Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) Review

31 01 2021

Level 42 are releasing a 10 CD set titled The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984), that contains all the Level 42 studio albums from that era plus 5 further discs containing B-Sides, 7” Mixes, remixes and rare tracks.

The collection was compiled in conjunction with Level 42 and band experts Paul Wallace, Paul Waller and Simon Carson. The sleeve notes are provided by Record Collector’s Daryl Easlea who has spoken to band members current and past. The booklet contains a full track annotation and pictures of rare memorabilia.

The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 opens with the band’s debut studio album from 1981, including singles Turn It On, Love Games and Starchild plus key album tracks such as Almost There with its tight rhythm guitar from the late Boon Gould. These early Level 42 albums also feature strong keyboard, synth and programming contributions from Wally Badarou (Robert Palmer / Power Station).

The second disc is The Early Tapes aka Strategy, which contains material recorded in 1980 and features a less polished, more raw production. Love Meeting Love evokes the memories of 80s bars and clubs and the jazz-funk of this era. Autumn (Paradise Is Free) recalls the work of mid-70s Stanley Clarke. One of the album’s many instrumentals 88 remained in the band’s live set for years to come, and is a highlight of their early catalogue.

The Pursuit Of Accidents was the bands third album, released in 1982. Like the first album, this was produced by Mike Vernon (Fleetwood Mac / Roachford / Eric Clapton) and saw Level 42 continuing to evolve its sound, attracting a more pop loving audience.

Singles Weave Your Spell, Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? and the band’s first top 30 hit (and one of their finest singles) The Chinese Way are included, along with the key album track Eyes Waterfalling, with is under-pinned by some of Phil Gould’s finest percussion work.

The next two discs feature my two favourite Level 42 albums. First up is Standing In The Light from 1983. The album perfectly captures the colourful pop / soul sound of this part of the 80s. Standing In The Light was produced by Earth, Wind & Fire’s Larry Dunn & Verdine White and includes the singles Micro Kid, Out of Sight, Out of Mind and the bands first top 10 hit The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) as well as the atmospheric I Want Eyes. Standing In The Light is one of the early eighties finest pop releases.

The final studio album in this set is True Colours from 1984. Produced by Ken Scott (David Bowie / Supertramp), this was a harder edged, more percussive sounding release. True Colours features two of my favourite Level 42 singles, The Chant Has Begun and Hot Water. Kouyate is a perfect example of the more powerful drum-led arrangements that decorate True Colours.

The remaining discs pull together bonus tracks, live cuts and remixes. I prefer having the albums in their original format and tracklisting, with bonus tracks presented separately, to mirror the experience of listening to the music as it was fist released.

Disc Six collects the bands 7” Singles, and includes a first CD release of the 7″ version of Level 42’s debut single Love Meeting Love. Disc Seven collects the B Sides.

The 8 and 9th discs consist of extended mixes and rarities. Highlights include a remix I had not heard before, by another of my favourite 80s dance acts, the I-Level remix of Micro Kid and on of my favourite extended mixes, the lively Hot Water (Mastermix).

Hot Water

The 10th and final disc contains bonus tracks. Along with lots of live tracks recorded at Regal Theatre, Hitchin (a venue long since demolished), the disc also includes the powerful Love Games (U.S. Remix).

The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) is a perfect opportunity to collect all the early albums and key single tracks from Level 42 at a good price, and provides a musical snapshot of the jazz-funk, soul and pop scene of the early 1980s.

Buy Level 42 The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) from Amazon

Disc One: Level 42

Turn It On
“43”
Why Are You Leaving?
Almost There
Heathrow
Love Games
Dune Tune
Starchild

Disc Two: The Early Tapes

Sandstorm
Love Meeting Love
Theme To Margaret
Autumn (Paradise Is Free)
Wings Of Love
Woman
Mr. Pink
88

Disc Three: The Pursuit Of Accidents

Weave Your Spell
The Pursuit Of Accidents
Last Chance
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)?
You Can’t Blame Louis
Eyes Waterfalling (The Prodigy)
Shapeshifter
The Chinese Way

Disc Four: Standing In The Light

Micro Kid
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind
Dance On Heavy Weather
A Pharaoh’s Dream (Of Endless Time)
Standing In The Light
I Want Eyes
People
The Machine Stops

Disc Five: True Colours

The Chant Has Begun
Kansas City Milkman
Seven Days
Hot Water
A Floating Life
True Believers
My Hero
Kouyate
Hours By The Window

Disc Six: 7” Singles

Love Meeting Love – (7ʺ Version) (First Time On CD)
(Flying On The) Wings Of Love (U.S. Mix – 7ʺ Edit)
Love Games (7ʺ Version)
Turn It On (7ʺ Version)
Starchild (7ʺ Remix)
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? (7ʺ Version)
Weave Your Spell (7ʺ Remix)
The Chinese Way (7ʺ Version)
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind (7ʺ Version)
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (7ʺ Version)
Micro Kid (7ʺ Version)
Hot Water (7ʺ Version)
The Chant Has Begun (7ʺ Edit)

Disc Seven: B Sides

Instrumental Love
Forty-Two
Beezer One
Foundation And Empire (Parts 1 & 2)
The Return Of The Handsome Rugged Man
Dune Tune (Live)
Love Games (Live)
88 (Live)
You Can’t Blame Louis (Remix – 7ʺ Version) (First Time On CD)
Can’t Walk You Home (7ʺ Version)
Can’t Walk You Home
Turn It On (Live)
Almost There (Edited Version)

Disc Eight: 12” Singles & Rarities

(Flying On The) Wings Of Love (U.S. Mix)
(Flying On The) Wings Of Love (Remix ’81)
Love Games (Full Length Version)
Turn It On (Full Length Version)
Starchild (Remix – Long Version)
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? – (Extended Version)
Weave Your Spell (Extended Version)
The Chinese Way (Extended Version)
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind – (Extended Version)
You Can’t Blame Louis (Extended Remix)
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (Extended Version)

Disc Nine: 12” Singles

Micro Kid (Extended Version) (First Time On CD)
Micro Kid (I-Level Remix)
The Chinese Way (New York Remix)
The Chinese Way (Dub)
Hot Water (Mastermix)
Standing In The Light (Extended Version)
Micro Kid (Specially Remixed Version)
Micro Kid (Dub Version)
The Chant Has Begun (Power Mix)
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (Upfront Mix)

Disc Ten: Bonus Tracks

Love Games (U.S. Remix)
Sandstorm (Live May 1982)
Mr. Pink (Live May 1982)
It’s A Happening
The Chinese Way (Dub – Edit) (First Time On CD)
Last Chance (Extended Version)
Heathrow (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Turn It On (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Eyes Waterfalling (The Prodigy) (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
The Pursuit Of Accidents (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Standing In The Light (7ʺ Version)
Goodbye Ray Schmidt-Volk

Buy Level 42 The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) from Amazon





Toyah Sheep Farming In Barnet deluxe edition review

12 11 2020

Cherry Red Records are releasing a remastered and expanded deluxe version of Toyah’s debut album Sheep Farming In Barnet as the first release of a reissue programme of Toyah’s entire Safari Records catalogue. The 2CD/1DVD set is released on 4 December 2020, with a limited edition white vinyl version of the main album also released on the same day.

The main album has been given a quality remaster by Nick Watson. Key tracks such as Neon Womb, Victims Of The Riddle, Danced and Race Through Space sound crisper and clearer than the previous CD release, and if you are a fan of this album, you will love this 2020 remaster.

The album is expanded with the single tracks Bird In Flight & Tribal Look, plus rare / unreleased recordings, the highlights of which are the almost hard-rock Gaoler, an early version of The Blue Meaning‘s Love Me and four tracks from the BBC drama Shoestring – live in the studio recordings of Our Movie, Waiting, Neon Womb and an electrifying version of Danced.

The second disc is dedicated to rare and archive material, including many early demos. Whilst the demos are not of the same high quality as the main album, they give a unique insight into the band’s development. Close Encounters (Demo) would later become Danced and some of Watch Me Sane‘s lyrics ended up on Waiting.

My favourite track from the demos is Problem Child, featuring an expansive arrangement, veering from the pop / new-wave sound of the time to a lovely almost progressive outro.

The alternative mixes include a version of Neon Womb with no saxophone (I’m so used to the sax version, this take jars a little for me), and a less produced, more live sounding alt mix of Our Movie.

My favourite alt version on this disc is Waiting (Alternate Vocal Mix), I’ve always loved the bubbling synth lines underpinning the deep bass line on this track, and Waiting also has one of my favourite Toyah vocals. This alt mix goes on a little longer than the album version, with no fade out.

The final disc is a DVD featuring two 2020 interviews with Toyah Willcox (The Story Behind The Album and Track-By-Track Album Commentary), a 1979 What’s On interview plus TV appearances from 1979 and 1980 (including The Old Grey Whistle Test) and a 2020 acoustic Session featuring performances of Neon Womb, Computer & Bird In Flight featuring Toyah Willcox (vocals) & Nigel Clark (guitar). Note: the DVD’s visual content & the remastered vinyl was not provided for this review.

The sleeve notes for the 2 CD/ 1 DVD version feature a scene-setting intro from Toyah Willcox and August 2020 notes from Craig Astley with input from former band-member & co-writer/guitarist Joel Bogen, along with lots of band pictures from the era making this the definitive version of Sheep Farming In Barnet.

Buy Toyah Sheep Farming In Barnet: 2CD/1DVD Deluxe Digipak from Amazon

Buy Toyah Sheep Farming In Barnet: Limited Edition White Vinyl 11 track LP

Disc One:

  1. Neon Womb
  2. Indecision
  3. Waiting
  4. Computer
  5. Victims Of The Riddle
  6. Elusive Stranger
  7. Our Movie
  8. Danced
  9. Last Goodbye
  10. Victims Of The Riddle (Vivisection)
  11. Race Through Space

Bonus Tracks

  1. Gaoler
  2. Bird In Flight
  3. Tribal Look
  4. Love Me (Dangerfield Session)*
  5. Tribal Look (Alternate Mix)*
  6. Our Movie (Shoestring Version)*
  7. Waiting (Shoestring Version)*
  8. Neon Womb (Shoestring Version)*
  9. Danced (Shoestring Version)*
  • Previously Unreleased

Disc Two:

  1. Computers (Demo)*
  2. Little Boy (Demo)*
  3. Close Encounters (Demo)*
  4. Watch Me Sane (Demo)*
  5. Jailer (Demo)*
  6. Race Through Space (Demo) *
  7. Elusive Stranger (Demo)*
  8. Problem Child (Demo)
  9. Israel (Demo)
  10. Christmas Carol (Demo)
  11. Race Through Space (Alternate Mix)*
  12. Neon Womb (No Saxophone)*
  13. Our Movie (Alternate Mix)*
  14. Waiting (Alternate Vocal Mix)*
  15. Indecision (Alternate Vocal Mix)*
  16. Computer (Alternate Vocal Mix)*
  17. Vivisection (Improvisation)*
  18. Love Me (Demo)
  19. Tribal Look (Demo)
  20. Guilty (Demo)
  21. Three-Sided Face (Demo)

Disc Three (Ntsc – Region Free Dvd):

  1. The Story Behind The Album : 2020 Interview
  2. Track-By-Track Album Commentary: 2020 Interview
  3. Neon Womb: Acoustic Session 2020
  4. Computer: Acoustic Session 2020
  5. Bird In Flight: Acoustic Session 2020
  6. Race Through Space: What’s On 12/04/1979
  7. Toyah Interview: What’s On 19/04/1979
  8. Danced: The Old Grey Whistle Test 04/03/1980
  9. Indecision: The Old Grey Whistle Test 04/03/1980

Buy Toyah Sheep Farming In Barnet: 2CD/1DVD Deluxe Digipak

Buy Toyah Sheep Farming In Barnet: Limited Edition White Vinyl





News: Long Hot Summers: The Story Of The Style Council

10 09 2020

UMC / Polydor have released a new Style Council collection: Long Hot Summers: The Story Of The Style Council.

The collection is available on CD and vinyl, and contains key single and album tracks from the band formed by Paul Weller & Mick Talbot after The Jam split.

This impressive collection features many of the great singles / EP and album tracks such as My Ever-Changing Moods, The Paris Match, Speak Like a Child, Have You Ever Had It Blue as well as less celebrated songs such as the stark Ghosts Of Dachau and the breezy How She Threw It All Away.

The collection includes tracks featuring drummer Steve White and vocalist Dee C. Lee, and was endorsed and co-compiled by Paul Weller.

Long Hot Summers: The Story Of The Style Council contains two previously unreleased recordings – a demo of the top 5 single My Ever Changing Moods (with strings), and an extended version of Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse (the original version featured on the band’s first album, Café Bleu).

The release ties in with a Sky Arts documentary about the band, featuring interviews with all key members, fans and collaborators.

Buy the double CD from Amazon

Buy the triple Vinyl from Amazon

CD tracklisting:

Disc One

Headstart for Happiness
Long Hot Summer
My Ever-Changing Moods
Walls Come Tumbling Down!
Party Chambers
Wanted (or Waiter, There’s…)
Shout to the Top!
It Just Came to Pieces in My Hands
Come to Milton Keynes
Why I Went Missing
Waiting
Ghosts Of Dachau
Down in the Seine
The Paris Match
Boy Who Cried Wolf
Life at a Top People’s Health Farm
Homebreakers
Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse (Extended version)

Disc two

Speak Like a Child
The Lodgers (Or She Was Only…)
Money Go Round
You’re the Best Thing
How She Threw It All Away
A Man of Great Promise
The Piccadilly Trail
A Solid Bond in Your Heart
All Gone Away
Sweet Loving Ways
Promised Land
Have You Ever Had It Blue
It Didn’t Matter
Spin’ Drifting
Here’s One That Got Away
A Woman’s Song
Changing of the Guard
My Ever-Changing Moods (Demo)
Shout To The Top (Instrumental)

Vinyl Tracklisting:

Side A
Headstart for Happiness
Long Hot Summer
My Ever-Changing Moods
Walls Come Tumbling Down!
Party Chambers

Side B
Wanted (or Waiter, There’s…)
Shout to the Top!
It Just Came to Pieces in My Hands
Come to Milton Keynes
Why I Went Missing
Waiting

Side C
Ghosts Of Dachau
Down in the Seine
The Paris Match
Life at a Top People’s Health Farm
Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse (Extended version)

Side D
Speak Like a Child
The Lodgers (Or She Was Only…)
Money Go Round
You’re the Best Thing
How She Threw It All Away

Side E
A Man of Great Promise
The Piccadilly Trail
A Solid Bond in Your Heart
Sweet Loving Ways
Promised Land
It Didn’t Matter

Side F
Have You Ever Had It Blue
Spin’ Drifting
Here’s One That Got Away
Changing of the Guard
My Ever-Changing Moods (Demo)





News: Kraftwerk coloured vinyl limited edition album reissues

9 09 2020

Parlophone have reissued eight Kraftwerk albums on limited edition 180g coloured vinyl. The audio included on these re-issued albums will be the 2009 remasters.

Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express, The Man-Machine, Computer World, Techno Pop (aka Electric Café), The Mix and Tour De France were released on 9 October 2020.

Pre-order limited coloured vinyl from Amazon

  • Autobahn (1974) – Translucent blue vinyl, 12-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Radio-Activity (1975) – Translucent yellow vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Trans-Europe Express (1977) – Clear vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • The Man-Machine (1978) – Translucent red vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Computer World (1981) – Translucent neon yellow vinyl, 16-page booklet Buy now
  • Techno Pop (1986) – Clear vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • The Mix (1991) – White vinyl, 20-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Tour De France (2003) – Disc 1: Translucent blue vinyl; Disc 2: Translucent red vinyl, 20-page booklet
    Buy now




News: Tears For Fears ‘The Seeds of Love’ reissue (CD, deluxe box-set and vinyl)

19 08 2020

The long-awaited reissue of Tears For Fears‘ 1989 album The Seeds of Love is now available.

The reissue is available in a number of formats, including a deluxe double CD, remastered vinyl and the most interesting version, a CD / Bluray box-set.

The boxset edition (which like the previous TFF box-sets, is likely to sell-out at some point down the line) includes a Steven Wilson 5.1 surround sound mix on the bluray, whilst the other 4 CDs in the boxset contain a remaster of the album, a CD of b-sides, remixes and edits plus two CD’s of unreleased audio (including alt mixes and demos).

