Frazier Chorus: Elaine 4 x CD-R 
- Sloppy Heart [4AD ver.]
- Typical [4AD ver.]
- Storm [4AD ver.]
- Dream Kitchen [ext.]
- 40 Winks [ext.]
- Typical! [7”]
- Born With A Headache
- Typical! [ext. mix]
- Storm [live mix]
- Typical! [live mix]
- Sloppy Heart [alt. mix]
- Anarchy In The UK
- Living Room [demo]
- 40 Winks [demo]
- Cloud 8 [raid mix]
- Nothing [7”]
- Le Change Est Magnifique
- Christmas Every Year
- Nothing [land of oz mix]
- Cloud 8 [swing machine vocal mix]
- The Window
- Cloud 8 [future mix]
- Walking On Air [7”]
- Nothing [has been proved mix]
- I Want You Around
- Heaven [god like edit]
- Nothing [inst.]
- Walking On Air [ext.]
- Little Piece Of Hell
- Nothing [sonic brake mix]
- Walking On Air [dub. inst.]
- Wide Awake Studio Outtake
- Nothing [raid mix]
- Cloud 8 [richie rich reconstruction]
- Walking On Air [maharishi yogi mix]
- Nothing [12” club edit]
- Heaven [god like mix]
- Nothing [12” master mix]
- Walking On Air [18 hole doc marten mix]
- If The Weather Was Up To Me
- Nothing [rhythm stick ver.]
- Cloud 8 [acoustic]
- Heaven [god like inst.]
- Driving [7”]
- Nothing [beats mix]
- So You’re Sorry
- Radio Chit Chat
- Driving [mass transit mix]
- Nothing [beats mix 2]
- Good Grief
- Driving [scenic route mix]
I’ll never forget the circumstances under which I first heard Frazier Chorus. I was shopping at Waxtree Records and I think it was Bob Ponder himself [the owner] who asked if I wanted to hear a really great cover of “Anarchy In The UK?” He had the shaped CD3 package of “Sloppy Heart” there and I was blown away by the approach to the crusty, by then (1989) cobwebbed, punk classic. The vocals were a whispered murmur. Every angle of the spiky music had been planed smooth and then polished further with nary a guitar, bass or drum in earshot! Instead, the listener was treated to flute, clarinet and bongos, awash in sheets of gossamer synthesizers. It sounded like a gentle lullabye instead of a truculent call to sedition. Needless to say, I bought it immediately and became a big fan!
The other tracks on the release painted the big picture, and what a picture it was. The group took extreme pains not to to approach “rock music” in any way, shape or form; preferring instead to soothe the listener’s ear with extremely melodious ear candy. Ear candy with an acid center via Tim Freeman’s frequently vicious and caustic lyrics! In case you didn’t know, the juxtaposition of cotton-candy music with mordant lyrical content is one of my favorite things ever and Frazier Chorus were the apotheosis of this particular art form. I got my hands on all of the CD singles and their perfect debut album, “Sue,” which never got a US release. Record show jaunts during the era revealed their debut single for 4AD records with an earlier 12” of “Sloppy Heart” featuring different takes of the A-side and “Typical” and “Storm.” If anything, these earlier Gil Norton-produced takes sounded even more lush (after all, they are on a 4AD release) and therefore, superior (if it can be believed) to the slightly more spartan takes for Virgin Records two years later.
Two years after their debut album, “Sue,” the group lost their percussion player Michelle Allardyce and pared down to a trio of Tim Freeman (keys) with Chris Taplin (clarinet) and Kate Holmes (flute) remaining. The music on offer for their second album, “Ray,” was heralded by CD single mixes featuring the de-rigur “Madchester” sound then dominating the UK charts. The music was still by turns fey and twee, but it was now being tarted up with remixes that were dance oriented. This did not please me at the time, but at least the album still sounded like Frazier Chorus, and the B-sides were as distinctive as ever. “Ray” came in a limited edition double CD with what was called “The Baby Album,” featuring four remixes. One of these tracks was on evidence on a single but the other three cuts were not, making this a unique issue, more or less. I was intrigued by a Youth remix of the brilliant “Heaven,” albeit in instrumental form on “The Baby Album.” Since there was not yet a single of it, I presumed that it would eventually be one. Technically, I was right, even though I ultimately turned out to be wrong. The planned “Heaven” single was withdrawn before release, leaving its only evidence occurring on “The Baby Album.”
When the internet hit, I learned that there was a plethora of Frazier Chorus material that I had not heard from vinyl only, so I began to look for the releases here and there. I was shocked in the late 90s when I came across a third FC album from 1996, “Wide Awake,” which was all but a Tim Freeman solo album. Its eleven tracks (on the US version – the UK version is only 8 cuts!) show him now retreated from remixed daaaaance music with a pared-down musical sensibility that no-doubt comes with losing 66% of your band! Nevertheless, the songs are still quite bitter musings on everyday life couched in the usual lovely music.
Tim’s brother Jamie made an official bootleg of demos called “Monkey Spunk,” that was available from him via the fan-created “official” Frazier Chorus website of the late 90s. And that was pretty much it for Frazier Chorus. Tim Freeman went on to do who-knows-what while his younger brother Martin Freeman based the “Tim” character in the UK series “The Office” (which I’ve never seen) on his older brother. Tim did put out one single under the name “Sly-Fi” in 2005 that I have not yet heard or seen, though Jamie Freeman calls it the most profane record he’s ever heard. Chris Taplin formed dance act Espitiru and Kate Holmes (not the actress) is now known as Client A in the femme/retro/electro group Client.
This BSOG® opened with the contents of the 4AD 12” single. These three songs also appeared on the debut album on Virgin but in different form. The production here sounded so lush that it no doubt made the whole enterprise so costly as to be unrecoupable. When Virgin came sniffing around, one hopes that 4AD were bought out at a good rate, because the resulting record is impossibly rich and ornate in such a way as to make other 4AD releases sound spartan in comparison. Their debut Virgin single was the splendid “Dream Kitchen,” which appeared in an extended version, though hardly a dance mix. B-sides include the non-LP “Down” and an extended version of “40 Winks” from the album “Sue.”
The “Typical” CD single featured an extended mix as well as the non-LP “Born With A Headache.” The other relevant format was the 10” single which sported two live cuts: “Storm” and the titular A-side. The subsequent single appeared in a plethora of formats, all with unique cuts to better influence chart action. I first got the shaped CD3 of “Sloppy Heart” that featured the jaw-dropping cover of “Anarchy In The UK” in addition to another non-LP cut, “String.” The 1st 12” single featured a unique cut, “Spoonhead.” The now mandatory 2nd 12” featured the alternative mix of “Sloppy Heart” to the lucky purchases who didn’t get one of the numerous mispressings that were in fact, the normal mix! And the cassette single featured unique demos of “40 Winks” and “Living Room” in addition to the correctly labeled alternative mix of “Sloppy Heart!”
The advance single from album #2 (“Ray”) was a shocker. Cloud 8 sported very trendy, de riguerdance mixes courtesy of Paul Oakenfold, who was all but inescapable after turning the unlikely Happy Mondays into top of the chart fodder, against all odds. The CD singles sported his “Raid Mix” of the A-side in addition to two, more typical non-LP b-sides: “Le Change Est Magnifique” and “The Window.” The 1st 12” had the Raid Mix and the Future Mix. The 2nd 12” featured two more remixes courtesy of Swing Machine and Richie Rich. The CD single remained the listener’s best buy.
1. UK 7” – Featured Oakenfold 7” remix and the unique B-side “Little Piece Of Hell”
2. UK CD – Featured “Land Of Oz Mix” and unique B-side “Blistered”
3. UK12” #1 – Featured “Raid Mix”
4. UK 12” #2 – Featured Chad Jackson Remixes (Has Been Proved Mix, Instrumental, Beats Mix 2)
5. US Promo 12” #1 – Featured unique “Sonic Break Mix”
6. US Promo 12” #2 – Featured 4 mixes, unique to the States (12” Club Edit, 12” Master Mix,
Rhythm Stick Version, Beats Mix
That’s eleven freaking mixes of “Nothing!!!” I have meted these out with hopefully enough buffer material between them to make linear listening possible. I generally try to keep the material in order of release but multiple versions make this difficult. This set (more than any other) gets waaaaaay out of whack due to the inordinate number of remixes of the three singles from this album.
The third single from “Ray” was never released. Instead of Oakenfold remixes, Virgin went with former Killing Joke bassist Youth; now making a name for himself under the auspices of daaaaaance music. “Heaven” was one hoot of a track on the album and I’m guessing potential uproar over the lyrics was responsible for the spiking of the single. So what if “god is a bore and his son is annoying as well!” All that was released of these remixes was the “God Like Instrumental” available on “The Baby Album” of four remixes that accompanied early pressings of “Ray.” I guess there would be nothing inflammatory there? Fortunately, this BSOG contains what would have been all of the remixes, lyrics included.
Youth also did mixing honors on the actual 3rd single, “Walking On Air.” The CD had his 7” and extended remix. The 1st 12” featured the Dub Instrumental. The 2nd 12 had two unique mixes; the Maharishi Yogi Mix and the 18 Hole Doc Marten (?) mix. Interspersed between these dozens of mixes of just three songs, enlivened by the occasional B-side, are the contents of “Monkey Spunk.” These can sound a little rough, but they are demos, for crying out loud! And be thankful they are there to buffer too many mixes of three songs! Remix abuse got out of hand in the 90s but this was intended to be a canonical BSOG®, and by gar, I intended anything Frazier Chorus released with their name on it to be in there if it wasn’t an album cut. Since their career was at that point finite and knowable, it’s the least I can do.
Thankfully, the mixes didn’t flat out stink, even if their numbers are indeed excessive. None of that tiny-vocal-sample-looped-for-9-minutes-with-a-completely-re-constructed-music- bed nonsense here! And as a special bonus, there is the wondrous acoustic “Cloud 8” from the superb Adventure Club Sessions radio station KDGE issued in the mid-90s. This is one of the finest Frazier Chorus tracks that my ears have ever heard and makes me want to hear all of their material in the acoustic session format! That CD was hard to come by but was packed with goodness, featuring rarities from at least 4-5 different core collections of mine.
“Elaine” was ultimately a four disc set with every damn thing issued by the group not on “Sue,” “Ray” or “Wide Awake!” Unique US Promo only remixes and all, this was a truly canonical Boxed Set Of God® and nothing was held back! Due to the excessive nature of the later remixes, this has made sequencing a challenge, to say the least. It started out in a linear fashion but by disc number two, the order of release train got completely derailed as I take pains to avoid having two versions of a track within two plays of each other. In this way, the insanely rare “Monkey Spunk” cuts (it is effectively an EP) are not grouped together but sprinkled between the many, many remixes of “Ray” singles to break up the potential remix logjam. As to the titling of this release, it’s a personal in-joke of sorts that my oldest friends will be able to understand. I will admit to having been disappointed when their third album, “Wide Awake,” showed up with that title instead of the all-but-inevitable title of “Elaine,” so I’m filling the breach here.
– 30 –
p.s.: I cannot believe that I have blogged for seven years without ever mentioning Frazier Chorus even once! Mea culpa!