[…continued form last post]
The B-side of “Africa Mine” was “I Feel Cheap,” which was as emotionally direct a song as possible but the production by Peter Wilson had room for sonic detail like the Eventide Harmonizer used on the drums for that ever popular “Low” Bowie drum sound. The urgent tempo lent credence to the desperation of the lyric and the anguish in Barbara Gogan’s voice.
“The Story” could not have been a bigger contrast to the upbeat euphoria of “Jump For Joy” as listeners flipped the single over and were rewarded with as left field a B-side as possible. Fat, cinematic orchestral synths kept the resilient rhythm of the song moving inexorably forward with the trio of repetitive chords. The song was shot through with atonal synth and guitar stabs that were all the better to foster that sense of dread that the song was all about. Ms. Gogan was in there, somewhere, but any vocals were absolutely swamped by the monolithic slabs of sound at the dark heart of the number. If anything, it reminded me of the sort of OMD B-sides like “Annex” that I absolutely treasure.
The “Sanctuary” single offered two B-sides. The 7″ version gave us “Tempting Fate” which was a euphoric love song that could not have been a lighter touch as the song’s samba rhythms lifted the lyrics aloft with aplomb. Meanwhile, the 12″ single offered ” Stop That Man,” which joined “The Story” as another dip into the soundtrack style. This time opting for a tentative melodramatic unease with no vocals at all.
Then the live EP [recorded at The Venue in London] included with copies of the “Africa Mine” 2×7″ rounded out the program of bonus material on offer here. “The Square” was a spare and ascetic slice of tense New Wave about a midnight rendezvous in the titular square hailing from “Thirty Thousand Feet Over China.” On “Why Me” the band offered a track from “Michael + Miranda” that was blistering in its feminist sentiment! Ms. Gogan pulled no lyrical punches as she laid down the law to anyone who would deign to give women the false binary choice of prostitute or wife.
The urgent motorik drums and minor key bass lines of “Snow” offered another fine cut of New Wave from “Michael + Miranda.” Finally, the band’s moment in the commercial sun came with a live take of “I’m In Love With A German Film Star.” The echoplex guitar hooks that the song was built on lent it an air of dub that was not dissuaded in the least by the pulsating bass line of David Agar. Ms. Gogan’s vocals were every bit as haunting/haunted as they were on the hit single version. Little did the band know when recording this live version that their career had peaked commercially and the end would be happening by 1983.
Albums like “Sanctuary” would have been the sort of title that I would have passionately boosted at the time of issue, had I only come into contact with it somehow. Apart from the fleeting joys of hearing “Africa Mine” on the 1982 college airwaves. That was my alpha and omega for the Passions for too many years. One of the reasons why I became the Post-Punk Monk in the 90s was to re-investigate all of the music that I was either dimly aware or ignorant of that passed me by for one reason or another during the New Wave period. Finally hearing The Associates in 1990 was a clarion call that I might get bigger musical thrills if I began ignoring the uninteresting present for some sonic archaeology instead.
Fortunately, salvation has come in the form of Rubellan Remasters, who bring us this canonically perfect reissue [sporting every last note that should be here] at a modest price for the caliber of the music on offer here.
Until now, the most we could have heard from this album on the silver disc was half of its ten cuts on the 1995 CD reissue of the “Passion Plays” compilation that itself is selling for far more than the $13.99 that this fine disc will set you back. And finally, it’s worth mentioning that the music here was mastered from master tape sources with the utmost of care. The other night I listened to this CD on my AKG headphones while working and it was a sheer pleasure with full, luxurious dynamic range that Rubellan Remasters always strive for and champion. Thus far, this has been the reissue to top for 2019 for my ears.
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