Modern Eon – Fiction Tales (expanded edition) track-by-track album review

7 11 2022

The much-loved 1981 album from Liverpool’s influential band Modern Eon gets its first release on CD from Cherry Red.

Modern Eon - Fiction Tales - album cover

This expanded and remastered edition of Fiction Tales features a collection of complementary single versions, B-sides and previously unreleased recordings made in 1982, immediately prior to the band’s untimely demise.

Compiled with input from band members Alix and Danny, and accompanied by excellent detailed sleeve notes by Andrew Keeling, this is a long overdue re-evaluation of a lost post-punk classic.

Forming in Liverpool in 1978, built around the collaborative dynamics of Alix Plain and Danny Hampson, Modern Eon burned brightly but briefly, issuing a run of singles and the remarkable album Fiction Tales before disbanding prior to the recording of a second album.

Modern Eon expanded their following with a support slot on The Stranglers Meninblack tour of 1981, which is where a lot of fans picked up on the band for the first time.

I’ve still got my original vinyl copy of the album, but I am so happy to finally be able to own a CD version. A version of Fiction Tales appeared on streaming platforms a little while ago, that I presume was an un-authorised release, possibly sourced from 192kbps mp3s that were circulating on fan sites years ago.

The original album was produced by the band, with co-production / engineering by Laurence Diana (another Stranglers connection, as Laurence engineered several tracks on The Stranglers The Gospel According To The Meninblack masterpiece).

The transfers and remastering for this 2022 CD edition of Fiction Tales is by Andy Patterson. The original album has never sounded better. The remaster is not a brick-walling effort, and is very sympathetic. There is room to breathe, and key elements, such as the drums on The Grass Still Grows, shine as never before. So if you already own the vinyl, this 2022 reissue is still a must-have if, like me, you have loved this album for over 40 years.

Modern Eon - band promo picture

The album is a time-capsule of the early 80s post-punk and new wave sound. Second Still is a slow-burning but powerful opener. Metronomic drums, percussive synths and spagetti-western guitars and trebley bass are topped by the plaintive vocals of vocalist Alix.

The Grass Still Grows is wonderfully paced, with some Roxy Music-like saxophone and a powerful breakdown section. The album is well sequenced, with individual tracks flowing into each other, so the album feels like one sustained piece of music.

Playwrite features wonderful guitar work from Tim Lever, and great interplay between Cliff Hewitt on drums and bassist Danny Hampson.

Watching The Dancers is an absolutely beautiful piece of music, and a highlight of the album. The arrangement is quite sparse, which gives the song an absolutely brutal power. Watching The Dancers made me sit up and listen when I saw the band live for the first time. Oh to have a time-machine!

“I’m in a crowd
And they all surround me”

Each member of the band stamps their unique personality throughout Fiction Tales. I saw the band live twice supporting The Stranglers, and unless my memory is playing tricks on me I recall the drums were on tape, due to an injury sustained by drummer Cliff Hewitt prior to the tour commencing.

Real Hymn uses guitar harmonics to great effect, along with an intelligent use of space, military drumming and atmospherics to build a unique soundscape, with the song ending abruptly just as it hits its peak, which seems to suit the lyrics.

“Take off the clothes, I’d like to see how much of you I know”

Waiting for the Cavalry has the feel of a controlled wall of noise, with sustained, abstract synth drones adding to a feeling of paranoia and distrust.

“Maybe I saw you on a closed circuit TV in the Underground
Moving from the corners”

High Noon was another live highlight from the two gigs I saw in the early 80s. Synth bursts from the late Bob Wakelin, Tim Lever’s guitar lines that John McGeoch would surely have appreciated along with crowded, one line vocals from Alix set the scene for my favourite Modern Eon track that arrives next, the mighty Child’s Play.

The most commercial piece that the band ever recorded, it was an obvious single, and Child’s Play has really stood the test of time.

From the sombre, haunting keyboard intro, the Phil Spector influenced production to the fairy-tale lyrics, the song stands apart from the feel of the rest of the album, and offers a different perspective and mood that makes it stand apart from the other songs.

“Always, a handsome prince
Well, I’ll be one day
Some call it child’s play”

After the pure-pop of Child’s Play, the mood darkens again for Choreography, a song that would not have sounded out of place on The Comsat Angel’s Sleep No More album that was released a couple of months after Fiction Tales. There was definitely something in the waters of Sheffield and Liverpool in 1981.

Modern Eon - Euthenics / Child's Play & Mechanic single sleeves

Euthenics was Modern Eon’s second single, this time on the Inevitable label, before they moved to Dindisc. The single version from 1980 appears on disc two of this reissue. Euthenics has such a powerful chorus and end section, that the song lingers long after reaching its conclusion.

The final two tracks close the album so well, the sombre, guitarless In A Strange Way leads to the frenetic Mechanic (a shorter version became the band’s final single).

“The face has been exposed to teardrops
The kind you can’t erase”

Fiction Tales works so well as an album to be played and enjoyed in one sitting, and as a classic early 80s post-punk classic, I hope this reissue reaches a wide audience.

Disc two is a treasure-trove for fans of the band. Unfortunately, I presume due to licencing issues, or lack of access to original masters, there are missing tracks – such as radio sessions, but disc two offers up some single versions and previously unreleased material.

I’m not sure of the source for this reissue, whether its been sourced from original masters or not, but even if the early releases are vinyl rips, care and attention has been given to the restoration.

Second Still and Choreography (1979 Versions) are from Modern Eon’s Pieces, their first EP. Second Still is so much better developed on the album version, and although Choreography lacks the widescreen production of the album version, the pieces are already in place for what the band would develop into less than two years down the line.

The same can be said for the 1980 versions of Euthenics and Waiting For The Cavalry. These versions have less in the way of the wonderful keyboard layers of the album versions, but Euthenics has more saxophone, giving the song a different impetus.

The rarely heard b-sides Cardinal Signs and Visionary are welcome additions to the reissue. The single mix of Mechanic adds a new guitar and keyboard line, and feels like a re-recording, rather than a straight remix. Somewhat smoother and slightly less urgent, this is an interesting take on the song, and one I am glad is included on this release.

The b-side Splash! sounds like it was from the same session as Mechanic. Spoken vocal lines weave in and out, with a New Order meets dub bassline from Danny Hampson, and some rare acoustic piano featuring on a Modern Eon song.

The remaining tracks give an indication of where the band could have gone with their second album. Appearing in demo form, as they were not fully realised for commercial release, the songs are fascinating to hear. After The Party (“After the party, there will be quiet”) features some of the ingredients from Fiction Tales, especially with the rythmn section, but a more forceful vocal style and an less claustrophobic arrangement, with more space and some chinks of brighter light in the performances. The dub version explores the arrangement further as does the 2021 mix from Alix (now known as Alex Che Johnson).

The second “new” track is Garland Leaves, which no doubt would have been an key album track, and could have seen the band embraced by the future Goth movement. After The Party and Garland Leaves were restored by Dave Lloyd, who has done a great job in giving us a brief but tantalising glimpse into a future for the band that sadly never materialised.

If you have not heard Modern Eon before, but you are a fan of the early 80s post-punk of Teardrop Explodes, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Comsat Angels, early Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Wah! Heat, then you will surely love Fiction Tales.

Pre-order Fiction Tales from Amazon
Pre-order Fiction Tales from Burning Shed

Tracklisting

DISC ONE:

Fiction Tales album released June 1981, Din Disc (DID 11)

  1. Second Still
  2. The Grass Still Grows
  3. Playwrite
  4. Watching The Dancers
  5. Real Hymn
  6. Waiting For The Cavalry
  7. High Noon
  8. Child’s Play
  9. Choreography
  10. Euthenics
  11. In A Strange Way
  12. Mechanic

DISC TWO:

  1. Second Still (1979 Version)
  2. Choreography (1979 Version)
  3. Euthenics (1980 Version)
  4. Waiting For The Cavalry (1980 Version)
  5. Cardinal Signs
  6. Visionary
  7. Mechanic (Single Version)
  8. Splash!
  9. After The Party
  10. After The Party (Dub)
  11. After The Party (Dub) (2021 Mix)
  12. Garland Leaves

1 and 2 taken from the Pieces EP, Eon Records, November 1979 (EON 001).
3 and 4 released as a single, Inevitable, November 1980 (INEV 003).
5 released as the B-side to the Euthenics single, Din Disc, March 1981 (DIN 30).
6 released as the B-side to the Child’s Play single, Din Disc, June 1981 (DIN 31).
7 and 8 released as a single, Din Disc, August 1981 (DIN 35).
9 to 12 recorded at The Pink Studio, Ullet Road, Liverpool, May 1982.

Pre-order Fiction Tales from Amazon
Pre-order Fiction Tales from Burning Shed

Also available – Andrew Keeling’s book – Musical Guide to Modern Eon





News: Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue – Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89

2 11 2022

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue – Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 is a CD and vinyl compilation.

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue - Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 alum cover


The 4 CD version has 58 tracks exploring the creativity and progressive spirit of alternative British music from 1979-1989 featuring Wire, XTC, The Cure, Tears For Fears and Kate Bush. The CD and 7 LP versions include an expanded booklet (80 pages for the CD / 40 pages for the 7 LP) with extensive liner notes by James Nice and an introduction from Steven Wilson. The 2 LP version has a 12 page booklet.

The compilation was mastered by Phil Kinrade at AIR Mastering.

I presume that the idea for this compilation came from Steven Wilson & Tim Bowness’s successful, and always entertaining, The Album Years podcast. Its refreshing to see a compilation digging a little deeper, and avoiding the obvious hit singles.

Personal highlights for me include A Better Home in the Phantom Zone from Bill Nelson’s Red Noise, one of my favourite tracks from The Stranglers (the title track from their 1979 prog-punk masterpiece The Raven), Astradyne from Ultravox (here in its Steven Wilson Stereo Mix version), along with tracks from Tony Mansfield’s New Musik, post-Ultravox John Foxx, and the Associates.

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue - Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 - 4 CD

Kudos to Mr Wilson for including the extended version of I Travel from Simple Minds and the rarely celebrated Sealand by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark from their wonderful Architecture & Morality album from 1981.

SW has also chosen a couple of less obvious choices from some of the eras big-hitters – Talking Drum from Japan, Faith by the Cure, Tears for Fears Memories Fade, the sublime Brilliant Trees by David Sylvian, and Waking the Witch from Kate Bush, in its first appearance on a compilation to my knowledge.

There are also several tracks from artists who I hope can receive more attention following this collections release – namely the haunting Airwaves from Thomas Dolby’s debut album, the epic Dream Within a Dream from Propaganda, Ivy and Neet by This Mortal Coil (their trilogy is a highlight from the 80s) and a band that have given me so much pleasure over the years, Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness’s no-man with Night Sky, Sweet Earth.

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue - Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 - 2 LP

“This is my personally-curated attempt to redress the balance, and to perhaps introduce any ‘80s-sceptics out there to the idea that conceptual thinking and ambition didn’t suddenly evaporate after ’77… ambitious, weird and thrilling music was all around you in the ‘80s —if you looked in the right places.” 

Steven Wilson

Buy the 4 CD version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue on Amazon
Buy the 2 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon
Buy the 7 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon

4 CD Tracklisting

Disc: 1

I Should Have Known Better – Wire
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone – Bill Nelson’s Red Noise
Back to Nature – Magazine
Complicated Game (Steven Wilson 2014 Mix) – XTC
Careering – Public Image Limited
The Raven – the Stranglers
Puppet Life – Punishment of Luxury
Astradyne (Steven Wilson Stereo Mix) – Ultravox
Contract – Gang of Four
I Travel (Extended Version) – Simple Minds
Sketch for Summer – the Durutti Column
Health and Efficiency – This Heat
Burning Car – John Foxx
Cognitive Dissonance (Steven Wilson 2022 Mix) – Robert Fripp and the League of Gentlemen
Fatal Day – In Camera

Disc: 2

I Can’t Escape Myself – The Sound
The Eternal – Joy Division
Big Empty Field – Swell Maps
Enemies – Art Nouveau
The Joy Circuit – Gary Numan
The Gospel Comes to New Guinea – 23 Skidoo
All My Colours – Echo and the Bunnymen
Ghost Town (Extended Version) – The Specials
They All Run After the Carving Knife – New Musik
The Him – New Order
White Car in Germany (Single Edit) – The Associates
Hit – Section 25
Sealand – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Talking Drum – Japan
Faith – the Cure

Disc: 3

Three Dancers (Steven Wilson 2021 Mix) – Twelfth Night
Airwaves – Thomas Dolby
Are You Ready? – Crispy Ambulance
The Outsider – Rupert Hine
Knife Slits Water – A Certain Ratio
Memories Fade – Tears for Fears
Patient – Peter Hammill
Donimo – Cocteau Twins
In a Waiting Room – Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr Drake
Close (To the Edit) – The Art of Noise
Dalis Car – Dalis Car
Rawhide – Scott Walker
Brilliant Trees – David Sylvian
Dream Within a Dream – Propaganda

Disc: 4

Waking the Witch – Kate Bush
Ivy and Neet – This Mortal Coil
Beehead (7″ Version) – Perennial Divide
This Corrosion – The Sisters of Mercy
Ascension – O Yuki Conjugate
No Motion – Dif Juz
Gutter Busting – Slab!
Murderers, the Hope of Women – Momus
The Host of Seraphim – Dead Can Dance
R.E.S. – Cardiacs
Good Morning Beautiful – The The
Omega Amigo – The Shamen
Night Sky, Sweet Earth – No-Man
The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule – Kitchens of Distinction

Buy the 4 CD version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue on Amazon

2 LP vinyl Tracklisting

Disc: 1

A Better Home in the Phantom Zone – Bill Nelson’s Red Noise
Back to Nature – Magazine
Complicated Game (Steven Wilson 2014 Mix) – XTC
The Raven – The Stranglers
Puppet Life – Punishment of Luxury
Astradyne (Steven Wilson Stereo Mix) – Ultravox
Sketch for Summer – The Durutti Column
Health and Efficiency – This Heat
Cognitive Dissonance (Steven Wilson 2022 Mix) – Robert Fripp and the League of Gentlemen
Three Dancers (Steven Wilson 2021 Mix) – Twelfth Night

Disc: 2

Airwaves – Thomas Dolby
Knife Slits Water – a Certain Ratio
Donimo – Cocteau Twins
Beehead (7″ Version) – Perennial Divide
No Motion – Dif Juz
Gutter Busting – Slab!
The Host of Seraphim – Dead Can Dance
R.E.S. – Cardiacs
Night Sky, Sweet Earth – No-Man

Buy the 2 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon
Buy the 7 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon





News: Modern Eon – Fiction Tales album reissue

30 10 2022

Cherry Red are reissuing Modern Eon’s influential album Fiction Tales, as an expanded 2CD Edition, on December 16 2022.

Modern Eon - Fiction Tales

Forming in Liverpool in 1978, built around the collaborative dynamics of Alix Plain and Danny Hampson, Modern Eon burned brightly but briefly, issuing a run of singles and the remarkable album Fiction Tales before disbanding prior to the recording of a second long player.

The band expanded their following with a support slot on The Stranglers Meninblack tour of 1981.

Issued on CD for the first time, this expanded and remastered edition of Fiction Tales features a collection of complementary single versions, B-sides and previously unreleased recordings made in 1982, immediately prior to the band’s demise.

Compiled with Modern Eon’s Alix and Danny, and accompanied by detailed sleeve notes by Andrew Keeling, this is a long overdue re-evaluation of an album that still sounds so powerful so many years later.

Pre-order Fiction Tales from Amazon

Track Listing:

Disc One

Second Still
The Grass Still Grows
Playwrite
Watching The Dancers
Real Hymn
Waiting For The Cavalry
High Noon
Child’s Play
Choreography
Euthenics
In A Strange Way
Mechanic

Disc Two

Second Still (1979 Version)
Choreography (1979 Version)
Euthenics (1980 Version)
Waiting For The Cavalry (1980 Version)
Cardinal Signs
Visionary
Mechanic (Single Version)
Splash!
After The Party*
After The Party (Dub)*
After The Party (Dub) (2021 Mix)*
Garland Leaves*

*Previously Unreleased

Pre-order Fiction Tales from Amazon

Also available – Andrew Keeling’s book – Musical Guide to Modern Eon





Rupert Hine – Surface Tension – The Recordings 1981-1983 review

26 09 2022

Rupert Hine – Surface Tension – The Recordings 1981-1983 is a 3CD Box Set containing the albums Immunity (1981), Waving Not Drowning (1982) and The Wildest Wish To Fly (1983). The three early 80s albums have been newly remastered by original engineer / co-producer Stephen W Tayler. The boxset also includes an illustrated booklet featuring an essay and interviews.

Rupert Hine - Surface Tension – The Recordings 1981-1983 cover

The three albums were a partnership – with music written by Rupert Hine and lyrics written by Jeannette Obstoj. Hine had success as a member of Quantum Jump and also had an amazing career as a songwriter and producer, going on to produce more than 160 albums, including collaborations with Tina Turner, The Fixx, Howard Jones, The Members, Chris de Burgh, Jona Lewie, Rush, Bob Geldof, Stevie Nicks, Thomson Twins, The Waterboys, Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Underworld, Kevin Godley and Duncan Sheik.

Rupert Hine - Immunity cover

The first album in the collection is 1981’s Immunity. Guests on the album include an appearance by Marianne Faithfull on Misplaced Love, and Immunity includes performances from renowned guitarist Phil Palmer, drums and percussion from Trevor Morais, along with Phil Collins contributing percussion on two key tracks.

