Record Review: Acid Horse – No Name, No Slogan

Wax Trax! Records | US | CD5 | 1989 | WAXCD 9081

Wax Trax! Records | US | CD5 | 1989 | WAXCD 9081

Acid Horse: No Name, No Slogan US CD5 [1989]

  1. No Name, No Slogan [Hypo Luxa + Hermes Pan]
  2. No Name, No Slogan [Cabaret Voltaire]

cab volt - groovylaidback+nastyUSCDA1989 was the bitter end of a bad decade, getting ready to crash and burn into a newer,  even worse decade. I had been a fan of Cabaret Voltaire, to put it mildly, ever since 1980 but they hit the brick wall the next year, but hard, with their full-blown descent into house music, the divisive “Groovy, Laidback + Nasty.” Little did I know that this was to be their last hurrah as they balanced upon a precipice that would see them totter over into dalliances with house music and techno for the rest of their [missable] career.

Word has it that the single resulted when Cab Volt were sniffing around Chicago in 1989, probably tracking down Marshall Jefferson to mastermind their next album. Fortunately, they bumped heads with Al Jourgenson who was savvy enough to propose a mashup of Ministry and Cab Volt, just to prove it could be done. Good thing too, since the Sheffield twosome would be aiming their yacht for waters that I wanted little to do with for the rest of their career.

The song on this single is in two mixes; the first a shorter “Ministry” mix and the second a longer “Cabaret Voltaire” mix. Surprisingly, I prefer the Ministry mix, but that just might be since the CV mix telegraphs where their interests were about to lie for the next year or so. Track one as produced by Jourgenson and Paul Barker is a cracking industrial/glam stomper that keeps its energy level up for its entire six minutes. The vocals by Chris Connelly sound much more like those of Richard 23 of F242. Bill Rieflin’s martial drums pummel savagely but the lyrical guitar twang left in the mix gives it a humor and humanity that gives it infinitely more appeal than Ministry did for me at this point in time. I had bought the first Ministry album, and then, their second, before losing interest in their descent into ogre music. This track is far from the abrasive screed that was “Stigmata;” the point where they lost me.

Not surprisingly, the CV mix of track two actually has touches of the acid house that the group’s name was playing off of. The rhythms on that version were impoverished drum machine claves juiced with sampled horn section stingers amid the spaghetti western samples sprinkled throughout. Connelly’s vocals were vocoded for greater alienation. At over nine minutes, this version of the song would be far better at half its length. In fact, at 4:30 there is a breakdown that suggests just that, but the mix staggers back to life for more overkill. When the guitars of version 1 make a belated appearance at 8:30 it only serves to make the cut sound more impoverished in comparison.

By the mid 90s, I even traded in the Wax Trax! “Twelve Inch Singles” compilation by Ministry; only the second [and final] of their albums I’d ever bothered buying. I’d also ditched at the same time, my disc of “Plasticity,” the first CV album where I could hear no evidence of Steven Mallinder what so ever. So given that I fell out with Ministry pretty early, and eventually with Cab Volt, whom I consider titans, that lends this single a poignance that marks the end of an era. I wouldn’t bother with any more non-archival Cab Volt, save for some ex-post-facto techno remix projects that didn’t stay in the Record Cell very long! And the sole Ministry single I bought after this [but still have and enjoy!] was their hilarious collaboration with Gibby Haynes, “Jesus Built My Hotrod.” Now, Chris Connelly was a different proposition all together. I have the excellent “Whiplash Boychild” and probably have room for more of his music in my collection.

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8 Responses to Record Review: Acid Horse – No Name, No Slogan

  1. JT says:

    The name of this band was a double-pun. As you say, it was a play on “acid house”, but also “horse” is slang for heroin. So Acid Horse… two drug references for double your pleasure.

    Pick up “Shipwreck” by Connelly to hear him doing a passable job of channeling Bowie, with David Sylvian’s live engineer Dave Kent at the mixing desk (and yours truly assisting them in the studio!). Connelly is currently fronting a Bowie tribute band in Chicago, and they’re not half bad.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – Horse… Al Jourgenson…!!! If it was a snake it would have bit me! Of course there’s another LSD reference in Richard Kirk’s “Harold Sandoz” pseudonym. Chris Connelly fronting a Bowie cover band? I would have thought he could have set his sights a little higher. Maybe a Scott Walker cover band instead? Of course, I knew that you were enmeshed with the WaxTrax! Mafia over your many years in Chicago, and thought you might comment, but you broke all records in doing so. I don’t think that post was up 30 minutes before you popped in with a few lines. Thanks for the Connelley tip. I’ll keep an eye peeled.

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  2. JT says:

    Yup, that’s what happens when it is -2 degrees outside. I’ve got nothing to do but look at the interwebs at work all day; most of the rest of my peers didn’t even come to work to-day. Hence, speedy responses!
    “This town… is becoming like a ghost town”.

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  3. Echorich says:

    Ah the descent of CabVolt… I too have a huge place in my heart for Richard and Stephen up until the very late 80’s. I always sort of felt like I contributed to their addiction to house music – in a very roundabout way. I’ve mentioned before that they spent a good deal of time in NYC after Code came out. probably on the record company’s dime and found a safe haven in Limelight’s VIP room. I got to chatting with them on their visits to the club and they expressed a desire to hear some really underground dance music played in clubs (we weren’t really calling it “House” yet.) My friends and I, having our ears to the ground, provided them with some venues which they most definitely attended.
    When Groovy, Laidback + Nasty came out in 1990, I found it to be anything but groovy, laidback and it was certainly nasty only in that it was such a disappointment. I never quite understood how Mallinder and Kirk found there to be that much of an association between what they were doing and the house and acid house scenes. They were just not very successful in interpreting their sound into the 4/4 house genre the way Code took advantage of the cut up sample sounds feel of its time period. But dance music evolved very fast from 1987 – 1992, with very little time for those who couldn’t keep up (let alone Keep On.) Genesis P. and Psychic TV did a much better job taking “Acid” house to a new level on their Jack The Tab album.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I agree with what you said. Sure, they were Sheffield funk boys and outside of both genres being dance music, there’s little common ground between funk and house. Certainly the emotional palette of funk was immeasurably richer than that which house provided. Funk gave them a platform to evolve their beautiful, sick music on quite handily. Whereas house and acid was “functional” music; a dance machine for escape. Hearing them attempt upbeat, ecstatic lyrics as on GLAN was profoundly wrong. And the later albums that were techno derived, were too faceless for me without the human element that Mallinder provided. Kirk is a genius of sound; probably responsible for 80% of the music, but without Mallinder’s contribution, I’m not hooked into emotional engagement. I did keep “Body + Soul” only for the track “Decay,” which I felt harkened back to their primordial Rough Trade sound.

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  4. zoo says:

    Listening to this on Spotify right now (Ministry mix) and really enjoying it. I’m not really a fan of either band, but I could stand to listen to this more than once.

    As for Connelly, I remember downloading one of his albums 10 years ago or so and enjoying it, but I never explored further. I’ll have to check him out again soon.

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