Cabaret Voltaire: Yashar UK 12″ 
- Yashar [7:20]
- Yashar [5:00]
This curious transitional record came out in 1983, and it marked the first time that Cabaret Voltaire was seriously intended for the dance floor. In May of 1982, The last album release of the band for Rough Trade was the aptly named “2×45” double 12″/album. On it, the closest thing the band had at that point to a big beat colossus was the second track, “Yashar.” Funk was always a motivator for the Sheffield trio but you would not know it by the sound of 12″ singles such as the preceding year’s “Eddie’s Out.”
In May of 1983, Factory Records released the only “single” from “2×45,” in John Robie’s remixes of “Yashar.” The only Cab Volt releases in my Record Cell at that time were the “Eddie’s Out/Jazz The Glass” 12″/7″ combo and “2×45.” Early exposure to “The Voice Of America” had pointed me in their direction. I did not buy this record at the time but purchased the less interesting looking US edition seen at left some time in 1985 or so. I held on to my copy until some time in the mid 90s, when my judgement clouded by who knows what, I traded off my US “Yashar” 12″ in the mistaken belief that I then had the A/B side of this release on CDs by the band. Years later I realized that only the B-side mix had appeared on “Eight Crepuscule Tracks” and the longer A-side mix was nowhere to be found. I resolved to correct this error, and last Saturday, at the 12th annual Harvest Records Anniversary Sale, I made good on the threat.
Robie wisely started the mix off with the sinister “the 70 billion people of earth – where are they hiding” sample from The Outer Limits then quickly took the mix into novelty disco territory with what sounded like pitch shifted vocals samples of a man’s voice “passing for female.” Alan Fish’s magnificently clattering tribal drum track was still there but something akin to the kitchen sink was now accompanying it. An eerily prescient Italohouse piano was added to the mix along with some drum machine percussion hits. Synth crescendoes were also added as the top heavy mix threatened to wobble completely off the rails.
I do like how he isolated the bass synth, sounding here not a million miles away from the kind used on “Sensoria.” I’m less convinced by the soprano doubling the main synth leitmotif. Or the intrusive shouts of the title [not shouted by any member of the band] or the “over here” pitch shifted vocal drop-ins. Ultimately, the many overdubs used here arrived at a “hit and miss” aesthetic that listening to now sounds potentially jarring and compromised. One addition that I think worked was the elka string topline that added melodic complexity to the frankly minimal song. Enough to take it into single worthy territory though the end result was like lipstick and makeup crudely added to glossies of the traditionally unsmiling band. While the A-side mix was done within a year of the song’s release, it sounds like a typical post-modern mix, perhaps made years after the original. The overall effect is not unlike the shock of hearing “Blue Monday ’88” for the first time. In fact, it seems like Quincey Jones completely stole every technique from Robie’s playbook here to the same deleterious effect.
There was a reason why the B-side 5:00 dub mix was included on “Eight Crepuscule Tracks;” it’s a rather effective dub mix! The sound didn’t cross the disco line in the sand that was premature on the A-side for such a doom-laden piece of late early [?] period Cab Volt. Okay, so the soprano was still here but all other added vocals were excised. The drum track was beefed up with dubby echo that made the track more psychedelic. Another addition I liked was the distorted metallic noises that sounded like stressed metal about to rip.
One thing that is apparent while listening to this again decades later, is that it was absolutely a harbinger of the band’s fertile imperial period that officially began four months later when the now iconic duo of Kirk and Mallinder released “The Crackdown” on Some Bizzare/Virgin and were far more successful in meeting the industrial funk dancefloor on their own terms. If the somewhat compromised Robie mix of “Yashar” had any impact on Stevo thinking he could sign this band profitably, then it was perhaps acquitted by history.
– 30 –
Afraid I’m a massive fan of John Robie and Yashar slips right in well with his remixes of New Order which I adore. I get that it’s all a bit much – kitchen sinks mentality on display here – but it lends itself to a feeling that the band was embracing new directions and took an all or nothing stance with using Robie… This is Cross-Atlantic Electro and it’s over the top and sublime…
Echorich – I find I much prefer Robie painting over New Order, who lack the menacing undercurrent of Cab Volt. Cab Volt need malevolent power even on their funk workouts; not garish frippery. That said, you hit the nail on the head with your “all or nothing” remark. There’s no subtlety left though the final product remains ambiguous. Ambiguity being a chief CV trait.
Hint on how high I hold Robie, my blog’s name is a tribute to his Soul Sonic Force track, Looking For The Perfect Beat.
I like the electronics and cut up sampling of Robie’s verison of The Cab’s Don Argue as well.
Robie is truly the unsung hero of Electro. He is the music behind Planet Rock, Hip Hop Be Bop, the “engineer” (this means he cleaned up Baker and Benitez production) on New Order’s Confusion, NYC A GoGo remix by The Armoury Show (making them almost palatable for me) the music behind Freeez’s gigantic I.O.U.,C-Bank’s Get Wet and so many other tracks that were the clubbing soundtrack of early 80’s NYC.
I feel a new playlist coming on…
Echorich – Wow, and I thought your blog’s title was a tribute to Bronski Beat? Well, shiver me timbers! I will say that I love his New Order work and even “Don’t Argue.” It’s just that this mix sounds clumsy for me in comparison to what will come from both him and Cab Volt.
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