Record Review: Trevor Jackson Presents Metal Dance 2 – Industrial/Post Punk/EBM Classics + Rarities/79-88

Strut Records | UK | 2xCD |2013 | STRUT107CD

Strut Records | UK | 2xCD |2013 | STRUT107CD

Various: Trevor Jackson Presents – Metal Dance 2 – Industrial, New Wave, EBM Classics + Rarities 1979-1988 UK 2xCD [2013]

Disc 1

  1. Tuxedomoon – 59 to 1
  2. Logic System – Unit 2000
  3. Psyche – The Saint Became a Lush
  4. Skinny Puppy – Deadlines (400 Blows Remix)
  5. Propaganda – (Echo of) Frozen Faces
  6. Visage – Der Amboss (Extended Version)
  7. Rusty Egan – The Twilight Zone (Trevor Jackson Edit)
  8. Rene Bendali – Tanki Tanki (Rabih Beaini Edit)
  9. Experimental Products – Work That Beat
  10. Crash Course In Science – Jump Over Barrels
  11. Liaisons Dangereuses – Etre assis ou danser
  12. Esplendor Geométrico – Necrosis en la Poya

Disc 2

  1. Ministry – Over the Shoulder
  2. Test Dept. – The Unacceptable Face of Freedom – Face 3
  3. Mile High Club – Walking Backwards
  4. CHBB – Ima Iki-Mashoo
  5. Front 242 – Body 2 Body (2 Trax)
  6. Vice Versa – Riot Squad
  7. Chris & Cosey – Driving Blind
  8. Doris Norton – Personal Computer
  9. Plus Instruments – Vom ertrunkenen Mädchen
  10. Conrad Schnitzler – Das Tier
  11. Neon – Lobotomy
  12. Arthur Brown & Craig Leon – Conversation
  13. Haruomi Hosono – Platonic
  14. Godley & Creme – Babies

In what seemed like the blink of an eye but has been in fact, almost two years, I found the want listed “Metal Dance 2″ compilation at Lunchbox Records in Charlotte. While this Monk usually has taken a vow of poverty, that sees him waiting years, if not decades, to finally purchase desired albums at aftermarket pricing, this particular volume was greedily snapped up at full retail at the moment of discovery. Why?

Well, the first volume was just packed with amazing goods; many of which were completely new to these ears! Trevor Jackson had expertly curated that first set and I was all too willing to accompany him on his next journey. Besides, the the first volume, there were certain tracks making their CD debut that justified the entire cost; making the other 25 tracks gravy. Last volume it was a Yello 12” remix. This time I was a Visage promo only mix that had evaded appearance elsewhere.

visage - derambossUKP12A“Der Amboss” was the German-language version of the title track to Visage’s second album “The Anvil.” Polydor issued this on a promo-only UK 12″ that sells for £55-100 and if you just have that kind of money lying around the summer home, then maybe you could send some of it in my direction, if you wouldn’t be too much put out. The A-side has been anthologized aplenty on various Visage CD reissues and compilations. Heck, I even have the A-side on my mixed, ltd. ed. LP copy of “Fade To Grey (The Singles Collection) (Special Limited Edition Dance Mix Album).” What I lacked, until now, was the 12″ B-side, “Der Amboss [instrumental].” This has since been rectified. So with the bait swallowed, what did the rest of the album taste like?

As with the first volume there are a few tracks familiar to me. I have the [excellent] Conrad Schnitzler and Propaganda cuts elsewhere. I used to own Tuxedomoon’s “Half Mute/Scream With A View” on CD, so while I have previously heard “59 to 1” it’s been a long time, since I sold that title off. In the grand scheme of things, I vastly prefer Tuxedomoon solo recordings to actual group efforts. I used to have the Chris + Cosey album drawn from here, and truth be told, I miss not having “Songs Of Love + Lust” on the shiny silver disc. I traded in my early C+C vinyl but never got the Wax Trax! CD reissues, to my detriment. I only have a pair of later, CD era releases from the band.

I have discussed the Vice Versa recording, and everyone should have heard the Ministry track somewhere along the line, so that leaves us with plenty of menacing electrodanse tracks full of clattering beatbox and curdled synth lead lines. The biggest change on MD2 is that it pulls further afield from other cultures. There is American, British and German music yes, with further excursion into France, Japan, Italy and Syria. The second Logic System track in my collection is now here and goodness gracious, this is something that I dearly need to look more closely into! The sleek, pulsing music is exactly the sort of stuff I should have been listening to in 1981. But Japanese technopop was slow to filter to the US southeast. Yukihiro Takahashi solo albums were as good as it got for me back then! What I wouldn’t have thought of Logic System in its time! What I think 34 years later is pretty spectacular.

The Skinny Puppy track is still ogre music, even though this early period material is cleaner EBM derived work with what sounds like Captain Beefheart singing over it. You can either love it or hate it and I’m in the latter camp, though it could be worse. The Rusty Egan cut is not one I was familiar with but it’s the old theme to TV’s “Twilight Zone” given a coat of Egan dance rock paint ca. 1983. A nice complement to the appearance of “The Cage” on volume 1. Experimental Products “Work That Beat” is minimal synth catnip to the ears! The succinct 3:05 succeeds wildly in ways that reminds one why such records have become sought after following years of neglect. The queasy lead lines are an active reminder why we loved synths so much… before the likes of Howard Jones ruined everything!

One of the tracks that belatedly debuted here were Crash Course In Science with the relentless “Jump Over Barrels.” The Philly synth band were perfectly designed to reap enormous interest 30+ years later when such stripped down, relentless minimalism would once again become de riguer for a new generation of synth aficionados not content to repeat the mistakes of their forebears. That is sounds like a lot of current tuneage goes without saying. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. I give it a 90.

The Ministry track from “Twitch” is a pretty durable mashup of mid period Cab Volt and Yello with a chaser of Adrian Sherwood. As a fan of “With Sympathy,” it represents the happy medium before they moved into the red zone for me with “Stigmata.” “Over The Shoulder” was a far groovier record that was hard and uncompromising without descending into abrasion for its own sake.

Unknowns The Mile-High Club convince with their stilted semi-rapped “Walking Backwards.” I’m a Front 242 fan, but my fandom began with “The Official Version,” and I’ve never warmed up to their early period. “Body 2 Body” sounds like a good rhythm track just waiting for something more interesting to be overlaid on it. Not bad, but I’m still sticking with the fertile mid-period. I think they do it all in those three albums for me.

Doris Norton’s “Personal Computer” was a revelation. The title track to her 1984 Italian LP [now three figures] sounded for all the world like a blueprint for Cabaret Voltaire’s version mixes of “Shakedown [The Whole Thing]” that appeared two years later on “The Drain Train” 2×12!” The resemblance is nothing short of astonishing. The day I bought this CD I was discussing Arthur Brown with my friend ronkanefiles who’s a fan and I was shocked when I looked at this CD the next day and found that it had a track with Arthur Brown! The teamup between Brown and Craig Leon couldn’t have been more unlikely. Leon was in a Texas studio testing a Linn Drum prototype when this guy walked in the studio and said “that sounds pretty good…I could sing over that.” Leon was shocked to find the man had a voice and it was Arthur Brown who freestyled the results here.

I liked the Haroumi Hosono track, “Platonic.” I have many Sakamoto albums and singles but almost nothing from YMO or the rest of the band. This track reminds me that this needs to change. Finally, I’d never heard anything by Godley + Creme other than the ubiquitous “Cry.” “Babies” was a 1981 B-side that makes perfect sense here in spite of their 10cc pedigree. The Roland CR 78 rhythm box drily accents the detached technopop that sounded uncannily like a Sparks number.

The Metal Dance series can probably continue for several more volumes with the care and attention that Jackson brings to his expert curation. Overall, I thinks that V2 was even more strong and consistent that V1, though there’s nothing here as arresting as Mark Stewart’s “Fatal Attraction [Contagious].” That’s a tall order to top, and the breadth of the program here flowed deeper and wider than the first volume, which was full of more recognizable material amid the surprises. There were many localized “scenes” from around the world that were represented here and they suggest a big, dark loft where technological outsiders of many cultures can dance together in the urban night. The scope of material suggested that at the very least there needs to be a V3, if only to include some Metal Urbain that’s just awaiting inclusion in a compilation of this caliber!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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8 Responses to Record Review: Trevor Jackson Presents Metal Dance 2 – Industrial/Post Punk/EBM Classics + Rarities/79-88

  1. Echorich says:

    Have to say, not much for me here. I’ve heard more than a few of these tracks. The Visage track is a stand out. The Haruomi Hosono track is probably my favorite and that’s mostly because the majority of his work always feels very YMO. As an aside, I have good deal of post YMO releases from the individual members – Yukihiro Takahashi’s work being my favorite as far as a body of work, only because Sakamoto has explored so many areas of music and sound that his catalogue can be a bit inconsistent. Oh and Takashashi made a gorgeous record with Iva Davies – Walking To The Beat.

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    • Brian Ware says:

      They also collaborated on another terrific song called “Dance Of Life” which is on Takahashi’s “Ego” album.

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      • Echorich says:

        Also and excellent track Brian! That was a sort of Australasian/English musical mafia at the time. Davies and Jansen popped up on so many albums and live performances. Takahashi toured that album in Japan and Davies and Jansen were guest musicians and vocalists.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – Funny how both Davies and Bill Nelson were tight with Jansen. It makes me wonder what Nelson and Davies might have done together. Being both Bowie influenced art rockers; comfortable at both the high and lower ends of the rock spectrum.

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  2. jsd says:

    The “Metal Dance” albums are pretty great compilations of one of my favorite eras of music. (Also for the record I love Skinny Puppy. It is indeed an acquired taste but once you acquire it, watch out.) The Metal Dance albums are available on the major streaming music services (Spotify, rdio, Apple Music, etc.) I know what I’m going to be listening to at work today! Thanks, Monk!

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  3. Vlad says:

    Of Skinny Puppy all that one has to hear is “Assimilate” (album version). And leave them well alone.

    I highly recommend Logic System’s first album, it’s called “Logic”, if I’m not mistaken. It’s up there with the best of YMO – a terrific record from start to finish. Unfortunately Mr Matsutake decided to descend into New Age and general blandness so subsequent albums only show glimpses of the old magic. I think you can be done with the first album and a compilation called “History”, which gives a good overview of the early years. Later records are a boring techno and generally a filler in the discography. Another artist which should’ve stopped after the first one.

    Propaganda’s “Frozen Faces” is one of my faves by them, but those endless (in numbers and timing) remixes and, I find, tiresome (mainly because nowadays they for the most part don’t sound all that interesting). Still, in the context of this compilation this one can be fitting.

    Front 242 is like Logic System for me – the band that I can only stomach the debut album of. I tried to “get” their late 80s – early 90s output, but to no avail…

    Neon are great – an Italian band that did almost everything: minimal synth, new wave synth-pop, gothic stuff… All very melodic and catchy, which is not all that often among the “alternative” scene. That have several compilations issued during the last decade or so, so I recommend to get one of those (under good financial circumstances, of course!).

    Godley & Creme recorded great albums from 1979 to 1983 – lots of electronics, but with poppy melodies and singing, and quirky (in a good way) lyrics. I approached them with hesitation, didn’t expect anything good, still they’ve won me over and now I enjoy their stuff. Haven’t heard the first album and those after 1983, so can’t comment on the overall output, though.

    Visage really deserve deluxe editions of their first two albums – long overdue! It’s quite intimidating to have to gather all those stray mixes and edits from endless compilations.

    Overall this one is of the better ones covering that “alternative dance’ scene of the 80s. I second a hope for a Volume 3.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Vlad – I find it hard to believe that I ever tolerated the three Skinny Puppy CDs I once owned! I still love F242 albums “Official Version,” “Front By Front,” and “Tyranny >For You<" that were exactly the albums that failed for you. But when I did recently buy 1993's "06:21:03:11 Up Evil" (for $1.50!) it lasted a weekend in my Record Cell!

      I concur that definitive, 2xCD Universal “deluxe editions” of the first two Visage albums should be de riguer. As for Logic System I really appreciate your thoughts. I only have two cuts from the debut, and on the strength of them, I might have blundered into purchasing any old Logic System album I might have seen lying around. The records do not exactly grow underfoot!

      I have begun compiling Metal Dance 3 … In my mind (taps cranium) in case Trevor Jackson fails to follow through. Maybe we can make that a post to inspire song selections from the readership. It might be fun.

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