New Wave Comps: Methods Of Dance

Back in the day there were certain labels that just had New Wave cachet out the wazoo, as it were. Virgin Records, largely thanks to the taste of A&R chief Simon Draper, always seemed to know exactly the music I wanted to buy. Most of my favorite acts were signed to Virgin or their subsidiaries. Ultravox were conspicuous in their contract with Chrysalis, but since they signed John Foxx, they more than made up for it. In 1981 and 1982, Virgin issued a pair of compilations that have resonated with me for decades. They were called “Methods Of Dance,” after the Japan song, and featured dance tunes from their stable of artists, often in rare or unique forms. The inner sleeve had [what else] Paul Morley liner notes. How could it not?

Virgin | UK | LP | 1981 | OVED 5

Various: Methods Of Dance vol. 1 UK LP [1981]

  1. B.E.F.: Groove Thang
  2. DEVO: Going Under
  3. D.A.F.: Der Mussolini
  4. Fingerprintz: The Beat Escape
  5. Heaven 17: Soul Warfare
  6. Simple Minds: Love Song [7″ ver.]
  7. Magazine: The Great Man’s Secrets
  8. Japan: The Art Of Parties [12″ ver.]
  9. The Human League: Do Or Die dub [special edit]
At the time, “Groove Thang” had appeared on B.E.F.’s cassette only “Music For Stowaways.” Here it was segued into DEVO’s “Going Under” from their New Traditionalists” waxing. D.A.F. were most arresting with their template for Nitzer Ebb first cresting as part of der Neu Deutsche Welle. “Der Mussolini” is Cabaret Voltaire’s “[Do The] Mussolini Headkick” recast as proto EBM with minimal synth pulsing behind hilarious lyrics like “tanz mit Adolph Hitler” intoned with all of the Teutonic gravitas that Robert Gorl could muster without laughing, I suppose.

Fingerprintz were definitely exploring the dance floor on their [sadly] final album. “The Beat Escape” is a throbbing, relentless track from their excellent “Beat Noir” album. It’s everything that the “dance rock” hybrid of the time often aspired to, but rarely achieved.

Magazine case as close as they ever had to dub reggae on “The Great Man’s Secrets,” with Dave Formula’s spy movie keyboards playing off of Howard Devoto’s eerie falsetto backing vocals. Bassist Barry Adamson takes the opportunity to anchor the track with a rare reggae undertow.

Japan’s “Art Of Parties” followed in its 12″ incarnation. The single version was produced by John Punter but the album version that followed later in the year was a different recording as captured by Steve Nye, so it’s inclusion here was very useful, if you didn’t have the commercial 12″ version.

Not so for the final, and most crucial track. The Human League owned 1981 by the close of the year after the release of their game-changing “Dare” album. Producer Martin Rushent became the go-to producer of the moment on the back of his work with the League. He would eventually release the first electropop dub album, “Love + Dancing” in 1982. It had a 4:36 mix of “Do Or Die,” one of the many non-single highlights that “Dare” offered. But the year prior, punters got a full taste of what was to come with the long 6:20 version of his dub mix of that track on this compilation. Over the next 30 years, that cut has remained exclusive to this LP.

Virgin | UK | CASS | 1981 | OVEDC 5

Various: Methods Of Dance vol. 1 UK CASS [1981]

  1. Japan: Methods Of Dance
  2. B.E.F.: Groove Thang
  3. DEVO: Going Under
  4. Magazine: The Great Man’s Secrets
  5. John Foxx: Dancing Like A Gun
  6. Fingerprintz: The Beat Escape
  7. Heaven 17: Soul Warfare
  8. Simple Minds: Love Song [7″ ver.]
  9. Snakefinger: The Model
  10. Can: I Want More
  11. D.A.F.: Der Mussolini
  12. Cowboys International: Thrash
  13. Richard Strange: International Language
  14. The Human League: Do Or Die dub [special edit]

As you can see, the grievous omission of the Japan title track makes a belated appearance here; righting a cosmic wrong. John Foxx makes an appearance with the [uncharacteristically weak] second single from his album “The Garden.” Better they should have picked the incendiary and propulsive album track “Systems of Romance” if they wanted to have an impact on listeners.

