REDUX: Record Review – Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Flaunt It

June 14-23, 2014

Parlophone | UK | CD | 1986 | CDP 7463422

Parlophone | UK | CD | 1986 | CDP 7463422

Sigue Sigue Sputnik: Flaunt It UK CD [1986]

  1. Love Missile F1-11 (Re-Recording Part II)
  2. Advertisement: Tempo Magazine
  3. Atari Baby
  4. Advertisement [false]: Network 21
  5. Sex-Bomb-Boogie
  6. Advertisement: Pure Sex
  7. Rockit Miss U.S.A.
  8. Advertisement [house ad]: The Sputnik Corporation
  9. 21st Century Boy
  10. Advertisement: ID Magazine
  11. Massive Retaliation
  12. Advertisement: The Sigue Sigue Sputnik Computer Game
  13. Teenage Thunder
  14. Advertisement: Studio Line From L’Oreal
  15. She’s My Man
  16. Advertisement [false]: EMI Records

It’s time to stop beating around the bush and discuss the elephant in the room! It’s been almost 800 postings and I’ve barely mentioned Sigue Sigue Sputnik! I remember the high-pitched wave of hype that accompanied this band when then burst onto the scene right at the death-throes of Post-Punk. I was intrigued but wary, but when I finally saw the video for “Love Missile F-111” I certainly got over my initial squeamishness. This was possibly the most post-modern band conceivable. I had to appreciate Tony James chutzpah at forming a dream band after the implosion of Generation X, where Billy Idol took off for a solo career with manager Bill [“KISS”] Aucoin whispering sweet nothings in his ear.

What did Tony James do but think about what he really wanted to say while surrounding himself with multiple Billy Idol clones and late-blooming Blitz Kid Martin Degville, who must have grit his teeth watching Steve Strange, Boy George, and hell, even Marilyn get contracts waved in front of their faces and singles in the charts. James had a conception of Elvis in the year 2050 and armed with the sound of Suicide and a sampler, he set about creating that dream, all the while infusing the sound with a broken funhouse mirror reflecting the worst ethos of the Reagan/Thatcher era. Like any successful piece of satire, there is a double edged sword in invoking the future that you may not really want to happen. It often has a way of manifesting itself anyway!

The band were not without precedent. Public Image Limited were the first to mine the “band as corporation” vein and B.E.F/Heaven 17 certainly worked that angle with a mixture of self-aware irony and earnest belief. But SSS went much further in reflecting and magnifying the crass, commercial values that were being touted as the new god of the eighties. If it did’t make any money, what good was it? SSS would make a meta-statement on  commercialism not just by willfully embracing it, but by actually selling ads in-between the cuts on their debut album! Then they worked the hype angle in the press harder than most to the point where despite embodying what should be exactly the traits of their ideal target market [ironic, post-modern pseudo-hipster with too much education for his own good] I was none the less put off of actually buying the records without feeling like a mark.

When the album came out I made a point of telling my friends, when the topic of discussion moved to SSS, that “I’d love to have the album, but I didn’t want to buy it.” I was crestfallen when I eventually realized that none of my friends took the bait and bought the album for me. Eventually, I had to grit my teeth and buy the thing myself! I got the CD at a record show probably a year after it came out. With that Rubicon crossed, I made it a policy to also buy the 12″ singles when I saw them, but by that time the SSS hype train had certainly run off the rails as the band were deemed washed up as soon as they managed to reach the top five with their first single, “Love Missle F-111.”


SSS vs EMI… who won?

“Love Missile F-111” was an audacious blend of Suicide with T-Rex in dub. So what if half of the album sounded like a remix of the track? There are more ideas per square inch here than with most bands of the mid-80s. Kudos to James for daring to create something that had a multiplicity of levels to investigate. At the simplest level, the songs were redolent of T-Rex, possibly the finest “lowest common denominator” for the entire punk generation. Some performers loved Roxy more than Bowie, or vice versa, but was there anyone who didn’t love T-Rex? Marc Bolan had the instinctive magic that cut through the charts and won the hearts of almost everyone in the process. His simplistic updating of blues for the switched-on, early 70s generation was inspired. And if you’re going to steal; steal from the best.

The media overload style that the band synthesized from Blade Runner, Terminator, Clockwork Orange, and Japanese popular culture wordlessly evoked the high velocity zeitgeist of Eros/Thanatos that was now driving Western Culture ever closer to the edge of the precipice in the fat, complacent middle of the Reagan Thatcher era. One might even say in the way it saw the coming age of media overstimulation, that the album manifested pre-millennial tension years before it was trendy to make the attempt.

At the very least, it is obvious that James was drinking the same water as the writers [George Stone + Steve Roberts] of the prescient TV film “Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future.” Both efforts, which were concurrent and independent, were darkly satirical examples of the coming techno-overload style which they both cribbed no doubt from “Blade Runner, but with the added frissons of black humor. Myself, I suspect that all of them were probably readers of the American Flagg comic book by Howard Chaykin. It hit the comic shops like a bomb in 1983 and very much laid the groundwork for SSS and the Max Headroom film.

Looking back to A Clockwork Orange, “Love Missile F-111” [and therefore the entire album] has the cheap, tawdry vibe of the sort of bands that Alex disdained; preferring the majesty of ol’ Ludwig Van B. Beethoven gets plundered as well with what sounds like samples of “Ode To Joy” and the “William Tell Overture” as Mooged up by Wendy Carlos [both from the Clockwork Orange OST] surfacing throughout the album. But there is a glimmer of humanity surfacing in the track almost unnoticed amid the sex and ultra violence. As Mr. Degville is extolling “Blaster bombs, bombs, bombs ahead” he follows it with the line “Multi millions still unfed” almost casually in the second verse. If it goes unnoticed, blame the heavy use of crass samples and deep dub effects. That line is crucial, because without it, “Flaunt It” would posit a deeply cynical, amoral universe not worth paying attention to.

With it, it transforms the work satirically, given that Tony James has let his guard down and slipped in the truth among all of this synthetic hypercandy. of course, like any good post-modernist, how much he is commenting negatively on what he sees while actively celebrating certain stylistic aspects of it is in the eye of the beholder. Fortunately, the repetitive, machine-gun-like production of Giorgio Moroder [?] keeps the wheels rolling forward.

Which is important, when the album has its tracks interrupted by advertising! In a sad example of just how ahead of its time that this album was, only five of the eight ad slots were sold to outside concerns. Two were false “house ads” for EMI and The Sputnik Corporation, and the third was for the never-released SSS computer game. For years I thought the “Network 21” spot for “low power TV” was a nod to Max Headroom, but I’ve just learned that it really was a pirate TV broadcaster active in London! Of all of the ads, the best are the spots for I-D Magazine and L’Oreal’s Studio line of hair care products.

I used to read I-D Magazine, back in the day and it was a very congruent fit with the SSS universe. But the best ad of all was the L’Oreal ad, which was a straight version of their TV/radio campaign for their Studio line of products. The rapid-fire techno style of the spot’s delivery was intrinsically what the whole SSS aesthetic was satirizing, and its inclusion here was icing on the cake as it helps the album attain an acme of self-referential satire that is well-nigh unreachable on the face of it.

RAGNAROKWell, the album is almost redundant on the face of it. Most of the songs were built on the same relentless electropulse that was introduced on “Love Missile F-111.” They all had cut-up dub effects strewn throughout the whole production. There were originally samples galore, but EMI’s lawyers [never ones up for any fun] put the kibosh on that gambit, leaving the album with voice actors emoting, or in the case of Clint Eastwood, sound alikes quoting famous lines. The band and Moroder didn’t know about getting clearance in the Wild West days of the sampler.

SSS - Crucified by the Media?

SSS – Crucified by the Media?

The juxtaposition of the ads within the flow of the album feels more right than right and hearing the banded promo LP version with the links removed for airplay must count as the worst sort of comedown from the heady media overload vibe that the album legitimately attains. Some of the ads sound for all of the world as if the band mixed and recorded them. I suspect as much. The guitar vamps at the end of “Network 21” dovetail into the subsequent “Sex Bomb Boogie” like a fiend. One major point of reference that comes up with the inclusion of the ads that I’ve not heard anyone else mention, was that this marks the album as the obvious sequel to the brilliant Who album “The Who Sell Out” in more ways than one. That album also had a smattering of “ads” to better conjure up the heady pirate radio media stew that SSS were taking into the video age. Hell,  Network 21 was real pirate video micro caster! I can’t believe that I’ve never heard the obvious debt to The Who being made on behalf of this album before.

Parlophone | GER | 12" | 1986 | 1C K 060-20 1565 6

Parlophone | GER | 12″ | 1986 | 1C K 060-20 1565 6

Sure, most of the tracks seem like one big dub mix. “Rockit Miss USA” and “Massive Retaliation” attain a darker vibe than the rest here. The former is especially foreboding with its references to Berhnard Goetz via the opening subway squealing sound effects juxtaposed with not Clint Eastwood saying “go ahead, make my day” followed by gunshots. As if to make the allusions perfectly clear, the track ends abruptly with the Troy Canty soundbite of “I said give me five dollars” were repeated over with stuttered samples of “get the gun” over a bed of “hail to the chief.” It paints a picture of a violent New York City that’s not far removed from the ultraviolence of A Clockwork Orange and certainly not very satirical any more. 30 years later men with guns are still shooting unarmed men with dark skin with the gun manufacturers [who have congress in their pockets] cheering it all on.

“C’mon down and buy a sputnik. We have miles and miles of sputniks. They’re friendly. They’re cheap. They taste good. Because, a sputnik a day keeps the doctor away.”

“Massive Retaliation [M-A-D]” recalls FGTH’s “Two Tribes” in more ways than one with almost the same bass sample figuring in this track. Instead of the relentless, breakneck bassline of “Two Tribes,” this track was built on a more plodding beat that recalls “Let’s Go All The Way” by Sly Fox from the same year. The juxtaposition of the backing vocals and samples repeating “shut up” give the track a loopy sense of the absurd, never more prevalent than when a female announcer [!] delivers the quote above this paragraph only to be again followed by more “shut up” samples.

The final two tracks perk up from the gloom a bit. “Teenaged Thunder” and “She’s My Man” are just a few degrees of separation from one another. They proffer almost a rockabilly sensibility and end the album on a slightly flat note with a very low quotient of satire compared to the album at its stimulating best. And therein lies the paradox at the heart of “Flaunt It.” At its acme, it has more to offer than scores of the competition with an almost depthless Post-Modern ambiguity and a seemingly limitless ability to be parsed along any number of sociological vectors of inquiry. But all of this intellectual content is delivered at the expense of memorable tunes, even though some might say that good tunes would have defeated the whole purpose of this album! In other words, the sameness and surface banality of the music is the only honest embodiment of the ideas that it was built to serve! With one exception.

The musical heart of the album stands so far apart from the bulk of this album, that it almost should stop the momentum of the concepts in their tracks, except that “Atari Baby” plays instead like a lush oasis in the middle of a concrete brutalist city. The tune is at a fraction of the BPM of the rest of the album, and it offers what approaches a love song built from the vocabulary of the SSS project and points the way to a rare instance of the band having its cake and eating it too. The gorgeous song sounds like a close cousin to one of my favorite Art Of Noise tracks, “Snapshot” from “Daft.” Of course, what each of these songs have in common is the stirring B-F-E chord sequence from The Who’s “Baba O’ Reilley.” It invigorates each of these songs in turn and quite frankly I never grow weary of hearing them; even the venerable Who classic. “Atari Baby” shows that it may be possible for SSS to fulfill their intellectual brief while offering actual ear candy.

When I view the SSS website, I can see an additional eight albums of SSS material that have been released over the years, with much of it being of fairly recent vintage. Does anyone have any experiences with these and should I look into hearing more than the classic debut album? On the face of it, they needn’t have released anything else other than “Flaunt It” and perhaps too many 12″ singles to accompany it, but if they plowed the furrow of most of what I’ve already had for years, then I don’t mind having given it a pass. If they instead took “Atari Baby” as a direction to follow, then I might be interested in more from the 5th Generation of Rock & Roll.

– 30 –

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REDUX: Corn-Fed New Wave: System 56 – Metro Metro

April 1, 2014

Detour Records | US | 7

Detour Records | US | 7″ | 1982 | 5602

System 56: Metro-Metro US 7: [1982]

  1. Metro-Metro
  2. In The Old World

In a word… Wow!  Wow!!! My friend JT hipped me to this incredible Cleveland band that was active for only a few years from 1982-1984 and it’s a crying shame that I wasn’t all over this like white on rice back in the day. It pushes all of my Monk buttons… even 33 years later. And it pushes them hard. The band was initiated by guitarist and vocalist Steve Simenic and after he rounded up the other three members of the band, they recorded this debut single in Simenic’s 4-track studio after only a month together. They were obviously in thrall to Ultravox in the best possible way.

By this time period, I was used to hearing US acts saying that they were influenced by Ultravox, but what was usually delivered was Berlin; hardly comparable if you ask me. But this single is far better than anything that UIltravox ever released after this came out!  The lush synths of Kevin Lytle interplay with the frankly awesome guitar of Simenic every bit as vitally as did Billy Currie with Robin Simon. Meanwhile the rhythm section of Vince Scafiti [drums] and Chuck Ryder [bass] kept it urgent and powerful without particularly emulating the distinctive motorik of “Vienna” era Ultravox.

“Metro-Metro” has a title that evokes Berlin’s single of the previous year, but this track has it all over the competition. The tune’s complex intro evokes a little of Polymoog era Numan, before the steady beat comes to the fore and paves the way for Simenic’s stentorian vocals to enter the song with their almost heraldic tones as the uneasiness of the intro was dissipated for the confident and propulsive chorus to take the song to the next level. This makes for an audacious debut single, but the best is yet to come!

The B-side, “In The Old World” is if anything, an even stronger tune cut from the same cloth as the A-side. On this track Simenic’s phenomenal guitar playing really takes the song by the throat and his playing here is as powerful as anything that Robin Simon achieved on “Systems Of Romance.” And brother, that is saying a lot. This is full on Euro synth rock with dark undertones of the Old World [apropos, you’ll admit] shot through the track for a fully satisfying emotional chiaroscuro. When the track faded on another hot Simenic solo at the song’s end, I felt cheated. Almost as badly as only hearing this music half a lifetime later. The only thing holding this record back, and even slightly, was that it was, in effect, self-recorded 4-track demos recorded in a home studio. Simenic’s vocals got somewhat buried in the mix and sound a little remote but the mind boggles at what this band could have achieved with, let’s say, Conny Plank at the boards. With their talent and Conny’s genius of sound…[whistles]. Midge who?

This single was successful enough in the time of its release, that a 2nd pressing was made, but this is still a record that commands a selling price out of my comfort zone. With the boom in “minimal synth” records, this 7″ now is changing hands on for just under a hundred smackers. Ouch, the pain! Fortunately, Simenic has made this music available by download [Amazon and iTunes] and CD, and this has been recently joined last year by LP courtesy of Rave Up Records, for those inclined to get it on vinyl while it’s less than three figures. He’s also put the entire story up at an informative System 56 website that highlights the brief, but shining history of the band. I desperately need to order a CD from this gentleman. This is some absolutely wonderful music that I’m ecstatic to have finally heard. I am as excited about this as I was with the Visage album from last year.

– 30 –

Posted in New Romantic, Want List | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 69]

OMD – The Punishment Of Luxury | 2017 – 4

[continued from last post]

The next track was something quite different. “Robot Man” was a deliberately hoary sci-fi cliché of a title that gave the tune maximum ironic value, since the song seemed to be not at all about automatons, but was instead a possibly self-admonishing bit of introspection regarding how McCluskey had emotionally related to others. The initially sparse, harsh instrumentation had intentional hints of The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” as the seeds of inspiration, but the tune developed to become far more complex than the brutally reductive Daniel Miller classic.

Four songs into this album and the third single had already played by track number four. “What Have We Done” was only the second song form the third phase of OMD that Paul Humphreys had sung; and his first lead vocal on an OMD single since “[Forever] Live + Die” from 31 years earlier. Not that you could tell that from Humphrey’s typically boyish vocal style; still sounding as fresh-faced here as he had on “Souvenir” lo, those many decades earlier. The music bed was one of poised, crystalline beauty, yet with the threat of saccharinity still lurking beneath the surface. It definitely lifted Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” vocal loop rhythm section whole cloth here. Fortunately, the lyrics hit the listener exceptionally hard for a Humphreys song. Inspired by the act of euthanizing his pet dog, Humphreys had taken the seed of that painful emotional state and crafted a well-considered look at actions, regrets, and the weight that responsibility for one’s actions incurs.

The component parts of this song conspired to a fuller sum than they would have apart from one another. In this way, the facile beauty of the melody gets frissons of delightful dissonance from the weighty lyrical thread; so at odds with the musicbox melody.

The last OMD album had returned to the notion of having brief, abstract interludes among the conventional songs, ala their “Dazzle Ships” creative gambit. “Precision + Decay” was an elegant sound collage referencing the decay of industry via the Ford Motors Dearborn automobile plant. The synthetic voice carried the first part of the song with a simple verse illustrating how entropy always wins. Then to illustrate the notion, sound bites from the early, vibrant days of the Ford plant were knit into the second half of the song. It’s brief but memorable, thanks to an elegant melody running through the song courtesy of Andy McCluskey’s bass. The band name-checked Peter Hook as an inspiration for the bass line, but this was much more delicate, with none of the aggressive swagger that Hook brings to the instrument. The bass line is such that having heard it this morning, it’s been unfurling in my head for the whole day.

The last OMD album had a lot of Andy promising glitch influence on the album, but I was unconvinced. This time, the current OMD album actually has some serious glitch DNA in the form of the slow, methodical “As We Open, So We Close.” The song was built on a glitch rhythm section chassis that barely resolved itself in to a rhythmic pattern, with lurching, buzzing synths injected into the mix while Andy sang a lyric of cyclical emotional turmoil and damage with lead synths atop it all to somehow make it work, melodically. The tone seemed to point back to the post-divorce thrust of the previous album, making me think that this might have been a song left over from those sessions that didn’t quite gel with the last album.

After three somber tracks it was time for an injection of some upbeat OMD energy with the ravishing “Art Eats Art.” Over the sort of driving, gorgeous melody that Kraftwerk lost interest in 40 years ago, Andy’s harmonized, vocoded voices sang the names of prominent artists over a triumphant ascending chord sequence. It was a thrilling track from OMD who have frequently pastiched “Europe Endless,” my favorite Kraftwerk song [and apparently Andy’s as well] but who have finally, with this one, made a song that has the same kind of expansive, beautiful melody common to that song without sounding anything like a knockoff. Really, it was the kind of song that I wish that Kraftwerk had an interest in making; the lyrical thrust would be a new facet for them to investigate as well, but OMD got their first. The band are well known to get much inspiration from viewing art and this one really cuts to the heart of their intellectual passion for art. How I wish that this one had a nice long extended version.

Next: …New Peaks

Posted in Core Collection, Rock GPA | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 68]

OMD – The Punishment Of Luxury | 2017 – 4

[continued from this post]

OMD, as usual in their third phase, discussed the making of their latest album well in advance of its September  2017 release. The name of the album was revealed as a song title mentioned by McCluskey as early as January of 2015. The first single was released a month prior to the album, when “Isotype” appeared. The song title referred to the Austrian pre-war design practice of the International System Of TYpographic Picture Education. As OMD a concept for a song as could be.

The album itself was pre-sold on Pledge Music in various bundles, including the now mandatory DLX boxed version with a demo disc an other features. The band also pre-sold a subscription to all three of the 12″ singles [limited to 1000 copies each] they planned to release from the album. This last option I also went for since I have the collector’s sickness. I have bought all most↓ of the singles on vinyl and CD from the band’s third phase. The cover art for each of these was taken from the visual language of the album cover design, as created by John Petch; a Liverpool artist working as a painter since the 60s. His penchant for op art derived canvases found a fan in Andy McCluskey, who gave the job of designing the campaign to him. The album performed well for OMD. It debuted at number 4 in the UK album charts; their best showing since hitting #3 with “Sugar Tax”…27 years earlier. OMD’s campaign during their third phase had shown their ability to grow their audience from release to release while keeping their eye closer to their core values than it had been during ’84-’96.

↓- I have not purchased the two expensive, import-only RSD 10” singles.

The album opened with a bang. The second single, its title track, led off the album with an embarrassment of strengths as McCluskey railed against notion of capitalism as a balm for an individual’s emotional needs. The music was tightly coiled and energetic with a “hey-hey-hey” backing vocal hook that would not quit. Of course, once I heard it, I could not get out of my head how OMD seemingly cribbed it from the…Van Halen song “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” That was the last thing I would have expected from OMD, but they’ve done weirder things! I thought that McCluskey might have been familiar with Apollo 440s [they remixed OMD a year later in 1998] drum + bass deconstruction of the Van Halen song in 1997 as “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub,” but that one only sampled the guitar hook, not the backing vocal hook that OMD so adroitly lifted here. At least this one served to drop that hook into an upbeat piece of OMD technopop that had “classic” stamped all over it.

“Isotype” was this album’s excursion into Kraftwerk pastiche territory. This had been an OMD penchant from their earliest days, and when they reactivated, a part of their artistic DNA that had returned with a vengeance. Even during the specious solo-Andy years, they still performed a good cover of “Neon Lights,” showing the imprint of the Düsseldorf band on even the most compromised version of OMD. This was an expansive song of over six minutes in length that recalled classic Kraftwerk phase two material from their salad days. Paul Humphreys made certain to give it one of his winsome melodies that flowed euphoniously to the pleasure centers of the brain. Mine at least.

Lyrically, the song seemed to be structured along similar lines as their modern classic “History Of Modern [part 1].” Both songs featured McCluskey quantifying objects and criteria in a verbal list to a compulsive synth pop melody. Every this, that, and the other that would either be metaphorically conveyed with an isotype illustration, or would cease to exist once the universe re-booted in the case of the latter song. It bears mentioning that the distinctive synth patch favored by McCluskey since the early 90s when he co-wrote and sang “Kissing The Machine” with Karl “Kraftwerk” Bartos, made it’s now mandatory appearance on this song. As it had on the last two albums as well. The tune here rolls across the autobahn like a Mercedes. Listen and watch below to animator Henning M. Lederer’s animated video for the song.

Next: …This Might Be Van Halen, But Not The Scorpions

Posted in Core Collection, Rock GPA | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

REDUX: The Day Ozzy Went New Wave…And Disco!

March 4, 2014

ozzy-new-waveI was never really a Black Sabbath fan. Sure, sure. I had a compilation I wanted for my birthday at age eleven with the excellent single “Paranoid” on it, but as the eighties dawned, I much preferred The Dickies’ 200 m.p.h. cover version by far. Ozzy by this time frame was famous for [allegedly] geeking a bat and having a nascent solo career apart from Black Sabbath. So it was pretty shocking to the core when the second Was (Not Was) album, “Born To Laugh At Tornadoes” was released in 1983 and it sported a guest appearance by Osbourne on the very, extremely New Wave synth pop number “Shake Your Head [Let’s Go To Bed].” By the time that Mel Tormé guested on “Zaz Turned Blue,” the album’s closer, one’s senses were braced for anything!

Geffen Record | US LP | 1983 | GHS 4016

Geffen Record | US LP | 1983 | GHS 4016

Was (Not Was): Born To Laugh At Tornadoes US LP [1983]

  1. Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like A Rubber Ball)
  2. Bow Wow Wow Wow
  3. Betrayal
  4. Shake Your Head (Let’s Go To Bed)
  5. Man Vs. The Empire Brain Building
  6. (Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks
  7. Professor Night
  8. The Party Broke Up
  9. Smile
  10. Zaz Turned Blue

The album mix of “Shake Your Head” sounds not completely unrelated to the cut “What’s A Girl To Do,” which Don Was co-wrote for Cristina’s “Sleep It Off” album that was released the following year. It’s a bouncy New Wave synth dance number with Ozzy pasted on top of it singing; as large as life. Now that I think about it, he beat Van Halen to the synthpop punch by a year, didn’t he?

Fontana | UK | CD5 | 1992 | WAS CD11

Fontana | UK | CD5 | 1992 | WAS CD11

Was (Not Was): Shake Your Head UK CD5 [1992]

  1. Shake Your Head – Featuring – Kim Basinger, Ozzy Osbourne [Remix] – 3:42
  2. Spy In The House Of Love [Remix] – 5:27
  3. I Blew Up The United States – 3:51
  4. Robot Girl – 4:10

Then nine years later, things got really, much weirder when there was the first Was (Not Was) compilation album called “Hello Dad, I’m In Jail!” It featured some new mixes of material on it and it seemed that the Ozzy cut had been given a Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley house remix as well as featuring added guest vocals by… Kim Basinger?! Who needs LSD with Was (Not Was) around to liven things up? The how and why of this occurrence is even more contrived than the event itself. Apparently, when the original recording was made in 1982, it featured backing vocals by Madonna, who was thanked in the credits. Within a year, she was signed to Sire Records and on her way to the top. Of course, she withheld rights to her performance, leaving the band having to make do with Kim Basinger instead, who was trying at the time for a singing career.

Fontana Records | UK | 12" | 1992 | WASX 11

Fontana Records | UK | 12″ | 1992 | WASX 11

Was (Not Was): Shake Your Head [remixes] UK 12″ [1992]

  1. Shake Your Head [12″ Remix] – 6:49
  2. I Blew Up The United States – 3:51
  3. Listen Like Thieves (Giant Club Mix) – 7:14
  4. Listen Like Thieves (Vandal Dub) – 6:04

There also exists a remix 12″ of this single, with the full length House Mix by Hurley. Truly, a paradoxical object, considering the vocalists it featured. but there is one more unholy variant available in a pressing mixup that wasn’t supposed to happen.

now dance 92Various Artists: Now Dance 92 UK 2xLP [1992]

Disc 1

  1. Was (Not Was) – Shake Your Head (12″ Mix)
  2. Undercover – Baker Street (Extended Mix)
  3. East 17 – House Of Love (Pedigree Mix)
  4. The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode (Beatmasters Club Mix)
  5. Utah Saints – Something Good (12″ Mix)
  6. U96 – Das Boot (Techno Version)
  7. Bizarre Inc – I’m Gonna Get You (Original Flavour Mix – Radio Edit)
  8. U2 – Even Better Than The Real Thing (Perfecto Edit)
  9. Erasure – Voulez Vous
  10. Neneh Cherry – Money Love (The Perfecto Mix)
  11. Inner City – Pennies From Heaven (Kevin’s Tunnel Mix)
  12. Wag Ya Tail – Expand Ya Mind (Hendrix 7″ Mix)
  13. Soul II Soul – Joy (Brand New Heavies Remix)

Disc 2

  1. Ce Ce Peniston – We Got A Love Thang (Silky House Mix)
  2. Shanice – I Love Your Smile (Driza Bone Club Mix)
  3. Dina Carroll – Ain’t No Man (Lowmac 12″ Mix)
  4. Incognito – Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing
  5. Loose Ends – Hangin’ On A String (Frankie Knuckles Radio Edit)
  6. The Brand New Heavies – Don’t Let It Go To Your Head (12″ Version)
  7. Innocence – One Love In My Lifetime (7″ Edit)
  8. K.W.S. – Rock Your Baby (Boogaloo Investigators Mix)
  9. Salt ‘N’ Pepa – Start Me Up (Radio Edit)
  10. SL2 – On A Ragga Tip (Original Mix)
  11. Messiah – I Feel Love (7″ Mix)
  12. K-Klass – So Right (Pearl Edit)
  13. Bassheads – Back To The Old School (Edit)
  14. 2 Unlimited – Twilight Zone (7″ Version)
  15. Doctor Spin – Tetris (7″ Mix)
  16. Rage – Run To You (Vital Organs Mix)

If the prospect of hearing Madonna and Ozzy Osbourne duetting on a house remix of a synthpop New Wave dance tune thrills you, know that the first track on disc one, side one of this EMI compilation LP mistakenly featured the 12″ remix of the track that Madonna nixed. I don’t actually have this in my Record Cell, but it’s not unaffordable, considering all of the thousands of Madonna collectors probably out there. I should obtain a copy while it’s still safely under $50 in cost.

– 30 –

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“Summer” Remix Sees Simple Minds + Gary Numan Reunited

BMG | DL | 2018

Simple Minds: Summer [Gary Numan + Ade Fenton Remix] DL [2018]

This month I was surprised to see that the third single from “Walk between Worlds” by Simple Minds had been released. In these dark days, this is something I barely pay attention to since Simple Minds “singles” are simply download edits of their album tracks. Unlike OMD, who still give remixes and B-sides for their singles [which also exist on CD and vinyl in addition to DL], Simple Minds have been a bit barren in that area. Until now.

Earlier this month, the fan favorite track “Summer” was deemed close enough to the right time of the year to release it as a single. In a shock move they released a remix on May 4th with the album edit [see right] following a few weeks later. Color me agog that they engaged Gary Numan and his aide-de-camp Ade Fenton to actually remix the track.

Numan and Simple Minds have a history from the early days. In 1979, Numan had roped Simple Minds in to provide handclaps for his song “The Aircrash Bureau,” so the release of “Telekon” heralded the first recording with Simple Minds in my Record Cell!  I had heard the name by then, but had not had the pleasure otherwise. The band were close to Numan when he picked them to open a German Tour and they found themselves providing backup support in the studio.

2018 has seen both Numan and Simple Minds releasing top 5 albums in the UK, so Kerr + Co. were crazy like a foxx to merge their energies with Numan in this fashion. The song has been rebuilt from the ground up with only Ged Grimes’ walloping bassline and Kerr’s vocal retained from the master. The glitchy synth gank in the intro lets us know right up front that this is not your father’s Simple Minds single. The rest is synths that were slinky and sinuous with delightful minor key countermelodies fattening up the sound and doing their best to add an aura of foreboding to a song that was about summer approaching! Still, Numan and Fenton were obviously up to the task. They have dragged the song into enemy territory fairly successfully. I like how the drum track got dubbed out in the middle eight.

The colorful “cover design” for the two “Summer” singles have the colorful “disc sector” design on a black background [naturally] for the Numan mix, with the same artwork in negative aspect on a white field for the straight album edit mix. The artwork, as you can see below with the Numan and album mix artwork being rotated through positive and negative cycles, is almost the same art turned negative… with the exception of just a scant few regions of color that differ from each other. The art was 95% exactly the same and the effort required to make it differ just that much doesn’t make much sense to me.

One thing is for sure. Numan should try his hand at production more often. I like the sound he brought to the table here. It was playing to his synthetic roots without going aggro, which I really have no time for from him. Similarly, since they don’t really release physical singles any more, it’s nice to have the occasional remix from Simple Minds that I can actually buy in the US as a DL! Unlike those Johnson Somerset remixes of “Big Music” songs from a few years back that I would love to buy but can’t!

– 30 –

Posted in Core Collection, Record Review, Scots Rock | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 67]

OMD – Architecture + Morality – Dazzle Ships | 2016 – 3.5

[continued from last post]

Disc two opened with the title track to “Architecture + Morality” but that sounded like a playback. The next song, “Sealand” was far from sounding like that with the two noticeable keyboard fluffs in the long, mournful intro. This was one of those “instant bootleg” albums where the performance was captured as is and issued immediately after the show. I really appreciate when bands I like leave in the mistakes in their performances [see: Billy Currie’s solo in the live “Astradyne” from this album], though in this case, the band had no chance of a ex-post-facto fixup. The notion of a bloodless, flawless performance isn’t what music is about, I think. Beyond the synth errors, the drums under the sticks of Stuart Kershaw, sound decidedly different from those of Malcolm Holmes. It seems like the difference to me from Mike Ogletree and Mel Gaynor on Simple Minds “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84].” Holmes had a lighter, jazzier touch where Kershaw sounded more forceful and loud.

I am still appreciating the revised arrangement of “New Stone Age.” When OMD regrouped in the last decade, it seemed that Paul Humphreys was driven to buy old synths so that he could exactly replicate the patches and voices he had used decades earlier in making the albums. Maybe some wish for that sort of rigidity, but I enjoy live music for its differences from the tried and true that I have listened to for 30+ years. I think that’s why I enjoy live recordings of my favorite bands so much. I thrive of the changes that happen live. When OMD have a sampled Korg micropreset issuing from their Roland Fantoms, I find that a bit lifeless. That they can change the arrangement, as they did here, does a long way towards giving me something back from the live arena.

The instant live album aspects also lent “Souvenir” a distinction as Paul Humphreys vocals weren’t getting a very prominent place in the mix. Since there are only two verses and no chorus, there’s not too much of him to miss! I did love the rototom solo from Kershaw on the middle eight, though. That to me was the crux of the song. The hook that can never let me go. I did find myself missing Malcolm’s drumming on the iconic “Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans].” Kershaw hit straight tattoos of drumstrikes that seemed to have very little air in between them as compared to the more daring percussion that Holmes offered on this song. Here, Kershaw, in spite of having a heavier sounding hand elsewhere, didn’t manage to convey the massive drum sound that was Holmes metier on this track in particular.

On the other hand, Kershaw stepped out from the drum kit to play lead guitar on “The Beginning + The End,” and his delicate  touch added considerably to the sweet, emotional impact of the song. After that closer, they played a couple of OMD classics in “Electricity,” and “Enola Gay.” The former was particularly robust and I was excited to hear Kershaw add an actual electronic drum fill [complete with white noise pad fillips] in the last instrumental “chorus” to give this stone cold classic a little new swing.

“We haven’t played anything from after 1983. How weird is that?” – Andy McCluskey

Then they ended the set with a still powerful “Enola Gay” before leaving the stage briefly before the encore; the rhythm box still chugging away for several minutes as the band said their piece before leaving the stage. Since this was an “instant bootleg” the entire set break with applause [about 80 seconds] was left intact. Then the band returned and informed the audience that the post-1983 embargo was about to end since they had spent the last five years writing new material before ripping into the modern classic “History Of Modern [part I].”

Then came the logical coda for the evening. “The Romance Of The Telescope” was the one song that was missing from the “Dazzle Ships” set on disc one, but the band placed it with the “Architecture + Morality” set instead since it was a B-side to that album. Here, Kershaw played with the verve that had been missing earlier as he attacked the tattoos of military drumming on this track that marked this song as a percussive relative to “Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans].”

As fine as the last OMD live album from just a year prior had been, this was the one to have if your were only having one. While having “Metroland” was a pleasure from the earlier album, getting all of “Dazzle Ships” has to be worth a lot as you hear songs like “Silent Running” and “International” that just don’t get the airing that perhaps they deserve. And since “Sailing On the Seven Seas” is missing form this set list, it stands as the purer OMD experience with all of the wheat and none of the chaff that could plague this band. With the absolutely live nature of this disc added to the plate, it comes out as the quintessential OMD live album in my view. Here we were served the absolute cream of OMD with none of the material that served to diminish their legacy. That the one new ringer here was more than adequate company for their first four albums of material that formed the bulk of these sets, was icing on the cake.

Some interesting statistics crop up in all four of OMD’s live albums, issued in just an eight year period. There are some songs that appeared on all four and a few that were only on one.

















  1. ABC Auto Industry 
  2. Almost 
  3. Architecture + Morality 
  4. The Beginning + The End 
  5. Bunker Soldiers 
  6. Dazzle Ships [parts II, III, VII] 
  7. Electricity 
  8. Enola Gay 
  9. [Forever] Live + Die 
  10. Georgia 
  11. Genetic Engineering 
  12. Green 
  13. History Of Modern [part I] 
  14. History Of Modern [Parts III, IV] 
  15. If You Leave 
  16. If You Want It 
  17. International 
  18. Joan Of Arc 
  19. Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans] 
  20. Julia’s Song 
  21. Locomotion 
  22. Messages 
  23. Metroland 
  24. New Babies, New Toys 
  25. New Holy Ground 
  26. 4-Neu 
  27. The New Stone Age 
  28. Of All the Things We’ve Made 
  29. Pandora’s Box 
  30. Radio Prague 
  31. Radio Waves 
  32. The Romance Of The Telescope 
  33. Sailing On The Seven Seas 
  34. Sealand 
  35. Silent Running 
  36. She’s Leaving 
  37. Sister Marie Says 
  38. Souvenir 
  39. Telegraph 
  40. Tesla Girls 
  41. This Is Helena 
  42. Time Zones 

Next: …The Final Phase Begins


Posted in Core Collection, Rock GPA | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments