OMD Streamed A Gig Online And All I Got Was This Beautiful T-Shirt

OMD live eventim apollo 2019

You are an OMD geek if: you took photos of a streaming gig from the monitor screen – but they look better than my usual concert pix!

Sigh. I try to live the Google-free life but it’s a tough and miserly row to hoe. Against my expectations, I was not doing landscaping work on Saturday afternoon and was thus able to catch the OMD “Live From Your Sofa” online event as it went down. If you missed it, I’ve heard that it will be on YouTube for the next few days. It was an interesting portrait of this Core Collection band at the 40 year point of their history. But not all of it was modern.

Of course I definitely had an interest in seeing the band perform the first song, the incomparable “Stanlow.” Long my favorite OMD song (for about 40 years) and hardly in danger of losing that cachet, it was something that I’d never seen before live or on video. I’m pleased to see that the band recognize its emotive power is second to none if they will open a 40 year tour with it. Watching the band perform this I could not get Kraftwerk and the passing of Florian Schneider out of my mind. The four figures still on the darkened stage brought their progenitors to the forefront. Seeing Paul Humphreys standing at his keyboard got me a little misty eyed. Then the propulsive “Isotype” from their latest album, “Punishment Of Luxury” had even closer musical ties to the clean, modern techno pop of the Düsseldorf foursome, but the way that the band approached the song emotionally was of a vastly different tact. As much as OMD take from the Kraftwerk template, they are still their own band.

OMD live at eventim apollo 2019

When Andy holds a bass that is when the band were at their peak

The rest of the first set dove into their bucket of hit singles that showed their enviable strengths at writing songs with unique points of view starting with their first British hit, the durable “Messages.” Then came a torrent of eclectic hits beginning with the wit of “Tesla Girls” and continuing through to the trilogy of hits that “Architecture + Morality” issued at some sort of peak synergy of artistic and commercial success that every band wished would happen to them.

OMD live at eventim apollo 2019

Sometimes Andy was out of range of the fixed focus camera that recorded the event

Then the intermission that had been cut from the program happened and the band came back onstage for another pair of deep cut classics with the heartbreaking “Statues” followed by their first b-side, “Almost.” One has to love the fealty that OMD pay to their artistic essence. And how fortunate for them that singe written barely bout of their teens were so mature and timeless. Which made the rest of the second set disappointing in comparison. Following “Almost” they played a new song from their “Souvenir” greatest hits collection that, believe it or not, I had not heard yet. “Don’t Go” was on shaky ground in that the title was taken from a refrain from “So In Love;” hardly one of their finest hours from the “play-to-the-market” regrettable section of their career. Musically a bit better than that, but the gist of the song was solidly in their wheelhouse of their post-“Dazzle Ships” write-hits-or-die era. That they actually followed it with “So In Love” was a poor decision which did “Don’t Go” absolutely no favors. Then only “Punishment Of Luxury” and the venerable classic “Enola Gay” managed to help us make it through the trip of “Dreaming,” “Sailing On The Seven Seas,” and “Locomotion.” The latter a single that I liked at first only to come to loathe in the 21st century.

OMD live at eventim apollo 2019

“Almost” was performed by the band in their “Kraftwerk ‘81” performance style that had blown me away on the ‘18 concert

The encore was problematic. That this band played a show in England for their 40th anniversary and then encored with their biggest American hit, the sappy “If You Leave” (which was not a hit in England) showed poor judgement. Then to follow that with the solo Andy era song of “Pandora’s Box” which sounded not a bit like OMD in spite of having that name on the sleeve was disappointing. Then the show closed as they all do, with their cheeky re-write of Kraftwerk’s “Radioactivity,” which we all know and love as “Electricity.”

There was so much right to be enjoyed by this band who are making excellent modern records with none of the songwriting compromises that marred their mid period. And yet that material, which admittedly gave the band a second lease on life following the commercially disastrous (but artistically wondrous) “Dazzle Ships” album still is included in their sets. Hearing it is jarring next to the superb early hit material and the music they have released in the last decade. I really wish after three strong albums that they would “Do a Bowie” and after these anniversary shows simply table songs like “Locomotion” or “Dreaming.” They have served their purpose. They prolonged the commercial life of the band but were the cause of its breakup in 1988. So their cost must be questioned. I’d love to see those hits swept under the carpet of history. The band would seem so much stronger without them. And only American audiences care about those songs in the first place. I’d even go as far as suggesting that deep cuts from “Crush” or “Pacific Age” might fly with me. And any OMD material written without Paul Humphrey should also be tabled.

Regarding the presentation of this show, I really loved the single camera p.o.v. with a single setup from the lighting desk capturing everything at a reasonable framing. Sure, sure. Sometimes Andy wandered out of shot but the lack of “direction” and gratuitous jimmyjib swoops and thousands of split second cuts made this a pleasure to watch. Like at a real concert, I could “direct” my eyes wherever I wanted to in watching it. I wish more concert home videos were like that.

