Record Review: A Focus On Fashion Phase One Gives Us “Fàshiön Music” Reissued And Expanded UK 2xCD [part 3]

Fashion live 1979 B-52's opening
Fashion onstage in 1979

[…continued from last post]

1978 Demos

The last six tracks on disc one were 1978 demos. The single conceit of the title, which was almost all of its lyric content, was the crux of “I Don’t Take Drugs, I Don’t Tell Lies.” It was a skeletal Post-Punk Reggae that was the most modestly developed song here. It sped up half way through to repeat the title and some na-na-nas. The point of it all? They’d rather get drunk. Every band needs an anthemic self-defining song, right? It worked for The Monkees. But apart from the sung title of “We Are The Fashion,” this was an instrumental.

“Small People” was very punky. It sounded like a different band entirely. This must have been the earliest track here, but it still slowed down for Reggae skank sections every few bars. But perhaps it was an early outlier to maybe what they decided would be their sound. They had “Bike Boys” down fairly confidently, as it would not vary much in its final version on their “Product Perfect” album. It was probably a centerpiece of their live sets and that’s why this was why it was an epic 5:22 even in demo form. ” The Naff All Tango” was a funny title for an instrumental, that eventually did coalesce into a Tango, but it was all too sloppy for these ears. And finally, the alternate take of “Killing Time” minus the Dub workout coda had the song at half of the released length with a climax that ended more definitively. Maybe this was down to the timely effect of Punk before Dub began to hold sway with the band.

Live Album

The second disc here was comprised of the only extant live recording of the band, made on January 3rd, 1979 at an unusual location: Brize Norton Royal Airforce Base. It was the young band’s 34th gig ever, and only their debut single had been released by that point. If ten songs seemed a bit skimpy, know that two of the “tracks” here were eight to nine minute long medleys comprised of three songs each. Bringing the total of songs up to 14. Practially Prog for a young band just starting out six months earlier.

The three piece seemed to be still a little green here. With sound down to guitar/bass/drums with Mulligan doubling on a synth as well, there was not a lot of filling things out. This was the dawn of the Post-Punk era and the band were obviously inspired by Punk even as they were picking up on the Reggae influence that was always cheek-by-jowl with Punk. The wild card was the adoption of the synthesizer to also throw into the pot.

They wisely kicked the set off with “Steady Eddie Steady” which would have been their calling card at that time. Hearing a live New Wave band with synth bass was pretty exotic in the barely 1979 climate. The recording quality here was generally good. Vocals were a little ragged but no one would have batted an eyelash at this performance when it was going down. It didn’t sound like the audience was miked, but this was probably just a recording for the band to review their performance, not a gatefold double live album. What little presence the audience had here was limited to bleed through on the vocal mics.

“Red, Green And Gold” next got as deep as the band got into Reggae, neatly defining the scope of their sound right up front. I have to wonder what the sequencing of the original live set was since the late in the set track “Symiane” [a song dedicated to singer Luke James’ girlfriend at the time] ended with drummer Dik Davis announcing that the next song was their next single, “Citinite.” But “Citinite” showed up here as track four in the live set. Following the Punk Trilogy of “Don’t Touch Me/I Don’t Take Drugs/Sodium Penathol Negative.”

But that was actually pretty good re-sequencing as the diffuse “Citinite”‘ worked well as an unexpected palate cleanser following the frantic action of the three song medley. The Reggae/Punk of “Killing Time” was probably the band at their most commercially astute; slotting into the sound that The Police were currently riding very high in the charts at the time.

I did like how the live sound was stripped back even further than their already economical recordings. The second live medley which replicated the last half of what would be side one of “Product Perfect” with the live synths getting more prominence in the band’s starker live sound. These three songs [“Big John/Hanoi Annoys Me/The Innocent”] made a potent case for this band having something unique they were trying to contribute to Post-Punk. Having the band pack it in by the summer of 1980 was something of cheat as a fan, but having read Luke James’ autobio covering the Fàshiön phase one] era from start to finish, it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s to James’ benefit that he recognized this after a reasonably brief time of being in a signed band. Which he ultimately found out, didn’t change much in his life.

“Die In the West” was a great song that deserved a longer lifespan that it probably had in the band’s hands at the time. It would end up a deep cut on the “Product Perfect” album that would come out many months later than this concert. A chorus that consisted of “die in the west and you’re half way to heaven” painted the band in their most sardonic light.


I was happy and surprised to see that all of the Fàshiön singles which I’d had in my want list for ages were now here and on the sliver disc! Meaning that I’d have a CD of this material [and so much more] for a fraction of the value of the time I would have spent making the disc. The Easy Action label have just released the 2xCD as well as a 2xLP option for those who’d prefer records of material that had been only in print previously…on records. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. The Singles/Demo Tracks – 2xLP – £25.00
  2. The Singles/Demo Tracks/Live Album – 2xCD – £12.99
  3. “Sodium Pentathol Negative” b/w “Steady Eddie Steady” [both 1978 unreleased versions] white 7″ – £8.99
  4. Mega Bundle – all of the above + Fàshiön A4 print – £39.99

The 7″ tracks were appended to the live CD on disc two of the CD version, so all of the music is present in that format. I’ve wanted the “Product Perfect” album for…almost forever, really. There was an LP reissued on green vinyl last year for RSD, but I was going to try for an original I.R.S. Records pressing since it had such iconic relevance for me. The word comes that Easy Action may be licensing the album for reissue as well, somewhere down the line. But in the interim, I’m just happy to have the early incarnation of this band available on the silver disc!

The band’s relevance in the Brummie New Wave scene can’t be underestimated. We hope to have an interview with Luke James soon to discuss this music, what it was like being signed by Miles Copeland when he was beginning his recorded music empire, and the inevitable connections to their erstwhile opening act, Duran Duran.

2xLP

post-punk monk buy button

2xCD

post-punk monk buy button

White Vinyl 7″

post-punk monk buy button

Bundle [2xLP, 2xCD, 7″, A4 Print]

post-punk monk buy button

-30-

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

Record Review: A Focus On Fashion Phase One Gives Us “Fàshiön Music” Reissued And Expanded UK 2xCD [part 2]

Fàshiön ca. 1979 [L-R]: Dïk, Lûke, Mulligán were all about the diacritical marks

[…continued from last post]

The Singles

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.

fashion citinite cover art

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.

1980 Demos

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

Posted in Record Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Record Review: A Focus On Fashion Phase One Gives Us “Fàshiön Music” Reissued And Expanded UK 2xCD [part 1]

hafhion music cover art
Easy Action | UK | 2xCD | 2022 | EARS159

Fashion: Fàshiön Music DLX RM – UK – 2xCD [2022]

Disc 1

  1. Steady Eddie Steady
  2. Killing Time
  3. Citinite
  4. Wastelife
  5. Silver Blades
  6. Silver Blades A Deeper Cut
  7. Sodium Pentathol Negative
  8. [The] Innocent
  9. Red, Green & Gold
  10. Fiction Factory
  11. Do It In The Dark
  12. Steady Eddie Steady [1980]
  13. Emotional Blackmail
  14. Bad Move
  15. Let Go
  16. I Don’t Take Drugs, I Don’t Tell Lies
  17. We’re The Fashion
  18. Small People
  19. Bike Boys [1978]
  20. The Naff All Tango
  21. Killing Time – 1978 [original]

Disc 2

  1. Steady Eddie Steady [live]
  2. Red Green & Gold [live]
  3. Don’t Touch Me / I Don’t Take Drugs / Sodium Pentathol Negative [live]
  4. Citinite [live]
  5. Killing Time [live]
  6. Big John / Hanoi Annoys Me / The Innocent [live]
  7. Die In The West [live]
  8. Symiane [live]
  9. Bike Boys [live]
  10. Wastelife [live]
  11. Sodium Pentathol Negative [1978 version]
  12. Steady Eddie Steady [1978 version]

It looks like the Easy Action label is firmly committed to documenting the nooks and crannies of Birmingham [UK] Post-Punk since the label has just issued the first music by Brummie scenemakers Fàshiön that is native to the silver disc [as well as on LP, if that’s the way you swing]. I previously noticed the label when they issued the unreleased album by Stephen Duffy/Nikki Sudden’s early band The Hawks. And they cannot help but keep my attention by reissuing Fàshiön rarities and more.

I have gone on a bit about the band’s second phase, under the lead vocals and guitar of Dee Harriss, but that was the later part of the story for me. I actually went all the way to the band’s origin points, in 1979, when they were signed to the “weird” New Wave oriented label founded by Miles Copeland. In 1979 I was a DJ at my high school’s [10 watt, monophonic] radio station, and when our station manager wrote to every label out there to possibly get us serviced with promos, only one label was desperate enough to send us anything! The first releases by IR.S. Records came into our station, and I recall seeing “A Different Kind of Tension” by Buzzcocks, and especially the “Product Perfect” album by Fàshiön Music.

I was a graphic design geek and the use by their designer/bassist/synthesist Mulligan of Microgramma Bold Extended on the “Product Perfect” cover completely caught my eye. In that year it was my favorite font! Being neck deep in New Wave by 1979, I actually played the album on the air. If you were within a mile of my high school, you might have been able to receive the signal! I especially liked the medley that closed side one: “Big John/Hanoi Annoys Me/Innocent.” That was what my pick to play was. After that album, I wondered what had happened to Fàshiön and didn’t hear of them for another three years, when they appeared on MTV in a radically different Synth-Funk guise with “Love Shadow.”

That had been a little hard to believe since the Fàshiön I knew was a left-field Post-Punk-slash-Reggae band. Like a more radical version of The Police without middle aged Rock Stars slumming and adopting Jamaican accents. And this release captured every last note that was not their album “Product Perfect” [reissued last year for RSD] in rounding up their four seven inch singles issued both in the UK and America [each completely different], as well as all of the demos from the second album that never was by the group.

The reason why the band had gone missing for three years after 1979 was down to the band’s vocalist/guitarist/writer Luke James [a.k.a. Luke Skyscraper] deciding that he’d had enough of this scrambling after stardom, when he split after a tour with the still unsigned U2 in early 1980. So we’ve got 21 tracks jam-packed onto disc one, with a live concert by the band comprising disc two. Which, seeing as we’re out of time today, we’ll dive into tomorrow.

Next: …Fàshiön Blow You Away

Posted in Record Review | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Want List: Sparks Release DLX RMs Of Their Dazzling 21st Century Canon

Seven Sparks For All…

We just got the email from the Sparks mailing list today with the great news that the first three of Sparks 21st Century reissue program has begun today with the first three of the seven titles out today with well curated bonus tracks available as a lure for those who have had them all along. We have all but two of these albums, and one of them is so scarce on the CD [and LP] formats that I will most certainly be buying that one. But I could be persuaded to drop shekels on any of these delights, if we consider the materials added to the programs. Let’s look!

BMG | EU | CD | 2022 | BMGCAT550CD

Sparks: Balls DLX RM – UK – CD [2022]

  1. Balls
  2. More Than A Sex Machine
  3. Scheherazade
  4. Aeroflot
  5. The Calm Before The Storm
  6. How To Get Your Ass Kicked
  7. Bullet Train
  8. It’s A Knockoff
  9. Irreplaceable
  10. It’s Educational
  11. The Angels

CD Bonus Tracks:

  1. It’s A Sparks Show
  2. The Calm Before the Opera
  3. The Angels (Sparks Alternative Version)
  4. More Than a Sex Machine (Sparks Definitive Version) (Radio Edit)
  5. The Angels (Tony Visconti Version)
  6. The Oblongs
  7. A Cute Candidate Opening Theme
  8. The Race for President

I’ve always loved this album, and bought it on release in 1999 in the red cover. Now it’s got seven bonus tracks to fill it to the gills with stuff. The song they wrote to open their “Balls” tour that was only played live. A few alternate mixes, and most importantly, the songs from a 1999 CD single they self-released that goes for nearly three figures. I’m guessing that few Sparks fans actually have the CD-5 of “In Entertainment We Trust [Music From the Motion Picture ‘A Cute Candidate’]?” I know it’s too rich for my blood.

BMG | EU | CD | 2022 | BMGCAT551CD

Sparks: Lil’ Beethoven DLX RM – EU – CD [2022]

  1. The Rhythm Thief
  2. How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?
  3. What Are All These Bands So Angry About?
  4. I Married Myself
  5. Ride ‘Em Cowboy
  6. My Baby’s Taking Me Home
  7. Your Call’s Very Important To Us. Please Hold.
  8. Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls
  9. Suburban Homeboy

CD Bonus Tracks:

  1. The Legend Of Lil’ Beethoven
  2. Wunderbar (Concerto In Koch Minor)
  3. Kakadu
  4. Suburban Homeboy (Extended Ron Speaks Version)
  5. The Rhythm Thief (Instrumental Version)

This album stunned in 2002. It still stuns today, though we have perhaps become normalized to its audacity and reach. The DLX edition of the 2002 CD had three bonus tracks. All available here, without crossing the $50 mark, for a change! Then two extra tracks from the concurrent time period also manifested. “Kakadu” I’d never heard of, but it’s from a German conceptual album from 2001 where various artists were given one word, and one sound, to create a composition from. In Sparks’ case, the word was “kakadu” and the sound? Paper being cut with scissors. They managed to get 5:18 out of it and I’m curious.

sparks - hello young lovers remaster
BMG | EU | CD | 2022 | BMGCAT552CD

Sparks: Hello Young Lovers DLX RM – EU – CD [2022]

  1. Dick Around
  2. Perfume
  3. The Very Next Fight
  4. (Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country
  5. Rock, Rock, Rock
  6. Metaphor
  7. Waterproof
  8. Here Kitty
  9. There’s No Such Thing as Aliens
  10. As I Sit Down to Play the Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral

CD Bonus Tracks:

  1. We Are The Clash
  2. (Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country (Alternative Lyrics)

As much as I am impressed by “Lil’ Beethoven,” the band’s next opus was even more thrilling. Have Sparks written a better song than “Dick Around?” [a rhetorical question, I know!] This time the bonus tracks are modest. A B-side and the track they recorded for an Uncut cover mount CD of Clash cover songs. They perversely picked a song from “Cut The Crap!”

sparks - exotic creatures of the deep remaster
BMG | EU | CD | 2022 | BMGCAT553CD

Sparks: Exotic Creatures of The Deep DLX RM – EU – CD [2022]

  1. Intro
  2. Good Morning
  3. Strange Animal
  4. I Can’t Believe That You Would Fall for All the Crap in This Song
  5. Let the Monkey Drive
  6. Intro Reprise
  7. I’ve Never Been High
  8. (She Got Me) Pregnant
  9. Lighten Up, Morrissey
  10. This Is the Renaissance
  11. The Director Never Yelled ‘Cut’
  12. Photoshop
  13. Likeable

CD Bonus Tracks:

  1. Brenda is Always in the Way
  2. Islington N1
  3. Mr. Hulot
  4. I Am A Bookworm
  5. Where Would We Be Without Books

sparks islington N1Sparks produced their third album of their “Lil’ Beethoven” trilogy in 2008, and the capped its release with a mind-melting residency in the UK where they played an album a night with every song they ever recorded on an album played in full! The location of this event? Islington, N1, the bonus CD single given to those who bought tickets for each show in the residency. The CD exchanges hands for three figures, but the song is yours now for a pittance! “Brenda Is Always In The Way” was previously a bonus track on the LP version of the album , and ‘Mr. Hulot” was a B-side to the “Two Hands, One Mouth” pic disc single. The book oriented songs were recorded for KCRW-FM’s “Bookworm” literary radio program.

sparks the seduction of ingmar bergman
BMG | EU | CD | 2022 | BMGCAT572CD

Sparks: The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman – EU – CD [2022]

  1. 1956 Cannes Film Festival
  2. “I Am Ingmar Bergman”
  3. Limo Driver (Welcome To Hollywood)
  4. “Here He Is Now”
  5. “Mr. Bergman, How Are You?”
  6. “He’ll Come ‘Round”
  7. En Route To The Beverly Hills Hotel
  8. Hollywood Welcoming Committee
  9. “I’ve Got To Contact Sweden”
  10. The Studio Commissary
  11. “I Must Not Be Hasty”
  12. “Quiet On The Set”
  13. “Why Do You Take That Tone With Me?”
  14. Pleasant Hotel Staff
  15. Hollywood Tour Bus
  16. Autograph Hounds
  17. Bergman Ponders Escape
  18. “We’ve Got To Turn Him ‘Round”
  19. Escape (Part 1)
  20. Escape (Part 2)
  21. “Oh My God”
  22. Garbo Sings
  23. Almost A Hollywood Ending
  24. “He’s Home”

And finally, the last recent Sparks album to get the love has no bonus tracks at all, but it is the one I will actually pre-order first next week, because when “The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman” appeared in 2009 as a radio play commissioned by Swedish Radio, it could be bought on CD as part of a deluxe 4xLP/CD box [currently $315 on discogs] or as a Swedish Language CD released only in Sweden, [recently $50-70 on Discogs]. The only time I saw a copy was in Wuxtry Athens at the time of release as an LP [currently $145 on Discogs] which I didn’t want to buy. I wanted a CD!

In 2011, Sparks performed the radio play at the L.A. Film Festival and produced a ltd. ed. CD for the Festival. Sold only from their web store. Currently sitting at $349 in Discogs! So do I want to buy it for $14 + shipping from the UK? Whatever the shipping costs turn out to be, it will be a bargain to finally have just this album on CD and no LPs of it. In English. For <$50, so, huzzah!

That’s definitely one CD I am ordering and I wouldn’t look askance at any of the others crossing the threshold of my Record Cell. That’s a full Cd worth of bonus material that would cost much more to track down in the nooks and crannies than to simply re-buy on this series of discs. The Sparks Webstore is mostly sold out of many of these [they came in many different format bundles that may be gone now] but the first three are out today at other retailers as well with the last two being available on May27th and still in the Sparks webstore allotment. Budget accordingly!

post-punk monk buy button

-30-

Posted in Core Collection, Want List | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The Night Of The Proms: Middlebrow Eurokitsch?…Or The Final Frontier Of Your Obsessive Collection?

Bryan Ferry tears into “Let’s Stick Together” with full orcherstra

It was during the medium-high internet record collecting years around the turn of the century, that I became aware of a European phenomenon called “The Night Of The Proms.” This was begun in 1985 in Belgium by two students and was based on the BBC tradition of The Proms; a series of up to 70 classical concerts held yearly. The difference was the at the European counterpart we’re looking at, mixed Clasical and Pop performances.

Once I could research broad discographies on the internet, I began to see that some of the bands that I collected would appear at these concerts to have an orchestra back a brief set of 2-3 of their biggest hits given the 80 piece treatment. And more to the point, there would be issues of compilation CDs with some of these unique and slightly dubious linkups between Pop and Classical.

Which, as we’re painfully aware, had their origins in unintentional kitsch like the Moody Blues “Days Of Future Passed” and led to the early career of The Alan Parson’s Project. And you couldn’t beat Alan Parsons off with a stick from these events! He’s in for a Pound with five years of making the Benelux circuit with these touring shows. And I swear that John Miles was on 70% of these!

Here’s a short list of a dozen performers, of interest to us at PPM, that have joined the many dozens of MOR acts [Cyndi Lauper, Christopher Cross, Chris DeBurgh] as well as dozens more parochial performers we have never heard of [Gers Pardoel, Purple Schultz, et. al]. The names and years in red are currently in my Record Cell

  • Alphaville (2002)
  • Bryan Ferry (1995)
  • Deborah Harry (1997)
  • Grace Jones (2010)
  • Heaven 17 (2009)
  • Joe Jackson (2015)
  • Kid Creole & the Coconuts (2007 & 2010)
  • Martin Fry (2001)
  • Midge Ure (2005, 2008 & 2009)
  • OMD (2006, 2008, 2009, 2014 + 2015)
  • Simple Minds (1997, 2002, 2008, 2011 + 2016)
  • Tears for Fears (2006, 2007 & 2008)

It was in 2003 when I was getting serious about compiling every Simple Minds rarity into what became a 10-disc BSOG [which went up to 1997] that I bought my first of these Euro CDs. I saw that the “Night Of The Proms 1997” has Simple Minds playing two tracks with an orchestra: “Belfast Child,” and “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

“Two of my favorites,” he exclaimed; gritting his teeth.

Since at the time I had finally bought many of the singles from the band’s “stadium years” which were ghastly beyond belief for the sake of curating an accurate and complete collection of non-LP material, I didn’t let my antipathy for the actual music dim my resolve. In 2002 buying this was actually challenging, and involved international eBay purchasing. Soon afterward, I owned the CD below. It had the following tracks of interest.

night of the proms 1997 cover art
EVA | NL | CD | 1997 | 8233602

Various: Night of The Proms 1997 – NL – CD [1997]

  • Deborah Harry: Call Me
  • Simple Minds: Belfast Child
  • Simple Minds: Don’t You Forget About Me

As an aside, this disc is the sole one in my collection that features the rapper Coolio. At the time, I would venture to guess that I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-12 [with postage] to get this disc. I think of this topic today because I finally bought my 2nd disc of Proms highlights this week on Discogs.

night of the proms 2001 cover art
BMG Classics | NL | CD | 2001 | 74321 89761 2,

Various: Night Of The Proms 2001 – NL – CD [2001]

  • Martin Fry: The Look Of Love
  • Martin Fry: When Smokey Sings

I had begun an ABC BSOG many years before that I eventually abandoned [due to the wrong record being sent in an online purchase] but when I saw this in my Discogs feed I snapped it up without any resistance. Was I that big of an ABC fan? Well, yes…but this knee-jerk purchase was down to the cost of the item. The CD was selling for €0.50 [!] with postage from Belgium [sans jewel box] for only €3.00. At that price we hit that button. Which are other volumes we might want to also pick up?

night of the proms 1995 cover art
EVA | NL | CD | 1995 | 8365142

Various: Night Of The Proms 1995 – NL – CD [1995]

  • Bryan Ferry: Slave To Love
  • Bryan Ferry: Jealous Guy
night of the proms 2002 cover art
BMG Classics | BEL | CD | 2002 | 74321 97581 2

Various: Night Of The Proms 2002 – BEL – CD [2002]

  • Simple Minds: Alive + Kicking
  • Simple Minds: Don’t You Forget About Me
Sony BMG | GER | CD | 2005 | 82876 75351 2

Various: Night Of The Proms 2005 – GER – CD [2005]

  • Midge Ure: Breathe
  • Midge Ure: Vienna
night of the proms 2006 cover art
Sony BMG | BEL | CD | 2006 | 82876 88924 2

Various: Night Of The Proms 2006 – BEL – CD [2006]

  • OMD: Maid of Orleans
  • OMD: Sailing On The Seven Seas

night of the proms 2007 cover art
PSE Begium | BEL | CD | 2007 | 5425020320061

Various: Night Of The Proms 2007 – BEL – CD [2007]

  • Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Stool Pigeon
  • Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy
night of the proms 2008 cover art
PSE Germany | GER | CD | 2008 | PromsCD2008G

Various: Night Of The Proms 2008 – GER – CD [2008]

  • Tears For Fears: Mad World
  • Tears For Fears: Sowing The Seeds Of Love
night of the proms 2009 cover art
PSE Germany | GER | CD | 2009 | PromsCD2009G

Various: Night Of The Proms 2009 – GER – CD [2009]

  • Heaven 17: Let Me Go
  • Heaven 17: Temptation
the best of the night of the p5roms
PSE Belgium | BEL | CD | 2009 | 5425020320122

Various: Best of Night Of The Proms 2009 – GER – 2xCD [2009]

  • Simple Minds: Sanctify Yourself
  • Tears For Fears: Sowing The Seeds Of Love
  • Bryan Ferry: Avalon
  • Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Stool Pigeon
  • OMD: Enola Gay

As we can see, about a CD’s worth of tracks among those last seven. Interestingly enough, the Best Of collection has a few tracks that were not included previously. Ferry only did the circuit once in 1995 and “Avalon” was not on the 1995 disc. So I’m guessing that if we buy 1995 and the Best Of, we’ll have his full Proms set.

I lucked out on the Martin Fry CD, as the dealer I bought it from shipped from Europe without jewel boxes. All of these other CDs would be $12 minimum for shipping. Precluding me ever pulling the trigger to buy them. More than anything, this would be a case for the superiority of DLs to CDs in this case, but the iTunes store had exactly zero of these recordings. Sigh. It remains to be seen if any other stores online have this material for individual purchase.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that PPM faves OMD and Simple Minds were deeply into the concept, with five tours with the Proms each! Hell, you could probably make a full CD each of their entire Proms performances over the years! So they tied with Alan Parsons…but not Proms champ John Miles who has played every Proms tour since 1985, and would undoubtedly continue to do so were it not for the inconvenient fact of his demise late last year.

-30-

Posted in Core Collection, Live Music, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Want List: Barry Adamson’s “Up Above The City, Down Beneath The Stars” Autobio Published Last Year And No One Told Me?

Barry Adamson - up above the city down below the stars book cover
Omnibus Press | UK | 2021 | 352 pp.

Gloryoski! Last month we knew all about the biography of the great John McGeoch, but somehow, Barry Adamson was actually the first member of Magazine to have a book about them, in that case an autobio, and I’m just finding about it last week? Thank heaven for small miracles [and the Magazine mailing list].

So last September, the tireless Omnibus Press was adding to its prestige by publishing the evocatively titled, “Up Above The City, Down Below The Stars,” by Barry Adamson. 352 pages of the talent that began as a bass player in the likes of Magazine and Visage, eventually becoming a Bad Seed. Breaking free of sideman status, which was dazzling enough, to thrill us with his mature body of solo work. Where he trained his cinematic vision on the act of making soundtrack music to films both real and imagined. Who else could take Elmer Bernstein’s impossibly brash “The Man With The Golden Arm” as swaggering a jumping off point for a career that proved that he could build a vibrant solo career on that powerful foundation?

Lots of Rock bands fell under the spell of John Barry, but Adamson pushed the boat out much further in the water. Naturally, leading to idiosyncratic directors [Jarman, Lynch, Boyle] seeking him out to collaborate, but he didn’t neglect his personal muse. His albums of the last 33 years have been can’t miss affairs with Adamson’s muse served by some of my favorite singers ever as well as his own bad self.

Now, with his music coursing through my skull, I really want to read his memoir, which is said to be written in a …wait-for-it… noir style, if you can believe that! Omnibus Press still have the book as signed by the author in their store for the publisher’s price of £20.00/$24.40. A no-brainer, right? But there are other levels of buy-in. There’s also a signed hardcover plus a film-style poster for “Moss Side Story,” his debut album for £45.00/$54.89. The poster is sent rolled, in a tube naturally.

moss side story poster
Moss Side Story: the Motion Picture

The Omnibus Press website was sold out of the Ltd. Boxed edition, but I’ve found a dealer who still has stock of the 500 signed, boxed copies that come with the following:

  • Box of 500
  • Signed edition
  • “Moss Side Story” film-style poster
  • 7″ single [“The Folk Singer” b/w “The Sweeney [in dub”]
  • An art print of a photo by Adamson
  • custom bookmark
    • 1/500 copies have “The Golden Ticket” to win Barry’s Squier bass as used on “As Above, So Below.”
the Executive Version

If your taste runs toward exclusive music, then this can by yours for £80.00/$97.58. I’m running out of room in my tiny Record Cell and can’t be buying any more tchatckes. But I want to read that book. The book should be widely available everywhere, but here are the finer options, below.

UK | Signed Hardcover

post-punk monk buy button

UK | Signed Hardcover + Poster

post-punk monk buy button

UK | Limited Edition Boxed

post-punk monk buy button

-30-

Posted in Want List | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Want List: Rubellan Remasters Returns Attention To Visage On 12″ Disc With “Fade To Grey”

Rubellan Remasters are one again making beautiful music objects for our ardor

It’s no secret that Rubellan Remasters have really worked that Visage action like the pros they are! With definitive CD DLX RMs of the first two Visage albums, as well as the exotic dance mix variations of “Beat Boy” and the “Singles Collection,” their attention to the catalog of this dance collective [don’t call them a band] has been spectacular.

As much as Rubellan went into business to release the CDs that The Man wouldn’t let them buy [hmm, that sounds familar…] the cold hard facts of the matter are that their recent foray into releasing music on the increasingly popular vinyl format last year have gone spectacularly well for the reissue label. With most of their LPs sold out and the label even has to institute a “one per customer” rule for its recent LPs.

With that in mind, Rubellan Remasters has now turned its attention to the band’s first compilation, “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection.” This was the “blue frame” album that had the cheek to posit a greatest hits album from just two LPs worth of material, but given the large tectonic shift of personnel who comprised the band between everything else and the final single here, “The Pleasure Boys,” it made a certain kind of sense. I’ve ended up with multiple copies of this in my Record Cell over the years.

visage fade to grey us LP cover art 1983The first copy I bought of this album, was contemporary when I sauntered into Crunchy Armadillo Records and found a used promo copy of “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection.” I was certain that I had not yet heard of the title, so it was an instance of stumbling into it in store and being surprised. It had the extended US remix of “Fade To Grey” and nine other tracks. Since my copy of the “Pleasure Boys” 12″ single was broken before I got to ever play it [long, irrelevant story not included here], I needed this for a copy of “The Pleasure Boys” at the time.

visage fade to grey EU CD cover artThe 1991 EU 1st CD version, was of vital importance, as it was the first Visage music that I had on the silver disc. It was identical to the 1983 US LP version. It had the US extended remix of “Fade To Grey” on it and the same ten tracks. It was at this time that the 7″ edit of “The Damned Don’t Cry” became a bone of contention with me. As the only version of the song I had to listen to on CD, it always vexed me with its brevity.

Avisage fade to grey the best of visage cover art 1993 US copy of the 1993 re-titled, re-jigged version with a suitably altered cover and two more songs for a dozen included here. The compilers of “Fade To Grey: The Best of Visage” swapped out the extended remix of “Fade To Grey” for the 7″ mix, but included two tracks that came from later than 1983 at the end of the program. The “Love Glove” single from “Beat Boy” made its CD debut here. And this release also featured the Bassheads 7″ edit of “Fade To Grey” from the 1993 post-modern remixed single[s] that accompanied this album.

visage fade to grey dance mix LP cover artIn the new millennium with the internet at my disposal, I found out about the “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection [Special Limited Dance Mix Album” with the “red frame” cover and managed to finally buy one of these for less than a fortune about 17 years ago, I’d wager. It featured alternative mixes of the songs segued together and featured an 11th song added in the always desirable, “Der Amboss!” My copy was sort of trashed but it was not always easy to obtain a copy of the 1984 release.

Finally, two years ago Rubellan Remasters issued the now OOP US CD + bonus tracks to “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection [Special Dance Mix Album]” with the original eleven tracks of the 1984 LP slightly altered as RR felt that on CD, having “The Anvil” follow just two tracks after “Der Amboss” was problematic. So “Der Amboss” was placed in the bonus tracks at the end of the disc with four other rare mixes.

visage - fade to grey the singles collection US DLX RM cover art

Rubellan Remasters | US | Blue LP | 2022 | RUBY29L

Visage: Fade To Grey The Singles Collection – US – color LP [2022]

  1. Fade To Grey
  2. Mind Of A Toy
  3. Visage
  4. We Move [remix]
  5. Tar
  6. Beat Boy
  7. In The Year 2525
  8. The Anvil
  9. Night train
  10. Pleasure Boys
  11. The Damned Don’t cry
  12. Love Glove

So this time the 7″ version of “Fade To Grey” was used once again, but the two singles from “Beat Boy” were both added to the ends of the sides, to get the singles from album number three into the frame. The album contains a double sided insert showcasing the 7″ sleeves that make up the song selection with both front and back covers of each single depicted on either side of the insert! It’s that sort of attention to detail that this Monk appreciates. The pressing will be 500 copies each in the following colors.

visage - fade to grey - blue + grey LP
pale blue/grey splatter wax [RUBY29LP B+G]
visage - fade to grey - blue + smoke LP
translucent blue smoke wax [RUBY29LP B+S]

​Each LP retails for $24.99 with a one copy limit to deter flippers. There’s also a combo package with both LPs for the mathematically precise price of…$49.98. If anyone reading this is new to he world of Visage, why not revisit the classic title track of this album to get a sense of what’s at stake here with the 1980 single that made the band’s name?

The pre-order begins today, with the release date being May 13th. I shouldn’t need one of these, as I have 3xCDs and 2x LPs of this title, but my resolve buckles when I see the great insert that was to me the icing on the cake of this release. We’ll see, but in the mean time…Mr. D.J. Hit That Button.

post-punk monk buy button

-30-

Posted in Core Collection, New Romantic, Want List | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments