Record Review: Gary Daly – Gone From Here UK CD [part 1]

MusicGlue | UK | CD | 2019

Gary Daly: Gone From Here UK CD [2019]

  1. Write Your Wrongs
  2. Time It Takes
  3. I Work Alone
  4. Of Make Do And Mend
  5. Carousel Of Stars
  6. Transition/Peace
  7. Low Tide
  8. In The Cloudy Domain
  9. Antony
  10. Dead of Night
  11. Anger And/Or Rage
  12. Gone From Here

After long months of waiting, I finally pulled the switch and ordered Gary Daly’s solo album last month and took delivery of it last Saturday. Given the difficulty in buying the last China Crisis album [unless you bought it during their PledgeMusic campaign, then good luck to you] I was getting nervous about staying my hand for so long, but finances were tight. I was resolved to buy it as a birthday gift for a friend, so I piggybacked my order to save on shipping. Let me state right up front that this was another selection of beautiful tunes from the pen of Mr. Daly. Is there another artist who can drop the C-bomb in a lyric that was couched in such a supple and melodious setting that gave it such a strong protective coloration, that it would sneak past even the most sensitive of censors.

The song in question was “Write Your Wrongs,” an opening right from the China Crisis wheelhouse, but with the kind of arrangement detail that even that band didn’t normally traffic in. The big callback to China Crisis was primarily down to the reliance on drum machine/rhythm box that couldn’t help but stir memories of “Difficult Shapes + Passive Rhythms: Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain.” That one was made then CC were comprised largely of Daly and his friend Eddie Lundon. The drumming member came after a tour pointed out the need for one on stage, and that shaped the tenor of the band going forward.  On this solo venture, Daly was obviously fine with a return to that early bedrock of the China Crisis sound – that gently chugging little rhythm box.

But the caliber of songs written back then had nothing on the years of maturation and refinement on Daly’s songwriting muscle. This time he can pull a harpist [not a sampler] into the mix and fly with it. His songwriting has also pared away the distractions and he’s much more simple and direct with his lyrics. “Write Your Wrongs” was the kind of song that any songwriter worth their salt would be kicking themselves for not thinking of first. It was the sort of simple, but profound statement that cuts through the fog of distraction to make a purpose clear.

After touching base on the China Crisis essence up front, the next song took a left field dash into the indie disco for a vibe strongly redolent of…Saint Etienne? Surprising, but true. One could easily imagine Sarah Cracknell showing up to duet with Daly; claiming “Time It Takes” as one of her own. Every detail was there. The subdued disco pulse, with live drums this time. The vintage string machine rubbing shoulders with flutes. Most of all the wah-wah synth line striking the mirrorball in your mind like a laser.I can’t say that this was a sound I’d ever heard from Mr. Daly. The one throwback he allowed was the guitar solo from Jack Gardiner at the song’s close. Any listener would be forgiven for thinking that he somehow got Skunk baxter of Steely Dan to guest as a favor.

Next: …Something Immaterial

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Wha…??!!! Asheville Got Another Record Show When I Least Expected It

The fateful poster

It was last Saturday evening when attending the Les Filles De Illighadad show at Mothlight that I happened to see the notification via the sort of social media that I actually pay attention to; a poster taped to an electric pole! There was apparently to be a Record Show in Asheville on September 28th at Salvage Station; a venue I had only been to once to see Parliament-Funkadelilc a year or so back. 11 AM and free admission. Well, I hoped that it was better than the last Record Show I attended two years ago. That was last Saturday. As payday approached and I began to build into a frenzy of my imminent discretionary budget [$20/pay period] that Simple Minds DLX ED of “Live In the City of Angeles” was whispering into my ear. 4xCDs for only $19 and just $7 shipping from the UK for the book package? By Friday I was ready to press “buy” but then I remembered the Record Show the next day. Better that I should check it out first, and then fall back to the Minds’ album if it was a bust. As the last two shows I’d been to in my city [just two shows over a seven year span] had been modest, barely there events.

Approaching the Record Cave…

After waiting an inordinate amount of time to pick up my CD in the mail from Gary Daly at my Post Office, I barely made it to Salvage Station at the 11 AM start time. I parked on the site and made my way to wherever the show was being held. The show was being held inside of the large bar area, with about 20-25 dealers set up and ready to sell. I did a quick reconnaissance to get a feel and it was about 92% vinyl.So naturally, I first went to the single dealer selling nothing but CDs! Better still, The entire stock of hundreds of CDs [except for a small shoebox worth of “special titles”] were priced to move: $3.00 apiece! So I dug in in spite of seeing a lot of Frank Zappa at the end of the alphabetized section where I first looked.

the price was right at Randall’s Discs!

The Zappa set the tone for most everything that was here. It was heavy on prog and jazz fusion, but anyone who has noted the details here @ PPM is probably aware that I have those dark Prog Roots, and I’m not really ashamed of showing them [in spite of Echorich’s haranguing]. Fortunately for us, I moved on to the front of the alphabet and saw some quasi familiar signposts. Lots of Bozzio/Levin discs. Possibly intriguing, but not necessary. This told me that if I saw the “Group 87” CD in these bins, I shoudl not bat an eyelash. I next saw the Eddie Jobson “Zinc” album that I’d been intrigued with for a long time. I’ve wondered what Jobson came up with on his own since I admired his contributions to Roxy Music so much. I remember when “Zinc” came out and it was stuck in my mind as the highest profile Jobson album, so I might as well start there. It was a US pressing on the specialist reissue label One Way Records. It probably sold now for much more than the $3.00 I would pay.

Then following that I hit personal paydirt: a cache of Mick Karn albums that I was more than happy to buy – especially for as little as $3.00! The long lamented “Titles” was in there and I snatched that up greedily. Also his fourth album, “The Tooth Mother,” which I had never seen before. I also got a US compilation of his solo work that was salted with remixes and rarities. I was going to pass on that one at first; then I came to my senses! After all, this was Mick Karn!

Then I found an early Ryuichi Sakamoto album with jazz guitarist Kazumi Watanabe. “Tokyo Joe” was also capped with a cover of the great Bryan Ferry song adding further Monastic interest. Finally, there was what looked like almost a full collection of Rush CDs. I’d recently “finished” my preferred Rush “anti-imperial” period of albums from 1980-1991 where the Canuck power trio were most strongly besotted with New Wave. I looked for the debut album, which my wife would have wanted if only for “Working Man,” but that one was practically the only one of their catalog not in evidence. Many live albums were there, but I have not gone there. I pondered the “Counterparts” album that saw Peter Collins, who had done such strong work with the band in the mid-80s return to the fold, but I eventually settled on the left-field mid-60s rock covers EP “Feedback.” This was apparently Rush having a lark for their 30th anniversary in 2004 and saw them making an EP [Rush… releasing an EP?!!] in exactly the same vein as Ramones had explored on “Acid Eaters.” The similar playlist also included an early Who tuns as well as Love’s “7 and 7 Is.” Then I bought what became Rush’s final album, “Clockwork Angels.” Their last stab at a concept album for old time’s sake [gulp!].

7′ bins – priced right

After paying the dealer, I asked the seller [presumably Randall himself] where he was from and he was a local guy. I go to these shows to get stock that came from further afield and this was an ironic turn of events. Especially since I spent $21 of my $20 budget at the first place I stopped at. I next saw a dealer with a large stock of 7” records. I rarely see the discs in record store any more as they take up valuable space that could be better off selling 180g “vinyls.” But most of what I want is on the flip side of a 7” disc, so I give chase. This dealer had some good stuff, priced to move with a $5.00 box and a $3.00 box. So at $3.00 I would be paying exactly what I would have in the first place if I had more than lunch money ca. 1979 to buy import 45s with.

INEV 001 could be mine for $5.00

Holy… have I ever seen early WAH! singles on 7” Or Rich Kids? Sure, sure, I have “Song To The Siren” on 7” but what about “Kangaroo?” I never even knew that it was a single. Then there was a full cache of Skids 7”ers. I recently saw some in Akron at Time Traveler, but this looked like almost every single in the bin. There’s the severely groove-crammed [19 min – same as the 12”]“Biko” EP from peter gabriel, which we just mentioned lately.

That other single from “This Mortal Coil”

Sure, it the re-pressing with New Wave Mushroom label, but when do you ever see this?

Then I found a disc at the back of the $5.00 that made my Spidey-Sense® tingle: The Boys Next Door OZ “Shivers” 7” from 1979 on Mushroom Records. Nick Cave fans know that this was the band that morphed into The Birthday Party. I bought that one just on principle. I just never see records like this one. And it looked immaculate. The cheaper box at left had one thing that I needed: a copy of The Passions brilliant “Africa Mine 2×7”. My copy, obtained in the 90s via mail order, leaves much to be desired in terms of noise, so I hoped that this one would be different.  I next moved to the 12″ bins from this dealer.

Would I pay $8.00 for a 1st pressing with hype sticker?

I did not see anything absolutely necessary, but I was tempted by the OMD “Souvenir” UK 10″ which was obviously a first pressing. It had a sleeve without a spine [unlike my re-pressing from 1983-ish] and the biggest Monk-bait® in the original hype sticker, but at the end of the day, I was able to pass on it. I was talking with the dealer the whole time. He was downsizing as he was getting his kid’s college bills now. Ouch. So this was personal stash stuff. No wonder it was so well-kept and obscure. While perusing the boxes of 12″ records, I noticed a stack of “Capital At Play” magazine and then the penny dropped. This guy was obviously rocknurse from the Discogs forum, where we had “met” as it became apparent that we were both Ashvillians. He was the managing editor of the mag which I had designed an ad for my company to place in it a year or so back. We exchanged greetings and then the conversation moved to another level. More than just record show small talk. We ended up chatting for about 20 minutes, and I was happy to finally meet Fred, as he was known to his family. I had thought about linking up for the occasional show with him since he seemed to be cut from a similar cloth from his collection.

After buying his records, I knew he was definitely simpatico. He gave me his business card as I lamented that I had no Post-Punk Monk® business cards to dispense in turn. Believe me, I’ve thought about it, but the budget is just not there. Though there’s no way I’m going to England next March without a stack. So meeting up with Fred was a real pleasure, and fully unexpected at that. That I bought some things from him was even more surprising, since viewing his online store @ Discogs revealed much congruency with my taste, yet nothing in my want list. That was not the case today.

Another gent we were just talking about…

I next moved to a dealer on the next aisle over. I saw some nice things on vinyl that I would have bought on CD had the cards played out differently. Like that great German pressing of Rupert Hine’s “The Wildest Wish To Fly.” I used to have the US edition with the sculpture cover and some track substitutions, but that was long gone. It was CD or bust for me now. Then I saw the second Real Life album, “Flame” in a very clean pressing that had a ton of luster. This was on my want list and sold at $6.00.  Then I ran across a great Heaven 17 12″ that took me a while to source, but it’s in the Record Cell now. Finally.

Always a pleasure to see

Then I investigated a dealer with what looked like a huge stock of Japanese vinyl. This always gets investigation!@ usually it’s a few discs per the best of stores, if they even have a section. Usually it’s a single box worth of goods. This guy had several thousand JPN LPs. A motherlode. The dealer was wearing an “Autobahn” T-shirt as well, and when he saw my King Crimson “Radical Action”shirt he commenced with the conversation. A lively gent from Dalton, Georgia, if I recall correctly. Of course his Kraftwerk section was thick. Here is a record we should all own below!