On the other hand, the formula of an OMD concert is showing its age. Open with a song or two (not obvious hits) and then follow it with “Messages.” End the first set with “Souvenir,” “Joan Of Arc,” and “Maid Of Orleans.” End the second set with “Enola Gay.” Final encore – “Electricity.” That should change. It’s too rote.

OMD maid of orleans 2020 t-shirt design

This beauty was coming home with me even though I wasn’t “at” the gig

public image limited t-shirt art

Another interesting aspect to this streaming concert was the “virtual merch table.” The band were going to table their summer gigs due to covid-19 but widely thought to make the new merch still available. A glance there revealed that the classic 1981 enamel badges had been remanufactured anew! That was great but my eyes were transfixed on the stunning “Maid Of Orleans” t-shirt that commanded my finger to click the button. £25 (U$ 32) and with shipping from the UK not exactly cheap but I really wanted that one. And when my wife entered and saw it she asked if I was going to buy that. “I’d love to,” I retorted and she said “you should,” so seconds later I was into it to the amount of $41 and change. And no regrets there. Better still, I mentioned to her that I regretted missing that lovely gold foil on red PiL short of a few years back. Then I went to PiL’s web store and it was there for a third time, now cheaper and with US shipping, so I bought that one yesterday too. Scratching a sartorial itch I’d had for a couple of years.

The OMD concert will be up on their YouTube page for at least a few days so if you care to partake then have at it, but quickly. And if that shirt calls to you like it did to me, then click that button below!

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Posted in Badges, Concert Review, Core Collection, Designed By Peter Saville | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Florian Schneider: 1947-2020

florian schneider mid70s

Schneider in the mid-70s era of Kraftwerk

I hadn’t even finished playing my run of Stranglers albums this week when yesterday morning I got the first message from Gavin, who’s more connected than I am by far. He was suggesting that Kraftwerk founder Florian Schneider had died and while an early sniff around the usual places was inconclusive, the second time I thought to look, later in the day, the news had spread widely and definitively. Florian Schneider-Esleben had died, possibly prior to May 6th, at just over 73 years of age. One of the prime architects of electronic pop music was now gone. It has been revealed that he had suffered through cancer and died at the end of April before his death was announced.

I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of hearing the strangeness of the 3:25 edit of “Autobahn” infiltrate the US Top 40 radio format in 1974. Hearing it the first time was a galvanizing experience. Of a piece with the other two Seminal Singles, as I call them. Records so game-changing that they altered my trajectory of enjoying music in ways that were a sea change, looking back. As usual, the records that meant the most to me were not really big hits, just unlikely middling ones. And the conservative Central Florida pop airwaves saw fit to not play a record like “Autobahn” as much as I’d care to hear it, so my practice of listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40® weekly countdown show went a long way to actually insuring that I’d hear a song like “Autobahn,” or “Love Is the Drug” at least once a week in my hours [and hours] of radio listening. In 1976, a friend from elementary school whose dad got stationed in Germany had moved away but visited once a few years later. I asked him how popular Kraftwerk were in Germany but he’d never heard of them. He was far more into Jethro Tull!

kraftwerk autobahn US 1977 reissue back cover art

The band photo on the back cover of my first 1977 pressed copy of “Autobahn”

I got my first stereo in 1978 and I wasted no time in buying a copy of “Autobahn” among my first dozen or so LP purchases. I was amazed to find that the electronic ditty that I was familiar from on the AM radio a few years earlier was an entire album side. I apple seeded Kraftwerk among my Germanophile high school friends who soaked up the music like a sponge. My friend Dan who had moved from NYC to Central Florida in 1977 told tales of hearing the song “Trans-Europe Express” on the radio there but although I saw the 45 in my local K-mart I swear it never got any airplay, though maybe it was down to the station I listened to. I was a Top 40 kid so WLOF-AM was my station. Maybe WOKB-AM, the “urban” station was probably playing them, as I would hear later in high school when “Computerworld” was a breakout electro jam on that station.

In high school I recall chasinvictoria had managed to grab a copy of the “Ralf + Florian” album that I wondered where in sequence it came into the Kraftwerk story. I recall thinking in those simpler times that it came after “Autobahn” which was surely their first album. In those days, “Kraftwerk” and “Kraftwerk 2” were complete unknowns. In fact, to this day they never have gotten a US release at all. Only sophisticated, import buying Prog rockers knew about this stuff! Not a greenhorn kid in junior high school with no siblings to guide him and only a few-half-clues stuffed in his back pocket. I first heard “Trans Europe Express when I gave it to my friend Rosalie for a gift of some kind. Wow! That was an amazing sound. To this day “Europe Endless” is my go-to Kraftwerk song. Such utter beauty in the service of relentless machine certitude. How I wished that they had delved further into this sort of sound. [Fortunately, OMD have proven resilient on this particular thread]

kraftwerk - computerworld cover art

The last classic Kraftwerk album

I remember seeing the visually severe cover of “Man Machine” in the K-mart record department racks. Which was the closest thing to a record store I had growing up since I could ride my bike there from the neighborhood. But I didn’t hear that record until a few years after it came out. Probably around the time that the last classic imperial period Kraftwerk album was released shortly before graduation from High School in 1981. A friend of mine gave me a copy of “Computerworld” as a graduation present and around that time was when I heard the sounds on the big mono portable cassette radios some students [of color] would bring into the art classes. There was nothing I liked better than actually programming my Radio Shack Color Computer in BASIC while listening to this album! The cover image to the album looked as if it could have been programmed on the same computer. It was a high-resolution display in monochrome settings.

After 1981, the band seemed to mothball for several tense years. It was only then that I ever came across the “Radio-Activity” album of 1975 which was the follow-up to “Autobahn” that I somehow missed entirely for five to six years! My friend Tom was the one who shocked me when he bought this strange album that would prove ultimately so influential to one of my favorite new bands, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

Little did I know that the emergence of sampling by 1980 seemed to act as a unexpected disruption to the famous Kraftwerk methodology of having their synthesizers and music processing hardware custom built by the late 70s. They had not foreseen the emergence of software to render hardware unnecessary and it seemed to shake their confidence. Between The Art Of Noise’s “Into Battle” EP and the head injury sustained by avid cyclist Ralf Hütter during the recording of their only release between 1981 and 1986, the “Tour De France” single of the same year seemed to show Kraftwerk at an impasse. I remember seeing advance industry word about an album named “Techno Pop” in the chute so at first I did not buy the single; thinking it would be on the follow up album. I got a copy in 1984-5 when it was apparent that the release was cancelled.

kraftwerk - tour de france UK 7" cover art“Tour De France” was shocking at the time for the sampled slap bass that was probably a stock sample. It was almost inconceivable that the band who used to have their synth gear custom made would use such sounds, as their curation of sound until then had been peerless and singular. The single felt a little off but at least had an expansive melody that to my ears, harked back to some of the pastoral beauty that was inherent in “Europe Endless.” But after this single, it was back to the deep freeze for the band for another three years. Little did we know at the time that this would be the new norm [and how!] for the group.

In 1986 the silence was broken again by their first album to follow 1981’s “Computerworld.” This was the first new Kraftwerk album I would buy on compact disc, and as usual, a favorite band would be releasing what was to me a disappointing album on the new, digital format that was so otherwise entrancing. Causing me cognitive dissonance. “Electric Cafe” was a sidelong suite of minimal proto-techno that sounded too scanty for my ears. It took me years to enjoy it for what it was. Then, the rest of the album was an eclectic blend of more baroque sounds [including sampled strings] that was closer to something I preferred by the group though clearly showed the band in a holding pattern; having been unable to advance their vision in the intervening years. From this point on the innovators were now also-rans. And that was a tough realization to swallow since their influence to me by that time was immense. A dozen of my favorite bands were all trying to varying degree of success to be the “British Kraftwerk.” They were my Beatles.

florian schneider played the flute first

Flutes were treated with effects for a hybrid sound in the band’s early days

It was some time in the early 90s when I managed to finally find a copy of “Ralf + Florian” on LP and even 8-track cassette! Around that same time, my friend Ron was thinning out his collection for his first trip to Japan and I relieved him of his Japanese first pressings [from 1979] of “Kraftwerk” and “Kraftwerk 2.” Also his glow-in-the-dark “Neon Lights” 12″ single. When I played them I was surprised to hear that the theme song to PBS’s science program, “Newton’s Apple” was actually Kraftwerk’s “Ruckzuck” from their free-form Krautrock era! The first four Kraftwerk albums featured Schneider playing the flute as much as any synthesizers as that was his field of study.

When the next new Kraftwerk music appeared an incredible five years later, it was in the guise of a remake album where they picked music from their imperial period [and “Electric Cafe” ] to record “The Mix.” By that time, percussionists Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür had left the band that they had contributed to during the band’s most vital phase. This was down to Ralf + Florida with engineer Fritz Hilpert. It was an album which we certainly bought immediately, but I’d be lying if I didn’t state that I felt that all of the new versions were inferior; with the exception of “Radioactivity” and “Computerlove.” Not only had they been unable to advance their vision, but there seemed to be an inability to even compose. Still, I did enjoy buying the singles from this release in CD format by 1991. We even had tickets for a tour that was supposed to have them playing in Miami that was ultimately cancelled, in a disappointing blow.

Two years later Karl Bartos struck out with Rheingold’s Lothar Manteuffel as Elektric Music. It even had Andy McCluskey writing and singing a track, and longtime designer Emil Schult also designed the “Esperanto” album that got heavy play from me that year. It was possibly the last time I could have said that I had a favorite album of a certain year as 1993 happened. Kraftwerk seemed moribund, but computer technology made their previously rare concert tours more likely as the band may have not recorded anything new but they were now touring on a more regular basis than ever. Thanks to the ability of modern technology to make gambits like the notion of taking their Kling Klang studio with them on tour in 1981 as there was no other way to achieve that sound live.

