Record Review: Hot Gossip – Soul Warfare

Dindisc ‎| UK | 12″ | 1982 | DIN 38-12

Hot Gossip: Soul Warfare UK 12″ [1982]

  1. Soul Warfare
  2. Soul Warfare [instrumental]

Back in April, I wrote about the excellent 12″ that The British Electric Foundation produced for the dance troupe Hot Gossip. It was a cover of the early pseudonymous Human League single “I Don’t Depend On You” and it was my favorite version of the great song; largely due to the spotlight on John Wilson, the great bass player that B.E.F. stumbled onto in those early days. I concluded with the vow to buy the second 12″ from the “Geisha Boys + Temple Girls” album and this has now happened, as it entered my Record Cell via the large box alluded to last week.

First of all, the song “Soul Warfare” had been a slow burner with me. It was the final track on the “Pavement” side of “Penthouse + Pavement” but on the US H17 debut album seen at left, it was one of the songs that Arista thought to cut from the running order, to better fill the disc with unrelated single tracks and songs from the as yet unreleased second album. I had a copy of “Soul Warfare” on the “Methods Of Dance Vol. 1″ compilation, so I was taken care of until I relented and tracked down an import copy of “P+P” shortly afterward.

In 1982 I didn’t miss the track all that much, but as the years have trundled onward, the insanely funky Latin syncopation of the track has really gotten under my skin to the point that I much prefer the song in today’s environment and consider it one of the killer deep cuts from “Penthouse + Pavement.” I’m not surprised to see that enough was thought of it to make it the second single from the B.E.F.-led Hot Gossip album of 1982.

I noted at the time of the previous Hot Gossip review that I really needed this single. Then, I was eager to hear what had been done to the song for its debut on 12″ single. As it turns out, that was for naught. The 12″ I just bought simply has the LP mix on its first face. Fortunately, the emphasis on the bass of John Wilson made this a winner no matter how one heard it. The backing track sounded remarkably similar to the H17 version. So much so that I have vacillated on the thought that it’s just a remix on the Hot Gossip album.

Currently, I am of the opinion that the bass playing is slightly more aggressive on this take [it would be the second time that John Wilson laid this track down in the studio] that perhaps came with the chance to do it over. He hits the same marks, but maybe it just came down to the bass being more prominent in the mix. To better offset the thinner vocals on this version of the song. As a dance troupe forced to sing, you could do a lot worse than Hot Gossip, but they are no match vocally for Glenn Gregory.

The B-side here was an instrumental version of “Soul Warfare” and though hope was held out that it was a dub mix, the fact was that it was simply the backing track to side one of this disc. But that’s not to say it’s without merit! The nutzoid syncopation between the multiple layers of Linndrum percussion and John Wilson on bass is laid bare to the whole world on this side and it’s a thing of wonder to hear without vocals intruding on the very sincere funkiness of it all. Best of all, it’s just waiting for you to lay your dulcet tones on top for your personal Heaven 17 karaoke night. I’ve really grown to love this song a lot in recent years and it’s fun to sing it with this backing track; not appreciably different to the version you’ve known and loved for 36 years. At the very least, it was gratifying to know that “Soul Warfare” finally merited a release as a single, even if it was with the name of Hot Gossip attributed to it.

In looking at the “career” of Hot Gossip, their early, pre-B.E.F. period was on Ariola-Hansa and leaned heavily on a kitch sci-fi disco vibe best avoided. Then their later material was on an even dicier label and seemed to be just hi-NRG under the guiding hand of Ian Levine. Not my cup of joe. But…there was one more 1982 single that calls to me with intrigue whispered in my ear. The troupe next released a cover of Metro’s “Criminal World” [before Bowie!] as produced by Richard James Burgess, the man who coined the term “New Romantic.” So my dalliance in the potentially tacky world of Hot Gossip has yet one more chapter! Look for a fourth and final Hot Gossip post one day here at PPM. No telling when, since all the copies on sale at Discogs right now are prohibitively European in origin.

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6 Responses to Record Review: Hot Gossip – Soul Warfare

  1. Echorich says:

    It is interesting, the things that tie us all together in our love of music from the margins of the mainstream. I have loved the B.E.F. Hot Gossip album since I purchased it in the musical paradise that was Metro Records in Little Neck, NY. It is amazing and gratifying that there are others out on the interweb that have had some of the same experiences with the same music that so very few really know about.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – In the cosmic scheme of things, Hot Gossip’s 1982 output is not up there with, let’s say, Peter Godwin’s superb if cultish work in the same period, but it certainly bears investigating. And when those two worlds overlap, as on the “Criminal World” cover, how can I not be entirely intrigued? Yet one glance at the earlier or later Hot Gossip releases reveals a strong, skunk like aroma to my senses. Knowing full well who Hot Gossip were as early as 1980, it’s what kept me away from even this interesting B.E.F. produced material until I happened across the “Geisha Boys + Temple Girls” CD.


      • Echorich says:

        Peter Godwin is another “obscurity” that links so many of us who, looking back and even today rate the work of someone who strived to be received, yet melted into the obscurity of a wikipedia citation. Yet in our world he his held in the same regard as artist who commanded the charts over the course of multiple albums.
        There is something that has to be said for the openness of the 80s which allowed for such artists to gather a hardcore base of fans that never let go of their work. That didn’t occur in the 90s nor do I see it in the New Millennium.


        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – People have no attention span today. I think that’s basically it. Plus the media overload problem doesn’t make for an audience receptive to following anything for more than a brief period. There’s so much data noise out there clamoring for your attention. That’s one of the big things I have against “obtaining” near infinite amounts of music. Having to pay for what I want to hear functions as a moderator of sorts and then I can more properly “digest” what I do purchase. Ideally, I always want more music but in reality, I have a hard enough time simply comprehending and appreciating what I do manage to purchase. It’s why I actively wanted to spend less this year. At $480 spent midyear, it’s up from similar periods in 2016 and especially 2015. C’est la vie.


  2. Wow, I’d forgotten that Ian Levine produced later/blander Hot Gossip, but of course he did. Levine is currently known in Doctor Who circles as the man everyone loves to hate, despite the fact that he rescued a number of classic episodes from being lost to destruction by the short-sighted BBC (and for which fandom is — or was — duly grateful), and also (much more recently) put out a wonderful animation of one of the missing episodes. In between those two high points, however, he helped ruin the Colin Baker era (which needed no help in achieving that goal, though I don’t blame Mr. Baker), produced the execrable “Doctor in Distress” single to help bring the show back in the mid 80s, and has spent nearly all of his time since either a) producing really crap music or b) arguing with people because he has a very inflated opinion of himself/is a jackass who can’t resist a petty argument.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – Wow! Then if they still hate him after actually salvaging “lost episodes” of Doctor Who… then that single must really suck!!! [checks…]

      Oh yeah, baby! That looks like some grade D limburger… and good lord…! Hans Zimmer played on that thing?! [tsk! tsk!] Do I see David Van Day dead center on the cover too?! Yikes.


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