Record Review: Ric Ocasek – “Beatitude” US DLX RM CD Delights [pt 3]

ric ocasek of The cars

Ric was not afraid of moving to the left on this album

[…continued from last post]

What was once side two was less eclectic than the first half of the album, but it started, commercially, with the most radio-ready song it would offer. “A Quick One” adhered closest to The Cars pop sound with a dreamy chord progression played rhythmically, for an almost Beach Boys sound to the keys. It was superficially cheerful, but with a underlying melancholy that made the song more memorable. Then the album got even better as Ocasek managed to build a side two suite that stood as his very own “Empires + Dance.”

It began with the only song here to be co-written with a member of The Cars, Greg Hawkes. The sound was far from The Cars. If anything, the music here and following seemed like the next logical step that should have followed “Panorama,” and it probably would have had the sales of that album dropped of significantly. The Cars very own “Dazzle Ships.” “Out Of Control” was trancelike with a minimal synth underpinning where a mood was built monolithically, and even the quivering synth waves pointed back to the “Empires + Dance” sound. Of course, this was all machines here with Hawkes guesting on synths to sit along the synths that Ocasek played throughout the album.

“Take A Walk” was more minimal synth sound with tinny, lead patches sounding like a Bontempi organ. The pulsating synth bass and Linn drum kept up a repetitive groove while Ocasek’s filtered voice recited the lyrics. It was at this point that I began drawing a line back to the most likely probable source of artistic inspiration for Ocasek this time out; the elephant in the room known as Velvet Underground. Keyboards taking over the drone role carried by John Cale on viola. Even Ric’s vocals had something of Lou Reed here. The jangling guitar chords at the end having another VU quality to them.

“Sneak Attack” continued in this vein with more vocal filtering on Ocasek while he recited beat poetry. He insisted that the album was a play on the Beat Movement and should be pronounced “Beat-itude” in a Trouser Press interview at the time of release and listening to this certainly showed why. The droning organ chords again pointed back to the VU influence that was in full flower here. So much so that this track could follow Icehouse’s “Nothing To Do” and no one would bat an eyelash.

Then the final track was something else entirely; sounding like the intro to “Waiting For The Night Boat” crossbred with the crystalline purity of The Human League’s version of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” the sustained, wailing synth drones, and the pulsing bass synth opened up about two minutes in for actual drums and the guitar of Fuzbee Morse to take this weird one back into rock territory. Then after two minutes of simmering boil, Mores unleashed a wailing acid rock solo to do Alvin Lee or David Gilmour proud as this anxious closer to the album dabbled in sounds that would never be legal in The Cars.  It was a memorable ending for the album proper, but this DLX RM had the all important bonus round to consider.

Next: …Good Thing Made Better

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Record Review: Ric Ocasek – “Beatitude” US DLX RM CD Delights [pt 2]

ric ocasek something to grab for single cover

A rare shot of Ocasek’s eyes sans shades! The American Ian Hunter?

[…continued from last post]

If “Jimmy Jimmy” was a space probe past the frontiers of “Panorama,” then “Something To Grab For” was the instance on this album of Ocasek keeping one foot on safe ground. It sounded for all the world like a song by The Cars. I had forgotten hearing this one but as soon as I heard the bass line on the intro, I immediately flashed back to the video which was all over MTV at exactly the point where the shiny new channel was a fixture in front of my eyes for long hours at a time. I never taped that clip or really payed attention to the song, but 38 years later it acquitted itself nicely as a song on caliber with some of the more interesting parts of The Cars’ catalog. The wildly Easton-esquer guitar solo at the middle eight was probably down to guest player Fuzzbee Morse; though Casey Lindstrom of Boston’s New Models [Produced by Ocasek at his studio] was also credited for guitar here. I felt that judging by the later Morse solo on the album’s final track [that leaves no doubt as to credit], that the wilder riffage here and there, was down to him.

Then the album gave us the craziest outlier that it would offer with “Prove.” This one “proved” to me that Ocasek had been listening to Price during his imperial “Dirty Mind” and “Controversy” period where he mined a rich seam of hybrid New Wave/funk like no other. The irony was that Prince probably owned “Candy-O” at the very least. The minimal synth riffing was balanced with funky rhythm licks for a taut counterpoint to Ocasek’s nervy vocal. This was a case of an artist taking the license to so as far as possible from his wheelhouse on his first solo album. But the song veered away from cooler Prince territory when the backing vocals and ultimately, the MOR sax by Deric Dyer conspired to pull the song down into Hall + Oates milieu, ca. 1981. Not bad, but no longer Prince-like. But the song definitely tried to do something differently and since I’m all about ’80-’81 Prince, I actually like it. Your mileage may vary.

Alas, I can’t bring myself to say the same thing about “I Can’t Wait.” It was a twee hit of treacly synthpop [complete with a glockenspiel to give diabetics the itchy fits] that ultimately sounded exactly like a track from the “Philip Oakey + Giorgio Moroder” album… which I cannot stand! It lasted one play in my Record Cell. Fortunately, it’s followed by the sumptuous “Connect up To Me” which was present here on CD in the long 7:39 version found only on the cassette back in 1982.

In a word, wow! This was the best Ric Ocasek song ever! Yeah, even “Shoo-Be-Doo” has fallen by the wayside for me. It began with a motorik synth bass with a squelchy two-note riff straight out of “Autobahn.” The track simply shimmered with a gossamer darknight energy, thanks to a jittery sequencer ostinato vibrating through the track. This time the glockenspiel was right at home as the heart wrenchingly beautiful melody fully justified that touch. The intentionally off beat drum interjectionss added dark complexity here, as did the distancing filters on Ocasek’s vocal. The extended version from the cassette works out to a never dull 7:39 and the throbbing beat that never quit must have given Michael Sembello some ideas for “Maniac” the next year. But that tawdry trifle wasn’t fit to sit on the same shelf as this beauty. The extended coda moved, finally, to Bryan Ferry territory for this acolyte as the urgency and desire of Ocasek’s vocal joined with the heraldic synths to sit at the feet of the master. Hell, I’d say Ric’s in Blue Nile territory here, and this came out far in advance of ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops. I truly wish this song could never end, and for me, it hasn’t. It’s been stuck in my mind since last weekend. Happily.

Next: …A Pop Fly Into Left Field

 

 

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Record Review: Ric Ocasek – “Beatitude” US DLX RM CD Delights [pt 1]

ric ocasek beatitide deluxe CD cover

Rubellan Remasters | US | CD | 2020 | RUBY11CD

Ric Ocasek: Beatitude US CD [2020]

  1. Jimmy Jimmy
  2. Something To Grab For
  3. Prove
  4. I Can’t Wait
  5. Connect Up To Me
  6. A Quick One
  7. Out Of Control
  8. Take A Walk
  9. Sneak Attack
  10. Time Bomb
  11. Jimmy Jimmy (Single Version)
  12. Prove (Extended Remix)
  13. Connect Up To Me (Remix/Extended Version)
  14. Jimmy Jimmy (A New Extended Version)

I remember when Ric Ocasek released this first of his solo albums in between The Cars “Shake It Up” and “Heartbeat City.” The Cars had fallen off of my radar following the strong “Panorama.” What I’d heard from “Shake It Up” indicated that the band were being very, uh, pragmatic, about their career. When “Panorama” only went platinum with no top 20 hits, the notice went out. Playtime was over. Time to build hits. With “Heartbeat City” they went into overdrive, but there was this curious side step in between those commercial moves.

I should have known better. As a Trouser Press subscriber, I’d received the issue with the flexidisc of the radical synthpop of “Jimmy Jimmy” but I suppose it was the thought of Ocasek, rather than the sounds themselves, that caused me to discount what merits the record might hold. Much to my detriment as I’ve found out now! Thankfully, Rubellan Remasters was at it again, and have reissued the “Beatitude” album thoughtfully since the original 1997 Geffen remaster was scraping three figures especially after Ocasek’s unexpected death last fall. of course, This remaster was cooking in the oven [possibly, literally] before that with the timing of this new CD being coincidental. So what did I regret missing for this long?


ric ocasek jimmy jimmy single cover“Jimmy Jimmy” was another indication that Ocasek was a very big fan of Suicide. This was a minimal electro number with a thumping “floor tom” drumbeat not a million miles away from the one in Talk Talk’s “Hate” on the surface, but where the British band trafficked in rock melodramatics with their fills, the incessant, monolithic beat here was much more relentless and driven. There were no fills at all! That was old thinking. And while the lyrical stance of the song; a compassionate look at a troubled young man, but then the personal became political as Ocasek slipped Jimmy Jimmy” the payload of the song.

“Are you pretending
Nothing’s wrong
America
It can happen here” – “Jimmy Jimmy”

The throbbing, incessant number was sleeker and much more minimal than anything The Cars ever did. It was mainly that beat, a little vocoder, scant synth sprinkled through it, and Ocasek’s vocal carried the melodic development almost on its own. It was a paradoxical blend of brutal machine energy and a genuinely genteel, nuanced, feel that spoke to the song’s kindness.

Next: …Grabbing For The Charts

 

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Want List: Blow Monkeys Crowdsource 40th Anniversary Album

the blow monkeys live

The Blow Monkeys give it up live in the modern era

It’s been a few years since The Blow Monkeys issued their superb “The Wild River” album and it’s time for the band to once again put the groove down. The band and Dr. Robert solo had worked the Pledge Music action the last few times out but now that Pledge Music is broken, they are taking it into their own hands; just like they did in 2007 when they recorded “The Devil’s Tavern.” 2021 will be the band’s 40th anniversary so this will play out for some time as the band are shooting for a release date in the spring of 2021. It’s too early in the process for any titles or artwork to be floating upward, so this one is for the hard core; which certainly  includes me. I’m always interested in what the band has to say, since they say it so well. best of all, my upcoming travel will be out of the way by June, giving me the time to maybe buy into this process more deeply than just a £15 CD pre-order!

What is being offered now are a simple array of buy-ins ranging from the simple to the outré. Here’s what’s on offer:

  • DL album + channel access with possible demos/viddy – £10.00
  • CD + DL album + channel access with possible demos/viddy
    • plain – £15.00
    • signed – £20.00
    • signed/name in credits – £30.00
  • LP + DL album + channel access with possible demos/viddy
    • plain – £25.00
    • signed – £30.00
    • signed + name in credits – £40.00
  • Handwritten signed lyric sheet of any BM/Dr. Robert song + DL album + channel access with possible demos/viddy – £100.00
  • Recording Studio Andalusian Trip + DL album + channel access with possible demos/viddy
    • A day in the studio with the band in September 2020 at Space Mountain Studios [owned by Youth] in Andalusia, Grenada. It’s a residential studio and you will be there with the band. Includes flights from the UK, ground transport to and from the studio, 2 nights lodging and meals. – £2000.00
  • Executive Producer Credit + Signed personalised Vinyl Test Pressing, Vinyl and CD Albums, Art Poster and T Shirt + DL album + channel access with possible demos/viddy
    • Same as the Studio Trip but for ponying up el gran dinero, your name is also in the credits as executive producer since you made this album happen in a most direct way. – £5000.00 but too late! It’s already SOLD OUT.

Quite a bit to digest but my name was in “The Devil’s Tavern” [so was Taffy’s as I recall!] and I’m happy to drop £30 into another Blow Monkeys CD since they have given me so much pleasure over the years. If it’s half as good as their last opus, then it will be $38.45 well spent. We’ve got the better part of a year to hit that button below. Will you join me?

crowdsource alert blow monkeys album

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Cherry Red Unleashes BSOG [Boxed Set Of God…] From The Revillos

Fall down the Visage DLX RM rabbit hole, miss a few lunch hours due to extenuating circumstances, and the world… she keeps on spinning. At least three weeks ago commenter Nick A dropped me a line to let me know that Cherry Red; having done The Rezillos a few years ago, has now turned to the flipside of that punk/pop coin with sister band The Revillos.


This time there will be six CDs packed with Revillos goodness heading our way at popular prices. And as of…RIGHT NOW, anyone who pre-orders the hefty set will still get a postcard signed by Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife, the leaders of the Revillos pack. Gotta love that fake obi cover design below! The issue date is April 24, so what awaits our ears?

the revillos stratoplay boxed set covre

Cherry Red | UK | 6xCD | 2020 | CRCDBOX79

The Revillos: Stratoplay – The Box Set UK 6xCD [2020]

DISC ONE | Rev Up

1. Secret Of The Shadow
2. Rev Up!
3. Rock-a-boom
4. Voodoo
5. Bobby Come Back To Me
6. Scuba Boy Bop
7. Yeah Yeah
8. Hungry For Love
9. Juke Box Sound
10. On The Beach
11. Cool Jerk
12. Hippy Hippy Sheik
13. Motorbike Beat
14. Where’s The Boy For Me?
15. The Fiend
16. No Such Luck
17. Scuba Scuba
18. Voodoo 2
John Peel Bbc Radio 1 Session
(Tx 17/03/80):
19. Hip City – You Were Meant For Me
20. Rock-a-boom
21. Scuba-Scuba
22. Voodoo
John Peel Bbc Radio 1 Session | (Tx 13/05/81):
23. Caveman Raveman
24. (She’s Fallen In Love With A) Monster Man
25. Snatzomobile
26. Man Attack!

DISC TWO | Attack! (2002 Version)

1. Snatzomobile
2. Hip City – You Were Meant For Me
3. Graveyard Groove
4. Sputnick Kiss
5. (Bitten By A) Love Bug
6. Man Attack!
7. Midnight
8. Bongo Brain
9. Mad From Birth To Death
10. (She’s Fallen In Love With A) Monster Man
11. Tell Him
12. Man Hunt
13. Caveman Raveman
14. Do The Mutilation
15. Mind Bending Cutie Doll
16. Your Baby’s Gone
17. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
18. 1982 Make A Wish
Richard Skinner Bbc Radio 1 Session (Tx 23/6/81)
19. Do The Mutilation
20. Bongo Brain
21. Your Baby’s Gone
22. Man Hunt

DISC THREE | Attack! (1982 Version)

1. Man Attack!
2. Sputnick Kiss
3. Midnight
4. Snatzomobile
5. Graveyard Groove
6. Man Hunt
7. Tell Him
8. Your Baby’s Gone
9. Do The Mutilation
10. Mad From Birth To Death
11. (Bitten By A) Love Bug
12. Caveman Raveman
13. Tell Him (Aura Version)
14. Bitten By A Love Bug
(12” Version)
15. Cat Call
16. Trigger Happy Jack
17. Midnight (12” Version)
18. Z-x-7
19. Bitten By A Love Bug
(7” Version)
20. Midnight (7” Version)

DISC FOUR | Live And On Fire In Japan

1. Secret Of The Shadow
2. Bongo Brain
3. Rock-a-boom
4. (She’s Fallen In Love With A) Monster Man
5. Where’s The Boy For Me?
6. Rev Up!
7. Bitten By A Lovebug
8. Mad From Birth To Death
9. Bobby Come Back To Me
10. The Fiend
11. Scuba Scuba
12. (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures
13. Do The Mutilation
14. Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
15. Yeah Yeah
16. Yeah Yeah
17. Crush
18. Scuba Scuba (Japanese)
19. Scuba Scuba
Mark Radcliffe Bbc Radio 1 Session (1996)
20. The Last Of The Secret Agents
21. Crush
22. Motorbike Beat
23. Hip City

DISC FIVE | Totally Alive! (London, England, 1996)

1. Mystery Action
2. Motorbike Beat
3. Where’s The Boy For Me?
4. Getting Me Down
5. Man Attack!
6. Mindbending Cutie Doll
7. Man Hunt
8. Your Baby’s Gone
9. Mad From Birth To Death
10. Crush
11. Glad All Over
12. (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures
13. The Last Of The Secret Agents
14. Flying Saucer Attack
15. Do The Mutilation
16. Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
17. Destination Venus
18. I Can’t Stand My Baby
19. Yeah Yeah

DISC SIX | Live! Colchester Institute May ‘81 [previously unissued]

1. Motorbike Beat
2. Bongo Brain
3. Mind Bending Cutie Doll
4. Hip City – You Were Meant For Me
5. Your Baby’s Gone
6. Scuba Boy Bop
7. Do The Mutilation
8. (She’s Fallen In Love With A) Monster Man
9. Where’s The Boy For Me?
10. Boys
11. Hippy Hippy Sheik
The Ritz, Nyc, 22/02/81
12. Secret Of The Shadow
13. Jukebox Sound
14. Hip City – You Were Meant For Me
15. Voodoo
16. Hungry For Love
17. Mind Bending Cutie Doll
18. Where’s The Boy For Me?
19. Scuba Boy Bop
20. No Such Luck
21. Bobby Come Back To Me
22. Dancing In The Streets
23. Man Attack
24. (She’s Fallen In Love With A) Monster Man
25. Motorbike Beat
26. Hippy Hippy Sheik
27. Rock-a-boom
28. Rocking Goose
29. Cool Jerk
30. Yeah Yeah

Yow! That’s a lot of Revillos goodness. Let’s see…I have the following on CD:

revillos - motorbike beat CD coverthe revillos yeah yeah single coverrevillos alicve and on fire in japan CD cocverrevillos - totally alive CD coverrevilos from the freezer CD coverrevillos - atttack of the giant revillos 1995 CD coverrevillos wireless recordings CD coverrevillos attack! 2002 version coverrevillos - jungle of eyes CD cover

I also have these on vinyl:

the revillos rev up CD coverrevillos attack 1982 UK LP coverrevillos french teen beat EP cover

And all of the singles [not pictured.] Parsing this box reveals a few things only here, as well as some things missing. The biggest difference is that there are two versions of the “Attack!” album. The original withdrawn 1982 mix and a different mix. Issued twice[in error]  in 1995 [“Attack of The Giant Revillos”]  and 2002 [“Attack!”]. The 2002 version was ostensibly a chance to get the original 1982 mix out that time, but again, it holds an alternate mix.  The “Wireless Recordings” BBC sessions have been broken down to the appropriate discs as bonus tracks.

The Japanese and British live albums are accounted for but considering that just recently, The Japanese date of those got a new coat of paint and was reissued with more tracks than it originally contained, the timing seems kind of surprising. It was only four months ago when I was writing about that! And finally, theres now an entirely new live album from 1981 and the “Rev Up!” Tour as recorded live in Colchester.

What is missing here is more considerable. The 90s recordings of “Yeah Yeah!” and “Scuba-Scuba” is missing. But so is the “From the Freezer” comp of loose [but fascinating] bits. And the entire “Jungle Of Eyes” album that was the album the band recorded for EMI that went unreleased until 2003, where it was the last Revillos CD for many years until “Compendium Of Weird” was released last year… and none of that seems to be here, though I still don’t have a clue as to exactly how much of it is previously unreleased.

I have the original “Attack!” LP but until this box the original mix of it has not bee reissued, so discs three and six are the keepers here for me. Fortunately, the asking price for this is modest: £24.99 [$32.03] for six discs is hardly extortion. I can’t tell from the photo if this is one of those small “clamshell” boxes like Virgin like or whether it’s a 12″ x 12″ extravaganza. The liner notes by Tim Barr with the full participation of Fife + Reynolds insure quality no matter ho big the booklet may be. Right now is bad timing for me what with the trip to the UK for me in [gasp] eleven days, so there’s no cash on hand for me to indulge. But don’t let me stop you!

communist purchase button

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Posted in Core Collection, Record Review, Scots Rock, Want List | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Psychedelic Furs To Release Their First Album In A Generation With “Made Of Rain” On May 1st

psychedelic furs made of rain cover

Cooking Vinyl | UK | CD | 2020

Psychedelic Furs: Made Of Rain UK CD [2020]

  1. The Boy That Invented Rock & Roll
  2. Don’t Believe
  3. You’ll Be Mine
  4. Wrong Train
  5. This’ll Never Be Like Love
  6. Ash Wednesday
  7. Come All Ye Faithful
  8. No-One
  9. Tiny Hands
  10. Hide The Medicine
  11. Turn Your Back On Me
  12. Stars

Gloryoski! I could have become a grandfather in the 29 years that The Psychedelic Furs passed between their final contiguous album, 1991’s “World Outside” and the upcoming “Made Of Rain,” due out on Cooking Vinyl on May 1st. Truth be told, the last Psychedelic Furs album I heard was the disappointing “Midnight To Midnight.” Not a fave. I don’t think I ever heard “Book of Days” or “World Outside.” I heard a little of
Love Spit Love” and thought they were interesting, but never took the bait. Then that party ended and the hiatus years began. When The Psychedelic Furs re-grouped as a touring entity in 2000 I thought that they might have a new recording coming our way soon.

Was I wrong there.

I managed to see the Furs on their “Talk Talk Talk” tour where they played their classic second album en toto back in the early days of the blog in 2011. It was a fantastic show; miles better than the earlier 1987 experience I previously had under my belt, but by that point the band had been reactivated as a nostalgia entity with seemingly no desire to add to their legacy, so nearly a decade after that, I am flabbergasted that they are finally making that move. The pre-release single of “Don’t Believe” on sampling sounded fantastic. Dark, complex, and redolent of the “beautiful chaos” that the first two albums had in spades but were thinner on the ground as the band developed. I loved how the rhythms were almost contrary in their evasiveness. It sounded like music that was not stupid, so I’m in.

The Furs’ store has the normal modern series of bundles with the cassette [of course!] version the low end at $9.99, with a sensible $13.99 CD, and various vinyl/T-shirt bundles for those who want more. Black and splatter vinyl, as if we couldn’t see that one coming. But I’m genuinely interested in whatever the band have to say this far along. The two decades of touring have made them tighter than they ever were in the 80s, even as the Butler Brothers were the only members of the original lineup but with long-standing members like Mars Williams [sax since “Mirror Moves”] and the rest of their touring band having spent a two odecades on the road with them this century, it can be argued that the current lineup has long outlasted the initial one. Additionally, the lack of the dramas of youth have probably benefitted the band as much as anything in staying together as long as they have in their second phase.

The band will be playing a one-off gig at The Royal Albert Hall on Thursday, May 14, 2020 where they will debut the album in its entirety. Complete with support by Jah Wobble + The Invaders Of The Heart, so that’s a coin with no tails right there. Then they will be returning to the American Southeast and Southwest for dates this spring on the first leg of what will probably be an extensive tour.

The Psychedelic Furs | US 2020 Tour | 1st Leg

Mon Apr 13, 2020 | KEY WEST, FL | Key West Theater
Tue Apr 14, 2020 | FT. LAUDERDALE, FL | Revolution Live
Wed Apr 15, 2020 | CLEARWATER, FL | Bilheimer Capitol Theatre
Fri Apr 17, 2020 | ORLANDO, FL | Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando
Sat Apr 18, 2020 | FORT PIERCE, FL | Sunrise Theatre
Sun Apr 19, 2020 | PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL | Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Tue Apr 21, 2020 | NEW ORLEANS, LA | Tipitina’s
Wed Apr 22, 2020 | HOUSTON, TX | House Of Blues
Fri Apr 24, 2020 | SAN ANTONIO, TX | Paper Tiger
Sat Apr 25, 2020 | AUSTIN, TX | Emo’s
Sun Apr 26, 2020 | DALLAS, TX | Granada Theater
Tue Apr 28, 2020 | TUCSON, AZ | Rialto Theatre
Thu Apr 30, 2020 | SCOTTSDALE, AZ | Showroom at Talking Stick Resort

Nothing near me this time, but I can see friends in Florida will have their chances this spring. Any fans into a pre-order bundle will find the link below. I’m genuinely interested in hearing their new album and after having seen them in 2011, am looking forward to [finally] hearing that band on disc.

communist purchase button

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Posted in Record Review, Want List | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Visage Deluxe Week Commences With A Trio Of DLX RMs From Rubellan Remasters [pt. 6]

postpunkmonk theme week visage deluxe

[…continued from previous post]

visage frequency 7 reissue CD cover

August Day Recordings | UK | CD5 | 2015 | ADAY024

Back in 2013, to herald the second [actually, third] coming of Visage, the great B-side “Frequency 7” was dusted off and reissued as a DL and CD-R. Two new mixes accompanied it, but the experience was bittersweet. I suspect that the release was mastered from vinyl. At the time I was happy to have something other than my vinyl 7″ of it to listen to, but the mastering of the driving and intense track was severely compromised. It sounded a bit dull; as if judicious noise reduction had been applied to the results, and worse of all, it had been brickwalled. Very, very strongly. When we cite brickwalling, here’s the reason why the plug-in was called that as depicted in the waveform below.

2013 mastering of frequency 7 by visage

Ouch. This is a brutal, brutal crime perpertrated upon innocent sound. [click bigger]

Sound like this are why we can’t listen to some recordings as much as we might like the music and performances on them. As you can see, the sound has been artificially boosted to exchange dynamic range for sheer volume. Much of the waveform has been boosted to clipping range.

rubellan remasters visage frequency 7 mastering

This is sound instead of noise [click bigger]

Wow!!! Compare the listening nightmare above with the new remastering by Rubellan Remasters. The sound has been lovingly transferred from an actual master tape. Once can hear all manner of sonic detail here, and only a small percentage of the sound approaches clipping. The rest varies quite a bit in intensity. There are no details obliterated by broadband noise reduction,, and mastering engineer Scott Davies has adjusted the EQ to make for a dynamic and pleasing translation of the master tape. This CD is worth it, for me, simply with the inclusion of this track. But there are more delights to be had here.

visage night train picture disc artThe long sought “Night Train” 7″ remix had been promised countless times and only finally delivered on the “Wild Life” compilation three years ago. But not this well mastered! Then “Der Amboss” was included in the bonus tracks in a 4:37 edit [just like the original album had] that shaved about a minute from the scarce promo 12″ mix of Steve singing “The Anvil” in German. The last 25 years has seen “Der Amboss” getting a fair re-airing on compilations and the more copies of this track out in the world, the better.

various polydor dance classics british edition compilation coverThen a buried treasure that I only found out about in the last three years manifested in the flow. The 12″ of “Pleasure Boys” had the dance mix on it. The 7″ had the edit of that mix. Visage label US Polydor released a four-track dance mix EP in 1986 with cuts by Level 42 and Peter Godwin rubbing shoulders with the “Pleasure Boys [bonus beats];” a 5:50 aggressively percussive dub mix  that was well named. DJs could probably cut a 20 minute version of “Pleasure Boys” in the turntablism era armed with this EP and the original UK 12″ single. I had yet to actually buy this record yet, so this CD was a real treat for the ears.

Finally,  the last track from the “Night Train” 12″ single made its digital debut here, being “Night Train [dub mix].” The brash sax work of Gary Barnacle had helped to make this single the one dose of swagger on the largely dour and matte black “Anvil” album. The dub mix pumps up the energy levels even further with a great Rusty Egan drum solo lasting about a half a minute as he mutates and pushed the rhythm of the track into newer, jazzier, places. The three split second sax samples to release the tension at the end of the solo were pure excitement.


When Rubellan Remsasters released the “Visage” DLX RM in 2018, there was a clamor for more. The disc has sold out two pressings and a third [limited] pressing is on the way to be available again any day now. The idea was to also give “The Anvil” the love that it needed, and that arrived a little over a month ago with the still unbelievable release of “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection – Special Dance Mix Album” right on its heels. These CDs are selling fast. Rubellan Remasters is a one-man operation who has to finance the licensing to make these CDs on his own. This means that these releases are not available in large numbers to begin with, but as the label experiences successful sales as it assuredly has with the Visage reissue program, the notion that many thousands more of these CDs might reach their audience in the future is not a pipe dream.

The market has spoken and Visage fans are now asking for new and improved copies of “Beat Boy” and of course, the “Beat Boy Special Cassette Remix” version. Then there was also the “Strange Cruise” album. The 2014 Cherry Red CD of this title is still on my want list, but I’ve heard people who do have it claim that it might be sourced from vinyl. Cherry Red does have this “problem,” but Rubellan Remasters could take a reissue of this to new heights I’m sure. So keep an eye peeled in their direction. They have had a busy 2020 in a tumultuous time to be reissuing CDs thus far and it is not slowing down yet. If you have any desire to own this special dance mix album, then buy in haste and toss any future regrets in the dumper.

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