Want List: Martha + The Muffins Crowdsource “The World Is A Ball” On CD

RCA | GER | LP | 1986 | PL 70841

RCA | GER | LP | 1986 | PL 70841

M+M: The World Is A Ball GER LP [1986]

  1. The World Is A Ball
  2. I Watch, I Wait
  3. Watching The Boys Fall Down
  4. Only You
  5. By The Waters Of Babylon
  6. Song In My Head
  7. Don’t Jump The Gun
  8. Stuck On The Grid
  9. Someone Else’s Shoes
  10. As A Matter Of Fact

Gloryoski! Just yesterday, I was at Pledge Music and started scanning the campaigns to see if I was missing out on anything and it transpired that Martha + The Muffins had begun a campaign to re-issue their excellent 1986 album, “The World is A Ball” [prod. David Lord] just a day earlier and as of yesterday, they were already over 100%! Now that’s results! Those who followed the Martha + The Muffins saga will know that the Canadian New Wavers, who peaked commercially at the time of their debut album with the wonderful “Echo Beach” single all over the world in 1980, carried on in their large New Wave band for three albums [“Metro Music,” “Trance + Dance,” “This Is The Ice Age”] that saw the combo becoming artier and more accomplished even as they shed members and one of the Martha’s [she left after album #2] in doing so.

Martha + the Muffins ca. 1980

Martha + the Muffins ca. 1980

Anyone paying attention to the developmental arc of those records know that by the time of 1981’s “This Is the Ice Age” they had whittled down to Martha Johnson and Mark Gane, with Nick Kent [not the UK journo], Daniel and Jocelyn Lanois adding to the increasingly complex music the band were cutting. They most closely resembled Talking Heads to these ears, with Gane’s rare turns at the mic strongly redolent of David Byrne. Lanois was just making his mark, and he was their Eno, even as he’d soon join The Master as his right-hand man moving forward.

mm

M+M ca. 1986

The albums from 1983-1986 were funkier. The band truly mirrored Talking Heads in that I think they reached their feverish peak on “Mystery Walk.” Its single “Black Stations/White Stations” was as scorching as anything on “Remain In Light” but where the Muffins [by then called M+M] pulled ahead of Talking Heads was with their sixth album, “The World Is A Ball.” Where The Heads ebbed and floundered to these ears post-1980, I would have to consider “The World is A Ball” my favorite M+M album. It had a well-balanced blend of art rock and pop that plateaued here. Which was fortuitous, since the band hit the brick wall following this, as Johnson and Gane took up life together and raised a child outside of the glare.

There were two more low key Martha + the Muffins albums. I have the 1992 “Modern Lullaby” but have yet to buy the 2010 “Delicate” album. The various DLX RMs have had appropriate bonus material and this one is no different. There are said to be four bonus tracks and I’d imagine that they would be as follows.

Current | CAN | 7 | 1986 | WAKE 14

Current | CAN | 7 | 1986 | WAKE 14

M+M: Song In My Head CAN 7″ [1986]

  1. Song In My Head [7″ mix]
  2. Riverine
Current | CAN | 12" | 1986 | WASH -7

Current | CAN | 12″ | 1986 | WASH -7

M+M: Song In My Head CAN 12″ [1986]

  1. Song In My Head [dance mix]
  2. Song In My Head [7″ mix]
  3. Song In My Head [dub mix]
  4. Song In My Head [LP mix]

Yep. That seems to be right since there were no other singles that I can see. I had the German LP pressing but I have yet to obtain these singles, so the CD DLX RM will be most welcome. For once, there will be no range of colored vinyl LP editions forthcoming! the band are offering just CDs [and DLs, of course] this time a=out and it feels so right! After all, if anyone wants the LP, I’m sure there are copies to be had for chump change [checks – yep!] The band are keeping this real, and pledgers can buy a DL for just $8.00. A CD will set you back $21…$25 if you want it signed. Pledge here and pledge often!

The band have a wide range of extras out there. One can get CDs of earlier DLX RMs like “Mystery Walk,” “Danseparc,” and “Then Again” as well as Martha Johnson solo albums and the last Muffins release. All priced modestly. There are buttons and t-shirts, but the graphic designer genes were most fired up by the sale of Chromalin proofs of earlier album covers. Most are already gone, and they are the priciest things here [as well they should be], but if I were made of money [and really fast on the draw] the $147 Chromalin proof of the gorgeous “The World Is A Ball” cover would be so suitable for framing. In its uncut state, of course!

– 30 –

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It’s Pearl Harbour Day

Rockabilly style icon Pearl Harbour in her home full of vintage swag

Rockabilly style icon Pearl Harbour in her home full of vintage swag

Since it’s December 7th, thoughts turn to Pearl Harbour. No…not that one! The femme rockabilly artist who started her career in New Wave before finding her true voice a year later. I first heard Pearl Harbor + The Explosions in 1979 on WPRK-FM at the dawn on my college radio consciousness. Their boppy tune, “Driving'” seemed to get a lot of airplay there, but frankly, it did little for me. I was looking for a little more sauce with my music.

