Hot Gossip: Soul Warfare UK 12″ 
- Soul Warfare
- 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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