I Hang On to My Vertigo sets the scene for this trilogy. Immunity is driven by early 80s suspended piano and deep synths, expertly processed (I love the decay effects and the use of the Eventide harmoniser on the album) topped with a mixture of acoustic and electronic percussion. The songs mostly have a sombre, dark feeling with a heavy reliance on mood and atmospherics, giving the albums a timeless feel.

Samsara is a haunting piece, with heavily processed synth percussion, and layered choral vocals from Hine. Hine is often rightly praised for his production work, but was not given enough credit for his solo recording career. He had a unique, instantly recognisable vocal style that perfectly suited the material he released in the 80s, and it is easy to see how these three albums influenced other musicians of the time.

Credit must also go to lyricist Jeannette Obstoj, whose often dystopian, and always interesting lyrics clearly fed and inspired Hine’s imagination.

The album reaches a peak of darkness with I Think A Man Will Hang Soon. An initially sparse arrangement, with sharp peaks and troughs, and the album’s first appearance of live percussion and heavy guitar, adding to the feeling of fearful apprehension.

“I think a man will hang soon
He’s hiding in a back room
His morals are confused now
Like walls they’re bound to crack soon”

The title track and Another Stranger feature Phil Collins on percussion. Marimbas pepper Immunity throughout the verses, for one of the lighter, more uplifting songs on the album. Another Stranger has a heady mix of electronic with acoustic instrumentation. Phil Palmer adds some delicious heavily chorused guitar, and Collins contributions are understated, serving the song well.

I always wondered if the “Boredom–boredom–boredom” from the chorus of Psycho Surrender was a lyrical nod to the Buzzcocks track from three years earlier? Psycho Surrender includes some of the techniques that came to the fore in electronic music a few years further down the line, when sampling technology arrived, although in this case, the “samples” are bottles being smashed and recorded in real time.

Make a Wish is once again driven by synth percussion and multi-tracked vocals, amongst the fractured mechanical arrangement, that has the feel of an old AM radio tuning in and out of the static. The moment the noise is tuned out and Hines vocals and synths cut through, offers up one of the most powerful moments on the album.

Immunity ends with two bonus tracks, the dark Scratching At Success and the brutal minimalism of Introduction To The Menace.

“He’s scratching at success
Like some poor dog locked in a room”

Waving Not Drowning from 1982 was my introduction to Rupert’s work, and remains one of my favourite albums from the early 80s. I first heard the album on one side of a cassette lent to my by a flat-mate, and along with the album on the other side of the tape (Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings and Food from 1978), Waving Not Drowning was a constant companion for my Walkman accompanied early morning commutes to the NHS hospital where I worked at the time. I lost track of the album (when I eventually gave the tape back!) and did not hear it again until buying a CD reissue (from Voiceprint in 2001) and then tracking down an original vinyl copy from Discogs.

Rupert Hine - Waving Not Drowning cover

The Phil’s (Palmer and Collins) plus Trevor Morais are joined by Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) for Waving Not Drowning.

Waving Not Drowning is the album I am most familiar with from this collection, so to me the improvements from Stephen W Tayler’s remaster is at its most pronounced here. The songs on Waving Not Drowning are amongst Hine’s strongest, with a shift to more conventional arrangements whilst keeping most of the quirky, innovative production in place.

Eleven Faces sounds so powerful with this remaster, utilising a Hine signature – the vocal line closely following the keyboard melody.

“Do I remember how he held the woman down
His shadow made a pool so deep she had to drown”

It is also noticeable in this remaster how the volume increases slightly at key points in the arrangement of songs.

The Curious Kind has a wonderful, addictive chorus with background vocals from Christopher Thomson.

“The slow recurring point unwinds
We always were the curious kind”

The Set Up has one of those chorus’s that sticks like glue. The production is so clever on this track, a metronomic rhythm, with vocal and synths offering an unconventional bassline lurking behind an emotional synth backing.

Jeannette Obstoj provides Hine with wonderful lyrics about conformity and social shaping.

“They did it with kindness
They did it with a smile
They did it all, with a licence
They did it, according to the rules
They did it, with good advice
They did it, from inside
They did it, for some reason
They did it
Well they tried”

Dark Windows uses stormy weather as a backdrop to introduce the percussion, with swirling organs and drenched in reverb piano serving the perfect mood for the lyrics.

The Sniper details a list of ways in which one can get killed, and features stellar guitar work from Phil Palmer, alongside one of the albums most powerful percussive performances. The end section, with discordant guitars and saxophone from Ollie W. Tayler (aka Stephen W Tayler!), reminds me a little of Bill Nelson’s Red Noise.

“The sniper knows his time has come
and the life he takes means nothing more
than bullets to the gun”

Innocents in Paradise features Phil Collins on marimba, timbales and tom-toms. House Arrest was dedicated to Donald Woods, a South African anti-Apartheid activist and friend of Stephen Biko.

The Outsider is one of my favourites on the album. A mix of found sounds, utilising Synclavier and PPG Wave synths.

The pre-chorus of

“So to the spider the web is home
Now the fly lands
The fly must stay”

works so well as a pre-cursor to the bold, crashing section that comes next. The Outsider is very unsettling, and a must listen on headphones to fully appreciate the production touches.

The album proper ends with the mixture of synth-pop and cymbal heavy rock of One Man’s Poison, followed by ‘b’ side Kwok’s Quease, the only track that I always skip!

The Wildest Wish To Fly did not feature two Phil’s this time, but two Palmers. Joining Phil Palmer was Robert Palmer, who added vocals to several tracks. James West-Oram (The Fixx) also features on guitar.

Rupert Hine - The Wildest Wish To Fly cover

Rupert Hine was working with Robert Palmer around the time of The Wildest Wish To Fly, and the sounds and feel of Palmer’s wonderful Pride album seep through, along with a somewhat more conventional and less challenging set of songs, which is a shame after the landmark of the previous years Waving Not Drowning.

There is still plenty to enjoy though. Palmer guests on album opener Living in Sin, with its infectious chorus. No Yellow Heart retains some of the sonic charm of the previous albums, and the lyrics remain interesting throughout.

The simplicity of Firefly in the Night is a highlight of The Wildest Wish To Fly, reminding me of the use of acoustic instruments alongside electronics used to such great effect by Thomas Dolby and his The Flat Earth album that came out a year later.

“Then I thought I saw your face
But it was no more than a firefly in the night”

Picture Phone features another appearance from Robert Palmer, and remarkably predicts the rise of our reliance on smartphones and technology. The more commercial single mix appears towards the end of this CD. The Most Dangerous of Men feeds off the chant vocals also used on Palmer’s Pride to good effect. The organ and piano backing, allied with a steady beat, works so well.

The title track is just under a minute shorter than the original release, due to a plethora of remixed and re-edited releases in different territories. It is one of the more experimental pieces in terms of the arrangement, and features some plaintive chorused guitar from Phil Palmer and another vocal appearance from Robert Palmer. A slightly progressive feel seeps into the central section of the song, and it adds a welcome new flavour to the mix.

Four bonus tracks complete this version of the album, the highlight of which is the stripped back An Eagle’s Teaching, which offers some lovely bass work and subtle guitar lines.

The remastering by Stephen W Tayler adds so much to these versions of the classic Rupert Hine early eighties albums, that will appeal to fans of the original releases as well as anyone interested in early 80s synth based music. There is so much to enjoy in this new collection.

Buy Rupert Hine – Surface Tension – The Recordings 1981-1983 from Amazon

Buy Rupert Hine – Surface Tension – The Recordings 1981-1983 from Burning Shed

CD1
Immunity
I Hang On To My Vertigo
Misplaced Love
Samsara
Surface Tension
I Think A Man Will Hang Soon
Immunity
Another Stranger
Psycho Surrender
Make A Wish

Bonus tracks:
Scratching At Success
Introduction To The Menace

CD2
Waving Not Drowning
Eleven Faces
The Curious Kind
The Set Up
Dark Windows
The Sniper
Innocents In Paradise
House Arrest
The Outsider
One Man’s Poison

Bonus track:
Kwok’s Quease

CD3
The Wildest Wish To Fly
Living in Sin
No Yellow Heart
The Saturation of the Video Rat
Firefly in the Night
A Golden Age
Picture Phone
The Victim of Wanderlust
The Most Dangerous of Men
The Wildest Wish to Fly

Bonus tracks:
Blue Flame (Melt the Ice)
An Eagle’s Teaching
Picture Phone (remix)
No Yellow Heart (later version)

Buy Rupert Hine – Surface Tension – The Recordings 1981-1983 from Amazon

Buy Rupert Hine – Surface Tension – The Recordings 1981-1983 from Burning Shed





Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond box-set review

22 06 2022

Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond – The Early Years Part 1 is an 8CD Box Set released by Cherry Red on July 29 2022.

Swing Out Sister - Blue Mood, Breakout & Beyond album cover

The collection contains Swing Out Sister’s ‘Early Years’, collecting the albums from 1985 – 1992 and on discs 5 to 8: B-Sides, 7” mixes, remixes and rare versions.

The albums included are It’s Better To Travel (1987), Kaleidoscope World (1989), Get In Touch With Yourself (1992) and Live At The Jazz Cafe (1993).

The booklet contains a full track annotation and rare memorabilia with illustrations by Corinne Drewery and sleeve notes by SDE writer Paul Sinclair, who has spoken to band members current and past.

Disc one is the bands debut, It’s Better To Travel. Opening with their signature song, Breakout, followed by my favourite Swing Out Sister track, Twilight World. The song contains so many of my favourite elements of the 80s – subtle percussion, iconic synths, real strings and a lovely mid-pace, caught between a 7″ and a 12″ arrangement. Adding Corinne’s instantly recognisable jazz-tinged vocals to the mix equals pop-heaven.

Swing Out Sister - It's Better To Travel

The album is a mix of up-tempo tracks and pop ballads. Surrender and Fooled By A Smile are superb singles, instantly transporting me back to a time of 4 TV channels, Top Of The Pops, Night Network and extended 12″ vinyl remixes. Album producer Paul O’Duffy cut his teeth in the club remix field, before moving on to the first albums by Hipsway and Curiosity Killed the Cat, and so was perfectly qualified to add pop, jazz and dance layers to this album.

Communion has always remained a personal favourite, with its lightness of touch and warm, late-night chorus, plus the percussion influenced by 80s Go-go rhythms from the USA. The slightly discordant switch in tempo just past the half-way mark, and the guitar on the outro section always hits the spot.

It’s Better To Travel is one of my favourite 80s vinyl albums, and well worth tracking down if you don’t own a copy.

Disc two contains Kaleidoscope World, with producer Paul O’Duffy remaining on board for this and the bands third album. Kaleidoscope World has more of a 60s feel, and a slightly wider musical palette. There also appears to have been a more extensive recording budget, with guest appearances from the likes of guitarists Vini Reilly (the Durutti Column, Pauline Murray) and Phil Palmer (Dire Straits, George Michael, David Sylvian) plus arrangements by Richard Niles and the legendary Jimmy Webb.

Swing Out Sister - Kaleidoscope World

You On My Mind continues in a similar vein to the debut album, but there is a definite switch away from synths to acoustic instruments, which suits the 60s mood that pervades many of the songs, such as Heart for Hire.

The synths do make a slight return on Waiting Game, whilst Precious Words has a touch of the lounge-music of The Girl From Ipanema.

The widescreen, adventurous pop arrangement of Masquerade is a revelation, and is my favourite track on the album.

There is a clear progression evident on Kaleidoscope World and the addition of new styles and fresh musicians definitely adds variety and new flavours to the mix.

On the band’s third album, Get In Touch With Yourself from 1992, Luís Jardim (known for his work with ZTT bands, and a fine percussionist) appears more prominently to replace the recently departed founding member Martin Jackson. The guest musicians list is shorter on album number three, giving a slightly less adventurous feel. Get In Touch With Yourself is still a good pop album, and contains one of their finest singles, Am I The Same Girl?, a rare Swing Out Sister cover version.

Swing Out Sister - Get In Touch With Yourself

Everyday Crime contains some delicious Shaft style guitar and an updating of the SOS template. Understand is a pop/Soul track that has stood the test of time, with some rich backing vocals.

Don’t Say The Word has an addictive drum pattern and Love Child feels like it was influenced by the rolling percussion and deep strings of Massive Attack’s Blue Lines album from the previous year.

Live At The Jazz Cafe was recorded in December 1992, and features a 10 piece band. You On My Mind works particularly well in a live setting, as does the jazzier, extended live take of Surrender. No surprises for my picking Twilight World as my favourite from the live album. The jazz-tinged arrangement shines a fresh light on this interesting reworking of such a wonderful song.

The remaining discs in the box-set collect remixes, single edits and b-sides. You want 7 mixes of Twilight World, you got it!

On the final disc (b-sides and edits) lie some gems. Coney Island Man is a lyric free, Burt Bacharach inspired piece. The Swing Out Sister cover of the classic Windmills of Your Mind is a piano and vocals version, recorded live for a radio station. Taxi Town harks back to the first album, with a heavier use of electronics. A slow-burning experimental piece, its unlike anything else released by the band.

This boxset brings together everything you need from this era of Swing Out Sisters career, and along with the informative sleeve-notes, makes this a must buy for fans of 80s and early 90s pop music.

Buy Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond – The Early Years Part 1 from Amazon

DISC ONE
ITS BETTER TO TRAVEL
Breakout
Twilight World (Superb, Superb, Mix)
After Hours
Blue Mood
Surrender
Fooled By A Smile
Communion
It’s Not Enough
Theme (From – ‘It’s Better To Travel’)

DISC TWO
KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD
You On My Mind
Where In The World?
Forever Blue
Heart For Hire
Tainted
Waiting Game
Precious Words
Masquerade
Between Strangers
The Kaleidoscope Affair
Precious Words – Instrumental
Forever Blue – String Mix
Masquerade – Instrumental

DISC THREE
GET IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF
Get In Touch With Yourself
Am I The Same Girl?
Incomplete Without You
Everyday Crime
Circulate
Who Let the Love Out?
Understand
Notgonnachange
Don’t Say The Word
Love Child
Everyday Crime – Instrumental

DISC FOUR

LIVE AT THE JAZZ CAFE
Get In Touch With Yourself
You On My Mind
Surrender
Everyday Crime
Twilight World
Circulate
Am I The Same Girl?
Breakout
Notgonnachange
Who Let the Love Out / Expansions / Coney Island Man / Wives & Lovers?

DISC FIVE
MIXES
Blue Mood – Dubbed-Up Version
Blue Mood – Growler Mix
Breakout- A New Rockin’ Version
Breakout – NAD Mix
Breakout – Horny Version
Breakout – Carnival Mix
Fooled By A Smile – Ralph Mix
Fooled By A Smile – TV Mix
Breakout – American Instrumental Mix
Communion – Instrumental
Fooled By A Smile – Phi Phi Mix
Twilight World – Remix

DISC SIX

MORE MIXES
Twilight World – The World Travel Mix
Twilight World – Vocal Dub
Twilight World – Classical Dub
Twilight World – Instrumental
Twilight World – Beat Your Sister Dub
Surrender – Stuff Gun Mix
Surrender – Pop Stand Remix
Surrender – Roadrunner Mix
Precious Words – Orchestral Mix
Waiting Game – Extended Version
Waiting Game – Remix Edit
Waiting Game – Ultimix
Waiting Game – Dub

DISC SEVEN:

EVEN MORE MIXES
Where In The World? – Bongo Fury Mix
Where In The World? – Radical Mix
You On My Mind – Extended Version
Precious Words – Earth Bound Mix
Am I The Same Girl – Bubba’s Version
Notgonnachange – Classic Club
Notgonnachange – Classic Song Mix
Notgonnachange – Mix Of Drama
Notgonnachange – Dashi I Mix
Notgonnachange – O’Duffy’s 7-inch Mix
Notgonnachange – New Jack Swing Out Mix
Am I The Same Girl – Instrumental

DISC EIGHT:

B-SIDES / EDITS
Wake Me When It’s Over – B-Side
Dirty Money – B-Side
Who’s To Blame – B-Side
Another Lost Weekend – B-Side
Fever – B-Side
Coney Island Man – B-Side
Taxi Town – B-Side
Windmills Of Your Mind – ‘Where In The World’ Bonus Track
Spirit Moves – B-Side
I Can Hear You But Can’t See
Alone – Notgonnachange Bonus Track
Surrender – 7-inch Version
Twilight World – Single Edit
Notgonnachange – Edit
Circulate – Live Version (Japanese Single)

Buy Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond – The Early Years Part 1 from Amazon





Re-Flex – Vibrate Generate

10 05 2022

Vibrate Generate is the sequel to Cherry Pop’s previous double-CD re-issue of Re-Flex’s The Politics Of Dancing album, and is released via Cherry Red on 24 June 2022.

Vibrate Generate brings together rare and unreleased tracks from across the bands career, including two new versions of The Politics Of Dancing, songs from their subsequent albums Humanication and Jamming The Broadcast, and tracks that were written for the soundtrack for Superman IV.

Opening with the last track Re-Flex ever recorded, Vibrate Generate heads off in a more traditional rock arrangement than their more well-known 80s recordings, with a tiny lyrical steal from an early David Bowie classic popping up and catching you off-guard towards the end of the song.

An interesting, in the spirit of the 80s remix of The Politics Of Dancing opener Praying To The Beat works well. How Much Longer, featuring Sting on guest vocals towards the end of the song, is a clipped guitar driven remix, and should have been a hit when originally released in the late 80s.

Couldn’t Stand A Day was always one of my favourite tracks from The Politics of Dancing, mainly because of its delicious chorus.

Revolution Now and on disc two, Life’s Too Dangerous were recorded for the soundtrack of Superman IV. The late Andy Gill from Gang of Four added guitar, and former Fashion vocalist Dave “Dee” Harris contributed backing vocals to these two strong tracks.

The first of two versions of the most well-known Re-Flex song, The Politics of Dancing, closes the first disc on the Vibrate Generate compilation. The remix is sympathetic to the original, with the wonderful guitar textures still front and centre in the chorus.

Opening disc two is Human, a new song with subtle nods to late 80s Bowie in its vocal styling. The powerful layered production makes this my favourite “new” song on the compilation.

The Politics Of Dancing‘s Hurt is presented in remixed form, without straying too far from it’s original incarnation. Love At First Sight (Alternative Version) is less 80s, more late 70s New Wave and offers a different take on the Re-Flex sound.

The second version of The Politics Of Dancing is a club remix, stripped back to keyboards and drum machine, with less guitar in the chorus.

The final track on disc two is one of the last songs recorded by the original Re-Flex line-up, Angry Man. Late 80s sampler technology mix with addictive guitar lines on the album closer.

Vibrate Generate works well as a “best of” or as an introduction to the music of Re-Flex, and is a perfect time capsule of the guitar and synth pop of the mid to late Eighties. The compilation includes exclusive sleeve-notes and background information written by band member Paul Fishman in 2022.

Buy Re-Flex – Vibrate Generate on Amazon

Disc One

Vibrate Generate *
Praying To The Beat (Remix)
How Much Longer (Remix) *
Wrong Decision (Remix) *
Jamming The Broadcast (Remix) *
Hitline
Couldn’t Stand A Day
Cut It (Music Re-Action Mix)
When Did You Stop Loving Me (Remix) *
Revolution Now (Remix) *
Sending Out A Message *
The Politics Of Dancing (Remix)

Disc Two

Human *
Give It Up *
Jamming The Broadcast (Alternative Version – Remix) *
Forever And Ever *
Something About You
How Much Longer (12ʺ Dance Remix) *
Life’s Too Dangerous *
Hurt (Music Re-Action Mix)
Love At First Sight (Alternative Version) *
The Politics Of Dancing (Club Mix – Remix)
Over The Top (Remix) *
Angry Man (Remix) *

*Previously unreleased

Buy Re-Flex – Vibrate Generate on Amazon





News: Prince and The Revolution – live Purple Rain era CD/blu-ray and vinyl release

30 03 2022

Sony are releasing Prince and The Revolution’s classic Syracuse, New York 30 March 1985 Purple Rain tour show as a standalone release, remixed & restored in June 2022, as a 3LP vinyl set and a 2 CD / 1 blu-ray version.

For the visual side of the release, the original video source was rescanned, restored and colour corrected. The audio has been remixed from the original multitrack audio master reels by Grammy-nominated recording engineer Chris James.

The blu-ray has stereo, 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos sound options.

Have a sneak peak of the quality with the official video of Let’s Go Crazy from this restored release. Whilst the video still displays it’s obvious 1980’s source, it is a marked improvement on the original VHS that was so dark, it was a difficult watch. This is the nearest thing to time travel, if you want to pop back to 1985 to experience Prince and The Revolution in their absolute purple pomp. This is one of Prince’s legendary 80s shows, so grab your tambourine and a front row seat for Prince and The Revolution live!

Buy the CD/Blu-ray and vinyl versions:

Prince and The Revolution: Live (2 CD / 1 Blu-ray)

Prince and The Revolution: Live 3 LP vinyl

Tracklisting

CD / Blu-raybuy now

CD 1
Let’s Go Crazy
Delirious
1999
Little Red Corvette
Take Me With U
Yankee Doodle
Do Me, Baby
Irresistible Bitch
Possessed
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Let’s Pretend We’re Married
International Lover
God
Computer Blue

CD 2
Darling Nikki
The Beautiful Ones
When Doves Cry
I Would Die 4 U
Baby, I’m a Star
Purple Rain

Blu-ray
Let’s Go Crazy
Delirious
1999
Little Red Corvette
Take Me With U
Yankee Doodle
Do Me, Baby
Irresistible Bitch
Possessed
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Let’s Pretend We’re Married
International Lover
God
Computer Blue
Darling Nikki
The Beautiful Ones
When Doves Cry
I Would Die 4 U
Baby I’m A Star
Purple Rain

3 LP vinylbuy now

LP 1

Side A

Let’s Go Crazy
Delirious
1999
Little Red Corvette
Take Me With U

Side B

Yankee Doodle
Do Me, Baby
Irresistible Bitch
Possessed
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore

LP 2

Side C

Let’s Pretend We’re Married
International Lover
God
Computer Blue

Side D

Darling Nikki
The Beautiful Ones
When Doves Cry

LP 3

Side E

I Would Die 4 U
Baby, I’m a Star

Side F

Purple Rain





Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 (1985-1989) boxset review

1 07 2021

Level 42 are releasing a 10 CD set titled The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 (1985-1989), that contains all the Level 42 albums from that era plus further discs containing B-Sides, 7” mixes, remixes and rare tracks.

Regarded as the bands most commercial period, this collection features all the hits from the era including Running in the Family, Lessons in Love and Leaving Me Now.

Discs 6 -10 contain all the B-Sides, 7” mixes, remixes and rare versions from 1985-1989. Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 was compiled in conjunction with Level 42 and band experts Paul Wallace, Paul Waller and Simon Carson.

The comprehensive sleeve notes were written by Record Collectors Daryl Easlea who has spoken to band members current and past.

The collection kicks off with the 1985 live album A Physical Presence on the first two discs. I spent my teenage years in Woolwich, but had moved away and so missed this tour, that included a show at The Coronet in Woolwich, one of the gigs featured on this album, along with tracks recorded at The Hexagon (Reading) and Goldiggers in Chippenham.

A Physical Presence captures the band at their jazz-funk peak, before the more mainstream success that followed with the next few albums. Highlights include a crowd-participating Turn It On and the flawless second disc, with six killer tracks in a row, including a powerful version of Hot Water.

World Machine saw the band start to move away from their signature style, towards a more electronic pop sound. Known for the massive hit singles – Something About You (a truly great pop song) and Leaving Me Now, other highlights include the sublime arrangement of the title track, the percussive Coup D’etat and the Rhodes driven Lying Still, with some wonderful Steely Dan sounding harmonies.

Disc four contains the Running In The Family album from 1987. The album opens with a staple of 80s nostalgia radio stations, Lessons In Love, which is simply one of the band’s finest singles. There is a real consistency in the song-writing and performances on this album, resulting in 5 of the 8 album tracks being released as singles.

“All the dreams that we were building
We never fulfilled them”

Children Say has a lovely refrain and other highlights include It’s Over, the band’s final UK Top 10 hit and album closer Freedom Someday. Brothers Phil and Boon Gould left the band after the release of Running In The Family.

Guitarist Alan Murphy (Kate Bush / Go West) and drummer Gary Husband joined for Staring at the Sun, the last studio album in this collection, which appears on disc five.

Heaven in My Hands was the biggest hit from the album, peaking at No12 in the UK single charts. I love Alan Murphy’s guitar style, particularly from his work with Kate Bush as well as his strong contributions to this album, sadly his only appearance with the band, as he died in 1989. Sting guitarist Dominic Miller also features on the album.

Staring at the Sun feels very different from earlier Level 42 albums, with a shift towards a more pop/rock sound. Key tracks include the top 30 single Take A Look (what a chorus, by the way), the addictive Silence and the rare later period instrumental Gresham Blues.

The final five discs round up b sides, 7″ and 12″ mixes plus live tracks from the period. My personal highlights from these tracks include one of my favourite 80s 12″ mixes, Something About You (Sisa Mix), World Machine (Shep Pettibone Remix), the very much of it’s time, drum-less Heaven In My Hands (Guitarpella Mix), the surprisingly effective “funky drummer” take of Take A Look (Remix) and the 2nd version of Starchild (Remix) on disc 9, that clocks in at nearly 8 minutes.

The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 (1985-1989) is a great way to collect the Level 42 albums from the most commercially successful period of the bands career, and is an 80s music fans dream.

Buy Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years Volume Two on Amazon

Disc One: A Physical Presence (Part 1)

  1. Almost There
  2. Turn It On
  3. Mr. Pink
  4. Eyes Waterfalling
  5. Kansas City Milkman
  6. Follow Me
  7. Foundation And Empire

Disc Two: A Physical Presence (Part 2)

  1. The Chant Has Begun
  2. The Chinese Way
  3. The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)
  4. Hot Water
  5. Love Games
  6. 88

Disc Three: World Machine

  1. World Machine
  2. Physical Presence
  3. Something About You
  4. Leaving Me Now
  5. I Sleep On My Heart
  6. It’s Not The Same For Us
  7. Dream Crazy
  8. Good Man In A Storm
  9. Coup D’etat
  10. Lying Still

Disc Four: Running In The Family

  1. Lessons In Love
  2. Children Say
  3. Running In The Family
  4. It’s Over
  5. To Be With You Again
  6. Two Solitudes (Everyone’s Love In The Air)
  7. Fashion Fever
  8. The Sleepwalkers
  9. Freedom Someday

Disc Five: Staring At The Sun

  1. Heaven In My Hands
  2. I Don’t Know Why
  3. Take A Look
  4. Over There
  5. Silence
  6. Tracie
  7. Staring At The Sun
  8. Two Hearts Collide
  9. Man
  10. Gresham Blues

Disc Six: 7” Singles

  1. Follow Me – Live – 7ʺ Remix
  2. Something About You – 7ʺ Version
  3. Leaving Me Now – 7ʺ Remix
  4. Running In The Family – 7ʺ Version
  5. To Be With You Again -7ʺ Version
  6. It’s Over – 7ʺ Remix
  7. Children Say – 7ʺ Remix
  8. Heaven In My Hands – 7ʺ Version
  9. Tracie – 7ʺ Version
  10. Take Care Of Yourself – 7ʺ Version

Disc Seven: B Sides

  1. Coup D’état – Version
  2. Something About You – U.S. Remix – Edit
  3. Micro Kid – Live – Full Length Version
  4. It’s Over – Instrumental
  5. Physical Presence – Live
  6. Starchild – Remix
  7. Three Words
  8. Silence – Live At The NEC Birmingham
  9. Man – Live At The NEC Birmingham

Disc Eight: 12” Singles & Remixes

  1. Something About You – Sisa Mix
  2. I Sleep On My Heart – Remix
  3. Lessons In Love – Extended Version
  4. Something About You – Shep Pettibone Remix
  5. Something About You – Instrumental
  6. World Machine – Shep Pettibone Remix
  7. World Machine – Dub
  8. Lessons In Love – Shep Pettibone Remix
  9. Lessons In Love – Dub Mix
  10. To Be With You Again – A.D.S.C. Mix
  11. To Be With You Again – Dub

Disc Nine: 12” Singles & Remixes

  1. It’s Over – Extended Remix
  2. Running In The Family – Dave ‘O’ Remix
  3. Children Say – Extended Remix
  4. Starchild – Remix
  5. Heaven In My Hands – Extended Version
  6. Heaven In My Hands – US Remix
  7. Take A Look – Extended Mix
  8. Tracie – Extended Mix
  9. Tracie – US Remix
  10. Take Care Of Yourself – Extended Version
  11. Take Care Of Yourself – Remix
  12. Starchild – Remix

Disc Ten: Bonus Tracks

  1. World Machine – Live Hammersmith Odeon 1985
  2. Leaving Me Now – Live Hammersmith Odeon 1985
  3. Something About You – Live Hammersmith Odeon 1985
  4. The Platinum Edition Megamix
  5. Lessons In Love – Shep’s Final Mix
  6. Running In The Family – HTL Dub
  7. Children Say – Slap Bass Mix
  8. Heaven In My Hands – Guitarpella Mix
  9. Take A Look – Remix
  10. Two Hearts Collide – 7ʺ Remix
  11. Two Hearts Collide – Extended Remix
  12. Take Care Of Yourself – Radio Edit
  13. Heaven In My Hands – Original Album Mix

Buy Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years Volume Two on Amazon

Buy the previous box-set – Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) from Amazon





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








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