Prince – Originals album review (track-by-track)

9 06 2019

Originals is the third release using material sourced from Prince’s Vault / archive, following on from 2017’s expanded Purple Rain deluxe reissue and 2018’s Piano & A Microphone 1983.

Originals is a 15 song collection of Prince’s own versions of songs he gave to other acts, 14 of which are previously unreleased. As the album progresses, it is very clear that all the acts who received these songs totally trusted Prince’s vision, rarely altering the arrangements of the music or vocal lines that were provided.

Unlike archive releases from other artists, where the songs are often vague sketches or unfinished low-fi recordings, Prince did not make demos in the traditional sense. All the songs here are 16 or 24 track studio recordings, and considering their age (the oldest track is from 1981), they sound remarkable.

The sequencing of the album, mixing up the well-known hits with deeper cuts and interspersing the uptempo songs with ballads, makes this feel like a legitimate Prince album from the early 80s.

Originals opens with Sex Shooter (recorded in 1983), a song that was released on the Apollonia 6 album in 1984, and also featured in the Purple Rain film. The cheekily suggestive lyrics are driven by a nasty synth bassline and is very much of its time. Jungle Love is a delight and so damn funky, and the first appearance of Prince’s electric rhythm guitar grooves on the album.

“Somebody bring me a mirror!”

Manic Monday is the first of 3 songs that became massive, career-defining hits for other artists. Manic Monday shows that the song was pretty much fully-formed when given to The Bangles for their 1985 Different Light album. The iconic bar-room piano riff is intact, as are the breezy backing vocals and harmonies. Feeling like a close relative of Raspberry Beret, the song is Prince delivering pure, unadulterated pop and its a joy to hear.

Noon Rendezvous is the first of two songs that featured on Sheila E.’s The Glamorous Life in 1984, and highlights how Prince’s early to mid-80s ballads were his best. Stark and raw, with minimal percussion, just voice and piano, this is my favourite ballad on the album.

“The sound of your voice makes me weak”

Make-Up is one of the oldest songs on the album, and is pure electronica, featuring a synth line that would be recycled on the title track of Around The World In A Day. With deep bass and stuttering percussion, the song that was given to Vanity 6 in 1982 is the most experimental, left-field track on this collection. 100 MPH (1984) eventually appeared on the Mazarati album two years later, and is probably one of the less well-known songs on this collection, but works so well in this incarnation, and is a hidden gem.

You’re My Love is one of the real surprises in this collection, and is unlike any other song in Prince’s vast catalogue. The arrangement feels a little like it could have featured on Prince’s first album, but the vocals are unique. A pop / Country croon makes it clear why it was picked up by Kenny Rogers four years later.

Holly Rock (from 1985) is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Sheila E.’s version appeared on the Krush Groove soundtrack. This is classic mid-80s Prince, with his trademark pitched funk guitar. Holly Rock hints at the sound of the uptempo parts of Sign o’ the Times, and highlights how often, and how effectively, Prince could get inside the groove. Its one of those Prince songs that gets you on your feet. I dare you to try to keep still when listening to Holly Rock.

Baby, You’re a Trip was recorded by Prince in 1982, and was released by Jill Jones in 1987. Apparently Prince wrote the song for Jill Jones “about the time she snooped in his diary after he read hers.” The arrangement, the breakdowns, and the monotone backing vocals from Jill Jones lift this above the status of a standard ballad.

“Baby, you’re an ocean that’s too wide to cross”

The Glamorous Life has always been one of my favourite Sheila E songs, so it was emotional hearing Prince’s vocal on this song. The originals take does not disappoint.

As the album heads towards its final songs, we get a solo Prince recording of Gigolos Get Lonely Too, which later appeared on The Time’s What Time is It? album. A sweet, lyrically playful early 80s soul groove, what’s not to love?

The track I was looking forward to hearing most, the Prince take on Love… Thy Will Be Done, is the highlight of the album for me. I will always love Martika’s version, but the Prince original makes more use of the layered vocal harmonies, and as well as being one of Prince’s finest compositions, its also one of his best arrangements. Simply stunning.

Dear Michaelangelo heads back in time to the mid-80s and is a track that Prince provided for Sheila E.’s Romance 1600. With a naggingly addictive chorus, Dear Michaelangelo would not have sounded out of place on Parade.

“A life without love”

Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me? is a Prince song with its origins stretching way back to 1976, but the Originals version is from 1981. The song was covered by Taja Sevelle in 1987.

Sounding a little like it could have featured on 1980’s Dirty Mind album, Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me? is one of my most played tracks on Originals, and whilst it drops slightly below the production quality of the other tracks on this album, its a very good song, from one of Prince’s most exciting periods. Prince’s trademark falsetto is in full effect here, as is a subtle nod to The Beatles at around 2.25 in?

“I’m not trying to tease you
I only wanna turn you on”

The album ends with Prince’s take on Nothing Compares 2 U. Most people know Sinéad O’Connor’s massive hit single from 1990, but my favourite version has always been the 1985 version by The Family (a CD reissue would be appreciated please, Prince Estate!). This Prince version from 1984 was released on 7″ vinyl and download in 2018, but feels like a good way to close the album.

Posthumous releases are always difficult, as there is the risk of the artist’s legacy being tarnished by labels releasing music that the artist did not approve. Originals does not fall into this trap.

Whilst I am not sure Prince would have ever sanctioned this release during his lifetime, from a fan’s point of view the Prince Estate have done an excellent job in honouring his legacy, and releasing an excellent album that stands alone in its own right, not as a nostalgic curio, which was my initial (now unfounded) worry. If you are a fan of Prince’s work in the 80s, you will love Originals.

Sex Shooter (1983)
Jungle Love (1983)
Manic Monday (1984)
Noon Rendezvous (1984)
Make-Up (1981)
100 MPH (1984)
You’re My Love (1982)
Holly Rock (1985)
Baby, You’re a Trip (1982)
The Glamorous Life (1983)
Gigolos Get Lonely Too (1982)
Love… Thy Will Be Done (1991)
Dear Michaelangelo (1985)
Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me? (1981)
Nothing Compares 2 U (1984)

Buy Prince Originals on CD

Buy Prince Originals on vinyl





I-Level – albums available digitally for the first time

11 05 2019

I-Level were a 1980’s British Funk/Dance band who released two albums and eight singles between 1982 and 1985.

The trio had UK club hits with Minefield and Give Me from their first album, and are also remembered for the rare groove classic In The Sand from their second and final album Shake.

I-Level were Sam Jones on vocals, Joe Dworniak on bass & Duncan Bridgeman on keyboards. Jo & Duncan also appeared on John Foxx’s stunning 1981 album The Garden.

In early 2019 Give Me [U.S. Remix] featured on Gary Crowley’s Lost 80s compilation album, and shortly afterwards the two I-Level studio albums were released digitally for the first time. The albums are not available on CD but can be streamed and purchased via amazon (links below).

Download I-Level (1983) and Shake (1985) from Amazon.

The first I-Level album was a huge part of the soundtrack to my summer of 1982. I was a huge fan of the 12″ mix of single Teacher (sadly not included on this reissue), and I bought the album on vinyl.

There are so many great pop / dance tracks on the I-Level album. From the horn topped Minefield, with its wonderful jazz-funk bassline and the slow-burning ballad Heart Aglow, to the percussive Simmons-drum driven pop of Stone Heart, the debut I-Level album is 80s pop at its very best.

I love the arrangements on the first album, and Sam Jones soulful, often double-tracked vocals work so well with the electronic pop songs.

1985’s Shake has dated a little more than the debut, due to a heavy use of mid-80s sampling technology, but In The River and the more down-tempo In The Sand are classic pop singles, and worth investigating if you love eighties music.

So if you are a fan of early to mid-eighties pop, or are a fan of Level 42 or Seal, I can recommend the two I-Level albums.

Download I-Level (1983) and Shake (1985) from Amazon.

Follow I-Level on twitter @iLevelMusic.





David Bowie – Loving The Alien

14 10 2018

Loving The Alien [1983 – 1988] is the 4th David Bowie box-set to be released, and the one covering his most commercially successful period.

Loving The Alien cover

The box-set comprises three remastered original studio albums (Let’s Dance, Tonight and Never Let Me Down), a newly re-imagined Never Let Me Down (2018) with Bowie’s original vocals and new musical performances from long time collaborators, two live albums (Serious Moonlight [Live ’83] and Glass Spider [Montreal ’87] plus two new compilations – Dance (original extended mixes) and Re:Call 4, a double album of single mixes, b-sides and soundtrack songs. As with the previous box-sets, Loving The Alien includes an excellent companion book with rare and unseen photos and essays from Nile Rodgers, Hugh Padgham and more.

Let's Dance (2108 remaster)

Let’s Dance was David Bowie’s 15th studio album and was originally released in April of 1983. Produced by Bowie and Nile Rodgers, the UK / US Platinum selling no 1 album crossed over into the mainstream more than ever before with three massive hit singles, Modern Love, China Girl and the title track.

The sound on the 2018 remaster from Ray Staff and Nile Rodgers is not a massive difference, as the album always sounded amazing anyway. The drums sound slightly fuller and there is more punch to the bass. China Girl and Let’s Dance suffer from less treble than the previous masters, so this version is definitely more sympathetic.

1984’s Tonight album is mastered slightly quieter than the previous version. The Ray Staff / Hugh Padgham 2018 remaster has a much softer snare sound. Tonight was not popular with critics, but sold well, though not on the Let’s Dance scale. Whilst by no means a classic album, it contains one of my favourite Bowie songs, the achingly beautiful Loving The Alien. A song so good they named the box-set after it!

Blue Jean sounds so much better on this remaster, as does one of my favourite Tonight tracks, the mighty Neighborhood Threat and the 80s pop-reggae of Don’t Look Down.

The final original studio album included on the Loving The Alien box-set is Never Let Me Down from 1987. Though Never Let Me Down was a commercial success, it was not well received by a lot of fans. Bowie also apparently disliked the arrangements and production, and it is probably no co-incidence that this was the last (solo) studio album release until Black Tie White Noise in 1993.

I must admit that Never Let Me Down is by far my least played Bowie album. The only two tracks I still play to this day are Day-In Day-Out and Time Will Crawl, so listening to the album in it’s entirety 31 years after release was interesting. The 2018 remaster is the best this album has sounded. Remastered slightly louder, and with more bottom end, Time Will Crawl and Beat Of Your Drum sound better than previous releases. The snare on Never Let Me Down sounds so much fuller and I will play this song more often, but the rest of the album still leaves me pretty cold I’m afraid.

I am happy to report that Never Let Me Down 2018 is a much more enjoyable listen. Mario J. McNulty, who was responsible for the popular Time Will Crawl (MM remix) from the popular Bowie compiled iSelect album, gathered together musicians including Reeves Gabrels, David Torn, Sterling Campbell, Tim Lefebvre, Nico Muhly and Laurie Anderson to re-assemble the album at New York’s Electric Lady Studios in early 2018. Never Let Me Down 2018 is exclusive to this box-set, and is a must-have for Bowie fans.

Never Let Me Down (2018)

The difference is startling. Day-In Day-Out has a much better drum sound, and discordant Berlin-era buzzsaw guitars mixed with Adrian Belew like held notes, with Bowies vocals much higher up in the mix. The at times sparse mix really does justice to the underlying song.

Time Will Crawl builds on the previous MM mix, with a much less compressed master. Beat Of Your Drum feels more like a mid-70s Bowie song in this incarnation. The plucked strings work really well, and its a fine Bowie vocal performance.

Shorn of the 80s production, the title track is the highlight of Never Let Me Down 2018. Zeroes also works much better as a Hunky Dory meets Reality type track.

The newly re-imagined Glass Spider is longer than the original 1987 version, and this seemingly Nine Inch Nails influenced, dirtier electronic re-recording would have not sounded out-of-place on one of Bowies 90s albums. Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) is also more enjoyable. The short appearance from Laurie Anderson fits well into this 2018 recording, with its discomforting background electronics as a counterpart to the smooth Fame like backing.

LTA vinyl

New York’s In Love is a vast improvement, and feels a little like the sound of the second Tin Machine album mixed with The Next Day production. ’87 And Cry is grungier than the original, and has shades of the sound of Lodger at times.

The album closes with a string-heavy Bang Bang. The more restrained, much less frantic arrangement gives the lead vocals (and 70s sounding) backing vocals the room to breathe. I’m so glad this 2018 album exists, and I’m sure it will receive many more plays from me than the original album.

Serious Moonlight (Live '83)The two live albums are not of the quality of the recent Welcome To The Blackout (my favourite Bowie live album), but they are worth having, if just to replace the poor quality bootlegs that have been in circulation for years. The crowd for the Serious Moonlight (Live ’83) album sounds absolutely massive. This is the first full audio release for this concert, that was previously released as a VHS video album, and a shortened digital EP.

Highlights include the segue from Fashion into Let’s Dance, and I love the horns on the 1983 live arrangement of Breaking Glass.

Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) draws heavily from Never Let Me Down, so is a less interesting live album for me. The theatrical nature along with the interludes has really dated this live show, and it doesn’t work as well without the visuals. Highlights from this album include Loving The Alien and Sons Of The Silent Age, but overall, this is not an album I will return to often.

The extended version’s disc titled Dance is literally dripping in the sounds and feel of the 80s, so loving that decade will surely influence whether this compilation hits the right notes for you. Make sure you slip into your 80s pastel clothing, and throw on your head-band before listening to Dance for the ultimate experience. Finally having the cream of the 83 onward extended remixes together on one album is a good thing. Shake It (Re-mix aka Long Version), Loving the Alien (Extended Dub Mix) and Time Will Crawl (Dance Crew Mix) are particular highlights.

Re_Call 4Re:Call 4 ties together the majority of the odds and ends from this era, including the 7″ edits of the Let’s Dance singles, and the Absolute Beginners and much-loved Labyrinth Bowie soundtrack pieces.

Less vital are the Never Let Me Down album vinyl edits and some of the poorer b-sides such as Julie, Girls – Extended Edit and the two tracks recorded with Tina Turner (Tonight and the Let’s Dance medley).

The personal highlights of Re:Call 4 are two of my favourite Bowie songs – This Is Not America and Absolute Beginners. Although sound-wise not an improvement on previously released versions, they stand head and shoulders above most tracks on this compilation, which is the most diverse but ultimately the poorest of the four box-sets Re:Call’s released so far.

Loving The Alien is much more of a mixed-bag than the previous David Bowie box-sets, but it has a potentially much larger audience due to the massive commercial success of Let’s Dance. The rehabilitation of Never Let Me Down with the 2018 re-recording makes this collection a must-buy for Bowie fans. I hope my David Bowie Loving The Alien review will help you decide if you want to add this release to your collection.

Loving The Alien cover

Buy Loving The Alien on CD from Amazon

Loving The Alien cover

Buy Loving The Alien on vinyl from Amazon





Kate Bush – Remastered

4 10 2018

Kate Bush will release remastered versions of her entire studio album catalogue on CD and vinyl in November 2018.

I was only thinking the other day that I would love to hear a remastered version of The Dreaming, and here we are. The power of positive thinking. Back to reality – tweets from the Kate Bush twitter account are as rare as hen’s teeth. So when one arrives in your timeline (a tweet, not a hen’s tooth), its normally significant, like announcing the 2014 Before The Dawn tour and now this extensive re-issue campaign. I feel they may have missed a trick with not using #NovemberWillBeMagicAgain, but KB-HQ twitter team, you can have that one for free if you want.

For the casual fan, the CD box-sets are a great way to add some classic albums to your collection. As an avid fan since 1978, I’m looking forward to hearing the new remasters of some of my favourite albums and hearing with new clarity so many songs that are etched into my soul.

The vinyl box-sets are, by their very nature, quite pricey, but being split into four different sets will help you build your collection over time, if vinyl is your format of choice.

From the initial artwork shown on Kate’s website, the CD and vinyl packaging looks beautiful, so I would suggest going for the physical releases, rather than digital, if you possibly can. Hopefully the details below will make it clear what is available, so you can start saving for your purchases!

The albums have been remastered by Kate and James Guthrie (apart from the live Before The Dawn album which retains its recent, original mastering).

Read my review of the first CD boxset here.

My review of the second box-set is now live.

So here is the detail, with the Amazon pre-order links.

THE CD BOX-SETS

Kate Bush Remastered Part I

KB remastered 1

  • The Kick Inside
  • Lionheart
  • Never For Ever
  • The Dreaming
  • Hounds of Love
  • The Sensual World
  • The Red Shoes

Amazon pre-order

KB-CD-Packshot-1-Square-3000_01


Kate Bush Remastered Part II

KB remastered 2

  • Aerial
  • Director’s Cut
  • 50 Words for Snow
  • Before the Dawn (Original Mastering)
  • 12″ Mixes
  • The Other Side 1
  • The Other Side 2
  • In Others’ Words

Amazon pre-order

KB-CD-Packshot-2-Square-3000 2


THE VINYL BOX-SETS

Kate Bush Remastered in Vinyl I

  • The Kick Inside
  • Lionheart
  • Never For Ever
  • The Dreaming

Amazon pre-order

KB-Vinyl-Packshot-1-(Flat)_0 1


Kate Bush Remastered in Vinyl II

  • Hounds of Love
  • The Sensual World
  • The Red Shoes

Amazon pre-order

KB-Vinyl-Packshot-2-(Flat) 2


Kate Bush Remastered in Vinyl III

  • Aerial
  • Director’s Cut
  • 50 Words for Snow

Amazon pre-order

KB-Vinyl-Packshot-3-(Flat) 3


Kate Bush Remastered In Vinyl IV

  • 12″ Mixes
  • The Other Side 1
  • The Other Side 2
  • In Others’ Words

Amazon pre-order

KB-Vinyl-Packshot-4-(Flat) 4


The track-listing for the Kate Bush Remastered In Vinyl IV box-set and the last 4 CDs of the second CD box-set consists of:

12” Mixes

Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
The Big Sky (Meteorological Mix)
Cloudbusting (The Orgonon Mix)
Hounds Of Love (Alternative Mix)
Experiment IV (Extended Mix)

The Other Side 1

Walk Straight Down The Middle
You Want Alchemy
Be Kind To My Mistakes
Lyra
Under The Ivy
Experiment IV
Ne T’Enfuis Pas
Un Baiser D’Enfant
Burning Bridge
Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) 2012 Remix

The Other Side 2

Home For Christmas
One Last Look Around The House Before We Go
I’m Still Waiting
Warm And Soothing
Show A Little Devotion
Passing Through Air
Humming
Ran Tan Waltz
December Will Be Magic Again
Wuthering Heights (Remix / New Vocal from The Whole Story)

In Others’ Words

Rocket Man
Sexual Healing
Mná na hÉireann
My Lagan Love
The Man I Love
Brazil (Sam Lowry’s First Dream)
The Handsome Cabin Boy
Lord Of The Reedy River
Candle In The Wind





Blancmange – Wanderlust

19 09 2018

Blancmange release their tenth studio album, Wanderlust, on October 19, 2018. Wanderlust features ten songs composed by Neil Arthur, and arranged, co-produced and mixed with Benge (Wrangler/Creep Show). This is the pair’s third album together following their Fader First Light album in June 2017 and last year’s Blancmange album Unfurnished Rooms.

wanderlust

As with last years Unfurnished Rooms, Wanderlust is a more stark electronic offering than the early Blancmange albums. The major difference with this album is the inclusion of three songs (Distant Storm,In Your Room and Not a Priority) that could easily fit onto a “best of” album, and if released in the mid-80s, would have probably been top 20 singles.

Opening with lead single Distant Storm, the duo lay out their intentions straight away. Pulsing bass synths and expanding percussion layers drive a wistful, vocoder treated vocal from Neil Arthur. A Giorgio Moroder meets Madonna’s Lucky Star keyboard arrangement lifts this song to another level and adds real colour and warmth to the song.

In Your Room dials down the warmth a couple of notches, and is a much darker track. Musically this has a feel of the edgier early Soft Cell tracks, and features a simple yet naggingly addictive chorus. You will not be able to stop yourself singing along.

“In your room, In Your Room, IN YOUR ROOM”

I Smashed Your Phone opens with what sounds like the drum machine intro pattern to Wham’s Everything She Wants and has some interesting percussion programming highlighting key points in the song. The lyric references our often fractious relationship with modern technology, and this theme continues throughout the album.

Gravel Drive Syndrome is another album highlight. The tightly, unnaturally sequenced bleeps underpin a growing feeling of unease mirrored by this tale of social climbing at any cost. Talking to Machines is a John Foxx influenced synthesised slow-burner, warning us that our interactions are often with machines that are “Always on, on always”. Switch off and step away people!

Not a Priority is my favourite track on the album. Easily the most commercial song since the early Blancmange albums, Not a Priority features a sugar-coated joint chorus with one of my favourite current electronic artists, Hannah Peel. The synths bubble away, and along with the ever-present Moroder, I get hints of Kraftwerk and Propaganda on this album highlight.

“Please be yourself, you can’t be anybody else.”

TV Debate is the first track to add guitars to the mix. A Berlin era Bowie / glam-rock backing drives a tale of channel-surfing and wall-to-wall talking heads displayed on the screen. David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel / Kate Bush) adds an engaging guitar wall of sound to another of the albums key tracks, Leaves.  The arrangement rises and falls, mimicking the seasons, as nature meets mankind.

White Circle, Black Hole is a rare chink of light in the lyrical darkness, and has one of Arthur’s best vocal performances on the album, along with a twin guitar propelled chorus.

“Start again, such a good place.”

The album ends on the title track. Disembodied sampled voices, and a heart-beat kick drum introduces a song about living in this moment, in the here and now. Analogue synth lines take the lead instead of a traditional vocal chorus, as Wanderlust draws to a close on an optimistic note.

Blancmange 2018

I loved last years Unfurnished Rooms but Wanderlust sees Blancmange at their very best, bringing their pop sensibility back to the surface, whilst exploring the dark side of electronica. One of the strengths of this album is that the music channels the adventurous spirit of the 1980s, yet the lyrics explore a dystopian, close enough to touch, near future. This mix of darkness and light makes Wanderlust a unique album in the Blancmange catalogue, and one of the most interesting albums I have heard this year.

Distant Storm
In Your Room
I Smashed Your Phone
Gravel Drive Syndrome
Talking to Machines
Not a Priority
TV Debate
Leaves
White Circle, Black Hole
Wanderlust

wanderlust
Buy Blancmange Wanderlust on CD from Amazon

wanderlust

Buy Blancmange Wanderlust on vinyl from Amazon

near_future_-_ideal_home

Buy Near Future – Ideal Home on Amazon





Trevor Horn Band – Live at Sarm Music Bank 19/7/2018

29 07 2018

The Trevor Horn Band played live at the opening of Sarm Music Bank‘s impressive new facility in Old Oak Common on July 19th 2018.

Sarm Music Band invite

The band included Trevor Horn (bass and vocals), Lol Creme (guitar and vocals), Luis Jardim (percussion), Phil Palmer (guitar), Steve Ferrone (drums), Izzy Chase and Hayley Sanderson (vocals), Jamie Squire (vocals and guitar) with guest appearances from vocalists Matt Cardle and Steve Hogarth (Marillion).

Lol Creme, Luis Jardim, Trevor Horn and Steve Ferrone

The invite / competition winners only performance was the perfect opportunity to christen the new rehearsal space, and was also a great way of showcasing some of the songs that will appear on the  forthcoming Trevor Horn album. Reports online suggest that the album may be called The Eighties Reimagined, and will consist of some of Trevor Horn’s favourite 80s songs, recorded with the band, a 65-piece orchestra and guest singers.

The set opened with the air-raid sirens signalling Two Tribes, the first of three Frankie Goes To Hollywood songs. Sporting one of the finest basslines of the 80s, this was a powerful opener, and the acoustics in the room, even at a very loud volume, sounded amazing.

Sadly we were only treated to one song from The Buggles back catalogue on this occasion. After an amusing Boris Johnson anecdote, TCH and the band performed a note-perfect Video Killed the Radio Star.

th4

“And now we meet in an abandoned studio
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago”

I was expecting to hear some Godley & Creme, and clearly Five O’Clock in the Morning or Art School Canteen were not likely as part of this performance, so as expected the band performed the TCH produced perfect pop of Cry.

Lol Creme can still hit the high notes, evidenced as the band delivered a rowdy version of 10cc’s first no1 single, Rubber Bullets, which was originally released in 1973.

Marillion vocalist Steve Hogarth joined the band for two songs – David Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes (you could not have an 80s tribute without the Thin White Duke) and the most surprising song in the set, Joe Jackson’s Different For Girls (from the I’m the Man album). This timeless song was released in 1979, so although it is not an 80s song, it was an interesting choice.

thsh

A re-imagining of Slave to the Rhythm marked the halfway point in the set. On stage percussionist and frequent Trevor Horn collaborator Luis Jardim performed the bass on the studio version of the track, fact fans.

Trevor switched back to lead vocals on the Yes hit from 1983’s 90125 album, Owner of a Lonely Heart, complete with Synclavier / Fairlight sounding stabs. The second Frankie Goes To Hollywood song of the night was sung by guest vocalist Matt Cardle. A string laden version of The Power of Love went down a treat with the audience.

th2

A version of the 2002 no1 single All the Things She Said by Russian pop duo t.A.T.u.was performed with Izzy Chase and Hayley Sanderson sharing lead vocals.

The set wrapped up with a trio of massive 80s singles – a reworked version of Tears For Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World (which will surely feature on the forthcoming The Eighties Reimagined album), Dire Straits Money For Nothing and the final FGTH song of the evening, Relax.

I’m looking forward to hearing The Eighties Reimagined album (hopefully later this year) and it looks like there will be further live dates from The Trevor Horn band to promote the album. Follow TCH on Twitter or Facebook to stay in the loop.

Full setlist:

Two Tribes
Video Killed the Radio Star
Cry
Rubber Bullets
Ashes to Ashes
Slave to the Rhythm
Owner of a Lonely Heart
The Power of Love
All the Things She Said
Different For Girls
Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Money For Nothing
Relax

Legacy

Buy Legacy – 3 Chord Trick (the band features new, original material from former members of Dire Straits, and features Trevor Horn on bass)

Buy Godley & Creme – Body Of Work (1978 – 1988) Box set

Buy the Trevor Horn – Slaves To The Rhythm live DVD

Buy the 10cc Classic Album Selection Box set

Buy Grace Jones – Slave To The Rhythm Collector’s Edition, 2015 remaster

 





John Foxx – Metamatic (Deluxe Edition)

30 04 2018

meta500John Foxx releases a 3 CD deluxe edition of his Metamatic album on 25 May 2018. The original 10-track album, recorded in 1979 and originally released in 1980 was remastered from analogue tapes back in 2014, along with various B-sides. A few tapes full of instrumental music from the sessions were also set aside for remastering but these revealed further discoveries, including alternative mixes and the song Miss Machinery – a mutant, electro-punk twist on Foxx B-side, 20th Century.

Jonathan Barnbrook (regular Foxx collaborator and Bowie’s Blackstar designer) worked on the new 2018 reissue design as the project grew to 49 tracks across 3 CDs. This includes the 15 instrumentals contained on CD3 which collectively sound like a lost electronic soundtrack with echoes of Quatermass, BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and the dark DIY electronics of Thomas Leer and Robert Rental.

Metamatic is one of the most influential electronic albums from the early 80s. Following his departure from Ultravox, Foxx stripped the sound back to just voice and electronics. The stark, at times industrial electronica still sounds like the future, 38 years after the albums original release. That is some testimony to the quality of the material.

johnfoxx

Most people will be aware of the singles Underpass and No-one Driving, but dig a little deeper and there is much more to savour.  He’s a Liquid is a key track, with lyrics that have always made me feel ill at ease.

“She’s elusive
He’s adhesive”

A New Kind of Man ups the tempo and hearing this track, I am instantly transported back to the late 70s / early 80s. A sense of detachment and isolation drip from Foxx’s lyrics on most of the songs on Metamatic. The off-kilter Tidal Wave conjures up the spirit of J. G. Ballard and would have sounded great as part of the soundtrack to High Rise.

Blurred Girl is almost a template of the sound of 1980. The classic Roland CR-78 rhythm and the plaintive synths add a rare warmth to what is often an icy cold musical landscape.

“Standing so close, Never quite touching…”

Touch and Go is probably the most commercial track on the album. I love the way that the synths rise like waves in the songs outro, smoothing the metronomic beat. The end section is by far my favourite musical performance on the album.

“There’s motorway sparks
And meetings in the park
And fires from years ago
You can watch your friends
Through this tiny lens
Then you’ll know that there’s no way home

John Foxx would leave the sound of Metamatic for his next studio albums but returned to the cold electronica for some of his more recent work, particularly with Louis Gordon and The Maths.

Discs 2 and 3 of the deluxe Metamatic are a treasure trove for Foxx fanatics. Disc 2 brings together B sides, radio edit / single mixes, the wonderful single Burning Car and alternative versions of album tracks. Like A Miracle (Alternative Version) is an early version of the song that was released as a single in much fuller form in 1983. Underpass (Extended Version) and Blurred Girl (Longer Fade Version) are another two highlights of the second disc.

Another key track from Disc 2 is My Face, originally a flexi-disc release, and almost acting as a hint to the sound of the second John Foxx album (and my personal favourite) The Garden.

Disc 3 includes 15 instrumentals – some more fully formed than others. The sparse instrumentals are interesting to hear as part of the history of the album, but I don’t think I will return to them often. My favourites on disc 3 include a mournful alternative version of Glimmer, and the haunted ballroom piano of Fragmentary City (that predates the work of The Caretaker aka James Leyland Kirby by several decades).

Disc 3 is rounded off with Miss Machinery, a cold twist on B side 20th Century, a fascinating Giorgio Moroder-like take of No-One Driving, and an early version of Burning Car (with a Fade To Grey like bassline).

Disc 3 ends with a lo-fi Like A Miracle and a warmer , more fully realised and piano under-pinned take on No-One Driving, that feels like it was recorded nearer to The Garden.

This definitive version of Metamatic is released by Metamatic Records on 25 May 2018.

Disc: 1
1. Plaza
2. He’s a Liquid
3. Underpass
4. Metal Beat
5. No-one Driving
6. A New Kind of Man
7. Blurred Girl
8. 030
9. Tidal Wave
10. Touch and Go

Disc: 2
1. Film One
2. This City
3. To Be With You
4. Cinemascope
5. Burning Car
6. Glimmer
7. Mr. No
8. Young Love
9. 20th Century
10. My Face
11. Underpass (Radio Edit)
12. Non-one Driving (Single Version)
13. Like a Miracle (Alternative Version)
14. A New Kind of Man (Alternative Version)
15. He’s a Liquid (Alternative Version)
16. Plaza (Extended Version)
17. Underpass (Extended Version)
18. Blurred Girl (Longer Fade Version)

Disc: 3
1. A Frozen Moment
2. He’s a Liquid (Instrumental Dub)
3. Mr. No (Alternative Version)
4. The Uranium Committee
5. A Man Alone
6. Over Tokyo
7. Terminal Zone
8. Urban Code
9. A Version of You
10. Glimmer (Alternative Version)
11. Fragmentary City
12. Metamorphosis
13. Approaching the Monument
14. Critical Mass
15. Alamogordo Logic
16. Touch and Go (Early Version)
17. Miss Machinery
18. No-one Driving (Early Version)
19. Burning Car (Early Version)
20. Like a Miracle (Early Version)
21. No-one Driving (Alternative Version)

Pre-order Metamatic Deluxe 3-CD from Amazon
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