Positive Noise: Positive/Negative UK 12″ 
- Positive/Negative [ext. remix]
- Positive/Negative [instrumental]
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 –