A fascinating track not found on the LP is a bit of a mystery for me. Until I was researching this set of releases, I had no idea that Virgin had licensed a Snakefinger single recorded in 1980 for release in the UK on this album in 1981 and that he had covered Kraftwerk’s “The Model.” Ironically, the year that this album was released saw Kraftwerk’s three year old single topping the UK charts. 

Another German band that was ahead of the curve was Can. Their even older 1976 single “I Want More,” was re-issued as it was more relevant in the 1981 UK marketplace. Alas, I’ve never heard their version; only the Fini Tribe cover from a decade later. Another exclusive to the cassette version was “Thrash,” by Cowboys International, which was recently a Song of the Day here.

The final exclusive cut on this cassette was “International Language,” by Richard Strange from his “Phenomenal Rise of Richard Strange” LP of that same year. Strange, was better known as “Kid Strange” in the post-glam/proto-New Wave group Doctors Of Madness. They fit next to Be-Bop Deluxe really well on the Shelf of Rock. The first Simple Minds album has a strong whiff of DOM.

Virgin | UK | LP | 1982 | OVED 7

Various: Methods Of Dance vol. 2 UK LP [1982]

  1. China Crisis: No Ordinary Lover
  2. I-Level: Give Me [American Remix]
  3. Rip Rig + Panic: You’re My Kind Of Climate [party mix]
  4. D.A.F.: Kebab Träum
  5. The Men: I Don’t Depend On You
  6. Simple Minds: Soundtrack For Every Heaven
  7. Culture Club: I’m Afraid of Me [Disconet remix]
  8. B.E.F./Billy MacKenzie: The Secret Life Of Arabia [dub mix]

The next year brought the next serving of Virgin dance rock for the cognoscenti. It led off with a China Crisis B-side from their “No More Blue Horizons [fool, fool, fool]” single. Next followed I-Level with a cut that was released on a US promo 12″ but found its way into the UK on this album only. “Give Me” appeared in the UK in a different 12″ mix, but mix master John Luongo gave his touch to this track and it’s all the better for it. I-Level were the duo of Duncan Bridgeman and Jo Dworniak, who were John Foxx sidemen from ’81-’83. With the addition of vocalist Sam Jones, they became the commercial jazz-funk I-Level. Bridgeman and Dworniak were concurrent with another, even better post-punk band at this time, Gardening By Moonlight. Wow! That’s productivity!

When it is time for real jazz-funk, pass the baton to Rip, Rig + Panic! I dearly remember hearing their insane single “Bob Hope Takes Risks” during the heady days of the UK Funk trend when a lot of this material as imports, hit my local airwaves on WPRK-FM. I’ve looked for that record for 30 years now and haven’t found it yet! “You’re My Kind of Climate” you may have seen them perform on an episode of “The Young Ones.” The result is literal jazz-funk descended equally from Ornette Coleman and Bootsy Collins and touched with the heavenly vocals of Neneh Cherry. The Party Mix included here has plenty of space to move very freely.

The Men were a weird 1979 Human League one-off single under an assumed name. Virgin signed the band but were reluctant to commit to their “voice and synthesizers only” manifesto completely. Why not record with backing vocalists and conventional instruments as well, the label asked. The group complied to this request for compromise, but under a different name, so as not to weaken their brand. Smart boys, since this single went nowhere. That’s not to say that it’s bad, though. Lyrically, the song can be heard as a dry run for “Don’t You Want Me” as the independent female singer rejects reliance on the male. The live bass, female vocals, and drums end up making this record sound like a weird glimpse into the future of The Human League. The overall sound hits rather close to where The League were by the time of the “Fascination” single! This obscurity surely made this a desirable re-release since by 1982 The Human League were one of the biggest UK pop groups.

Culture Club were the point where New Pop started to go too soft for me. They have a few cuts that are okay but the bland sound they proffered got on my nerves pretty quick; no matter how weird it was seeing an eccentric like Boy George become a megastar. The Disconet mix of “I’m Afraid Of Me” was only released commercially on this disc. Too bad the featherweight calypso-funk of the band gets stretched past the breaking point in an interminable 8:16 remix.