Warner Brothers | US | LP | 1980 | BSK 3404

Warner Brothers | US | LP | 1980 | BSK 3404

Pearl Harbor + The Explosions: Pearl Harbor + The Explosions US LP [1980]

  1. Drivin’
  2. You Got It (Release It)
  3. Don’t Come Back
  4. Keep Going
  5. Shut Up And Dance
  6. The Big One
  7. So Much For Love
  8. Get A Grip On Yourself
  9. Up And Over

I got it the next year [1980] when PH+TE suddenly imploded, leaving Pearl Harbour free to move to England, marry Paul Simonon of The Clash, and issue her debut solo album the very same year! In late 1980, I was listening to either WUSF-FM since I was able to occasionally receive their [90 miles away] signal when late night conditions were right. I heard a rip roaring rockabilly chanteuse sinking her teeth into the song “Rough Kids,” which was originally by Kilburn + the High Roads, from whence came Mr. Ian Dury. It was great, greasy rockabilly with a joyous feel. Now this was something that I would buy.

Warner Brothers Records | US | LP | 1980 BSK 3515

Warner Brothers Records | US | LP | 1980 BSK 3515

Pearl Harbour: Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost Too US LP [1980]

  1. Alone In The Dark
  2. Fujiyama Mama
  3. Everybodys Boring But My Baby
  4. You’re In Trouble Again
  5. Do Your Homework
  6. Cowboys & Indians
  7. Losing To You
  8. Filipino Baby
  9. Lets Go Upstairs
  10. Rough Kids
  11. Out With The Girls
  12. Heaven Is Gonna Be Empty
  13. At The Dentist

I have owned this marvelous record ever since it was released, but the cover reveals almost nothing about it, other than Mickey Gallagher [keyboardist for The Blockheads] was charged with producing it all. The fizzing cocktail of twanging guitars and helpful servings of slapback echo ensured that I can look at this album today and remember almost all of its 13 songs. After this one, Ms. Harbour seemed to vanish into the ether as just critics and not the “loving public” took this disc to their collective bosom. I saw nothing after this, so some time in the early 90s I saw a copy of the Explosions album in the used bins, and bought a copy. On principle. I’ve yet to hear it, though.

Would that there was a shiny silver disc of this, but there’s not. Sure, sure. There is a DL but I’d sooner digitize my LP. But it’s a brief disc. Any bonus tracks out there?

Warner Brothers Records | GER | 7" | 1980 | K 17741

Warner Brothers Records | GER | 7″ | 1980 | K 17741

Pearl Harbour: Fujiyama Mama GER 7″ [1980]

  1. Fujiyama Mama
  2. Nerves

Yep! “Nerves” on the B-side of the UK/GER “Fujiyama Mama” single.

Warner Brothers Records | UK | 7" | 1980 | K17781

Warner Brothers Records | UK | 7″ | 1980 | K17781

Pearl Harbour: Cowboys + Indians UK 7″ [1980]

  1. Cowboys + Indians
  2. You’ve Got Me All Wrong

Holy Toledo! Here’s another B-side I just found out about today… and scope that cover! After this, things get thin on the ground.

Test Pressings | UK | 7" | 1983 | TP6

Test Pressings | UK | 7″ | 1983 | TP6

Pearl Harbour: Voodoo Voodoo UK 7″ [1983]

  1. Voodoo Voodoo
  2. You Don’t Fool Me

There were a few other singles, but all of their tracks were on the third Pearl Harbour album, recorded in Japan [and released there first] in 1983/1984 with Japanese band The Mods backing her up. I’ve heard not a note of this, but I’d give it a chance!

Island Records | UK | LP | 1984 | ILPS 9824

Island Records | UK | LP | 1984 | ILPS 9824

Pearl Harbour: Pearls Galore UK LP [1984]

  1. Killer Joe
  2. He Ain’t So Bad
  3. Flirt
  4. Spanish Bop
  5. Nerves
  6. Get Outta Here
  7. Out In The Streets
  8. Please Come Home
  9. Run Rhythm Run
  10. Hula Love

Several tracks here [2, 10] were singles, but I’m betting that the version of “Nerves” here was a re-recording with the producer of this opus, none other than girl group mainstay Richard Gottherer! Now I really want to hear this. After this dalliance with Island Records… crickets until 1995!

Shattered Records | US | CD | 1995 | B000001MF1

Shattered Records | US | CD | 1995 | B000001MF1

Pearl Harbour: Here Comes Trouble US CD [1995]

  1. Trouble
  2. Hot Rod
  3. I Wish I Were You
  4. King Tut’s Tomb
  5. Dream Car
  6. Once A Night
  7. You’ve Got My Number
  8. Have Love Will Travel
  9. Idolize Me
  10. Get Tough On You
  11. House Of Love
  12. I Miss You
  13. Crash The Party

And that was all she wrote for Ms. Pearl Harbour. All the more reason for me to track the rest of it down. “Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost Too” is the best album never released on Stiff Records, and it really shoulda/woulda/coulda been on that label at the exact moment that the label had stupidly let Kirsty MacColl slip through their fingers. As if to correct their grievous error.

