Namely, how does one define the “New Romantic” era/trend? I’d be foolish to say I have any iron clad ideas and I’ve been listening to the music for 42 years now, but the editors of Classic Pop have had a good stab at what proves to be an elusive subject with all of the tactility of quicksilver.

Gary Numan

It was probably some time in 1980 when I first got wind of the immediate predecessor of the New Romantics, The Futurists. That may have had its origins in the pages of “Sounds” magazine, with its influential “Futurist Chart” as compiled by the infamous Stevø who would soon helm the synth-heavy Some Bizzare label in the early 80s. I think I actually saw the word “Futurist” as applied to synthetic music [especially Gary Numan] in the pages of “Dogfood” the local New Wave newspaper in Orlando as the 70s became the 80s. The writer [was it Michelle?] must have been a “Sounds” reader. I didn’t read UK music press, or even any US press at that time, for that matter! But if “Futurists” slotted in with Gary Numan, already a favorite of mine as I was hungry for synthesized pop, then I kept an ear cocked as the scene mutated slightly to become New Romanticism as ’80 became ’81.

It’s telling that these musical trends [Futurism, New Romantic] were indebted to the names of previous art movements given that the musical scens were inextricably linked to all manner of visual artists, from the de riguer fashion, hair, and makeup designers to more traditional artists and illustrators. The fluidity of the scene mirrored that of its members sexuality as it used the music as a honeytrap to grow itself with all manner of input as the scene erupted from what was its own ground-zero point, Bowie Nights at Billy’s.

That was appropriate, as it was Bowie and Roxy Music almost a decade earlier who’d first really codified the links between art/fashion/music in a way that was always on the periphery of youth movements and subcultures but never quite writ as large as they had done. Tellingly, when Punk made 1977 Year Zero, Bowie, Roxy and Bolan were all spared from the chopping block. If anything, they were royalty to the next generation. My experience of the New Romantic movement was strictly from the musical side. I did not really begin clubbing until I was in my twenties. At the age when I was listening to what is now typified as New Romantic pop, I was too young to get into clubs in any case. But the New-Ro trend was all about club life. And its soundtrack was crucial to my interest in the scene.

It was almost down to one man; drummer Rusty Egan from the Post-Punk band Rich Kids. Mr. Egan was also a club DJ with his impeccable taste being the foundation that Bowie Nights at Billy’s, then moved to The Blitz, and later The Club For Heroes as the scene developed and expanded over the three year period of ’79-’81. His playlist is covered here in detail and was legendary. It was why this teenager in the sticks of Orlando, Florida knew and cared about this scene. Egan was at the center of a web which included his partner in crime from Rich Kids, Midge Ure, as well as his flatmate Steve Strange who helped to run the club. Steve was a dedicated Bowiephile dandy. One thing led to another and when Bowie completed the cycle by cherry-picking Blitz Club denizens as extras in his new video, “Ashes To Ashes,” that blew the scene up as it ascended to the mainstream and beyond.

Heavy coverage of the ups and downs of the life of Steve Strange here were intrinsically linked to the scene, as Egan, and Ure masterminded the New-Ro spergroup Visage by poaching some of their favorite musicians from Ultravox and Magazine. The history and final act [interviewing Steve Barnacle, who had been a member from 1982 to the end] of that band got major coverage here.

Crucial albums that were foundational to the movement were also covered in depth. I’m most impressed by the inclusion of the breathlessly elegant “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” by JAPAN; a perfect blend of Art Rock and Disco that managed to best even Roxy Music. I would quibble at the inclusion of “Scary Monsters” but given that Bowie was the groundbreaker who cast the longest shadow over the New Romantics, I can understand that conceit. If I had to pick a fifth album that belonged in this magazine more, it would certainly be “Systems Of Romance” by Ultravox. Which for me, codified the thematic and musical approach of the movement.

While the musical waves of the New-Ro style have ebbed and flowed over the 40+ years since, the movers of fashion that emerged form the scene to become major voices were also given much space here. Melissa Caplan, Stephen Linard, Judith Frankland and many others were cited and interviewed here as fashion students infiltrating the new Clubland and intermixing their energy with that of the nightlife to form an artistic plasma that was neither fish nor fowl, but gave the connected worlds of music, art and fashion a jolt of energy that carried it forward for years.

By the same token, the issue also had the presence of highly theatrical musicians who used fashion as boldly as the New Romantics at the same time as them, yet their music seemed of another sphere. Namely, Adam Ant and Toyah Willcox, who were also covered here. Adam Ant, was rightly indicated on the periphery, with music that was closer to Glam Rock stomp given a dose of Malcolm McLaren’s Situationalism theories. Even Adam himself took great pains to disassociate himself with the movement, but the unwashed public might have had other ideas. Toyah, on the other hand, had makeup in 1981 photo shoots by Richard Sarah, who had all but defined the New Romantic extreme makeup look that saw a run on clown white that no one would have expected that year, otherwise. And yet her music was a chimerical blend of Punk and Prog that was in another universe from what I would recognize as New Romantic music.

In the end, trying to definitively capture the essence of New Romanticism is akin to catching fog in a sieve. I think it’s a tumultuous grab-bag of influences, many of which have nothing to do with music, poured into a youth culture that needed all of these tools to investigate their lives in that time and place. I cannot believe that there’s not been a thick coffee table book on the movement, but until that day, this mag will do nicely as a placeholder to that time that still exerts a strange pull on me decades later.

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Posted in Book Review, Bowie, Core Collection, New Romantic | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments