Rock GPA: Magazine [part 7]

Magazine – Scree | 1990 – 3.5

American Magazine fans were gifted with a superior version of the group’s “After The Fact” compilation in 1982, which held many of their non-LP A/B-sides. That disc reached CD in 1989 and I was just getting ready to buy it when it was finally superseded in 1990 with this almost comprehensive collections of nothing but non-LP material. It’s Achilles heel is that it is missing the Mick Glossop produced single version of the band’s debut single, “Shot By Both Sides,” but apart from that, it’s anything a Magazine fan could ask for.

The disc begins with their first B-side, the brutal art-punk of “My Mind Ain’t So Open.” John McGeoch’s sax recalls Andy MacKay of Roxy Music at his least mannered and most expressive. I simply love the sentiments of the lyrics. I completely understand where Devoto is coming from. Single number two is up next and “Touch + Go” is produced by John Leckie, which also did the honors on their debut album. The stunner here is the group’s magnificent cover of the quintessential Bond theme song, “Goldfinger.”

Actually, the band had tried early on to have John Barry produce an album, but they couldn’t afford to fly to Los Angeles where he would produce their sessions! John Barry’s elegant film music arrangements were inspirational to more than a few Post-Punk bands, particularly, The Associates. Barry Adamson would go on to begin his solo career with unabashed “film music” to great success years later. Devoto manages to wrest the song from the formidable grasp of Dame Shirley and make it own, against all odds.

The next non-LP single also has an amazing cover for its B-side. “Give Me Everything” is hampered by Tony Wilson’s perfunctory production, but the rollicking take on Captain Beefheart’s “I Love You, You Big Dummy,” suffers not a whit. Another highlight of a very different kind is the B-side of “Thank You [Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin].” “The Book” is a surreal, spoken word piece with atmospheric backing that succinctly encapsulates Devoto’s existential worldview.

It’s followed by the non-LP single released with the rest of the “Soap” series 45s. “Upside Down” is another slice of classy pop that walks the fine line between art and pop with an example of Devoto at his least prickly. Its B-side is a new Martin Hannett produced version of “The Light Pours Out Of Me,” given a new coat of techno/dub paint. It’s about two minutes shorter than the original version and is marked by an arid, stylized production. Interesting, but give me the original, please.

“Sweetheart Contract” contained three live B-sides in its 2×7″ and 12″ version. The tracks were recorded at Manchester’s Russell Club in March of 1980 and significantly, feature the first live tracks released with McGeoch playing guitar as he didn’t leave the band until the summer of that year. The live arrangement of “Feed The Enemy” is dramatically different to the LP version of a year prior as the song’s methodical, enervating pace has been tossed out of the window as it has been re-imagined as a fast-paced [almost] ska number! It has nearly two nineties of running time lopped off by the startling new arrangement. What it loses in artistic impact is actually compensated for with sheer shock value. The other two live cuts are less transgressively different.

Finally, the B-sides from their last single flesh out the program of rarities. “In The Dark” is notable for being yet a third reggae-tinged song from the “Magic, Murder And The Weather” sessions. As a sampler of Magazine, “Scree” functions admirably well. Some groups used their B-sides to get across more experimental or challenging material than on their compromised records. Magazine was certainly not among their number. Instead, the group were legend for their disinterest in “selling out,” and thus their tracks not issued on albums, are simply more great Magazine music. There’s little drop off on quality one way or another on these tracks. Listening to them, it is entirely possible that the uninitiated could develop a taste for the band quite easily as much as by any “greatest hits” compilation. Indeed, the US edition of the first Magazine compilation, “After The Fact” adds several A-sides to what is primarily a program of B-sides [unlike the UK version’s album cuts] remarkably similar to what’s on offer here as if to prove my point exactly. I’m docking “Scree” a half of a grade point only due to it not having the group’s first A-side, “Shot By Both Sides,” in its pre-album version.

Next: the Back to the Beeb…

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, Rock GPA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rock GPA: Magazine [part 7]

  1. Echorich says:

    Goldfinger and The Book are favorites of mine. Twenty Years Ago and Upside Down always find their way onto Magazine playlists I create.
    Are you a fan of the single version of The Light Pours Out of Me?.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I like the difference on the single version but still prefer the original. Seeing as how it’s my favorite Magazine song, sounds better [to me, anyway] on “Real Life,” and lasts longer, the first version is the go-to version for me. But it’s interesting to hear what they did with it years later. I always appreciate a new approach and sometimes prefer it. When I discover a previously unknown [vintage] version of an old favorite years, or sometimes decades later, it attains the status of event for me. [see: Ultravox – The Man Who Dies Every Day v. 2] Not so with contemporary remixes of older material.


      • Echorich says:

        One of the only times, for me, where a band reworking a track I cherish holds up. The original is a classic post punk foundation track! The rework reflects where the band was at the point it was released. First time I heard it was when I purchased An Alternative Use of Soap release a little after purchasing TCUOS and it completely confused me. I listened a second time and got it.
        The original is urgent and in your face…Doyle’s drums start kicking and Adamson’s bass comes in and gets to shoving.
        With the reworked single, Adamson’s bass takes over from the start and creates a menacing atmosphere that is increased by Formula’s keyboards. In fact in the original, John Leckie has mixed the keyboards way back making this a real bass guitar dual with the drums driving the song home. I have to say that I love the gatling gun style of Doyles percussion on the original, very reminiscent of Topper Headon on Give Em Enough Rope.
        On both tracks Devoto seems at his wit’s end. But on the original it sounds like he is trying to stay alive where as on the rework he comes across more in touch with his destiny.
        Finally McGeoch’s sax on the rework is just insane and elevates everything for me. The effects on his guitar are vintage Hannett as well.
        They are two unique beasts that certainly hold their own.


  2. Echorich says:

    I stand corrected! I definitely got way to into the moment and that was a sloppy mistake!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.