– 30 –

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Rezillos Reviews: Out of This World + Live EP

These Scots never disappoint

These Scots never disappoint

Huzzah! About 2012, I went to the Rezillos website and saw that a new single, “Out Of This World,” had been released and was already hard to buy. The webstore was no help. I emailed Rez HQ and told them that I used to be on the mailing list and should have been alerted to this. I got an email back from an Alan (Eugene) saying that a PC meltdown scuttled the list but that a new single was imminent, so I was ahead of that curve. In theory. I missed it again and saw on Discogs that both singles were available on 7″ and CD single [!]. But the usual costs applied. There was a dealer in Scotland that offered new stock at somewhat reasonable prices…but…

It was a few years back when I posted about these on PPM and cut to 2016 and another go at the Rezillos website. Evidence of both singles are on there but the store is currently on the back burner awaiting its v. 2.0, but there are now links to a distributor online here:

Http://www.threadsofsound.net/store/index.html

And both singles were in stock and ready to ship! CD singles for £2.50 [$3.18] and vinyl for £4.99 [$6.34]! I went whole hog and since it’s The Rezillos, bought ALL variants: black vinyl “Out Of This World” 7″, clear and red live vinyl 7″ EPs, as well as both CD singles!!! Shipping from Scotland was… Are you sitting down? £2.50 [#3.18 again]!!! I ordered about 10 days ago and it took 9 days to get here and never has $27 been so well spent! Let’s examine the goods.


Rezillos Records | UK | CD5 | 2011 | REZILL01CD

Rezillos Records | UK | CD5 | 2011 | REZILL01CD

Rezillos: Out Of This World UK CD5 [2011]

  1. Out Of This World [single version]
  2. Rosalyn
  3. Out Of This World [glass mix]

It opened with a vocal crescendo into shrieking high energy Theremin. The best buildup of its kind since Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” The tune not only has Deep Purple DNA lurking in its high-speed groove but the chorus owes a bit to the T-Rex classic “20th Century Boy.” Yet, there’s still room for the clean, stacked vocal harmonies of Fay Fie and Eugene Reynolds; not a million miles away from The Association, though none of these people ever sounded quite like this. The turbo-charged punk pop featured the ripping guitars of both Jim Brady and the now absent Jo Callis. I loved how the vocals had a million different treatments every half measure, insuring no lack of sonic stimulation to allow boredom to seep in; as if it could with this 3:37 wailer. Angel Pattersons machine gun drums slay at 50 paces and one more favorite touchstone was invoked at the song’s outro as the peals of feedback end the tune much like the single take of “John, I’m Only Dancing.”

Speaking of Bowie, the B-side was the same “Rosalyn” by The Pretty Things that Bowie sang on “Pinups.” This time Eugene bit the song with the fury of a pit bull and his squeals after the cold ending were hilarious. The Glass Mix of “Out Of This World” [CD and DL only] was mixed by Eugene Reynolds himself, and it eschews much of the instrumental gloss of the single mix to instead put the tougher sounding guitars and especially the vocals forward in the mix. The fadeout is more foreboding and mysterioso as well, with the feedback abetted with some roiling synths.


Rezillos Records | UK | CD | 2012 | REZILL02 CD

Rezillos Records | UK | CD | 2012 | REZILL02 CD

The Rezillos: Live EP UK CD5 [2012]

  1. Top of The Pops [live]
  2. Bad Guy Reaction [live]
  3. Yesterday’s Tormentor [live]

Rezliios classic “Top Of The Pops” still sounds like the vehement takedown of brown-nosing and payola that it always has been. There are some differences in this version, though. I can’t help but notice that singer Fay Fife has never sounded better even as I notice that the thick Glaswegian accent I am used to hearing the song through has faded away over the years. Like many vocalists of her vintage, she can out-sing her youthful incarnation nine ways to Sunday currently. This song is still three minutes of perfection.

The rip-roaring “Bad Guy Reaction” has never sounded as furious as it does here. Even though the song’s running time has ballooned from 2:15 to 2:43, that’s largely down to the freakout ending that Eugene Reynolds built into the song here. The cold ending saw him bring the song to a halt followed by pregnant moments of silence, followed by his sputtering as he managed to spit out one “don’t even try to put me down” in what seemed like a split second. This take managed to make the classic LP version seem like weak sauce in comparison.

The last song “Yesterday’s Tormentor” debuted here before taking its place on the new “Zero” album. The pace slacked off a bit here even as Ms. Fife tore into the bitter put-down of a song with vitriolic gusto. It never fails to make me marvel at how The Rezillos manage to marry furious punk energy with a love and respect for pop and in particular the rich vocal harmonies that they invest their songs with.

Both singles are mandatory for Revillophiles. While “Out Of this World” appeared on 2015’s “Zero” album, it was in a completely different recording/production. This left the single version as produced by John Clark and guitarist Jim Brady another in a long line in distinctly different Rezillos singles. I do believe that all of them are different takes from what later appeared on their albums; from 1977 straight through today. [Hmm.. time to compile them all in a REVO edition – memo to self!]

My ardor for The Rezillos is such that I really do want to have everything under the sun in my Record Cell. Not only do I truly love this group, but they have an admirably finite amount of material out there; giving them a cachet of collectability that I can’t usually indulge in. To that end I also purchased the 7″ singles in all color variations from the band’s store. Kind of decadent, I know, except for one salient fact. The Rezillos, unlike most groups operating today, have not forgotten that they are making rock and roll music for the masses. All of these singles were priced as if the bottom had not dropped out of the music industry and everything but downloads were priced like rare jewels. This singles are not bespoke playtoys for the wealthy. To quote XTC, “This is POP!” Buy or Die! Store here. Go NOW!

– 30 –

Posted in Core Collection, Record Review, Scots Rock | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steel Cage Match: KMFDM vs …The Osmonds?

steel-cage-kmfdm-vs-osmonds

Until the mid 90s, I had a penchant for, shall we say, industrial rock sounds. I was such a fan of Cabaret Voltaire, who were the reason I put up with so many also ran bands. No other acts gave me what I got from them; intelligence, subversion, and aggression, wrapped up in a machine funk package. By the mid 90s, mostly thanks to Al Jourgenson’s proclivities, industrial rock was moving in what I perceived to be a regressive metal direction, and I drew a line in the sand and divested myself of lots of “industrial” releases that I now saw as culturally tainted. Particularly Nine Inch Nails [I only ever owned singles of theirs] and KMFDM, but not this one.

kmfdm-godlikeuscd5a “Godlike” was the A-side, but why I kept this release was for one of the B-sides: a cover of The Osmonds [!] atypical 1972 hit “Crazy Horses.” There was a period in the late 90s, when I had the itch bad to hear the original Osmonds tune. I went to Rock + Roll Heaven and thought it would be easy to pick up an original 7″ but I was wrong. For years later, I had only the KMFDM version of sate my “Crazy Horses” jones.

Vocalist Sascha Konietzko had a delivery that was typically deep and guttural on this cover, but that’s fine. He’s German for crying out loud, so he comes by his guttural tendencies honestly! The loud stomping beat was pretty typical of the KMFDM gameplan. I once saw them on the “Money” tour, and by that time I was treated to almost a metal act. Riff metal with a big, stupid glam beat. The song’s, uh…distinctive hook was rendered here on synths, and the middle eight featured almost a parody of metal shredding juxtaposed against an almost humorous cheesy organ solo. Ultimately, the cover arrangement was close enough to the original to satisfy while having a foot standing in more typical KMFDM territory.

osmonds-crasyhorsesremixukcd5aMy ability to hear the original Osmonds version took a back seat to my fervent desire to never own anything of theirs more that the song “Crazy Horses.” It goes back to my childhood. During the bubblegum rock era, there were social breakdowns just like earlier int he 60s, when the question was “Beatles or Stones?” By 1970, the pre-pubescent set had their own litmus test to respond to. “Jackson Five or Osmonds?” I was down with the Jackson Five. The Osmonds had almost zero cool… with one big exception.

“Crazy Horses!” The insane heavy eco-rocker that stood as proof of the day The Osmonds woke up and thought “let’s get a piece of Deep Purple’s pie!” That alone made it highly memorable, but it was ultimately the song’s utterly tasteless organ hook that once heard, was never forgotten. It was a sound so naked and raw in its grotesque audacity, that it somehow became a thing of awe. The tune began with several passes of the hook over “apache” beats replete with fills that kept it from attaining motorik status.

Jay Osnond took the lead vocals here with his vocals a million miles away from the typical Donny Osmond pop most associated with this band. His initial delivery is not a million miles away from what Konietzko brought to the table nearly 30 years later. His ascending vocal delivery on the second and third verses prefigures the sort of screeching leads that Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson brought to the genre during the NWOBHM. Only the Vegas horns punctuating the track remained as a concession to the typical Osmonds showbiz sound, but that, beyond kitsch wailing organ hook obliterated any conventionality that this track offered.

I found a holy grail of sorts when investigating the now-defunct “Whizz Records” in the naughties when I saw the miraculous CD5 pictured above; a 1995 remix single of “Crazy Horses” with multi-referential remixing by the masters of stadium rave, Utah Saints. The disc had four post-modern remixes of “Crazy Horses.” They’re sort of fun, if horribly dated, but I bought it ultimately, for the 2:30 original mix added to hook me like an expert angler. After 46 years, I still have not heard anything to compete with its unbridled audacity/lunacy.

Sorry, KMFDM.*

– 30 –

* …though you do own the song “Material Girl,” for what it’s worth…

Posted in Steel Cage Match | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Dead Or Alive Conundrum

20161203-112108.jpgThis week with my turntable back from the shop, I decided that after digitizing the new Positive Noise 12″ers I recently got in Atlanta, I wanted to hear some of the Dead Or Alive in my home not on CD. Caveat: I had decided a year or two ago that I didn’t want the handful of DOA 12″ers I had picked up over the years. I took the four that weren’t “Brand New Lover” and have tried to sell them off to no avail. So I finally heard the “My Heart Goes Bang,” “That’s The Way [Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh I Like It],” and “Lover Come Back To Me” 12″ers for the first time outside of a club floor since buying them in the last 20+ years. The latter, I rate almost as high as “Brand New Lover.”

Speaking of which, thoughts turned naturally to that opus, so instead of my discard bins, I went to the main racks… and it was gone! Now, I had decided that I needed less DOA a while back. I have tried unsuccessfully to sell/trade my cheap, nasty generic Us Epic sleeved copies to no avail, but I would have been sick in the head to ever thing of ditching “Brand New Lover” though that’s the only one NOT in my Record Cell right now; suggesting that I was in fact, sick in the head to ever think of getting rid of one of the best mixes ever! Unless this record is hiding, looks like I’ll have to buy the next copy I see.

– 30 –

Posted in Records I Used To Own | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Record Review: Jona Lewie – On The Other Hand, There’s A Fist DLX RM

Stiff Records | UK | CD | 2007 | CDSEEZ 8

Stiff Records | UK | CD | 2007 | CDSEEZ 8

Jona Lewie: On The Other Hand, There’s A Fist DLX RM UK CD [2007]

  1. The Baby, She’s On The Street
  2. Laughing Tonight
  3. Bang-A-Lang-A-Boom-Er-Rang-Man
  4. The Fairground Ride
  5. On The Road
  6. Vous Et Moi
  7. I’ll Get By In Pittsburgh
  8. Bureaucrats
  9. Hallelujah Europa
  10. Police Trap
  11. Feelin’ Stupid
  12. The Last Supper At The Masquerade
  13. Dennie Laine’s Valet
  14. God Bless Whoever Made You
  15. You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties
  16. Big Shot – Momentarily
  17. Stop The Cavalry
  18. Louise (We Get It Right)
  19. It Never Will Go Wrong
  20. Shaggy Raggy
  21. Shaggy Raggied
  22. Rearranging Deckchairs On The Titanic
  23. I’ll Be Here

jonalewieAs mentioned the other day, I came by Jona Lewie in 1981 [if I recall correctly] when exposed to the delights of his debut album. I bought my own copy, which sufficed for long years until buying the DLX RM CD that was issued in 2007. For once, I had the original UK version of the album to listen to and enjoy after years of knowing only compromise! Funny enough, it was the occasion of getting a Jona Lewie “Best Of” the year previously on La-La [the late, lamented CD swapping website] that lit the fires for more Jona to take its place in the Record Cell on the preferred CD format. I had lots of singles and two LPs at the time, but I can count on the fingers of no hands, how much I had ever played the vinyl. You know me. That vinyl is just waiting for me to digitize it. Sometimes, decades!

jona-lewie-babyshesonthestreetuk7aThe album kicked off with the only single pulled from it in the UK. While there were some notable tracks [“Vous Et Moi,” “Hallelujah Europa'”] that [wisely] were issued as singles in other countries, the bulk of Lewie’s UK singles were non-LP affairs. “The Baby She’s On The Street” functioned as an effective calling card for Lewie, who had a strong penchant for the joys of piano-based boogie-woogie; hardly the most au courant style in the heady rush of 1978, but as evidenced on this single, still a potent harbinger of musical pleasure when performed with the verve that Lewie brought to the 88 keys.

The skittering, near zydeco of “Laughing Tonight” adhered to the Lewie methodology, which sought explore pre-70s pop forms, sometimes with the latest technology, sometimes not. In that aspect, the extremely pragmatic Lewie avoided the impediment of orthodoxy. While he explored his love for blues, boogie-woogie, and cajun forms, one often found synthesizers or rhythm boxes in the mix for frissons of surprise. It’s also important to note that Lewie also kept to a fairly strict two to three minute window for his excursions into planet pop. The economy of his arrangements got the songs across without any filler.

The ballad “On The Road” could have been from an Arlo Guthrie album of 1970, which made the juxtaposition of the technopop of “Vous Et Moi” right next to it all the more delicious. Only France [for blindingly obvious reasons] got the pleasure of this tune as a single.

Side two of the LP got underway with the amazing “I’ll Get By In Pittsburgh,” an improvised blues number slurred by Lewie into a cassette deck and overlaid with his drums for a distinctly lo-fi experience like few others. It really came across like a blues 10″ recorded at least 40 years earlier! The song actually made it onto a single when “Big Shot… Momentarily” was in need of a B-side.

One of my favorite bits of Lewie technopop was the utterly beguiling “Hallelujah Europa,” which was only a UK single in its original 1976 edition when Lewie was signed to Sonet. The 1978 edition was only a single in actual European countries, so the UK missed out on a captivating song know to lodge in my skull for days at a time. The bright, shining synths and the poky drumbox were immediately a perfect setting for Lewie’s love letter to The Continent. At 4:04, it’s positively one of the longest songs here, but it still passes in an instant when I listen to it.

The lurching boogie-woogie of “Police Trap” was not a song I could ever figure out lyrically, but who cares? Lewie’s “haw-haw-haw” vocal hook still slays at 50 paces. “Feelin’ Stupid” marks possibly the only time when a punk/zydeco hybrid was ever attempted. Thank goodness he tried! The cold “stop!” uttered 2/3 into the song for a beat of silence following may have given Robert Fripp the same idea a few years later with his “Under Heavy Manners.”

Just about the only song that I felt time passing with here was the closing “Last Supper At The Masquerade.” The blues/gospel number was practically an instrumental, and that may have been why, as the backing vocalists ululations actually predominate in the mind when listening. The long song here at 4:07, it managed to feel about 90 seconds longer; a rarity for this album, which fairly speeds by.

jona-lewie-godblesswhoevermadeyouuk7a The bonus tracks began with “Denny Laine’s Valet,” the only witty thing about which was its cheeky title. The B-side [of “The Baby She’s On The Street”] otherwise plays out like your worst nightmare of what a B-side can be with what sounded like 70s musicians held at gunpoint to improvise a song in three, tense minutes. Sloppy, diffuse, and crammed with dead-from-the-neck-up riffing, I can only suspect that it was meant by Lewie as a parody of a typical rock B-side. That it was followed by the glossiest bit of Brinsley Schwatrz pop imaginable must be the compiler’s idea of a joke. “God Bless Whoever Made You” had been written by Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm a few years earlier for the stillborn [until 1988!] final Brinsley Schwartz album, “It’s All Over Now.” Lewie almost managed to come across as Gilbert O’Sullivan in such cheerful surroundings!

jona-lewie-youllalwaysfindmeinthekitchenatpartiesuk7aBetter was the minor key, left-field technopop classic that was “You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties.” The almost dour vibe was perfect for a guy bemoaning his bad luck with the ladies. The methodical synths almost creating a reggae skank were wise beyond their years. We didn’t know how good we’d have it in 1980, looking backward. The single managed to chart well in the UK and gave Lewie one of his two hits that have presumably bankrolled him to this day. More power to him! This is a fantastic song that managed the neat trick of avoiding synthpop clichés that didn’t even exist yet! It remains unrepentantly fresh 36 years later.

jona-lewie-stopthecavalryuk7aI have already extolled the virtues of “Big Shot…Momentarily,” so we’ll move onto his perennial Christmas hit, “Stop The Cavalry.” It’s a potent little jewel of British Music Hall that mapped out territory that XTC would investigate in their imperial period a few years later. The vocalese choral riff, once heard, may not leave your hear for hours. The ostensibly anti-war ditty was given the most peripheral lyrical and musical reference for Christmas but that proved to be a canny move that took the distinct song to the UK top ten for the 1980 Christmas season, with plenty of repeat play afterward.

Stiff | UK | 10 | 1981 | SBUY 110

Next, came a song that I had owned on 10″ shortly after the time of its issue. “Louise [We Get It Right]” is another perennial Lewis classic I never tire of. The vocal breakdown before the chorus is a masterclass in arranging a potent hook. The number chugs along with all of the charm that only a synthesizer boogie-woogie number could muster. More here. The tune’s B-side explores a thread that Lewie looked into more than once. Namely, creating a B-side that almost functions as a dub of the A-side, albeit not in the traditional dub sense. What Lewie did was to take the overriding motif of the song and create a new exploration of the song; adding new melodic and sometime even lyrical directions.

joona-lewie-rearrangingthedeckchairsonthetitanicuk7aLewie did the same on the non-LP single “Shaggy Raggy.” The single’s B-side, “Shaggy Raggied” starts in dubspace with elements of the A-side laying a foundation and mutates into a different song by the time the track has ended; complete with a different lyrical slant. The last single here showed Lewie moving into very different territory by 1982. “Re-Arrangign Deck Chairs On The Titanic” was a mostly-instrumental song that really seemed to have lit a fire under Mark Knopfler, whose 1987 soundtrack to “The Princess Bride” sounded as if it held this track in particularly high regard. The boogie-woogie had been banished, and almost all semblance of pop was otherwise absent. What was there were oceanic foley effects, scant expression vocals and non-rock orchestration. The B-side effectively had Lewie drifting off into the ether as his five years on Stiff Records came to an end with the performance and melody barely there.

jona-lewie-optimisticfrcdaAlas, Lewie has made scant noises on the horizon for the last 34 years. Following his “Heart Skips Beat” album of 1982, he has only released a single 1993 album [“Optimistic”] on New Rose Records in France. After that…crickets. His website has been consistently live since 2007, with hints of an album to come, but thus far, nothing. That’s a shame since I need to get the 1993 album [which I only found out about a decade ago] and would be first in line for whatever this talented and idiosyncratic musician would be serving up in the 21st century.

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Visage Go Out Guns Blazing

7 CDs of contemporary and classic Visage

7 CDs of contemporary and classic Visage

It’s been common knowledge that Visage have a new greatest hits album coming out on December 9th. It’s called “Wild Life” and is of some interest to the Visage collector, as well as the public at large. While there are five albums already drawing from the band’s Polydor/phase 1 era, this will be the first one to mix the singles released since 2012 with the “classic” period. In that sense, it tells a fuller story than all of the other albums. Casual listeners buying this will be served the hits they probably heard on the radio growing up as well as the modern material that far exceeded my expectations at the time and this is a good thing. But the promo for the release foretold of a CD/ 2xLP, and CDX. Everyone assumed there would maybe be a 2xCD with some rare mixes on it. I was waiting for the info to hit the web, having searched on the issue on a weekly basis for the last month or so. This morning I got an email from commenter Gavin alerting me to the full extent of the CDX version.

It’s seven CDs worth of material; most of it from the phase 2 era! How Visage fans will interface with this demands some facts on the table first. Intriguingly enough, six of the seven discs in the limited set can also be purchased ala carte, which is more than fair, considering the . What is the seven disc breakdown? I’m glad you asked.


Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC001

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC001

DISC 1 – Visage: The Wild Life [The Best of 1978-2015] UK CD [2016]

  1. Fade To Grey (Original Version)
  2. Mind Of A Toy (Original Version)
  3. Visage (Original Version)
  4. Tar (Original 7” Version)
  5. Anvil (Original Version)
  6. Night Train (7″ Version)
  7. The Damned Don’t Cry (Original Version)
  8. Pleasure Boys (Original Version)
  9. Never Enough (Original Version)
  10. Dreamer, I Know (Original Version)
  11. She’s Electric (Coming Around) (Original Version)
  12. Hidden Sign (Tiger Face Flame Remix)
  13. Love Glove (Orchestral Version)
  14. Aurora (Original Version)
  15. The Silence (Original Version)

The basic CD is salted with at least three tracks on interest. The long-sought-after “Night Train” 7″ remix was supposed to be on many CDs already out in the wild, but this failed to happen. The extremely hot 7″ remix, edited down from the 12″ mix, was incredibly potent. I only have it on the Visage laserdisc I bought in the late 80s. The “Night Train” 12″ only has the 12″ and dub mixes. You had to own the UK 7″ for the 7″ remix. “The Silence” was a new song included in orchestral form on the “Orchestral” album, so I’m interested in hearing the full band version. It was an excellent, elegiac number that made perfect sense to appear at the end of Strange’s life. The mix of “Hidden Sign” is a new one, not previously on the single released in 2014. I’m not certain there’s any difference tot he original 7″ mix of “Tar.” I have it, and I played it once to see and couldn’t determine that there were any differences, so that means at least three tracks I’d want from this CD no. 1.


Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD-R | 2016 | SSC002

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD-R | 2016 | SSC002

DISC 2 – Visage: The Wild Life [The Best of 1978-2015] UK CD-R [downloads] [2016]

  1. Fade To Grey (Main Version)
  2. Mind Of A Toy (Main Version)
  3. Visage (Main Version)
  4. Tar (Original 7” Version)
  5. The Anvil (Main Version)
  6. Night Train (Main Version)
  7. The Damned Don’t Cry (Main Version)
  8. Pleasure Boys (Main Version)
  9. Never Enough (Original Version)
  10. Dreamer, I Know (Original Version)
  11. She’s Electric (Coming Around) (Original Version)
  12. Hidden Sign (Tiger Face Flame Remix)
  13. Love Glove (Orchestral Version)
  14. Aurora (Original Version)
  15. The Silence (Original Version)
  16. Tightrope (Original Version) 

The second disc is comprised of material that is here on a printed CD-R but otherwise available as a DL only. While the CD no 1. has the Polydor material from phase 1 on it, the early tracks here were re-recorded by the band in 2014-2014; probably because of licensing constraints on physical versus DL media. That said, I am more interested in hearing the late period band tackling this material! Visage phase 1 were studio monsters, but phase two actually played live and had a different vibe to their approach. Then, a previously unreleased track, “Tightrope,” is included as fanbait. Not bad! Possibly nine tracks of interest [depending on that “Tar” version, again]. I appreciate that they reveal up front that this is a printed CD-R. They are getting more common commercially in these, the end times, and while they are fragile, an informed consumer is a happy consumer.


Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC004

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC004

DISC 3 – Visage: The Wild Life [The Best of Extended Versions + Remixes 1978-2015] UK CD [2016]

  1. Fade To Grey (Extended Version)
  2. Mind Of A Toy (Extended Version)
  3. Visage (Extended Version)
  4. The Damned Don’t Cry (Extended Version)
  5. The Anvil (Extended Version)
  6. Pleasure Boys (Extended Version)
  7. Tar (Extended Dub)
  8. Frequency 7 (Dance Version)
  9. Shameless Fashion (Extended Version)
  10. On We Go (Extended Version)
  11. Hidden Sign (Extended Version)

The third disc is of extended versions and remixes. Several are of interest here. “The Damned Don’t Cry” and “The Anvil” have been on wax only, and an extended dub of “Tar” is something new here. I assume that this was a post-modern mix, and “On We Go” was one of the few tracks from “Hearts + Knives” that was not a single, so the extended version here is a debut.


Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC005

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC005

DISC 4 – Visage: Hearts + Knives Instrumentals UK CD [2016]

  1. Never Enough (Instrumental Version)
  2. Shameless Fashion (Instrumental Version)
  3. She’s Electric (Coming Around) (Instrumental Version)
  4. Hidden Sign (Instrumental Version)
  5. On We Go (Instrumental Version)
  6. Dreamer I Know (Instrumental Version)
  7. Lost In Static (Instrumental Version)
  8. I Am Watching (Instrumental Version)
  9. Diaries Of A Madman (Instrumental Version)
  10. Breathe Life (Instrumental Version)

Disc four is simply the “Hearts + Knives” album in instrumental form. All, technically, unreleased, though now you can focus on Robin Simon’s sterling guitar as well as the inventive bass approaches of Steve Barnacle with new ears.


Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC006

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SSC006

DISC 5 – Visage: Orchestral Instrumentals] UK CD [2016]

  1. The Damned Don’t Cry (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  2. Fade To Grey (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  3. Dreamer I Know (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  4. Mind Of A Toy (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  5. Visage (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  6. The Anvil (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  7. Never Enough (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  8. Pleasure Boys (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  9. Hidden Sign (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  10. Night Train (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  11. Love Glove (Orchestral Instrumental Version)
  12. The Silence (Orchestral Instrumental Version)

Disc five is the rather stunning “Orchestral” album sans voix. More technically unreleased material.


Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SC007

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD | 2016 | SC007

DISC 6 – Visage: Demons To Diamonds Instrumentals] UK CD [2016]

  1. Before You Win (Instrumental Version)
  2. Become (Instrumental Version)
  3. Loving The Alien (Instrumental Version)
  4. Days Become Dark (Instrumental Version)
  5. Seven Deadly Sins Part Three (Instrumental Version)
  6. Aurora (Instrumental Version)
  7. Your Skin Is My Sin (Instrumental Version)
  8. Clubscene (Instrumental Version)
  9. Star City (Instrumental Version)
  10. Never (Instrumental Version)

The sixth disc is the final Visage album in instrumental form. Ironically, the ninth track has already been released on the “Darkness To Diamonds” remix album.


Steve Strange Collective | UK | LTD CD | 2016 | SSC008

Steve Strange Collective | UK | LTD CD | 2016 | SSC008

DISC 7 – Visage: The Wild Life Instrumentals UK CD [2016]

  1. Never Enough (Richard Stone & John Bryan In Prague Instrumental Version)
  2. Seven Deadly Sins Part Two (Instrumental)
  3. Hidden Sign (Tiger Face Flame Remix Instrumental)
  4. Dreamer I Know (Sare Havlicek Remix Instrumental)
  5. On We Go (Extended Instrumental)
  6. Digital Age (Instrumental)
  7. Tightrope (Instrumental)
  8. Your Skin Is My Sin (Antidote Version Instrumental)
  9. Fade To Grey (Tilt’s Nu-Romancer Remix)
  10. The Silence (Original Instrumental)

The last disc is exclusive to this limited edition set. Disc seven is instrumental mixes, all previously unreleased. Tracks 1, 2, and 4 were instrumental versions of previously released mixes, but the rest are instro versions of some of the remixes included in this very release, as well as some B-side material. I was most intrigued by the mixes of “Your Skin is My Sin” by Antidote, and Tilt’s Nu-Romancer mix of FTG. The Tilt version is just here, but the remix of “Your Skin is My Sin” is going to be out there on the other big release of “The Wild Life.”


Steve Strange Collective | UK | 2xLP | 2016 | SSC003

Steve Strange Collective | UK | 2xLP | 2016 | SSC003

2xLP – Visage: The Wild Life [The Best of Extended Versions + Remixes 1978-2015] UK 2xLP [2016]

  1. Fade To Grey (Extended Version)
  2. Mind Of A Toy (Extended Version)
  3. Visage (Extended Version)
  4. The Damned Don’t Cry (Extended Version)
  5. The Anvil (Extended Version)
  6. Pleasure Boys (Extended Version)
  7. Tar (Extended Dub)
  8. Frequency 7 (Dance Version)
  9. Shameless Fashion (Extended Version)
  10. On We Go (Extended Version)
  11. Hidden Sign (Extended Version)
  12. Your Skin Is My Sin (Antidote Extended Version)

Yesssss. The crafty lot at the Steve Strange Collective, have insured that the usually redundant vinyl [I don’t have any of the modern Visage albums on vinyl, only the 12″ of “Lost In Static”] is the only place where the Antidote Extended Version of “Your Skin Is My Sin” appears. This causes me cognitive dissonance. The 7xCD set is a limited edition with the final disc appearing only there. Price is a decent £49 for 56 tracks for the Visage collection. It can be ordered here. Act quickly if that seventh disc appeals to you, and the package included postcards, stickers, and signatures from the surviving members of the band: Steve Barnacle, Robin Simon, Lauren Duval, and Logan Sky. Worth it for the Simon autograph alone! It’s a good way for the Steve Strange Collective to accrue the funds needed for that Steve Strange statue, where all of the royalties are going [apart from the older tracks, one assumes].

Inasmuch as I can justify spending $61.16 on seven Visage CDs [I think its a fair price], having to fork out another £19 [$23.71 + 2xLP shipping from the UK] for that final remix is making me wonder if a strategic download might be the way to go on that track. It goes against my grain, but money is limited in these, the end times. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Hopefully, we will have a review of the seven disc monster soon. Watch this space.

Tomorrow we’ll go back to our planned post that got bumped for today’s news.

– 30 –

Posted in BSOG, Core Collection, New Romantic, Want List | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments