Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.

Monday

The Gardens Of Delight



What we have here is a fairly recent Australian CD bootleg from 2015. There are some 100 vinyl versions of this around with an unknown number of CD’s. The disc consists of some already known 1984 demos similar to the Australian “Victims Of Circumstance” bootleg versions. The beauty of this bootleg is the demos have allegedly had a "remaster" so they sound sharper than the old tapes. I don’t have any old tapes to confirm this, but the sound quality on this CD is pretty good, considering its source material. So if you want to hear First & Last & Always with Marianne lyrics and Gary Marx singing, or Garden of Delight with Eldritch singing, dive in.




Sunday

Metal Dancing



Ok, I always really enjoyed this infamous 12” single since the early 80’s. Of course, any fan of the "true" SPK hates the commercial transformation that occurred in 1983/4 starting with “Metal Dance” 12". Still I have to say, the two tracks on this single are great! The combination of metal percussion and typical synthpop sounds works really well here and it's not at all as Depeche Mode as “Machine Age Voodoo" would eventually become. If “Machine Age Voodoo” had sounded anything like this "Metal Dance" 12", it would have been a truly revolutionary, legendary crossover album between industrial and more synthpop sensibilities, long before Cabaret Voltaire, to name but one band who lost their way. Unfortunately, it didn't happen, and even the album version of "Metal Dance" has nothing to do with the superb A Side of this single. Unbiased listeners of 80's electronics, don't let SPK's hardcore fans fool you, this designed to be played loud single is a forgotten classic.

Allegedly the Desire Records 7” single version of “Metal Dance” is the superior version. I haven’t heard it, but if someone has one to share…




Saturday

Title of Record



Filter's 1995 debut Short Bus broke through at the exact moment when Nine Inch Nails sound-alikes began dominating the modern rock charts. Filter had more credit to their sound than any of their peers -- their leader Richard Patrick had played in the touring incarnation of NIN. Nevertheless, many critics had written the band off as one-hit wonders with the crossover single "Hey Man, Nice Shot" being their one shot at glory. Since it took them four years to deliver the follow-up Title of Record, it could appear to the casual observer that the delay was proof positive that the band was a flash in the pan, but the album itself proves them wrong. If anything, it's a stronger album than its predecessor, with more sonic details and stronger song writing. Title of Record is still firmly within the industrial-metal tradition -- parts of it sound like it could have been on Short Bus, actually -- but it's surprising how often Patrick bends the rules. There are trippy neo-psychedelic pop vocals that close "Captain Bligh," and even when the music rages (which it does throughout the record), there are subtle differences in tension and dynamics that keep it fresh and engaging throughout. It is true that Filter sound a little out of place within the modern rock world of 1999, where the aggro-metal is rooted in hip-hop not industrial, but that doesn't mean that Title of Record isn't a strong album on its own merits, according to the rules of its genre.




Friday

Boys Don’t Cry



First released in the UK as a stand-alone single in June 1979, “Boys Don’t Cry” was then included as the title track on Boys Don't Cry, the American equivalent to Three Imaginary Boys. Written by Michael Dempsey, Robert Smith, and Lol Tolhurst, the lyrics tell the story of a man who has given up trying to regain the love that he has lost, and tries to disguise his true emotional state by "laughing, hiding the tears in my eyes, 'cause boys don't cry".
In April 1986 “Boys Don’t Cry” was re-released, again as a standalone 7 & 12” single, this time under the title "New Voice · New Mix", in which the original track was remixed and the vocals re-recorded. This new version has not appeared on any subsequent release by the Cure, but can be heard in the music video for "Boys Don't Cry". The video, released to promote the "New Voice New Mix" re-recording, features three children miming the song. Behind a curtain, Smith, Tolhurst, and Dempsey (in his only appearance with the band since his 1979 departure), appear as the children's shadows.
“Boys Don’t Cry (New Voice-New Mix)” was released to promote “Standing On A Beach”; however, the original 1979 version of the song appears on the album.