I finally saw Kraftwerk in 1998 at a show in Chicago along with my friend [and commenter] JT and his friend James in a fascinating, emotionally moving experience that saw me weeping for the first 15 minutes at the culmination of a life of fandom. I remember that afterward, we discussed just how much of the show was live and how much was Memorex® to couch it in that term. We seemed to think that it was closer to a mixing event than a performing event but it’s well-established now that the band construct unique versions of numbers from established sonic building blocks of sound they manipulate in realtime.

kraftwerk - expo2000 lenticular CD cover art

The lenticular printing was of an amorphous shape/image [the Expo logo] so the usual drawbacks to the technique didn’t really matter this time

The next year I was surprised to see that the “Tour De France” single had gotten a reissue on CD single format complete with QuickTime® video of the video on an Enhanced CD. Then, a scant year later, the new Kraftwerk single manifested as the band had provided a jingle [or sonic branding as we now call it] for the Expo 2000 World’s Fair in Hanover, Germany. This had been worked from a few seconds into a fully fledged composition in several mixes, and the resulting single was pretty mediocre. Still, I managed to buy the Enhanced CD with the alternate cover and the really dreadful remix single with people other than Kraftwerk watering down the music. Actually, The band’s own Kling Klang mix 2002 was pretty good [and it sped up the sluggish track by a factor of at least two], but that was one mix out of ten.

By 2004 I was in a local record store in my then-new city of Asheville. I was astonished to see a used CD in a local store that had come out the previous year called “Tour De France Soundtracks,”that I had gone completely unaware of! How queer that felt to find out about the new Kraftwerk album by buying it when I saw it in the used bin! Apparently, the band had now revisited that single to re-record it in an inferior version. And built up an album around it. It was all too labored for my ears, but “Vitamin” and especially “Aero Dynamik” had that Kraftwerk spark that all of the cycling themed foofraw surrounding the album had failed to excite me with.

2005 brought another new Kraftwerk release that indicated a lack of  movement. “Minimum-Maximum” was a double CD that showcased how the only development that the band was capable of was in a backward glance as their new live arrangements of their many tours of the modern era were now duly recorded and released. It was years later when I finally bought a used copy as it hardly seemed absolutely necessary. That ship had sailed. I also got the DVD of it that like so many music-oriented home videos, has sat, unwatched in my home as my wife prefers films for her video entertainment. One day we’ll see it.

organisation - tone float cover artI would go on to see Kraftwerk three more times at Moogfest 2014, but only that first time in Chicago had Schneider onstage. By 2008 he had retired from the band he had spent 40 years with. Though technically, Kraftwerk only dated to 1970, Schneider first recorded with Hütter in 1968 in the band Organisation, who issued the “Tone Float” album only in England in 1968 with copies going for many hundreds of dollars I could not spend on a copy. I suspect that I’ll never own this one. Discogs lists 24 different editions, but only this one is not a pirate copy. By the last decade, the band, sans Schneider, became a world famous brand with their by now legendary 3-D concerts playing to art museums around the world as well as concert halls and festivals.

Only Ralf Hütter remains in the band now and they have issued a boxed set where they have played their entire modern Katalog [music from 1974 onward only] that has yet to find a home in my Record Cell, but one day I suspect it will happen. There have been rumors of the first three, atypical Kraftwerk albums getting a re-issue but I think that’s just smoke + mirrors. Mr. Hütter clearly has little interest in pursuing this tact; given that he’s seemingly unmoved by a robust market in pirate CDs of this material for the last 25 or so years. When Ralf dies, I fully expect the shows to continue with the legendary Kraftwerk robots using AI learned from Ralf’s arrangement decisions to endlessly continue the band in perpetuity as a sound and music spectacle that will be on a more agreeable level than this new and ghoulish penchant for “holographic” tours that chills my very blood. And the election of the band to the heretofore resistant Rock + Roll Hall Of Fame will probably also happen in the next few years. Kraftwerk have been on the ballot for the last several years, and I expect the loss of Schneider to tip the scales for the band the next ballot. Or two.

The last 25 years have seen this cult act who managed to influence generations of my favorite British musicians as well as American musicians at the forefront of dance music technology for the last 40 years really manage to cultivate an aura and reputation that has grown dramatically in size in a way that I could not have predicted as an eleven year old captivated by the strange beauty of “Autobahn” on the transistor radio that was my constant companion. For the part of that journey that mattered most, Florian Schneider was there every step of the way adding his penchant for voice synthesis and studied musicality to the final product. He was the first member of Kraftwerk to cut his hair short and was the style leader in the band in terms of image. Together with his bandmates Kraftwerk, he managed to effect a truly revolutionary seismic shift in how music was perceived, produced and consumed. If you own any neon lighting, now is the time to turn it on in remembrance.

Florian Schneider mid-70s

a jovial Schneider cutting a snappy figure in 2016


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Posted in Core Collection, obituary, seminal single | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Dave Greenfield: 1949-2020

Dave Greenfield ca. 2013 - love the rat

Dave Greenfield in 2012 from Stranglers French forum, CC BY-SA 3.0

Here we go again. I had planned to review a new release today but I was blindsided by this instead. I have been mentally preparing for every musician I enjoy eventually meeting their fate as have been writing this blog since they are all as little as 3-5 years to 20+ years older than I am. And I’m not terribly young. But the covid-19 crisis is indiscriminate on who gets cut down. Yesterday it was The Strangler’s immensely talented keyboardist, Dave Greenfield who met his untimely end at only 71. The gent was apparently hospitalized for a heart ailment and fell victim to the virus. And here we all thought it would be drummer Jet Black [81 and effectively retired from playing for the last five years] who would probably be the first Strangler to go, but it was down to Greenfield this time.

dave greenfield

A Dapper Dave Greenfield from “Black + White”

I first heard The Stranglers at the courtesy of chasinvictoria, who was hoovering up New Wave compilations like they were going out of style in the heady years of ’78-’80. A+M Records had one called “No Wave” that he was exceptionally besotted with. Not long after buying a copy of that I think he ended up with albums by every one of the bands on it that A+M [the most progressive major label at the time who were actually licensing much of the New Wave acts exploding out of the UK] released. I recall hearing chasinvictoria bring in the “Black + White” album and play the first track on side one, “Tank,” on one of his radio shows at the high school station where we were DJs.

The the entrancing combination of punk belligerence coupled with a clear intelligence and miles of excellent musicianship made me an instant fan. Dave Greenfield was clearly one of the keyboardists of the time who could play for miles. Obviously gifted with heavy technique yet never boring. If “Tank” immediately made me a fan, then Greenfield’s atonal solo on the next track, “Nice + Sleazy” blew my young mind. It made Eno’s seminal work on “Roxy Music” sound staid in comparison. Hearing this was like licking an electric socket! I immediately fell in with The Stranglers and avidly followed their career for the entirety of their years with Hugh Cornwell as their lead singer.

The Stranglers career during my fandom fell into two distinct phases. The New Wave/Punk years on United Artists Records,  when the band were never too far out of the UK top ten with many gold selling albums and hit singles that ran the gamut of styles and influences. Followed by their more commercial [yet ironically less successful] CBS records era. But if the band got more commercial, then at least they were going down that road with panache. Hugh Cornwell had said that he felt that the band’s CBS era had them following the lead of more sophisticated pop like Roxy Music [who had just stepped down in 1983] and Greenfield’s keyboard prowess went a long way towards making that not only possible, but even desirable.

The band had their biggest hit in 1981 with the elegant smack song “Golden Brown” selling big the world over [with the exception of the US, where “punk rock” like The Stranglers never stood a chance] and they used that huge success to transition to the larger CBS Records at the end of their UA contract. Greenfield’s harpsichord hook was utterly central to the song’s gravitational pull. Then the subsequent “Feline” album showed just how sophisticated and stylish these former thugs could be. Songs like “European Female” were close to what Ultravox were offering at the time in the smoothly synthetic sound they offered.

I remember being particularly smitten at the time when “Aural Sculpture” was released in 1983. The songs were simply fantastic and I had always felt that “Skin Deep” was the best song that Johnny Cash had never written. Actually, I would have paid top dollar had Rick Rubin picked that song for Cash to make his own during the American sessions, but it remained a lost opportunity.

mona mur cover art

RCA | GER | CD | 1988 | RCA ‎– PD 71860

Dave Greenfield didn’t stray far from The Strangler’s mothership. There are only a handful of side efforts that kept him busy in his off time. He played occasionally with J. J. Burnel on duo or the latter’s solo efforts. There was the retro cover band The Purple Helments that probably slotted in close to things like Naz Nomad + The Nightmares. In 1988 Greenfield and Burnel were all over the Mona Mur debut album and I may  need to hear this.  Then there was the 1993 Dani album “N Comme Never Again” which also had Jérôme Soligny involvement in addition to Greenfield and Burnel.

But The Stranglers without Cornwell never convinced me. I bought the first single, “Heaven + Hell,” and simply could no longer believe in this once vital band. I bought a few archival albums of Stranglers material post 1990, but that was the extent of any more Greenfield in my Record Cell. But what is in there counts for a lot. Condolences to his family and bandmates are certainly in order.


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Posted in Core Collection, obituary | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

OMD Stream ‘Souvenir’ Tour Performance From 2019 On May 9 “Live From Your Sofa”

OMD live from your sofa show poster

Live On Your Sofa, is more like it

Well, here’s a tidbit that you should know about it you’re not on the OMD mailing list. The band are doing their bit to make not going out to shows a little less pronounced. They are going to stream the November 20, 2019 show from the Eventim Hammersmith Apollo from last year’s “Souvenir” tour to fans on their YouTube page on

Saturday. May 9, 2020 at 8 PM [20:00 GMT]

It’s from their “Souvenir” 40th anniversary hits tour of last year, so it is a singles-laden trawl through the OMD pop collection, but there are enough deep cuts of interest sprinkled throughout to foster a nod of knowing approval from my corner. I am going to spill the beans and reveal up front that if you ever wanted to hear the band tackle “Stanlow” live [raises hand in an insufferably precocious manner for teacher] here’s your big chance!

