[…continued from last post]
The CD led off with each of the nine tracks on the band’s four singles. Three of them released in the UK on their own Fàshiön Music sublabel of FaultyProducts. And over in The States, we even got a three track 7″ EP on the nascent I.R.S. Records imprint. It was the second I.R.S. single; issued on the same day as Buzzcocks “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays.”
In spite of its grim subject matter, “Steady Eddie Eddie” managed to be playful skank pop with its bass synth riffs oscillating back and forth across the stereo spectrum. This mordant look at suicide had hooks a mile deep. The cold ending was sort of tasteless but how else could this have ended? This quintessentially great debut single that would insure that anyone who heard the song would remember the band. Heck, it was possible to sing along with it almost immediately. It’s B-side [“Killing Time”] sported flanged guitar plus Reggae to put this one at the heart of The Police sound. Luke James had a penchant for singing wordless melodies that was introduced here. The song might have ended at the 2:30 mark, but the last half of the song was a great version mix that doubled the running time.
Single number two, Citinite,” featured heavy synths up front with Post-Punk minus any of the Reggae we’ve heard thus far. The vocal phrasing by Luke was so alien in its use of stresses, that it actually sounded like someone singing in a different language. With a melody that was evasive to the point of invisibility, it was a queer choice for a second A-side. As straightforward and memorable as “Steady Eddie, Steady” was, this one was like trying to grab formless vapor. A perverse sophomore single, it only settled down for the final coda, which seemed like a different song entirely. Listen below.
Its B-side, “Wastelife” was by far the punkiest track here and a real energetic song to follow the diffuse and impossible to remember “Citinite.” This had Punk verses with a Reggae chorus and an infectious energy that vibrated between those two poles. Why was this not the A-side instead of “Citinite?” Judge for yourself.
“Silver Blades,” was like Roller Rink Reggae with a cheerful organ at its core. Drummer Dik Davies handled the lead vocals this outing. As he would do on occasion. The mix here was weirdly underwater, and the squelchy synths were another jab from left field here. As were the prominent, hissing hi-hats with rim hits. It had a weird EQ and mix, but their third single was at least something that could be remembered. The B-side here, was “Silver Blades – A Deeper Cut.” It was a version mix, half again long as the brief A-side cut. I could listen to this punky Dub sound all day long.
“Sodium Pentathol Negative” was a US only non-LP B-side that had a fantastic lyrical conceit at its heart. If you’re dealing with a habitual liar, then yeah, it’s a case of Sodium Pentathol Negative! It was a short, sharp, but a not at all sweet 1:49 of vitriol. The US A-side was “The Innocent,” which was anthemic New Wave with strong vocals by Luke and once again, his predilection for wordless melodies made this a great choice for a US A-side. Deep bass with vibraslap and shakers made “Red, Green + Gold” a quickly paced Reggae cut with strong vocals from Luke once more. Righteous lyrics and harmonica led me to believe that they might have been thinking about melodica and some of the sound of Augustus Pablo when putting this one to tape.
Was “Fiction Factory” where the band got its name? Spacy synths bleeping over guitar skank and a whooshing 2-note modal synth oscillating throughout it. Precisely enunciated vox from Dik included some high rolled “Rs” for emphatic punch. This was a second album demo that shows some fascinating promise as the band were moving through the fog towards what seemed to be an interesting destination. The song built up nicely with an instrumental half getting very punky indeed for the much faster climactic buildup. Davies drums held court with Mulligan’s synths as the song once again slowed tempo for its coda. Long here at 6:18 but more than interesting enough to not notice!
“Do It In The Dark” offered sardonic political cynicism directed at the UK. Maybe it’s not surprising that Luke James was living in America not long after this song was recorded. Though finding America any more agreeable was perhaps naive! The last half of the song seemed to waffle inconclusively with what felt like padding fleshing out the 3:47 in a very repetitive fashion that wore out its welcome with me. This could have worked as a live arrangement, but it overstayed its welcome on this demo. Well, that’s what demos are for, isn’t it?
It looked a little desperate re-recording your debut single two years later in sessions for your second album. The touring/promo grind was one of the reasons why James decided to bow out. But the production here was heavier on synth and lighter on charm than the first version was. A misstep that was a sign of the band’s imminent fissure. The rough demo quality of “Emotional Blackmail” nonetheless featured some very interesting synth sonics. This was the quintessential sort of promising demo that demanded a slicker re-recording, that somehow would never capture the essential mojo here. The dripping wet reverb and echo posited a guitar-free zone for the band as it was all down to synths and drums fleshing it all out.
“Bad Move” was another Dik track with prominent synths and drums and little in the way of lead guitar. Dubbed out scratcher was the main seasoning here. It was a trifle undercooked but it held the promising seed for something to come that, unfortunately, never had a chance to manifest.
Next: …Riff RAF