Thursday

A Broken Frame



Martin Gore has famously noted that Depeche Mode stopped worrying about its future when the first post-Vince Clarke-departure single, "See You," placed even higher on the English charts than anything else Clarke had done with them. Such confidence carries through all of A Broken Frame, a notably more ambitious effort than the pure pop/disco of the band's debut. With arranging genius Alan Wilder still one album away from fully joining the band, Frame became very much Gore's record, writing all the songs and exploring various styles never again touched upon in later years. "Satellite" and "Monument" take distinct dub/reggae turns, while "Shouldn't Have Done That" delivers its slightly precious message about the dangers of adulthood with a spare arrangement and hollow, weirdly sweet vocals. Much of the album follows in a dark vein, forsaking earlier sprightliness, aside from tracks like "A Photograph of You" and "The Meaning of Love," for more melancholy reflections about love gone wrong as "Leave in Silence" and "My Secret Garden." More complex arrangements and juxtaposed sounds, such as the sparkle of breaking glass in "Leave in Silence," help give this underrated album even more of an intriguing, unexpected edge. Gore's lyrics sometimes veer on the facile, but David Gahan's singing comes more clearly to the fore throughout; things aren't all there yet, but they were definitely starting to get close.


Wednesday

It’s Been Hours Now



For a time in the mid-80s, Pete Burns’ Dead Or Alive were the toast of the post-new wave/hi-nrg scene, a scene that unveiled several major hits, including the Stock-Aitken-Waterman produced UK chart-topper, `You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’, a resounding global phenomenon. Focal point Burns was able to plough his field of pop dreams: doors left ajar by Visage, Soft Cell, Culture Club and Merseyside rivals Frankie Goes To Hollywood. From the 90s onwards, Dead Or Alive were a spent force (in Britain at least), though their chameleonic cross-dressing frontman seemed always to hog the limelight; Celebrity Big Brother 4 (featuring his costly reconstructed lips), Celebrity Wife Swap and as a TV presenter, himself.
It was all so simple back in post-punk Liverpool where provocateur Pete Burns (born Peter Jozzeppi Burns, 5 August 1959, Bebington, Wirral) worked at Geoff Davies’ Probe Records Shop. From there, he formed short-lived late-’77-era punk outfit, the Mystery Girls, a quartet that numbered Pete Wylie, Julian Cope and drummer Phil Hurst, before all affiliates found their own niche. Both Burns and Hurst (the latter a replacement for Pink Military-bound Paul Hornby) would duly re-surface in 1979 as front-and-back of Nightmares In Wax, a goth-dance act that also comprised keyboardist/co-scribe Martin Healy, guitarist Mick Reid (ex-Crash Course, ex-Glass Torpedoes) and bassist Pete Loyd; Loyd superseded Ambrose (ex-Big In Japan) who’d deputised for Walter Ogden on their only disc: the EP `Birth Of A Nation’, which featured three cuts led by `Black Leather’ (a song that interpolated K.C. & The Sunshine Band’s `That’s The Way (I Like It)’).
The group name was switched to Dead Or Alive prior to offering up tracks for a John Peel radio session in May 1980 and, after subsequent re-shuffling of personnel, Burns and Healy were joined by guitarist Adrian “Mitch” Mitchley, bassist Sue James and drummer Joe Musker (of Faction); the scarily androgynous Burns was to marry Lynne Corlett, around this time.
A debut Dead Or Alive single, `I’m Falling’ (issued on local Liverpool Indie Inevitable Records), varied little from the keyboard-heavy, sub-goth wailing of Nightmares In Wax; drawing comparisons with The Doors, if only for the Manzarek-like keys and Burns’ theatrical vocals. Yet while his singing suggested an imposing prince of darkness type figure, the frontman’s stage persona was more akin to a kind of sexually ambiguous, gothic dandy. By the band’s sophomore single, `Number Eleven’, the indie-goth quintet had attracted a cult following in Merseyside and beyond.
With the departure of Mitch and the arrival of Bristol-born guitarist Wayne Hussey (from Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls), and Mike Percy taking over from Sue on bass, a percussive, organic tone was apparent on their self-financed 1982 single, `It’s Been Hours Now’ 12”, undoubtedly their best tune so far; or indeed, ever!
Released the same month as Culture Club’s chart-scaling “…Hurt Me” smash hit, the not-so-spectacular `The Stranger’ (complete with Pete’s dreadlock’d hair-bob on the pic sleeve!) found some airplay from Peely and, despite, or courtesy of, Boy George’s unintentional upstaging, Epic Records won the battle to sign Dead Or Alive.




Tuesday

Somewhere



Formed from the ashes of Post-Punk outfits Y? and Lips-X, and briefly called Danse Crazy, The Danse Society officially came into being in 1980. Strongly influenced by Joy Division, The Danse Society's early records were the forerunners of what was to become the typical Goth sound: bleak sounding synthesizers, resonating basslines, and echoing deep male vocals. The Sisters of Mercy, most notably, had great success with this style that The Danse Society pioneered.
They attracted major label interest in the early 1980s, and signed to Arista Records, with whom they released the album Heaven Is Waiting in 1983. This release held a much cleaner sound than earlier works displayed, and brought them to the height of their popularity.  However, such success did not continue, despite extensive touring, the band's later releases were much weaker and poorly received by both fans and critics alike.
One last point of interest, their Say It Again single featured a remix from Stock Aitken Waterman, who just one year later would begin their domination of the UK charts with a track by another goth band, Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round. Er Ummm…Yeah


Monday

Time Goes By



Although they formed in 1975, it took three years for The Distractions to shuffle nervously into position. While Buzzcocks jostled into the rush of chart success and Joy Division attained unprecedented cult status, The Distractions' sweet flow of songs gained them a dedicated local following. While less talented acts successfully courted the music press and, in years to come, would gain ludicrous appraisals in lofty journals and tomes, The Distraction would drift quietly into the shadows.
The band's biog might appear typical. After releasing one raw and glorious 12” EP (“You Are Not Going Out Dressed Like That” on Tony Davidson's TJM label) and arguably the most perfect single in Factory's chequered history (“Time Goes By So Slow”), they decamped for fame and fortune via a serious record deal with Island.
“Time Goes By So Slow” displayed a different side to 'skinny tie' pop than say "Girl of My Dreams" by Bram Tchaikovsky. This has more of a melancholic style, but not really the same kind as Joy Division, which was more desperate and emotionally damaged. A more wistful melancholia, as in seeing an established relationship slipping away on rain washed streets, as well as other forms of loss.
In regular Factory Records style “Time Goes By So Slow” came with the usual understated-yet-elegant sleeve, with both the spacious production (by Brandon Leon) and the music matching the same approach. Side 1 is a break-up song, the kind Greg Kihn said 'they don't write anymore' except with a bit more intelligence and sophistication. Basically a deep longing for a love that was lost and thinking of what could have been. "Oh I wonder why you had to go, the way you had to go; time goes by so slow..." Side 2’s "Pillow Fight", is a bit more 50's-ish, particularly due to the guitar and keyboards with that bright power-pop style of melodic panache.
Still, "Time Goes By So Slow" is the Distractions at their most memorable so far, although I need to find their debut album which I haven't heard to this day... 




Sunday

Dazed and Confused



Led Zeppelin had a fully formed, distinctive sound from the outset, as their eponymous debut illustrates. Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme, Zeppelin created a majestic, powerful brand of guitar rock constructed around simple, memorable riffs and lumbering rhythms. But the key to the group's attack was subtlety: it wasn't just an onslaught of guitar noise; it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos. As Led Zeppelin proves, the group was capable of such multi-layered music from the start. Although the extended psychedelic blues of "Dazed and Confused," "You Shook Me," and "I Can't Quit You Baby" often gather the most attention, the remainder of the album is a better indication of what would come later. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" shifts from folky verses to pummelling choruses; "Good Times Bad Times" and "How Many More Times" have groovy, bluesy shuffles; "Your Time Is Gonna Come" is an anthemic hard rocker; "Black Mountain Side" is pure English folk; and "Communication Breakdown" is a frenzied rocker with a nearly punkish attack. Although the album isn't as varied as some of their later efforts, it nevertheless marked a significant turning point in the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal.


Saturday

Murmurs



Hula’s “Murmur” is a disorientating, dark, trippy, and simultaneously groovy masterpiece. Sadly Hula never received the recognition they were due, they are surely up there with Sheffield's finest noise merchants; and there's a helluva lot of fine music from that neck of the woods. Never as challenging as Cabaret Voltaire but very similar to them, Hula used the same 80's industrial bands clichés and ingredients like cut ups, dense metronome rhythms, dubbed and electronically processed vocals, talking about social paranoia. "Murmur" was their peak and it’s one of the forgotten albums from my very favourite post punk era. “Murmur” is an almost perfect blend, for the time, of progressive, industrial, music expressions. It's well past the time to see this album properly reissued on LP and CD.



Just for transparency and to see how much the journalists of the day waffled complete bullshit, I have transcribed two reviews from the UK’s leading music rags, Sounds and NME 




Hooping It Up
Hula have steered me toward all the obvious criticisms, not a thing I enjoy. But despite their sense of tension, the nag-nag-nagging noises, nasty voices, nervous murmurs, dark breaths and deep meanings, Hula do sound obvious, too easy to place. They wear their influences and ancestry like a coat of arms. Hula are capable, noble but predictable.
Pinned down like butterflies between early Cabaret Voltaire and recent DVA, taking in “Seven Songs” Skiddoo. The Box, Pop Group and early ACR, Hula are perhaps a step back towards the days of music that disrupts and excites and for that I don’t blame them.
They steal from all the right places but are a little exact about it. Amrik Rai’s sleeve note puts it thus: “crushed concrete, dense compression…cutting, wrought, fraught…a blare of sound, flare of feeling”, words slapped away by my editor as “absurd”. Anyway, Amrik’s got his finger firmly, neatly on Hula’s firm, neat pulses: they are too easily described, summed up: nothing here came as a surprise. Their dark discomfort behaves with control and tact, the voice is a blunt shout rather than a terrible bellow, a squawk not a scream, and the cut-up, buldging basses, sound fragments, the clenched emotions and the percussion rattling its bones, all come in precisely the right places.
That said, they’ve perfected the surface nervousness of Mallinder and Newton, sound proud, positive, alive. “Ghost Rattle” is an impressive jumble rumble; “Jump The Gun” and “Tear-Up” are easy but irresistible chants and even Hula’s disorganised, plainly uninteresting jams sound harder and sharper than Shriekback, Portion Control or New Skiddoo. So, the noises on this dark dance are nice but not new noises.
“Murmur” is presentable, tidy, consistently obvious Hula – but there will be a strikingly distinct, barbaric Hula and that Hula will hurt. I trust it will be soon.
-Jim Shelly 12th January 1985 New Musical Express
 






After the rock ‘n’ roll anarchy, the positive aggression of both “Black Pop Workout” and “Cut From Inside” (Hula’s earlier vinyl outings) it was difficult to see which turning the Sheffield trio would take next. Cast rather dismally on the darker, less predictable side of, say, fellow townspeople Cabaret Voltaire and Chakk, Hula had posed a lot of questions. But did they have the answers?
The pre album snatch, “Fever Car”, led you right up the wrong garden path, too. Likeable, moving stuff, it made me wonder after a dozen plays if there was much substance behind this dance-driven malice of its rhythm. No such questions with “Murmur”. This one has stood the test already.
Throttled in the miserable Sounds office through speakers that weren’t fit to grapple its grooves, blasted through cobwebs at home and screeched in the car, Hula are definitely from the new breed.
Jack Barron’s revelation that Swans are something important, something to stand up for, something to be awestruck by can only be dittoed for Hula. Here, too, is that damning aggression, that unkempt power, that burning desire. Hula chew fire and spit out brat-skat by the mouthful.
But whereas the whole Swans theory revolves around the roach-happy recesses of the US state of mind, Hula are very, very British. Hula are using their surroundings, their city lights and their greatest nightmares as bright vivid colours.
“Murmur” is a patchy, multi-layered canvas. Within the cracks and crevasses are a thousand stories grasping to escape. The “Murmur” is getting louder; soon it will be a scream.
-Dave Henderson 9th December 1984 Sounds