June 7, 2011
Various: Terpischore [Silly Not To] UK LP 
- Sandii – Hey Rock A La La
- M.A.O. – Friend For A Day
- Shock: R.E.R.B.
- Airport + Dean: Blond Darlings
- Die Fehlfarben: Militurk
- Sapho: Respect
- Logic System: Talk Back
- Katmandu: I Can Make The Future
- Thomas Dolby: Urges
- Naked Lunch: Horror Shock Horror
- Gina X. Performance: No G.D.M.
- Classix Noveaux: The Robots Dance
“Terpsichore [Silly Not To]” was a UK compilation LP with a vaguely “New Romantic” slant that EMI released to cash in on the trend with a dozen dance rock cuts that were all over the map. Literally, with the inclusion of French, Japanese and German artists all signed to affiliate labels under the EMI umbrella in addition to the usual UK suspects. I remember reading a mention of this in Trouser Press at the time and the quick, short paragraph review was surprisingly favorable. [TP tended to dismiss what I liked in general] So I kept a watch out for this and lo and behold, only a dozen or so years later I found a copy. Fast forward another twenty years, and I thought I’d better hear it before I croak.
I was familiar with Sandii, known better to be as the singer of Sandii and the Sunsetz. I had heard a track or two of theirs over the years. However, hearing “Hey Rock A La La” is a bracing cocktail of polycultural fusion! The song sounds like New Orleans zydeco injected with Japanese techno/dub/reggae/funk of the most astonishing stripe. The backing band is YMO with Hideke Matsutake [Logic System] and it’s riveting stuff from Sandii’s 1980 “Eating Pleasure” album. Quite frankly, the only thing I can compare this track to is material off of Sakamoto’s “Neo Geo” album which completely rocks my world. Never have I heard music that bursts with such an abandon of hybrid vigor!! Needless to say, I am nuts over this track and need to obtain “Eating Pleasure!”
M.A.O. is actually Mik Sweeny of Classix Noveaux moonlighting for an atmospheric cut that sounds like Ultravox [Midge Ure era] having a go at making the sort of cossack dance track that Visage beat them to on “Moon Over Moscow.” This track is apparently their only waxing. I have to say that Mik as a vocalist is less of an acquired taste than Sal Solo was. Shock we’ve pretty much covered completely here on Post-Punk Monk, so I’ll spare you.
Airport + Dean were also another Classix Noveaux spin off act. I have to say that “Blond Darlings” sounds tantalizingly close to being a track that might have been a B-side to a single off of Japan’s “Quiet Life” album! The e-bow guitars, fretless bass, and smooth synths are abetted by very laid back sax that sounds not a hundred miles away from that Mick Karn was playing on that Japan album in question. The skittering shuffle beat drums also recall Steve Jansen’s rhythmic milieu. The vocals aren’t anything like Sylvian’s, but the vibe here certainly hints at the mid-period Japan sound, which means I’m thrilled. Airport + Dean managed a 1982 single, “Celebration,” apart from this track.
Have you ever wanted to hear DAF material performed without synths? Sure you have! Die Fehlfarben manage to absolutely embody what comes to mind when I think of Die Neu Deutsch Welle with their cover of DAF’s “Militurk.” That is to say, gutteral vocals
sung shouted with a stern delivery where the word “Deutschland” crops up regularly in the lyrics. I have to say it’s weird hearing what I consider proto-EBM morphed into NDW with no synths at all in the mix.
I’m a fan of Sapho with all of her middle period albums. That said, her cover of “Respect” from her second album, 1980’s “Janis,” features a clattering [acoustic] percussion bed overlaid with burbling synths resulting in a sound highly reminiscent of the music on the first two Nina Hagen albums. In fact, Sapho’s delivery has some similarities to La Hagen as well. In any case, this is quite a different sound to the hi-tech Moroccan grooves of her later work in my collection! I must try to grab some early albums from Ms. Sapho.
Logic System, as mentioned earlier, was Hideke Matsutake, YMO’s programmer branching out on his own. “Talk Back” is compelling Japanese tech dance that happens to be sung in English. Fans of YMO or their variants will find much to admire here. Belfast’s Katmandu released “I Can Make the Future” as an indie single and were courted by EMI, but apart from re-issuing that 1980 single here, nothing came of their liaison.
Thomas Dolby’s “Urges” should be familiar enough to anyone reading this. If not, it was his debut 7″ A-side from 1981. A nice little pop song from Mr. Dolby, but it only hints of things to come. Naked Lunch have a smattering of indie 7″ singles under their belt with this being the sole major label release by the band. The “Horror Shock Horror” track reminds me a lot of Joy Division, particularly in the vocals. After this appearance, the band apparently hooked up with Stevo but I can’t find any further records.
I need to write a full post about Gina X. Performance. As fronted by Gina Kikoine, the German band proffered decadent electro pop that never dates. “No G.D.M.” [based on the writing of Quentin Crisp] is their seminal ’79 single that was always on the Blitz Club playlist, and for good reason. She showed Grace Jones the path through the dead-end of disco which was looming large at this time. She is one of my all time classic “deadpan women” who sounds like Marlene Dietrich singing songs of transgender transgression in a decadently lush electrofunk setting, courtesy of partner and Post-Punk MVP Zeus B. Held and his wonderful machines.
Finally, the album is capped with some actual Classix Noveaux. It sounds like a bit of a comedown after the M.A.O. and Airport + Dean tracks. As usual, Sal Solo’s vocals remind me a bit too much of Ivan Doroschuk’s similarly strained baritone from Men Without Hats. A little of this goes a long way with me. Where CN have it all over Men Without Hats, however, is in the caliber of their writing and playing. A song like “The Robots Dance” may be silly, but at least it sounds pretty good.
It was valuable and enlightening to finally hear this album after a thirty year span. I was very familiar with about 20% of this album, but the other 80% has proven to be quite interesting. In particular, it makes me want to hear more Classix Noveau, in spite of Sal Solo’s singing! And finally, I have to get some Sandii & The Sunsetz with all due haste! A glimpse at their discography reveals writing collaboration with Stephen Duffy, David Sylvian, and Bill Nelson!
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