Record Review: Positive Noise – Positive Negative


Statik Records ‎| UK | 12″ | 1981 | STAT 812

Positive Noise: Positive/Negative UK 12″ [1981]

  1. Positive/Negative [ext. remix]
  2. Positive/Negative [instrumental]
  3. Energy

This was a record I’d wanted ever since 1982. That year, I’d purchased what for decades was my only Positive Noise record, “Change of Heart.” When I played that disc, the brief but fiery song “Positive/Negative” fairly leapt out at my throat from the rest of the vinyl. For many years afterward, the 2:47 song was something that found its way to many a mix tape, as the song’s notoriety existed in inverse proportion to its electric sense of dynamics.

When I saw this bad boy in Wuxtry, Decator last October, I was more than happy to purchase it and report on my findings. For 34 years I had been waiting for the experience of this song to last longer than the scant running time of the album version. The remix of the A-side by Tony Cousins is mixed a bit strangely. Elements of the mix sound like they were recorded “in the red.” None moreso than the fat oscillating tone that under lied the song’s pixilated intro, gradually building up enough steam so that it threatened to take the whole song down with it when it peaked.

The vocals sounded crisp, but the music bed threatened to overmodulate at various points in the mix. This was disappointing at first, since it’s the vinyl mastering equivalent to brickwalling, but after more than a few spins, I’m somewhat used to the somewhat brash sound. The tightly coiled energy of the familiar LP mix was largely absent, save for the sequencer pattern that cut through the entirety of the song. In its place, were more expansive, dub-influenced spaces where the elements of the song aired out in a way such that all of the players got a chance for the spotlight in the 6:43 running time. I particularly noted that the kyperkinetic sax solos on the tune gave it a real jolt of energy redolent of Ian Nelson’s vibrant runs from Bill Nelson’s Red Noise.

The Instrumental B-side is more properly, a dub mix, that gives a good emphasis to the rubbery bass line driving this song. The 3:42 running time makes it longer than the 3:16 7″ mix, which is still 30 seconds longer than the always brief LP mix. The A-side tune was driven by drum machine, by the sound of it, but the B-side let drummer Less Gaff actually strike the skins for a more lively effect. Positive Noise were the sort of New Wave band I enjoyed in that synths were on equal footing with conventional instruments, but it’s true that guitar was mighty thin on the ground here, thought the dreamy synths anchoring the excellent “Energy,” needed to predominate the airy tune.

My first exposure to what Positive Noise did on a 12″ single was pretty satisfying, thought at the end of the day, I suspect that I will always carry the brightest of torches for the more tightly coiled energy of the rather brief LP mix. Given that the 7″ mix is 30 longer than that, I may have to grab a copy to compare and contrast, especially before I remaster “Change of Heart” and add the requisite bonus material.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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5 Responses to Record Review: Positive Noise – Positive Negative

  1. Echorich says:

    35 years on and EVERYTIME I hear this song it sticks with me for the entire day.

    That recording technique (or mistake) was really obvious from the first time I ever played the 12″ all those years ago….Thank goodness my Marantz receiver had a very delicate bass knob that really responded well. But there’s something almost Punk about this synth pop anthem and maybe the sort of “balls to the wall” recording was part of the brashness, as you so well put it, the band was going for.
    Another observation – I own a decent number of albums and 12″ singles that came out on Statik and I don’t believe any of them had really great mastering…some of the flaws here could just be down to the label.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Phew! Glad to hear there’s nothing wrong with my pressing. It looks flawless, and played without much noticeable crackle or pops, but it didn’t sound “right”from the get-go. It wasn’t until the third okay when I realized that it was meant to sound like that!


  2. Taffy says:

    The 7″ of Positive Negative got a ton of turntable play in my house back in the day, and I was thrilled that somebody digitized it for a long-forgotten music blog once upon a laptop. I never owned the 12″ and didn’t even hear the extended remix till the past year or two. It’s fine, but I actually think less is more in this case, and prefer the shorter version I’ve pogo-ed to for the past 35 years.
    Speaking of pogoing, it’s rare I can play this while DJ-ing, as the tempo is so breakneck speedy it’s tough to work into a set. But i try!


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