Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 7]

Arista | UK | 12″ | 1982 | ARIST 12456

[…continued from last post]

It was track three of Face 2 [“Fabrique” cassette remixes] that an error manifests in this box. It lists a track called “Mutant Mix Mechanik.” That was a B-side dub mix from the “Streetplayer-Mechanik” 12″ being 7:13 in length. The third track on the cassette was called “Street Mechanik” as it was also called on the “Height Of Fashiøn” compilation. All of these instances were the same dub track. Except on Face 2 of this box. In this case, the 12″ A-side of “Streetplayer-Mechanik [Audio Extra],” which is an 8:23 vocal mix, has been placed in the flow of tracks by mistake. It will also be the second track on Face 3 of this box; albeit in a very different EQ treatment.

So that means that the box was fallible. It’s not surprising as most of them are. By comparison, there’s the typical Edsel Records Box that often comes with handfuls of error-prone discs in them. I make these sorts of boxes myself and can vouch for how difficult it is to keep the plot straight. Let’s leave the song until it’s turn comes on the next disc.

“Dressed To Kill [Double Dub]” [as it was known on the cassette remixes] was such an immaculate stone groove that it’s now fantastically exciting to me, even though it was a brief dub mix of under three minutes. The same track was called “Dressed To Kill [mix]” on the 12″ B-side. The six note bass loop was naked up front for two bars before Harris’ insanely funky guitar kicked in. The bass loop gets stuck in my cranium for hours on end [like today] and was followed by the drums and the heavily processed vocal hook of “dressed to kill!” which joined the [very intense] party. Then synth stabs and the squealing tires [in dub!] of the LP mix got much more of an airing here. The bass riff, run through a Mu-tron filter to end up sounding like a Chapman Stick, piled on at the end but the cascade of Simmons fills in dub and the cold vocal only ending that I loved so much from the 12″ B-side was inexplicably faded down her for the last 15 seconds of the song. Say whaaaaa?? As much as I’m mildly disappointed that the previous track was included in error twice instead of the correct dub mix of “Streetplayer-Mechanik,” it’s this factor, more than anything, that is my big disappointment about this set.

The brief “You Only Left Your Picture [Reggae Reprise]” at a little over a minute long, couldn’t help but to leave one hungry for more. It posited a Fashiøn that was a halfway point between the knockabout Post-Punk of the first album and funk of the second album incarnations of the band, minus the high technology, for a brief funky reggae party. “Alternative Playback [Half frame]” which was the 7″ B-side to “Something In Your Picture,” was also the same cut as “Something In Your Picture [Alternative Playback]” on the remix tape. It came right up front and delved deeply [in dub] into the phased, multi-harmony bridge breakdown, which had been extended far beyond the scanty tease of the two bar length it had been in the album track. Meanwhile the rhythm had been cut to a fraction of its original BPM for a heady, lurching psychedelia as imagined by Zeus B. Held as if possessed by Adrian Sherwood. The phased backing vocals got plenty of love here too. Tracks like this are why dub was invented.

fashiøn with walkman decks
Walkman units at the ready… Fashiøn in 1982.

I have once said that “if cocaine were music, this album would be the result.” Never more was that true then on the cut “White Stuff [The Unfinished].” A track that only appeared here in its 8:45 full length while manifesting in a 5:30 edit on the NME “Mighty Reel” tape and a 5:00 edit on the US promo “Love Shadow” 12″ single. What was a teasingly brief three minutes was expanded dramatically here in a version of almost three times that length. And this was no dub mix but what would have been an epic 12″ mix. The bass cut straight to the heart of the funk with only cymbal taps to tick like a stopwatch before the Simmons rolls and vocoders began the jam in earnest after a minute in buildup. A buildup almost twice as long as on the LP mix. The jamming had plenty of room to breathe here with running time being no object to the development of groove.

At almost five minutes in, the jam expanded with new rhythm guitar figures and keyboard solos, the latter likely at the hand of Zeus B. Held who co-wrote this track in the studio with Harris. Through it all, the rhythm section just kept moving like a steamroller of funk, coming down the boulevard slowly and methodically. Casually crushing cars left and right. When the middle eight finally happened instead of ending the keyboard solos really started taking off. Then at 6:30 the drop happened and only the relentless hammering of the synthetic drums coupled with the pulse-gated and phased synth chords began cruising at high altitude. Then drum fills and metallic synth bleeps and occasional guitar joined the clavinet for a dissolute breakdown following the song’s manic phase.

The final track was only on the remixed B-side of the “Fabrique” tape but was also included on “The Height Of Fashiøn” CD. “Do You Wanna Make Love [At 5:00 A.M.] was a clattering dub mix of a radical stripe. All of the spherical, orgasmic essence of the LP track was swapped out for phased, dubbed drum tracks and synths, often doubled with slapback echo. Only the guitar cut angular shapes through the barbituate murk, until at the 4:30 point the song’s spellbinding synth hook finally appeared briefly, before the phased middle eight. The only vocal throughout all of this was the ghostly remnant of the refrain “do you wanna make love” mixed into the track like a distant fog. Then it faded out on Harris’ solo at a very different 6:45. I’d still have to give the massive edge to the original track, though this was decidedly different.

Next: …»Face 3«

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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6 Responses to Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 7]

  1. nlgbbbblth says:

    Really enjoying these posts. My box arrived this weekend – it’s gorgeous but the errors as detailed above are taking some of the shine off. Really hope we get re-pressed discs of CDs 2 and 3 at some point.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      nlgbbbblth – I suspect that’s unlikely as this was not bankrolled by a label but spearheaded by Harris by the look of it. There’s good reason why Edsel take the hit to correct/repress but I wouldn’t expect Harris to. They have a reputation [not great] to buttress and will have further goods they want you to buy later on. I want Harris to stay in the black on this. It was a wild dream of mine that a SDLX box for this album was actually produced that is not my handiwork. What’s right here [95% of it] is excellent, and I’m still appreciating this set a great deal.

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      • nlgbbbblth says:

        Fair point but many of us have waited a long time for a set like this and it is understandable that disappointment will set in when something like this happens. I am actually willing to pay for repressed discs (say £12 each) – that way Harris doesn’t lose money and the fan is happy. Obviously would need buy-in from everyone affected so unlikely to happen. I have got through CD1 and most of CD2 today and it has been immensely enjoyable.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          nlgbbbblth – Very astute point on re-buying a repressed disc at the current going rate. That’s a pretty fair assessment. I’d be down with re-buying disc 2 for the error corrected. And if they want the scanty pops removed from disc 3, I’m their man. Free. Just saying…

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  2. Andy B says:

    It’s been interesting following your review of this box set Monk.

    I first heard of Fashion via the track ‘Move On’ on a compilation album from 1981. It led me to purchase the album the following year. For an impressionable lad approaching his mid teens this album seemed the height of adult sophistication in terms of its themes and its sound. Zeus B Held really nailed the sound on this album.

    I did buy the follow up ‘Twilight Of Idols’ after the single ‘Eye Talk’ was being played regularly on UK radio. However the album was a disappointment. Nowhere near the standard of ‘Fabrique’

    I did seriously consider buying the box set but couldn’t justify it after spending far too much last year on reissues and box sets. Shame about the errors on the set. A three CD set with the album and all the remixes accompanied by an informative booklet will do for me.

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