The Associates – Perhaps (remastered) 2 CD review

4 12 2019

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

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

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

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

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

“Knowing what you want and taking full advantage”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Buy the 2 CD Perhaps album on Amazon

Disc One: Perhaps + Bonus Tracks

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

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

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


* appearing on CD for the first time

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Buy Sulk by Associates on CD





News: Ultimate Dollar 6CD/1DVD (includes Trevor Horn era songs)

1 12 2019

Re-mastered from the original master tapes, Ultimate Dollar contains 6 audio discs and a DVD, which contains all their videos and several TV appearances.

The reason for my mentioning the collection on this site is that the box-set will be of particular interest to Trevor Horn fans. Discs three and four cover the Gold certified The Dollar Album era. This Dollar album includes four Trevor Horn productions and co-written songs, and also includes Trevor Horn on bass guitar plus Bruce Woolley and Anne Dudley (keyboards & synthesizers) on the Horn produced singles.

Also included is the Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour) (Demo), with what sounds suspiciously like Trevor Horn on vocals.

This expanded edition includes newly commissioned 12” versions of all five top 40 hits contained on the album, mixed from the original multi track tapes – Hand Held In Black And White (UK #19), Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour) (UK #4), Give Me Back My Heart (UK #4), Videotheque (UK #17) and Give Me Some Kinda Magic (UK #34), as well as backing tracks, B-sides and instrumentals of many songs.

The box-set also includes newly commissioned vintage style 12” mixes of Mirror Mirror, Give Me Back My Heart, Hand Held In Black And White, Videotheque, Give Me Some Kinda Magic and Love’s Gotta Hold On Me from the original multi track tapes.

The box-set also includes a detailed booklet containing track-by-track commentary from Thereza Bazar and many others involved in the releases, as well as photos, detailed liner notes on each disc, and The Dollar Songbook lyrics.

Buy the Ultimate Dollar box-set

Also available – Greatest Hits 2CD set





News: The Associates Perhaps 2 CD re-mastered re-issue

21 11 2019

35 years after its original release Cherry Red are releasing a 2 CD digipak edition of The Associates third studio album Perhaps plus related bonus tracks. The album has been re-mastered from the original master tapes.

The previous CD release was part of a double-pack featuring The Glamour Chase, from 2002. This new Cherry Red edition is the first CD release featuring an expanded track-listing.

Originally released in February 1985 after exhaustive recording sessions, Billy Mackenzie finally followed up the 1982 Associates album Sulk with this 10 track offering. The album featured four different producers, Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, Martin Rushent, Dave Allen and Greg Walsh.

Disc One features the 10 original album tracks plus four instrumentals that were included on the original cassette release of the album. These bonus tracks are appearing on CD for the first time.

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

Housed in a digipak containing a 20 page page booklet, a UK discography and extensive sleeve-notes written by Andy Davis.


Available for pre-order now.

Disc One: Perhaps + Bonus Tracks

  1. Those First Impressions
  2. Waiting For The Loveboat
  3. Perhaps (Dave Allen Remix)
  4. Schampout
  5. Helicopter Helicopter
  6. Breakfast
  7. Thirteen Feelings
  8. The Stranger In Your Voice
  9. The Best Of You
    (Billy Mackenzie & Dave Allan Remix)
  10. Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look
  11. Perhaps (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
  12. Breakfast Alone (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
  13. Thirteen Feelings (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
  14. The Stranger In Your Voice (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

  1. Those First Impressions (Extended Version) *
  2. Waiting For The Loveboat (Single Version)
  3. Waiting For The Loveboat (Extended Version) *
  4. Waiting For The Loveboat (Slight Return)
  5. Perhaps Perhaps *
  6. Schampout (Edit) *
  7. Breakfast (Single Version)
  8. Breakfast (Edit)
  9. Kites
  10. Take Me To The Girl (Single Version)
  11. Take Me To The Girl (12” Mix) *
  12. Take Me To The Girl (Instrumental) *
  13. The Girl That Took Me *
  • appearing on CD for the first time

Buy The Associates Perhaps 2-CD on Amazon





Fader – In Shadow album review

24 09 2019

Fader are Neil Arthur (Blancmange) and Benge (John Foxx & The Maths / Gazelle Twin). In Shadow is the follow-up to their 2017 debut, First Light.

Neil Arthur is clearly experiencing a creative streak – along with Fader he has also recently released the debut of another duo project, Near Future, as well as delivering two new Blancmange studio albums, including one of the finest in the bands career in last year’s Wanderlust.

Summoning the spirit of early John Foxx, Always Suited Blue is a tale of the personal and the mundane, jostling with an upbeat, pure 1981 synth-pop soundtrack.

“Lost a tenner, found a pound”

An early album highlight is Midnight Caller, a distopian dismantling of picket-fence suburbia, with a hint of menace that offsets the addictive chorus.

Arthur’s often unsettling lyrics are underpinned by the warm electronic textures provided by Benge. Everyday objects become enemies in What Did It Say – which has one of the most disturbing lyrics coupling with one of the album’s sweetest and most mesmerising tunes.

Youth On A Wall bubbles and pulses, with a wonderfully treated vocal that has its own distinctive, delayed rhythm. A little bit of politics creeping in here.

“May is fading from our view”

The saccharine synths of Whispering echo the softly delivered vocals, that are delivered with such lightness of touch that you have to really concentrate to hear the message being delivered.

Aspirational is an ear-worm of a song, and is followed by one of my favourite tracks on the album, Enemy Fighter with its inventive, haunting vocal arrangement that is topped off with layered, frenetic percussion patterns.

The title track has sparse instrumentation, that builds slowly as the song progresses. Every Page feels the most current of the songs on In Shadow, with vocals scattering in and out of the chorus.

“Heading home now, if home still exists”

The album comes to a close on it’s bleakest song, Reporting, that seems to flit through the ages in a lyric about time and travel. The lyric reminds me a little of the time-travel premise of Kate Bush’s Snowed in at Wheeler Street, but that’s where the comparison ends. The lightest of touch backing makes you concentrate fully on the lyrics, and then the album is over.

“Pressure drop, pleasure stop.”

In Shadow is released on 25 October 2019.

Buy Fader – In Shadow on CD from Amazon

Always Suited Blue
Midnight Caller
What Did It Say
Youth On A Wall
Whispering
Aspirational
Enemy Fighter
In Shadow
Mindsweeper
Every Page
Reporting





News: Prince 1999 super-deluxe edition

12 09 2019

Prince’s 1999, his fifth studio album, is being given the expanded deluxe edition treatment, with a lavish super-deluxe edition.

The remastered album, which was originally released in 1982, also includes single / promo edits, two discs of unreleased material from Prince’s legendary vault, and two live performances (one audio and one on DVD).

Watch 1999 from the DVD below. Bear in mind that this is a recording from late 1982, so will not be up to current visual standards, but the performance is still electrifying.

https://youtu.be/udkRI514KSI

Pre-order the Super deluxe https://amzn.to/2Q7mjqL (5 CD & 1 DVD)

Pre-order the Super deluxe vinyl https://amzn.to/2NbLIgM (10 LP’s plus DVD)

Tracklist for new 1999 super-deluxe release, released 15th November 2019

CD1/LP1&2 (Original Album with 2019 Remaster)

1999

Little Red Corvette

Delirious

Let’s Pretend We’re Married

D.M.S.R.

Automatic

Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)

Free

Lady Cab Driver

All The Critics Love U In New York

International Lover

CD2/LP3&4 (Promo Mixes and B-sides, 2019 Remaster)

1999 (7″ Stereo Edit)

1999 (7″ Mono Promo-Only Edit)

Free (Promo Only Edit

How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore

Little Red Corvette (7″ Edit)

All The Critics Love U In New York (7″ Edit)

Lady Cab Driver (7″ Edit)

Little Red Corvette (Dance Remix Promo Only Edit)

Little Red Corvette (Special Dance Mix)

Delirious (7″ Edit)

Horny Toad

Automatic (7″ Edit)

Automatic (Video Version)

Let’s Pretend We’re Married (7″ Edit)

Let’s Pretend We’re Married (7″ Mono Promo Only Edit)

Irresistible Bitch

Let’s Pretend We’re Married (Video Version)

D.M.S.R. (Edit)

CD3/LP5&6 (Vault Tracks Pt 1, recorded between November 1981 and April 1982)

Feel U Up

Irresistible Bitch

Money Don’t Grow On Trees

Vagina

Rearrange

Bold Generation

Colleen

International Lover (Take 1) [Live In Studio]

Turn It Up

You’re All I Want

Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)

If It’ll Make U Happy

How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore? (Take 2)

CD4/LP7&8 (Vault Tracks Pt 2, recorded between April 1982 and January 1983)

Possessed (1982 Version)

Delirious (Full Length)

Purple Music

Yah, You Know

Moonbeam Levels (2019 Remaster)

No Call U

Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got

Do Yourself A Favor

Don’t Let Him Fool Ya

Teacher, Teacher

Lady Cab Driver / I Wanna Be Your Lover / Little Red Corvette (Tour Demo)

CD5/LP9&10 (Live In Detroit at Masonic Temple Theater, Masonic Hall (Late Show) – November 30, 1982, Previously Unreleased)

Controversy

Let’s Work

Little Red Corvette

Do Me, Baby

Head

Uptown

Lisa’s Keyboard Interlude

How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?

Automatic

International Lover

1999

D.M.S.R.

DVD (Live at The Summit, Houston, TX, – December 29, 1982, Previously Unreleased)

Controversy

Let’s Work

Do Me, Baby

D.M.S.R.

Keyboard Interlude

Piano Improvisation

How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?

Lady Cab Driver

Automatic

International Lover

1999

Head





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.








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