Record Review: John Foxx – Metamatic DLX RM [part 7]

The Metamatic Box comes with 6 art cards printed on silver cardstock. Foxx signed the first 750 copies.

[continued from last post]

With the first half of disc two acting like a sister album to “Metamatic” with ten new songs, the last half of the disc mops up alternative versions and mixes from the album [with one exception]. The 7″ edit of “Underpass” is merely shorter than the track we all know and love, but the 7″ single remix of “No-One Driving” has always been a fascinating new look at the song. The mix there was decidedly different with the muddier mix of the album banished for a sharper, more trebly version of the song. The white noise thunderclaps were buried in the midrange on the album but here they were EQed into sharp relief, as the separation of the stereo image was also accentuated.

The biggest difference would have been the re-recording of the line “someone’s gone liquid in the sheets” to become “someone’s gone missing in the sheets.” Foxx may have intended that sexual imagery as a double entendre that not only referenced… moisture, but also the mutability of self that was a more overriding thematic concern of his. Even so, Auntie Beeb mustn’t be offended. Even with a metaphor, hence the changed lyric flown in. Even so, Foxx gave us a gift to make up for it when he increased the bass overload on the backing vocal following that line reading to become something truly awe inspiring.

One of the surprises from left field here to those who have not been soaking up every Foxx CD of the last few decades was the alternative version of “Like A Miracle.” The song had been written in 1979 before finally reaching the world’s ears on Foxx’s third album, “The Golden Section” in 1983. But, he had recorded it with a thought of it being his debut single four years earlier. The version here was an upbeat and winsome technopop version of the song which became something much more melancholy four years hence. This version was downright perky and having an understanding of what “Metamatic” came to be, it made perfect sense to table the song for a time until it had a more receptive home to move into. It would have stuck out something horrible amid the frigid cold wave of “Metamatic.”

Conversely, the alternative version of “A New Kind Of Man” from the unreleased A-side shown at right was much more sinister and insistent than the more dispassionate album track. It was not an alternative mix but a completely different reading of the song. The final alternative version was for the song “He’s A Liquid,” which had appeared originally on a promo 12″ of “Underpass.” The performance sounded the same to me but the particulars of the mic [largely its EQ] were severely changed from the more woody album cut to something more tinny here. All of these tracks, save for the “Underpass” 7″ edit, have figured on earlier Foxx CDs, but it makes more sense to have them here where they belong.

The remainder of disc two consists of longer edits of album tracks which had been edited for the LP version of “Metamatic.” Many bands often record longer versions of songs which were later edited and tightened up for album inclusion. But to have placed them on the album in the place of the original released versions that fans know and expect,would have been non-canonical. They appeared at the end of disc two instead. The best of these was “Plaza,” which I always wanted to hear as a single. The version here comes close a 12″ mix. The song had trimmed by 50 seconds to a modest fadeout. The unexpurgated mix here allowed for a more powerful coda that broke down with a new countermelody for a dramatically different outro. “Underpass” and “Blurred Girl” were about another 30 seconds longer. Nothing radical there. The radical would reveal itself presently on the almost all-new disc three of “Metamatic.”

Next: …Threads Developed [and in some cases, not picked up for decades]


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, Record Review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Record Review: John Foxx – Metamatic DLX RM [part 7]

  1. Woody and tinny FTW.


  2. Echorich says:

    A few years ago some rather dodgy “extended versions” of Numan’s Numa Records period releases were out in the wild…they added nothing to the songs, except to provide an example of why artists, engineers and producers edit tracks before mastering the album.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I remember the “extended versions” of the Numa albums. The cassette versions would have the unedited songs and in the late 90s they made the CD leap for a cash spinning Numan.


  3. Adam Chomenko says:

    Great review of a great album.
    You briefly mentioned the extended version of Underpass. To my ear, only there we can hear the synth riff that was used by Mark Reeder in his mix of the song. Furthermore, the synth which was put through the MXR Flanger/Doubler starts shifting in the L/R spectrum, gaining a new dimension and marking its importance. I also want to say that this sound became my obsession.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Adam Chomenko – Welcome to the comments! If you are obsessed with flangers and John Foxx, then all I can say is that you have come to the right place. Stay tuned for more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.