Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Barmy Army vinyl release

Townsend Records have announced that the first three Tubeway Army / Gary Numan albums are to be released in a special limited edition vinyl box set.
1978 debut album Tubeway Army (in very nice blue vinyl), Replicas and The Pleasure Principle (both 1979) are all included together with a special "bonus" disc of rarities The Plan in this 'collector's edition' vinyl fest.

Pre-order from official shop Nuworld , no price tag is stated but press 'buy' and a hefty £54.99 shows up....

Listen: Tubeway Army - Bombers

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

I Love 1980 - 18

Ultravox - Sleepwalk

Currently suffering from too many late summer nights so not much time and energy to dedicate to blogging or even the I Love 1980 series. However thought I'd try and get this one in before I forget about it or collapse completely from fatigue, or even go on holiday.

Up until this time Ultravox were a defunct post-punk outfit formed by John Foxx and art student friends Currie / Cross / Cann with little or no commercial success despite three albums and a string of singles on Island. Their last LP Systems of Romance (1978) gained much critical claim and inspired would be electro-rockers such as Gary Numan and others to do interesting things with new fangled synthesisers and drum machines which weren't Tangerine Dream or strictly Kraftwerk, but
in 1979 it all went completely sour for Foxx-Vox as they undertook a US tour which ultimately led to Foxx leaving the band to its own devices. While he went on to experiment and produce minimal electronic music (Metamatic tracks He's a Liquid and Touch and Go were performed by the band on the US tour), the others soldiered on and later recruited Rich Kid Midge Ure as singer/ guitarist/songwriter and went on to even bigger things.

Sleepwalk was the new formation's debut single which actually struggled a bit in the lower reaches of the chart for a few weeks before finally breaking it in late summer with a cracking performance on the re-vamped Top of the Pops (jaw duly dropped once more..) allowing it to scrape into the Top 30. Not an overwhelming chart debut but this was butch synth music that pushed Foxx and even Numan aside and made it OK to like electro-music even if you didn't wear eye make-up. The 'look' was an important part of the new Ultravox though with sharp clothes and Midge's trademark pencil 'tache (missing from the single sleeve pic triva fans..) which became fairly popular as the New Romantic fashions took form.
Sleepwalk comes crashing in with Cann's drums driving a stomping synth beat as we all sing along with Midge (Duuuh duuhhh. Sleep -Walk!), with Billy Currie screeching along on his thing in the bridge. The Blitz kids went wild and Ultravox were given a second chance and the rest is history.

Sleepwalk chart stats: here
read: Smash Hits feature on the old & new Ultravox
Listen: Ultravox - Sleepwalk

album: Vienna

Although the follow up single Passing Strangers fared worse than Sleepwalk, it was the flagship album Vienna, already released when Sleepwalk hit the charts (usually in those days the single
preceded the parent-album by a few weeks), that led the way for Ure-Vox with it's crisp Konny Plank production, smart design and stomping electro tunes hitting the right balance between
scratchy rock guitars (possibly pioneered by Robin Simon in Foxx-Vox?), rock-steady drumming by Warren Cann, all awash with the new electronic sounds which were to become so commonplace just a few months later. The iconic title track became their biggest hit in early 81 as the New Romantics took hold although the album is truly all-killer-no-filler stuff and even manages to get away with a 7 minute instrumental opening track in the magical Astradyne.

Vienna chart stats here
Buy Vienna here
Listen: Ultravox - New Europeans

Ultravox circa 1980 : "It's Ok Midge - you can come out now, John Foxx has gone.."

Thursday, 15 July 2010

She's only Human

In an interview for the independent.ie Susan Anne Sulley of The Human League has given in an insight to her personal life. "I make sure the cat is fed, clean her litter tray and I do the normal things that normal people do, like empty the dishwasher," says 47 year old Susan, who lives in Sheffield with partner Martin and said cat, Holly.
Although she confesses to having had 'food problems' in the past she now enjoys her meals does our Susan and vists the gym regularly..although never without make-up. She also regularly attends to her ailing parents (awwww, bless..) and then goes to Asda, preferring it to more up-market Marks & Spencers.

Some days she also goes to the studio where The Human League are currently recording their new album. "We've had some bad times when we didn't do very much because we got dropped by the record company and we lost direction, but all through that we've always worked" says Susan. While she enjoys live work and touring she now admits that in the beginning they were "rubbish". Susan joined The League with school pal Joanne in 1980 after being spotted by Phil Oakey in the Crazy Daisy disco in Sheffield. Phil had to ask parents' permission to take them on tour. "He arrived in four-inch heels with his hair down and red lipstick, and he brought a scrapbook of all the stuff the group had done...As soon as my father shook hands with him, I knew that we'd be able to go" recounts Ms Sulley. Oh to have been a fly on the wall...

Susan live on stage wondering what to cook for tea.

Listen: The Human League - Rebound

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Mike Oldfield in non-Tubular Bells album shock

This one nearly passed me by. Mike Oldfield has re-released two of his 70's albums Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge in deluxe version each comprised of two CDs and DVD. The CDs have the original album remastered plus bonus tracks and previously unreleased demo versions of the respective oeuvres. The DVDs have the 5.1 mixes.

Originally released in 1974 Hergest Ridge was the follow up to Tubular Bells and basically established Oldfield's style as instrumental hippy prog-rock featuring all manner of instruments, mostly played by the introspective Mike himself. Hergest Ridge is a real place in my native Herefordshire by the way although sadly I've never been there. Amazingly the album went straight to number one on release although was knocked off the top spot by Tubular Bells. According to wikipedia "The original 1974 vinyl mix is now available on the 2010 reissue of the album, along with a 2010 remix which sounds close to this 1974 mix, therefore making the radically different 1976 something of an oddity should the single disc CD be deleted." Got that?

Ommadawn was the follow up album in 1975 and although the style remains basically the same I find this one a bit more listenable with respect to its predecessor, oh and I love the uillean pipes bit on side 2. Ommadawn also features the wonderfully batty ditty On Horseback (which I hadn't realised was on the original vinyl too) and the deluxe edish also includes great little single-friendly Oldfield tunes like the Christmassy In Dulci Jubilo, Argiers and Portsmouth. Perhaps a better buy, but get them both at amazon or wherever you prefer.

"Ommadawn ye say? You hum it, I'll play it...."- a uillean pipes-player, yesterday

Listen: Mike Oldfield - Portsmouth

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

I Love 1980 - 17

Kate Bush - Babooshka

There's not much more to be said about this Kate Bush mega-hit from 30 years ago apart from the fact that it was the one which, perhaps even more than Wuthering Heights, made her a star and which people will most probably remember the most.

So let's let Kate do all the talking this time, thanks to this Australian TV interview from 1980, and anyway I could sit and listen to her all day and all night if necessary and never tire of her voice. The sort of girl you'd always wanted to marry if you'd been a bit posher, a bit richer and maybe even a musician. Oh well..perhaps next time.

Listen: Kate Bush - Babooshka
Babooshka chart stats

Kate Bush - Never Forever
Just a quick PS about the ensuing album Never Forever which opens with Babooshka and contains the previous and successive hit singles Breathing and Army Dreamers tucked away at the end. I mention the singles becuase they're all just so brilliant and, well for the usual reasons I didn't 'discover' the album until much later. It's a meister-werk of course and in my mind even better than the debut and the commerically successful Hounds of Love of a few years later. I love the relative simplicity of it although Kate is already dabbling in sampling, drum machines and various electronic effects. Quite rightly it went straight into the charts at number one and gained Kate so many 'firsts'. Amaaaazing! Surely due for a remastered deluxe edition?

Listen: Kate Bush - All We Ever Look For
Never Forever chart stats

Monday, 12 July 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 3

Some total technie-geekiness from thirty years hence. It doesn't mean a lot to me except that it's filmed in the legendary Strawberry Studios with Martin Hannett at the helm (see Love Will Tear Us Apart post) and Tony Wilson doing the interview/feature for his telly programme. They are now both dead.
The album being "mixed" (or whatever) is apparently Pauline Murray's Invisible Girls, which I do have a digital copy of somewhere and must dig out.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 2

The Human League - live

Came across these really nice B&W pictures on Flickr of the 'pre-split' Human League playing live in Edinburgh in 1980. The photographer states "all my negs from this period seem to have disappeared." Shame, but thanks for these anyway flickr user-person.
Amazing how the girl projected onto the slide screen (third one) looks like Suzanne Sulley . .the face of things to come.

The Human League - Crow and a Baby (live)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 1

As a sort of an offshoot of the I Love 1980 series I'll start with an 'appendix' series too, mostly to show the influence of music from that year over the decades to come and particularly the up-to-date stuff the "kids" are listening to these days.

I was particularly surprised to ocme across this track by Italian rap group Club Dogo, who have clearly been listening to a bit of Kate Bush and, who knows, may even have spotted the LIM post of a few weeks back...wooooooooowww amaaaaazing.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I Love 1980 - 16

Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

I seem to remember there being some kind of strike at the BBC involving TOTP and even, perhaps, daytime radio around this time in 1980, which meant basically that the charts went a bit haywire and records started appearing that wouldn't normally have done so as considered 'unsuitable' for TOTP even in these "new-wave" times.
Joy Division's seminal Love Will Tear Us Apart was a case in point. Fuelled by singer Ian Curtis' recent suicide (news which hardly made it beyond John Peel's 10 pm show) the single was riding high in the indie charts in May and June and manged to break into the regular TOTP-less Top 40 at the beginning of July and had made it's way up to no. 13 by the end of the month.

So much has already been said about the song / band / singer already so not much more to add, except to say that it opened the doors to the band's music to so many new admirers including myself. I didn't buy the single preferring the tape recording off the radio done on my new (and first) radio cassette recorder bought with my strawberry picking money (ironically the original was recorded in Strawberry Studios).
It would also seem to have been the band's attempt to write a 'proper' pop song with a catchy tunes, title in the chorus and everything. Fitting then that it did become their first chart hit, reaching the top 20 aagin on re-release in 1983 and 1995.

The song's beauty and power are universally undoubted with Curtis' dark and detached vocal creating a melancholy sing-along which would inspire angstful youths to gaze meaningfully at their shoes and to try and attempt similar music for years to come. LWTUSA has been covered by a wide range of artists, the first possibly being a brave but much derided version by white-soul boy Paul Young on his 1983 album No Parlez, a version which I've always quite liked. Arcade Fire, Simple Minds, Nouvelle Vague, New Order and Hawksley Workman (look it up) are among the many others to have attempted cover versions, although inevitably none of them compare to the turbulent and unsettling beauty (like that?) of the original by Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris.

Joy Division: they never wanted to go on Top of the Pops anyway

Love Will Tear Us Apart : chart stats
Get Love Will Tear Us Apart here or cheaper here

Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

Thursday, 1 July 2010

..the ultimate discovery..

And continuing this weeks OM(IT)D theme we were pleased to discover this rather lovely and incredibly desirable re-issue of the band's eponymous 1980 debut album with a CD sleeve design coming very close to the original 'die-cut' LP sleeve.
It's a "Limited Edition" U.S. only release on Micro Werks records and we thank co-bloggers Version Crazy for the info and the excellent photos taken by someone who obviously fully appreciates this artefact.
As well as the utterly tasteful design, adapting the original sleeve to the CD, there also seem to be some copious sleevenotes and a never-seen-before (at least by us) band picture (which judging by the haircuts and line-up relates more to Organisation period OMD, but who's complaning?). Oddly this release has not been featured on the official OMD website (concentrating heavily on the new album) - with fans being kept in the dark (ahem) and has raised only a handful of eyebrows when mentioned in the forum.
However, LIM hopes to have this marvellous object within our grasp before the summer's out and the music may even become an unexpected soundtrack to our holidays. It may even make up for a 30-year old qualm of never having found the die-cut cover LP ....

OMITD 2010 re-issue ... just look at the shadow it makes!

OMITD - Electricity (album version)

Pictures by Version Crazy