The booklet for the box-set includes interviews and notes by Paul Sinclair who runs the excellent Super Deluxe Edition website.

Available now:

The Seeds Of Love [5 disc Boxset] from Amazon

The Seeds Of Love (2 CD Deluxe) from Amazon

The Seeds Of Love [Remastered Vinyl] from Amazon





News: Prince – Sign O’ The Times | Remastered & Expanded

25 06 2020

The Prince Estate is continuing to release his studio albums in expanded form, complete with material from his legendary Vault. Considered by many to be his masterpiece, Sign O’ The Times is being issued on vinyl and CD, remastered and overflowing with extras.

The super deluxe edition (8 CD and 1 DVD) includes all the audio material that Prince officially released in 1987, as well as 45 previously unreleased studio songs recorded between May 1979 and July 1987, and a complete live audio performance from the June 20 1987 show on the Sign O’ The Times Tour at Stadium Galgenwaard in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Also included is a brand-new DVD containing the complete, previously unreleased New Year’s Eve benefit concert at Paisley Park on December 31 1987, which was Prince’s final performance of the Sign O’ The Times Tour stage show and his only on-stage collaboration with jazz legend Miles Davis.

Weighing in at a hefty price, this is a real collectors edition – and includes a 120-page hardcover book with previously unseen images and hand-written lyrics.

The super deluxe edition (like the 1999 super-deluxe) is likely to sell-out, and become a collectors item. If you are fan of Prince, the super deluxe is a treasure trove of unreleased music, plus one of the greatest albums of all time in remastered form. Dig deep, it will be worth it!

Pre-order the Super-Deluxe CD edition

Super Deluxe Edition 8 CD+ DVD Set

Remastered Album (CD 1)

Sign O’ The Times
Play In The Sunshine
Housequake
The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
It
Starfish And Coffee
Slow Love
Hot Thing
Forever In My Life

Remastered Album (CD 2)

U Got The Look
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Strange Relationship
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
The Cross
It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
Adore

Single Mixes & Edits (CD 3)

Sign O’ The Times (7” single edit)
La, La, La, He, He, Hee (7” single edit)
La, La, La, He, He, Hee (Highly Explosive) (7” single edit)
If I Was Your Girlfriend (7” single edit)
Shockadelica (“If I Was Your Girlfriend” B-side)
Shockadelica (12” long version)
U Got the Look (Long Look) (12” edit)
Housequake (7” edit)
Housequake (7 Minutes MoQuake)
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (Fade 7” edit)
Hot Thing (7” single edit)
Hot Thing (Extended Remix)
Hot Thing (Dub Version)

Vault, Part 1 (CD 4)

All tracks previously unreleased

I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (1979 version)
Teacher, Teacher (1985 version)
All My Dreams
Can I Play With U? (featuring Miles Davis)
Wonderful Day (original version)
Strange Relationship (original version)
Visions
The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker (with horns)
Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 1)
Power Fantastic (live in studio)
And That Says What?
Love And Sex
A Place In Heaven (Prince vocal)
Colors
Crystal Ball (7” mix)
Big Tall Wall (version 1)
Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A
In A Large Room With No Light

Vault, Part 2 (CD 5)

All tracks previously unreleased

Train
It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings
Eggplant (Prince vocal)
Everybody Want What They Don’t Got
Blanche
Soul Psychodelicide
The Ball
Adonis And Bathsheba
Forever In My Life (early vocal studio run-through)
Crucial (alternate lyrics)
The Cocoa Boys
When The Dawn Of The Morning Comes
Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 2)
It Be’s Like That Sometimes

Vault, Part 3 (CD 6)

All tracks previously unreleased

Emotional Pump
Rebirth Of The Flesh (with original outro)
Cosmic Day
Walkin’ In Glory
Wally
I Need A Man
Promise To Be True
Jealous Girl (version 2)
There’s Something I Like About Being Your Fool
Big Tall Wall (version 2)
A Place In Heaven (Lisa vocal)
Wonderful Day (12” mix)
Strange Relationship (1987 Shep Pettibone Club Mix)

Live In Utrecht (CD 7 & CD 8)

All tracks previously unreleased

Intro/Sign O’ The Times
Play In The Sunshine
Little Red Corvette
Housequake
Girls & Boys
Slow Love
Take The “A” Train/Pacemaker/I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
Hot Thing
Four (With Sheila E. Drum Solo)
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Let’s Go Crazy
When Doves Cry
Purple Rain
1999
Forever In My Life
Kiss
The Cross
It’s Gonna Be A Bea
utiful Night

Live At Paisley Park – December 31, 1987 (DVD)

All tracks previously unreleased

Sign O’ The Times
Play In The Sunshine
Little Red Corvette
Erotic City
Housequake
Slow Love
Do Me, Baby
Adore
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
What’s Your Name Jam
Let’s Pretend We’re Married
Delirious
Jack U Off
Drum Solo
Twelve
Hot Thing
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Let’s Go Crazy
When Doves Cry
Purple Rain
1999
U Got The Look
It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night Medley (featuring Miles Davis)

Please note – video content is exclusive to the physical DVD and will not appear on digital download or streaming versions of the Super Deluxe Edition set.

Pre-order the 3 CD edition

Deluxe Edition 3 CD Set
Remastered Album + Single Mixes & Edits

Remastered Album (Disc 1)

Sign O’ The Times
Play In The Sunshine
Housequake
The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
It
Starfish And Coffee
Slow Love
Hot Thing
Forever In My Life

Remastered Album (Disc 2)

U Got The Look
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Strange Relationship
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
The Cross
It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
Adore

Single Mixes & Edits (Disc 3)

Sign O’ The Times (7” single edit)
La, La, La, He, He, Hee (7” single edit)
La, La, La, He, He, Hee (Highly Explosive) (7” single edit)
If I Was Your Girlfriend (7” single edit)
Shockadelica (“If I Was Your Girlfriend” B-side)
Shockadelica (12” long version)
U Got the Look (Long Look) (12” edit)
Housequake (7” edit)
Housequake (7 Minutes MoQuake)
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (Fade 7” edit)
Hot Thing (7” single edit)
Hot Thing (Extended Remix)
Hot Thing (Dub Version)





Musik Music Musique 1980 – The Dawn Of Synth Pop album review

22 06 2020

Musik Music Musique is a 3 CD compilation from Cherry Red, chronicling the beginnings of the synth-pop music revolution that was to dominate the charts for years to come. Whilst containing well-known names from the era (Buggles, The Human League, Ultravox and Spandau Ballet) the tracks chosen from these artists are not the obvious big-hits.

The real discoveries and delights in this compendium are the more obscure tracks, from the likes of XYNN, Nick Nicely and other acts who often released just a handful of songs before disappearing forever.

The first of the 3 CDs contains one of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s finest earlier songs, the naggingly addictive Messages. The Human League are represented by their cover of Mick Ronson’s Only After Dark, taken from the final album produced by the line-up that featured Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, who left the League to form Heaven 17 with Glenn Gregory later in 1980.

Victims of the Riddle was the debut single from Toyah (it was actually released in 1979, but we will let that slip!). A keyboard driven song, with minimal guitar, it sits well on this compilation. Waiting by Ultravox is a good choice, as is Hazel O’Connor’s Sons And Lovers, with tribal drums offsetting the sax and synth squelches.

My favourite track on Disc One is from one of the most under-rated albums of the 80s, Sympathy from the debut (and only) album from Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls. Pauline was the vocalist in new wave band Penetration, and this Martin Hannett produced album saw Murray move in a more electronic direction. If you haven’t heard this album, its definitely worth investigating.

The compilation’s title track is from Zeus aka producer Zeus B. Held (Fashion’s Fabrique, John Foxx’s The Golden Section, Pete Wylie Sinful) and is a charming vocoder delivered pop song. XYNN (German multimedia artist Michael Winter) delivers the sparse and haunting Computed Man.

Gina X Performance (another Zeus B. Held collaboration) is represented by Vendor’s Box, a fuller arrangement than a lot of the purely electronic tracks on this compilation.

Lawnchairs by US band Our Daughter’s Wedding uses a similar synth sequence to the OMD track that kicks off the first CD, and is a regular on alternative 80s compilations / 80s themed radio.

Two of my favourites (from the songs I was unaware of previously) sit on the first CD. Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne by Suicide was produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars, and DCT Dreams by Nick Nicely is a lo-fi masterpiece, overflowing with more than it’s fair share of pop hooks.

The second disc opens with a key early Spandau Ballet track Glow, and a hidden gem from Robin Scott’s M in Official Secrets (avoiding the obvious Pop Muzik, great song as it is).

Galactica from French space-rock band Rockets is well sequenced next to Kim Wilde’s album track Tuning In Tuning On and Landscape’s European Man, which pre-dated their most well-known song from 1981, Einstein a Go-Go. Admit it,that song is stuck in your head now, isn’t it?

Melbourne band The Metronomes provide a “Ray Bradbury inspired tale of star-crossed love between two computing devices” with their contribution A Circuit Like Me, that cosies up to one of John Foxx’s early, icy slice of the future singles No One Driving.

The most well-known track on this compilation is the Midge Ure assisted Philip Lynott (Thin Lizzy) single Yellow Pearl, a song that was used as the theme for Top Of The Pops during the first half of the decade.

Dalek I Love You (Destiny) by Liverpool’s Dalek I is a premium slice of electronic new wave influenced pop. French band Taxi Girl contribute an early single in Mannequin. Fans of The Stranglers will remember Taxi Girl from the 1981 La Folie tour and the JJ Burnel produced / Jet Black featuring Seppuku album in 1982.

This World Of Water, a no 31 with a bullet UK singles hit by New Musik, a band formed by producer Tony Mansfield, sits in the track list just before one of my favourite Japan songs, the Roxy Music Manifesto influenced Quiet Life.

The third and final disc opens with one of Buggles finest songs, Astroboy (And The Proles On Parade). Last year there were rumours of a new, third Buggles album. Here’s hoping….

The second song titled Mannequin is from Glasgow’s Berlin Blondes, with a great mixture of new wave basslines and electronic synth lead lines. Yello supply a scratchy, discordant Bimbo and the pure-pop quota is increased by The Lonely Spy from David Balfe and Bill Drummond’s Lori And The Chameleons project.

Blood Donor serve up a quirky Doctor Who homage and The Korgis Drawn And Quartered highlights a different side to the band who had a huge hit with the dreamy Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime.

The debut album from Visage was so influential, and single Mind Of A Toy features here. The handclaps and slap-bass mutant funk of Mataya Clifford and the track Living Wild adds a wild sense of fun to the final disc.

Karel Fialka’s The Eyes Have It was a near-hit in 1980, and received lots of radio play at the time. The Russians Are Coming by The Red Squares is a short track driven by cold war paranoia.

The compilation ends with La Düsseldorf and their boozy sounding Dampfriemen, drawing on early Kraftwerk and what sounds like too many visits to Bavarian Bierkeller’s. Dampfriemen is the only song on the album featuring a kazoo solo along side the electronic instruments, so a fitting end to this entertaining glimpse into the birth of 80s synthpop.

Disc one

Messages – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Musik, Music, Musique – Zeus
Coitus Interruptus – Fad Gadget
Computed Man – XYNN
Metal Love – Rod Vey
Vendor’s Box – Gina X Performance
Lawnchairs – Our Daughter’s Wedding
Tokyo – Science
Only After Dark – The Human League
Victims Of The Riddle – Toyah
DCT Dreams – Nick Nicely
Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne – Suicide
Waiting – Ultravox
Money – Moebius
Falling Years – The Fallout Club
Da Vorne Steht Ne Ampel – Der Plan
No, Nothing, Never – Dark Day
Sons And Lovers – Hazel O’Connor
Sympathy – Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls

Disc two

Glow – Spandau Ballet
Official Secrets – M
Chip n Roll – Silicon Teens
Galactica – Rockets
Tuning In Tuning On – Kim Wilde
European Man – Landscape
Can’t You Take A Joke? Ha Ha Hi Hi! – Henriette Coulouvrat
A Circuit Like Me – The Metronomes
No One Driving – John Foxx
Kebabträume – D.A.F.
Harmonitalk – Gary Sloan And Clone
Yellow Pearl – Philip Lynott
Dalek I Love You (Destiny) – dalek I
Mannequin – Taxi Girl
This World Of Water – New Musik
Quiet Life – Japan
Chase The Dragon – Kevin Harrison
Diskomo – The Residents

Disc three

Astroboy (And The Proles On Parade) – Buggles
Mannequin – Berlin Blondes
A Certain Way To Go – The Passage
Between – Sic
Bimbo – Yello
Images Of Delusion – Genocide
The Lonely Spy – Lori And The Chameleons
Lucy – Craze
I’m A Computer – The Goo-Q
Doctor …? – Blood Donor
Brushing Your Hair – Alex Fergusson
Drawn And Quartered – The Korgis
Mind Of A Toy – Visage
D’ya Think I’m Sexy – British Standard Unit
Living Wild – Mataya Clifford
Private Lives – Systems
The Eyes Have It – Karel Fialka
Suis-je Normale – Nini Raviolette
China Blue Vision – Eyeless In Gaza
The Russians Are Coming – The Red Squares
Dampfriemen – La Dusseldorf

Released on 31 July 2020.

Buy Musik Music Musique 1980 – The Dawn Of Synth Pop





Blancmange – Mindset album review

22 05 2020

Mindset is the third album to be written and co-produced by Neil Arthur with Benge (Wrangler/John Foxx And The Maths), and follows last years excellent Wanderlust album.

The title track is a strong opener, with familiar drum patterns and an addictive guitar and synth interplay that sticks in your head for days.

The synth lines on Warm Reception and This Is Bliss will surely warm the hearts of fans of early 80s electronic music.

“Drinking to forget, or was it to remember”

Arthur spits out his distaste at the unaccountable keyboard warriors hiding behind their screens and spewing bile in Antisocial Media. Initially sounding genuinely pissed off, but with his tongue firmly in cheek, Arthur’s Antisocial Media feels truthful, but also makes me smile. Anonymous truckers indeed!

“Two faced anonymous truckers… Correct me if I’m wrong”

Clean Your House is the most commercial track on Mindset – bright sparkling synths and clap-happy drum patterns sit at odds with the lyrical tale of a messy relationship coming to it’s bitter end.

Despite it’s darker lyrical subject matter, Insomniacs Tonight is an optimistic and warmly uplifting track. The music really fits the lyric and at times displays a nostalgic feel of earlier Blancmange, but this is definitely more a tale of restlessly lying wide awake staring at the ceiling, rather than living on it.

“No light”

Sleep With Mannequin has more than it’s fair share of sonic twists and turns, though the tempo remains constant throughout, at a metronomic pace. Benge’s work on this track reminds me a little of Richard Burgess’ Landscape.

The album’s longest track is the six and a half minute trip that is Diagram. A sparse but slowly building arrangement topped with a spoken tale of searching for transparency and truth, Diagram does not overstay its welcome.

I want to hear, hear silence”

Not Really (Virtual Reality) is an oddity on the album. An almost glam-rock stomper, heavy on guitar and stuttering sequences, before dropping off to usher in the final, atmospheric piece in When, with the beats slowed down to a heartbeat pace topped off with dark electronic pulses as Arthur contemplates “When is anything about what it’s about”.

Mindset is much less oblique proposition than its predecessor Wanderlust, and it works well as a complete album, with a wider sonic spectrum than it’s predecessors.

Lyrically the album is strong – Neil Arthur looks at the consequences of our living in an increasingly digital world and the way we communicate and how some people use words to harm others and distribute fear and untruths.

Buy the Mindset CD from Amazon

Buy Mindset on vinyl from Amazon





Judie Tzuke – The Chrysalis Recordings review (Shoot The Moon, Road Noise and Ritmo)

21 03 2020

This new Cherry Red 3 CD collection brings together all of Judie Tzuke’s recording output whilst signed to Chrysalis Records, spanning 1982 to 1983. In this period Judie released two studio albums, Shoot The Moon and Ritmo plus a live album Road Noise: The Official Bootleg.

Whilst this is not a collection of new remasters, The Chrysalis Recordings set sounds amazing and it’s a great way to add these albums to your collection at a reasonable price.

Whilst I love the first three albums (1979’s Welcome to the Cruise, Sports Car from 1980 and 1981’s I Am the Phoenix), the first album in this collection, Shoot The Moon from 1982 is my favourite (and most played) Judie Tzuke studio album.

Album opener Heaven Can Wait is driven by a wonderful rhythm section (Charlie Morgan on drums and John “Rhino” Edwards on bass) and the warm guitar and smooth keyboards add a sense of tension to this emotional song.

“I’m the ghost in your headlights”

Single Love On The Border was more in the style of the previous albums, and is a good pop/rock song that should have had more of an impact in the singles charts.

Beacon Hill brings a jazzy vibe, with it’s rhodes piano and fretless bass.

“We get in trouble when we look too far”

The trusty rhodes makes another welcome appearance, accompanied by a Roland CR-78 drum machine for the touching ballad Don’t Let Me Sleep, that highlights the emotional range of Judie’s vocals.

I’m Not A Loser was also a single, and perfectly captures the sound of late 70s, early 80s classic / FM rock.

Liggers At Your Funeral did not really resonate with me on release, but listening to this song in later years, it is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The heavily processed guitar from Mike Paxman along with the twists and turns in the arrangement turn this song into an album highlight that I never tire of hearing.

The originally sequenced album ends with the upbeat carousel of Water In Motion and the short acapella title track.

There are four bonus tracks on this version of Shoot The Moon – the b-sides Sold A Rose and Run On Luck plus demos of I’m Not A Loser and How Do I Feel. Whilst these are interesting, for me the album will always end with the title track.

I saw the band live in May of 1982 at Fairfield Halls, Croydon and bought the vinyl version of Road Noise (The Official Bootleg) on release. Do not be put off by the “official bootleg” in the title, this is a professionally recorded live album, with material taken from Tzuke’s 1982 performances at Hammersmith Odeon and the Glastonbury Festival.

Road Noise contains tracks from Tzuke’s first four albums, and features the same core musicians as on Shoot The Moon, apart from Jeff Rich who replaces Charlie Morgan on drums.

Road Noise open with a stunning version of Heaven Can Wait, which segues (why does no-one do that anymore) into Chinatown from Tzuke’s second album, Sports Car. This is the sound of collection of musicians at the top of their game.

The Shoot The Moon album is well represented on Road Noise, as are tracks from the previous three studio albums. You Are The Phoenix from the previous years I Am the Phoenix features a fabulous Mike Paxman guitar solo.

The title track of Sports Car is one of only two songs from that album on Road Noise, whilst debut album Welcome To The Cruise is represented by 6 tracks. Highlights from this album include the sung to backing track, mostly acapella For You and the big hit, the instantly recognisable Stay With Me Till Dawn, which sounds as good today as it did when first released in 1979.

Come Hell or Waters High is a fine FM ballad, at its most powerful with a simple mix of piano and voice, and a restrained live arrangement as the song progresses. City of Swimming Pools, in hindsight, is a mix of FM rock and prog. The vocal arrangement works well as the song takes us on an increasingly progressive journey.

“City of swimming pools
Where you can buy anything”

The album ends with a rare (at the time) Tzuke cover version, of The Hunter which was first recorded in 1967 by Albert King. As well as being a very good live album, Road Noise serves as a fine introduction to the first four albums.

The final album in this collection is Ritmo from 1983. This album is a much more synth-heavy collection of songs, and sadly, that’s the albums downfall.

The China Crisis sounding first single from the album, Jeannie No, opens the album, and is a strong pop song. She Don’t Live Here Anymore, despite the more synthetic than usual sounding drums, has haunting qualities and so has stood the test of time fairly well.

Shoot from the Heart works well with an electronic backing that builds as layers of guitar and synths plus backing vocals are added. Face To Face has more of the feel of earlier Tzuke material, but the drum sounds let it down.

Another Country is a bit of mis-step, and a track I skip pretty quickly. The chorus of Nighthawks lifts the album but the following two tracks, Walk Don’t Walk and Push Push, Pull Pull (with it’s Mick Karn alike basslines) have really not stood the test of time.

The album’s final track, How Do I Feel works a little better. The interesting vocal arrangement on the chorus is a strength, but by the end of the album I am left feeling that I wish the Simmons SDS series of drums had never been invented (even though I once owned one myself).

An extended and a 7″ version of Jeannie No ends this version of the album, which overall is a bit of a mixed bag for me, but the inclusion of Shoot The Moon and Road Noise make this a must-buy collection for anyone interested in the work on one of the UK’s finest singer-songwriters.

Shoot The Moon (1982)

  1. Heaven Can Wait
  2. Love On The Border
  3. Information
  4. Beacon Hill
  5. Don’t Let Me Sleep
  6. I’m Not A Loser
  7. Now There Is No Love At All
  8. Late Again
  9. Liggers At Your Funeral
  10. Water In Motion
  11. Shoot The Moon
  12. Sold A Rose (Bonus Track)
  13. Run On Luck (Bonus Track)
  14. I’m Not A Loser (Demo) (Bonus Track)
  15. How Do I Feel (Demo) (Bonus Track)

Road Noise (The Official Bootleg) (1982)

  1. Heaven Can Wait
  2. Chinatown
  3. I’m Not A Loser
  4. Information
  5. You Are The Phoenix
  6. The Flesh Is Weak
  7. Sportscar
  8. For You
  9. Come Hell Or Waters High
  10. Southern Smiles
  11. Katiera Island
  12. Love On The Border
  13. Black Furs
  14. City Of Swimming Pools
  15. Bring The Rain
  16. Sukarita
  17. Stay With Me Till Dawn
  18. The Hunter

Ritmo (1983)

  1. Jeannie No
  2. She Don’t Live Here Anymore
  3. Shoot From The Heart
  4. Face To Face
  5. Another Country
  6. Nighthawks
  7. Walk Don’t Walk
  8. Push Push, Pull Pull
  9. How Do I Feel
  10. Jeannie No (Extended Version) (Bonus Track)
  11. Jeannie No (7” Version) (Bonus Track)

Buy Judie Tzuke – The Chrysalis Recordings on Amazon

Buy Welcome To The Cruise

Buy Sports Car & I Am The Phoenix





The Associates – Perhaps (remastered) 2 CD review

4 12 2019

35 years after its original release comes this 2 CD digipak edition of the band’s third studio album Perhaps plus related bonus tracks. Released via Cherry Red on 31 January 2020, the first disc features the 10 original album tracks plus four instrumentals that were included on the original cassette release of the album. These bonus tracks are appearing on CD for the first time.

Disc Two features all the related bonus tracks for which master tapes still exist. This includes the extended versions of singles Those First Impressions, Waiting For The Loveboat and Take Me To The Girl, plus single versions of Waiting For The Loveboat, Breakfast and Take Me To The Girl. Other tracks include 7” and 12” b-sides.

This is the best that the album has sounded. Perhaps was a long time in the making and featured four different producers, Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, Martin Rushent (The Stranglers / Human League), Dave Allen and Greg Walsh. This new remaster was carried out by Dave Turner at 360 Mastering.

If you have not heard the original album from early 1985, it is very different from the playful and mischievous Sulk, its mind-blowing predecessor released in 1982. With Alan Rankine no longer a part of the band, this is a shinier, more radio-friendly version of The Associates. The album has mostly aged well and is certainly worthy of investigation if you are new to The Associates, or are a fan of 80s music.

Those First Impressions contains trademark Mackenzie vocals and a Club Country like bassline, but at a slower pace than a lot of the Sulk material. Waiting For The Loveboat feels like the theme to a long-lost saucy 80s sitcom, and contains wry lyrics and some awe-inspiring vocals from the boy Billy.

“Knowing what you want and taking full advantage”

The title track dials up the tempo and feels more like an early Associates track, with some fine guitar lines from Steve Reid. Unusually for the time, a lot of the tracks come in around the 6 minute plus mark.

“Perhaps, she’ll be my truest love.
Perhaps, I’m just not good enough.”

Schampout passed me by on initial release, and I feel the same today. Helicopter Helicopter is slightly better, but pales in significance compared to what comes next.

Breakfast is simply one of the best Associates tracks. The range of Mackenzie’s vocals, from the deep vibrato to the soaring, lung-busting high notes that give you goosebumps, still stops me in my tracks when I hear this song. It’s my favourite of all Billy’s vocal performances.

“Talk to me, I’ll stay these vagabond nights
Walk with me, someone is waiting in light”

And the end section – just a metronomic drum machine, the addictive piano motif and heart-wrenching strings, serves up one of my favourite endings to a song. So simple, yet so emotional.

Thirteen Feelings, with its fairground waltz keyboards, lifts you after the melodrama of the previous song.

“Deeper days of quintessential innocence
I’ve never felt so far away”

The Stranger In Your Voice always felt like something David Bowie would have recorded to me, and is another song that has grown on me over the years since first hearing the album on cassette back in the mid-80s.

The Best Of You is a duet with Eddi Reader (replacing two earlier ‘lost’ versions with Annie Lennox and Gina X). The album proper ends with the uptempo Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look, and is completed with four instrumental cuts.

Highlights of Disc Two include extended versions of Those First Impressions and Waiting For The Loveboat with its manic end section.

Breakfast (Edit) features a very different mix and vocal to the original, and doesn’t have the same emotional effect as the album version. Though truth be told, there could never be a bad version of this song.

The Breakfast 12″ (and rare Associates cover version) Kites is a welcome addition to this reissue, harking back to the feel of early Associates releases.

Take Me To The Girl is a post Perhaps single release (I think I have a 10″ vinyl version somewhere) and a very commercial song, presented here in all its released versions (Single Version, the 12” Mix, instrumental and the delicious acoustic torch-song version The Girl That Took Me).

“So take me to the girl that I once knew
Does she know what I’ve been going through?
I’ve been searching for her everywhere
I think my darling’s gone; I didn’t care”

This 2020 reissue also includes a 20 page booklet, that includes a UK discography and extensive sleeve-notes written by Andy Davis.

So is it worth investing in this version of Perhaps? I would say yes (not perhaps!) – its a much more rewarding version than the only other CD release, a shared re-issue with The Glamour Chase in 2002, that included none of the associated tracks that appear on this definitive Cherry Red edition.


Buy the 2 CD Perhaps album on Amazon

Disc One: Perhaps + Bonus Tracks

Those First Impressions
Waiting For The Loveboat
Perhaps (Dave Allen Remix)
Schampout
Helicopter Helicopter
Breakfast
Thirteen Feelings
The Stranger In Your Voice
The Best Of You
(Billy Mackenzie & Dave Allan Remix)
Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look
Perhaps (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
Breakfast Alone (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
Thirteen Feelings (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
The Stranger In Your Voice (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

Those First Impressions (Extended Version) *
Waiting For The Loveboat (Single Version)
Waiting For The Loveboat (Extended Version) *
Waiting For The Loveboat (Slight Return)
Perhaps Perhaps *
Schampout (Edit) *
Breakfast (Single Version)
Breakfast (Edit)
Kites
Take Me To The Girl (Single Version)
Take Me To The Girl (12” Mix) *
Take Me To The Girl (Instrumental) *
The Girl That Took Me *


* appearing on CD for the first time

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Buy Sulk by Associates on CD








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