Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Get set for Yazoo

Yazoo issue their live album Reconnected Live this week. The recording documents the live performances by Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke who got back together again in 2008 to perform tracks from their 80s albums, Upstairs at Eric's, You & Me Both and a few others. Click here to hear samples and order from the usual places.

Curiously the album features a bonus track of Yazoo's forgotten title music to the even-more-forgotten BBC Saturday morning kids' show Get Set For Summer. The live show was presented by 80 s Radio 1 DJ par excellence Peter Powell and one Mark Curry (later of Blue Peter) and was on telly in the "summer" months between 1981 and 1983, apparently, although here at LiM we have very little recollection of it. See here for a bit more info.

Peter Powell: now manages "talent".

Monday, 20 September 2010

Human Creed

Unofficial sources on Facebook today have announced that the new Human League album is to be called Credo. The Electricity Club has posted the news on the social network this morning (although not on its site yet) and "Phil Oakey" (is it really Phil talking?) has also posted "The album is called CREDO to be released early 2011 - The tour is THE NIGHT PEOPLE TOUR 2010 - The first single will be NIGHT PEOPLE released before the start of the tour". No album this year then.
Human League label Wall of Sound have yet to give any offical announcement on the artist page, and what is supposedly the League's "official site" still remains untouched.

What's "credo"? I hear you ask .. simply a statement of belief (from the Latin word credo meaning "I believe"), usually in a religious sense, and commonly translated into English as "creed". Maybe Pope Benedict's recent visit to the UK had some beneficial effects?

Pope in the UK .. the visit to Sheffield remained a secret from the press

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Downtown with the mob..*

(* with thanks to RadioBeach ...)

Heaven 17 /BEF leading person Martyn Ware (left) has announced on his blog that he is "off to Abbey Road today" to master the Collector's Edition of 1981's Penthouse and Pavement 2CD plus DVD box set due out in November.

Even more tantalising is that the bonus CD is a "56 minute 20 track CD of unearthed demos from 1980" which even he and Glenn Gregory had not heard for 30 years and had forgotten still existed! If they're along the lines of Music For Stowaways then should be well worth having. Let's just hope Hot Gossip are not involved.

Hot Gossip and BEF: a marriage made in hell.

I Love 1980 - 22

XTC - Generals & Majors

I was quite surprised to see this one lurking in the lower reaches of the Top 40 of 30 years ago; firstly because I thought it came out much later (81?82?) and also because it's one of those songs and bands I've never stopped listening to since they first started having hits back then . .has it really been thirty years? Gor blimey.

Anyway here they be: Swindon's (and indeed the West Country's) finest having their taste of success, day-time radio play, charts, Smash Hits, Top of the Pops and all the rest of it with what is essentially and anti-war protest song. Perhaps it's 1980 timeslot is all the more surprising with it's "generals and majors always seem so unhappy unless they got a war" punchline sounding more like it was written for the Falklands/Malvinas crisis a couple of years later, not to mention more war-mongering in the Middle East in the decades to come. After 35 years of (relative) peace, Moulding, Partridge and friends reminded us only too well that said military chiefs "like never before are tired of being actionless".
Prophetic words indeed. One can only but shudder at the thought that General Leopoldo Galtieri et al may have been inspired by the song to launch their invasion on the up to then little known British islands far far away. Shudder also at the thought of British squaddies whistling and singing along to the track in a 'riding along in an army truck' fashion as they headed for the chilly South Atlantic. Brrrr.
Perhaps surprisingly Generals & Majors was the least successful of XTC's heyday singles - after going top 20 with Making Plans for Nigel, even the 'Majors' follow-up Towers of London faired slightly better and the reached their chart zenith with the military-metaphoric Sgt Rock in January 1982 and the marvellous (1-2-3-4-5!) Senses Working Overtime a year later.
XTC certainly deserved better although perhaps much of their charm and appeal lies within that 'never quite made it really big' status. They had all the backing of the Virgin label (Richard Branson appears in the G&M video) and a top producer in Steve Lillywhite. I regret not seeing them live back then although I read recently that they stopped playing live after the Black Sea album (why so?).
Generals & Majors was released as a limited edition double 7" pack, a tactic often used by Virgin at the time to boost initial sales. The three other tracks are now available on the Black Sea CD re-issue.

Generals & Majors on Chart Stats
XTC discography on chalkhills.org
Black Sea in The Lost Classics series

XTC: deserved better

Listen: XTC - Generals and Majors

Monday, 13 September 2010

The new Plastic Age

Trevor Horn's official site has confirmed a special one-off live performance by The Buggles "a mere 30 years after their international #1 hit single Video Killed the Radio Star kick-started a generation of electronic pop".
Horn will reconvene the original Buggles line-up, to preform their début album - The Age of Plastic - in full. No post-gig DVD or live CD will be released we are told so the gig at London's supperclub on 28th September looks set to be very special indeed. All proceeds from The Lost Gig will be donated to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have also been confirmed as support band with a special set featuring the original McCluskey/Humphreys two-piece set-up. Says Horn of the Orch-men: ""I think what Orchestral Manoeuvres have achieved over the last few decades - that fusion of pop and electronic experimentation - is unique. Both OMD and The Buggles released their début singles in September 1979, so there's another symmetry for them joining us on the 28th"

LiM wonders whether Winston will also feature!

Although the influence of The Buggles and their 'plastic synthpop' blueprint is undisputed, their success hardly went beyond their hit Video Killed the Radio Star which reached number 1 in the UK in October1979. The album The Age of Plastic remained in the Top 40 for a mere three weeks peaking at number 27 in March 1980 helped along by a second single, the lesser known Living in the Plastic Age which reached number 16. Two further singles and a follow-up album Adventures in Modern Recording all flopped.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Wikileak for The League

Speculation over the new Human League album reached a peak last week as a Wikipedia page cataloguing the album appeared on the global encyclopedia site.
Entitled "Decades (album)" the page takes links its main source as feature in popinstereo which gives song titles with a possible tracklisting.
The dubious Wikipedia entry gives its reasons for the alleged album title Decades, - studio album number 10, three decades of activity etc. - and states the release date as 10/10/2010 on digital download only. The page is well written yet carries a slightly polemical vein citing "the bands (sic.) limited aging fanbase" and Oakey's alleged egocentricity, and attacks the League's non-internet participation policy: "Unlike every other serious pop group the Human League does not even have its own website". It also declares that the album is a 'flop in the making' condemning it as an "Oakey vanity project".
The page has now received a possible deletion notice from Wiki-watchdogs but in line with policy the page will not be "blanked...until the (page) discussion is closed."..which will obviously not be until the album has actually seem the light of day.
Keep feeling anticipation...

No hyper-link to the Wiki page is included in this post.

Listen: The Human League - Get It Right This Time

Monday, 6 September 2010

I Love 1980 - 21

Let's face it, any album that opens with the words "and what if God's dead?" is never going to be a bundle of laughs. In fact this album turned out to be Numan at his most miserable, but I just loved it.
We'd already had the singles We Are Glass and I Die:You Die, leading up to the new album, but as the adverts said, neither of these were going to be on the highly anticipated Telekon.
A richer, fuller sound compared to the starker synthetic sounds of the previous Pleasure Principle, was also on the cards and as it turned out the guitars were very much back in, although the more traditional drums of TPP were in part replaced by drum machines and other electronically generated rhythm things. With new technology and plenty of cash to invest, a beefier, layered sound was what we were getting this time. Gazza had a Roland Jupiter 4 and he was gonna use it.
But what of the songs? Numan has basically two angst-ful themes running through the opus; firstly his preoccupation with the new found stardom and unease at al the attention from press and fans alike (Sleep by Windows, Remind Me to Smile, Remember I Was Vapour) and the usual dystopian vision of the future continuing from Replicas and The Pleasure Principle (I Dream of Wires, Telekon, The Aircrash Bureau). Our Gary of course was never happy in either of these scenarios. I Dream of Wires is the story of “the last electrician alive” looking back nostalgically on the days he actually could “wire” things, and The Aircrash Bureau is Ballardian both in title and gloomy content.
“Remember I could end all this” Gazza warns fans in “Vapour” and duly announced on Radio 1 during an interview with Peter Powell that after this album and tour he would be giving up live work. The Japanese lyrics on This Wreckage meant "I leave you now" or something and in fact said track which opens the album was his manifesto: "This wreckage I call "me" would like to leave you soon". No! cried the fans, and in fact a few years and a couple of albums later, Gazza was back on the "joy circuit" in all his pomp and glory.
No matter though; Numan's paranoia was excellent food for some of his best songs which appeared here on Telekon in September 1980. There was no hit single Cars here or even anything to follow up We Are Glass and the rather pretentious I Die:You Die but just one big black and red album whose tracks were basically inseparable (the CD issue with "Glass" inserted in the middle is both crass and unnecessary). A thicker soup than any of his previous work, it still has no equal in Numan's discography.

The subsequent Teletour was a massive sellout success, fuelled by Numan's pledge to stop live work after this tour was done, save for three nights in London a year later as a final "farewell". Both are well documented in Living Ornaments 80 and 81 respectively.
Telekon was also revived in 2006 for a new live performance (pic. left) of the album in its entirety with associated singles and b sides. Again, an excellent live recording is available, but somehow nothing can quite match listening to your original vinyl LP on your record player in a darkened bedroom. And I know all about that...

Listen: Gary Numan - Remind Me To Smile

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Dazzle shirts

Well while Chelsea get the garish Dolce & Gabbana in to do their new clobber (see Italo-British post), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that England and Umbro have had a bit more taste and got graphic art guru Peter Saville in to design the new home shirt (detail left).

Turning over a new-ish leaf from the 2010 World Cup disappointment the shirt - and rest of kit - will be adorned by England this Friday when they play Bulgaria in a Euro 2012 qualifying group match.

Famous for his record cover designs this is actually Saville's second brush with the England team having designed the cover for England's official World Cup song 'World in Motion' in 1990.

See Saville talk about it here: umbro on youtube

Listen: England/NewOrder - World in Motion

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Torch songs

Steve Jansen's official site gives news that the new Blackberry Torch released in the US this month features sound design elements created by Steve. "Key elements" include ringtone themes 'zen' and 'zen spirit' (said to be default ringtone on non at&t models out later this month), and alarm compositions 'Tokyo morning' and 'Morning blues'.
$199 with two year contract from AT&T if you want to hear them.

Meanwhile Jansen continues to raise funds in favour of Mick Karn through sales of his photographs as shown in his on-line imageshop.
A selection of these photographs will also be on show and for sale at a musical event in favour of Mick Karn in Italy this weekend. Il Cuore della Musica will take place at Villa Benzi Zecchini nr. Treviso, North-East Italy and will feature Italian bands and artists close to the music of Mick Karn, Japan etc. including local chanteuse Alice who has played live and recorded with Jansen info.

Listen: Steve Jansen - Gap of Cloud

Station (re)master

David Bowie's classic 1976 album Station to Station is to be re-released on 20th September. There's the by now practically obbligatory ueber-expensive deluxe edition containing 5 CDs, audio DVD, vinyl, books, press kits etc. etc, all for just 80-odd quid or so. Details here:

Fortunately for mere mortals there's a cheaper CD edition (pic left) with the original album remastered plus 2 bonus CDs with previously (officially) unreleased Live Nassau Coliseum '76 concert, plus a couple of postcards and booklet. Details and order here

Fans need no introduction to the music of course, but for the uninitiated this is really is a marvellous Bowie recording after the glam-era Ziggy Stardust stuff and prior to the more miserable 'Berlin' albums, Low etc.. The original album contained just six tracks of which Golden Years is the best known ,although the gorgeously sloppy Wild is the Wind is perhaps one of Bowie's best and most moving vocal performances. It was also released as a single in 1981 on the back of the Scary Monsters/Ashes to Ashes renaissance success and Changestwo compilation LP.
News to me was that the track was also recorded by Nina Simone, whose version actually inspired Dave to record it himself. The song originally comes from a 1957 Italo-American film of the same name starring the marvellous Anna Magnani.
Anyway I'd love to hear the Nina Simone version, or even the original Johnny Mathis one, if anyone can help.

Listen: David Bowie - Wild is the Wind