Weird Synchronicities: Post-Punk Connections Go Deep

Hugh_Cornwell_(Stranglers)

Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers

Wow. I just had some powerful and obscure synchronicities surface in the last 24 hours, so I’ll share them with you. It started yesterday when my friend Ron Kane posted notes from the Dec. 25 issue of Smash Hits, the UK pop magazine on his blog. In it, Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers listed his ten favorite songs. The one that leapt from the page, because I was completely unfamiliar with it, was The Tea Set with their song “Tri-X Pan.” You may be aware that photographic jargon is one of the more obscure New Wave tropes, so this sounded intriguing to me. I looked them up on Discogs.com

Waldo's Records  | UK | 7" | 1979 | P.S. 006

Waldo’s Records | UK | 7″ | 1979 | P.S. 006

The Tea Set: Parry Thomas/Tri-X-Pan UK 7″ [1979]

  1. Parry Thomas
  2. Tri-X Pan

The group sounded interesting and this single was released with an elaborate package that included the following:

  • Fold-out poster sleeve, dark blue on pink card, with the following inserts:
  • Large fold-out poster dark blue print on white paper.
  • A hand-stamp printed envelope (never sealed) itself containing:
  • A hand stamp-printed tea bag,
  • A Waldo’s Records Business Card hand stamped with “Wizard Jolly Jape EH Chums” on the reverse,
  • A Small fold-out hand-stamp printed poster “Super Print For Toffs OH Golly Gosh” numbered edition of 500

It all seems really eccentric. The kind of eccentricity that might be good. I’d also never heard of their label, “Waldo’s Records.” So it stuck in my cranium, floating near the top. It didn’t have to float for long, before the connections started to manifest.

Also yesterday, friend and commenter JT contacted me asking if I’d had any records by the band Strange Arrangenent. He had them on an obscure New Romantic compilation album and it was one of the two tracks that he had nowhere else in his collection, so it made an impression. He reported that the band only had four cuts to their name, so it’s “not quite enough for a BSOG!” The complete discography of Strange Arrangement follows.

The compilation that JT has with this song on it is really obscure, but undeniably good. “Modern Heroes” on the TV Records label. They were the same people who brought out the “New Man Numan” compilation which was the very first Gary Numan compilation for the UK market. A feat that only the 1981 Beggars Banquet German comp “Photograph – The Best Of Gary Numan” beat to market. Here’s what “Modern Heroes” had to offer.

TV Records | UK | LP | 1982 | TVA 1

TV Records | UK | LP | 1982 | TVA 1

Various: Modern Heroes UK LP [1982]

  1. Duran Duran: Hungry Like The Wolf
  2. Yazoo: Don’t Go
  3. Japan: Cantonese Boy
  4. Fashion: Love Shadow
  5. The Cure: Hanging Garden
  6. Talk Talk: Today
  7. Modern English: I Melt With You
  8. China Crisis: African And White
  9. Strange Arrangement: Don’t Run Away From Here 
  10. Bow Wow Wow: I Wan’t Candy
  11. Human League: Hard Times
  12. David Sylvian / Riuichi Sakamoto: Bamboo Houses
  13. Depeche Mode: Leave In Silence
  14. Simple Minds: Promised You A Miracle
  15. Thomas Dolby: Windpower
  16. Flock Of Seagulls: Space Age Love Song
  17. Nancy Nova: Made In Japan
  18. Bauhaus: Spirit
  19. Mick Karn: Sensitive
  20. Pigbag: Big Bean

That’s a pretty hot, if severely groove-crammed disc and you probably have 70% of the cuts like I do if you’re reading this far down the page. But lo and behold, there is an another Strange Arrangement cut that inexplicably turned up on an obscure 1982 hits compilation on a different, low budget label, that nevertheless had many familiar names and songs from “Modern Heroes.”

Telstar Records | UK | LP | 1982 | STAR 2221

Telstar Records | UK | LP | 1982 | STAR 2221

Various: Chart Attack UK LP [1982]

  1. Haircut 100: Nobody’s Fool
  2. Kids From Fame: Starmaker
  3. Musical Youth: Pass The Dutchie
  4. Captain Sensible: Wot
  5. Simple Minds: Glittering Prize
  6. Fashion: Love Shadow
  7. Billy Idol: Hot In The City
  8. Nancy Nova: Made In Japan
  9. Strange Arrangement: Phil’s No. 2
  10. Stiff Little Fingers: Bits Of Kids
  11. Fat Larry’s Band: Zoom
  12. Evelyn King: Love Come Down
  13. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: The Message
  14. David Christie: Saddle Up
  15. Talk Talk: Today
  16. Thomas Dolby: Windpower
  17. Duran Duran: Hungry Like The Wolf
  18. Michael Schenker Group: Dancer
  19. Explainer: Lorraine
  20. The Belle Stars: Mockingbird

Hmmmm. Six cuts are exactly the same from the other comp with a Strange Arrangement cut. But significantly, the Strange Arrangement cut on this album differs from the other comp. Most tellingly, I can find no records of any other Strange Arrangement releases at this point in time. So two cuts surfaced on “hits” compilations and seemingly nowhere else. But eventually, the group did issue their own single, but it reflected two completely different songs to what we’ve seen earlier.

Disques Noir | UK | 12" | 1984 | DNX 1001

Disques Noir | UK | 12″ | 1984 | DNX 1001

Strange Arrangement: Into The Light UK 12″ [1984]

  1. Into The Light [ext. ver]
  2. Into The Light
  3. Shoot ‘Em Down

Wow! Someone liked the inner sleeve photos of Duran Duran’s “RIO…” but couldn’t get their hands on Antony Price garb, obviously! For the sake of argument, let’s examine the B-side of the disc.

strange arrangement - B

Wow. Produced by Dave Allen and recorded at Genetic Sound. Nice! So this is probably a pretty good sounding record by young guys who look smitten with imperial period Duran Duran. My instincts tell me that this is probably the UK equivalent of a band like Figures On A Beach, and like FOAB, I’m betting this sounds pretty good 25-30 years later. The label the record was issued on is another obscure one. Who were Disques Noir? Research tells us that is was an obscure subsidiary of the Bam-Caruso label. And Bam-Caruso was the label founded by UK graphic designer Phil Smee, who designed more than a few releases in my Record Cell. Phil Smee also used the pseudonym of Waldo’s Design, and it was the inspiration for the name of the very first label he founded, prior to the more high-profile Bam-Caruso label, the very same Waldo’s Records who brought us The Tea Set in 1979!

<stinger>

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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13 Responses to Weird Synchronicities: Post-Punk Connections Go Deep

  1. Echorich says:

    Did you just produce an obsure musical Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon scenario? I got all tied up in knots and had to re-read the entire post! Strange Arrangements got me at Dave Allen producing…makes them worth the effort to hear.

    Like

    • Echorich says:

      Just trolled the interweb and found Into The Light… To say they were smitten with first album Duran Duran is possibly the understatement of the decade!! Quite listenable though!

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Echorich – As I suspected from the look of the photography. There’s nothing wrong with guys trying to aim for early Duran in my book, hence my Figures On A Beach reference. I didn’t bother with FOAB when they were happening; who cared about an American Duran clone band ca. 1985? But today? I’m all ears. Sometime in the late 90s, I began to hear FOAB cuts on Sire “Just Say…” samplers with new ears. The next time I see a CD I’m buying it.

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        • Taffy says:

          And I’m gonna insert myself into your scenario…I am pals with Chris Ewen, a noted DJ in Boston, member of Stephin Merritt project Future Bible Heroes, and keyboardist with Figures On A Beach. I saw them (FOAB) in the late 80’s warm-up for Pete Shelley (circa his Heaven And the Sea album), and were quite a good synthy new wavy band. Both albums have their charms.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Imagine how it was to experience these multiple self-references within a 12 hour period. You think you’re confused!

      Like

  2. chas_m says:

    How is it possible that I don’t have these UK New Romantic compilations??

    Here’s another synchronicity to mess with your head: on Xmas day on Doctor Who, Matt Smith — a frequent guest of crazy-mad Scottish DW fan and talk show host Craig Ferguson — regenerated into respected character actor Peter Capaldi (half-scot, half-italian!) who was in a New Wave band with said Ferguson when they were young bucks!

    The band was called Dreamboys (previously called “Bastards From Hell”) and a scratchy-bad YouTube video exist of all three of their released songs (on one single!). It’s all there on discogs, look for THE Dreamboys rather than just Dreamboys …

    Like

  3. chas_m says:

    and I should add that, at least as far as the terrible YouTube videos’ audio quality can make out, they sound rather like Kitchens of Distinction some 10 years earlier than KoD!

    Like

    • Echorich says:

      That just cemented it for me! any KOD reference gets my ears to prick up! As a matter of fact, their 19 yrs later new release is among my top albums of 2013…

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  4. JT says:

    Hello Monk! –

    Y’know, I was wondering why you never replied to my email re: Strange Arrangement, but I got my answer big-time while catching up with your blog to-day.

    Some further notes on Modern Heroes: In order to fit 20 tunes on one LP, they edited a lot of the tunes, or at least did early fades. Still, the sound quality is pretty miserable with well over 26 minutes crammed on to each side. As stated, I have the original albums for 18 of these songs. Beside Strange Arrangement, the other orphan here is Nancy Nova, who was a member of Total Coelo [“I Eat Cannibals”]. Her tune “Made in Japan” is a bouncy and fun synthpop number that I have been putting on mix tapes/CDs for 25 years with some regularity… it’s the main reason for keeping this LP around.

    The Strange Arrangement tune is all right, but not altogether impressive… it actually sounds more like China Crisis or Fashion than Duran Duran, to my ears.

    Now, I have my own synchronicity to report: I just finished transferring my kinda rare and kinda awesome Figures On A Beach cassette to digital. This cassette compiles seven tunes and four remixes self-released by the band in Detroit before being signed. After seeing FoaB live in 1985 in Cleveland (several times in fact), my pals and I wore out more than one copy of this tape (never released on vinyl or CD as far as I know). I found a relatively virgin copy, and compiled it onto a CD with the first pre-Reznor Exotic Birds EP for a 1986 midwest technopop fest.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – You never know where a random email may lead to a blog thread! Thanks for your part in my little reverie. My apologies for not immediately responding, but I was so caught up in the unfolding drama that I forgot to! Nancy Nova sounds interesting as well. She left Toto Coelo before they made any releases, so her hands are free of blood. So Strange Arrangement sound like China Crisis or Fashion instead of Duran Duran…? Even better!! Bring ’em on! Good work on the FOAB cassette digitization. That’s some Monastic work that always needs to be done, lest this music simply evaporate over time!

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