22 December 2003

Must just draw attention to this month's Mojo magazine. Interesting cover story on the birth of Pil, the making of Metal Box and the eventual disintegration of the classic Lydon/Wobble/ Levine line-up. David Fricke on No Wave. Chic. Arthur Russell.
Best of all, John Savage compiles his ultimate Post-Punk cassette tape, coming from a strong Gutterbreakz angle: Suicide, Cabs, TG, Chrome, The Normal, ACR, Human League, Joy Division, Wire, Devo....mmmmm, fucking tasty. Nice work, sir. There's also a chance to win a CD-R of Mr Savage's comp. by simply answering which post-punk track (in your opinion) has John criminally left out? Worth a go for the chance to hear a few obscurities like The Screamers (LA synth-punks), Metal Urbain (Stooges fuzz guitar meets abrasive synth/drum machine) and a rare B-side by The Pop Group. I will probably nominate Robert Rental's devestatingly damaged single "Paralysis". Wish me luck....
Weird coincidence time...earlier today whilst making the dinner a song popped into my head that I hadn't heard for years - a '70s novelty disco choon about the Lone Ranger. I found myself pondering the blatant homosexual innuendo of the song's final verse :"Maybe Masked Man try it on with Tonto 'cause let me tell you Mr Law Man, Tonto doesn't mind" (or something like that) and wondering if the song's success had it's origins in the gay clubs blah blah blah (amazing the stuff that goes through your mind whilst cooking a roast chicken).

Anyway, I'm watching a TOTP2 rerun tonight and lo and behold, they play the track! It was by a group called Quantum Leap and it sounded fucking great.

Small world....

19 December 2003

Speaking of the mid-80s, only the other day I was blown-away all over again when listening to Cabaret Voltaire's 'Drain Train' EP from 1986. What was essentially a treading-water package released during their brief period between record labels (Some Bizarre/Virgin to EMI) now sounds even more exciting than ever. Described by Reynold's at the time as "a jungle of jagged jewelled surfaces in which I could wander for centuries" (well it's been 17 years now, Simon - are you still wandering in it?) I remain utterly awe-struck in it's presence. Shorn of the slick-production values of their major label work, '(Shakedown) The Whole Thing' just tears through my senses with it's harsh drum sound, squalling Coltrane-on-smack sax line and overpowering web of grainy digital found-sounds coming at you from every angle. The 'version' and 'dub' mixes add vocoder and ever-increasing levels of abstraction to create a truly psychedelic dub mash-down '80s stylee that even Sherwood at his most violent would probably be a bit scared of. The 'b-sides' 'Menace' and 'Electromotive' are top drawer Cabs too. Now here's something we should all be learning from in 2004.
The end-of-year round-ups begin in earnest...couldn't help noticing Reynold's wish for a mid-80's revival next year. Set Fairlight's on stun, gate those snare drums - let's make it LOAD and ARTIFICIAL in '04. The New Plastic Sound, yes indeedy. I've been busy working in isolation on a number of tracks, stealing chunks of old '80s 12inchers that I've been finding for like, 50p a time in charity shops. Jackie Graham, Propaganda, Five Star, Mai Tai, Taylor Dayne, Nu Shooz, Joyce Simms, Bill Sharpe/Shakatak, Jam & Lewis Productions...all have been greedily sucked into my Emu sampler and twisted into new shapes. I've been doing this simply because I have to; whether these endeavours will see the light of day depends on the coming pop-climate and my ability to motivate myself to actually try and get people to listen to them. Who knows? - but it's been a fucking gas delving into the dark underbelly of mid-80's techno-dance-pop. Still haven't managed to pluck up the courage to spin that Starship extended mix that Aaron sent me a few months back, though.....

05 December 2003

I see that Sir Paul McCartney is once again attempting to re-write the history books by 'donating' a half-arsed 12 inch track from 1980 to New Religion Records for their new compilation "A Secret History". This otherwise admirable CD compiles a few lesser-known synthpop ditties from the likes of Visage, Telex, Throbbing Gristle and Liaison Dangerous. The inclusion of Macca's "Temporary Secretary" is just another example of his need to ingratiate himself with the kids by muscling in on a genre which he clearly has no influence on whatsoever. We've all read his claims that he was the true visionary in the Beatles, how he was involved with the Radiophonic Workshop and other 'happening' electronic artists of the '60s, how he almost got Delia Derbyshire to create the music for "Yesterday" (seriously, folks!), but when you start claiming electropop-pioneer status you step into Gutterbreakz territory, mutherfucker, and I won't have it!
Described by Record Collector's Jake Kennedy as "what the White Album would've sounded like if it had been recorded in 1980", "Temporary Secretary" is in fact a piss-poor throwaway with a few bleeps thrown in. Compare it with, say, Robert Palmer's electro excursion "Looking For Clues" from around the same time and you'll see just how poorly-executed this arse-wipe of a tune really is.
Maybe I'm just down on Macca right now 'cause I heard a bit of "Let It Be....Naked" in Virgin the other day and thought it sounded shit, even worse than the Spector version, if that's possible. Let's be honest, "Let It Be" was always the worst Beatles album by a mile and this new version does nothing to dispel that fact, no matter how much Macca tries to convince us otherwise.
Don't get me wrong, I think he did a few half-decent tunes in his time (though that time was clearly over by 1980) and I even had to concede to my Macca-loving pal Aaron that "Goodnight Tonight" was actually a lot better than I remembered, but I'm just getting very tired of Sir Paul's pathological urge to ram his continuing 'relevance' down our necks.

Damn you, sir.
According to a report in today's Daily Mirror, Ecstacy use among young people has fallen, whilst overall drug use has increased. Cocaine, Tranquillisers, Amyl Nitrate, 'shrooms and weed are all growth industries. Home Office minister Caroline Flint claims that youngsters are finally getting the message that Ecstacy is harmful. Obviously that's bollocks, as Steve Rolles of the Transform Drug Policy Institute rightly states:"Patterns of illegal drug use are determined by fashion not Government Policy".

It's just one more nail in the coffin for the Rave Dream.....