It’ll be at 15:00 EST where I live, so I hope I remember to look in, at least for the first song, since it’s “Stanlow.” Don’t know if I will be up for taking two hours in the middle of my Saturday to watch it, though. That’s prime worktime around here. Especially if I have YouTube or nothing. Could there be an online video platform that’s not controlled by social villains Google or Facebook where civilized people can watch video like this online? [hint, hint: Vimeo] Just asking.

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Posted in Core Collection, Designed By Peter Saville, Live Music | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Want List: Peter Godwin – You! DL Single

Imago/Godwin Records | UK | DL | 2020

Peter Godwin: You! UK DL [2020]

  1. You!

Lieber Gott Im Himmel! I’ve been deep down the Peter Godwin hole of late; remastering my now even more peerless collection of rarities and wouldn’t you know it, this lovely download has come along and made a mockery of my efforts. Now I need to re-design the packaging materials since there’s room for just this brand new single in the jam-packed running order.

Last week commenter Gavin; attuned to all things Godwin [as we all are, right?] contacted me to let me know that the first new song in [gasp] eight years had dropped down the chute of commerce in spite of the weird times we’re in, so I bought immediately because that’s what we do when Godwin sees fit to release a single. The day I can’t drop eleven bits in iTunes [even during a stay-at-home order] for the new Peter Godwin track is the day to send flowers. So I bought and played it immediately. What’s it like?

Well, for starters, Godwin’s been recording a lot of music with the spacious sounds of Johnson Somerset collaborating on music and production with him, and this time there’s a new partner in the mix. Godwin, who resides in France, has gone native and enlisted the new-to-my-ears Garbo D’Astorg to write with and this was considerably different from the widescreen, chill out vibe that he had been exploring with Somerset. Gavin suggested Bowie and the guitar style certainly throws back to a strong hint of Earl Slick with lovely sustain on the dual guitar line snaking throughout the entire song. But overall, I’m picking up more of a Roxy vibe, since the song reminds me more of early Metro material than anything from the Godwin canon of the last [gulp] 40 years!

The guitar/bass/drum emphasis was far more rock than the sophisticated pop that Godwin has made his metier in the last few decades. But that’s not to suggest that it’s leather and studs time for Godwin. As ever, the cosmopolitan Godwin has a real feel for chanson that marks him as a peer to Bryan Ferry and the tune, albeit crunchier than anything Godwin has released in ages, still bore that distinct imprint. We can count for that much in this chaotic world!

https://embed.music.apple.com/us/album/you-single/1508251915

Sure, sure. You can stream it, but earn way more karma and vote with your wallet. Click the button. You know you want to.

communist purchase button

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Posted in Core Collection, Record Review | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Post-Punk MVP – Matthew Seligman: 1955-2020

Matthew Selligman Seligman was exceptionally active in the UK Post-Punk scene when it mattered most before becoming a lawyer in recent years

Damn it, COVID-19 has claimed another musician who was all over my Record Cell, and as my friend JT suggested, was fully worthy of a New Wave MVP status. Not only for what I already have, but for things that I still need! Of course, it was known last Friday that bass player Matthew Seligman had died but my blogging time is scant while working from home, and today is the first time I’ve been able to hammer out a few words for this maven of the bass guitar who laid productive tracks down all over the Post-Punk map. I first heard of him in 1982 when the pre-fame Thompson Twins first caught my ear in their [preferable] seven-person lineup. But the bands that Seligman had played with were legion. Many [but not all*] are solidly in my Record Cell. To wit:

  • The Soft Boys/Robyn Hitchcock
  • Bruce Woolley + The Camera Club
  • Thompson Twins
  • Thomas Dolby
  • Gardening By Moonlight
  • The Dolphin Brothers
  • Sam Brown
  • Peter Murphy
  • Transvision Vamp
  • Morrissey*

And several other Thomas Dolby-oriented combos around from after the Bruce Woolley era up to Dolby’s established solo career, such as:

  • The Fallout Club
  • Local Heroes S.W. 9
  • Low Noise

bruce woolley + the camera club english garden coverSo he first met our ears as one of the “Camera Club” featured on Bruce Woolley’s excellent 1979 album. There was where the sub-unit of Seligman and keyboardist Thomas Dolby first bonded for a lifelong partnership; with Seligman playing and even co-writing on most of Dolby’s albums over the years. Dolby became involved with Thompson Twins for their “Set” album and probably paved the way for Seligman to join the Twins for that album and tour.

the soft boys underwater moonlight coverBut not before getting recruited in 1980 into The Soft Boys in time for their sophomore album. Mr. Seligman went on to have a further career with Robyn Hitchcock during his solo career as well. I have to admit that I’m somewhat remiss in never having heard The Soft Boys in spite of their influential role in bringing the influence of Syd Barrett to it’s modern audience during the time of Post-Punk.

local heroes S.W. 9 drip dry zone cover1980 was a very busy year for Matthew as he also formed Local heroes S.W. 9 with frequent cohort Kevin Armstrong; with whom he had a long partnership throughout many permutations, bands, and sessions together. I have to admit that I just found out about Local Heroes S.W. 9 and I’m very interested in hearing their two albums or should I say one and a half albums as their 1981 opus was a split album with one side being Local Heroes S.W. 9 [this time with Thomas Dolby guesting] and the other side being a full-on Kevin Armstrong solo album!

the fallout club wonderlust cover1981 also saw the formation of a band whose recordings are sadly absent from the Record Cell, but The Fallout Club had an immense New Wave pedigree with Seligman and Dolby [again] linking up with Robin Simon’s brother Paul and vocalist Trevor Herion. I’ve only ever heard Thomas Dolby’s solo version of “Pedestrian Walkway” [the B-side of “Dream Soldiers] as a bonus track on the 2009 DLX RM of “The Golden Age Of Wireless.” A Dolby album where Matthew Seligman did not appear, with the exception of all of the versions with “She Blinded Me With Science” and “One Of Our Submarines Are Missing.”

thompson twins in the name of love cover1982 brought us to my entry point in this saga. The excellent second album by Thompson Twins, “Set” or as it was known in America, “In The Name Of Love.” It was a crying shame that such a vibrant band were cut loose just when they were firing on all cylinders, but the synthpop trio formation of Thompson Twins certainly hit commercial pay dirt, even if their records were less interesting at first. Becoming far less interesting in almost immediately.

Fortunately, Dolby was there to give him a foothold on the top selling “She Blinded Me With Science” single of 1983 that made Dolby’s fame with also successful EP of the same name for the American market. He also found the time to contribute bass to the astonishing Gardening By Moonlight album “Method In The Madness.” This was one of the finest, if unsung, Post-Punk albums of the era. One all the more amazing for having been made in 1983, the terminus year of Post-Punk.

Seligman stuck with Dolby for his 1984 album, “The Flat Earth” and was also a member of the famous Bowie backing band for Live Aid in 1985 where the Thin White one rounded up Dolby as musical director; giving Seligman, and Kevin Armstrong a historic chance to play the now iconic version of “Heroes” that took the song from obscurity [in America, at least] to finally become the worldwide Bowie smash that it clearly was from the beginning.

the waterboys - this is the sea coverThat same year, Seligman played on the Waterboys third album “This Is The Sea” that contains the Dylanesque classic “The Whole Of the Moon.” Surely, the one Waterboys song that even I have heads [and enjoyed]. The next year Bowie kept Seligman close at hand as he played on the OST of “Labyrinth,” which is the one Bowie album I still have not heard. In keeping with the soundtrack theme, he was also bass on the “Absolute Beginners” single from the movie of the same name.

the dolphin brothers catch the fall coverJAPAN fans got a taste of half of that band without Mick Karn on bass for the superb Dolphin Brothers album by Jansen + Barbieri. This album rocked my world of 1987 with music that felt like what might have come after the “Tin Drum” album had JAPAN not broken up afterward. Seligman was adept enough in the bass role not have made me not even miss Karn; which says something for the caliber of material and playing on this album.

peter murphy love hysteria coverThe next year had the last flowering of non house or indiepop UK music that was still related to New Wave and thus interesting to me hitting the charts. This included Peter Murphy’s  clearly excellent second album “Love Hysteria,” as well as the crass glam-pop of Transvision Vamp’s divisive [but I love it whole cloth] debut album “Pop Art.” Going forward Seligman found a lot of session work instead of band roles, with Morrissey, Sam Brown, and Tori Amos all calling on his bass prowess.

illuminati - thunder among thr e lillies coverThe one band situation that did happen in 1990 was something that never surfaced until many years later, and unfortunately I missed as in 2002 I was not above water to notice that Shriekback online finally issued an album of recordings on CD-R of Illumanti. “Thunder Among The Lillies” featured the Post-Punk übergroup formed by a [briefly] post-Shriebkack Barry Andrews along with Jon Klein from The Banshees and Specimen, Kevin Wilkinson [ex-League Of Gentlemen, China Crisis], and one Adrienne Loehry on lead vocals – whom I’d never heard of before. One hopes that Shriekback will remember to reissue this music digitally since damn near everything else they’ve ever released seems to be in their digital webstore.

jan linton matthew seligman - sendai coverBy the mid 90s, Seligman’s credits stopped as he retrained for a law degree for a second career specializing in human rights legal actions so he’s more than just a musical hero! It seemed like so many of the Post-Punk MVPs got a second wind by moving 180 degrees away from music for something else. If John McGeoch could become a nurse, anything is possible, I guess. But a few musical excursions still happened in the new century. When Thomas Dolby re-emerged in 2011 with the excellent “Map Of A Floating City,” of course Seligman was playing on that. The next year saw Seligman living in Japan and linking up with artrock guitarist Jan Linton on the ambient “Sendai” EP which was named for the city there where he lived at the time and I still need to hear this music.

Thomas Dolby in the last few days had set up a fundraiser for Seligman’s family but as of today, it had been closed by Dolby, who had topped it off at £25,000 after it reached the £20K goal within as little as two days. I see that backing vocalist supreme Tessa Niles was among the final donors under the wire. I am shocked, but pleased that this outpouring of care for Seligman’s wife and two children had been this successful, so soon. I was hoping to pitch in a token as today was payday [and I still have a job] but I just went there to end this posting only to find that the window had been closed.

Below are the Matthew Seligman releases in my Record Cell. Which ones are in your own homes? Discuss below and condolences to Matthew’s partner Mami and children Lily and Deji. I’ll give Thomas Dolby  the last word with his online wake for Matthew held among friends and colleagues last Sunday from all over the world.


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Posted in Bowie, New Wave MVP, obituary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Record Review: Cold Cave – “Life Magazine” US 12

cold cave life magazine cover art

Matador | US | 12″ | 2010 | OLE -941-1

Cold Cave: Life Magazine US – 12″ [2010]

  1.  Life Magazine (The Arthur Baker’s Not Going Back Remix)
  2. Life Magazine (An Optimo (Espacio) Mix)
  3. Life Magazine (Pantha Du Prince First Flash Remix)
  4. Life Magazine (Prurient Remix)

I was an immediate convert to the charms of Cold Cave upon hearing their track “The Great Pan Is Dead” from their 2011 album “Cherish The Light Years.” While that cut thrilled with the electric charge that I’d last heard in 1981 in the music of Glenn Branca, the rest of the album certainly looked to New Order as setting target to hit, and hit it, they did. In many ways, “Cherish The Light Years” was the New Order album I had been waiting 30+ years for. When I saw this Cold Cave 12″ from their previous album, sealed, in 2017, I snapped it up. Especially since I saw that Arthur Baker Himself® had remixed the first version of the A-side. Seeing how Baker had contributed to a fertile period in New Order’s career, how could this be bettered?

The Baker remix of “Life Magazine” began with a stuttering warning claxon of synths and dramatic stabs. That [way over] lasted for 2:30 before resolving into the perky synthpop banger at the heart of this song. It sported a great bass line as good as anything Hook would have come up with but the unnamed female vocalist gave it all a stronger whiff of The Other Two than that New Order itself. The vocal melodies were strong and, uh, hooky, but the over reliance on repetitive tritones made for a remix where less could have been more. As I had not heard an Arthur Baker production in almost 30 years by this point, it was only peripherally related to what I considered the classic Baker electro sound.

The Optimo Mix actually came closer to that expectation in its diverse hybrid of several eras of dance music with tightly sequenced eight’s notes redolent of Baker, but more to the point, Cabaret Voltaire in their mid-80s majesty rubbing shoulder pads with acid bass lines and the wildcard here; the squelchy analog sounding synths ripped straight from late 70s Space Disco. Quite a tasty blend and the best of the mixes here. When the classic New Order synth strings made their appearance it was like coming home. The vocal was nearly doubled with reverb but there was a lot of it here; not the dreaded Repeated Vocal Sample®.

The Pantha Du Prince First Flash Remix also revealed a Cab Volt influence to these ears. Unfortunately, it was the 90s post-Mallinder minimal techno version of the band that I had little time for. The dreaded repeated the dreaded Repeated Vocal Sample® used here was as reductive as possible with about a second of reverb [forward and backward, from the sound of things] and the expansive melody had been forced into a minor key; never a fun thing to listen to… if you’re me. It lasted an interminable 9:12 when a third of that might have been bearable.

Finally, the Prurient remix was incredibly echo laden and remote sounding; as if a club 5 miles away was playing it. Extremely loud. The volume levels to the track were mostly low but the sound was distorted any way. Just another example of this modern horror of brickwall abuse. When the volume levels spiked for the last third of the song then it fully embodied the worst sort of mastering possible in today’s audio horrorshow.

cold cave life magazine brickwall wave form

Yaaaagh! THE worst brickwall mastering I’ve ever seen.

The nightmare in sound above is what the waveform of the Arthur Baker mix looks like in my wave editor. Practically a solid black rectangle. The second mix here was rather good and I think I could make a better edit of the Baker remix than the repetitive overkill we got here, but I would have to fire up the turntable and see what I could extract from the vinyl. The MP3 files given as a download with this disc were among the worst digital files of any kind I’ve ever heard. I suspect that the original 3:02 version on the “Love Comes Close” album may be what I need to hear. Perhaps from vinyl only. Damn it.

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Posted in Record Review | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments