Record Review: Fiction Factory – Another Story

Instant Records | GER | CD | 1985 | INCD 9.00077

Instant Records | GER | CD | 1985 | INCD 9.00077

Fiction Factory: Another Story GER CD [1985]

  1. Another Story
  2. Standing On The Top Of The World
  3. Not The Only One
  4. All For You
  5. Lose Your Heart In Nature
  6. No Time
  7. The Powder Room
  8. Make Believe
  9. Time Is Right
  10. Victoria Victorious
  11. Not The Only One (Long Version)
  12. Let Me Be A Part

I really loved Fiction Factory, the Scottish band that had a huge hit [their only one] with “Feels Like Heaven” from their debut album, “Throw The Warped Wheel Out” in 1984. I saw about 30 seconds of said tune on “Blacknell’s Bits” on MTV’s “London Calling,” where they showed tantalizing glimpses of videos for a few seconds that MTV would otherwise never show. FLH struck me at the time as being in the mold of ABC’s “All Of My Heart” and I made the effort to buy their album. For a solid nine years! Finally, in 1993, CBS UK released the album on CD since FLH was a big hit. To this day I never saw it on vinyl! Needless to say, it was never released in America.

When I got it, I was indeed struck by the similarities of singer Kevin Patterson to Martin Fry but also Peter Murphy. He seems to morph between the two singers, and the heavy use of syncopated xylophones on the “Warped Wheel” album did nothing to dispel the “Lexicon of Love” comparisons. The songs were good and in 1993 I certainly appreciated the production on a few tracks by ex-Associate Alan Rankine as I was full tilt into my Associates late-blooming fandom! I can tell they’re using his synthesizer on the tracks in question since it was all over the remixed version of The Associates’ “Affectionate Punch” album as well!

But here the story gets jumps tracks. Because one year earlier than 1993, I managed to score an actual CD [now ridiculously OOP] of their followup, flop second [and last] album, “Another Story,” which was issued in Germany on the Line records label upon its release in 1985. This album was very different from “Lexicon” era ABC, to put it mildly. In fact, FicFac must have been among the first to pick up on The Blue Nile and their awesome sound since they seized upon their engineer Callum Malcolm and his studio, Castlesound [in Edinburgh] to help craft their 2nd album. It retains many of the spacious sonic characteristics of “A Walk Across The Rooftops” but forges ahead with them in seeking its own identity.

The album opens with a brief instrumental intro before the stunning opening song, “Standing At The Top Of The World” sets the bar exceptionally high! The arrangement on this is simply astonishing. The song is cut like a brilliant diamond and the offbeat interjection of phones ringing is brilliant and the sonic landscape gives Patterson an incredible rhythmic foundation to build the song upon. Yes, the material sounds as spacious as “A Walk Across The Rooftops,” but unlike It’s Immaterial, who also glommed onto Malcolm and Castlesound studios for their second and final album, FicFac don’t try to emulate The Blue Nile’s writing style. [It’s Immaterial did – and that’s another blog post one day!]

“Not The Only One” was the first single from the album, and the 12″ mix and B-side were included on the CD as bonus tracks. The track is an angular flourish of synth funk issued sadly, at a time, when the sell-by date of such hijinx has passed up such shenanigans in favor of mullet haircuts and lumpen rock guitars. The sixteenth notes on the piano recall the similarly stimulating output of Scritti Politti, which fares somewhat better in the marketplace at roughly the same time.

The second single, “No Time,” began side two of the LP in the time honored position. I love how the synths resemble steel drums, but played with an ultra fast decay. “The Powder Room” couples insouciant jazzfunk touches with powerful synth bass and Patterson’s smooth vocals which feature a lot of dynamic range here as they swoop from bass to near falsetto smoothly.

The urgent ballad “Time is Right” is a near perfect blend of delicacy and methodical pacing; the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. The arrangements here are a perfect extension of the smooth melodicism of “Throw The Warped Wheel Out” embellished with a shade more art than pop this time. I really wish they had been able to continue, but this album flopped, as I said, and the band disassembled soon afterward. I started getting serious about collecting FicFac around 1996 and by ten years later, had managed to get all of the necessary singles for a supplemental CD to fill out the gaps that were missing on the two album CDs that I had.

Fiction Factory were an elegant pop band that deserved better but the single hit they carried across the UK and Europe proved to be a millstone around their necks. Lead singer Kevin Patterson is now on the IT dept. of the University of Dundee in Scotland! That’s just so wrong! Particularly since working in IT is only slightly more pleasant than having burning bamboo splints shoved under one’s fingernails. Fortunately, the band reformed to play the 2011 Rewind Festival in Scotland and with that comes the scant possibility of more. I’m always ready.

– 30 –

 

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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3 Responses to Record Review: Fiction Factory – Another Story

  1. chas_m says:

    This is a band I really need to get back into, since I’ve enjoyed everything (scant little) I’ve heard from them. My first clear memory of FLH was not from MTV or a video but from the import 12″ compilation-cum-magazine, the name of which of course escapes me at the moment. Music discovery was so much fun back then …

    Like

  2. Echorich says:

    Ahh yes! Debut Magazine!! I think that is the only Fiction Factory I own as well! I really should get more familiar with them! I have to say from 84 – 87 I started narrowing focus. Too much was becoming record company New Wave and Modern Rock (possibly the WORST label). Stadiums were calling bands I once loved and I retreated a bit from exploration. My outlets were becoming more and more Goth and generallly dark. 4AD and the darker sides of Mute and Beggars Banquet/Situation Two were my musical garden in those years. New Pop was getting lightweight and formulaic. I can look back and see there is a lot out there, if it can be found/obtained that would make me very happy today.

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