Various: Razormaid 3rd Anniversary Issue US 2×12″ 
- Ultravox: White China
- Telex: L’amour Toujours
- Melon: Serious Japan
- Depeche Mode: Strangelove
- Propaganda: Dr. Mabuse
- Cabaret Voltaire: Sensoria
- Tapps: Don’t Pretend To Know
- Until December: We Are The Boys
Last weekend we took a road trip to Boone, North Carolina; a medium sized college town, that my wife had wanted to visit for many years. Last weekend we finally did it. To say we were disappointed, doesn’t begin to cover it. As my wife put it, it was a “soulless” place. We didn’t look too carefully into what the city offered, but really, the internet is incapable of putting across the vibe of a place; in the end, you just have to go there and see how it feels. Fortunately, there was a record store in the heinous downtown ares [which actually reminded me of Helen, Georgia – a low blow indeed!] and putting across vibes are what they do best.
641 RPM was not a store that I’ll probably ever go back to again. Like everywhere else in the city, no air conditioning was in evidence. Browsing bins while one stews in one’s juices is hardly my idea of a good time. 641 RPM also completely lacked in the shiny, silver discs I’ve come to know and love in the last 30 years. What they had was vinyl only. The question was, how good was the selection? I browsed for about 12 minutes and got enough positive feedback in the form of records I owned, or at least used to own to persevere a little longer. There was a ton of DJ 12″ vinyl, but nothing desirable in it. All pop/R+B of the era. Then I found it. The reason why I had walked in the store.’
They had a Razormaid issue, the 3rd Anniversary 2×12″ on yellow vinyl. Priced at $8.99. Low for this sort of thing, but I have been thinning out lots of DJ service daaaaaance music from the Record Cell. I’m beyond ambivalent, these days. So I slid the yellow records out of the cover and saw the only artist/title combo that would make me purchase: Ultravox – White China. Sold! I had wanted to hear this for years, and I had all of the white market Ultravox material that there was to collect [that I cared to collect]. Then I looked at the other titles in this issue. “Strangelove,” “Sensoria,” “Dr. Mabuse.” Mother McCree, I’d hit the Razormaid motherlode! Just about any mixes by Razormaid I’d want but were not on the issues I already had were focused into this delightful compilation. I purchased.
The vinyl quality of side 1 was pretty good. Crackle in the outer band and numerous pops, but nothing to make me gnash my teeth. The De-Click software would handily deal with this nuisance. The “White China” mix was pretty entertaining. Due to the mix/match nature of the song and its many mixes, I get the notion that it would be possible to keep this propulsive number going for as long as one wanted. When discussing this with Echorich as I listened to it, he opined that the intro suggested strongly the intro to New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” and I would not dispute that at all. As I like both songs, it amused me to hear one of my favorite late period Ultravox tunes warped into a New Order box.
Telex, on the other hand, I’d not heard since hearing chasinvictoria’s copy of their second album and a US release from 1980, “Neurovision.” The song here dated from their fourth album and boy howdy, all I can hear is Moroder period Sparks. Not surprisingly, the Maels kibbutzed on Telex’s third album, “Sex” and from the sound of “L’amour t’jours” the apple didn’t roll very far from the tree even without Ron and Russell hanging around! Anyone who likes the “No. 1 In Heaven” album would find nothing but pleasure here. If by chance you don’t like “No. 1 In Heaven,” please consider using the “back” button in your browser of choice!
Side 2 offered a taste of Melon; a Japanese group I’d heard of through ronkankefiles exhortations on the subject of them and member Tycoon Tosh, over the years. I wasn’t quite prepared for the joyously vulgar beat colossus that exploded from the headphones for over seven minutes. The groove reminded me of the hellbent intensity of Mark Stewart’s “Fatal Attraction [Contagious]” only the vibe was incredibly salty yet goofy at the same time with foul language galore and profane samples from films to twist the knife even deeper. When I heard this, I did not know whether to laugh or cringe, as the feeling was paradoxically upbeat and even joyous. I just don’t know about hearing more of Melon. It sounded great, but I’m still processing my feelings.
As for “Strangelove” my feelings are well known. It’s my favorite Depeche Mode song. It has been for nearly 30 years. One day I need to compile the “Strangelove Project” where I throw every mix I have of this one onto disc and see where it takes me. The mix here is largely a re-edit of my favorite Mark Saunders/Tim Simenon Hijack Mix. The vinyl quality for side two was exceptionally nice, with only moderate pops and crackle at worst.
Side three offered problems in that the record had serious wear, as if only it had ever been played from the set. Played to death! Shocking in light of the Depeche Mode that sounded so pristine. One would imagine that track getting the most heavy DJ play, but the crackle and surface noise rendered the Propaganda and Cab Volt tracks in serious need of some NR software. Could ClickRepair come to the rescue? Well, my 21 day grace period was over w few weeks ago. It will remain until I buy a license to give it a try. With vacation coming up next week, I don’t look to be buying any noise reduction software any time soon. As far as mixes, these are primarily re-edits with all of the twists and turns you may be familiar with from decades of play turned on their ear.
As is common with Razormaid, they hook you with the hard stuff up front [Ultravox, Depeche Mode, Propaganda] then try to cut the mix with some lesser known music that Watt or Maharg championed. Sometime this worked out fine [Telex, Melon] but on side four the turkeys came home to roost. I’d never heard of Tapps or Until December, but they only offered hi-nrg gay disco synthpop – mid-80s style; lacking in spark and distinction. It happens.
At the end of the day, I am happy to have the Ultravox mix since that was the big lure here. It was a sale from the second I pulled out the discs. The rest of disc one was pretty happening in terms of sound and quality. The Propaganda cut is one I’ve wanted for a long time, and maybe I’ll need to buy another copy along the line somewhere. The vinyl quality there was marginal at best, but not a bad buy for $8.99, as you may agree.
– 30 –
oops…see what you mean now !
Like i said the Telex track is one of my favourites from the Birds and bees album [ ‘Sex’ was way too risqué for the UK i guess]. I will have to track that version down for a listen. I kinda think a lot of these DJ Services were more re-edits than remixes and they don’t always work [ you’ve already mentioned Peter Godwin here and none of the Krafwerk ones if heard have ever been up to much either]. Glad you found some good ones with DM and UV though
nick – The Razormaid team used every technique at their disposal [editing, EQ] back when they started. As their legend grew, they managed to get footholds in the major labels, who either ended up giving them master access or just hired them for their own mixes. As the 80s became the 90s, they were at the top of their form. Ironically, just before 20 years of computing history made everyone a potential Razormaid. I first heard them with the 8:22 “Angel Eyes” from Roxy Music. Like a bolt from the blue. At that time, I was not aware of the 6:39 12″ of the dazzling single mix from 1979, and the Razormaid mix represented an orgy of sound. Both now live in the Record Cell.
Nice to hear some love shard for Strangelove. I always thought it was a nice return to form for DM, they had a couple of strong albums (Broken Frame and Construction Time Again) and then things get kinda messy, I never felt like Some Great Reward had a sonic theme penetrating it like the earlier two did and ten the two one-off’s to promote the hits collection didn’t really add to anything other than they were trying to sound angsty, industrial and well a bit lost. The Black Celebration just sounded too sensitive and mopey and. then. Strangelove, a great return to bombastic perviness fullfilling the promise laid out by drips and drabs of Some Great Reward. Too bad about a lot of the rest of the parent album.
I always wondered about the authorship of some of these mixes on the razormaid, disconet DMC, etc. series. I’d read about them in places like Goldmine and they were grail type acquisitions for me in the late 80’s early 90’s and then when I got one, finally, after spending a lot of money, well, the mixes sounded too much to me like ones that I already had. Maybe a minute shorter or longer but really I couldn’t spot any significant difference. The funny thing is that to this day Ill see something listed as, you know, “West End Girls – Razormaid mix” and I STILL think “ohhhhh I wonder if that’s any good” yet I know I already have a mix that is pretty darn closely identical to that one.
Monk, you know my love for Music For The Masses other bombastic track – Never Let Me Down Again. It may be the more obvious of the two, but it just grabs me and doesn’t let go until the end. Given that is comes in remixes of even heavier bombast at almost 10 minutes, it’s just the most addictive song in the band’s catalogue for me. If someone found a way to encorporate Beethoven’s Hallelujah Chorus into the mix, I would be done and dusted.
Tim hit on something I’ve long held with Depeche Mode, for all the mass appeal they garnered after Construction Time Again, they really had lost sonic focus until Music For The Masses and then Violator. Music For The Masses especially stands out because it came out at a time where the 80’s had really lost it’s way.
As for the topic of Razormaid, Joseph Watt and Art Maharg were just were brilliant remixers, making the best use of the technology at their fingertips. Their mixes are most impressive because of the sonic clarity and attention to detail in them. They also understood the dj’s and listeners they created for. From my knowledge they are considered the best dj mix service by dj’s of many era.
If you are fond of Never Let Me Down Again there is a mixer out there who goes by the name Rhythm Scholar who did a nice little ep of NLMDA mixes a couple of years back. His work is generally outstanding and his site is easy to find.
Hi Mr. Monk,
What brings me to an old Razormaid post. Well, I would have posted
this under Kraftwerk, but those posts were old also, and maybe not
as good a fit.
I saw you posted on another blog in 2019, about the ‘hit it’ compilation
with the Razormaid mix of Kraftwerk’s ‘Sex Object’, along with Erasure,
and Depeche Mode tracks. The person said they found it for $20. I just got
one off discogs for $20 also. So, yeah, waiting for me paid off. You’re
right it usually goes for double that or more.
I know its not a different mix, but I’m not sure why some releases
have it as : Kraftwerk – Sex Object (The Tiergartenstrasse Mix)
rather than just the Razormaid mix. Well, anyways, one more thing
to cross off my want list.