REVO Remastering: Jacqui Brookes – Sob Stories [REVO 074] [part 2]

Ms. Brookes rocked that hairstyle a lot better than Mike Score managed to

[…continued from last post]

I have already sung the praises of the “Lost Without Your Love” 12″ single. I love how the baroque, Arabic complexion of this song had been radically changed into something else entirely. The Venomettes string arrangement remained but an almost new song had been constructed around them and Ms. Brookes’ forceful performance. Almost all of Pino Palladino’s fretless bass had been removed, outside of the bass motif in the song’s intro, and it had been replaced with synth bass.

Most  dramatically, the drum track had been replaced with beatbox, giving this track a decidedly Cab Volt air. With the Arabic scales of the string melodies, it strongly brought to mind the John Robie remix of “Yashar” but the relentless drum machine rhythms also paved the way for  Front 242’s “W.Y.H.I.W.Y.G.” since this single predates that album by a good four years! The resulting remix was only a minute longer but the effort took the song in completely new and exciting directions.

The Muzak Superior mix was an instrumental mix more than a proper dub version, since most of the instrumentation remained. The second half of the track did manage to build quite a nice head of steam with the repetition of the main riff and just a brief edit of Jimme O’Neill singing the word “lost” from his backing vocals. The B-side, “Epic” was a skeletal demo with delicate, morse code synths offsetting the strummed acoustic guitars. Ghostly string patches were the only other instrumentation. When Ms. Brookes appeared halfway through the number with a minimal recitation of the haiku-like lyrics, it came as a minor shock.

“Haunted Cocktails [Version Longue] began deceptively, with the isolated strings of The Venomettes but after 30 seconds of buildup the shocking inclusion of O’Neill’s psychedelic freak out guitar came as a dramatic indication that the 12” had already gone “off road.” The throbbing, pulsating synths of the 12″ mix created a completely motorik makeover for the already stellar single. The extended coda at the song’s end took it effectively to the seven minute mark. The lynchpin track from the album had become a tremendous 12″ single.

The Muzak Superior mix here was a much more effective dub mix than the first single. Producer Mike Hedges actually managed to take the track into dubspace with a child’s nursery rhyme bookending the mix. The spectral whisperings of Ms. Brookes mixed at almost subliminal level synch magnificently with the throbbing dub track. I love the cleanly picked rhythm guitar heightened in the mix. The isolated tympani were also a treat. This would sound good mixed with Leisure Process’ “Love Cascade” single from the previous year. The version of “Deaprtures on the B-side was an even more dissipated recording of the song, with the lyrics possibly not sung in English. It’s all so underplayed, it’s hard to tell.

The Scenic View mix of “Trains And Boats And Planes” here opened with a blast of Bollywood ambience, before the scene changed abruptly to highlight the song’s marimba and The Fabulous Wealthy Tarts humming in the extended intro buildup. Graham Preskett’s violin and string arrangements sounded marvelous with the marimbas of Jimme O’Neill brought way up in the mix. Ms. Brookes on expression vocals then led back into the Fabulous Wealthy Tarts’ sweetly harmonized backing vocals, until the song proper began at the two minute mark. The new, loping backbeat added to the song remained the biggest distinction to this 12″ mix, apart from the new arrangement of its component parts. I have to say that of the 12″ mixes here, this one was the runt of the litter. The LP mix remained the one here to beat, as far as I was concerned. The original intro was world-conquering in its impact, but I do appreciate how the backing vocals and marimba have been given the spotlight in this mix.

I was lucky enough to find this album after searching for it following my viewing of the “Lost Without Your Love” video on MTV. As I recall, it took me the better part of a year, which seemed like a long time at the age of 20*, to finally buy a gold stamped promo copy of this album. It remained the only copy I had until (as I recall) I chanced upon another in a New Orleans record store some time during my honeymoon in the 90s. I bought it on the off chance that having two copies to digitize were better than one, and how much longer would it take to find copy number three? Hint – I’m still waiting.

As far as the singles, I got lucky, very  lucky, in 2002 when I found both of the first two 12″ singles during that legendary trip to Yesterday + Today Records in Maryland. Good thing I was in the zone during that time, since until then, I had no idea that they were issued under the name of Intro in the UK instead of the Jacqui Brookes name. Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed when I saw the Huw Feather cover of “Lost Without Your Love” and I looked more closely, as triggered by the song’s title.

It was only last year when after researching into the making of this edition, that I found out that there was a third 12″ with the Bacharach cover as the A-side. Fortunately, I found a copy for sale in my feed and the rest was history. I actually mastered the vinyl last year to give a copy to my friend The RAHB as a birthday present with the last of my MAM-A stash. The, last month, to make myself a copy following my long-delayed purchase of some more MAM-A stock, I revisited the mastering with a dollop of ClickRepair added to the results, though careful headphone listening would be needed to tell the difference. All of the vinyl sounded pretty clean, though there was sibilance on Brookes’ vocals here and there. Having two copies of the album to digitize was a great fallback, but the first copy I played sounded so good, I don’t think I ever played the 2nd copy. I’m not certain even which version got used; my 1983 copy or the edition purchased over 20 years later.

As fine as this album was, it remained the swan song for Jacqui Brookes pop career, after a period of several years operating in the margins of pop music. Following this album, she dropped from sight and has recently made her fame as a filmmaker and sound designer. She is currently Creative Director at Media By The Lake in Australia. I’m more than sufficiently intrigued by this project and her Shox single to track down the Siam material and finish the job I’ve started. Join us again in about…oh, seven years or so. That’s what it usually takes me.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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