All is forgiven with the last cut; the apex for me personally of these albums. My top five Bowie tracks always includes “The Secret Life Of Arabia.” On their “Music Of Quality + Distinction” album of 1982, British Electrical Foundation [a.k.a. Heaven 17 minus singer Glenn Gregory] covered this magnificently. With their secret weapon bass player, John Wilson, and armed with the mighty Linn Drum Computer, they managed to cut a version of this fairly recent Bowie track that makes the original sound like a Portastudio demo in comparison. To this they added the secret ingredient: Associates singer Billy MacKenzie. The four minute album track begs for more time, so this album contains a unique 7:06 dub mix of the track that is sonic perfection. Bowie didn’t stand a chance!

Virgin/EMI | UK | CD | 2008 | CDOVED 5

Various: Methods Of Dance UK CD [2008]

  1. B.E.F.: Groove Thang
  2. DEVO: Going Under
  3. Heaven 17: Soul Warfare
  4. Simple Minds: Love Song [7″ ver.]
  5. Magazine: The Great Man’s Secrets
  6. Japan: The Art Of Parties [12″ ver.]
  7. The Human League: Do Or Die [dub] [special edit]
  8. Richard Strange: International Language
  9. China Crisis: No Ordinary lover
  10. Rip, Rig + Panic: You’re My Kind Of Climate [party mix]
  11. Allez Allez: Flesh + Blood
  12. The Men: I Don’t Depend On You
  13. Simple Minds: Soundtrack For Every Heaven
  14. Culture Club: I’m Afraid Of Me [disconet remix]
  15. B.E.F./Billy MacKenzie: The Secret Life Of Arabia [dub]
  16. DEVO: Speed Racer

Since I owned both the UK albums compiled to make up this long-overdue CD, I eventually bought a copy. What makes this CD even more special, is that it includes tracks that were on the cassette only versions of “Methods Of Dance” volumes 1 and 2. So I finally got to hear Richard Strange [always a pleasure] and Allez Allez [for the first time ever]. I’ll assume that the Allez Allez and DEVO cuts not on the versions here are from the cassette of vol. 2 that I can’t find any data on. Much of this is still unique today and thus this was a CD that I always wanted to get. I have to say the mastering is wonderful. I compared my digitized copy of the ultra-crucial “Secret Life Of Arabia [dub mix]” by B.E.F. and Billy MacKenzie and my poor ears were treated to a superb remaster with no brickwalling and a full and pleasant to hear dynamic range. Discs like this were why we thought CDs were a great idea in the first place! Kudos to EMI’s engineers who oversaw this project.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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16 Responses to New Wave Comps: Methods Of Dance

  1. Echorich says:

    I have to find the cd version. I know I have the remastered Secret Life of Arabia from some source or other.
    Your description of The Men’s I Don’t Depend on You is interesting. I am of the opinion that even though Martin and Phil agree that they were not on speaking terms after the split and during the sometimes simultaneous – and in the same studio-recording of their first post League Mk1 albums, there are a number of elements on Dare which speak to Martin Ware. Sure Jo Callis was involved in the songwriting and Martin Rushent oversaw the recording/producing, but I still believe Martin Ware contributed to this record, if ever so slightly.
    Rip Rig + Panic were an amazing collective of rhythm. Truly DIY and Punk in ethic.
    DAF are so influential to music that came out of Europe over the following 2 decades.
    Richard Strange was wonderful. Cabaret/Synth/New Romantic.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Hmm. As an early fan of The Human League [“Reproduction” and “Travelogue” are my favorites] I can’t say there was much of a sense of continuity that I picked up from “Dare” with regards to the early Human League sound, apart from Phil singing, and some of the lyrics. I felt that “The Sound Of The Crowd,” “Do Or Die,” “I Am The Law” and “Seconds” were lyrically recognizable as Human League material in ways that the rest of the album wasn’t. But lyrics are Phil’s concern – not Martin’s. Can you clarify?

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – “The Secret Life Of Arabia” [non-dub version] turned up years ago on a great Bowie covers album that’s worth owning if you don’t already have most of the tracks. Ah, here it is. The David Bowie Songbook. http://www.discogs.com/Various-David-Bowie-Songbook/release/1346788 As far as I know, the dub mix is only on MOD LP2/CD.

      I guess that since DAF transfered their catalog to Mute, VIrgin would then have had to license the cuts for the MOD CD. C’est la vie! I remember when I first heard Nitzer Ebb, they seemed the spitting image of DAF to me. Of course, they mutated strongly throughout their career. I just found out they reformed! I need that album and …time for another reformation checklist!

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      • Echorich says:

        I think where I’m going with the recording of Dare and Penthouse and Pavement is that I think that Martin’s imprint, musically is still in the genesis of some of the tracks…you got the one’s that I find it in, especially The Sound of the Crowd. Being in the same recording space laying down the tracks for both albums must have been crazy. I know one recorded in the daytime, the other at night…P&P sounds like nighttime to me, but they both must have had an idea of what the other was doing.
        I love the Heaven 17 documentary from last year. You can see it all in 8 or so parts on youtube.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – I need to get that dlx P+P with the DVD. I thought it was of the UK docu. you speak of. I also need the live DVD H17 are flogging on their website. Can someone front me $50? I realize that two bands torn asunder, yet using the same studio must have been a little discomfiting. Still, I’m almost glad that Bob Last maneuvered that split. Two bands to love instead of one, and all that. But it’s true that I love “Travelogue” better than any other H17 or HL album. I’d pay a lot for another album as wigged out as that one!

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      • Echorich says:

        I do have the Bowie tribute album… a bit hit and miss.
        I think my mp3 of TSLOA dub is from someone who digitized the Methods of Dance release.
        As for DAF, I thought when I first heard them that they were so edge-y. Dark and mechanically sexual in a way that Kraftwerk were not. They certainly had an influence on Nitzer Ebb and Laibach for that matter. Definitely one of the germs that Electro Body Music would be born from at the end of the decade.

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  2. chas_m says:

    I can’t believe I don’t already own the CD of this, as obsessed as I am with this short-lived series. Man I loved many of those New Wave sampler albums — little did I know that my interest in non-album, various-artist sequencing would lead me to invent the iPod 20 years early!

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    • Echorich says:

      I’ve read in a few places over the last month or two that Oakey is open to working on a project with Ware. He stated that there will probably be only one more release of new Human League material as well as a specialty box set being organized. Not sure this is what Wall of Sound wants to hear… I do wish Heaven 17 would sign with Wall of Sound…it’s where they belong as well.

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Echorich – I wouldn’t say not to Ware and Oakey together again. Early HL is it, for me. As great as “Dare” was it doesn’t come within spitting distance of the profound strangeness of the early albums, which I value much more than I value good pop music. Give me deeply weird music trying naively to be pop and I have no resistance. I haven’t heard “Credo” yet. The first track that surfaced sounded great. The second? Awful!

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  3. Richard Anvil says:

    I know I’m 7 years late in posting here but I must challenge your view on The Men and ‘I Don’t Depend On You’. You state it was Virgin records demanding The Human League do something ‘commercial’ (which is also what it says on the Wikipedia page about this single but remember Wikipedia regularly gets it wrong) but according to an interview with Martyn Ware many years ago it was totally the other way around. As he tells it at the time they felt all they had to do was release something and they would be instant megastars. When Virgin begged them to sign they did so under the agreement that they could record and release a completely different record with more than just the synths. As The Human League manifesto stated synths and vocals only they wanted to use a different name. They felt they knew how to write the perfect pop song (like the KLF felt years later) using their soul and disco influences and came up with I Don’t Depend On You. They really felt it would be a massive hit but when it totally flopped it was a Virgin who demanded they went back to their synth only sound. Remember The Men single was released in February 1979 and was their first release on Virgin even before The Dignity Of Labour. Also rather than a precursor for the Human League part 2 it is actually much closer in sound and style (synth and bass) to early Heaven 17, which is backed up by Ware and Marsh as BEF re-recording the track for the Hot Gossip album, and releasing it as a single again, with John Wilson on bass and guitar. It fits perfectly in with the sound of Penthouse and Pavement.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Richard Anvil – It’s never too late at PPM too leave a comment! In fact, there’s nothing finer than reactivating cold threads! Okay then, point well made. In fact, “I Don’t Depend On You” should have been a 1979 smash hit single on the tail end of disco; it definitely made all the right moves. I always remember reading that Virgin was unconvinced by the “all synths” sound. Maybe one day Martyn Ware could get it all down for posterity in a BEF coffee table book of our dreams. My source ultimately for the anecdote vis-a-vis The Men and Virgin Records was the thin pamphlet “The Story Of A Band Called The Human League” by Alaska Ross © 1982 Proteus Books. You’re also right that this had more to do with the early Heaven 17 sound than the Human League even during their ‘no longer synths and voices only” era! What was I thinking seven years ago?

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      • Richard Anvil says:

        Sorry to post an unrelated message but knowing you are as big a Visage fan as me you may want to pop over to discogs where two more Beat Boy era white label singles have recently been posted up that personally I had no awareness of. So now from Beat Boy we have;
        Love Glove commercially released 12”
        Beat Boy commercial 12” plus white label BOY1 Machine Mix and Full Dance Mix
        BOY2 12” Can You Hear Me Dance Mix 7.52 min b side Questions Full Version 8.45min (plus the 7” acetate Mix 4.16min)
        BOY3 10” Casualty edited extended version
        BOY4 12” Questions Full Version 6.50min
        Plus the cassette remix album (different track lengths to white labels) and the radio 1 session there is a heck of a lot of Beat Boy era music that has yet to see CD release.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Richard Anvil – Don’t get me started on all of those Visage WLP 12″/10″ singles that just seemed to materialize a few years ago in the Discogs database!! I am guardedly dubious about their provenance since many of the images looked faked to my expert eye. I’ve been faking images in Photoshop for well nigh unto 25 years now and many of the images fail my test. Or else they are of insufficient quality to get away with fudging. I think they might have been false additions to the database by trolls. Even should they be legit, how difficult would it be to try to buy records that don’t have the artist’s name on them for crying out loud! Either they will get sold for next to nothing by someone with no deep knowledge of the artist or else they would command an absolute market premium by a knowledgable seller. The fact that almost nobody owns these makes me dubious. Then there’s the notion of posting records of <100 copies to the database. Discogs is useful in researching what I will call commercial releases. Records that were intended to be mass market products that sold in the thousands of copies. Meticulously covering minute pressings in the database serves little purpose to anyone who is not egregiously wealthy. Record collecting used to be something that someone of modest income could indulge in as a hobby. Like everything else, that's being taken away from us. Phew! How did I get on this rant tangent??!

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      • negative1ne says:

        Funny. Because I just got the 12 inch single of ‘i dont depend on you’ just a few months ago. Its much harder trying to find the 7 inch, and they are much more expensive for some reason. maybe i will come across it at a later time. The instrumental cruel is good for using to make a real 12 inch version of the song. both were extra tracks on the re-release cds.

        later
        -1

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  4. Richard Anvil says:

    I do agree with you but I still hope they are legitimate. The thing is who would make phoney 12” records from the least successful era of Visage? I’ve been a major fan of Visage since Fade To Grey and was even a member of the Visage Fan Club so collected everything I could. I found out about the Beat Boy 12” white label in the early 90’s but heard absolutely nothing about any further white labels until now so this is all a mystery to me. No point in asking Rusty Egan as he won’t remember but I might drop a line to Steve Barnacle to see if he can shed any light on it. One thing that does point towards phoney is all the white labels look like they were printed yesterday, not 1984 and the vinyl looks mint. I do know that Can You Hear Me was due to be the third single and had heard that an acetate has been made of the 7” version, but that’s it. What I hope for is a cd quality release of the remix cassette. There are a few rips out there but they all are either badly edited, have lots of tape drop out or both.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Richard Anvil – False Discogs entries because…trolls. Some people get off on pushing buttons to make people twitch. And these records, should they exist, almost do that. I say “Ask Steve.” He’s the keeper of the flame for many years of Visage. For the record I date my Visage fandom to Jan 1981 and hearing “Fade To Grey” on college radio. I am also a Visage “old timer.” Maybe just an old timer in general! I had just finally found a copy of “Vienna” in Dec. 80 after looking for 2-3 months, and was aware of the lineage of the Visage album in a local press record review I’d seen. Once I heard it, I was on it like a shot. It was much easier to track down than “Vienna” had been.

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