The JPN sleeve shared the same cover as the US edition

He also has a Shriekback record I am kicking myself that I did not buy. Even though I did not “need” it, how many time am I going to see a copy of this to buy for $8.00!

This was a European EP of “Jam Science” tracks I stupidly passed on!

I was doubly crestfallen that I did not pick this up when I got home and discovered the nagging thought of “did I already have Real Life’s ‘Flame?'” was spot on correct. How much better than I should have spent that money on this instead? Then, I found the Big Kahuna. The record that was a solid two figures and one I would have bought if I had the money for it.

Until that day, I had no idea that this pressing existed

Gott Im Himmel!!! A JPN pressing of The Tourists “Reality Effect!!!” I have the US edition that misses two cuts on LP, then I have the Portuguese pressing that looks and sounds like a pirated copy, though for all I know it is legit. I never see a UK copy of this title [only the US pressings] but I found the German pressing online and I want the cleanest, hottest pressing of this possible, so the German one has been in my want list for years. Only VG copies from Germany have manifested. With the commensurate shipping costs. It goes without saying that this JPN copy was obviously the best sounding copy of those two songs on vinyl that I could ever hope to source, but it was $40. And I had already spent $32 of my $20 budget. And had run out of slush funds. But the dealer helpfully gave me a business card after our chat session, so if worst came to worst, I could mail order it from him at a later time; after sufficient saving up.

For those unaware, I grew up with JPN pressings in the 80s/90s being among the most expensive discs one could buy. LPs with obi were premium items of $30-70 on average. His JPN pricing was closer to 90s style than what I’ve seen in the new millennium, which has seen JPN LPs drop steeply in price to $5-20 levels for many things I’d be happy to buy. The $40 he was asking was probably a record he paid $20-30 for in the 90s and he was trying to not lose an arm and a leg on selling. Fair for the 20+ years he’d probably schlepped that disc around for. Now that I know there’s a JPN copy of this, it’s on Discogs for about half his asking rate, but copies without obi, and with shipping from JPN. He may yet get my business.


This was a more than adequate Record Show, for the first time in about a dozen years. At least I can say that the scourge of the 90s [thousands of bootleg CD-Rs of mainstream artists I hated crowding out all of the 7″12″ singles I was gunning for] had been dealt an absolute deathblow by the internet. Thank goodness! That was one good thing I can pin on Napster! I need to keep my eyes peeled so that I don’t miss anything like this happening in my area again, and memo to self: connect back up with Fred/rocknurse and see if we can get together and talk music again. He was our kind of people.

TODAY’S LIST

  1. Real Life: Flame – Curb Records ‎– MCA-5639 – US – LP – record show/$6.00
  2. The Passions: African Mine – Polydor ‎– POSP 384 – UK – 2×7” – record show/$2.00
  3. Boys Next Door: Shivers – Mushroom ‎– K-7492 – OZ – 7” – record show/$3.00
  4. Mick Karn: Titles – Caroline Blue Plate ‎– CAROL 1675-2 – US – CD – record show/$3.00
  5. Mick Karn: The Tooth Mother – CMP Records ‎– CMP CD 1008 – GER – CD – record show/$3.00
  6. Mick Karn: The Mick Karn Collector’s Edition – Times Square Records ‎– TSQD 9901 – US – CD – record show/$3.00
  7. Ryuichi Sakamoto + Kazumi Watanabe: Tokyo Joe – Denon ‎– DC 8586 – JPN – CD – record show/$3.00
  8. Eddie Jobson: Zinc – One Way Records ‎– S21 56846 – US – CD – record show/$3.00
  9. Rush: Feedback EP – Atlantic ‎– 83728-2 – US – CD EP – record show/$3.00
  10. Rush: Clockwork Angels – Roadrunner Records ‎– 1686-176562 – US – CD – record show/$3.00

 

– 30 –

Posted in Designed By Peter Saville, Records I Used To Own, Uncategorized, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , | 22 Comments

REDUX: Record Review: Bruce Woolley + The Camera Club DLX RM [part 2]

July 15, 2015

bruce woolley - cleancleanUK7A[continued from last post]

Then it was time for an abrupt change of pace. The brief instro “W.W.9” was a co-write with Thomas Dolby, who assays the sort of synth and piano action here that pointed to the development of “Airwaves” on on hand. On the other, the piano elegia also provides a echo of the intro to “Two Tribes” that existed five years into Trevor Horn’s future. It’s tempting to suggest that when he heard this, he filed and saved the memory for when he was crafting another apocalyptic war song several years later for Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Then, the Woolley version of “Clean Clean” began and this evidenced further differences from the familiar Buggles version. The war song attributes of the Buggles version were heightened here not only by the “W.W.9” intro, but the song’s coda, which invoked air raid sirens and then segued back into the “W.W.9” music. The refrain of “half a million in the very first attack, don’t you worry ‘cause you know we’ll get them back” gets an emphasis here that heightens the queasy atomic warfare feel that was all but buried in The Buggles version. I will state that the middle eight in The Buggles version stomps its brass band all over the tepid jazz solo that Dolby proffers here.

“Goodbye To Yesterday” was an older song from his publishing days called into service with a lyric change to make the sentiments more “New Wave” [“broken car” instead of “broken heart”] but the intro to this song strongly suggests that all concerned had heard the rogue cover version of “Boys Keep Swinging” that had beed released that previous summer by The Associates. As one familiar with the backing track to that cover version, it’s is all but impossible not to sing The Associates arrangement over the intro to “Goodbye To Yesterday.” With Russell Mael also being a touchstone of inspiration for Billy MacKenzie, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Woolley wasn’t also aware of the nascent Associates singer. Both men had developed singing voices along similar lines. The larger difference between them was a question of temperament. Woolley had accepted the terms of the industry and sought to prosper within it whereas MacKenzie followed a zigzag path fraught with difficulty as he would seek to meet the business half way one moment, only to run wildly in his own, opposing direction the very next.

The bonus tracks on this CD version date from the non-LP singles that preceded and followed this, the only Bruce Woolley album. The singer is dismissive of his debut single, “Bobby Bad” but I’m much kinder to its indulgences. The influence of Sparks was writ large across the face of this one, but like Russell Mael or Billy MacKenzie, the caliber of Woolley’s singing here provides its own justification, thought the boppy, New Wave track was a bit cartoonish. Especially compared to the rest of the bonus tracks, which post-date the album itself.

bruce woolley - bluebluevictoriaUK7AI can truly say that the next two tracks constituted what should have been a crucial single of the year 1981 for me. “Blue Blue [Victoria]” and its B-side, “1000 MPH” were simply stellar material. Following the release and promotion of his debut album, Woolley’s core band had dispersed with many members following Thomas Dolby to his emergent solo career. Woolley next recruited Simon [Hawkwind, Bowie, Japan] House on synths and Nigel [Saxon, Toyah] Glockler on drums and the uptick in the sound is notable. Matthew Seligman of the old band played on this single as well, but in listening to it, one can sense the perceptible shift in tone that happened then the seventies became the eighties!

As Dave [Vibrators] Birch hewed to the mid-late seventies guitar style on the debut album, this record was every inch a step away from such “rockism” as it was known in the UK press of the day into the New Pop aesthetic. In fact, there is no lead guitar on this single! It was a sleekly performed machine for moving forward on jets of air [was that a Be Bop Deluxe title waiting to happen, or what?] that was every inch a forward looking achievement. The resulting record was sleek and professional but also richly warm as the encroaching digital future sounded as if it had been held at bay. Crucially, it remains lodged in my cranium for days at a time.

The arrangement here was paramount. The melody fluttered brilliantly across the larnyx of Woolley here with an irresistible vocal performance matched by the warm synths and the baby grand piano of House. The middle eight actually becomes a jazz vocal from Woolley. This song might have been made two years later, but the style of 1981 ensured that it roared to life at exactly the right time. The playing and production style was all the richer for it. It perplexes me that I missed this single in 1981, which was to my ears, a year of crucial singles unmatched by any other year that I could name, and this one, 34 years later, would have only grown in stature to my ears had I been so fortunate to have heard it back then.

The throwaway B-side, “1000 MPH” remained a thing of wonder. It began with a synth rhythm keeping time as what sounded like a racetrack announcer began counting up from 100 MPH in large increments, until by the intro’s end, the voice sounded drenched in hyperbole as the velocity of the title was finally reached, to the onslaught of a huge drumroll that at that point became a blur. There is not much by the way of lyrics to this “song.”

“I go a 1000 miles per hour
I go a 1000 miles per hour
I go a 1000 miles per hour
I go a 1000 miles per hour
Somedays I go 100 miles per hour
Somedays I go 100 miles per hour
Somedays I go 100 miles per hour
Somedays I go 100 miles per hour” [repeat] – 1000 MPH

What is does have, in spades, is sheer exuberant velocity! It remains the finest piston-pumping Sparks B-side never recorded! It is exactly the sort of shenanigans that great B-sides were made for! It’s a sketch that explores an idea that maybe wouldn’t/shouldn’t be expanded into a song, but having gone there, it immediately justifies itself to all doubters!

bruce-woolley---ghosttrainUK7AThe next single was an absolute must for any fans of Thomas Dolby’s “Golden Age Of Wireless” album. “Ghost Train” is a compulsive Woolley/Dolby co-written song that not only reflects 150% the emergent Thomas Dolby solo aesthetic, but features a truly great lead vocalist singing the song to boot [sorry, Thomas!] No kidding! “Ghost Train” was abundant with stylistic Dolby solo tropes that make every inch of this fantastic song recall some similar gambits in sound and composition that Dolby exercised on his “Wireless” album.

Huge swaths of the D.N.A. of tunes like “Weightless” or “Windpower” are stacked up in this tune like cordwood. The “rows of tiny children” line in the lyrics reeks of Dolby and even Woolley’s delivery hews closely to what Dolby gave vocally to his own album. The portamento synth hook is so Dolby, that I can’t believe that he’s not actually on this record, but this was another number that Simon House played on. The sound design not only anticipates what would happen on “Wireless,” but also things like Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin’s covers of Dolby material, like “Leipzig!” This track could have been slotted onto the recent “Wireless” DLX RM and no one would have batted an eyelash!

bruce woolley - houseofwaxUK7AFinally, Woolley’s last non-LP A-side figured here and “House Of Wax” was a track that had been earmarked to herald the second album in the can from Woolley, but the single’s performance put the damper on such notions, leaving this single as its only trace. It’s a great piece of motorik pop showing that as much as the album reflected its late 70s gestation period, the new material was looking ahead to the dawning age in perfect synch with other, similar thinkers. Listening to these later singles really sounds like Woolley could have been moving in similar territories to the post-Rankine Associates. All of this material sounds like a good fit for an album like “Perhaps.” Not shockingly, keyboardist Simon House who played on these sides also figured on that album as well, albeit on violin only for the title track.

The fascinating thing that this disc documents is the nexus of creativity that linked Trevor Horn to Thomas Dolby through the single degree of separation that Woolley represented. Not for nothing did all of these gentlemen excel in their fields, if in different ways. Horn’s ear for arrangement and recording made him a go-to producer’s producer. Dolby brought his songwriting talent and musicianship to the table and managed to get the elusive solo career that both Horn and Woolley missed out on. Woolley was easily the finest singer of the three, but paradoxically, his fame resided in his songwriting capability, with millions of records sold that he wrote for others.

According to the liner notes, he revealed that he received half the publishing royalties on “Video Killed The Radio Star;” the kind of hit that can set one up fairly comfortably if one plays one’s cards right. That he went on to pen hits for Grace Jones and Cher that sold even more robustly, means that his fortunes were secured by his songwriting talent; ironically, reflective of the lean years he spent honing his craft for music publisher Everblue, where he met Trevor Horn back in 1976. The shame was that judging by the evidence of this CD, Cher’s gain was certainly our loss. One hopes that Cherry Red might eventually issue the “Shadows” album that sits in a tape box somewhere. On the evidence of these bonus tracks, it could be a corker.

– 30 –

Posted in Blast From The Past, Record Review | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

REDUX: Record Review: Bruce Woolley + The Camera Club DLX RM [part 1]

July 13, 2015

Cherry Red | UK | CD | 2009 | CDMRED 427

Cherry Red | UK | CD | 2009 | CDMRED 427

Bruce Woolley + The Camera Club: Bruce Woolley + The Camera Club UK DLX RM CD [2009]

  1. English Garden
  2. Video Killed The Radio Star
  3. Dancing With The Sporting Boys
  4. Johnny
  5. No Surrender
  6. Flying Man
  7. You Got Class
  8. W.W.9
  9. Clean Clean
  10. Get Away William
  11. Goodbye To Yesterday
  12. Goodbye To Yesterday [Reprise]
  13. You’re The Circus, I’m The Clown
  14. Bobby Bad
  15. Blue Blue [Victoria]
  16. 1000 MPH
  17. Ghost Train
  18. House Of Wax

On June 24, 2015 I happened to mention that I had not heard this album. Just two days later, commenter and close, personal friend chasinvictoria sent a copy screaming to my doorstep, much to my shock and surprise! I’ve been listening to it for several weeks, and I’ve got to say, it’s a corker of an album that I probably should have owned for 36 years! But I’m so lame, I never actually owned a copy of “The Age Of Plastic” until I finally bought it on US CD in 1988, so I throw myself at the mercy of the music court!

bruce woolley + the camera club - rnglish gardenUKLPAThe Cherry Red CD of 2009 was the first version of the album originally called “English Garden” in the UK that actually featured the original tracks from that 1979 issue. Earlier CDs from 1999 [UK] and 2001 [JPN] apparently used the different American version for the mastering source. That may be the version that you are most familiar with, but to this day I’ve still not yet heard it. When I cued the laser for track one I was presented with an album that fully reflected its cusp of 1980 origins. The superb title track featured a beat ripped right out of the “My Sharona” playbook, albeit a far more sophisticated final product than what The Knack were selling back then. That had been a repulsive ode to the joys of chasing “jailbait,” but this was in another class entirely. Woolley’s tense vocals capture that perfect “age of anxiety” feel that was flowing like a river at this time in the zeitgeist. The counterpoint of the guitars and keyboards to the jumpy backbeat was memorable and featured a great middle eight Moog solo by the recently named Thomas Dolby; the Camera Club’s keyboardist. The full octave portamento that Woolley indulges in going into the chorus from the following verse gives more than a hint as to the substantial vocal range at his disposal. The arrangement of this song wastes not a second as it clocked in at a perfect 3:00 with no fat on its bones at all.

bruce woolley - videokilledtheradiostarEUR7AThen the first released version of “Video Killed The Radio Star” made its debut to these ears. It had substantial differences to The Buggles hit version. First, at 2:45 it was only a fraction of the length of The Buggles version. While much of the arrangement, was similar, the modus operandi of the respective creators was quite far apart. Trevor Horn went for a techno kitsch appeal that lay the affectation on rather thickly and heavily stylized. Both versions have the singsong chorus, but only Horn dared to add the “ooh-ah, ooo-ah” backing vocal hook.

More intriguingly, Woolley opted instead for an ascending Latinesque guitar hook that was less cloying to these ears. Woolley’s original second verse makes explicit the song’s crux being about radio versus television acting; not music at all. If I could make a description by way of comparison, the Woolley version plays more like the guitar version of Thomas Dolby’s “Radio Silence” as compared to the “all-synth” version cut with Daniel Miller, comparable The Buggles version; with the proviso that with “Video” the case of which I prefer is much cloudier. The Dolby synth version of “Radio Silence” was instead, a clearcut winner to these ears.

“Dancing With The Sporting Boys” features a loping, rolling beat that sets off Woolley’s ascending vocal acrobatics most delightfully. By the time of this track, it’s apparent that his vocal prowess knows few bounds and his powerful, yet reserved voice provides the sort of kicks that suggest that his formative years were spent listening to Russell Mael of Sparks seduce a susceptible nation in the 70s. Woolley’s liner notes reveal as much in the booklet within. Not everyone can go traipsing off in Russell’s direction, so it would appear that Woolley’s grasp falls within his reach.

Next came another song co-written with Trevor Horn that didn’t also appear on the subsequent Buggles album as did “Video Killed the Radio Star” and “Clean Clean.” “Johnny” was only vaguely related to his cohort who rode the monorail on The Buggles album. This tune was a bobby sox ditty about a heartbreaker on the band circuit that Woolley and Horn met up during their formative years. What is speaks of was the truth that both Horn and Woolley were professionals, who were eking out their crust while doing decidedly unglamorous jobs on “the circuit” before their respective grabs at the brass ring within months of each other as 1979 segued into 1980. When the New Wave hit, it served as an inspiration to hordes of journeymen musicians who were way too talented to pass muster under the aegis of punk rock, but who liked the more stylish cut of the leaner music that followed. I’ve said more than once that New Wave was the 60s with the newest technology and a track like this proves it.

If these tracks thus far were perfectly redolent of their 1979 milieu, then the next song threw a curve ball. “No Surrender” from the very first bar was every inch a mid-period Be Bop Deluxe tune! It straddled the post-Glam/proto New Wave aesthetic so tightly that Woolley’s vocals could do nothing more than emulate Bill Nelson’s phrasing like nothing I had ever heard before. The look backward was surprising, but it was all done so expertly, that I could only gape in wonder. As much as I enjoy Nelson [and Be Bop Deluxe] I can’t say that I ever hear their influence, sadly.

Woolley cops to the fact that “Flying Man” was influenced by The Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over,” but he’s just being disingenuous. Another band that I dearly love that I can’t say I’ve ever heard influence anyone else were The Rezillos, but that is exactly what happened here as The Camera Club track “Flying Man” sounds 100% beholden to the hyper-kinetic cover that dropped the year earlier on “Can’t Stand The Rezillos.” The tune kicks the energy levels to the max here for a furious burst of energy when coupled with the next song, “You Got Glass,” which keeps up the pace frenetic of the prior song.

Next: …More to follow

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REDUX: Record Review: Wire – The Ideal Copy UK CD


June 26, 2015

Mute | UK | CD | CDSTUMM42

Mute | UK | CD | CDSTUMM42

Wire: The Ideal Copy UK CD [1987]

  1. Point Of Collapse
  2. Ahead
  3. Madman’s Honey
  4. Feed Me
  5. Ambitious
  6. Cheeking Tongues
  7. Still Shows
  8. Over Theirs
  9. Ahead (II)
  10. A Serious Of Snakes
  11. Drill
  12. Advantage In Height
  13. Up To The Sun
  14. Ambulance Chasers
  15. Feed Me(II)
  16. Vivid Riot Of Red

I was late to the game on Post-Punk titans Wire. I never heard them until their reformation at the dawning of the mid-late 80s UK music drought that saw the output of most bands shift to house music. I saw their video for the gripping “Ahead” in the MTV 120 Minutes ghetto. It didn’t take long before I went to the local emporium [probably Murmur Records; maybe Peaches] and slapped down my $15-16 for the UK import CD of the spanking new album, “The Ideal Copy.” There was a US CD in the pipeline, since they were signed to Enigma Records domestically. Either I couldn’t wait for the US CD [which would have followed by a month or two at best in those days] or I saw it and noted that it contained one less bonus track than the UK copy did; making it my ideal indeed.

I popped it in the CD player and was rewarded with the unsettling opener “Point Of Collapse.” Treated guitars and synths swirled around the abstract lyrics of singer Colin Newman and the sturdy, machine-like rhythms of drummer Robert Gotobed. It was a wondrous blend and I enjoyed how the song’s guitar melodies and rhythm were gradually faded out to give prominence to the abstract synth lead lines that had been almost subliminal up to that point in the song.

“Ahead” was and remains one of the finest singles from the second half of the eighties. Not that there was much competition, but this track was definitely at home in the late 70s/dawn of the 80s Post-Punk period that was so dear to my heart. Colin Newman’s declamatory vocals sounded blunt and unaffected while the rigorous drumming of Gotobed marked him as probably the one drummer left in Britain who could be put on a small, exclusive shelf with Simple Minds’ original drummer Brian McGee. Both had a penchant for motorik derived rhythms that advanced a song without calling undue attention to themselves, save for the occasional tattoo that served as what passed for a fill in “Ahead.” The chugging Bo Diddley rhythm of Graham Lewis’ bass and Bruce Gilbert’s guitars had probably never been bent as far leftward as in this magnificent number. The song is based on what must be my favorite chord sequence of all time.

When the next number began, the delicate beauty of “Madman’s Honey” proved that this act wasn’t resistant to beauty for its own sake. What sounded like backwards vocal tapes of Newman singing “how does it feel?” served to add an alien counterpoint to the chorus. The pizzicato synths and gently picked acoustic guitar were certainly laying down a finely etched sound that was most eclectic for the first three tracks.

Then “Feed Me” proved that subtlety was just one extreme that this band were unafraid of reflecting. The track was built around a simple, subtle rhythm that may have even been acoustic guitars looped incessantly to form a slow, methodical rhythm that was barely there. Then the crashing, overdriven guitar power chords that defined almost the entire  song came right front and center to dazzle and stun with their tremoloed reverb. The bass gradually entered the mix in the most subtle fashion possible. Then Graham Lewis began singing. He offered a malignant baritone suggesting a queasy blend of intoxication and disease that was echoed by the random guitar noise that began snaking through the track at its mid point. Let’s say it all holds your attention very well.

After that long excursion into near madness, the next track put Lewis on an even better number. “Ambitious” was built upon Gotobed’s relentless dead-simple tattoos with repeated guitar figures and Lewis’ throbbing bassline. Very impressive, but it all faded once Lewis began singing. His phrasing here grew in power to become absolutely monstrous as the song progresses. The lyrics were chock full of juxtaposed yet unsettling phrases that gave the pleasure centers of my brain a real workout!

“Chain link rout ways
Digital time base
New hours for these days
New files engaged
Strangeness detectors
Collage charmers
Magnet behaviour
Quarks and order” – “Ambitious”

“Cheeking Tongues” was set down next in “side two” like a Colin Newman haiku shot full of cartoony sound samples looped to form the song’s rhythm as a palate cleanser before the final two, longer songs remaining. “Still Shows” returned to the slower, methodical tempo of “Feed Me” with equally unsettling lyrics that referenced skinning a rabbit; never a pleasant lyric image! “Over Theirs” gave the mic one last time to Graham Lewis for a duet with Newman; the only one on this album proper. The unsettling coda that closed the song out came as something of a shock.

wire - aheadUK12AThen the CD had another eight bonus tracks, qualifying for some sort of award for most bonus tracks back in the day. I remember a friend asking if the album was any good and should he buy the CD or the LP. I told him, do you want twice as many tracks? Go with the CD. The UK “Ahead” 12″ single had three live tracks in addition to the full length version of the song, but the US 12″ had all of that and the John Fryer remix of the A-side. It was the song recast [briefly] in Moroderspace with a sequencer prominent instead of furious guitar riffing, …or most likely a noise gate triggering off of a synth pulse simulating the stuttering of a sequencer without all of the messy rental and programming. This track only appeared on the UK pressing of this CD. “Feed Me” got the biggest changes while live with Colin Newman taking over the lead vocals instead of Graham Lewis for a completely different feel. The song’s rhythms were much more prominent than with the studio version as well.

wire - snakedrillUKEPAThen, the “Snakedrill” EP which had found the band reforming as a unit after six years apart was added to the playing time. “Drill” was the relentless keystone to this disc. In later years the band would release a full album of live variations and mixes of this one song which boasts a monolithic power second to none. I know I’ll never forget the time I saw them perform the track live on The Late Show, the old Fox Network late night talk show that was normally the roost of Joan Rovers. But the night Wire appeared, the guest host was noted bottle blonde Suzanne Somers. A more violent contrast could probably never exist on American television.

First, the band played “Drill” and it was EXTREMELY LOUD. For those of you not used to American Television, this never happens. Everything is rehearsed and locked down in stone and there are no slipups. Not this time! I have never heard sound from a television show bleeding into the red before, though Killing Joke on The Tube performing “Kings + Queens” were doing it on the bass at least. Amateurs! Every member of the audience must have had ringing ears for a week after this! That was memorable enough, but the interview that came afterward pushed this into the true realm of the bizarre and unbelievable.

The hostess was so far out of her intellectual league that one could only stare, slackjawed at the brain-melting notion that some talent coordinator must have set this meeting of the minds up for a purpose. And that purpose was my immense, personal satisfaction! While Bruce Gilbert answered her banal questions with an air of amusement, Graham Lewis was videotaping the entire exchange with a camcorder. What I would not give to see the contents of that tape now! I taped the whole thing, of course, and I’m certain that it’s out there… you know where. I have to admit that it’s not to be missed for anyone who’s not had the pleasure.

While listening to this album the very first time I felt that it was going to be among my favorites of that year and it surely was a most unexpected re-flowering of the seeds of Post-Punk right when I least expected it. Wire had returned and were giving me the sort of music that other bands, most notably, Simple Minds, were definitely not interested in providing any longer. More than anything, this album gives off the pleasing vibe of “Sons + Fascination” to such an extent because the band playing mostly real instruments and drums, but playing them as if they were machines. That gives this album a real kick. And with “Ahead,” which I was listening to today for the 300th time, I realized that one could go even further. I’m here to report that it is entirely possible to sing the lyrics of “The American” to this number. Higher praise I cannot give.

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Mari Wilson Tour Dates: Now With Added New Wilsations!

Mari Wilson now has an 8-piece band of New Wilsations® – at least SOMETHING’S right with the world!

When Mari Wilson and the Wilsations managed to take a 12-piece band all across England in the early 80s at the height of a recession, some would have said that it was madness. But that desire for a bold statement in the face of adversity was a gift that money couldn’t buy. Now, the world is turning into a much darker and colder place. Doom hangs over humanity’s head like a Sword of Damocles as madmen have their deathgrip on the reins of power… so I guess there’s no better time to revisit the audacity of Mari Wilson, fronting a large contingent of New Wilsations ready to make a big noise.

We just got the word that Mari has a fall tour lined up to show off her new band after debuting them last Summer at Wilton’s Music Hall, a live venue with a history dating back to the late 17th century. Having seen the original Wilsations perform live on the BBC’s “Sight + Sound” on videotape, I can say that once you give this singer a large band, prepare to step back and be wowed. She’s assembled a band with guitar/bass/drums/keys, two backing vocalists, and a brass section so absolutely no corners were cut. Her recent “Pop Deluxe” album will certainly get an airing, along with her catalog of immaculately backdated hits and probably a few of her favorites from Dusty Springfield’s catalog as well.

Mari Wilson + The New Wilsations | UK Fall 2019 Tour

  • Oct. 27 | New Wolsey Theatre | Ipswich, England
  • Oct. 31 | The Concorde Club | Southampton, England
  • Nov. 1 | The Electric Theatre | Guildford, England
  • Nov. 9 | Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel | Denbighshire, Wales

The poster above cites a November 9th gig at Bodelwyddan Castle, in Rhyl, Wales, but the actual show is at the Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel, not the castle itself. Which is fortunate, because the local authorities have withdrawn funding support, and the castle and grounds are no longer open to the public. Gulp! What did I say earlier about dark times? We’d better enjoy this music while we can! As usual, I have to watch it all take place from thousands of miles away, but if any UK commenters can swing a gig, please report back with your findings!

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The Return Of Scooped: Peter Gabriel – Flotsam + Jetsam Competes With My Own Set From 2006 [part 2]

I miss this peter gabriel

[…continued from last post]

So yesterday we covered what I’m missing: six tracks from the early-mid solo era. Two of them were unleashed only for this set, and I actually had one of the missing tunes without knowing it! The other three were unknown to me at the time owing to the lack of web resources at the time. But I’m just a little-guy/hobbyist. What about The Man??! How does he fare under the cold eye of observation?

As it turns out, I included a hefty ten tracks not accounted for in the “Flotsam + Jetsam” pg DL collection. Four of the songs I included were high profile gigs on other artist’s records. The sort of thing that rarely shows up on an artist’s compilations if they were not the titular artist issuing the song. Though that didn’t stop Midge Ure from getting “Yellow Pearl” by Phil Lynott issued on any number of compilations! I get that rights i$$ues probably precluded them from being included, but the other six were less clear cut. I’d deem half of them omissions of some sin.


Bob Ezrin was obviously determined to swamp the song “Here Comes The Flood” with all of the bombast at his disposal; much to the song’s detriment. Ironically, a more subtle arrangement allowed the full weight of the lyric and intention to weigh more heavily upon the listener. So it was not shocking when given the chance to revisit the song on his second album’s producer’s first solo album [?], gabriel pounced on it. The version on Robert Fripp’s “Exposure,” could not have been better. In 1979 all I wanted to hear was Frippertronic guitar [which was useful as Fripp soon began issuing albums in said style at the rate of three a year!]. The Frippertronic/piano version as produced by Fripp was perfection for the song. By not putting the sonic boot in your face, the song was now free to devastate.

I had never heard of Johnny Warman before buying volume two of the great Canuck New Wave compilation “Hardest Hits vol. 2,” but his “Screaming Jets” was very much beholden to peter gabriel. Not only did gabriel add BVs and effects to the song, but his then-current rhythm section of “Jerry Marotta and Tony Levin were all over the album “Walking Into Mirrors.” It was the only of Warman’s albums to have gotten a CD release years later. Maybe I should try to buy a copy. Albums like this have gold potential now.

Three live tracks on my set came from The Bristol Recorder, a Bristol-based LP/magazine very close to what Debut Magazine would pick up on more successfully three years later. A 12″ x 12″ gatefold album with magazine pages inside the gatefold. I remember when chasinvictoris came across this in probably early 1982 [no doubt at Wax N’ Facts in Atlanta…] and told me all about it. I never managed to find a copy, so I borrowed it from him and digitized the three tracks. Two were familiar pg canon from his previous year’s tour [albeit in two different locations] but the 1977 cut was a Motown cover from his first solo tour. Probably down to the lack of material to play in the set. Tony Levin sounded great sinking his teeth into “Ain’t That Peculiar!”

1984 brought several pg tunes on movie soundtracks. Since he had not yet had big hits of his own yet, I’d imagine that this was down to the soundtrack he had crafted for Alan Parker’s “Birdy” but that happened in 1985! There was “Walk Through The Fire” from the “Against All Odds” OST that saw former cohort Phil Collins decimating gabriel on the charts with his unavoidable megahit theme song that sold about two million times more than this fine song which was the last peter gabriel release that had what I’d refer to as his “classic “’80-’82 sound. Then there was a second Nile Rogers production on the… “Gremlins” OST?

The song “Out Out” was a seven minute avant funk jam that sounded like it was improved/recorded/mixed in what might have been an afternoon. I would have been too mortified to have ever bought the soundtrack LP to hear this, but in 1985, I was shopping in Vinyl Fever Records in Tampa for the first time [prior to seeing Tears For Fears] and was astonished to see this 12″ single version of “Out Out,” which only got a release in The Netherlands. But there it was and I snapped it up. It still had “Gremlins” cover art, though the song undoubtedly sounded its best on this 12″ disc.

The “Gremlins” OST only got a European reissue on CD in 1993, which I’ve never seen. The 2015 US reissue is simply the complete Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack with none of the pop tracks on side one of the original OST EP. I see that the “Flotsam + Jetsam” comp has the same 3:30 remix version of “Walk Through The fire” on it. I’ve never looked at the “Against All Odds” OST since I found a USP 12″ of just that cut in 1984, but the original album was a 4:00 peter gabriel only production, so we’re both missing that alternate version. Which I have never heard. memo to self.

Not having the “No More Apartheid” track from the “Sun City” album was understandably down to rights issues on that fund raising project. But since I who am not actually manufactiring and selling anything have no such restrictions. The glimpse of gabriel as he was transitioning away form his art rock phase into his hit making/world music years was useful. The song was another loose jam co-written between himself and violinist L. Shankar of Epidemics fame.

It was after “So” that peter gabriel got the nod to appear in a duet with his label mate Joni Mitchell. Her “Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm” album offered “My Secret Place” with gabriel and Mitchell going all jazz-lite on us. Which I sort of liked from pg. I found this USP 7″ single at the awesome Yesterday + Today Records in Pikeville, MD back in 2002 before I could ever find the Mitchell album. It was a 7″ edit, but a record in the hand is worth two in the bush, so I went with the non-LP edit of the song.

The “So” album had an alternate version of “Excellent Bird,” his 1984 duet with Laurie Anderson [as produced by Nile Rogers, who would factor in all of the one-offs that gabriel had produced that year] from her album “Mister Heartbreak.” Well, that song certainly needed to be there. Especially since I preferred that version to the one used as a bonus track on the  “So” compact disc.

Finally, there was another fund-raising album with an otherwise unavailable peter gabriel cut. It was another live recording of “Biko” but how could there be an Amnesty International fund raising tour with gabriel playing without it? As it was the second instance of the song appearing live in 1987, I have to say that I preferred the nearly ten minute Amnesty International tour version on “The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball – The Music” to the 6:27 live “So” tour single version [that was recorded that year at Blossom Music Center in Akron] that Virgin released as the song was used in a music video that cross-promoted the “Cry Freedom!” film – which did not feature the song it it! The shorter version was on the new “Flotsam + Jetsam” comp. This one was not.

This all goes to show that there is no one correct way to compile a project. I’m free to include things that would be difficult for lawyers to clear. And the artist may know about tracks so obscure that I only found out about them when word of this comp arrived. Then there are tracks on fund-raising records that are usually problematic for clearance reasons outside of the original issue. But I can say that the notion is now there to re-compile and remaster this release with the tracks I’d missed. I can buy some of them as single DLs. Now all I need is to bring my now 18 month old new iMac into the CD making era with a new copy of Toast music burning software. I managed to buy the disc burning drive last year but the money for software upgrades [not to mention blank media] simply has not been there since I bought the computer in Spring of 2018. Wish me luck.

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Posted in BSOG, Remastering, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments