Want List: Classix Nouveaux – The Liberty Recordings 1981 – 1983 UK Box

Classix Nouveaux are under represented in my Record Cell

Commenter JT opened a can of worm s yesterday with his citing of Classix Nouveaux as perhaps the quintessential New Romantic band. I remember reading about them when their eponymous album was released in America in 1981. I also recall the press linking them to the New Romantic trend, which I generally had lots of time for, but there was that image that I had to overcome first. Sal Solo looked like Nosferocktu and the overall image had a whiff of desperation to me. This from a guy who loved Visage records already! Another factor that may have colored my judgement was the fact they were signed to Liberty Records; a subsidiary of EMI about on par with Harvest. In America, the first Duran Duran album had been released on Harvest owing to Capitol not fully biting on their prospects.

To me Duran Duran were at least a B-list New Romantic band. Derivative, but they had their charms. I was less sure about Classix Nouveaux. I did not heard the band until over a year later when I got MTV and they would play “Guilty” in that “wild west” period where they would play almost anything owing to scarcity of videos! It was a good pop tune, but I was not convinced by Mr. Solo’s baritone. It sounded forced to me. So I never bit the Classix Nouveaux bait in a contemporaneous fashion.

It remained until I found my Monastic calling in the early 90s when I would run across Classix Nouveaux albums again. And wanting to experience as much of what I had missed a decade earlier, following my Associates revelation, I bought a copy of their US album. I had never seen a CD yet, [their first, a compilation arrived in 1997] and that might be as good as it got . In 1993, anyway. Back then, unwanted used LPs were often a dollar. Sometime later in the 90s, I managed to find a Canadian copy of their second album, which was not released in America. “La Verité” was an album where I had not heard a single from but its relative scarcity meant it was an instant purchase. In fact, I ran across it more than once and bought a second copy due to forgetting I already had one!

terpsichore silly not to

It’s important to keep in mind that after all of these years, I still had only ever heard “Guilty.” In fact, to this day, I have never spun any of my three Classix Nouveaux LPs. But in the 90s, I did buy another EMI album with many members of Classix Nouveaux on it. “Terpsichore [Silly Not To]” was a great compilation of early 80s dance tracks. Not only Classix Nouveaux, but also spinoff bands M.A.O. and Airport + Dean also figured here. The latter two with cuts that were only on that LP. It all sounded pretty good to these ears. Especially Airport + Dean, who were aiming for JAPAN rather successfully.

So now when JT gives this band the stamp of approval, I have to wonder if I had been missing out for 41 years by now. I look into things and lo and behold… the minds at Cherry Red manifested a one-stop-shopping event for the band last year while I was distracted with an impressive BSOG featuring their ’81-’83 output across four CDs.

Cherry Red | UK | 4xCD | 2021 | QCRCDX106

Classix Noveaux: The Liberty Recordings 1981-1983 – UK – 4xCD [2021]

Disc 1 – Classix Nouveaux [US ver.]

  1. Foreward 3:23
  2. Guilty 3:17
  3. Nasty Little Green Men 3:14
  4. No Sympathy 4:06
  5. Inside Outside 4:19
  6. 623 2:28
  7. Robots Dance 3:54
  8. Every Home 3:15
  9. Tokyo 2:39
  10. Run Away 2:41
  11. The Protector Of Night 5:23
  12. Test Tube Babies 2:47
  13. Night People 3:53
  14. The Robots Dance (New Version) 5:03

Disc 2 – Night People [UK. ver.]

  1. Foreward (Instrumental) 3:24
  2. Guilty 4:41
  3. Run Away 2:39
  4. No Sympathy, No Violins 4:06
  5. Inside Outside 4:19
  6. 623 (Instrumental) 2:30
  7. Every Home Should Have One 3:55
  8. Tokyo 2:39
  9. Or A Movie 4:30
  10. Soldier 3:46
  11. The Protector Of Night 5:25
  12. Inside Outside (12” Version) 4:11
  13. We Don’t Bite (Come A Little Closer) 3:26
  14. Inside Outside (7” Version) 3:20
  15. Old World For Sale 2:37

Disc 3 – La Verité

  1. Foreward 1:08
  2. Is It A Dream 4:16
  3. To Believe 3:47
  4. Because You’re Young 3:46
  5. Six To Eight 1:58
  6. La Verité 5:14
  7. Never Again 4:04
  8. It’s All Over 3:55
  9. 1999 3:45
  10. I Will Return 5:42
  11. Finale 2:36
  12. Never Again (The Days Time Erased) (Short Version) 3:51
  13. 627 2:30
  14. Never Again (The Days Time Erased) (Long Version) 5:19
  15. Is It A Dream (7” Version) 3:38
  16. Where To Go 3:13
  17. Because You’re Young (12” Version) 6:10
  18. Because You’re Young (Edit) 3:22
  19. It’s Not Too Late 3:24
  20. Is It A Dream (Edit) 4:01
  21. Chemin Chagrin 3:41

Disc 4 – Secret

  1. All Around The World 4:21
  2. Manitou 3:55
  3. Heart From The Start 3:30
  4. The Fire Inside 3:48
  5. Forever And A Day 3:39
  6. Never Never Comes 2:59
  7. The Unloved 5:20
  8. When They All Have Gone 6:01
  9. No Other Way 4:52
  10. The End… Or The Beginning? 3:09
  11. The End… Or The Beginning? (Long Version) 5:48
  12. The End… Or The Beginning? (Instrumental Version) 3:06
  13. Switch (7” Version) 3:56
  14. Forever And A Day (Extended Version) 6:45
  15. Switch (Full Length Version) 6:46
  16. Manitou (Extended Version) 5:56
  17. Manitou (Instrumental Version) 3:08

Well, this is the kind of clamshell summary that Cherry Red do so well. Many of the rarities are here, although there were tongues wagging in the Disogs comments because the 12″ mix of “Is It a Dream,” their one hit in the UK, was not in this box. That does seem like a grievous omission. But as I’m hardly a hardcore Classix Novueaux fan, I will look the other way as I pencil this in on the infinite want list.

The one seemingly crazy thing the compilers have done here, two… if you count dropping the 12″ version of their biggest UK hit, was to feature two discrete discs of the band’s UK/international and North American versions of their debut! I will admit that as a music snob, I always consider the version released in the band’s own country as the canonical one. To this day I have never owned the first Clash album since the US/UK versions conspired to make me buy it twice. This box solves that problem for me, though I am still unconvinced that the world need two copies, both largely similar in content, if not form, of their debut. Especially when other tracks fans were clamoring for were cut for reasons of space.

The asking price for this is a modest buy-in: £19.99, which seems to be a great price. I can buy it for $24.99 plus shipping in the US. Mastering quality reviews on Discogs seem to point to a-OK, so that’s good. Now all we have to do is to buy it. Given my recent problems in the Record Cell, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

post-punk monk buy button


About postpunkmonk

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14 Responses to Want List: Classix Nouveaux – The Liberty Recordings 1981 – 1983 UK Box

  1. I got to know Mik Sweeney in 1978 and 1979 when he was the bassist in (the late) Ian North’s group NEO. Mik was a great musician and a terrific person.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      bohdan zachary – Welcome to the comments! So Mr. Sweeney was in NEO? That’s news to me as all I’d seen mentioned was Ian North and Robin Simon. I’ve been wanting that debut single of theirs for decades as a huge fan of Robin Simon’s guitar. I also have Ian North’s two albums on the want list. The world…she is small, yes?


  2. Taffy says:

    I will say that one reason to have both the US and UK versions of the first album is that the version on the American release is the (to me anyway) FAR superior single mix, while the UK album has the much less punchy album version. Maybe small potatoes to some, but not to this set of ears! When I bought the first Cherry Red reissue of Night People I was so disappointed that it didn’t have the version of Guilty I knew and loved I went back to buy a Classic Nouveaux greatest hits so I could have it on CD. FYI, the single version is also referred to as the “new version” or the “new single version.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Ah! So this was another in the very popular series of UK hit singles that were actually re-recorded versions. As a “collector” of many British bands, this is always a possibility when rounding up rarities. This was surprisingly common in the late 70s and into the early 80s as a way of maximizing a single’s potential for hitting the charts. Then the remix craze was going full steam by 1981 and this was [presumably] a much cheaper way of goosing a single for the charts. So…do you have this box then?


      • Taffy says:

        I dont have the box…not sure it’s “necessary!” I do own the 2003 Cherry Red reissue of Night People, as well as a 2010 Cherry Red comp called The Liberty Singles Collection, plus an earlier budget comp (The Very Best of Classic Nouveaux) on the EMI Gold label. Plus the original US vinyl version of the first album, which I haven’t played in decades. That’s probably enough, altho having never heard albums two and three fully, I’m sort of curious.


  3. schwenko says:

    I have the Cherry Red box set (only one copy), but have not listened yet


    • postpunkmonk says:

      schwenko – At least you only have one copy! I can usually listen to new CDs in short order, but it’s the vinyl that takes me decades, due to the fussy nature of it [and me]. But I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have at least a handful of CDs that have been here for years that I keep forgetting to play. More on this and other cogent issues later.


  4. JT says:

    Haha, well since I apparently opened this can o’ worms, let me weigh in on the discography.

    The first album has about 5 or 6 solid classix on it, stuff that goes toe-to-toe with the early Visage and first-album Duran. The better half of the record is a solid listen when you’re in that mood, and the U.S. track listing is probably superior, as it includes Robots Dance, and Nasty Little Green Men, two great tracks that replace two filler cuts (Or a Movie and Soldier). Green Men was a mix-tape staple in my world for years. Common to both versions, Inside Outside, Run Away, No Sympathy, and Every Home are all worthy of repeat spins.

    The second album goes into a more mainstream synth pop sound, not so unlike Quartet-era Ultravox, a less successful stab at Rio-era DD, or (really the closest comparison) the first Pseudo Echo album (they’re another band that jumped on the NuRo bandwagon for one album before going mainstream synth pop). Is It A Dream, Never Again, and 1999 are solid dance-rock cuts, but there’s also some filler here, a the record is a bit less energetic overall than the first one.

    It took me decades to track down a copy of Secret (third album) and I’ve only heard it a few times. It’s like the second album but weaker, although Forever And A Day is a really solid single, a good swan song for this act.

    If you like the songs, you’ll like the 12″, mixes, they’re in the exact style you prefer. Some of them sound like they really took the time to get them right.

    But yes, it’s true: Sal Solo might be the New Romantic equivalent of Geddy Lee, in that some people like his voice while others find it grating. You’re on board for it or you’re not; I find some of his gymnastics, which may range from baritone constipation to straight-up castrato (sometimes in the same phrase) to be charming. His falsetto screaming in “Run Away” is freakin’ great.

    Also trivia: two members of this band came from X-Ray Spex, so there’s some legit punk DNA here too, but you have to look hard to find it.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – “Baritone constipation” hits the nail on the head! I love me some baritone but not exactly in the fashion Sal sings it. Still, the scant bits I’ve heard might be tempting. And a handy, cheap box with [almost] everything can be its own reward. We shall see.

      And yeah. That first Pseudo Echo album was the goods. I was mortified at what came after that!


  5. slur says:

    I only ever listened to the third album, I have to admit but even with a solid group of Guests and Production by Alex Sadkin I hardly ever managed to listen to both sides in a row, the songs are just to weak with one exception – the ultra kitschy ‘Never Never Comes’. I just had to look if I had kept it through the years because it was a regular on my “not essentials I have to keep ” list” but the artwork by Edward Bell of Scary Monsters fame probably saved it.
    Anyway – I really think one album is enough to owe by them, as long as you’re not into I need everything from X Ray Spex mode.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      slur – Given the low price of the box, and the unlikely prospect of finding any of their other CDs in the local desolation is slim to none, we might as well go for the box. If it comes to that. But with Cherry Red reissuing titles in print as CD-Rs on their 2nd runs, better sooner than later for that!


  6. Scott says:

    I’ve been a Classix fan since I first saw a snippet of Guilty in an MTV commercial in 1982, and eventually saw the whole video. I remember around that time getting the LP from a guy who ran a record store but couldn’t get a ‘new’ copy of the LP. He managed to obtain a used copy from a friend of his for me for $5. I remember not being instantly in love with the LP.

    In the early 90’s, I discovered a previously unknown second LP, La Verite, and gave it a try. Wow, very different than the first album, and not in a good way. Very bombastic and sort of disco-y. Around this time, I reappraised the first album and much preferred the gothic/wave approach of the LP.

    I didn’t even know about the existence of the third album until a year or two later, and eventually found it through mail order. Once again, not too impressed. But with repeat listens, I found some to have the quality of the first album mixed with some of the pretense of the second album.

    The new ‘reunion’ song released this year, Fix Your Eyes Up, is pretty good but this, and the new recording of Inside Outside they’ve done, show Sal Solo too reliant on auto-tune. I’m not sure if he’s just insecure about his ability to carry a tune in later years but I suspect his decision is a bit hasty. They have a new album in the works and I am curious.

    Overall, I generally enjoy the band’s disjointed output. Do note the CR box is typically just previous CD reissues repackaged, no new masterings here which means the cheapskate awful mastered-from-vinyl Secret CD (even though masters do exist) is included here. I have the original CR CD’s of the first two albums, back when they actually made an effort to use master tapes. Along with the original late 90’s Best Of, that’s the best it will get for me. Another note on Guilty is that the Night People/12″ version is a traditional extended mix of the single version but the pitch has been noticeably slowed compared to the original single mix. I just boosted the pitch to match the speed of the 7″ to have a more authentic 12″ mix.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Scott – You provide an interesting and thorough [who would expect otherwise?] take on the Classix Nouveaux situation. I’m not expecting the moon here, so maybe the Cherry Red box will suffice for me. You DO make me curious to spin one of my two copies of “La Verité” with your description. I suspect that I may enjoy it a lot more than you did, and in fact, it might tip the needle into actual Classix Nouveaux fandom that never seemed to be in the cards for me! We’ll see when I can manage to give it a spin and report back with my findings! But the Auto-Tune® shenanigans you describe on the reunion track gives me the willies. I will approach with extreme caution.


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