Record Review: Fiction Factory – “Throw The Warped Wheel Out” DLX RM UK CD [part 2]

FicFac L-R: Graham McGregor, Mike Ogletree, Eddie Jordan, Chic Medley, Kevin Patterson

[continued from last post]

“Tales of Tears” had a crystalline synth hook and completely unique phrasing from vocalist Patterson. When reading his liner notes on the disc, he revealed that looking back after 30 years, he could cite Mari Wilson as an influence on his performance, and betchabygollywow I’m here to say that he’s got something there! Not only his phrasing but also the arrangement [at least until the chorus] sounded as if it could have been a deep cut on “Showpeople!” If it were a snake, it would have bitten me!

The closing title track was built on a Glass-like synth loop that wove a poppy path into the heart of the song, which was its stirring minor key chorus with cinematic undertones that played against expectations most wonderfully. Following some fairly broad Pop strokes throughout the album, the band chose to play their cards close to their vests for the final track. Perhaps telegraphing their more ambitious album to follow this one in the next year.

Bonus Level

fiction factory ghost of love cover artThe remix of “Ghost Of Love” was the most radical 12″ mix of the bend’s three singles from the album.  It was refitted to a mostly Dub 12″ mix that married Moroder sequencer delay energy to Simmons fills, and those ever present piano and glockenspiel filigrees. The instrumental under structure of the song got over half of the five minute running time to strut its stuff before a verse and chorus belatedly entered for the last 90 seconds. The arrangement had the band at their most extroverted. Mirroring how China Crisis similarly stretched out for their 12″ mix of “Working With Fire + Steel” around the same time.

The band produced B-sides were nothing to scoff at as the band had the chops to do a fine job on their own. As they would prove on their next album. “The Other Side Of Grey” mated a Simmons Drum beat to some more falsetto from Patterson and some gloriously weedy synth hooks chorused for effect. “Old Game, Blue Flame” featured a strange falsetto/scatting hook that proved that a little of each together, went a long way.

fiction factory feels like heaven cover artThe 12″ mix of “[Feels Like] Heaven” sounded like it was from the time where a remix got a new coat of EQ paint to further differentiate the mixes. In this case, the pinched EQ that substituted a delayed echo instead of reverb on the piano for a slightly disheveled sound for this formerly dignified ballad. The drums were mixed way up, and the long intro was padded out with Dub touches.

The chorus hook got used  quite a bit before the song began in earnest. But the clattery, hollow sounding mix stripped the song of its most endearing sonic attributes. The extended coda was more repetition than the chorus hook could bear. No wonder this mix only got a release in Europe, from the looks of it.

The B-sides on the “Heaven” 12″ single were a mixed bag. “Everyone But You” was a breezy Pop number with embittered lyrics which seemed to be a thing for this band. They loved juxtaposing upbeat music with a chorus what featured “you, you you… I dream of everyone but you” sung as sweetly as possible. “This Is” stood as the band’s nadir with a cloying melody capable of rotting your teeth if you tried to chew it up. I suggest spitting it out instead.

fiction factory all or nothign cover art“All Or Nothing” was the third extended mix here and the sharply cut song was given the slightest attention possible to extend the track by just a minute to 4:51. Still, the tune has been lodged in my skull all day now, and more is that much better! Particularly when the 12″ mix is mostly down to the impassioned climax where the instruments dropped out, save for the string patches and Patterson, instead of the LP track’s uninspiring early fade.

The pixilated piano sequencer that was doubled sounded like it might have been an inspiration for a-ha’s “Train of Thought” intro two years down the road. And “I Who Know You” was also included on the cassette version of “Throw The Warped Wheel Out” as one of their rare political songs with its Anti-Tory tone of accusation.

This was a well curated disc. The ten album tracks were abetted by all of the contents of the band’s three 12″ singles, with all of the remixes and B-sides included. At 78 minutes is was packed fairly tightly, but I noticed that my 1993 1st CD edition had two extra tracks. One of which was “I Who Know You” but the other is the one cut from this era of the band m.i.a. on this disc. “Rise + Fall” was a strong track that was previously included [with “I Who Know You”] on a bonus 12″ bundled with the 1st pressing of the UK LP.

CBS | UK | LP + 12″ | 1984 | CBS 25964

Those two cuts were also included on the 1993 1st UK CD of this title, so at least I have it there. Indeed, in 1993 when I bought that CD of the title, Discogs would not exist for several years and in any case, I only got the Internet when we moved to Windows NT at work the next year. I always thought that this album had a dozen tracks.

fiction factory - ephemeral cover art
REVO | US | CD-R | 2006 | REVO 035

Which means that when I made the REVO CD of Fiction Factory rarities shown above, I left off both “Rise + Fall” and “I Who Know You” when, in theory, they should be on any purported compilation of Fiction Factory rarities. Along with the heretofore unheard “[Feels Like] Heaven” 12′ extended version. So that needs my attention in the queue.

I enjoy Fiction Factory, though they could approach cloying at times. I would put that down to their occasional melodies at this stage in the game. The band’s ace-in-the-hole would have been Kevin Patterson’s expressive and varied vocal range. His vocal performances here were consistently expressive and varied in their scope.

The pity was that even with a bona fide UK Top 10 hit like “[Feels Like] Heaven,” the band were not able to follow it with either a charting album or single. And that was after CBS reactivated their debut single “Ghost of Love,” thinking they had a live one there [and they did]. How many other bands, even one-hit wonders,, had their sole top ten hit then got dropped within the year from the label?

Their 1984 follow up saw Fiction factory reduce back down to their rhythm-section-free core trio as the members brought in by CBS for live possibilities lost their lifeline.

The band persisted in in compact form long enough to get signed to the obscure Foundry Records label which was home to them, Peter Hammill, and not much else. The resulting album, “Another Story” was recorded with Callum Malcolm engineering in his Castlesound Studios for a altogether more dazzling and artistic followup that I am very, very lucky to own on CD. But that was an earlier story.


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to Record Review: Fiction Factory – “Throw The Warped Wheel Out” DLX RM UK CD [part 2]

  1. Andy B says:

    Hi Monk. I bought the 7 inch of [Feels Like] Heaven and the album on release. My copy came with the additional 12 inch single consisting of Rise + Fall and I Who Know You.
    I very much enjoyed the album at the time and was amazed that Ghost Of Love wasn’t a hit. I’ve pondered buying the CD but I fear I’d find it dated sounding now. I never did hear the second album but it sounds interesting.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – The most dated aspect of the album’s sound is in the use of Simmons Drums, but I always liked that sound. They’re more stylized than the Linn. The chirpiness of some of the melodies is not really down to something that can be called dated. But the 2nd album is highly recommended. It’s much more sophisticated in total.


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